This past weekend we took some time to bless one of our staff families by helping them with Spring Cleaning. We had a great time and were able to finish in record time as we all worked together. The fun conversations, smiling faces and good food that we enjoyed made the work not seem like work at all! (The tiredness that I felt after we were finished though was a strong reminder that we had indeed worked hard.)
Since coming to the GFA Discipleship Program I have learned to appreciate living in a close knit community. Not only do we get to help each other with house cleaning or other projects that need many helping hands but we also get to help and encourage each other in our walk with the Lord. It is not always easy and many times I would rather run and hide than open up to someone about the things I struggle with. Having the opportunity to share with a sister in Christ who is my mentor and have them pray for me has been such a blessing! I don’t have to feel like I am alone in my struggle. I don’t always take advantage of the opportunity to go to her about what I am struggling with and it seems that the enemy has so much more control over my emotions to make me feel alone, unloved, and helpless to overcome.
My personality is more of an introvert, I like being on my own and don’t really like being surrounded by people for too long. I often use this as an excuse when I am struggling with discouragement or sin in my life. If God made me this way then maybe He will also help me to overcome on my own as well. Through many failed attempts in this I can assure you that this never helps! God didn’t make us as His children to walk alone, He created us to need others and help each other.
Hebrews 10:24-25 “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
I have really come to appreciate the three girls that I get to be a part of in the Discipleship Program. I have been blessed and also challenged by each one and their desire to grow in their relationship with the Lord. In our times of praying for one another we take some time to share any personal requests that we may have so that we know how to pray for each other better. I am often tempted to share something that is impersonal or very broad, not really share what I am struggling with personally. Many times I struggle with doubts and insecurities that I think Satan likes to use to get me not to open up so that I will continue to struggle on my own. The honesty and openness that I have seen from the other girls has helped me to also be more open and honest.
As the return of Christ is drawing near and the war against the power of darkness becomes more difficult, I am thankful for the Body of Christ. Together we are able to stand much stronger than if we had to stand on our own.
Romans 15:5-7 May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.
“He comes to His garden to enjoy its fruit.” – Chuck Smith
The Christian is saved by believing and trusting in God. This produces fruit in their life. Yet so often I get confused and think producing fruit is what saves me or gives me a better standing before God and others.
But think of a tree: this tree produces fruit faithfully every year. Its fruit does nothing for the tree. If the tree depended on its fruit it would die. The fruit is only good for the enjoyment of others and for producing more trees. So what then saves the tree? The water and nutrients in the soil! The tree did nothing to put them there, nor can it maintain them there. It only connects itself to them and trusts that they will give it all it needs and by them it is able to produce fruit.
Before coming to School of Discipleship, I struggled often with wanting my works to be recognized by others and by God. I wanted to be noticed and known. I still do. I see pride creeping up in my heart probably every day. But the months I’ve spent away from home in this community environment have taught me a few things:
God showed me the ugliness of my sin; that there was nothing good in my heart, and that though I longed to change, I could not. He also taught me that He still loved me, no matter how sinful I am and that He wanted to change me if I would let Him. I was humbled over and over again in watching the selflessness of others, in the way they loved God and served me as well. I knew I wasn’t like them, but I wanted to be and as I strive to be more others-focused, I find a greater joy.
St. Paul said this to the Philippians:
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” Philippians 3:7-9
I know I’m not there yet. I haven’t lost all things for Christ-there are many things I hang onto, thinking and hoping they will do me some good. But as C.S. Lewis says, “Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead.”
I pray that I can give away all things and be able to say like St. Paul, “I consider them garbage that I may gain Christ.”
I want to be “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither” and in this way may the fruit that my relationship with Christ produces bring glory and enjoyment to God.
Written by a Discipleship Program Student
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
On August 16th 1812, after only one day of bombardment and a mere seven casualties, General William Hull the commander of the American forces in fort Detroit surrendered his command to a British force of approximately half the size of his. With the greater size of his force, he should have been able to win the battle. Why did He give up so easily?
Prior to the bombardment, Sir Isaac Brock, the British General, through several ruses caused General Hull to believe that the British force was significantly larger than his own. As General Hull focused on the perceived size of the enemy and the barbarities that he believed the Native allies of the British were capable of, he was destroyed by fear. Because of the fear in his heart, he gave up with almost no fight.
Lately, as I have been perusing my social media accounts, I have been noticing that people are worried about the Moslems doing this, the government doing that, and churches compromising Christ all over the place. As the reports are pulled together in the news feed, I have the tendency to believe the problems are greater than they are.
This isn’t limited to social media, when we get together with our friends how often do we discuss that the world seems to be taking over and Christian influence and freedoms seem to be diminishing? This is focusing on the enemy and his work. When we do so, we run the risk of being paralysed by fear as General Hull was. When we are focusing on what Satan is doing, we may miss what God is doing. In the past month or so, God has opened my eyes to what He is doing just in my own circle of friends.
Through the course of the year, we in the Discipleship Program, have an opportunity to go home for a week of holidays. I recently returned from my said week. While I was home, I was greatly encouraged by what I heard and saw God doing. On the day I returned home, a young lady from my Church was leaving Canada to serve God as a nurse overseas with BIC Canada Global. The first Sunday that I was home, I was talking with a young man from my college and careers group and learned that he was going through NTMC’s training. I had the opportunity to meet with my pastor and during the course of the conversation he shared with me a bit about what is happening in the Church. During the year and a half plus, that I have been part of the Discipleship Program, God brought a family into the Church who then went on to Bible College. I never had the opportunity to meet them, however it is quite encouraging to know how God is moving among those at home. He also shared how the Church has begun to focus on revival. Because of this focus, a member of the congregation suggested that they start a prayer meeting and currently about a sixth of the Church is meeting once a week for prayer.
Take a moment to think about those around you, how is God moving among the people around you? Then think if God is doing all this just among those we know, what is He doing in the areas we don’t know about? When we hear about discouraging things and our world seems to be falling in around us, we have a choice. We can either focus on what Satan and his servants are doing and be overcome by fear, or we can look to God and realise that there are more with us than the enemy and in Him we triumph. In the battle for Detroit, General Hull could’ve won if he had have been taken in by a bluff. We are more than conquerors in Christ, let us purpose not to be taken in by Satan’s bluff.
—School of Discipleship student