Recently God has been reminding me of His call on my life here at Gospel for Asia. I know that God has called me here, but in recent weeks it has gotten tough.
It all started during Lent (the 40 days heading up to Easter). The whole focus of Lent is on Jesus’s death on the cross. I started having this thought, “If Jesus could give up everything to die for a sinner like me, then why couldn’t I dedicate my life to Jesus and reaching the 2 billion people who have never heard of Jesus.” As much as I tried to shrug it off, I simply couldn’t.
These are people who Jesus loves they are going to Hell, 80,000 of them every day without having heard of Jesus before. Why shouldn’t our hearts break for the people of Asia (especially in Nepal where the earthquake happened)?
Yet while this was going on, I was reminded of some of some of the difficulties serving here at Gospel for Asia. This is when God started asking me another question. He started asking me, “Are you willing to suffer hardships for my sake and for the sake of the call I have given you?” I was a little hesitant to answer that question.
With this question, you can go to two extremes. The first one is to blurt out something like Peter did and then be rebuked by the Lord at the end. The second extreme is to run away just like Jonah only to be turned back. The Lord knew my heart though. He knows I would be able to (with His strength) to continue in His calling and not run away.
Jesus never promised our life would be easy if we followed Him and shared the Gospel. On the contrary, He promised hardships and suffering to all who followed Him and His calling. Though this certainly didn’t attract followers, it sifted out His true followers from those who wanted to get something out of Him.
At the same time though, Jesus promised our lives would be fulfilling. Not only are we spreading God’s kingdom throughout the world, but the Lord promised heaven for those who believe in Him and do what He wants them to do. I choose to follow the Lord, what about you?
As Christians and students of the faith we are about the business of gaining insight into God’s character. It always amazes me how much more we can learn about His character as we move further along in our journeys.
Ever since God made me aware of my call to missions, I have been one track minded seeking out opportunities to go overseas and joining different missions organizations. I remember abiding in His strength only and being sold out to Him. I look back on that season with longing often as at that time I was completely sold out to Him.
For past few years I have been task oriented when it comes to my walk with the Lord and obeying His commands. If He tells me to do this or that, I will go do those things but in my own strength. What I didn’t realize is that I stopped abiding in his strength. After a while I became spiritually lazy and would be in self-indulgent. Of course, I would do whatever God told me to, which at the time I thought consisted of the notion of going to another country and dying for him. I began to rely on my walk in the past and therefore became lazy. Since I read the Bible and had learned so many lessons from it, I had the notion I didn’t need to read the Bible anymore. Even though I had no desire to read my Bible I would have gone and died for him.
Recently, my School of Discipleship class went through a book called Calvary Road. When I was reading through it I caught myself thinking that I knew these things, but then God convicted me the next several days saying, “There are so many things you think you know! You lost faith in the blood of the lamb, you lost hope in eternity.” I didn’t realize that I slowly but surely let the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches cloud my judgment. I had become a hearer of the word deceiving myself.
I was reading in the Word and read through Romans 3:25 “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” The Spirit led me to carefully analyze and consider these things. What is faith? Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction in the things not seen. What is conviction? Conviction is belief. Somewhere along the way I stopped believing. I was running on fumes. But the Lord is faithful and assured me that He is with me always. I am thankful that my logic and judgment does not dictate the truth, such as whether or not there is a God and His Son is Jesus. He has helped me realize that I need to become a Christian who lives by faith and not by experience, feelings or emotions. He has shown me that reading his word refines my faith in Him. I love His faithfulness.
“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that who so ever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
We have all heard this verse many times and memorized it. But do we really believe and understand its truth? So often I think I must do something to earn God’s gifts and promises, and yet the Bible says only believe.
Here at Gospel for Asia School of Discipleship I’ve been learning that God uses others to speak into our lives if we will let them. This weekend something cool happened. Three times I heard a similar message, each time by a different person. I couldn’t help but think perhaps God is really trying to teach me something here! They were all talking about believing God and accepting the gift He is offering us. It is so crazy to think all I have to do is accept and I will be saved. But even accepting the gift of Jesus destroys ones pride. I want to do something for God, to show my worth, but He says “you can’t earn this, you can only believe”. I wonder how much I’ve missed out on in the promises of God simply because I didn’t believe. So it is that belief runs our lives; the choices we make, the way we spend our time and the desires we have are all based on our beliefs. It is very important what we believe, and I pray God will give me the grace to believe the promises He has written in scripture. Oh, what a freeing thing it is to believe our Saviour died for us while we were yet in our sin and He wants so much to have a relationship with us. Praise the LORD. God is definitely working at Gospel for Asia, and the best part is watching the staff follow Christ and walk in their example. They know who they are in Christ by believing His word and that is why they can follow Him. It is easy to follow someone that you believe the words they say.
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.
The School of Discipleship January 2013 year is coming to a close and we are now officially studying our last book together as a class. But, not only are we studying it, but we are going to be teaching it, Lord willing! Yes, you read that right! We as School of Discipleship students have the amazing opportunity to facilitate class! I know that it will be a huge challenge, but in that, it will help me to depend on my Saviour more, and help me grow deeper in my relationship with Him! Yet another benefit to this is, as Susan said, we will get way more out of the lessons we teach, than what we ever have before! This year has been absolutely amazing! I have learned a lot and I praise my Heavenly Father for all that He has done in my life as a result.
While travelling back from the Gospel For Asia UK retreat last weekend, one of us remarked on how much of a blessing my great-aunt’s car is to a couple on staff. As I followed my great-aunt’s car home, which I have nicknamed Dorothy after her, I took a trip down memory lane. I couldn’t help but praise the Lord for taking something as ordinary as a car and making it significant for His Kingdom.
Dorothy, the car, is a testimony of God’s goodness to my family, my Gospel For Asia family and even to the most unreached. Dorothy began her life in Belfast, Northern Ireland, when my great-aunt bought her to take her to the shops, the hairdresser and her many social engagements. Dorothy was kept busy. My great-aunt was remarkable in many ways and she kept me on my toes. She liked to teach me the proper way to do things including brewing a good cup of British tea. I enjoyed drinking tea with her and listening to stories from her life. One of my favourites is of her playing billiards with Second World War soldiers in London during a German bombing. They choose to continue their game rather than retreat to a bunker! She lived a full and exciting life, which meant growing old was her enemy.
Dorothy, the car, was very important to my great-aunt as this was her link to the life she once had. As her health deteriorated, Dorothy got taken out less frequently. This is when my great-aunt began to seriously consider the life to come. One fateful day my great-aunt caused a car accident which required her to take a driving test for the first time in her life. My gracious and very patient mum helped her practice for the test in Dorothy. She managed to pass the test despite finding it hard to hear the driving examiner’s instructions. Unfortunately, the stress was too much for my great-aunt and she never got to drive Dorothy again. Confinement to her apartment forced her to consider eternally significant questions and she opened up to my mum.
The Lord only knows with certainty where my great-aunt is today, nevertheless, my mum and I are hopeful. We were especially encouraged by her funeral arrangements which she had organised herself, as she had changed the hymns last minute to include “Amazing Grace.” She left the car, Dorothy, to my mum who then gave it to my brother, Richard. Last year, Dorothy took Richard on a life-changing adventure to England. Today, Dorothy belongs to a couple on staff with Gospel For Asia, which is the Lord’s provision. I find it incredible that my great-aunt’s car is being used to reach those who have never heard the precious name of Jesus. Seeing Dorothy at the Gospel For Asia office everyday reminds me of God’s goodness. He can take something ordinary, bless and multiply it beyond what I could imagine, even beyond a lifetime. Dorothy lives on, serving the Lord in Gospel For Asia UK. I wonder what my great-aunt would say to me if she knew her car belonged to Gospel For Asia-missionaries. Maybe that living for eternity is all that matters.
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