Have you ever wondered what we do at School of Discipleship? We wanted to give you a snapshot of what a typical day looks like for us.
6 a.m. – The morning begins with house devotions. (Yawn…dying to self daily also includes getting up early.) Each house gathers together to read a Psalm, share personal prayer requests and then spend some time praying for each other’s requests and for the day ahead.
Next, we prepare for the day with breakfast (the most important meal of the day), individual devotions (getting our hearts in-tune with the Lord) and getting ready (we like to be clean and dressed for work).
8 a.m. – Morning prayer starts. We join the staff for a time of worship and prayer at the chapel.
8:50 a.m. – Get coffee or tea before heading to class.
9 a.m. – Class starts. We go through different books and curriculum throughout the year. Normally there’s a lecture period and then time for discussion. The most recent book we completed was Touching Godliness by KP Yohannan
10:15 a.m. – Get more coffee or tea before heading to our Vocational Training Assignment (VTA).
10:30 a.m. – VTA starts. We are placed in different departments throughout the year and serve alongside Gospel for Asia’s home team staff. We learn “on-the-job” from our trainer and become efficient in our assigned tasks.
11:45 a.m. – Circle prayer time!! Each department in the office gathers together to read a passage of Scripture and pray for the needs of the ministry.
12 p.m. – Lunch. We have an hour break for lunch to eat yummy food and either spend some time alone (for us introverts) or talk/hang out with friends (for the extroverts among us). When it’s warm enough outside, many take walks during their lunch hour.
3:45 p.m. – We have Circle Prayer Time again, committing our service to the Lord knowing we cannot do it without His help. (We pray a lot here. 😊)
4:30 p.m. – VTA ends. (Congratulations on a job well done!)
4:45 p.m. – Flex hour – we sometimes have an additional class or meeting during this time; if not, we head home for the day.
6 p.m. – Dinner prep starts. We have meal plans for house dinner days, which are at least once a week. (Yay food!) We have recipes to follow that help us learn to prepare different dishes.
7 p.m. – House Dinner. We eat dinner together as a house at least once a week, sometimes joined by staff members we invite over. It is always a great time of fellowship.
Dinner normally ends by 8 p.m. and we have the rest of the evening for homework, reading and hanging out.
Other nights of the week we will have prayer meetings, worship times, game nights or a variety of SD events.
We hope this gives you a better picture of what a day in our program looks like. Check out our Instagram feed at ‘gfaschool’ to see more.
The School of Discipleship (SD) students are currently going through their next course on The Pursuit of God. Throughout my first year in SD in 2015, I went through many different courses that brought me closer to Jesus. My favorite, by far, was the course on this book by A. W. Tozer. It wasn’t long, but each chapter was full of things that challenged me to go deeper in my walk with Jesus. I remember reading the one or two chapters before each class repeatedly and gleaning new insights each time I read them. I loved how the teachers unpacked what Tozer wrote even more through the classes in the morning.
“Before a man can seek God, God must first have sought him.” —Tozer
I came to SD to not just be discipled; I came to know Jesus more. I wasn’t satisfied with where I was at. I wanted more. I didn’t know how to follow Jesus on my own. I only saw what those around me did, and I tried to do that. I didn’t take much responsibility in my walk with the Lord. I realized how much it was up to me to follow Jesus. I had to work for it; it wouldn’t just happen on its own. It was a personal relationship I had to engage in. God was already pursuing me, I needed to respond in pursuing Him back.
“Full knowledge of one personality by another cannot be achieved in one encounter.” —Tozer
This program gives students many opportunities to meet the Lord in both purposeful and everyday situations. One thing I remember being repeated to me by some of the leaders was “You are as close to God as you want to be.” You can have everything you need to grow, but it still is something you must do. I wanted to be close to God, but I lacked that motivation to work for the relationship. Praise the Lord that He never gave up on me during that year. He kept after me, and I found myself waking up at 5 a.m. so I could have uninterrupted time with Him. I wasn’t satisfied with where I was. Tozer’s words rang true in my life: “I thirst to be made more thirsty still.” The more time I spent with the Lord, the more I wanted.
He met the sheltered 19-year-old girl who wanted to know Him. I read this passage often: “Call to Me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” – Jeremiah 33:3 I was shocked that the God of the whole earth would want to talk to me and wanted me to talk to Him about everything. Nothing was “off-limits” with Him. He cared for me and my life. I began to understand more of who He was as the year went on.
The Lord used my two years in School of Discipleship to lay a lot of ground work in my heart. I learned what it means to genuinely pursue Christ, and I am continuing that journey today. It is a choice I must make daily to go after Him.
Reflection and celebration of God’s goodness is important within Gospel for Asia and School of Discipleship. A couple times throughout their year, the students come together for “Celebration Potluck.” This is a special time for them to gather with some of the staff and share one or more ways the Lord has been faithful to them the last few months. Here’s a glimpse into the one we just had.
There’s lots of food. (I mean, there should be; it’s called “Celebration Potluck” for a reason.) Everyone brings something to share, and then we feast.
Conversations will be had throughout the night, continuing to foster community life here. There is a lot of joy and laughter.
There will then be a time of praise. The songs are picked to remind us of how good God is.
The floor is then opened for students and staff to stand up and proclaim the goodness of the Lord. It is always encouraging to see what God has done in the lives of those around you. It fuels our faith when we hear how faithful God is to show up.
The night closes with prayers of thanksgiving and hearts full of God’s goodness.
“I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever; with my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.” – Psalm 89:1
2018 is here! People are making goals and changes for the year that may or may not last beyond the month of January. (I mean who can really give up sugar and chips for life?) It is the start of a new year, a fresh start and a new beginning. What are some of your goals? How do you want to be different than you were last year? How do you want your life to be marked as a disciple of Christ this year?
Gospel for Asia has started a blog called “What Motivates Us”, and through every post it shows the heart of the ministry, what drives us to do what we do and what we are about. I’ve been thinking about that a lot, “What is supposed to motivate us as Christians?” I quickly found the answer to that question in the Bible. 2 Corinthians 5:14 says, “For the love of Christ compels us.” Some translations read that His love “controls us.” Is my life controlled by His love? Or am I living for myself? I know I am more apt to live for me than for others around me. Every decision we make often goes through the filter of “how will this affect me?”
GFA’s SD students are going into their next class on Roy Hession’s book Calvary Road, which will teach them how important it is to let the Lord have every part of their life. It helps us understand that we must give up our pride and be broken before the Lord realizing we are nothing without Him. Hession says, “The Lord Jesus cannot live in us fully and reveal Himself through us until the proud self within us is broken.” Brother K.P. Yohannan, the founder of Gospel for Asia, often refers to this book during our prayer meetings and reads it yearly.
Our pride keeps us from caring about the needs of those around us. We want to be loved and accepted by other as we are, but we have a difficult time stepping into another’s mess. Our hearts and attitudes must change, we must begin with our love for God and His love for us. We can only love others well by the Holy Spirit’s power at work in us. As He reveals His love for us and teaches us how to love, we then can love others as they are. It never starts with “self-love.” It starts with Christ’s love. The Lord shows us how we are to love others by showing us how He is loving us in our mess and brokenness. He never gives up on us. He stays. He loves us. He works on us and He makes us look more like Himself. He walks with us as we journey through learning to love.
The students are learning to live out this kind of radical love and are choosing to let their lives be marked by their love for Christ and for others.
“A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34–35 (NKJV)
The temperatures are beginning to drop (yes, even in Texas) and it’s Christmas at School of Discipleship! Around Gospel for Asia, staff and students break out cups of cocoa with marshmallows on top, decorate sugar cookies, hang ornaments on Christmas trees, and celebrate Christ’s birth! Students notice one thing different about the Christmas season at GFA – the excitement and busyness of ministry around the much anticipated annual GFA’s Christmas Gift Catalog.
Each fall, GFA mails out tens of thousands of our Christmas catalog to people all over the world. GFA’s Christmas Gift Catalog is one of the tangible ways people can minister and help show the love of Christ to the poor in Asia. Donations are given for items in the catalog such as chickens, sewing machine, bicycles or even church building materials. These gifts are then distributed all year long through the local churches in Asia and make a huge impact for so many. In 2016, more than 600,000 families in Asia were helped with a gift in this way.
How are School of Discipleship students involved with the catalog? They help with processing catalog orders and donations, and they pray alongside the GFA staff many, many times asking that God would do much in the lives of people in Asia through donations to the Christmas catalog.
These SD students are pumped for the catalog – do you have yours? Click here to order your own copy today, and donate a gift or two so you can make a lasting impact.
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The SD students are enjoying their break before they head into their next term and begin their classes again. This season is one to slow down and really appreciate those around us; a time thank the Lord for all He has done. I hope you enjoy hearing from some of our current students – the things they are thanking the Lord for and what they love about this holiday.
What are some things you are thankful for?
“I am thankful for the wonderful friends I have made here, for the opportunity to serve the Lord with other believers, and for all that God is teaching me about Himself and His character.” – Kalin
“I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the Lord here and to be able to spend the year developing character. [I am thankful] for good friends and for a great family.” – Lucas
“I am extremely thankful for FOOD. In SD, I’m thankful for my roommates. They are the most caring, loving, and gracious ladies I know. I love how we continue to grow closer to the Lord together. I love having late night chats about our classes, what the Lord is teaching us, laughing together and just enjoying each other. Living in the SD house with a bunch of girls has taught a lot of things but most of all it has taught me what godly love looks like. You are kinda forced to live with these girls and eventually you’ll grow to love them dearly. Worse comes to worse, they’ll grow to love you then you really don’t have a choice but love them back. Long story short, they become your family.” – Eveline
“I am thankful that I am here and that the Lord brought me here in His timing. I am also thankful that I am surrounded by people whose sole desire is to love the Lord and to serve Him and His people faithfully. The GFA community is far better than I could have ever imagined, the people here are so nice and so real.” – Erinn
What are your favorite parts of the thanksgiving season?
“Yummy food and wonderful fellowship that comes with the season.” – Kalin
“Being able to spend time with friends and family who I don’t see often.” – Lucas
“Remembering God’s faithfulness, His blessings, and His loving kindnesses. Thanksgiving reminds me of the sovereignty of God and how He has sustained me all these years (physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally). Remembering how thankful I am to God for the people He has placed in my life. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite seasons because I get to do two of my favorite things in the whole world: Eating lots of food and laughing/fellowshipping with people I love.” – Eveline
“….I like having thanksgiving dinner with my family and the food.” – Erinn
What are some things you are thankful for? And what are your favorite parts of Thanksgiving?
Have you ever had this experience? Your friend asks you: “Would you like to go with me to share the Gospel this weekend?” You feel the churning in your stomach. The queasiness begins to set in, and you try to think of a good excuse why you can’t.
Sharing your faith with someone is intimidating for most—including many who attend School of Discipleship! It’s common to feel as though we’re unprepared and just don’t know how to do it.
The School of Discipleship students just finished their course in evangelism training. They will continue to challenge their fears and live out the Great Commission throughout their year in SD.
Here’s how it works:
Experienced staff are with the students and lead the way! Students take three weeks of training classes and role playing to get some evangelism tools and techniques under their belt. They get their “feet wet” by handing out Gospel tracts at sporting events. Even just answering the question “what is it?” when they are handing a tract to a person and answering, “It’s a Gospel tract” builds student’s courage.
From there, students progress to doing evangelism at the Texas State Fair. While volunteering at an evangelism booth for several hours, spiritual conversations happen with much less awkwardness, and many students will experience sharing the full Gospel message.
Over the course of additional months, students receive training and practice learning how to do conversational evangelism: starting conversations with strangers by using topics like books, coffee or the weather—and then gently turn the conversation to spiritual matters.
Students learn and practice techniques for door-to-door evangelism; knocking on doors and talking with people about spiritual things takes courage! Alongside experienced staff, students learn how to step beyond their comfort zones and love others enough to share Jesus with them.
Here’s what one student shared about her evangelism experience at School of Discipleship:
“I am now confident in sharing the Gospel to the lost people in this world. [This training] has really opened my eyes in knowing that none of us are promised tomorrow, and we are responsible for being christlike and sharing our faith with our actions, speech and our lives.” –Mireya (SD graduate)
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Sometimes our lives get loud and noisy. We forget to make time to just be quiet, listen to the Lord and hear what He has to say. School of Discipleship students participate in the biblical and time-tested practice of solitude. Sunday Solitude is an occasionally scheduled time of seeking the Lord in the quiet. What does it look like?
For Sunday Solitude, students and some of the School of Discipleship team will gather together first to pray. There will be a short time of worship to get hearts set upon the Lord. A student will share a few Bible verses that have impacted them recently and how God has used those verses in their life. This brief time of sharing is a starting point as everyone enters this time alone with the Lord. Everyone disperses to find a quiet place, inside or outside, to be alone with God for about an hour.
Times like these are different than a typical devotion or prayer time. Students turn off their phones, and with a Bible, pen and journal, sit alone with the Lord and hear what He says. After the time is up, everyone gathers back and are encouraged as some share things the Lord spoke to them. The event closes with a couple songs and prayer.
Here are a few of the encouraging things shared during the last Sunday Solitude:
“He’s not asking us to be something He’s not already.
He’s asking us to be like Him.” – Lucas
“God desires to change us, if we will let Him.” – Benjamin
“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you,
‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’” – Isaiah 41:13
“No matter what we go through, God will be there with us.
He will never leave us.” – Emily
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Summer may be ending, but for School of Discipleship things are just beginning. Another class of students have accepted the challenge and set aside a year to die to themselves so they can know the Lord Jesus more deeply. It’s just been a month but they’ve already:
- Met roommates and settled into their new home
- Participated in our GFA community-wide Class Kick-Off event
- Learned how to effectively use a gospel tract
- Began their first unit: Learning about Gospel for Asia’s Core Values
Here are some pictures from the first month!
One recent graduate shares why she recommends GFA’s School of Discipleship:
“The School of Discipleship is such an amazing opportunity to set aside a year to grow in the Lord and be poured into. You get to work for the organization and learn about ministry, but you also have many chances to grow in so many ways personally throughout your year as well.”
— Kalin, August 2017 School of Discipleship Graduate
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Celebrating a Year
Last month, GFA family and guests gathered together to celebrate the 24th graduation of GFA School of Discipleship’s students. To date, 210 students have graduated from the program, and God is using them in a variety of ways and places to show the world the love of Christ. Graduation is a great opportunity for students to purposefully pause and remember the Lord’s faithfulness throughout their year as they look to the future and continue pursuing Him.
We are proud of each one of them and are so thankful to the Lord for the year they’ve invested at School of Discipleship to seek Him and know Him more.
We hope you enjoy these pictures from graduation!
A few recent graduates reflect on their year at GFA’s School of Discipleship:
“My prayer life has grown significantly. I have seen God move in so many ways and my faith has been strengthened.”
– Julia, 2016 Graduate
“I have a greater understanding of God’s character. My faith is greater.”
– Jace, 2016 Graduate
“As a result of giving God so many different little areas in my life, I’ve seen big changes in my heart since the start of this year.”
– Sarah, 2017 Graduate
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