We do whatever it takes to start new churches!
By Shodankeh Johnson
When going into a village, town or city to share the good news of Christ and plant a new church, it is important to first look for a “person of peace.” This is someone who is open to the gospel. We normally try to engage them using the story method of Bible teaching. They may be going through some particular issue at that time – for example, there may be a problem with their family. So we focus on one particular element of the story first, something that’s especially relevant and helpful to them at that time.
This creates a bridge, and a relationship is built. Once the relationship is established, there is trust. And once there is trust, we can begin to tell God’s story, starting with creation. As a result, we’ve been able to start churches – a lot of churches – in every city in Sierra Leone and beyond.
Our team includes people from various professional backgrounds. And all of them are trained church planters. Often when we enter a village that is resistant to the gospel, we sit with the elders and help them to determine and prioritize the community’s needs. Together we help them find a way of meeting the most pressing ones. For example, they may need a school. We have started more than 47 schools, which especially benefit girls. And we have also established trade schools for young adults. Everywhere that we have established a school, we have also planted a church.
Our agriculturalists give people seeds to plant and teach them a better way to reap a harvest. In the process, they tell their stories and start a new church. As well as seeing spiritual transformation, we also witness socio-economic transformation as we help people to become more productive and happier citizens. We also have a microfinance scheme, and we advocate for the victims of injustice.
We take a very holistic approach to church planting and we do whatever it takes. Once, during a medical training I did in the US, I met a dentist who became passionate about wanting to help us. So I asked him if he would come to Sierra Leone and train some of my team to clean, fill and extract teeth. “You must be joking!” he said. “It has taken me seven years of training to become a dentist.”
Eventually he spent 10 days teaching the team theory and did 10 days of practical training. To his surprise, our church planters distinguished themselves! So now we can also meet dental needs as we continue to serve God in establishing his Church and making disciples.
The son of a Methodist father and a mother from a Muslim background who became a Christian, Shodankeh Johnson serves with New Harvest Global Ministries inSierra Leone. Making use of the principles of Disciple Making Movements (DMM), he and his team have planted thousands of churches in Sierra Leone and beyond.