Who is our neighbor?
Going global with Nate Harkness
Who is our neighbor? Often times I think we limit the definition of our neighbor to the person who lives next door to us or the person we sit next to at work or in school. As we learn through God’s word, our neighbor is so much more than what proximity denotes–our neighbor is in everyone made in God’s image. She is in our neighborhood. He is in our country. They are across the globe. Our neighbor is everywhere because God is everywhere. One of our missionaries, Nate Harkness, serves our neighbors across the world, specifically through Worldwide Discipleship Association (WDA). Please enjoy this question and answer session to learn more about Nate and his ministry:
Question: Who are you and what is your ministry?
Answer: I’m Nate Harkness. Debra (who grew up at Faith) and I moved with our kids to Fayetteville, GA in 2012 where we joined the staff of Worldwide Discipleship Association (WDA). I started as an international trainer. I got to travel with amazing godly men to train Christian leaders all over Africa. Our hope was to give them a passion for doing life-on-life discipleship the way Jesus did it.
In 2017, I took over for my predecessor Ken Hewett as the Director of International Ministries and began traveling in Asia and Latin America, as well as Africa. Right now I oversee 15 foreign field missionaries and a number of American staff and volunteers conducting WDA trainings in over 20 countries. Last year about 13,500 people went through one of our small groups or training experiences.
Question: How did God call you into your current field of ministry?
Answer: It’s kind of an amazing story. I felt called to be a missionary to Africa when I was 13 during a missions conference at Lakeview Covenant in Duluth, where I grew up. I’d never been out of the USA or met an African person to my knowledge. But something in me “just knew” that’s what I was supposed to do. Over time I fell in love with African culture and developed a strong burden for an unreached nomadic people group called the Fulani.
During seminary, I started asking God to lead me in very specific ways. One day, I felt a strong leading to take a trip to Atlanta even though I had no reason to go… and really no interest. But I got the plane ticket in faith, believing God would show me what to do when I got there. While there I met Bob Dukes, the president of WDA. After our meeting, I became more interested in discipleship and I started discipling younger guys and leading small groups. WDA had been praying for several years for someone to take over the international ministry when Ken retired. It felt like a perfect fit for my international calling. And WDA’s “Restoring Your Heart” emotional healing ministry appealed to Debra who had just graduated with a masters in counseling. So we joined staff and started raising support in 2010 to work with WDA full time.
Question: How do you see God working in and through your ministry?
Answer: It’s been such an adventure working for WDA. I’ve seen a growing hunger in the church, especially in Africa for biblical training and resources on discipleship. We have a series of progressive small group discipleship studies that are being used a lot in places like the Congo and Ethiopia. Our Restoring Your Heart groups are growing quickly in Zambia. And our training seminars are being conducted by national leaders all over India and the Philippines. Since 2015, our footprint (by numbers of leaders trained) has roughly doubled each year, and last year it tripled. I’ve had the joy of personally mentoring some of our new leaders in Zambia, Kenya, and India who are now bringing the message about the “Jesus Method” of discipleship to neighboring countries.
One of the exciting projects I’ve been working on is an online leadership development school that can be implemented in small groups at a local church anywhere in the world. I’m hoping it will become a bible school alternative that focuses on people doing discipleship as much as on learning about discipleship. We already have groups starting in the US, India, and Nigeria.
I’m also really excited about the opportunity to nurture disciple making movements among the Fulani. I’ve had a few chances to train Christian Fulani missionaries in Nigeria and Ghana. I’m hoping this year, I’ll have a chance to launch an all-Fulani discipleship ministry in Senegal, West Africa.
Question: What are some ways we at Faith can get involved?
Answer: I’d love to invest in some adventurous disciple makers. If anyone at Faith is interested in training and mentoring Christian leaders in some “bushy” environments around the world, I’d love to train them and take them along. God does some amazing things and I’ve heard people say it’s the best missions trip they’ve ever taken! Our teams are really small and the opportunity to make a lasting impact is really high. This year, I’ll be in India, Sri Lanka, Senegal, and Nigeria.
Right now, I’m focusing on sharing the vision of the ministry with potential donors. So I’m on my way to Minnesota on October 17 for the purpose of raising new monthly supporters. If anybody there is willing to hear more, I’d really love to take them out for coffee while I’m in town, get to know them, share about the ministry, and share some ways they can help. Even if people can’t help financially, there are creative ways to help our family and ministry by giving things like volunteer time, skills, airline miles, or connections with like-minded people.
I’d also love some adventurous pray-ers on our team: folks who can pray a full day during one of our trips, who can pray in the middle of the night, who can listen to God with us and share what they hear; people who can do spiritual battle with us in places like Indonesia, Myanmar, and Uganda.
Nate, we so appreciate your heart for making disciples of all nations. My hope is that we would walk alongside you and your family in prayer and in presence as you continue to use your gifts for God’s kingdom. We look forward to hearing more from you this Sunday during service and for the missionary reception at 11:45am after second service in the Legacy Chapel. If you’d like to learn more about Nate’s ministry, his writings, or try some of his delicious coffee (he’s a man of many talents!) please visit the links below.
The Ministry: http://disciplebuilding.org/give/nathan-harkness
The Blog: www.nathanharkness.blogspot.com
The Coffee: lovenomads.org
Director of GO & Communications