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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A while ago I burned my finger while washing a hot frying pan. I’ve come very close several times in the past, but this time around I did actually burn my finger. After the initial “That’s hot!” and the resulting “Wow! My finger smarts!” I started looking at the blister that was rising on my finger.
First there was the interesting factor that the tip of my finger was half again it’s normal size. That was fun, especially for typing. But more seriously was the realization that the blister was there for a reason. It was a shield; protecting the smarting and sensitive skin underneath while my body healed. It was a sterile environment where my body could focus entirely on building a new patch of skin and not have to station extra security details in order to prevent germs and dirt from getting into my body. Granted that it was a burn and not a gaping wound; that would have been a completely different situation.
As I was thinking over these things, and having fun with peoples reactions to my oversized finger (Please pop it!, What is that on your finger?, That’s gross!) it also gave me a new sense of how much genius (the word doesn’t go nearly far enough) that God put into creating my body.
Then I moved on to some other injuries. Broken bones knit together, cuts heal over, food poisoning washes itself out of your digestive system, pretty much anything that doesn’t kill you will heal after a fashion. Doctors or surgeons may be required to make sure that your bones are straight after a broken leg, or to stitch a nastier than usual cut. But God has built our body to fix itself in a marvelous manner.
Psa 139:14 NKJV – 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And [that] my soul knows very well.
Serving and Fun Can Go Hand in Hand
During their year, students can volunteer alongside staff at missions conferences and concerts. At these events, we hand out free books like Revolution in World Missions, which shares about the work of national missionaries. Sharing the ministry of GFA by handing out these free books is one way we help bring the love of Christ to those in Asia who have never heard His name.
Recently, some staff and students were at Celebrate Freedom in Dallas. This event is an annual all day music festival. It’s a one-day event packed with various Christian bands and speakers, and GFA was there to share about the ministry and School of Discipleship. For the staff and students there, it was a day filled with free music, free food, and the fellowship of serving together for a greater purpose.
For more on events like this, follow us on Snapchat @gfaschool
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Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Silence is void of noise, movement or action. To be still is to turn off the noise, stop the movement and do nothing.
“But Lord, there’s a dying world out there?!”
God: “Be still and know that I am God…”
Me: “But how will they know that you love them if I sit still?”
God: “I will be exalted among the nations…”
Me: “Okay Lord, I will be still and know you are God.”
God: “I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:11 “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah”
It’s been difficult for me to be still and unmoved by all that is and could be going on . The restless “Jacob” in me says I need to be out there doing things and making a visible impact in the world and in the lives of people NOW. Circumstances around me shift like waves in the ocean, yet God is the Creator of the oceans saying “be still”. To my soul He also says “be still”. It’s a sobering reminder that God is in control and very active as I am still before Him who keeps the universe in place. Yes, there is a time to be active myself but there is a time to be still.
Having a mentor to help guide my steps through this year has been challenging in ways because I’m used to running my own show and set my pace. Having to concentrate my time and energy into a set time (one year) for a specific purpose has been hard to do. Especially dying to self has become less attractive when it’s actual dying to self, the flesh. It seemed that in order for me to be still before the Lord, and to realize that He is in control, that I needed to hit the wall. First, by being gently nudged by my mentor to “settle down”, I realized that she was right, though I didn’t want to admit it. I did and still do need to settle down more, not run around here, there and every where, but rather to be intentional in this unique setting God has placed me in this year. It’s easy for me to be busy with many “good” things but I’ve been reminded that the “good” isn’t always the best and right now the best is DP. It seems that when I still don’t quite get it, along comes the blessing of a seasonal virus. Everything continues as normal even when I’m sick and in bed. All this helps me to learn a single lesson, realizing that I can be still for God is still God. I am learning what it means to be still and let God be God because things go best when I’m yielded to Him.
Our August 2017 application deadline has been extended to June 10th. We’d love to see you apply for our upcoming term!
Graduation is Coming Up
The August 2016 students have been here for almost a year, and it’s been awesome to see how the Lord has grown them during their time with us. We invite you to celebrate with us by streaming their graduation on July 25th at 4pm CDT . Mark your calendars and stay tuned for more info!
Check out what a soon-to-be-graduate said about her time in the program:
“My year was challenging at times, but very beneficial in my walk with the Lord. I learned to see His hand at work in my life, and to clearly hear His voice.”
— Kristina, August 2016 School of Discipleship Student
A Time for Rest and Recuperation
Earlier this spring, School of Discipleship staff and students took a weekend retreat for spending time in fellowship with each other and the Lord. It was a fun time and a wonderful blessing from the Lord!
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This past weekend we took some time to bless one of our staff families by helping them with Spring Cleaning. We had a great time and were able to finish in record time as we all worked together. The fun conversations, smiling faces and good food that we enjoyed made the work not seem like work at all! (The tiredness that I felt after we were finished though was a strong reminder that we had indeed worked hard.)
Since coming to the GFA Discipleship Program I have learned to appreciate living in a close knit community. Not only do we get to help each other with house cleaning or other projects that need many helping hands but we also get to help and encourage each other in our walk with the Lord. It is not always easy and many times I would rather run and hide than open up to someone about the things I struggle with. Having the opportunity to share with a sister in Christ who is my mentor and have them pray for me has been such a blessing! I don’t have to feel like I am alone in my struggle. I don’t always take advantage of the opportunity to go to her about what I am struggling with and it seems that the enemy has so much more control over my emotions to make me feel alone, unloved, and helpless to overcome.
My personality is more of an introvert, I like being on my own and don’t really like being surrounded by people for too long. I often use this as an excuse when I am struggling with discouragement or sin in my life. If God made me this way then maybe He will also help me to overcome on my own as well. Through many failed attempts in this I can assure you that this never helps! God didn’t make us as His children to walk alone, He created us to need others and help each other.
Hebrews 10:24-25 “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
I have really come to appreciate the three girls that I get to be a part of in the Discipleship Program. I have been blessed and also challenged by each one and their desire to grow in their relationship with the Lord. In our times of praying for one another we take some time to share any personal requests that we may have so that we know how to pray for each other better. I am often tempted to share something that is impersonal or very broad, not really share what I am struggling with personally. Many times I struggle with doubts and insecurities that I think Satan likes to use to get me not to open up so that I will continue to struggle on my own. The honesty and openness that I have seen from the other girls has helped me to also be more open and honest.
As the return of Christ is drawing near and the war against the power of darkness becomes more difficult, I am thankful for the Body of Christ. Together we are able to stand much stronger than if we had to stand on our own.
Romans 15:5-7 May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.
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