Dr. J. L. Williams was an evangelist and teacher who traveled around the world in apostolic ministry as God led and enabled him. In addition to preaching and teaching the Bible, he mentored key partners to be more strategic and impactful for the Gospel in their countries and cultures. He was relationally focused rather than program or project focused in ministry relationships and partnerships. J. L. went home to be with the Lord on December 28, 2016.
Dear NDI Partner (or) Circle of Friends,
One thing I have found out about being 65 is – the doctors want to see you more often! No longer are they satisfied with your annual “once a year check-up.” And they don’t want you to just come in “when something hurts.” They want you to come in ever 3 to 6 months! So as I have had to see more doctors more often – I pondered the timeliness of a “6 months ministry check-up.”
As you know, as of January 1, 2007, I stepped down from being CEO of NDI. My son Joseph was appointed to that position by our Board of Directors. Now I am CMO, or Chief Ministry Officer – which means that I am anything but retired! That word is not in my vocabulary – primarily because it is not Biblical. The Biblical norm is that some of your greatest and most effective ministry is in the sixth, seventh and eighth decades of life. That’s why people like Abraham, Moses, Joshua and Caleb are my spiritual heroes and ministry role models!
So being CMO simply means that I can stay focused as never before on my primary calling of traveling, preaching, teaching and mentoring. And as you will see in this pictorial report, the first 6 months of 2007 have been some of my busiest and most diverse in our nearly 40 years of ministry! I have literally ministered “From Kathmandu to Timbuktu!” And it has all been made possible through the spiritual and financial partnership of friends like you. Since you are receiving this report, you are numbered among our inner “Circle of Friends” who help sustain us monthly through your praying and giving. God bless you for being on the “cutting edge” with us!
I am also sending with this report one of my most recent published books, What Time Is It? Since summer time offers some liesure time for recreation, relaxation and reading – I hope you will take the time to prayerfully read through this little book. You can easily read through it in one or two sittings – whether on the beach…in your hammock…in your easy chair…or in your bathroom – wherever your favorite reading place is! And as you do read through it, I pray that it will help you evaluate your current use of time. Most of all I hope it will motivate you to “…redeem the time” for the Kingdom of God in your life…in your marriage…in your family…in your business…in your church…in your community…in your sphere of influence.
In His Kairos,
As I often do, I started this year in Asia. My primary focus was the “Abraham Conference” where we brought several hundred of the key pastors and leaders from across Nepal. In spite of the political problems, God gave us a great time of ministry with all the denominational groups in the country. One of the most humbling experiences was to honor some of the persecuted Nepali saints who had all spent time in prison for their faith! In comparison to what they had been through, my faith and commitment seemed so small.
After my time in Nepal, I flew to Hong Kong for a week of ministry – primarily in the business community and among the large Filipino population of domestic workers. I first traveled to Hong Kong for ministry in 1964 after graduating from college. God has been so gracious and faithful to take me back many times since then. And he has given us many strategic friends and partners in Hong Kong, like James and Latika Paul, who are our NDI Ambassadors in Hong Kong.
After domestic ministry during February, I spent most of March in Africa. I started in Timbuktu, Mali, an almost mystical city on the rim of the Sahara Desert. As the 4th holiest city to Islam, Timbuktu is one of the greatest Moslem strongholds in the world. So as we have done for several years, we brought strategic pastors and Christian leaders from all over Mali for a time of teaching and encouragement. And we also had special sessions each day for the women and pastor’s wives, led by my wife, Patt. There is no greater joy than to invest your life in strategic leaders like these!
After Mali, we traveled to Kumasi, Ghana, where we focused this year on ministry for women in our “Dorcas Conference.” This was a unique conference since half the day was dedicated to Bible teaching and the rest of the day to practical hands-on training in things like sewing, quilt making, home decorating and flower arranging. And as we do each year, we bring 1/3 of the participants from the North that is dominated by Islam and the poorest spiritually and economically.
After the Women’s Conference in Ghana, Patt returned home with our other teachers. I went on to Ethiopia to teach two Conferences for the Kale Heywet Church – the largest group in the country with over 7 million members. We have been in partnership with them for over 25 years. I first did a Leadership Conference for their 60th Anniversary in Awassa, as well as one in Addis Ababa.
My focus in April was Haiti – our oldest field of involvement. I was invited there by our long-time friend and partner, Chavannes Jeunes, who has strategic monthly meetings in the National Palace, or “Haiti White House.” It was my joy to be the key note speaker there for the second time, and meet with Haitian delegates from the Diaspora in America, Canada and Europe. Then I went to the southern city of Cayes to preach at the annual convention of MEBSH, the largest indigenous church in the country. I have preached this convention several times in the past – always attended by 15,000 – 20,000 people. And as you can see, it is hot – physically as well as spiritually!
In May we took a “new direction” with a new initiative called “Ministry To The Motherland.” This was a ministry to African American pastors that Dr. Jim Seymour and I envisioned together. We have 5 strategic Black pastors with us on this historic pioneer mission where we ministered with two of our key partners, Bishop Trevor Manhanga and Pastor Simon Mkolo.
After our Motherland Ministry, Dr. Seymour and I traveled to Yei, Sudan, for a Conference in this country that has been devastated by nearly 30 years of warfare. The hostile Islamic regime in the north has killed over 2 million people and displaced 4 million more as refugees – the majority of whom are Christians. And their genocide continues in Darfur. So what a challenge and joy to minister hope to these leaders who have lived and fought through atrocities and hardships that we cannot imagine! And we also spent time at the Eden Keeper’s Farm headed by Dr. John Nyikako, our key Sudanese partner.
Before return home from Sudan, I spent a few days in northern Kenya visiting our “Samburu Sports Camp” and ministering there with our beloved partner, Stakwell Yurenimo. I also got to meet my latest grandchild – “Wendy,” recently born to Stakwell and Francesca.
As I hope you can see from this “6 months check up” – I have been anything but retired since January 1st! And by God’s grace – in partnership with you, I will continue to “redeem the time” as long as the Lord gives me breath, health and strength! If I have anything to do with it, I intend to “die with my boots on” in some strategic part of the world where God’s Spirit is at work planting His Church! I hope you will be there with me through your love, prayers and financial support!
In Him…through Him…For Him,
$7,000 to sponsor our next Conference in Ghana the last of August
$5,000 for a solar system for a well just successfully drilled for the Samburu Tribe
$5,000 to build a house in Yei, Sudan, for Dr. John Nyikako
$2,000 to build a basketball court in Mali, West Africa
$7,000 to buy a used van for ministry in Gao, Mali
$500 to build Cabin for Sports Camp
Many anthropologists consider Africa to be the cradle of human civilization. They believe that Africa is the “mother continent” that has birthed humanity. That’s because some of the oldest “human fossils” have been found there. Regardless of the anthropological, geological or historical data substantiating this claim – the African continent unquestionably has played a significant role in both antiquity and modernity.
As one of the largest and richest continents on planet earth, Africa has played a defining role in the history of the world. Without a doubt, Africa’s history has impacted the history of much of the rest of the world. Previously known as the “Dark Continent,” Africa has been divided and bloodied by the legacies of colonialism, slavery, tribalism and nationalism. And the African continent today continues to be exploited by friend and foe alike for her abundant natural and mineral wealth – with gold, diamonds and oil being the most sought after and fought over.
But Africa continues also to lead the world in the two biggest medical and social pandemics in human history – malaria and HIV. Consider…
Currently malaria is the number one killer in the world – and Africa leads the way. It is called “Africa’s Silent Tsunami.” Malaria kills more people worldwide than any other communicable disease other than TB. And as is always the case, children and pregnant women are the most vulnerable. Sub-Saharan Africa tops the list of Malaria deaths – killing over 1 ½ million a year. That means that 3,000 children die EVERYDAY from Malaria in Africa – or an average of 3 lives every minute are taken by this mosquito-born disease!
And then there is HIV, the world’s first moral-based pandemic. Here too, Africa is “off the charts” – followed by India. There are currently some 25 million people living with – and dying from, AIDS. The average is 6,000 deaths a day. The result is that there are now some 12 million AIDS orphans in Africa! The social and economic ramifications of this is staggering – to say nothing of the spiritual implications.
However, in spite of the epidemic diseases, tribal genocide, poor education, grinding poverty, political intrigue, inept governance and institutionalized corruption – God is mightily at work on the African continent! Because of the explosive spiritual growth of Christianity, there is an average of over 20,000 people a day becoming Christians! That means that Sub-Saharan Africa has literally become the “Christian Continent” – with a higher per capita born again population than any other place on earth. Africa can no longer correctly be called the “Dark Continent.” If anything, she is the “Light Continent” with one of the most explosive and exponentially growing Christian populations in human history! That’s why I continue to travel and minister in Africa multiple times a year!
But Africa is also one of the MAJOR global battlegrounds between Christianity and Islam. Militant Islam is on the march across Africa. Radical Moslems have as their battle cry: “From Cairo to Cape Town, we will sweep the African Continent!” Ever since the days of Mohammed, Moslems have controlled virtually all of North Africa. There the crescent of Islam flies unchallenged. But they know if they are to bring all of the African Continent into their Islamic fold, they have to stop the explosive growth of Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa. Further, they specifically have their Islamic cross-hairs set on Ghana in the West and Ethiopia in the East. That’s because those two countries have the longest and most deeply entrenched Christian histories on the African Continent. So they cannot sweep West Africa without Ghana – and they cannot sweep East Africa without Ethiopia. Both of those countries NDI has been consistently involved in for over 30 years. We have some of our most long-term partnerships and projects there. And I will be back ministering in both West and East Africa several more times before the end of this year.
With those words of introduction about the historic and spiritual significance of Africa, please look at the following pictorial report from my recent ministry there – this time in Zimbabwe, Sudan and Kenya. It was truly another exciting and fulfilling “Ministry to the Motherland!”
Zimbabwe is literally our oldest country of involvement in Africa – dating back to 1983. I was first invited there by Dr. Jim Seymour, who was serving as a missionary there during those tense days leading up to Zimbabwe’s Independence. He had accepted Christ as a university student at a Crusade being conducted by Leighton Ford. New Directions provided the music and counseling at those events in large tent in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Appropriately, one of our Black teenagers counseled with Jim when he came forward to publicly accept Christ. That began a relationship with NDI that has lasted and grown until this very day.
Remembering how NDI’s interracial ministry had impacted his life as a college student, Jim invited me to come to Zimbabwe with one of our Black musicians to minister in those racially-charged days immediately after Independence. He felt that such a “salt-and-pepper” team-ministry could incarnate the racial reconciliation that Christ brings. God wonderfully blessed that first ministry trip to Zimbabwe – and to the African Continent. I have been incurably “hooked on Africa” ever since!
So it was a great personal delight to return to Africa with Dr. Seymour on this mission (He is currently Chairman of the Religion and Philosophy Department at St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, NC. He is also the Director of ARKS, or Accumulated Resources of Kindred Spirits, which facilitates and funds ministry domestically and internationally). Over a year ago Jim and I envisioned together a special outreach we called “Ministry to The Motherland.” It would be a unique mission trip that would be exclusively for African American pastors. So this trip I have just returned from was the first historic mission for this new ministry – that will become an annual event for us at NDI and ARKS. The following pictures share some of the highlights of that trip…
After our 5 days of ministry in Yei, Sudan, we flew back to Nairobi, Kenya. From there we took a small AIM AIR charter flight up to Kurungu and South Horr to be with our Samburu partner, Stakwell Yurenimo. He is such a dedicated and dynamic young leader who heads the “Samburu Youth & Sports Camp” that we have been developing in Northern Kenya. This Camp has become one of the most popular places for tribal young people to compete several times a year. Each trip we are able to make improvements and expansions in the facilities that greatly enhance its outreach. So enjoy a few pictures from this tribal area of Kenya…
Thanks so much for taking a few minutes to travel with me through Zimbabwe, Sudan and Kenya by these pictures and captions. I pray that you have been blessed, edified and challenged. And I especially pray that you have been greatly encouraged by the fact that each of these mission trips to minister with our beloved National partners – is totally made possible through the prayers and financial support of friends like you! Without your spiritual and financial support, we could not be helping these strategic partners and projects move forward and upward for God’s glory and for the blessing and benefit of the local people. It is your investment in us that makes our investment in them possible!
Click here to look at the photos from the trip and select Photos from the Field and select May/June Africa 2007.
In His partnering love,
PS: For those of you who are serious Bible Students and hearty readers, I have also posted a timely study for Father’s Day entitled “Authentic Fatherhood.” I hope you that many of you will take time to read and study it – and down-load it to share with others in your church, Sunday School Class or Bible Study.