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
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
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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
Some people like to live alone and others don’t think they could survive. But everyone has a family and needs a family because we were created that way. Of course family doesn’t have to be blood related, family are the people we treasure the most.
I’ve been at Gospel For Asia’s Discipleship Program for 1 year and nearly 8 months. I’ve lived in the same house for this time, with the same people for the first year and then a few different people for the second year. I’ve gone to serve at the same office every week day with these people and others for this whole time. It’s like a family. No, I’m not related to any of the people here, I didn’t know any of them before I came. But they are family, and as a house we do everything together. We get up at 6 AM on Monday morning tired and quiet to pray together for the day ahead, we all understand each other because we’re feeling the same things, we slowly travel downstairs to exercise together still tired and quiet. The kitchen is busy at 7 AM as everyone is eating breakfast and getting their lunch for the day, but no one fights or argues, we’re all polite and love to serve each other. Then our house remains silent and empty, because we all head to the office for prayer and ministry service. We come home at 5:30 PM, tired and hungry. A couple of us cook a meal for everyone. At 7 PM we sit down and enjoy each other some more, we’re more awake than in the morning and are able to talk and tell about our day – the joys and the challenges because everyone understands. They’ve struggled with similar things too. I love this family I have, I wouldn’t trade them for anything, but I didn’t realise how close I am to these people until I thought about leaving at the end of the year. They are my friends that I can rely on, as Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (ESV). Here I have made friends who are closer than my own family. I still love my family very much, and I know they love me, but these people know far more than my family does about what I’ve experienced this year and 8 months. They are the friends I won’t forget.
Though I believe I could live alone if the LORD called me to do it, I have found a greater joy in living with others who have the same vision and goal as I do. I want to find family wherever I go because I believe it is God’s plan that His children (Christians related through the blood of Jesus) live together in unity and love, able to say to like Jesus did in Matthew 12:48-50, “But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
—School of Discipleship student
I have an independent personality. I’m not saying that I’m rebellious or disobedient (though there have definitely been times those would describe me). I just like to do things myself.
If I can do it well, then let me do it alone. If I think I know how it works, leave me alone and let me work. If I don’t quite know, I’ll get the documentation and figure it out. That is what I have learned about how I work. I didn’t realize any of this before I came to School of Discipleship. I have come to understand just how independent I am since attending this program.
I have learned since being here that I can’t afford to be independent. There are aspects of life that just don’t work doing it alone. I share a house with two great guys, and they are there to help me through my struggles. The days I’m on an emotional roller-coaster, I’ve learned the best help is the help my brothers can offer to me. I used to wade through chest deep problems on my own and tell people I’m fine. I was independent.
When I need advice I’ve learned to ask. I honestly can’t remember ever asking my father for serious life advice. Now I realize that I need advice. God has placed people in my life who know more than I do, or have even gone through the exact same situations. Asking for advice is not something I used to do. I was independent.
The danger of independence is that I could suffocate alone, drown in my own problems, or panic over decisions others have made.
Father keep me dependent.
Empty me of my selfish pride.
And when I am crooked or bent,
Straighten me to be at your side.
Teach me to learn from the others
With whom You’ve surrounded me,
And keep my heart close to my brothers
That my life should be pleasing to Thee.
School of Discipleship US
I am so blessed to serve with a Body of Believers who are really like the Church in Acts. We are all here for two purposes: to grow closer to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and to proclaim His name and His glory to those millions who haven’t heard His name.
The reason I write this post is because I have been struggling with headaches consistently everyday for the past… 7 months? And when I walked down the hallway today, someone stopped me to see how I’m doing. When I mentioned the headache, they stopped what they were doing and prayed for me right then and there. This is not an uncommon occurrence, actually it happens all the time. We are a people who pray together constantly, are transparent with one another as the Body should be, we are there to encourage and give of ourselves (out of the strength of God) to help others, we love others even when its hard to do. The staff here at Gospel for Asia are living out what it means to be the Body of Christ. And I am so encouraged by it.
I’m sure there are other places out there that are similar. But I am so blessed to be a part of this family. 🙂
—School of Discipleship Alumni