Jesus said in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” The heart of Primary is to train and mobilize followers of Jesus to complete this task. Joining the movement happening all over the earth by doing our part here to ensure that there is no place left where the gospel has not been proclaimed.
Primary exists to ignite a movement of disciple-making disciples. We equip, encourage and empower ordinary people to complete the extraordinary work of disciple-making through partnership with the Holy Spirit.
We have a king, His name is Jesus, and His kingdom is to be our primary concern. He challenged us with the words, “Seek first my kingdom and my righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” We unfortunately live in a world where it’s easy to be about building our own kingdom. Even as Christians, we focus on our own paths, but Jesus is worthy of our obedience and honor. We inspire and remind others to make God’s Kingdom our primary concern in life.
My name is Justin Vandewater, and I serve as a discipler, trainer and coach with Primary. I grew up in a faith-filled home in Iowa and went to school at Northwestern College. I originally was a pre-med major, but after a mission trip to Africa in 1997, my heart and eyes were opened to the people I was working with, and I knew then the calling on my life was different than what I had planned. I’ve been with Primary since 2006, and my wife, Jaymi, and I live in Sioux Falls and disciple five amazing children.
Primary is about relationship. Just like Jesus came to this earth to seek and save people who were broken and lost, we, too, walk out in our communities to intentionally build relationship with those who are far from God.
In our work, we know there are people who are hungry for God’s Word and His freedom, but we also know that God has already been working in their heart, preparing them to receive His gospel. So when we pursue these people, they welcome our hand, and we pray with them. From there, we continue these relationships within small discipleship groups among their own church or community, and then we train them to go out to the field and become disciples themselves. It’s a multiplication movement that Jesus began and that we hope to continue.
“The heart of the Primary ministry is to shed light and to accept God’s invitation to partner with Him.”
We love walking with people, and even though we know that not everybody responds to this work, we trust the partnership we are in with Jesus Christ. Jesus once told a story about the soil and the seed. Some seed would fall on rocks, and it would never take root. Some seed would fall where it took root immediately, but then the sun would come up, scorch it and the plant would die and wither right away. Other seed would fall in the ditch, where thorns and thistles would almost choke out its growth. But then some seed would land perfectly in the field and into the fertile soil, where it would produce a beautiful crop.
You never know who you are working with and what the level of response is going to be. Some people are really excited, but then the cares of life come and no root takes place, and others reject the message all together, but we trust that there are people who’s heart is fertile soil waiting to receive the seeds of God’s kingdom. We scatter seed, and just like the farmer, there is faith in this process that the Holy Spirit is at work. The pressure is not ours to endure!
The heart of the Primary ministry is to shed light and to accept God’s invitation to partner with Him. Jesus said, “Come to me if you are weary, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is light, and my burden is easy.” He’s not wanting to put a heavy burden on us. Our obedience toward Him is all about love. Jesus said, “if you love me, you will obey my commands.”
Jesus has challenged us to pick up our crosses so we can partner with Him and His sufferings and bless Him the way He blessed us by becoming disciples of this earth. We build relationships to help people pursue Jesus Christ as their primary purpose. All else is secondary.
There is an apartment complex near our office that we had been visiting and praying over. Specifically, we were praying for a person of peace who would respond to the gospel and be the one God would use to reach others in that area. We would knock on doors, let people know we were in the neighborhood and ask them, “Is there anything we can pray for you?” Many people were broken, hungry, isolated and addicted, but there was one woman in particular who opened her door.
Week after week that we showed up, she was always very excited to see us but also very intoxicated, so much so, that she became unable to move or take care of herself. She had lost her husband, she had lost her job, and she didn’t have anyone who was showing up for her, so we did. She physically never could have made it to a church, so if we as the Body of Christ did not go out and seek her and bring to her the love of Christ, she never would have been able to experience it. We brought her to the ER, and later helped her get to a treatment center, and today, she is sober and growing in her relationship with God. We have started a discovery Bible study with her to train her how to hear from God, obey His commands and reach other people in her context with the gospel. She is an amazing woman with an amazing sense of humor! She loves life, and she’s just a person who needed Jesus. Her life is turned around and we believe God will use her to reach others. The Holy Spirit did all the heavy lifting, we just partnered with Him, we were obedient to go, and we took care of her. We didn’t say anything complex, we just prayed, read scripture and loved on her the way she needed. Jesus saved her life, and if only we are willing, God will continue to disciple through His people in profound ways.