Ep 15 – Preparing the Soil: Helping Liberian Cocoa Farmers be Fruitful

In this episode you will hear from three people who recently returned from visiting a rural Liberian village.  While there, they shared the gospel, discipled believers, trained teachers, dedicated the Mack and Pattie Hannah library, provided health education, and listened to local Cocoa farmers talk about what they need to be successful.

Out of those conversations, a vision has developed for a Christ-centered Cocoa Processing Facility that has the potential to change the lives of many families in the Gbansue village.

Check out episodes 6 & 7 of the Mission Life podcast for an interview with Jessy Togbadoya, founder of the Balama Development Alliance, the ministry featured in this podcast.

Also visit www.balamaproject.org



What did Jesus talk about the most (and we rarely do)?

What do you think Jesus talked about more than anything else?

Money? The poor? Love? God’s judgement? Going to heaven? Getting saved?

Maybe he talked about going to church or reading the Bible or praying. Or maybe living right or serving. Those seem to be topics that Christians talk a lot about these days.

You might be surprised to know that Jesus talked about something called the kingdom of God more than anything else.

It was the topic of his first sermon (Mark 1:15). It was his last sermon too (Acts 1:3). He said the proclamation of the kingdom is why he came (Luke 4:43).

Jesus taught about the kingdom wherever he went. He described it using parables (Matthew 13, Mark 4.) He sent his disciples out to teach the kingdom too (Luke 10:9.)

Jesus was consumed with the kingdom and teaching his disciples to proclaim it to others. Yet, today, what are Christians talking about?

We find ourselves concerned about many things. Culture. Causes. Our churches. But where is the kingdom?

Jesus taught us to seek the kingdom first and everything else we worry about would take care of itself (Matthew 6:33.). But we seem to prefer worrying about the other things.

Why is that? Maybe we don’t understand the kingdom of God. Maybe we fear it (after all we can’t control it, market it, show it off to kingdom shoppers, buy it, program it, or package it.)

Maybe we are eager to build our own kingdoms too. Maybe our other concerns seem more relevant and pressing.

The fact that Jesus talked about the kingdom more than anything else should tell us something. The kingdom is vitally important.

It should also mean that to truly be like Jesus we talk about what he did too.

And more than talk, we must demonstrate it.

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” I Corinthians 4:20


What would you talk about if you were raised from the dead?

After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” Acts 1:3
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If you died and came back to life, what would you talk about?

No doubt such an experience would be ‘life changing’ and be a subject for discussion.

Would you describe what you saw? Would you talk of bright lights, voices, seeing people you knew? Would you write a book or make a movie?

Would you have a new sense of purpose and meaning? After all, you must have been brought back for a reason.

These would all be normal reactions to a rather unique experience. Chances are you would not act like it was expected and just continue on like you had been doing before death.

Hopping right back into work. Completing a task. Finishing a story you were telling prior to death.

Yet this seems to be just how Jesus reacted to his own resurrection.

The book of Acts tells the stories of Jesus’ followers after he left them. It tells of the beginning of the new Jesus Way movement.

But the book opens with a curious description of what Jesus was doing after his resurrection. Turns out he was not so amazed. He did not describe what he saw. He did not seek acclaim for having a supernatural experience.

Instead he seems to pick up just where he left off. He continues teaching his followers what he was teaching them prior to his crucifixion.

Jesus treats his own resurrection like it was expected, not a surprise. And it was expected. He predicted it.

He also sees no reason for it to change his focus of teaching people about the kingdom of God.

So for 40 days after his resurrection Jesus continues to teach what it looks like when God is the King of someone’s life and when God’s will is done on earth as in heaven.

And certainly raising His Son from the dead to defeat death and sin was central to God’s kingdom project in the first place.

While we are amazed at the supernatural and special experiences do alter our lives, for one who is focused on their purpose and knows God these events often only confirm what has always been true.

It is the kingdom that Jesus continued to proclaim after his resurrection. Its importance and arrival eclipsed what spectacular (to us) things Jesus might have seen while in the grave.

And so it is the kingdom that I will be blogging about over the next several weeks.

If Jesus spent 40 days talking about the kingdom to his disciples, hopefully I can discipline myself to write for 40 days about the topic that he spoke about the most throughout his life and ministry.

What does it look like when God is king of someone’s life and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven?


Helping Young Adults Succeed in Jamaica

Many of them have grown up as “wards of the state” in orphanages around Jamaica.  They have faced a lot of challenges in life, many that we can hardly imagine.  But hope, support, opportunity and the gospel are changing their life’s trajectory.

Since the late 1990s, a group of Jesus’ disciples from Dunwoody Baptist have been traveling to the island annually to build relationships, share God’s love and help these teenagers imagine life outside the “system.”

The group’s efforts were recently recognized in an online article in a Jamaican newspaper.  Check it out…

Jamaican Students Prepare for Their Future

Soli Deo Gloria.

When A Church Really Gets Orphan Care

Each speaker had approximately 7 minutes to convey one big idea.  It’s amazing what you can say in the time it takes a Wal-Mart cashier to smile or to find someone in an orange vest to help you in the lumber section at Home Depot.

A guy from Africa talked about the need to show how the Gospel breaks down barriers such that Hutus should see the need to adopt Tutsis and all tribes caring for all of Africa’s children.

An Ambassador talked about the need for countries to work together on international adoption policy.

Then a guy named Russell Moore (author of Adopted for Life) really impressed upon me when he spoke about the real success of  adoption and foster care ministry in a local church.

He explained how success of an orphan care ministry is not measured in how many families adopt or foster.  It is not just about a few people taking in children. (Which was honestly how I was measuring success.)

Instead, real success is when the entire church understands that adoption is fundamentally an expression of the Gospel.

Real success is when the entire church is able to not just take in troubled kids through a few families, but take in and help troubled adults.

Just like families who become multiracial and multiethnic through adoption, so should the church be.   Just as children find new families, so should all people be able to find a new family in the body of Christ.

While many may admire foster or adoptive parents, the real challenge is for the church to embrace the calling of the Gospel to proclaim the Heavenly Father’s adoption to all people.

So, in a few years when we see a bunch of kids who don’t look anything like their new parents walking around our church, hopefully we notice a lot of new faces in the crowd as well.

By the way, I am at the Summit 9 conference on adoption and foster care.