Reformed drunk Mwansa hugs his daughter for the first time

Reformed drunk Mwansa hugs his daughter for the first time

Pastor Joelson Mwansa was not always a pastor. In fact, for many years people in his Zambian bush town knew Joelson as the local drunk. 

By his own admission, he treated his wife horribly and served as a very poor example to his six daughters.

However, Joelson had an encounter with God in 2013 that radically changed his life - and the desire for alcohol left him immediately. Within days of giving his life to Christ, he felt God calling him into ministry. Joelson has since graduated from Bible school and now pastors a church in the Chililabombwe district of northern Zambia.

But God was just beginning to transform Joelson’s life. When we met recently and studied the Bible together, he was so hungry for the lessons and materials. In fact, Joelson’s biggest challenge as a pastor was not having resources with which to prepare sermons - no books and no commentaries. Throughout his three years of Bible school he received only one book: the Bible. His only other resource was the notes he took in class.

I was shocked, to say the least. African Strategic Discipleship Movement (ASDM), a ministry I serve with which seeks to disciple Christians throughout Africa, has 176 discipleship lessons prepared for African Christian leaders to use.

Joelson and I spent the next few hours looking at the lessons and together developed ways to divide these lessons into separate sermons. Joelson was so encouraged when we were done. He now had several years of sermons in his hand! I also sent him several resources that will help him in his Bible reading and devotions, including family devotions.

Joelson’s growth as he began to read, study, and teach the Bible with these additional discipleship resources was overwhelming.

To illustrate how powerfully these teachings were to Joelson’s spiritual growth, he told me the story of his oldest daughter.

In Zambian culture, fathers do not interact with their daughters. All communication and interaction is done through the mother. Part of the ASDM discipleship model is to disciple your family through family devotions, so I asked Joelson how he was able to do family devotions with his six daughters.

He told me that initially he did family devotions with his wife, who then passed the Bible teaching to their daughters. After a while, though, the older daughters had many questions that the mother was not able to answer. So Joelson’s daughters began to come to him for answers. Eventually Joelson presented the family devotions to the entire family. These consistent family devotions gradually drew the hearts of the daughters to their father.

Pastor Joelson shared with me that a few weeks ago, he embraced his oldest daughter, who is 21, for the first time in her life. As he told me of this first act of physical affection to his daughter, he and I both cried and hugged one another. The power of the gospel and true discipleship - along with the powerful love of Jesus - dispels all cultural barriers!

Please pray

  • For pastors like Joelson Mwansa who benefit greatly from discipleship resources in their churches and families, and for the equipping and training work of ASDM in Africa.

  • For the Lord to give ASDM leaders discernment and guidance as they begin to build the next cohort with new denominational leaders from 12-16 African countries. Over the next two years, these leaders will be trained and mentored as disciple-making leaders.

  • For God use ASDM to draw the hearts of fathers to their children, just as he did with Pastor Joelson.

African Strategic Discipleship Movement is a ministry that seeks to build a discipleship lifestyle among believers. To find out more about ASDM, visit their website.

By J.P. Gradone, SIM missionary and Operations Director for ASDM, Zambia