Have you ever seen a story map?
by Brad Smith, Executive Director
Some of them look like flow charts; some look like webs or wheels with spokes coming out of a center; some have boxes and arrows that zigzag around. The idea is to show that a story has many parts and that some things happen in isolation while others have direct consequences.
We have been fascinated to notice and recognize God at work on MOV’s story map. The MOV chart looks like a wheel, but each “spoke” then takes on its own flow!
Let’s start with the “missionary friends” spoke. This flow starts with a long-term friendship with Phil Schlener from the 1980s. Our family visited his in Portugal in 2008 to help out at the school where they served as missionaries, and I had the opportunity to speak at his church. That led to an MOV conference in Lisbon (2013). Then Phil took a new assignment in Africa that resulted in three MOV conferences in Sierra Leone in 2019. Some 60 MOV discipleship groups launched at those conferences. Here are three of more than 400 testimonies received from that trip:
“This conference has really impacted my life. From now on I want to be a changed man.”
“Some of my responsibilities were not done. God is telling me that I have to do all I am supposed to do in connection to him, my fellow men, my wife, my children, and my job. I pray that God helps me to take back my responsibilities in full.”
“I was not a frequent churchgoer. But after this conference I will become a frequent churchgoer and a great believer of God. I will pray every day and encourage all family members to attend church.”
Also, as a result, pastors asked us to return for a new conference in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and one in Monrovia, Liberia (2019). Can you see the spoke branching off and flowing different directions?
Do you see the pattern? Long-term friends → missionaries → MOV conference hosts. Who are your missionary friends? Can you arrange for us to meet with them to discuss an MOV conference?
U.S. churches send MOV teams to their men’s retreats and their international adopted groups. Pender United Methodist in Fairfax, VA, supports MOV, and had me speak at a men’s retreat. Then arranged for MOV conferences in Paraguay (2015) and Peru (2016) where they are heavily involved.
Missionary John Eisenberg from Paraguay said, “The MOV program filled a much-needed niche for the forming of men in the church. Bishop Pedro continues with your purpose of developing men who are free of spiritual bondage to sin and spiritually alert to ways of preventing the enemy of their souls from having the upper hand in their families and communities.”
Centreville Baptist Church in Centreville, VA, has been another spoke. MOV has not only conducted a men’s retreat for them, but has held conferences for the groups CBC is involved with in Montenegro (2014), Haiti (2015), and most recently, Russia (2018). From the Russia conference, many men said they need fellowship with male brothers to help them stand strong. One man also said, “God rebuked me in many things. I have a lot of things in which I have to change and grow. Thank you for this conference. May God bless you.”
Do you see the pattern? Local church → international relationships → MOV conferences. What international ministries and missions are your church involved with? Can you arrange for us to connect with them to discuss an MOV conference?
Charles Mwase started out as a host and attendee at an MOV conference in Malawi. Then he became a speaker and team lead for Men of Valor. MOV-Malawi has hosted over 14 conferences in the last three years. In 2019, he took the messages across borders: to Tanzania and Mozambique. In the coming years, we are trusting God for him to go to DR Congo, Burundi and Zambia.
But, how did Charles find out about MOV? From an early conference MOV conducted in Zambia in 2013. Host pastor, John Chellah, gave me the name of a friend: Charles.
Each thing leads to the next, and the story grows and grows, branching out, heading new directions. And where is that particular storyline going? Well, another flow has emerged…
Charles won’t have to cross the Tanzania border again, because Pastor Green Ngusa in Mbeya, Tanzania, formed a MOV team! He has conducted over four conferences to date. Green was attended an MOV conference, helped with the next one, and then said, “I want to do this!”
Charles and Green aren’t the only national leaders who have formed teams to take the messages to their own countries.
Thanks to another person's interest from the early conference in Zambia, MOV was invited to South Africa. A man who attened that conference invited us to Kenya. And now, Pastor Michael Orieny in Kenya has been doing conferences there for several years! He also attended two MOV conferences and then started using the materials. His approach is as a disciple-maker: He takes small groups of men at a time through the conference materials.
Do you see the pattern? Conference attendee → conference arranger → conference speaker.
There are many more spokes, many more story lines, many amazing things that happen. What is it that makes men excited enough to take the message on and start their own story flows? At each conference, men come up and say, “We’ve never heard this before.”
We are grateful for ministry partners who have prayed and given so that we can teach men what it means to be faithful men of God―men who lead and have an impact on their families, churches, and communities. Our team members’ interest, support, and generosity have resulted in stories everywhere we go.