Disciple Making? What does it take?
Paul has some sage words for us who want to make disciples. In 2 Timothy 2:2 he tells us, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (ESV). So it takes teaching what already has been taught (heard from me in the presence of many witnesses) and passing this body of truth on to “faithful men”. These are important words “pass on to faithful men”. We often look to somebody who is willing to meet with us, but the next phrase tells us the criterion of what a faithful person is, it is one who will pass it on to others also. This reminds me of Jesus telling the disciples to go into the villages and look for a man of peace. If such a one cannot be found, go elsewhere. (Matthew 10:11-14). Paul explains his approach to disciple making in Acts 20:18-20, “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house”. Disciple making is hard work and takes sacrifice. It means choosing between what I personally would like to do and instead taking the time to meet with someone to talk about the needs in that person’s life in the light of God’s Word, teaching them…that what is helpful so they can become mature and serve the Lord according to their giftedness.
Elly and I have been working with Dynamic Churches International (dynamicchurches.org) since 2001. To find a faithful person is very hard at times. In 2008 we began working in Malawi. We are amazed how easy it is to find people anxious to share their faith with others. To give you one example of many, Elly organized a seminar for pastors and leaders in Mzuzu in Northern Malawi. This area of the world is extremely poor and the infrastructure is almost non-existent to foster progress of any kind. The average wage in Malawi is $ 320.00 a year according to the WHO. People grow their own food and try to sell some to neighbours and travellers, if they live close to a main road. One pastor attending this seminar was skeptical about the value of the one on one discipling they were being taught. He took the first lesson home and taught it to his daughter, she was saved. His daughter took it to her sister and she was saved. They were gossiping the Good News and the result were immediately evident. The father came back the next day and told Elly he was convinced it worked. Two men came from a remote valley North of Mzuzu to attend this same seminar. They went home with the materials and began talking to their family, neighbours and friend in the valley. When we visited this place, called Luhomero, we saw the list of people who had been touched by these two men and their disciples. There were 96 names on this list of people who were being saved. This valley was a stronghold of an African Church called “Last Church”. From my research, this church does not preach the Good News at all. These men asked us to come and train more leaders so they could go “over the mountain” to reach the hundred or so people living there who needed to hear the Good News. See, this is the living definition of what it means to be a “faithful person”. You have a burden for the lost and you are willing to sacrifice even the little you have to reach your circle of influence with the Good News so they can be saved. We hear about so many coming to faith in Christ in Malawi. Every time the Good News is preached someone or some more come to faith in Christ. We love to see God bless in this way! We praise His Name for His faithfulness in saving that which is lost still.