Generations of disciplemakers in the Oklahoma City area are now impacting lives around the world—from businessmen glorifying God in their work and making disciples—to changed lives and clean water.
Steve Trice, chairman of the board for Jasco Products, a home electrical and electronics company in Oklahoma City, reflects on the generations of disciples God has been raising up over the years. “Navigators has been a huge part of my life. Gene Warr discipled John Repass. John discipled Dan Williams. Dan discipled me. My life, my family, and the business I steward have been transformed as a result. I started discipling Dr. Rick Kopke while Dan discipled me and we walk through life together.”
Dr Kopke, president of Hough Ear Institute, says, “I met Steve about 15 years ago and he started discipling me. He has mentored me in business and spiritually, encouraging me as we shared the joys or challenges of life together.”
The disciplemaking movement continues as Dr. Kopke disciples people in his organization. Steve says, “Dr. Kopke disciples others who are on the research team, some have come from East Asia and the Middle East. I don’t know how he gets it all done, but the Lord does a lot through him! He also disciples Matt Hangen who is the CEO at Water4.”
Water4 is a faith-based nonprofit that helps people—primarily in Africa—solve the water crisis in their own communities. Dr. Kopke says, “It has been fun to see how Matt’s been a big influence in his organization to keep discipleship going in Africa.”
“From the beginning discipleship has played a huge role in my spiritual life,” Matt shares. “Dr. Kopke taught me to love and serve people and focus my heart on my relationship with Jesus. Having that shown to me through discipleship is the model that we use for everything in Water4. The gospel will only have an impact on the world through multiplication. We are seeing families who had no faith at all now baptizing people in remote Congo—sharing safe water all while focusing on sharing the true Living Water.”
The commitment to provide clean water for communities across Africa is personal for Matt. When he and his wife, Grace, were missionaries in Togo, West Africa, they saw firsthand the cruel reality of lack of access to clean water. A friend’s adopted child died due to water-borne illness—an illness that would have been prevented with regular access to safe, clean water.
What is accepted as normative across so many areas, that children will die and life is uncertain, became a call from God on Matt’s life. He researched inexpensive well drilling methods to change the water situation in this one village. His friend said, “But Matt, there are other villages that have the same problem with disease and need this kind of well too!”
While researching water solutions, Matt learned about Water4, which works in local areas through a business as mission model. When an autoimmune disease meant he and his wife had to move back to the United States, Matt still wanted to dedicate himself to safe water, and to pair water access with discipleship and life transformation in communities through local pastors and churches. He now serves as the CEO of Water4.
With clean water comes purification, a parallel to the cleansing of salvation through Jesus. This is the analogy those who live and work in Africa for Water4 use to share the good news and help others to know God and grow in Him. The gospel and clean water are spreading.
While access to clean water is essential for healthy communities, water kiosks are also gathering places for people. During the coronavirus pandemic, the challenge is to provide clean water in a way that does not spread infection through a community. Water4, in partnership with the local government, has added handwashing facilities and soap at water access points, a simple yet essential step in community health. Many of the practices to reduce the spread of disease are difficult to implement in developing countries and their populations are vulnerable not only to disease, but to poverty and hunger among children and entire families.
A robust network of churches and pastors is core to the work of Water4. Not only do they emphasize sustainable water resources for local communities, they equip pastors to spread the gospel and multiply discipleship throughout their villages and towns.
“We emphasize very simple solutions that work around the world,” says Matt. “We train Christians to build relationships and study God’s Word. In one region of Ghana, we have seen thousands of people receive clean water and also be discipled. Now this work is multiplying as each person who is trained commits to discipling others. The impact of this multiplication transforms lives across a region.
“While churches cannot gather now, we can still do discipleship the way Jesus did, one person at a time. During this crisis, we have intensified our efforts to equip local Christians and pastors. Jesus is in the storm (Mark 4:35-41). Jesus is present with His people in this crisis, His voice can calm our anxiety. We regularly send out WhatsApp videos with reminders of God’s care and presence to our network of pastors to give them extra encouragement in this season.”
From generation to generation—from Oklahoma City to Africa—the gospel is transforming lives and offering the living water to those who are in desperate need of hope and salvation.
Pray that the work of providing water and the hope of Jesus, the Living Water, will continue in less-developed regions of the world. Praise God that disciplemaking continues even in the midst of difficult circumstances.