Surfing missionary rides wave of the Spirit in Tonga, as revival hits island nation


By Mark Ellis

Zack and Anna with their children
Zack and Anna with their children

After working for a couple years in West Africa, Zack Woolwine and his wife, Anna, began to seek the Lord about their next mission assignment with Youth for Christ. They returned home to Ohio, but after a year they were ready to go back overseas.

Zack grew up in Florida and attended college in Hawaii, where he was able to nurture a passion for surfing. As he and Anna researched countries, the island of Tonga continued to grab his heart.

Was he drawn to minister in a place where could also ride a few waves? he wondered.

“I have a heart for remote places, but I always thought I would work in North Africa or the Middle East,” he recalls. Zack says he was willing to serve in a restricted country where his life might be at risk.

When Tonga continued to grab his heart he wondered if it was just “his flesh talking” or God’s leading. Over the next few weeks it became an internal struggle as he fasted and prayed unto the Lord.

One morning Zack sat in the front row at church and poured his heart out to God. “If you want me to go to Tonga, I’ll go to Tonga,” he told the Lord. “If you want me to go to the Arab world, I will go to the Arab world.”

That morning the church had a guest speaker – someone who had never met Zack. In the middle of the man’s sermon he stopped abruptly, looked at Zack and said: “God has already shown you what you need to do. You need to start preparing for it.”

The following week, a woman approached him at church and said, “I had a dream about you last night. You were on an island and it was really green and you were riding these waves. It was the Holy Spirit and it wasn’t a big effort. You were enjoying yourself and you had a big smile on your face.”

Zack was amazed as he listened. With one confirmation after another, Zack and Anna landed in Tonga.

Initially, they established a youth center on the outer island of Vava’u and were slowly building some momentum when they got an unexpected letter from the Bank of Tonga, informing them they were delinquent on the mortgage for the property. They were paying rent to someone they thought owned the property, but apparently, that individual was pocketing their rent money and not making payments to the bank.

They closed the youth center and sought the Lord about their next moves. At the suggestion of his former boss in West Africa, Zack began to read T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution by Steve Smith with Ying Kai.

Zack got more and more excited as he read the book. “If this stuff is only half true, this is what I want to do!” he exclaimed.

“I finished the book, but I still didn’t know how to actually do it,” he recalls. He sent out emails to his ministry contacts, asking if someone could recommend some curriculum. He was amazed when his former boss said he located a T4T trainer in Australia who would fly over to help them.

The T4T approach had never been tried in a Polynesian context. During the training, they sent several young men out on ‘homework’ assignments, sharing the gospel, and the first day 14 people accepted Christ.

“People started coming to Christ like crazy,” Zack reports. In 2014, there were 275 who began to follow Jesus. Then 175 who accepted Christ went through the discipleship training and began to disciple others.

A young man named Carter, who works full-time at the bank, caught the vision and at one point was leading 17 groups. Carter began to train his girlfriend living in the capital of Nuku’alofa by phone.

Due to the overwhelming response, Zack and Anna decided to move to the capital and start T4T there. When he made contact with Carter’s girlfriend, he discovered she was already leading six groups.

What is going on here? he wondered.

Zack met with the leaders of four denominations and they all wanted to go through the training. He is receiving invitations from Fiji, Tahiti, Samoa, and New Zealand to share about what he’s seeing the Lord do on Tonga.

God has supplied a wave of the Spirit that goes beyond any surfing adventures he could have imagined. “I’ve thought back on that prophecy numerous times,” he says. “It’s like we’re riding along and God is bringing the stuff and doing the stuff and we’re not even doing it.”

“That’s exactly what she prophesied and exactly what’s happening.”



  2. God bless and use each and every one of these who are newly born again to fulfill the purposes God has for thier lives and may he bless you and all yours for your faithulness to share Christ. Amazing Favour and Grace be upon you.

  3. Great job. Glory be to God. Keep on riding the surf. There are many more Tongas to conquer for Christ world over.
    By the way, what is T4T and how can I lay my hands on a copy either hard or electronic.
    My calling is to train, mentor and empower youths as leaders of the next generation.
    Thank you for obedience to His call.
    Tunde Akindele
    Jedidiah Empowerment & Leadership Foundation (JELF)

  4. T4T-A Discipleship ReRevelution is in written form and you can also find things online about it and some training. Do a search on T4T or Jeff Sundell (he has some training and does this in the U.S.) They have trainings all over the world. I’ve been trained and live in the Colorado. Its simply a way to make disciples who in turn make disciples and on and on. It’s about multiplication not addition. Anyone can do it and it’s simply the way Jesus taught his disciples. If you live in the U.S you can write or call WIGTAKE Resources P.O box 1884 Monument, CO 80132; 1 (719) 646-3190 or go to The book is 340 pages.

    I also just found this: Now, for the first time, Ying (husband and wife who started this in China) has agreed to make his training available to a wider network. If you are interested in having Ying and Grace come to your church or ministry setting to assist in T4T training, drop them an email at:

  5. For some reason it doesn’t want to e-mail to insert so go to the website mentioned above and you can find the entry and their e-mail.

  6. Hi

    Re the T4T training:

    If you are US based, visit or

    In Australia and NZ go to:

    Steve Smith and Ying Kai will be training in Australia in May, 2015:

    I’m in the UK and aware of opportunities around the world for training:

    I can also put you in touch with Grant Morrison who is doing T4T training across the South Pacific and knows Zach.


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