Happy Thanksgiving!

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?

The Christmas Season and School of Discipleship

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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Evangelism Takes Dying to Self

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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Sunday Solitude

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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Meet the New Class!

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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SD Graduation – The Celebration!

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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Wonderfully Made

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.

Live Stream our Graduation on July 25th

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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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Church Roots

1 Peter 1:19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot”  We are bought by the blood of Christ and the blood of the saints are the seed of the Church. If you would have asked me a few months ago what my church roots are or anything about church history I’d have only been able to tell you a very little bit. The Lord directed me to come for a second year of the GFA Discipleship Program and in this year I’ve been learning about Church History, which is proving to be very beneficial.

I’m in awe of what the death of Christ has done for me in making me a part of the Bride of Christ. The Apostle’s passion to see the nations reached with the love of Christ compelled them to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the extent that it cost them their lives. Those that came after them paid a heavy price of martyrdom, passing on the tradition and the Apostles Creed onto the next generations. Saints like Polycarp, Ignatius Tertullian and a host of others that would not back down on what they were taught and believed; they gave their lives for Christ in unimaginable ways. If it had not been for them we would not hold a Bible in our hands, have the structure and order in our worship services that we do today.

As I’ve been learning about the lives of the saints the verse in Psalm 116 starts to make more sense. When reading it before I wondered why the death of saints would be precious in the eyes of the Lord. Psalms 116:15 says. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Couple this verse with a quote from Tertullian an early church father. “The blood of the saints is the seed of the church.” This gives a glimpse of why the death of Christians might be precious to the Lord.  I don’t fully understand the verse or the meaning behind it but I’m grateful for what others have gone through to give us the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In studying books like “Tried by Fire,” “Early Church History Made Easy” and a few others on early Church History I see that the Church has gone through very dark times. I was reminded in our last lectures that in the middle of all the darkness God is still working and keeping the Church alive, the Bride of Christ and preparing her for Jesus. Just like a seed when it is planted in the dirt, we don’t see what is happening but we trust that the seed dies, germinates and then brings forth life; so God kept His Church and will keep it until Jesus returns. We are one body with many different members and together we are the Church of Jesus Christ bought with His precious blood.

As I’m learning about what the Universal Church is and how it is one body which is being prepared for Christ return, I get excited because I am part of the whole Church. I, as a blood bought child of God, am part of the universal church. It is not about this Christian life being just Jesus and me; it’s much more than that. Every born again believer is part of the Body regardless of what church they go to. This realization makes me grateful to live in a community of like minded believers. We may be different and come from diverse backgrounds, but we are one in Christ.

 

God at Work in History

One of the things I have been learning through my study of Church History this year is that God is always at work in the lives of His people. Even during the times of darkness and chaos when it looked as if God wasn’t even in the picture, He was at work behind the scenes using each circumstance for the good of His people and to bring glory to His name.

All throughout history the Church has been faced with hardships from within and without, but the Middle Ages was an especially dark time for God’s people. We recently read about some of the struggles they faced during that time including: wars from invading barbarians, the destruction and violence of the crusades,  leadership corrupted by greed, the  division of the church between East and West,  and the devastation of plagues and sickness.

Yet in the midst of all of this there is evidence that God had not abandoned His people. Even during this dark time we can see that God was at work bringing forth His purpose through it all. He raised up missionaries, like Boniface and Lioba who dedicated their lives to  reaching Germany with the Gospel, Reformers, such as the monks, who called people to a life of holiness and a deeper love for God, and the Mendicants, mobile preachers who travelled from town to town preaching the Gospel to all who would listen. During this time the Gospel was taken to many unreached peoples such as the English, Irish, French, and Moravians (modern-day Czech Republic). God was working through the lives of His faithful followers who were willing to give their lives in order to be obedient to God’s calling upon them.

In one of the lectures we watched the speaker made a comment that really stood out to me. He said “God is like a field teeming with life below the surface.” On top it may look like nothing is happening at all, but underground, within the soil, the seeds are very much alive and change is taking place. Soon the seed will sprout and push its way out of the soil.  Then what has been taking place below the surface will become visible to all as we see the evidence of a new life.

Many situations in my own life are much like that field. On the surface I don’t see anything happening and assume that what I can or cannot see in the natural must be all that is taking place. I am so quick to focus only on what is right in front of me and grow discouraged because it appears that God is not at work. In the midst of difficult circumstances I don’t see any way that God can be using it to bring about  His purpose. I am unaware of what is taking place just below the surface and that out of the trials and struggles God is creating something new and beautiful.

God has been reminding me that just as He was at work behind the scenes in some of the darkest times of history so He is at work in the difficult moments of my life. I can trust that in the same way He raised up His faithful followers to bring about His purpose during a dark time in the Church, so He will use each circumstance in my life to ultimately show His faithfulness and unfailing love to the world around me.

My desire is to choose each day not to focus on the apparently lifeless soil above ground but to remember that underground, where I cannot see, change is taking place. What I can see in the natural is only momentary in light of all that God has in store for eternity.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

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