Updated: Nov 27, 2019
As Overland Missions, our desire is to create Gospel-centered communities that grow and stand the test of time. In every area, the Great Commission calls us to make disciples—not simply converts, but true followers of Jesus. We strive to multiply believers across the nations, so that every disciple has the tools they need to thrive and the full revelation of every blessing they’ve received from heaven.
Sherrill A., Director of Overland’s Sustain division and missionary in DR Congo, has learned a lot about what discipleship actually looks like. “We have this idea that discipleship is once a week, I sit with this person and teach them, but that’s not it at all. So much of this is just a natural absorption. We sometimes get caught up in just the big events, but if we want to see sustainability, we need to make disciples.” Sherrill has worked extensively in Zambia, establishing a biblical and sustainable agricultural training called Farming God’s Way. She tells the story of Pastor Barnabas, in Musukotwane Chiefdom: “Barnabas and I have been working together for years and years. I’ve known him for nine years, and he’s been a pastor that whole time. It’s been such a mutually beneficial relationship, learning from one another. I was able to bring in Farming God’s Way, and help him see the connection between the Lord and agriculture, and the promises that God has given about the land and the harvest. Now he’s brought up a leader who has also joined our team, named Calvin, and now Calvin has brought up a leader as well.”
This kind of generational growth is always our heart. In Zambia, the Sustain team is giving a practical and Biblical model for agriculture so that those who live by subsistence farming can honor God with their crops. Missionaries like Branden B., who believe wholeheartedly in the efficacy of Farming God’s Way, have committed to living it out among the rural communities, growing crops and selling them as an example of the better yield and greater harvest. Sustain works in conjunction with the Chief Chaplaincy program, so that many chaplains can provide for their ministry within their chiefdoms through sustainable farming practices. We are showing people that God wants to provide for their ministries in a healthy and consistent way.
More than just the practical tools, discipleship means empowering people in who Christ has created them to be and living it out with them. “It’s something you observe and you experience, and then you take it to someone else.” Says Sherrill. “No one ever sat down and taught me how to disciple, I just watched their lives.” One of Sherrill’s first disciples, Gertrude, is now a leader in the Sustain ministry and is discipling another team member, Onistar. But she says, at the beginning of their relationship, she didn’t have a perfect discipleship plan. “I feel like Gertrude and I learned this thing together. So much of my experience in discipleship, she’s been the one teaching me. If you’re open to it, the people you’re discipling are teaching you just as much as well. Gertrude doesn’t really ask me for advice now because it’s in her. But I don’t know if there’s anything more rewarding than seeing people step up into a discipleship role, watching her transfer her heart to someone else.”