Since coming back for Year 2 of the Discipleship Program my understanding of serving the Lord as an individual has been changed or shall I say gone out the door for me. I have the awesome privilege to serve at GFA Canada while seeing firsthand what it is like to be part of the body of Christ. Serving in the office and living with five young ladies has helped me to appreciate community living. I can observe the staff that are committed to living their lives fully for the Lord and in the power of the Holy Spirit. The book Guiding Principles of Believers Church by Dr. K.P. Yohannan, which we finished reading, has been a helpful tool in learning how to live in community. I’ve come to a new appreciation for the body of Christ. In my individualistic mindset I have missed out on many wonderful blessings that come from being a part of one body, which is the Church.
In reading this book the Lord started to point out some areas that need to be more fully surrendered to His control and motives that need to be honouring to Him. There was a quote from Brother K.P. that caused me to search my heart for areas that are not fully surrendered and serving in the Lord’s strength rather than my own. “It is impossible to serve God as He wants us to without being anointed but the Holy Spirit and receiving His supernatural gifts.” In order for the Lord to use my life to help fulfill the Great Commission I must be surrendered to the Lord and filled with the Holy Spirit.
There are many things we as Christians can try to do in our flesh that non-Christians can do just as well bringing change, but not lasting change that will glorify God. Take for instance working in an office, both can work with numbers and data and helping people; but one is probably very concerned about getting ahead on the corporate ladder and making big money where as in a ministry like GFA the desire is to see big numbers so that many will hear the Gospel and be added to the greatest corporation ladder which reaches to the Kingdom of heaven.
In Zechariah 4:6 it says “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the LORD of Host.” If all I do for the Lord is done in my own strength and with selfish motives, God is not glorified.
Having come back for GFA Discipleship Program Year 2, I have been able to build on the foundation that was laid last year where it was about surrendering and dying to self. This year is a continuation of building our character more into Christ’s character, which doesn’t happen overnight.
I am a work in progress and there are many opportunities to practice what the Lord has been teaching me and with the help of a community and the power of the Holy Spirit growth is happening. Daily I get to choose to die to my selfishness and bad habits, which are being replaced with the character of Christ like love, joy, peace and humility as the Holy Spirit is given more liberty to rule and govern my life. He enables me to obey the commandments of God, which is to love as Jesus loved and to give my life for others not holding anything back. My life is not my own to live as I please, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit as it says in 1 Co 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” Also in Rom 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
While I am going through the Discipleship Program, I want to remember that as a Christian fully surrendered to the Holy Spirit the Lord’s work is not a burden or overwhelming, rather there is peace in being right where God wants me to be. This allows for overflowing joy in being part of helping to reach those that are half way across the world and an ever growing love for the LORD and the lost. I have a greater desire to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit not just “trying harder” to obey God, but rather to ask the Lord to fill and refill me on a daily basis. I like what Brother K.P. says in this book “The first step toward receiving the Holy Spirit is to acknowledge my need of Him.”
Written by a Discipleship Program Student
#1 I came to grow in my walk with the Lord.
The focus of GFA School of Discipleship is to know Jesus more fully and intimately and that is what I was longing for in my own life. Growing up in a Christian home I knew a lot about what it meant to follow Christ but often times knowing was only as far as it went, I didn’t actually live it out. I felt frustrated because I knew my walk with the Lord was not where it should be at but I didn’t know what to do about it. In my heart I wasn’t satisfied with just a superficial relationship with the Lord. I wanted to experience that kind of Christianity that I read about in the Bible, to look beyond what I experience in the here and now and live in light of eternity. It was out of this dissatisfaction with “good enough” Christianity that God challenged me to lay everything aside for one year and come to DP to pursue Him.
#2 I came to be involved in missions.
When I was 18 years old I went on my first short term mission trip to Malawi, Africa and it opened my eyes to the reality of a world in need of Christ. God challenged me to see the people I met as He did, broken and lost without Him, and He began to stir in my heart a desire to commit my life to reaching the world with the hope of the Christ. I returned home knowing that God was calling me to be involved in missions in some way but not knowing how or what that would look like. It was around that time that I first started to consider coming to GFA Discipleship Program. It is a unique program offering young people the opportunity to spend a life-changing year at GFA’s home office in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada. Participants come to study and grow in true discipleship as well as serve in a ministry role alongside GFA home team staff. The program provided the perfect opportunity for me to not only be involved in missions but also to grow in my walk with the Lord. After learning about the program it took quite some time before I actually had the courage to commit to coming. I knew that God was calling me to set aside one year of my life to pursue Him but I wasn’t yet willing to leave behind all that I was comfortable and familiar with in order to obey His voice.
#3 I came to step out of my comfort zone.
I was never the type of person to pursue adventure. I would much rather stay with what was safe and familiar than to step out with faith into the unknown. Needless to say the decision to come to the Discipleship Program was a pretty major one for me. To start with there was fundraising, which meant I had to actually talk to people and ask them for money, there’s nothing safe and comfortable about that. I had to be willing to leave behind my home and family for one year, move across the country to Ontario, (Did I mention leaving the farm to live in the city for the first time?) and live with a bunch of people I had never met before. While I knew that stepping into the unknown would be scary I also knew that I would benefit greatly from it. Because I would no longer be able to rely on what I was comfortable and familiar with I was going to have to totally rely on the Lord and trust in His grace to see me through. I knew that the Lord was asking me to be willing to let go of reliance on self and instead rely totally on Him.
#4 I came to be a part of a community.
One aspect of the program that really stood out to me was the opportunity to live in community with believers whose passion is to love Christ and to serve others. I wanted to not only learn more about following Christ but to actually see it lived out in daily life. My desire was to learn from the example of older brothers and sisters who have walked with the Lord for many years and don’t just talk about having a radical faith, they actually live it out. The staff and leadership of GFA are committed to knowing the Lord and giving of their lives to make Him known to the world around them. They were willing to invest in my life and allow me to be a part of theirs showing me what it looks like to live as a part of the Body of Christ. I knew that community living would help me grow in being willing to open up my life to others, which was an area of my life that I struggled with. My desire was to develop Godly relationships that would and encourage me to pursue Christ above all else and keep me accountable in my walk with the Lord.
Written by a Discipleship Program Student in Canada
Do you have a desire to know Christ more? A hunger to pursue His call? Don’t wait any longer—apply to School of Discipleship by May 31st and find yourself transformed in the year to come!
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I’m rather used to having a dishwasher in the house that I’m living in. As far back as my memory goes, I’ve lived in one house, and that only for seven months when I was around nine, that didn’t have a dishwasher. Needless to say, this is one piece of equipment that I am very accustomed to. This is my (weak) excuse for why I don’t wash the dishes my share of the time.
My housemate washes the dishes more than I do. I realized this the other week, and am trying to rectify it. But I also realized that he consistently does so without any complaint; I’ve never had him bring it up with me. He just washes the dishes.
When I realized that I also thought, “That is an example of a Christ-like servant lifestyle.” So that leaves me with two things to work on – becoming more of a Christ-like servant in my life, and washing the dishes more frequently.
Here’s another example of this same housemate emulating a servant lifestyle. He cooks meals for the two of us far more often than I do. This isn’t a shortcoming on my part. I will throw together food when I am hungry and when I’m assigned to cook I enjoy making a meal. He goes out of his way to cook meals when he doesn’t need to.
There have been many times when he’ll come up to my room. “I’m making pasta. Do you want some?” Substitute whatever food he’s cooking at the time for ‘pasta’. This is a blessing to me, and something that I can strive for. To look at my life and say, “How can I expand what I’m doing so that it will bless others? Or how can I start something specifically to be a servant to those around me?
Written by a Discipleship Program Student
Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
If you look at the human body, it would not be able to function the way it was created to without its individual parts. If the leg is broken or the arm removed then the body will not be able to fully participate in daily activities with as much ability as one with the fully functioning body parts. Someone with one leg would not be able to run as fast as someone with two. Or someone born with not all of their fingers on a hand would not be able to pick up items as fast as someone with all five. This is the same idea when it comes to our spiritual effectiveness for the Lord. Often times He has to strengthen what we have allowed sin to weaken; He has to restore what we have not been exercising in order to make us effective in fulfilling His purposes.
Upon my arrival to School of Discipleship I came as someone who was used to gaining recognition from the world in order to bring glory to myself. Pride and self-righteousness had completely infected my body to the point that I would only use it for selfish gain. When it came to serving my roommates in the household or the staff at the Gospel for Asia office, it was if I had to learn to walk all over again. My body was so unfamiliar with it and my heart was very distant. Yes, I would serve others and walk in a way that represented my status as a Christian, but when it came to doing it for Christ’s name and not mine, I realized how weak my hands and feet were. They had been powered by a love for self and not a God empowered love for others. That was my root problem, and no amount of Scripture reading or memorization revealed it to me. It was only when I was challenged to lay down my life in service to others that the Holy Spirit would bring to light the selfish character that I had nurtured all my life.
God has mostly challenged me through the lives of the 5 female students and our house mentor that I have lived closely with this year. When I imagined a house with 7 girls, I automatically thought that there would be a power struggle. Someone was bound to think that the way they wash dishes, do laundry, make their bed, or even sleep at night is the right way and everyone else was wrong. When everyone comes from different backgrounds and lifestyles this is usually bound to happen, and it is the very thing that can eventually cause division in the home. To be quite honest this is what I expected upon my arrival at the door of the house I would be calling home for a year. My confidence in my expectation caused me to stay awake, waiting to hear the one who would be blamed for keeping everyone awake because of their loud snoring. Unfortunately I was the one keeping myself awake, as I eventually realized that I had been blessed with roommates that sleep pretty peacefully. Not only did He bless me with roommates that don’t snore, but with ones that He had handpicked to die to self and exemplify His love and grace. It has been a learning process, but we have faced and conquered the challenges together. A house that I expected to be emotionally chaotic is where we cook, clean, laugh and even cry together creating some of the most precious moments of my life.
As much as I love these girls, God has been using them in my life to challenge me in ways I’m sure they are not even aware of. I never knew that God would have a plan to use them to reveal parts of my character that have been holding me back from fully reflecting His image and very likeness. They have been assigned by God to strengthen my legs so that I can walk in love, patience and self-control. As I have had countless opportunities to give up and shrink back in the battle, they have stood by my side and lifted me up in prayer. Now my desire to serve them stems from love and not selfishness.
I am so thankful that the Lord has handpicked us to go through this journey together. I treasure the moments that we get to worship and glorify the Lord together in this life, but I rejoice knowing that we will one day be before the throne of God in eternity. It is where we will use our hands to forever worship the God who has set us apart, pursued our hearts and called us to surrender every part of ourselves as an instrument for righteousness. We have a goal to have an intimate Father-daughter relationship with God as we grow to be His hands and feet in this fallen world. Together we pick each other up and persevere to grab a hold of our hearts desire.
—School of Discipleship student
Do you have a desire to know Christ more? A hunger to pursue His call? Don’t wait any longer—apply to School of Discipleship by June 10th and find yourself transformed in the year to come!
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1 Cor 12:12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” I am learning what it is like to be part of the body of Christ and it all started when I began my journey in the Discipleship Program of Gospel for Asia. Though it has been challenging at times I am finding it to be worth the growing pains, with that I will begin to tell how this came to be.
Imagine with me if you can…
Being rudely awakened by an alarm going off at 5 am across the room, knowing it’s not your own, you are somewhat annoyed. Then having the person hit snooze who knows how many times or not even hearing the alarm at all; but now you’re awake when you wanted to sleep till 5:55 am, which would have given you enough time to grab your bible and run up the stairs in time for family devotions at 6:00 am. But now you’re wide awake because she didn’t turn it off herself, what will you do? Be upset or extend grace and take the opportunity to spend more time with the Lord? You lie there thinking: If this is how the first few days are, what will it be like for eleven months and will you be able to handle it??
After a few months of getting to know each other and living together you start to realize just how blessed you are and how much you have grown in your character, your walk with the Lord, love for each other and how God has used each lovely lady to shape your life.
Though it may have been a scary thought at first to think of living with six other ladies it has turned out to be a growing experience, filled with both joys and sorrows. Who would have known that living in close quarters with people who were strangers at first could have become sisters and friends? These precious sisters have helped me to become more like Christ by their lives and examples of love and grace.
By living in a community setting I am learning what it is like to love, forgive, and extend grace. There are many opportunities to spur one another on toward love and good deeds, like it says in Heb 10. Daily we can learn more about God, each other and ourselves and what it is like to be the bride of Christ in one body with many different parts. I am truly grateful to be part of Gospel For Asia’s Discipleship Program. I have seen how the staff lives out what we have learned in our books and messages; they have shown me what it is like to be a unified body of Christ as each one fulfills their role in Christ. Col 3:12-15 has taken on new meaning as I’ve seen it lived out and I’ve been able to be part of it too.
Written by a Discipleship Program Student
This year is coming quickly to an end… It’s only a couple more weeks and graduation will be here. I am sad to see this year has come to an end. I’ve made many new and close friendships and I will miss them as we part ways.
Many people have asked us how it is possible to have seven girls living in the same house and still get along. I, too have often wondered the same thing. Before coming here, the idea of living with six other girls frightened me a bit because in my home, I had six brothers and only one sister (who is twelve years younger than me) so I really didn’t have experience relating to other girls. I did have a lot of friends, but I’ve never had to live with them!
Looking back over this year, I am amazed at how well it has worked living together! There was no need for me to be worried. I do not believe it would have been humanly possible for so many girls to live together except for the grace of God and the fact that we are all believers and came here for the same common goal, and that was to grow in our relationship with the Lord.
Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been always easy… The first few weeks were very hard. I often felt alone and out of place with everyone being so different than what I was used to. I had never been away from home for more than a month and so that also made it hard because I missed my family a lot.
Some of the best times this year have been sitting around the supper table, having conversations about how our day went, to what we learned in class that morning to many other random, funny topics that get us all bursting with laughter. I have also enjoyed Saturday cleaning, with seven ladies, the cleaning gets done super-fast as we work together and have music playing. We have also done many weekend activities as a group that are always fun but for me. But it’s the random small things that I have enjoyed the most: like staying up late doing homework together, watching silly movies on a free weekend, or going grocery shopping at 9pm!
I think though that it has been through the difficult times that we have grown close to each other the most. Times where we lift each other up in prayer, whether it is because someone is not feeling well physically, or because someone is going through a difficult time spiritually. It has been a blessing to know that if I am going through a hard time and need prayer, I can ask the girls and they will stop what they are doing and take the time to pray.
Living together has allowed me to live out and practice the things I learn through the books we go through. I get to practice humility in not always having to have my own way. I get to learn how to be a servant and serve my sisters by washing the dishes, making dinner, or by surprising them with homemade cookies. I have opportunities to show grace and love when someone does something that irritates me, and I also learn to forgive and ask forgiveness when I fail in any of these areas. Corporate living has not only been helpful and a blessing as I have gone through this year, but it is also preparing me for what the Lord calls me to in the future, whether it be going back home and serving my family, serving in ministry, or serving at a secular job, it has taught me to work together, serve others and to think more of others than myself.
Going through the book, Jesus Style has also been very helpful in showing me how to live and interact with others. It talks a lot about the lifestyle Jesus had while He was here on earth and how He humbly served all those that came to Him, Mark 10:45 says: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
And so as Christ served so we are called to serve. Galatians 5:13 “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
I am so thankful that the Lord allowed me to come to Gospel for Asia’s Discipleship Program and to learn what it means to live as Christ and to give myself to serve others. I am also thankful for the staff that I have the privilege of serving with, and the example they have been in showing me how to serve and love others as they willingly serve me and one another
Written by a Discipleship Program Student
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