Church Roots

1 Peter 1:19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot”  We are bought by the blood of Christ and the blood of the saints are the seed of the Church. If you would have asked me a few months ago what my church roots are or anything about church history I’d have only been able to tell you a very little bit. The Lord directed me to come for a second year of the GFA Discipleship Program and in this year I’ve been learning about Church History, which is proving to be very beneficial.

I’m in awe of what the death of Christ has done for me in making me a part of the Bride of Christ. The Apostle’s passion to see the nations reached with the love of Christ compelled them to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the extent that it cost them their lives. Those that came after them paid a heavy price of martyrdom, passing on the tradition and the Apostles Creed onto the next generations. Saints like Polycarp, Ignatius Tertullian and a host of others that would not back down on what they were taught and believed; they gave their lives for Christ in unimaginable ways. If it had not been for them we would not hold a Bible in our hands, have the structure and order in our worship services that we do today.

As I’ve been learning about the lives of the saints the verse in Psalm 116 starts to make more sense. When reading it before I wondered why the death of saints would be precious in the eyes of the Lord. Psalms 116:15 says. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Couple this verse with a quote from Tertullian an early church father. “The blood of the saints is the seed of the church.” This gives a glimpse of why the death of Christians might be precious to the Lord.  I don’t fully understand the verse or the meaning behind it but I’m grateful for what others have gone through to give us the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In studying books like “Tried by Fire,” “Early Church History Made Easy” and a few others on early Church History I see that the Church has gone through very dark times. I was reminded in our last lectures that in the middle of all the darkness God is still working and keeping the Church alive, the Bride of Christ and preparing her for Jesus. Just like a seed when it is planted in the dirt, we don’t see what is happening but we trust that the seed dies, germinates and then brings forth life; so God kept His Church and will keep it until Jesus returns. We are one body with many different members and together we are the Church of Jesus Christ bought with His precious blood.

As I’m learning about what the Universal Church is and how it is one body which is being prepared for Christ return, I get excited because I am part of the whole Church. I, as a blood bought child of God, am part of the universal church. It is not about this Christian life being just Jesus and me; it’s much more than that. Every born again believer is part of the Body regardless of what church they go to. This realization makes me grateful to live in a community of like minded believers. We may be different and come from diverse backgrounds, but we are one in Christ.

 

Not Meant to Walk Alone

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.

Why I chose to come to the GFA School of Discipleship

#1 I came to grow in my walk with the Lord.
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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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Joy is the Victory

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Oh what fun the past few months have been. I’m so glad that though there are spiritual struggles and battles, we have so much to celebrate. Filling a bedroom with balloons for a welcome home surprise, decorating office desks with streamers for birthday and anniversaries are some ways to celebrate the Lord’s faithfulness in the lives of GFA family! God is so good and He gives us so much to rejoice over.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say rejoice! Philippians 4:4

I struggle to remember to rejoice, often, though I know that I’m saved and that the Holy Spirit dwells within me but I forget so easily that the battle is the Lord’s and He’s already won! I get caught up in areas where I fail that I forget to rejoice in the areas where I have experienced victory.

Being at GFA Canada where we celebrate continually is a blessing. Whether it is a birthday, anniversary or a Friday, there’s always something we are thanking the Lord for, through cake, decorations, or songs. In the Old Testament, the children of Israel were given feast days in which they were to remember the Lord’s mercy and deliverance. I think God knew we needed to have these days in order to rejoice, so we wouldn’t dwell on the negative and continue striving in our own strength.

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

Written by a Discipleship Program Student

My Life, His Spirit

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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.

Romans 6:13

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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Growing Pains

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…

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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

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