Unexpected outcomes: Two German missionaries’ journey with the DNA

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Ideas have consequences, and the DNA is humbled to be used by God to help shift people’s paradigms, reorienting them to God’s truth, sometimes in ways that change the trajectories of their lives or careers. For German medical missionaries Jens and Eva Vaylann, an encounter with the DNA envisioned them with a wholistic way of doing missions that more fully fulfills the Great Commission. Their interaction with DNA materials has produced incredible fruit for God’s kingdom.

Jens (left) works as a surgeon in a hospital in rural Kenya and trains African physicians to become surgeons. Eva is a scientist with a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular medicine. She spends her days raising their two young children, training church leaders in Kenya, and working in the mission hospital. Jens and Eva founded a small missions organization called actMED.

Shortly after arriving in Africa, Jens and Eva began to encounter the vestiges of an older missionary culture they found distressing: Western missionaries, living in compounds isolated from local people, often treating them in a somewhat paternalistic manner and practicing a form of ministry that unintentionally fostered dependency.

This led to a bit of a crisis for the Vaylanns. As new missionaries, they began to wonder if this is what Christian missions looked like everywhere. It was during this time that someone gave them a copy of Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert’s excellent book When Helping Hurts. This book showed them a different approach to missions—one that treated those being served with dignity and didn’t foster debilitating dependency.

That book led to further study and reflection, eventually leading them to a book they already had on their shelf but never had an interest in until now—a book they acquired though a Youth with a Mission (YWAM) training program in South Africa—Discipling Nations by our own Darrow Miller.

This book was a revelation. Through it, they began to see that Christianity is more than a message of spiritual salvation but a comprehensive worldview. They also came to realize that missions is about replacing lies with truth: truth about ultimate reality, human identity, resources, stewardship, and much more. It is helping God’s transforming truth penetrate into and shape every aspect of culture.

In short, Christian missions is about cultural transformation—or discipling the nations. It is a process that begins with individual regeneration through the gospel, then ripples outward into society, influencing every aspect of culture.

Digging deeper into the DNA

This was a true paradigm shift for Jens and Eva, and they were captivated. They began to research online, to learn more about the book and its author, and quickly discovered there was an organization (indeed, a global network!) behind the book. They also discovered our Coram Deo online training program and immediately enrolled in the Basics course with several of their friends in Germany.

When these friends experienced the same “ah-ha” the Vaylanns had, they were hooked. Eva reached out to our office by email to enthusiastically inquire how we might support them to spread this teaching to others in their network in Africa.

Nampula is an impoverished, predominantly Muslim region of Mozambuque.

Jens and Eva said they wanted to introduce the DNA’s teaching to a church leader and colleague of theirs from Nampula province in northern Mozambique. They asked if the DNA had any African trainers whom they might fly to Nampula to conduct a Vision Conference, with their colleague serving as the local host and convener.

Judith Murungi (standing), a long-time DNA associate, has trained hundreds of adults and youth in Africa in the DNA’s messages of biblical worldview and the role of the Church in society.

We recommended several excellent African trainers, including our dear friend Judith Murungi from Kampala, Uganda.

Judith traveled to facilitate a one-week Vision Conference for Mozambican pastors supported by Jens and Eva. As is customary, the training concluded with participants planning a “Seed Project,” a small-scale project thoughtfully planned and carried out by local churches, using local resources, as a demonstration of God’s love to people in the community.

In this case, local churches decided to organize a community clean-up day, building public latrines and an education center for the community.

As with many such Seed Projects, this one laid the foundation for the local church’s ongoing ministry caring for vulnerable widows and orphans in multiple ways.

Over time, local Muslim leaders took notice of the effort’s positive impact and asked the pastors if they could join in. They made it clear that they didn’t want to join the church but wanted to be part of bettering their community. The pastors gladly agreed. As they worked side-by-side, new friendships began to form—new trust. The result?

More than 400 of these Muslims became Christians!

Reflecting on God at work

What had God done? Through a book (Discipling Nations) and our new Coram Deo online training, He had given hope and fresh vision to a discouraged German missionary couple in Kenya, which led to their reaching out to us, and our connecting them to a Ugandan trainer, who delivered that training to Mozambican pastors for the purpose of making Christ’s invisible kingdom visible in Nampula province, with the result that some 400 Muslims became followers of Jesus Christ!

What an amazing God we serve. What a thrill to have even a small part to play in His elaborate plans that span the globe and bring together people from the United States, Germany, and Uganda, all to give new vision to churches in Mozambique and reach Muslims in that country with the love of Jesus Christ.

Coram Deo reaches into Germany

Jens and Eva felt compelled to share this same teaching with Christians in Germany by contextualizing and translating curriculum based on the video scripts and lesson readings of the Coram Deo Basics course.

That German Coram Deo curriculum now is completed, and it is truly an excellent resource, beautifully formatted with graphics and images (click here to download the Basics manual in German).

Colleagues of Jens and Eva in Germany, Switzerland and Austria now are using it in small-group discipleship, and they report that it is having a real impact on Christians in these nations as well.

Click here to see what the actMED team developed

And as if that weren’t enough, they even shared Coram Deo with missionary friends working in Thailand who became so excited by what they learned that they asked us for permission to begin subtitling and translating the Basics course into the Thai language, a work that is now underway.

This is what the DNA is–an alliance of diverse but like-minded people independently motivated to spread God’s truth in their own contexts. For the Vaylanns, their journey with the DNA started with a book and is producing good fruit now in multiple nations.

How about you? How did your journey with the DNA start, and what are you doing now? Whether small or big, we’d love to hear your story. Please share it with us at info@disciplenations.org.

Learned something new? Have a question? Enjoying this post? Let us know!

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Christian Overman
6 years ago

Truly remarkable story. A “God thing,” for sure. Praise the Lord!

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