We were soaked! It had been pouring rain for 3 days! It was my first youth camp and I had been a believer for two years. Our guests from the US brought their tents but they were not made for this mountain rain. They were flooded. Some of us decided that we would crowd in and make space for all the guests to fit in our tents. We started arranging boys with boys in their tents and girls with girls in their tents. I went to the couple who were leading this group of Americans and I offered them my room in my tent. They were amazed that I would do that and sleep in the hallway of the tent. I thought that this was what a true disciple of Jesus would do.
Making disciples is one of the things that is so dear to my heart. I experienced it. It is something that even today I love to do. That process begins before they pray a prayer or submit to Jesus. A disciple is one who is learning to obey Jesus in all aspects of his life. It is a process, not a program. A disciple never graduates. Always there are new areas that the Spirit reveals where we need to submit and let Him have control. As I look back on my experience, I see three major components of discipleship.
- Life on life. Discipleship is more than a Bible study that you do weekly. Studying the Bible with your disciple is important but this is just one aspect. You need to meet outside of the formal study time with your disciple. Let them be part of your life. Have them over in your house for meals, games, and informal time. I learned a lot by being included in the life of my discipler, Floare. I saw her discipline her daughter. I saw her have a conflict with her husband and saw how they solved it. I saw her ask forgiveness. I traveled with her and saw how she acted when tired and under stress. I saw her give her bed to guests who came unexpectedly. She gave us rides to different places, let people borrow her car and things from her house. I saw what it means to put Jesus in charge of all you have. I knew I could go to her anytime with any question and she would never be bothered.
- Life in community. Discipleship is not just one on one meetings. You need to involve your disciple in a small group where others can speak into his or her life. Our disciples need more experience than any one of us can provide. Floare and Adi (her husband) put me in a group with seven other boys and girls. I was probably the youngest one but I learned a lot. We grew up as a community. We knew each other well and had the courage to correct each other. We had fun together, studied the Bible together, planned things together, and had Christmas parties together. We kept each other accountable and we grew up together. We were like a family. We cared deeply about each other and we called each other during the week to keep in touch. I still keep up with all those dear friends from that group. Our friendship goes beyond distance and time.
- Life on mission. Discipleship is not just gaining knowledge about Jesus. A disciple of Jesus makes disciples. A disciple is active and shares what he learns about Jesus with others. All of us from our community group were given responsibilities. We led the youth camp. We invited colleagues from school to the youth meetings and camps. We shared the Gospel with kids who did not know Jesus. We were challenged to go and find kids who need to be discipled. We were not just to attend the leadership group, pray, study, discuss and agree on what the Bible says; we were expected to go and act on what we talked about. All of us started our own small groups with other teenagers we found and invited. We spent time with our own disciples and helped them to take steps in their walk with God. We challenged them to also go and make disciples, and they did.
My life has changed but I still put a high value on discipleship. This year I started praying for God to show me who I should disciple. God put on my heart two women. I went to them and challenged them and they accepted. One is a professional from Zimbabwe, the other ran away from her pagan family who would like to see her dead. Both women are involved in communities with me. I want to help them go and make disciples.
Look around you. Who has God put in your path? Invite them to life on life, life in community, life on mission. What a joy to see your disciple discipling others in Jesus!
“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4