Mo Wildey was working as a consultant for an inner-city parachurch organization and became an elder at a nondenominational church with a strong focus on church planting. When some of the work the inner-city ministry was conducting resulted in a need for a new church, Wildey approached his own church for help.
“The church told me, ‘We will be involved with the church plant if you’re leading the effort,’” Wildey recalled.
So, about seven years ago, Wildey and his wife, Susan, moved into an inner-city apartment building. Two murders took place just before they moved in, and Wildey described the complex as a place where an individual could buy whatever he or she wanted, “substances as well as people.”
From there, he started to develop a model for reaching broken people, people who may never enter a church building.
“To reach the lost we have to be able to go where they are,” Wildey said. “We need to meet them where they are and build a relationship with them, which leads to an opportunity to talk about Jesus in their purview. Now you’re talking about really being able to reach the lost.”
Wildey developed the plan to put together a community engagement hub that would provide a place to help those fighting substance abuse and addiction. As they did so, they would plant churches among those broken people. Wildey calls his church planting movement the Yeshua Society.
Callen “Cal” Ealy, Yeshua Society’s chief operating officer, is one of the lives that was radically changed by the ministry. Ealy was an alcoholic who had lost his business, his kids and his wife because of his substance abuse. Wildey met him at a Salvation Army shelter after Ealy had come close to taking his own life. He wound up committing his life to Christ and getting baptized.
As Ealy went through the Yeshua Society’s recovery program, he told Wildey that he was all in and that he would do whatever God wanted him to do with his life.
He neared the end of the program and informed Wildey that he had been offered a high-paying marketing job.
To reach the lost we have to be able to go where they are. We need to meet them where they are and build a relationship with them, which leads to an opportunity to talk about Jesus in their purview.
“I told him that I was happy for him and that I hoped he would stay in touch,” Wildey said. “He said to me, ‘Why are you saying that? It’s like you’re saying goodbye. I told you that I said I would do whatever God told me to do, and God wants me to be with you guys.’
Since going through the program, Ealy has remarried his wife and reconnected with his estranged kids.
While Wildey was seeing God move, he was not connected to a larger network of churches, but in 2017 he and his wife took a vacation that would change that.
They needed some time away, but they also wanted to be intentional with their break from ministry. So, they looked for a Christian conference to attend and discovered the North American Board’s (NAMB) Send Conference in Long Beach, Calif.
“We had no idea what it was, but it looked like there were some pretty good people speaking at the conference,” Wildey said.
During the conference, Wildey learned about NAMB’s Send Network and its focus on church planting and multiplication of churches.
“When I went to Long Beach, I didn’t know what Send Network was,” Wildey said, “but I’ve never run across an organization, a group of people, who have a greater desire to plant churches for the right reasons – building the Kingdom of God.”
With Send Network’s help, Wildey has planted a church in San Diego that follows his model – finding and reaching those in need within a community, helping them and making disciples. There are opportunities to go international.
“What we’re doing now, we could not do without Send Network,” Wildey said.
Including Indianapolis and San Diego, there are 200 people plugged into the Yeshua Society in some way. Of those, 75 either attend in person or are going through discipleship training. They began with their current model in 2019.
“I think it’s time for all of us to be open to new ways, if you will, as America is going through what it’s going through,” Wildey said. “If we are going to reach the lost, we need to be open to new ways. Of course, what we’re doing is not new. It’s the way that the church in Acts got started.”
Wildey is one of 51 missionaries or chaplains featured in NAMB’s 2021 prayer calendar, which can be ordered at nambstore.com or by calling 866-407-6262. The calendar is also available in a downloadable version.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brandon Elrod writes for the North American Mission Board.)