I remember when I first walked into the doors of the Wholistic Development Center (WDC). It was filled with energy and joy. The students were working on a project and while doing so were smiling, laughing and rapidly talking back and forth to each other. I had no idea what they were doing, but it must have been fun, and the joy was evident. In a nation where fatalism, persecution and poverty is widespread to find a place where young men and women are able to gather, learn a trade and study the Bible is amazing. The WDC is a bright light that shines with God’s love.
What exactly is the WDC??
WDC is a boarding school operating a two-year program. It’s small—only twenty-eight students—to allow intensive discipleship and mentoring. The curriculum of the school is a balance between vocational/life-skills training and Bible studies/discipleship. Throughout the week you will see students learning cooking, sewing, masonry work, carpentry, nutrition, small business skills and finances. A few hours later you see the same students gathering in groups to read, study, pray and worship together. The integrated format allows for deep relationship and discipleship in many areas of life. In short, the WDC provides youth with opportunities for both physical and spiritual development. Through vocational training and discipleship the center aims to see young people becoming effective Christian leaders and bringing a godly influence to their families, communities and churches.
What I learned
There were many amazing things that I took away from my visit. One in particular however, was the incredible realization that wholistic discipleship is so valuable. These students not only leave with a stronger more intimate faith in the living God but they also have a skill that makes them a valuable worker in their community and culture. The refined skill opens doors for greater work opportunity, the deeper faith gives them meaning and influence in that work opportunity (as well as their family and community) to impact it for God’s glory. Integrating faith with skills is fundamental and the center is doing a fantastic job of bringing the two together in a way that prepares students for fruitful ministry and life. As well rounded students they leave with a dynamic capacity to lead and build the kingdom of God.
While this philosophy seems natural and normal the reality is that many centers, churches and schools across the world really lean heavily or solely on one area. Students leave with a deeper faith but no skills to find work or leadership in a vocation. They struggle to make ends meet and don’t know how to influence the world outside of the church. Or they develop a skill but have an unstable faith that doesn’t ground them. They become caught in the trappings of life and fall prey to materialism, animism or other harmful lies. As I have learned this ministry model isn’t normal, which is what makes the WDC such a powerful and fulfilling ministry to work alongside.
Many times I think US churches ask: What can we really do to impact a nation? Is it church planting? Is it development work? Is it both? How does that work? As I spent time talking with the WDC staff, watched the students interact and thought about the impact this ministry was having on communities across the country I was convicted that God is truly bringing together the spiritual and the physical in a powerful way. While some students will leave and plant churches others will go and start small business, each depending on their gifting and calling. Both groups however, are penetrating a dark culture with biblical principles and truth that will allow them to have deep impact. By developing students in a wholistic way the center is preparing the students for ministry in whatever sphere they feel called to embrace.
The most profound impact on a culture will come when men and women of faith, operating in vocational ministry, banking, carpentry, cooking and everything in between authentically live out their faith in the work place and seek to glorify God right in the arena God has placed them. The WDC is preparing students to do just that! Little by little the WDC is sprinkling the culture with seeds of light. That I think is something the church can and should get behind!
My few days at the WDC were very impactful. I heard many great stories of transformation, and several students testified to the amazing things God was doing in their lives. (I encourage you to read some of those here!) If you would like to learn more about this ministry or support the work they are doing I encourage you to follow this link.
God may you bless this ministry. Bless it with your presence, favor and wisdom. Guide this center in a way that glorifies your name and builds your kingdom. Touch each student that enters the doors of this center in a deep and profound way. Prepare them for a lifetime of vibrant ministry to the sphere you call them to. Protect the ministry center from violence, persecution and harm and guard each staff member, student and volunteer. May you change that nation through the work of the WDC and be glorified through this ministry and all that it seeks to do. Amen.