Disciples who make disciples – a NAMS story

“Do you ever meet with guys to talk about God?”

The question was joy to this disciple-maker’s heart. “Of course I do. When can we meet?”

I began to meet with two young men, Rion and Jamie, in September of 2015. We set a pattern of meeting on Tuesdays for a sack lunch, bibles in our laps, for an hour and a quarter.

I began to share with them the central things God has taught me about making disciples who make disciples. I required these things of them:

  • You spend quality time in the Word of God every day.
  • You memorize twelve scripture passages.*
  • You meet with me every week for six months.
  • We re-evaluate at the end of that time.

We always started and ended with prayer—usually me to start and one of them to end. We discussed whatever had come up in the preceding week, relating it always to Scripture (with particular focus on Jesus’ teaching about discipleship). Are you abiding in the word of Jesus?

After six months, they wanted to continue. I invited them to a men’s retreat focused on disciple-making, and they came. After a year I challenged them to begin to multiply. They formed a small men’s group, with unbelievers and believers. They began to re-evaluate their other commitments and use of time. They are becoming fruitful.

We continue to meet most Tuesdays. They have both grown in their walk with the Lord. Rion is now Senior Warden of his parish, and Jamie oversees the Youth Ministry in his parish. Both have interiorized the principles of being disciple-making men. Both are seriously engaging with other men about being disciple-making men. Both are re-prioritizing their use of time, seeking God’s will for them in a new way.

As we have grown together as disciple-making friends they have also come to understand NAMS’ ministry to the nations, and to pray with and for us. They are learning about their part in Jesus’ Final Command. Finally, both of them have become familiar with the NAMS Centurion Project, and have signed up as Centurions.

This is an example of elementary disciple-making, as I have learned to live it.

* Matthew 4:19, 6:33, 28:19; Luke 14:26,27,33; John 8:31-32, 13:34-35, 15:7-8

— Rev. Jon C. Shuler
NAMS Servant General

Disciples who make disciples – a NAMS story

Going Places for the Kingdom with NAMS! (Interview with Isaac Lasky).

In this special interview, we speak to Isaac Lasky, who is the global coordinator of the new NAMS Global Apprenticeship Program (GAP). Having interned for 2 years at our NAMS base community in Bangkok from 2014-2016, Isaac has taken on the challenge of developing and managing a one – two years apprenticeship program for young people who want to learn to be disciple-making leaders at one of our NAMS bases. This will be a wonderful opportunity to get equipped and experienced in becoming a missionary disciple of Jesus. Please help us get the word out!

Isaac and Pat
Isaac and his fiancé, Pat

NAMS: Tell us a little about your background and journey to faith in Christ?

Isaac: I grew up in a Christian family in Colchester, England. I was part of a number of vibrant churches. My favorite memories from those times are of mission trips. I was baptized when I was 14 years old. I had some rough times when I was 16/17 years of age but came out of that season with a deeper ownership of my Christian faith. A big part of that was joining NAMS European partner church, DNA Networks, in Colchester.

When I was 18 I did a six month trip to Mumbai, India and that cemented in my heart a sense of call to the nations. I then gained a BTh Mission from Formission College through Reign Ministries, whilst I serve as a youth worker for DNA Networks for three years. It was soon after that I met Manik Corea and Jon Shuler and they invited me to be a NAMS apprentice in Bangkok for two years!

NAMS: What was the experience like serving as a NAMS apprentice/intern in Bangkok those 2 years? What was most difficult? What grew you the most? What did you enjoy? Please tell all the juicy bits!.

Isaac: It felt like a massive step of faith. Moving the other side of the world to work in a new country, culture and language was a big adjustment but through it I learnt to have a greater dependence on God and so many other things with it.

I would say that being away from friends and family was the most difficult part. But I have learnt that the Lord puts the lonely in families. Through this experience I have gained friends that have become like family and a fiancée that will! I really treasure those relationships.

In terms of growth I would say the amount of opportunities I was given was the key. I had a period of acclimation but I was quickly given opportunities to lead and develop new work. I didn’t always succeed, but the team supported me every step of the way and I have learnt so much about leading pioneering work, especially in a cross-cultural context.

I also really enjoyed supporting and teaching at NAMS conferences in Bangkok, Myanmar, Nepal and India. It was an opportunity to be part of what God is doing in different parts of the world, to learn from Christians in other cultures and to see that we are part of something much bigger!

NAMS: You are now the NAMS Global GAP coordinator. Tell us in a few words what it stands for, and what its main purpose is?

Isaac: The main purpose of NAMS Global Apprenticeship Program or GAP is to train and equip the next generation of pioneering disciple making church planters. We currently looking to have Global Apprentices at NAMS base communities in Thailand, Nepal, USA and Chile.

NAMS: What kind of people are we looking for to join NAMS GAP?

Isaac: We are looking for people who are teachable, adventurous, pioneering, have a heart for mission and are committed to following and obeying Jesus. This may be ideal for young people looking to do a gap year or for people in their 20s/30s (or older) who want to get their feet wet in global mission. If they want to become NAMS companions, this will be ideal preparation too.

NAMS: What will they receive from being an apprentice on this programme?

Isaac: Apprentices will hopefully attain the following things: they will be equipped and trained to be a disciple making leader anywhere in the world; they will receive hands on training and mentoring from established disciple making leaders; there will be opportunities to lead and pioneer new works; they will get to participate in NAMS projects, missions trips, conferences and retreats; and finally, they will experience serving Jesus in a cross-cultural or missional context.

NAMS: On the thorny issue of funding, how much is needed to join this programme? Will GAP participants have to raise their own support?

Isaac: The cost of the program is dependent of the location of the apprenticeship. An applicant needs to contact us to get a country-specific price. Apprentices will need to raise a certain percentage of support with the rest coming from NAMS Global and the hosting base community but that is tailored according to an applicant’s background and circumstances. There will always be a need for an apprentice to raise their own support. It’s an important step of faith, one that has greatly benefitted me personally.

NAMS: Whom should they contact or what should they do if they want to find out more or wish to apply?

Isaac: The first thing for them probably to do is visit our website at www.namsgap.com and register your interest! I can then answer your questions and give more information over email or Skype.

Going Places for the Kingdom with NAMS! (Interview with Isaac Lasky).

How to Pray for NAMS — part 3, by Mary Garrison-Ruiz.

Finally, dear friends, after sharing with you about sweet Audrey and talking a bit about why prayer is so transformative—for the pray-er and the circumstance—we come to the call for intercession.

What a blessing it is to be able to communicate with our God and to know that at any moment we can share with Him the concerns of our own lives. Even so, intercessory prayer is different. It is praying specifically for the concerns of others, pleading on their behalf.

The truth is, sometimes I find it difficult to pray for others with genuine fervency; I imagine this may be the case for many of us not yet accustomed to doing so. Recently I read a passage by Richard Foster in The Celebration of Discipline which struck me. He writes, “Usually, the courage actually to go and pray for a person is a sign of sufficient faith. Frequently our lack is not faith but compassion.” Those lines convicted me deeply: often it’s my lack of compassion for others that limits my prayers.

Faced with my own limitations, I cry out: How can anyone ever be compassionate “enough?” Seriously, with the news and internet at my fingertips and constant connectedness with family, friends, and acquaintances via technology and social media, there is no shortage of prayer needs. How is one ever to respond to all of them genuinely, and to pray for our leaders and the poor and fatherless as Scripture directs us? I’m overwhelmed from the get-go.

But, dear believers, ours is not the role to respond to all needs; only God can do that. Rather, our responsibility is to respond to where God calls us by putting compassion on our hearts. Foster goes on to remind the Christian that as God gives us compassion, we are moved to pray; and that for which we are not stirred to genuine compassion, we trust that God is moving another believer’s heart in such a way. Yet, as we are faithful by responding in prayer where He prompts us, He is in the work of transforming our hearts to be more sensitive to the needs of those whom we do not yet have eyes to see.

Here at NAMS the Lord has put a specific call on our hearts: to engage in pioneering global ministry to share the Gospel and build up communities of disciple-making disciples. Every global need is in fact someone’s local need, but when a local community does not know the message of hope found in Jesus Christ, we must pray for God to raise up men and women from other parts of the globe to go share that life-changing, community-changing, and world-changing news.

Prayer is such a vital step in this process that we cannot do it alone. When Jesus sent out seventy disciples two-by-two into the mission field, he told them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2). We need more laborers to be part of bringing in the harvest. These laborers indeed include missionaries in the field, but they also include an arsenal of prayer support from across the globe.

For this reason, NAMS is working to expand its intercessory prayer efforts worldwide. To achieve this, we will be sending out monthly prayer updates as well as resources and strategies to help prayer groups and communities grow in prayer and connectedness with other communities around the world. To sign up for this newsletter and be part of this team, you can write to mary.garrison@namsnetwork.com.

To those who do not yet feel a burden to pray for the nations, we ask God to give a genuine compassion for the lost peoples. Then, we simply start to pray, trusting in His faithfulness to respond to that prayer which delights His heart.

— Mary Garrison-Ruiz
NAMS Global Prayer/Intercession Coordinator.

How to Pray for NAMS — part 3, by Mary Garrison-Ruiz.

How to Pray for NAMS — part 1, by Mary Garrison-Ruiz.

I want to share with you about a very special friend of mine named Audrey. I met “Aud” when I was living in Temuco, Chile, from 2014-2016 while serving in a NAMS Base Community. A native of Manchester, England, Aud came to Chol-Chol, Chile, as a 29-year-old missionary and 50+ years later, she was still there. In Audrey, I saw a joy for spending time with the Lord and meditating on Scripture like I had never seen before. The Holy Spirit drew me to want to spend more and more time with her, to listen to her speak and pray with deep passion, and to learn from her as much as I could.

When Audrey arrived in Chol-chol in the early 1960s, the town was like a scene from an old Hollywood Western film—horseback riding, cantinas, gunfights, and all. Listening to Audrey’s stories of running a school and boarding house for indigenous children without any funding, or fording a river on horseback during a raging storm to arrive at a prayer meeting, or navigating any number of social mores of the Chilean countryside were always greatly entertaining.

When I arrived in Chile, I was trying to figure out this whole “missionary thing” in an unfamiliar culture, and had all this time on my hands that I didn’t know what to do with. One day Aud—whose deteriorating health had by now made it nearly impossible for her to travel from her countryside home into the city, and who now spent most of her time alone—phoned to give me a bit of encouragement. “Mary,” she said, “any time you spend simply with the Lord in prayer is not time wasted.”

It’s so simple but so profound, so let me say it again: Any time spent simply with the Lord in prayer is not time wasted. These words were coming to me from a woman with such exciting life-stories to tell about how she surely had made such valuable use of her time and ministry, and in fact it was the authority of that experience which spoke to me. It still speaks to me now. From the sitting room where she is spending her twilight years, Audrey is deepening her understanding of the value of time and ministry to the Lord, through intercessory prayer.

We can fill our time with a million things to do, but if we are not engaged in what that the Lord has called us to do, and spending time with Him in that calling, we are wasting our time. What has the Lord called every one of us to do as Christians? For a start, we have all been called to pray. Over the course of the past three years, I made it a point to spent as much time with Audrey as possible, learning from her how to spend time with the Lord—not “doing for” God but simply being with Him in prayer. Over time, I learned how to talk with God and enter into communion with him. It’s only from that place of spiritual communion and humility that we can attempt to serve Him in any meaningful way.

At NAMS, our mission is to spread the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in any part of the globe where God opens a door, and to plant communities of disciple-making disciples. To carry out this mission, we have a ministry model with action steps, executed by a Global Ministry Team consisting of Regional Team Leaders, led by our Servant General, and under him, a Global Executive and his various officers.

We have Base Communities, a Global Apprenticeship Program, supporting churches, friends of NAMS and the NAMS Centurion Project as well as global and regional training events and vision retreats. The list could go on, and for each of these aspects of the ministry of NAMS, I give thanks to God. But Audrey’s simple truth rings true within our operations as well: it’s time spent with the Lord in prayer that will make all the “goings on” of NAMS eternally valuable.

We as a NAMS community are establishing an intercessory prayer team so that we can grow in this area. Over the next few weeks, I will share more about this prayer team. My hope is that those reading this blog will be encouraged in their own prayer lives, and that some will decide to join us in making a commitment to pray regularly for the eternal value of NAMS’ ministry. I know Audrey will be praying for us from Chol-chol, Chile, and I pray you will too.

— Mary Garrison-Ruiz
NAMS Global Prayer/Intercession Coordinator.

 

How to Pray for NAMS — part 1, by Mary Garrison-Ruiz.

Developing Holy Habits – Exalt, Encourage and Endure (Part 7)

We’ve come to the last in our series, using the Acronym PROMISE to describe healthy holy habits that must be taught and nurture among ourselves and those we disciple. The last letter ‘E’ stands for two important practices that should characterize the life of every growing disciple. These are ‘Exalt God’ and ‘Encourage each other’.

  1. Exalt God

We were made to worship God. It is perhaps no accident that the longest book in the Bible is the Hebrew hymnbook known as the book of Psalms. Heaven echoes eternally with the praises of worshiping creatures, angels, and people. We who are saved are called to praise the One who saved us. We find ultimate meaning for our being in the worship of our Creator, Redeemer, and King.

Worship not only fulfills who we are truly, but amazingly, God desires it of us, though he is the all-sufficient One. In John 4:23, Jesus told us that ‘the Father is seeking those who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.’ God is seeking a people who would delight totally in Him.

Jesus uses the imperative in John 4:24 – ‘Those who worship God must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.’ Worship in spirit and truth springs from our spirits and must be done with complete integrity, touching our head and heart where we reach out in praise and adoration to our God. ‘To “worship in spirit,” is to worship spiritually; to “worship in truth,” is to worship truly’ (A.W. Pink).[1]

Worship in Scripture is always more than just songs we sing or acts of praise done before God and for God. It has in view the complete devotion, love, and obedience of head, heart, hand, and being.

William Temple, one-time Archbishop of Canterbury gives a succinct but superlative definition of true worship: “To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, and to devote the will to the purpose of God.”[2]

So we should sing and dance (if so moved) at church on Sundays, and let us do so heartily and with reverence before God. But let us also teach those we disciple to worship God by a genuine attitude of heart the issues into God-exalting words and actions on say, Monday mornings and Friday nights.

  1. Encourage each other.

As we make disciples, we are calling and training them not simply to obey Christ in every way, but to seek to follow Him by belonging and participating in Christ’s community, the Church. If we are to exalt God by our worship, we are similarly to treat each other with respect and to encourage one another out of love.

The epistolary writings of the Apostles take pains to call us to work for the common good of each other. In Ephesians 4:29, Paul instructs believers to ‘let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.’

This is echoed in numerous other letters – see Romans 12:10, 15:2; Galatians 6:2;       Ephesians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11; Hebrews 3:13, 10:25; etc.

This has to be worked at as a regular habit, because loving saints today can quickly be bitter, resentful, and quarreling sinners come the morrow. If we don’t grow in the grace of our Lord, we can easily slip back into our old default mode of sin and selfishness, refusing to consider others better than us or before us (as Philippians 2:3-4 exhorts).

Therefore, Jesus taught us and spoke about it often – if we do not forgive each other, our heavenly Father would not likewise forgive us (Matthew 6:14,15 and 18:21-35). In like manner, if we claim to love God but hate our brother, we prove to be liars (1 John 4:20).

Exalting God and encouraging each other – two more habits of genuine discipleship. The practice of true worship of God and the practice of genuine love for each other are ultimate consequences of a life surrendered at many and frequent points to the lordship and rule of Christ.

In becoming like Jesus in every way through the transforming work of His Spirit and through abiding in His word, we will prove to be the kind of worshippers God desires, and the kind of people others love to be with.

 

[1] A.W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John – Vol. 1, e-book accessed at www.grace-ebooks.com, page 209

[2] William Temple, Readings in St John’s Gospel, First Series (London: Macmillan and Company, 1940), pg 68.

Developing Holy Habits – Exalt, Encourage and Endure (Part 7)

Developing Holy Habits – Share (Part 6)

Last week, we considered the ‘I’ for invest: the giving of our money and resources towards the community of faith we are a part of and for the spread of God’s kingdom. Investing is an essential act of worship that must soon be taught in the life of a new disciple of Jesus. Today we consider the S in our PROMISE acronym: Share, which must also be taught early in the discipleship process. I am referring specifically to the priority of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others.

Witnessing is a forgotten command today, one many Christians do not give much thought to. We expect those gifted as evangelists and ‘professional’ Christians workers like pastors and missionaries to be doing the work of making Christ known, while the rest of us are fed, cared for, and busy with other ministries of the church. This is a defective, not to mention unbiblical, view of the witness of the whole Church. We cannot so easily ignore (or delegate to only a few) the evangelistic purpose and responsibility of the whole people of God (1 Peter 2:9; Mark 16:15; 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Corinthians 5:20).

Just prior to his ascension, Jesus instructed the disciples he had trained and commissioned to wait in Jerusalem, till they were cloth in power from on high. After the Holy Spirit empowered them, he told them that they ‘will be His witnesses’ from Jerusalem, where they were, to the uttermost parts of the world (Acts 1:8). ‘You will be witnesses’ is an imperative statement, not a ‘could be’ or even ‘should be’ but a ‘shall be’, and this was one of the explicit outcomes of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus expected them to be witnesses. He expects us who are the spiritual descendants of the first apostles to do likewise.

We each have our own Jerusalems (those closest to us relationally), our Judeas (those culturally alike to us), our Samarias (those who are geographically near but culturally more distant) and our ends of the earth (those who are geographically and culturally distant to us). No place is to be out of reach of Gospel witness.

What does it mean to ‘witness’? A witness is someone who testifies to what he has seen and heard, who is able to recount to friends and strangers or a court of law, his first-hand experience of an incident he observed or participated in.

When a person is born anew by repentance from sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, they immediately have a story to tell, of what they now know, however elementary: that God by his great love and mercy has rescued them from their sin and its eternal consequence of hell and separation.

We need to help new believers to know 1) they are called to be witnesses of their Risen Lord and 2) how to tell their stories.

In our work in Bangkok, Thailand, we have tried to teach those we disciple to write down and memorize their story or testimony of how they came to faith, and to be able to tell it in 3 minutes. Their story would consist of three parts: 1) what life was like before they came to faith in Jesus, 2) how they came to faith in Him, and 3) the difference that has resulted.

Additionally, as part of disciple-making in our groups, we have them make a list of 5 people they know who have not yet become followers of Jesus – whether family, neighbors, colleagues, or friends. They then commit to praying as a group and individually for each of the people in their list, asking God for opportunities to witness to them, inviting them to their discipleship group or bringing them to the leaders if they have questions or are interested or responsive to their stories. Every so often, the list is to be updated.

We make it a practice in our disciple-making relationships to regularly ask each other for updates about those on our lists, and to share encouraging testimony of people we’ve been able to witness to for Christ. In this way, we help disciples witness as a first step to becoming disciple-makers.

If hell is real and lost people without Christ are headed there, we cannot keep silent. If Jesus is Risen Lord, we must tell it home and abroad. If the Gospel is true, then we must bear witness to it.

On the morning of his execution, the English murder convict Charles Peace was read to about the fires of hell from the book The Consolations of Religion by the prison chaplain. Peace reportedly silenced the chaplain with these words: ‘Sir, if I believed what you and the church of God say you believe, I would walk across England if it were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, even on my hands and knees, just to save one soul from the hell you so glibly speak about!’

Indeed, if today we found the cure to cancer, would we keep it merely to ourselves?

George Whitefield, the great Anglican clergyman and evangelist once said, ‘God forbid that I should travel with anybody a quarter of an hour without speaking of Christ to them.’ May God give us the same evangelistic zeal to witness by our words and lives.

 

Developing Holy Habits – Share (Part 6)

GLOBAL STORIES — “To Egypt, with love…”

My name is *Hadmed, and I am married to *Berenice, and together we have two marvelous children.

I am Egyptian, and I have spent all of my life in the city of Cairo, which is the capital of Egypt and has a population of over 18 million inhabitants.  My family comes from the Coptic Christian tradition.  I grew in this belief system until I was in my 20s when I came to know Jesus Christ in a personal way.  Then I began to live a life of service for Him.

I have served through sports ministry as a soccer coach to children and adolescents for many years.  This is a strategy which God has given us to reach and connect with people in Cairo, the majority of whom are Muslim.  Additionally, a couple of years ago I began to serve as an assistant pastor in a small church located in an incredibly poor area of Cairo called “the Garbage City.” I currently serve there once a week with children and young people.

In 2016, I served for three months with a NAMS team that came to serve in this region of the world, and together we developed various workshops throughout the city of Cairo.  We directly impacted 30 people through these workshops, including South Sudanese refugees, Coptic Christians, and Egyptian Muslims.  This permitted us to connect with people and establish a network of contacts through which we plan to continue to serve in the areas of discipleship and church planting in the future.

After a process of discernment and training, my family and I have committed ourselves as NAMS Companions. Our vision for the future is to help make disciples of Jesus Christ in Egypt and to plant churches in Northern Africa.  This is not an easy area for ministry, but we trust that God is opening a door and has invited us to cooperate with Him in this work.

* Not their real names

Hadmed

Hadmed (identity obscured) with NAMS companions Ivan and Mary Ruiz in Egypt.

GLOBAL STORIES — “To Egypt, with love…”