In coming to the Middle East, we had a heart to make connections and share the love of Christ with the people around us, many of whom have never had the opportunity to meet a follower of Jesus. We settled into one of the large cities in our country and worked hard at learning the language. We had ideas of what the Father had in store, but not many details. Always at the forefront of our thinking was this idea of discipleship.
Despite limited language abilities, we were blessed with opportunities to walk with several individuals over this time. We were privileged to relate and encourage one young man as he moved from semi-interest in reading the Bible, to professing faith in Jesus Christ. Another woman claimed faith in Jesus before we met her, but needed encouragement to walk out that faith. A third young man had a firm faith in Jesus, but desired a fuller understanding of what the Bible teaches. Clearly, our conversations and interactions with these individuals looked different, but Christ and his Word are applicable across all situations. We were blessed to be a part of what he was doing in the lives of these individuals and others in our time there.
Following two years of walking out this life of discipleship in that particular city, we made a move to a much smaller city in the east of our country. With this concept of discipleship in the front of our minds, we have connected with the local fellowship and are working to pour into the lives of individuals. Besides our involvement in the local fellowship in our city, we have also been involved in a church plant in a neighboring province.
Shortly after we arrived in our new town, we began developing relationships with several of the young people in the fellowship. Our desire was to see them grow and mature in their walk of faith, to become equipped to be salt and light in the world around them. Unfortunately, there is only so much you can do if people are not interested in going deeper in their faith, and they started pushing back. Despite a few bumps along the road, we still have opportunities to speak into the lives of the youth in several one-on-one relationships.
As a couple, and as a team we are digging deeper into this idea of discipleship – what it is, and how we should go about it. We believe that discipleship is a journey that all believers embark on, some just in more formal roles than others. It is not just a process for the spiritual elite or the overachievers, but for everyone on this journey of faith. It does not need to be a formal program, but it does need to be something that both parties are interested in. If it is only one sided, it will not go far. We are considering how we can do this in an effective manner that equips our local brothers and sisters to move the work forward both in our town and the surrounding provinces. We see a need for a desire in young believers to want to grow and for people who are willing to do life, rub shoulders, and walk with these young believers. Here, just like everywhere else in the world, the temptation to settle for mediocrity is strong.
“As more and more foreign workers are being forced out of our country, the need for strong local individuals to rise up is becoming all the more apparent.”
Discipleship goes beyond just helping individuals be good people, but helping them to encourage and strengthen others in their walk with Jesus. As more and more foreign workers are being forced out of our country, the need for strong local individuals to rise up is becoming all the more apparent. Our goal is not just to encourage individuals to maintain their personal relationship with the Lord, but to be individuals that carry forward the banner of the cross.
Our Father is truly doing a work in this land. New people are expressing interest, new individuals are claiming faith, and a new church is being started. The kingdom is moving forward. All these things are exciting! The overarching thing that binds it all together is Christ. If we can do this task of discipleship well, both in our personal lives and in passing it on to the ones following after us, the gates of hell will not be able to stand against us.
Please pray for Judah and Rayna’s family as they continue to bring God’s light to those around them. Pray for clear communication and a shared understanding with those they are discipling.
*names changed for security