The broken bridges, the desert plains, these are images that come to my mind when I think of what the past has been. I came here to School of Discipleship thinking my walk with the Lord would grow stronger, and it did. What I didn’t realize is how I would face myself. When we truly seek the Lord and ask Him to change us, we will have to face who we really are, behind the walls, the gates, the bars and all the defenses we throw up. That is a hard thing to do, facing yourself. When we get to know our true selves we won’t like who we are, but we have to remember that the Lord changes us. He seeks out our hearts as we seek out His and He will change us from the inside out. We just have to allow Him to change us.
It will not be easy to bear as the Lord starts changing us; it can be a slow process. It will often be painful in these times. The world will seem to have flipped upside down but God is still God, no matter what. Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship is one of the safest places to really let your guard down before the Lord. As you let your guard down, your guard will began to drop with your housemates, your supervisors, and your department heads and that may terrify you. However, as will be reiterated and reminded of you many times over, the Lord is always with you, so lean on Him. The Lord has brought me here to Gospel for Asia for a reason and that is to grow in Him and part of that is change.
Something important to understand about School of Discipleship is that people will constantly encourage you into the arms of the Lord, and that is the best thing that can happen. You can cry here, you can be vulnerable, it’ll happen at some point whether you want it to or not. There is so much of the Lord’s presence here and His heart is lived out. People will ask you if you are OK and genuinely want to know if you are. You may find yourself responding with disarming honesty, you may find that you can no longer give the phony answer. If you can or do give the phony answer, you’ll feel as if you’ve missed the opportunity to reach out and be part of the body.
That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned here, The Body of Christ. Christ’s Body is made up of so many other Christians and they are meant to be there for us, to exhort and uplift one another in the pursuit of God and His Will. I have discovered that the Body of Christ is a genuine thing and God has used it to soften my heart in areas I had not realized my heart was hard in. Don’t be afraid to grow, don’t be afraid to reach out to others. It’s hard and may not turn out as you expect but there are times God will use it. You will be blown away and through it all you will realize how much He loves you, cares for you, desires your heart and to know you. School of Discipleship is a tool God uses greatly to shape young Christians. Through School of Discipleship you will be introduced to a true Body of Christ (if you’re like me you had never experienced it before) and yourself. It is good. Learn what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. School of Discipleship will teach you.
Who would’ve thought that one word would carry so much meaning? When you type “community” into google, this is the top definition that pops up: “A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” Well, I don’t know about you, but I have struggled most of my life to find a place to belong. When I first came to Gospel for Asia to attend School of Discipleship, I didn’t have many expectations of finding that place to belong here. In fact, I was expecting to stick out like a sore thumb because this has been my experience my whole life. Even in the best situations, like with my family or friends, I’ve always had this lingering feeling of being on the outside.
I never understood it, and having known the Lord most of my life, I would ask Him over and over why I had these feelings of not belonging in my family, friends, school, college, even workplaces. Most of the time, I would think in the back of my mind, “Would they even miss me if I was gone?”
Since coming to School of Discipleship, I’ve finally experienced true community for the first time!
The fellowship that the Gospel for Asia staff and students has with one another is real and profound. Since my first step on the campus, they have intentionally taken the time to get know and welcome me. It has been incredible to see the love and genuine kindness expressed from each person here at Gospel for Asia. At first, I was overwhelmed and confused by the community; I didn’t understand why everyone was just so nice to me all the time! But the longer I’ve been here, the more clearly I see what their motives are. They love the Lord and it’s His love that pours out from their hearts, mouths, and actions when they interact with one another. “We love because He FIRST loved us” (1 John 4:19).
As I have been seeking the Lord during my year in School of Discipleship, I have a better understanding of how this community is so genuine and loving to each other. The second part of the definition of community is “having a particular characteristic in common.” Google is completely right! The community here at Gospel for Asia does have one characteristic in common: Jesus. He is the One who unites us and it’s His love and His sacrifice on the Cross that brings us together in a way nothing else can.
Community is just one of the ways the Lord reveals Himself to us. I mean, who else could unite people with such vastly different backgrounds, opinions, and personalities as they live and work alongside of each other?! No one and nothing but Jesus. I have been amazed and grateful to God for the community I have experienced at Gospel for Asia. And more than that, I know now that wherever I go, I can experience community with other believers because of Christ and my experience at Gospel for Asia.
Was I Vulnerable?
The first day of orientation we started out with worship and prayer. To be vulnerable, I didn’t know any of the songs or hymns. I was a little unsure why the Lord had decided that this is where I needed to be, I didn’t really know how to pray other than asking for forgiveness.
As orientation went on we had different people talk to us about the unreached in Asia, their personal testimonies, and their journey with Christ. I noticed vulnerability about each of the speakers, not where it was a weakness or a lack of confidence, it was their humility. I wanted to be transparent to others, but I was so good at hiding my past and pretending my life wasn’t broken that I had become accustomed to being defensive and putting up walls. As the weeks went on, we learned about core values, and humility was one of them. Jesus showed me how He wanted me to humble myself and be honest not only with others but to Him and myself. I struggled with the thought of sharing all my faults and failures and my past with other people, especially people in the Body of Christ.
I was afraid that my classmates wouldn’t understand or that they would think I was some awful person. A week passed by and one of the girls in my class invited all the girls in our class for testimony sharing, I was so nervous I prayed about going and sharing my story. I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want to tell my new classmates about my past, I really struggled with this but then I realized that this was a chain of bondage that the enemy had over me. He had allowed me to believe that I wasn’t good enough to be saved, or tell my story with other believers because they would judge me.
When I looked to the Lord though, He told me I am worthy and this is a testimony of how mighty I am to save and how He delights over me and everyone who loves Him. I realized that I wouldn’t change if I didn’t speak up, and fill myself with humility and be vulnerable.
Before our testimony time, the Lord gave me courage and I was able to tell 4 girls my whole testimony before the official meeting, it was freeing and I was surprised with the reactions. I got hugs, and tears, and prayers of love. The official time came and I was so surprised about some of the struggles I had in common with other girls and I was the last to share. How I felt afterwards was indescribable. I felt lighter and not so heavy burdened.The Lord let me feel the freedom of humility. The girls reactions were nothing I expected. I was told I was beautiful and what an amazing story I had and how amazing the Lord is and how much He loved me. I received so many hugs, it was one of my highlights of my time in School of Discipleship. For the first time I understood the beauty of being in the Body of Christ. That’s what School of Discipleship has been so far for me, freedom to live in a community that is Christ centered, living within a body of Christ. I have the opportunity to learn from people who are filled with graciousness and Christ’s love. I have never once felt like I was being judged or I wasn’t “holy” enough. Everyone’s walk with Jesus is a lifetime commitment and I’m learning skills that will help me keep going no matter what I do. I am so thankful that the Lord has brought me here, and being in a place of constant encouragement.
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His immense patience as an example for those who would believe in Him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” ( 1 Timothy 1:15-17)
As School of Discipleship students we have a pretty packed schedule: class multiple times a week, doing assignments in the evenings, prayer meetings almost every day, working full time at Gospel For Asia, and then community service projects or evangelism on the weekends.
A few weeks ago my classmates and I also did some religion training sessions! We learned from people with Operation Mobilization about some different religions prevalent in Asia. We’re now better equipped to be witnesses for Christ here in North America, and also to better know how to pray.
Since we were learning about Asian culture and religion, we spent part of one Saturday afternoon visiting downtown Toronto’s Asian community town! We dressed in the cultural clothing, visited some different shops, and also enjoyed a delicious Asian meal.
Then we visited the CN Tower in Toronto!
We are both from Texas, so it was our first time visiting the CN Tower. Our group had a blast walking around downtown Toronto!
Tonight was the last night that my three roommates and I went out for a time of fellowship together as roommates. However, I think this (and the first time) was my favorite of all. We travelled to a coffee shop that a friend had visited a while back. We were all kind of dragging ourselves out the door because it has been a rather long week and our tiredness was catching up to us. Once we arrived, we all got ourselves some yummy snacks, coffee beverages and a small dinner, sat in the back of the cafe, and proceeded to talk, play games, and have a grand old time.
Soon, two men started to perform some live music, which was kind of loud, but rather enjoyable at the same time – though we had to talk louder so we could hear each other. We didn’t mind. My friend beat me at Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe, we played a few rounds of Kings in the Corner, sang along with some of the songs the guys were playing, shared some goofy times of nonsense laughter, and then discussed what verses the Lord had been pointing out to us lately. Soon enough, we decided to put away the game of cards and read through a book of the Bible. Ephesians was chosen, and so we proceeded to read through it chapter by chapter (passing it to the next person at the start of a new chapter).
As we read through the Word of God, we stopped to comment on certain parts as they came up in our hearts. A lot of “AMEN!”s were said before we even finished the first chapter. It was so refreshing to open up this book after hearing two messages by Gayle Erwin who came to share some words of encouragement with the Gospel for Asia staff yesterday and this morning.
When the musicians took a break, one of the guys came back to our table (we had been applauding their music the whole time and so they decided to come say “hi”) and asked what we were doing. We told him that we were reading through Ephesians and he was glad to find out we were Christians as well.
As our time drew to a close (it was getting kind of late, and we were remembering how tired we were before discussing the Lord and His goodness) we closed the Word and drove home discussing how refreshing it is to meditate on His promises and remind ourselves of His truth.
Now it’s time for me to go to bed, but I wanted to reflect a little longer on this great time of fellowship that we had as roommates, but further than that, sisters in Christ. One Body. A Unity that can only be accomplished through the Spirit of the Lord that dwells in our hearts. I’d say this was a good way to “end” this chapter of my living situations, and I very much am looking forward to my next.
Thanks for listening!
“Lay Me Down” by Chris Tomlin has been like the theme song of the 2013 January class of School of Discipleship. At the beginning of the year we all went to different churches together and almost every Sunday we heard this song playing. Either we would sing it in the service, hear it playing after the service, or someone had it in their head and was singing it.
At first, we just thought it was a great song. I had never even heard it before coming to the School of Discipleship. Then, as we continued to hear it we figured maybe God was speaking to us through it. After hearing/ singing it over and over and over again, I thought, “Hey – this could be our theme song!”
The whole song talks about giving up all we are for the Lord to use however He chooses. The motto for School of Discipleship is “Can you die to yourself for one year?” I think this song is the answer to that question. Not only does this song talk about laying our lives down for Christ, but it says “It will be my joy to say, Your will, Your way, ALWAYS!” Those are some pretty powerful words and they have challenged me a lot. Am I willing to joyfully lay down my entire life and say “Lord, whatever You want me to do and wherever You want me to go, my answer will always be, yes Lord, send me?”
This is what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did for me and you. What choice do we have, but to give it back and die for Him. He has promised the greatest reward if we do. Praise the Lord for salvation and the sacrifice of Jesus’ blood on that cruel cross.
May our prayer be, “I lay me down, I’m not my own, I belong to you alone, lay me down, lay me down. Take this life and let it shine, lay me down, lay me down, Jesus.” – Chris Tomlin
Singing around the campfire while camping!