I didn’t come to School of Discipleship for the missions aspect. I grew up in a church that was often talking about missions, but I never had a heart for it. Missions was not something I ever wanted to do or worry about. I came to School of Discipleship for my walk with God, because I wanted to deepen my walk. My walk definitely deepened.
I have and am discovering that the closer my walk with God is, the more I seem to have a genuine heart for people who don’t know Christ. I find myself hurting for the fact that there are children across the world that have never known what love is. I was reading No Longer a Slumdog and my heart was breaking over the children mentioned in the book.
It has taken more than a book to break my heart. It took my coming here, being discipled, and genuinely seeking God more than ever and allowing the Lord to work in me. For my heart was cold when I came. I saw and heard of the conditions that millions of people go through every day but my heart did not break. There was no sorrow or great desire to see them restored. However, I knew that the Lord’s heart breaks for those who suffer and I wanted to have the Lord’s heart. So that was part of my prayer this year, “Lord break my heart for what breaks yours. Help me value these people I don’t know. I want to see them as people and not just sad photos.” They are real people. I know they are. However, the truth is I don’t see them that way.
I can say the Lord has changed my heart in countless ways; one of those ways is having a heart for people. I’m still growing but I can say that I am finally starting to see the national missionaries as who they are; my brothers and sisters in Christ. I can see the suffering children as precious, valuable and desperately needing to be loved. The Lord has used this whole time here to shape me and give me a new heart that I don’t recognize. It’s the most amazing thing and I thank God for it.
School of Discipleship
Bridge of Hope
I recently had the privilege to travel to South Asia with my fellow School of Discipleship students to see some of the work God is doing through Gospel For Asia. Something that stood out to me about the trip was the contrasting realities I saw – while I observed signs of extreme poverty and suffering, I also witnessed the light and hope of Christ, shining through ministries like Bridge of Hope, as well as people like the women missionaries, bible college students and pastors. The distinction between the rich and poor was at times, pretty surreal, and was well demonstrated one day as our group drove through some busy city streets. At one point on the drive, I looked outside my left window to see a school bus full of children from seemingly well-to-do families. At the same time, outside my right window, were a few children running along with the traffic, stopping every once in a while to perform a song and dance, most likely to make some money. It was a bit difficult to process, but that experience and others like it have given me better understanding of the reality faced by so many in South Asia. I praise God for the opportunity to have had visited the mission field, as well as for the privilege to have been a part of the work He has been doing through Gospel For Asia throughout this past year.
Today I got to visit a Bridge of Hope center in a slum. I walked into a room full of kids nicely studying. That ended pretty quickly when I got my camera out. I was swarmed and surrounded. Laughing off language barriers, we became friends quickly.
Despite their background of poverty and slum life, the children are now receiving education, medical attention, nutritious food and school supplies through Bridge of Hope. They learn a new English word every day at the Bridge of Hope center. And soon they started practicing the language on me.
One of their phrases was “What is your favorite…?” We discussed favorite colors, countries, cricketers and more. When they found out I was from America, they started telling me excitedly, “My sponsor’s in America. His name is so and so,” or “My sponsor’s from Canada and her name is such and such.”
I was reminded of just how meaningful it is to sponsor a child like this. These kids are experiencing the love of Christ because of people halfway across the world. The children have never met their sponsors, but they know their names. They correspond. They connect.
What a beautiful relationship.
This week the latest School of Discipleship class graduated. It got me to thinking about my year and everything that went on. Things were definitely challenging throughout the year. You definitely have to die to yourself, (you think they were joking when they put that on the brochure?) you have to follow a fairly strict schedule, you have to be disciplined…but the worst thing was having to go away. If I could have every one of my friends go throught the School of Discipleship I would. It was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget and an awesome time of growth, and the graduation made me think of the toughest ones. Besides one failure, the worst thing was was saying goodbye to those at Gospel For Asia.
Top 5 things about being in the School of Discipleship
- Being taught how to live like Jesus by seeing the example of older brothers and sisters in the Lord.
- Times of worship, including personal prayer and Bible reading, as well as corporate prayer and worship through teaching and music.
- The community of believers that surround you – insta-family!
- Going to Asia and seeing the mission field! (Boy, that’s too much to try to explain in one bullet point.)
- Class room times, home work, etc. (The theory is taught and you see how it works in those around you.)
So, as I was saying, the hardest part was leaving. When I thought about writing this I then realized that it’s also one of the best things because as much as God loves putting us through those seasons of teaching, He wants us to continue to grow because it’s our choice. We can do things because we have homework assignments or because we really want to. When you graduate and go home you get to really choose who you’re going to do those things for.
But good news! Not everyone has to leave. 🙂 I’m glad to know that many of this past class will be coming back on full time staff. Congratulations January class of 2012!
Boot Scoot Boogie
I awoke that morning on the train, on a bed that was to short for a 6’ 1” White guy (my feet stuck off the end). But that was okay, I was in Asia BABY! This was the day a lot of us were looking forward to, why? Because we were going to visit our first Bridge of Hope center that evening! Almost my entire background in ministry is children’s ministry, so needless to say I was AMPED. But nothing I had ever experienced before could prepare me for that evening. The day went by like a blur, our schedule was packed full, and I was so focused on what we were doing that it seemed like time doubled its speed. When we arrived at the center, I saw them, dozens and dozens of smiling, laughing, joyful kids. This didn’t surprise me, we were here to see kids, what did surprise me (maybe even shock) was how joyful these kids were, my heart melted right there! Here in America whenever you hear of “poor children” or “underprivileged kids” there is always a sense of depression and hopelessness associated with them, but not here!
We hurried inside and sat down so they could start their program. And so began the most epic night of my life. A few kids came in first and shared a memory verse, and after that the man who was announcing said that it was time for the dancing. The children danced to three songs that night, multiple times! The first time through the songs we sat there and watched, the second time through, somebody in our team started dancing too! Then everyone joined in! We all started jumping and dancing around! Needless to say the kids were delighted, and so was everyone else. But in the back of my mind there was this little voice asking me one question: “WHY ARE YOU DANCING?” That kind of caught me off guard, why was I dancing? If any of you know me, I have probably told you “I DON’T dance!” or more precisely I can’t dance, nothing in the world (I thought) could ever get me to dance, so why was I? Plain and simple, these kids were dancing for Jesus, I wanted to praise Him too, so I started to dance (although it probably made Jesus laugh more than anything else). It made me think of a verse: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17.
Even though this may be a funny story, it does have relevance for me everyday. Do I do everything for Jesus? Or do I go through the day and complain about every little “unimportant” thing that I have to do? Am I filled with joy when I get to serve Jesus, even in the small things? 1 Corinthians 10:31 says this: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I am so thankful that God gave me this story because it gave me a permanent defense against pessimism and complaining! Now whenever I start to feel like I want to complain about how “normal my job is” all I have to do is think of those kids laughing, singing, and praising Jesus, and that makes my whole day better!