An issue with his shop’s alarm system changed the trajectory of his life. Wataago, a barber in Memphis, Tennessee, didn’t expect his last appointment of the day to lead to something out of the ordinary. It happened to be with Steve Johnson, an Every Nation Campus missionary who had caught a vision to plant a church back in his hometown. Wataago sat him in his chair, finding Steve easy to talk to as he cut his hair.
When the appointment was over, Wataago began closing down the barbershop but accidentally set off the alarm. Police officers arrived and asked him to stay while the owner of the shop came. Steve decided to stay with him, and as they waited, Wataago asked him, “What’s your trade?” It was then that Steve realized God had a purpose and a plan for this mishap.
Steve hadn’t planned on sharing anything about the church plant, but as soon as he said that he was starting a church and explained the heart that God had given him for Memphis, the atmosphere shifted. Wataago’s demeanor changed and he said,
Man, this is crazy. I’ve been wanting to follow Jesus, but I cannot get my flesh under control.
Steve asked Wataago if he’d ever tried anything besides his own ways to solve his problems. He said no and told Steve his story, which included an absent father and a stint in prison. Steve began sharing his testimony. His own father was absent, and he had looked for his identity in everything around him. It wasn’t until Steve got to Austin Peay State University in 2006 and an Every Nation Campus missionary shared the gospel with him that he found peace.
He told Wataago, “The whole time I was running from God, I was trying to get my own flesh under control, and nothing worked. I just got to the point where I got tired. I was depressed, and I was broken. I needed Jesus to come into my heart.” Steve ended up giving his life to Christ at an Every Nation Campus Bible study the summer after his freshman year. He answered the call to ministry after he graduated, raised a partnership team to be a full-time campus missionary, and now God has called him to be a church planter.
Wataago connected with Steve’s testimony and knew something wasn’t right in his own life. For so long, he had tried to work things out on his own. He grew up going to church but had never made the conscious decision to put his faith in Jesus and allow God to change him from the inside out. When Steve asked if he wanted to trust Jesus, Wataago replied,
Yeah. I want to trust Jesus. I actually want to learn the Word.
He wanted to be a disciple of Christ.
Right then and there, while stuck in a barbershop with the police outside, Wataago repented of his sins and prayed the prayer of salvation, inviting Jesus to be Lord of his life.
Steve has been walking with Wataago since November of 2018, building him up and encouraging him in his faith. They finished the One2One (Every Nation’s discipleship booklet) in two weeks and have been working their way through the Purple Book (Every Nation’s biblical foundations book). Wataago has steadily grown not only in faith and knowledge, but has also become bold in prayer as he recognizes his new place in the kingdom of God.
He was the first person Steve met in Memphis that wasn’t a friend or family member, and God continues to bring Steve into divine appointments in the city. Strangers walk up to him and his church-planting team while they meet at coffee shops, asking what they’re doing in Memphis and wanting to be part of it. Their church is set to launch in August of 2019, and already God is giving them connections in their community.
Please continue to pray for Wataago as he grows in his faith, and for our church-planting team in Memphis, Tennessee, as they work to bring the gospel to that city.