Joseph. Joseph was a dreamer. He had vivid dreams of his family bowing to him. In one dream, he relates in Genesis 37:6-7, ““Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” This made Joseph’s brothers angry, who were wondering why their youngest brother would dare to say such things.
Not only did Joseph have these vivid dreams, but he was seen as their father’s favorite. Joseph got a coat of many colors from his father. One day, while Joseph was walking to the fields, his brothers began to plot against him. At first they wanted to murder him, but decided against it. Joseph’s brothers decided to sell him to a group of Ishmaelite traders who were heading to Egypt. When the Ishmaelite traders made it to Egypt, Joseph was sold into slavery. There he encountered false accusations by Potiphar’s wife and imprisonment.
His imprisonment was the turning point of his life, even though he was there for four years. After four years, when Pharaoh had a couple of dreams, it was found that Joseph could interpret them. Pharaoh was elated and made him second in command over Egypt in order to store grain for a famine. After this, Joseph’s brothers come back on the scene. His brother couldn’t recognize Joseph at this point. He demands they bring his younger brother Benjamin in order to test them. After a few tests, Joseph reveals himself saying, “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt.’”(Genesis 45:8-9) In other words, everything that happened was for God’s plan to be fulfilled.
In the same way, God allows bad things to happen in our lives in order to fulfill His plans. In my own life, God allowed for me to become ill during my first year in the School of Discipleship. I didn’t understand why I had to go home in order to finish the rest of the course. God is starting to use that for His plan. Even though I don’t know completely how God will use my experience to reach others, I can trust God that it will encourage others to keep on going in their year at School of Discipleship and not give up no matter what circumstance they are in. I encourage you to keep going forward in what God has asked you to do. He has your best in mind.
During my School of Discipleship year, I spent Christmas with my grandparents. Everyday my grandpa fills in the newspaper’s crossword. Right next to the Crossword is a Sudoku puzzle.
Have you ever played Sudoku? It is a “number-placement puzzle. The objective is to fill a 9×9 grid with digits so that each column, each row, and each of the nine 3×3 sub-grids that compose the grid (also called “boxes”) with all the digits 1 to 9. The same single integer may not appear twice in the same row, column or in any of the nine 3×3 subregions of the 9×9 playing board.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudoku
I used to play in college but to no avail, and I have long given it up. During Christmas break, that neglected Sudoku puzzle went into the trash each day. Mid-way through my trip I couldn’t handle it any longer; I decided I would try it once again. I determined to go slow, not to mess up, and to complete it. After about 45 minutes of concentrating as hard as I could, I messed it up. Once you put in one wrong number unknowingly, it all goes downhill from there.
A few weeks later, while back at School of Discipleship I was sharing with one of my friends. We were talking about how God beautify links every part of our lives together. We don’t always know what is going on, it may take a year or two, or even longer to see the intricate workings of the Lord, but it is amazing to look back now on our stories and see how the Lord is leading our lives.
As I sat with my friend I realized that my life is like a Sudoku puzzle and God is the Master Sudoku player, He knows it all, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, (Jeremiah 29:11a NIV). He is working out each detail in my life. I need to trust, seek and obey Him. I can’t figure out, but the Lord can and he is guiding my each step. One day the whole puzzle will be complete. I don’t have to depend on myself, but on the Lord. For that I am glad. The Lord knows exactly what He is doing and can’t ever mess up. That is why we need the Lord! I can’t even get it right with a silly game in the newspaper.
Since I became a Christian I have been told that bible memorization and reading Gods word was important but, it didn’t make you more spiritual. The question in the back of my mind upon hearing this is then why is it important to do this? I’m a new Christian, I have been born again now for three years. I also haven’t been raised in the Christian faith so; I was hungry for more step by step guidance on this matter.
Since coming to School of Discipleship I have learned to spend time reading God’s word and then reflect on it. Here’s a peak at how God has been speaking to me. I began to pray and, seek council from the Lord. While I was praying the one closest to God came to mind “Jesus” I said to myself. I remember reading in the Gospel of Mark chapter four reading about how Jesus used the word of God to fight the temptations of the enemy. This showed me one significant way in which we can bring glory to the father in knowing His word.
As I read through the scriptures prayed and, dug deeper I became even more astonished of the profound relevance of reading His word and, knowing His scripture. As we look at the Heart of Jesus we see that He lived to please the father. He makes this clear in John 5:30 when He says “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
We see that God’s word literally consumed every part of Jesus as John 1:14 references Jesus to being the word. Isaiah 55:11 says “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” therefore Jesus couldn’t have lived a life contradictory to the word of God. Jesus lived to please the father and, not only knew the word but, lived it out in every part of His life. Just like Jesus we should learn and read the word of God to serve Him, know Him, and to have victory over Satan.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that who so ever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
We have all heard this verse many times and memorized it. But do we really believe and understand its truth? So often I think I must do something to earn God’s gifts and promises, and yet the Bible says only believe.
Here at Gospel for Asia School of Discipleship I’ve been learning that God uses others to speak into our lives if we will let them. This weekend something cool happened. Three times I heard a similar message, each time by a different person. I couldn’t help but think perhaps God is really trying to teach me something here! They were all talking about believing God and accepting the gift He is offering us. It is so crazy to think all I have to do is accept and I will be saved. But even accepting the gift of Jesus destroys ones pride. I want to do something for God, to show my worth, but He says “you can’t earn this, you can only believe”. I wonder how much I’ve missed out on in the promises of God simply because I didn’t believe. So it is that belief runs our lives; the choices we make, the way we spend our time and the desires we have are all based on our beliefs. It is very important what we believe, and I pray God will give me the grace to believe the promises He has written in scripture. Oh, what a freeing thing it is to believe our Saviour died for us while we were yet in our sin and He wants so much to have a relationship with us. Praise the LORD. God is definitely working at Gospel for Asia, and the best part is watching the staff follow Christ and walk in their example. They know who they are in Christ by believing His word and that is why they can follow Him. It is easy to follow someone that you believe the words they say.
I have only been in School of Discipleship for two months and the amount that I have learned already is amazing. We have gone through the Core Values and now are reading The Jesus Style. Not only have I learned from these classes but the characteristics and values that we have studied are so well lived out by Gospel for Asia staff. I count it a privilege to be here and have these servants to look up to, to follow and learn from their example.
A few of the characteristics of Jesus that I have observed and seen lived out by staff are servanthood, love and grace. The staff at Gospel for Asia are NOT afraid to go the extra mile for anyone, they are ready to serve. There seems to be a never ending supply of love. It is truly the love of Jesus shining through. In the two months that I have been here I have had to learn many new things and all the staff has been very gracious through it all.
One of the Core Values that stood out to me was “being a people sold out to win the lost at any cost”. Through most of my life I never realized the need to share the Love of Jesus with others. How selfish, to only be concerned about my own salvation. A few months before arriving at Gospel for Asia the Lord started working in my heart and giving me a desire to share His love with others. However, even though I had this desire, I didn’t know where or how to start sharing the Gospel with others. Now having gone through some evangelism training, I have an idea how it’s done. I have yet to actually go out and evangelize. Lord willing, that will be very soon.
I am looking forward to all that the Lord has for me to learn yet!
“Bekah, go make your bed.” My mom told me. “Mom, I don’t need to though because I’m just gonna sleep in it again tonight!” I replied. “Bekah, do it anyway, I know you don’t understand why you need to right now, but you will someday.” She said again. “But I don’t have time to do it, I need to go do school first.” I insisted. I continued to persist until I was punished for disobeying. I’m pretty sure that you can think of at least one instance where you had a conversation like this with your Mom or Dad and I don’t know how yours turned out, but I know mine never ended well. I was extremely stubborn and strong willed and it took a lot for me to obey.
To this day, I continue to struggle with obeying, not necessarily my parents, but the Lord. When the Lord called me to Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship, I responded in the same way I did to making my bed. But, I need to go to college. But, it’s too much money! But, I can’t because I can’t leave my family and move to Texas! I really did find any excuse I could to ignore what God was calling me to. But strong willed as I am, the Lord’s will is stronger, and He didn’t give up on me just because I was making excuses.
I don’t know where I would be at right now in my relationship with the Lord if I hadn’t obeyed the Lord and followed His will that was so obviously placed before me. And as hesitant as I was, coming to School of Discipleship was the best decision I’ve made in my life. God knows best for us, and although there is uncertainty or doubt or unwillingness in our hearts, trusting and obeying the Lord will always turn out good. In Romans 8:28-29 it says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
I was hungry for Jesus. This was all I knew during my high school and community college days. I was not attracted to degrees or good jobs. I knew they were good and can absolutely be used for God’s glory, but there’s just got to be something more.
When peers or teachers would ask what I want to be or do, what degree I will pursue, I’ve always given a decent reply and tell them what they want to hear; more so, I would reply with what I thought was practical, normal, and good. But deep down in me, I wanted Jesus. There was nothing else that rung louder in my heart than knowing Jesus and serving him.
My sister and I would always talk before bed of a life that meant something. We desired for our futures to be more than being employed to pay for the bills. We knew that whatever is “more” had to do with more of Jesus—whatever profession we take on.
Every time I thought about the future, my future, I knew I wanted to do “great things.” I just did not know what “great things” entailed.
Deep within my soul, I trusted that God was working to fulfill his plans. Oh I was so clueless though! Every school felt too expensive, too far. My dreams of playing music were vague, seemed unrealistic and unpractical.
I read a book called “Revolution in World Missions” in high school. On the very last page was a brochure advertising Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship. It included a question very much familiar to the words of Jesus. It read: “Can you die to yourself for a year?” That’s how the Lord introduced me to where I currently am now.
Despite my love for Jesus, I did not want to attend an exclusive Christian college or work at a church or be a pastor. So, I set aside School of Discipleship in the back of my head, thinking that the program was only for those who want to be “in ministry,” which I always thought meant within the walls of a church.
A couple of years later, during college, little did I know that coming to Gospel for Asia would be the plan God had for me.
I was in my room crying to the Father for his will to be done in my life, for Him to take over every aspect of it. I said, “Lord, I don’t really know what I’m praying or asking for. All I know is I want you.”
Sure enough the Lord answered and led me to apply to School of Discipleship.
So now, I’m here! The Lord has provided the funds and support I needed and still is. I still don’t know what I want to be or do. I still feel clueless most of the time. But being here gives me time to seek more of the Father’s heart. Learning about the world around me and its need for Jesus, learning how to pray, digging deeper into God’s holy word, and living with people who live for nothing else but Jesus and His glory, is definitely shedding some light into how I can take God-glorifying steps for the future and more importantly for the now. A lot of my perspectives have changed and are changing. But what better place to be in at such a young age than in Jesus’ hands, listening to Jesus’ advice, and hearing Jesus’ thoughts?
The broken bridges, the desert plains, these are images that come to my mind when I think of what the past has been. I came here to School of Discipleship thinking my walk with the Lord would grow stronger and it did. What I didn’t realize is how I would face myself. When we truly seek the Lord and ask Him to change us, we will have to face who we really are, behind the walls, the gates, the bars and all the defenses we throw up. That is a hard thing to do: face yourself. When we get to know our true selves we won’t like who we are but we have to remember, the Lord changes us. He seeks out our hearts as we seek out His and He will change us, from the inside out. We have to allow Him to change us.
It will not be easy to bear as the Lord starts changing us, sometimes you’ll wake up and a fear that what you once had will be gone and you have to claim it and praise the Lord for it. Other times it will be a slow process. It will often be painful in these times. The world will seem to have flipped upside down but God is still God, no matter what. Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship is one of the safest places to really let your guard down before the Lord. As you let your guard down, your guard will began to drop with your housemates, your supervisors, and your department heads and that may terrify you. However, as will be reiterated and reminded of you many times over, the Lord is always with you, so lean on Him. The Lord has brought me here to Gospel for Asia for a reason and that is to grow in Him and part of that is change.
Something important to understand about School of Discipleship is that people will constantly encourage you into the arms of the Lord and that is the best thing that can happen. You can cry here, you can be vulnerable, it’ll happen at some point whether you want it to or not. There is so much of the Lord’s presence here and His heart is lived out. People will ask you if you are ok and genuinely want to know if you are. You may find yourself responding with disarming honesty, you may find that you can no longer give the phony answer. If you can or do give the phony answer, you’ll feel as if you’ve missed the opportunity to reach out and be part of the body.
That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned here, The Body of Christ. Christ’s Body is made up of so many other Christians and they are meant to be there for us, to exhort and uplift one another in the pursuit of God and His Will. I have discovered that the Body of Christ is a genuine thing and God has used it to soften my heart in areas I had not realized my heart was hard in. Don’t be afraid to grow, don’t be afraid to reach out to others, it’s hard and may not turn out as you expect but there are times God will use it. You will be blown away and through it all you will realize how much He loves you, cares for you, desires your heart and to know you. School of Discipleship is a tool God uses greatly to shape young Christians. Through School of Discipleship you will be introduced to a true Body of Christ (if like me you had never experienced it before) and yourself. It is good. Learn what it means to have a relationship with Jesus; School of Discipleship will teach you.
I am so thankful that the Lord has brought me here to GFA. I actually have lost count of the number of things I’ve learned while being here. Between the books, the classroom, work at the ministry itself, the community, prayer and even home life the Lord has taught me a lot. He continues to everyday. Something I have noticed that is hard for me to accept, believe or let alone realize is how treasured we are in Christ. God calls us precious; He compares us to jewels and prized possessions. Harder than that has been those moments with people who just stop and say, we love you. They genuinely mean it. That is Christ displayed in the Body. There is no reason we should be able to love each other so freely but we do because of Christ.
It seems every time I am going through some tough growing pains, the Lord uses His Body so openly to display His love and it overwhelms me. I am a weepy person, or as my mother once stated: some people would call that tender hearted. Either way the reality is that God’s love just pours out on us like a warm blanket or an amazingly comfortable bath. You’re just covered in warmth, His love. One of the mentors here once said to me, “Those pieces of your heart that the devil took, that were caused by your past; the Lord will and is restoring them. Don’t ever doubt that.” God loves us SO much, guys. I cannot emphasize this enough. There is no one on the entire earth that cares about us the way God does.
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Did you know that a yoke was traditionally meant for two animals to pull? That means Christ is on the other side of that yoke, He is pulling it with us. This is the reason why His burden is light, because He is pulling it with us. Rather, He’s pulling it and God’s grace and strength is more than sufficient that He puts His strength in us and it seems that we are able to pull it. In the end, it is still Christ doing all the work.
Praise the Lord!
To learn more about School of Discipleship, check out our website.
God will often use other people to confirm what He is speaking to our hearts. The question is how do we know it’s from Him? In 1 John 4 God’s word says not to believe every spirit, but to test the spirit to see whether or not it is from God. With that said we must always check our hearts to make sure it is in line with the word of God.
I remember just last month my heart longing for more of God and desiring to give up anything that doesn’t stir my heart towards growing in Him. I was then invited to a birthday party for someone on staff here at GFA for a very Godly women that I highly admired and respected. This woman is also a dear friend of mine and amongst our friends, it was always a tradition to ask the birthday girl or guy questions. One question I asked her was” what was the most important piece of advice that someone has ever given you that impacted your walk with God?”
Her response was to give up anything that doesn’t stir her heart more towards the Lord. She decided to give up her love for sports to fill that time with more of Jesus and to pour into the lives of others. Sports in of itself is not a sin but anything that takes up space In our hearts, time and thoughts can become something that replaces God in our lives if we are not careful.
Looking back to her testimony often draws my heart to Philippians 3:8 “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.” As a result of making this sacrifice she has grown more passionate in her walk, has led many people to Christ, and has a love for God that is so evident to anyone that meets her.
It is such a joy dear brethren to have a God that doesn’t force us to love Him yet gives us the choice. I have made a choice to love Him above all else and by His grace and with His help learning to trust that He is more than worth it.
The question, “Is He worth whatever you have to give up?” Well you will never know until you step out in faith to trust Him to fill your life with more of Him. Jesus says in Matthew 22:37 to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and your entire mind.” I encourage you brothers and sisters, to humble yourselves before the Lord and ask Him to show what you have to give up so that you may do this. I am so excited to go on this journey with the Lord and I encourage you dear brethren trust God as I have.
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