Discipleship is a process….Not a program (By Prince Thomas).

We have been given a clear mandate – to make disciples (Matt 28:19). The original mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus by creating intimate, relational environments of multiplication and transformation. Churches and missions who are focused on discipleship grow and multiply quickly. Discipleship is the process by which we maximize the potential of our people and equip them for reaching their communities and the Nations.

Ravi Kumar, a young man from the North Indian state of Punjab heard me preaching in the streets about Jesus 4 years ago. He approached me after the meeting with several questions – it was an opportunity for me to share with him and to clear his doubts. Soon, Ravi accepted the Lord and I started a ‘new believers training program’ for him. Later as he grew in faith, he began to spend a week with me every month. It was an excellent opportunity not only to teach him but to take him along with me whenever I went in various mission fields to preach and teach. I gave him opportunities to share his testimony, preach and pray for the sick. He was so excited to go through the journey of discipleship and decided to go back to his own state and start a ministry there. He started the ministry one year before in Punjab which is the birth place of the Sikh religion.

It was not easy as the opposition in his region was so severe. His own family members hated him and opposed him as he preached about Jesus. He applied some of the teachings I taught him like surveying the village, prayer walking, finding the person of peace, initiating new believers training and discipleship programs etc.

Slowly he began to see the results. He just followed the simple teachings we gave him and he began to see souls saved as well as villages open up for the gospel. Some very influential people joined his church recently. There is now a wider path opening up in this state. I am still discipling Ravi and we spent time together regularly. And as I do with him, Ravi is also regularly discipling his own people in the same way.

Prince & Ravi ministering togetherBelievers in Punjab

I have been in the full time ministry for almost 23 years now. At the beginning of my ministry, I thought discipleship was always a program. But I realized later that discipleship was actually a process. It begins in relationship, it continues with intentionality and finally results in transformation as disciples start to reach others. This is a key part of our calling as NAMS Companions. May the Lord continue to help us to be disciples who make disciples.

— Prince Thomas is a NAMS Companion serving in Haryana, North India.
He has been involved in starting and leading an a vibrant church-planting movement there for the last 20 years. He is originally from Kerala, South India.

 

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Discipleship is a process….Not a program (By Prince Thomas).

More than just a job (by Mary Garrison)

Back to school is a hectic time of year for everyone, not the least of which are teachers like me – I’m now entering my 12th year in public education. But besides getting my classroom organized and lesson plans finalized, a still small voice inside of me is reminding me to get my heart right too because I’m preparing to go on the mission field.

I didn’t always feel this way. When I started my teaching career, I had a pretty clear sense of my profession.   I enjoyed my content area, was intrigued by the strategies involved in breaking down a concept, and rather quickly came to appreciate the relationships I formed with my students and colleagues. Teaching satisfied my professional ambitions, I thought that would be enough…but it wasn’t.

My Christian life has always been an important part of me, but without clearly realizing it at the time, I checked my faith at school doors each morning and picked it up again on my way out. This was not something I did intentionally, but that’s indeed the point: I wasn’t intentional at all. Apart from a few token gestures and general politeness, this huge part of me—my faith—was largely absent from my daily work. I become les satisfied, and after four or five years in, I started asking the Lord, “Is this all there is? Show me what it is I cannot see.”

And what He showed me changed me.

After his crucifixion and resurrection, just before he ascended to heaven, Jesus gave his followers their marching orders: if you really believe all you have seen, and if you really have a transformed life, then “go and make disciples” (Matt. 28:16-20). To me, these words were always either hypothetical or meant for another race of “Super-Christians,” like missionaries who would travel around the world or pastors who were paid to do this type of thing, not plain old “normal Christians” like me who work full-time secular jobs.

But the Lord opened my heart and mind to understand that every Christian shares in this missional calling to make disciples because we are all Christ’s followers. His final command wasn’t just for one group of men; it was for all men and women who would come to follow him. There were indeed disciple-making opportunities all around me, starting with my work—that place I spend 40+ hours a week.

More than a career, I realized that I have a calling – to go to school and share the light of Jesus Christ with every student, colleague, or administrator with whom I interact. Yes, I am a public school teacher, which of course does limit my words to a certain extent, but armed with an understanding of my higher calling, I am intentional now in an entirely new way. Like many teachers, I spend a great deal of time preparing my lesson plans and grading papers, but now my challenge each day is to spend time with the Lord to prepare my heart before I enter my workplace, i.e., the mission field. I’ve got to pray for my students and colleagues with a genuine heart for their salvation; I’ve got to seek wisdom for boldness to know when to speak and prudence for when to stay silent; I’ve got to ask for a caring heart to earn the right to be heard; I’ve got to pray for opportunities outside of the classroom to further deepen these relationships.

I am certainly not perfect in that daily preparation? Sometimes that sneaky alarm clock seems to snooze itself, but the Lord doesn’t usually let me get to far without reminding me of the need to be more intentional in preparation and prayer.

Dear believer, if you call yourself a follower of Christ, your calling is the same as mine, and it’s the most important thing we will ever do. How does your career empower you in that calling? Do you work construction? Are you working in an office or restaurant? Are you lawyer, doctor, merchant, or chef? The essential truth here has nothing to do with the career itself. The truth is that every Bible-believing Christian is a missionary wherever he or she goes, and I write today to encourage you to step into that calling, to ask the Lord to strengthen you in your resolve to be intentional in prayer and service to those you work with each day. So that today, or tomorrow, or the next day when a colleague or client may ask you about the hope you seem to have and that you would be prepared to give account of how the Lord has transformed your life.

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Mary Garrison is a NAMS Companion in Florida. She is also the NAMS Global Prayer/Intercessors Coordinator, as well as supporting her husband Ivan in giving supervision to the Horn of Africa region for NAMS.  

 

More than just a job (by Mary Garrison)

Mission Field at the Y (by Revd Dave Kulchar )

With an increasingly post-Christian culture in North America even some of our expressly Christian organization have lost their focus. One example is the “Young Men Christian Association” or “YMCA”. In recent years it has grown to be seen as just another athletic club. In Indianapolis, USA, however, the Lord has raised up some leaders who want to reestablish it’s Christian mission to strengthen people in body, mind and spirit.

Early last year I am looking for a place that our new church might meet on Sundays. A friend suggested I look at the local YMCA. Recently the 15 area facilities have been entering into partnership with churches who use there multipurpose rooms on Sunday mornings for a worship gathering space. As I inquired about this partnership I learned of a volunteer chaplain program they have instituted. Area pastors can volunteer a minimum of 4 hours a week to “care, love and serve” staff and members at area YMCA facilities.

After a background check and training program by their Regional Director of Spiritual Emphasis, I started volunteering at the Pike YMCA a 15 minute drive from our home. My initial stage of work has been as a “Spiritual Greeter”. I welcome people to the Y in the front lobby simply making my presence know as a chaplain who desires to listen to peoples stories, make new friends, and talk about spiritual things if they show interest. Sometime I even pray with people over concerns that are on their hearts.

We live in a very diverse neighborhood. We have many international people who come through our doors from various faith backgrounds: Muslim, Hindu and non-religious.   Though there are many strong Christians at the YMCA, including many of the staff, there is also many opportunities to meet and befriend many pre-Christians.   I have had staff ask me to pray with them about their job, family and illness. I have had others share with me how they met Jesus, while others share why the have left the faith. One member and I are going to read a book on small group development called “Making Cell Groups Work”.

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I wear my clerical collar, tennis shoes and a name tag that makes it easy for others to identify me as a chaplain in a place where they do not usually expect a pastor.   I am strategically trying to visit the YMCA at different times of the day and days of the week in order to meet new people.

Last spring we hosted a prayer gathering on the National Day of Prayer where we prayed in a circle in the middle of the YMCA lobby. We have recently formed a Christian Emphasis Committee to organize a “Grief Recovery Class” and second offering called “Getting Through the Holidays”.

If discipleship is about helping move people closer to Jesus, I would suggest finding a place to be consistently present and available like a local YMCA sets one up nicely to be a disciple maker in a post-Christian world.

 

Dave Kulchar is a NAMS Companion, Canon for Church Planting in Diocese of the Great Lakes and All Souls Anglican Missionary Priest.

 

Mission Field at the Y (by Revd Dave Kulchar )

Stranger on the bus – Interview with NAMS Regional Team Leader Pranab Kishor Kumar.

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One day in 1992 as Pranab was traveling on a bus to his college in India, he began a conversation with a stranger. Pranab felt prompted to ask him if he knew about Jesus. The man replied that he had never heard the name of Jesus. This was a life-changing moment for Pranab, as he realised then that there were many people in India like that man on the bus. That was also the moment God began to stir in Pranab’s heart that he was to give his life to trying to reach and make disciples of people in his home state of Orissa and beyond. In a few years time, Pranab crossed paths with NAMS, and has been a part of leading our work in India since. We find out more about him in this interview.

  1. Tell us a little about your background and family. How did you become a follower of Jesus?

I am the eldest son in my family. I am married to Malarani Kumar and we have a son John Daniel Rajkumar. We live in a village in the Balagir District of Orissa, India.

I grew up in a Christian family that faithfully attended church, prayed and read the Bible. As a teenager, I attended an Evangelical Union camp in Balangir and decided to becoming a follower of Jesus. From that day, I began to witness for Christ in and around my village and joined the local Bhorpada congregation of the Church of North India (CNI).

In September 1997, I was moved to begin New Life For India, an organisation committed to send missionaries to plant churches in the unreached villages and districts in the State of Orissa and beyond.

  1. How did you come to be involved with NAMS?

I first met Revd Manik Corea (now NAMS Global Executive) at a Faith2Share Leadership Consultation in 2013. In August 2015, he invited me to come to Bangkok for a NAMS Regional Asia Leaders meeting, and I heard Revd Dr Jon Shuler, NAMS Servant General, share about the vision and call of NAMS. His teaching and life impressed me much. Their training added fuel to my desire to want to be and make disciples who made other disciples. We had been trying to live this since 2005 but not is as organised a way. So I decided then that God was calling me to be a part of this missionary order. Since then Manik has visited me in Orissa with NAMS teams a number of times. In 2017, I was appointed Regional Team Leader for South Asia.

  1. How have you been challenged and grown since becoming a NAMS Companion?

It has been quite a journey. Through my interactions with NAMS leaders, I have learned that making disciples is the seed of planting healthy, multiplying churches and of reaching communities for Christ. It is Jesus’ final command (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8). I have started to teach and train the same things of my co-workers.

Being a Companion means I have to make a determined plan for a disciplined daily life of reading the Scriptures, seeking to obey Him, praying and giving for global mission. I am reminded also through the 10.02 call to pray for labourers regularly for the regions of the world. It is not easy but I am growing. I have begun to take a retreat every quarter of the year a priority for me and my wife as Companions.

  1. What is your vision as a NAMS Regional Team Leader for South Asia region that you lead?

We currently have two NAMS Companion couples working in India – ourselves in Orissa, and in the North of India (Prince Matthew). I am praying that doors will open in other countries in the region, for example Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. I visited Sri Lanka in 2017 and found that many church leaders were asking for help to learn how to make disciples and start churches. God has also given me a heart for Bangladesh. We need to find partners and contacts in these places, some of who will become Companions to help us plant Base Communities in those countries.

Additionally, I would like to increase the number of Companions in India. I am currently working with two leaders who are very interested. We also need to reach and raise Companion leaders among the ladies. (We will be having a Woman Leaders Seminar in September this year).

  1. Finally, NAMS Companions are called to 3 things in particular – make disciple-making disciples, raise disciple-making leaders and plant disciple-making churches. How are you doing this?

I am meeting regularly with and discipling 4 men who are themselves making disciples. We already have new disciple-making cells in 4 places as well.

In addition, I am walking purposefully with 2 other disciple-making leaders. Please pray for us.

 

Pranab and the NAMS South Asia Region need your prayer and partnership. If you would like to give specifically towards our work in the NAMS South Asia region, please write to us at infor@namsnetwork.com or click the ‘DONATE’ button below to seed funds.

 

Stranger on the bus – Interview with NAMS Regional Team Leader Pranab Kishor Kumar.

A New Season for Europe (By Rt Revd Josep Rosello)

+Josep and Patrice“Will you come?” This was the phrase that started an unexpected journey. A friend had asked me if I would consider moving from Brazil to England. He saw an urgent need for England to be reached with the Gospel. My immediate answer was, “I will, if it is God’s call.”

A few months later, Patrice and I had the assurance of the Holy Spirit that it was indeed the right decision and that it was time to start preparing to move to England. But why should I leave the amazing work that God lead me to start in Brazil and, then, Venezuela –one that I had invested so much tears, prayers and time into?

Indeed, praise be to God that after nine years of hard-work, from the few people we started out with, we now have 25 missional communities in these 2 countries, and almost 900 people participating. This had all followed from focused seasons of one-on-one discipleship and the raising up and equipping of young leaders to serve the Lord, as was my heart’s desire.

I believe the answer to “why leave now?” is because God had been preparing me all these years to do this next thing.

Now, I am not thinking or saying for a moment that I have all together or, even that I have all the answers. In fact, the opposite is true. It seems that God used our brokenness to teach us His ways, and His Spirit leads us to teach and train others in God’s way from that same place.

As a NAMS Companion, I share a willingness and desire to teach and preach Jesus Christ to all, at any given time, wherever we are. That Christ was crucified, and that He is the risen Lord, is to be proclaimed by His people to all peoples

As I look England and Europe, I see and hear a Macedonian call like Paul did. A voice calling for help, “will you come?” There is no good reason for me to say ‘no.’

We go wherever the Lord opens a door. I will step out and trust the Lord. It will be one small step of faith after another – plant a seed that God will raise to be a new missional community of faith; then, another and another, spreading with the wind that carries the good news of Jesus Christ from England to all over Europe.

I know I am totally incapable of doing what God has called me to do on my own. But God calls us to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit. Obedience is a step of faith that starts His disciples on the journey to make other disciples and share life together. Making disciples is about giving ourselves to others, as we teach the Scripture and learn to follow the Way of the Lord. It is not simply about being members of a church, but it is about following Christ together, as a family.

As I prepare to move my family across the ocean, I sense an urgency to call upon His name and to give myself totally to the Lord. I will be satisfied when I make a disciple who makes another disciple, and raise a leader that makes another leader, and plant a church that plants another church. And never to break God’s word as I do it.

After all, isn’t that what it means to be a NAMS Companion?

A New Season for Europe (By Rt Revd Josep Rosello)

Tamer & Adidas (by Jon Shuler)

There was a lovely picture shared among some of us yesterday which showed our dear NAMS brother from Egypt, Tamer, with a group of young Kenyan children he organized to play soccer, while he was attending a NAMS training event in that country. Wonderful picture, wonderful children, wonderful ministry. Tamer uses soccer (football to most of the world) to share his faith in Jesus Christ, as the only hope of the world. That is his ministry in Egypt, and he exercised it while visiting Kenya. He is a fine brother and Companion. May his work flourish and grow, as one by one young men and women give their lives to Christ Jesus.

But something in the picture gave me chills, and raised a serious question in my heart. It was the presence of over a dozen Adidas jerseys.

My question is this: Why is a global seller of shoes “evangelizing” it’s brand so aggressively in the majority world, and the church of Jesus Christ in the West, and Westernized church world, is so unaware of what is happening? Do “they have eyes to see but see not?” The organized church in the West is barely noticing, let alone working with tenacity and courage to spread the glorious truth of the gospel of Jesus to all nations.

The marketing forces of the world are aggressively and effectively conveying to the children of the world that owning the right “stuff” is what makes life really satisfying. Indeed they have very successfully done the same with most of their elders. And that is not something that has happened just in the majority world, it has been very effectively accomplished in my own country (the USA). But this is not the gospel. It is a deception from the enemy of our souls. The good news is not that we can wear the right clothes, it is that we can be clothed for eternity, if we surrender our lives in to the hands of Jesus.

This is the heart of Tamer’s ministry, but is it ours?

Reading recently in I Peter, I have been struck by the clarity of his understanding that the church is a holy nation, made up of those who are truly “born anew” of the Spirit of God. Because this is so, they are lights in the world of untruth, and always living so as to be ‘a living testimony’ of another way. Indeed, they are also to be on alert – ready at all times – to give an account of the hope that is within them. It is not enough to live as a Christian, but they must be ready to speak up as a Christian.

In much of what was once called “the Christian world” the forces of darkness have made it more and more unacceptable to speak up for the truth as it is in Jesus. But we must not let this deter us! We are the called of God to speak of and bring light into the darkness. The forces of global marketing are very strong, but the gospel of Jesus Christ is stronger – for those who are the elect of God.

Pray with me for boldness to speak up where you live. Pray for the boldness to challenge your local church to be bold for the spread of the gospel to all nations. Pray that those who say they belong to Jesus may be as committed as Tamer is to sharing the glorious truth with those who have never heard.

 

Tamer & Adidas (by Jon Shuler)

Making Disciples the Jesus way (Part 2) — By Revd Manik Corea

Strange as it may sound, I was first discipled as a teenager in a Sunday School class! The young man, Daniel who taught us was preparing with his wife, to be missionaries of our local church to Papua New Guinea. The 2 years he spent teaching our weekly small class had a profound effect on my life.

Daniel the missionary shared and opened up his life to us – testimonies, answered prayers, struggles, lessons learned, etc., such that we saw a model of what a true obedient disciple of Jesus looked like at close hand. But he also actively encouraged, challenged and pushed us out to be and become the same – disciples who would trust and obey Jesus with our lives. In many ways, I realize now that Daniel was doing what His Lord did with the first disciples.

Disciple-making is preparation for the future but it engages and involves us in where we are in the present. Last week, we saw that Jesus 1) invited/selected a few to disciple and 2) modeled a way of life and ministry for them to imitate and follow. Here are 3 more things he did to ready them for their life’s work.

Train — Jesus did not only appoint and give a select group to have a first-hand look at his life and ministry; but He actively prepared and trained them to do the same work. (Mark 3:14-15; Luke 9:1-2 and Matthew 10:1 compare with Matthew 4:23 and John 14:12.)

In fact, most of Jesus’ time spent in the Gospels was not simply on doing ministry, but time actually spent developing his disciples to take on the work once He ascended into heaven. It was a practical development and training, with assignments. This was all part of their original calling – ‘so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach.’ (Mark 3:14).

He involved them in ministry (Luke 9:12-17; 22:8-13) and allowed them to grow in faith by experience (Mark 4:35-41; Matthew 14:28-29). He sent them out on short-term training assignments (see Matthew 10:5-15, Mark 6:7-11). He invested time and energy to instruct and explain to them his teaching and ways (Mark 4:34).

Making disciples is not simply teaching theory or about completing a short course of instruction or class. It is apprenticing alongside, life-on-life, with another disciple so that we/they start to do what God wants us in our lives.

Authorize — When Jesus sent the twelve out on mission in Matthew 10:5-15 and Mark 6:7-11, as well as with the larger group of disciples – the 72 of Luke 10:1-11, they were expected to announce the coming of the kingdom, heal the sick and cast out evil spirits. He gave specific instructions and authority to do the same thing He did. And this is exactly what happened, which they were joyfully were able to report on their return (Luke 9:6; 10:17 and Mark 6:13.)

Finally, in Matthew 28:18-20, in his final command to the disciples, the risen Jesus authorizes them, on the basis of being Lord of Heaven and Earth to ‘make disciples’ of all peoples.

The making of disciples is the high calling and work that Jesus has authorized us to do in His name and by His power. This is not the job of a few ‘professional’ Christian pastors and missionary, but the work of every disciple. So, we must teach and show disciples that they are likewise authorized by Heaven’s King for service and mission in the world.

Release/Send — Finally, Jesus commissioned them in what we in NAMS call the ‘final command’ of Matthew 28:18-20 to reach all peoples of every ethnic group. Before he left them, Jesus promised that they will receive the Holy Spirit to empower them for this witness, and that through Him, Jesus himself will be with us till the ends of the earth and the end of time.

There will come a moment, as with Jesus and Paul (see Acts 14:23; 20:17-38) when we must release disciples that we have made to become disciple-makers in their own right with others. This is a principle Paul establishes for Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2.

As we have been discipled, so we must now pass on to others what we received, by making other disciples. We are taken captive by Christ in other to be released to mission in the world. We commend them in prayer to God and move on ourselves to make more disciples.

This is how Jesus begun a world-movement from simply focusing on a few. The ball is now firmly in our court!

Making Disciples the Jesus way (Part 2) — By Revd Manik Corea