Overcoming Fear of Speaking Publicly

I sat in my chair, nervous as all get out. It was about to be my turn. My turn to speak in front of my whole class. I tried to calm the butterflies in my stomach as I exhaled. It didn’t work. Had I practiced enough? Would what I wrote down actually make sense to those listening to it?

We all clapped for my fellow classmate as they finished. I thought to myself, “If only I had the gifting to speak as well as they did.” I was next. I tried to put a smile on my face to hide the fact I was dying inside. I made my way to the front of the class. I almost dropped my phone as I tried to set it on the stand in front of me. My notes laid out before my eyes…. this was really happening. I wasn’t dreaming.

Before coming to School of Discipleship I had never spoken to groups of people before. I’m an introvert and public speaking was never something appealing to me. I liked to remain “the quiet one” and not have everyone’s attention on me.

Throughout my two years in SD I had many opportunities to sharpen my speaking ability, in front of both my class and the GFA staff. Most units concluded with a speech and we were given ample opportunities to share prayer request during prayer meetings. I learned to know the subject I was speaking about well enough to share it boldly with others. I learned to rehearse my speech out loud to make sure I stayed within the time frame allotted. The teaching team gave feedback on the areas I did well in and the areas I could improve in and I did better with every speech I gave.

Looking back, I am no longer that scared 19-year-old waiting to give my speech in the classroom. Do I still get nervous? YES! But, I don’t let it get to me, I am able to move past it. SD helped me to grow in public speaking and though I still have a long way to go, now I am excited to keep learning more.

 

Can you die to yourself for a year for more of Christ? The final application deadline is June 15th for our August 2018 term.

 

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A Day in the Life of an SD Student

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.

Monday:

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.

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Pursuing God

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.

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Students Gather to Celebrate What God is Doing

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

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Let His Love Motivate Us

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)

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