NAMS Novena 2017 Report – ‘If you say go…’

It was the launch of a new chapter for NAMS; a glorious deepening of bonds between global companions old, new and unfamiliar; a new exciting phase in the global work that God has called us to; a time that will live long in our memories….

NAMS Novena

There are many ways we can describe the NAMS Novena that took place from 19-26 April 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand. What is certain was that it was a significant moment in our collective history, marked by laughter, joy and anointed times of worship, sharing, testimony and fellowship around tables and the Table of the Lord.

We were active participants, along with the congregation that met at Khlong Toey Church on 21st April evening, to the passing of the baton from founder/Servant General Jon Shuler to Manik Corea, the new NAMS Global Executive, and his team.

With one voice, 25 Companions and Spousal Companions, including 2 serving bishops, committed as to live and hold each other accountable to the NAMS Rule and Order, to work to fulfill Jesus’ final command (Matthew 28:19-20) by making disciples who make disciples, raising disciple-making leaders and planting disciple-making churches.

The retreat on the weekend of 22nd April, attended by 28 of us, was an exciting time of clarifying and agreeing to a revised Rule and Order, which outlines the principles governing our global order and their practical outworking around the world. We also had wonderful times of prayer, worship and fellowship over delicious Thai food. We were blessed by the serenity and beauty of the Garden of Gospel Peace, run by Franciscan Friars who looked after us with great care. Surrounded as we were by idyllic rice fields and fish ponds, we felt the sure presence of God’s Spirit calling us to venture further on to greater exploits, working with His faithful Church, till the earth is covered with the knowledge of the glory of God (Habakkuk 2:14) .

All in all, 13 different nations represented by NAMS companions, spousal companions, 3 bishops, aspirants and friends as far afield as Chile, Congo DRC, Egypt, India, Taiwan and England were present. A number of our other companions and spousal companions were not able to be there and we dearly felt their absence. Still we look forward to the next one in 4 years or so.

We were grateful most of all for the prayers of our Global Prayer/Intercessory Team led by Mary Garisson-Ruiz, and by many of you reading this who thought and prayed for us during those days. We certainly felt their and your prayers.

If there was one song that captured the thrust of the Novena, it was the song ‘If you say go’ – taught to us by our worship leaders – companion Pete Matthews and our new NAMS friend, Susheel John (Manik’s cousin from Singapore). There words are an apt summary of what we pray God will help us do following this Novena:

‘If You say go, we will go.
If You say wait, we will wait.
If You say step out on the water,
And they say it can’t be done;

NAMS Novena sessions

NAMS Novena 2017 Report – ‘If you say go…’

NAMS Novena 2017

As many of you will be aware, from April 19th – April 26th 2017, we will be having a global gathering of NAMS companions, spousal companions, aspirants and bishop advocates in Bangkok, Thailand.

As you read this, about 32 companions and guests, including 3 serving Anglican bishops, are in or on their way to Bangkok. They will be coming from countries as far afield as Chile, USA, South Africa, Egypt, UAE, India and Singapore.

Since it’s founding in 1994 as the North American Missionary Society, NAMS has grown under God’s gracious hand, to become a global missionary community of global pioneering church planters and disciple-makers.

We are a band of brothers (and sisters), accountable to each other under the word of God and working to extend God’s kingdom to the ends of the earth. We are called to work in unity with God’s global and faithful Church and to help her be obedient to Jesus’ final command (Matthew 29:19).

The Novena is a once-every-4-year gathering. We will be missing quite a few other companions and supporters who cannot make it for one reason or another. Still, we expect this to be a significant moment in the history of NAMS as a missionary order in this Novena. (Note: ‘novena’ is simply the Latin word for the number 9, and we want the 9 days we spend together, including a day for travel, to be time well spent praying together, worshiping, sharing, encouraging and strategizing for the next season of our work).

During this Novena, we will also be having a special Commissioning service where NAMS Companions will commit under God to a common rule and a common work, globally dispersed.

Our acting Global Executive Officer (GEO) Revd. Manik Corea, will also officially be commissioned into the role of leading the day-to-day running of our work under our overall leader and Servant General, Canon Revd. Dr. Jon Shuler.

The general outline of the event will look like this:

Wednesday 19th April evening Arrive in Bangkok for dinner at SCC Guest House
Thursday 20th April

All- day

NAMS Open Day @ Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT) Building: including worship and testimonies.
Friday 21st April Evening – Service of Commissioning of NAMS Global Executive and all new Companions (Khlong Toey Church, Bangkok).
Saturday 22nd April – Sunday 23rd April NAMS Companions/Spousal Companions/Bishop Advocates Retreat at Fransciscan Foundation of Thailand
Monday 24th April After breakfast, morning departure from retreat to onward journeys.

NAMS Global Executive Team NAMS Servant General. NAMS Board meets in the evening.

Wednesday 26th April Remaining executive team and companions depart Bangkok

We so covet your prayers for us during this time. If you would like to be an intercessor for us during the Novena, please will you send an e-mail to our NAMS Global Prayer Co-ordinator Mary at: maryalicegarrison@gmail.com

Thank you for your continued support.

 

NAMS Novena 2017

Last Thoughts: If I was starting over again.

I became deeply aware of the call to become a disciple-making man years after I was converted. That “second call” occurred on February 1st, 1988, and I have been trying to learn to walk in this disciple-making path since that day. When I first surrendered my life to the Lord Jesus in 1968 it was with the intention of never turning back, but there was so much I did not know. What do I wish that someone could have helped me to understand?

First and foremost, I wish that someone would have helped me understand the difference between participating in the ecclesia of God and in the organized Church. By that I mean the difference between sharing my life with those who imply they are the Lord’s by their participation in the institutional forms of church life, and those in whom the Spirit of Jesus is truly living and reigning. All the joy of my walk has come from my fellowship with the latter group of men and women. The ecclesia of God is not invisible.

The second thing I wish is that someone would have helped me focus day by day on the truth that is revealed in the Holy Scriptures alone. Somehow, largely unconsciously, I became convinced that I had to read other books, study other peoples’ ideas about the scriptures, and implement someone else’s idea about how to live the life of Christ Jesus. It is embarrassing to admit how many years I tried to follow Jesus without giving his written word priority in my daily life. Even more, how far from an intimate walk with him I was in those days—even after I began to read the Holy Scriptures day by day. I was focused on reading them, not meeting the Lord Jesus as I read. A true discipling friend would have spotted that. It is possible to be very religious and not a disciple of Jesus.

The third thing I wish is that someone would have helped me understand the nature of a truly Christian marriage. All the examples in my life suggested that the work of serving the organized Church took priority over the responsibility I had—given by the Lord!—of caring for and discipling my wife, and my children when they came along. The implicit message I had received was, “the ordained ministry of the Church comes first, the family comes second.” I now know what a damnable lie that is, but for many years I did not. The institutional Church, as I experienced it, brooked no rivals. It did not teach me that my marriage and family were central to my ministry rather than an afterthought. I believed I had a ministry and a marriage, but my marriage was in truth part of my divine calling to ministry.

My fourth desire would be that someone would have come alongside me when our children were young enough to still be shaped in the ways of the Lord. Someone who could have lovingly helped us see that our children were being discipled by the culture more than by their parents and faith community.

When I look at my own list of things I wish I had known sooner, one thing stands out above all else. I wish I had known a disciple-making elder when I was younger. I knew true believers, but I did not know a discipling Christian.

Till the day I die, this is what I want to help other believers to be: Disciple-makers.

Last Thoughts: If I was starting over again.

5 Obstacles to Becoming A Disciple Maker

We have now gone through the initial seven steps we believe to be necessary to becoming a disciple-making disciple, and still some of you who read this are stuck. Do not worry, the same thing was true of the first followers of Jesus! Most of them were very slow to learn, too. Here are five of the most common obstacles to beginning.

Fear of rejection. I am told that the Holy scriptures have this phrase, or a version of it 365 times: “Be not afraid.” Once for every day of the year. It must be a common problem! Ask the Holy Spirit to come to you and embolden you. You will not find a discipling teacher until you ask. No true Christian woman or man will be upset if you ask them to help you learn to be a disciple-making disciple. They may point you to someone else, but they will not have a negative response to your quest.

I don’t know who to ask. There is a clear picture hiding in plain view in the pages of the Scriptures that will break you out of this concern. Who do you already know, like, or admire? Who is already a part of your life that you would like to be with on the disciple- making journey? These are people with whom you have some affinity already. They should be the first you approach. Andrew went to his brother. Philip went to Nathaniel. Paul and Priscilla and Aquila had a bond of affinity because they shared an occupation. Do not ask a stranger. Ask someone whom you believe you have some affinity with already. Almost always God has someone already in your life, in your field of acquaintance, who will be right for you.

What do we talk about when we first meet? As we pointed out earlier, there are a small number of scriptures that must guide the disciple-making journey, if it is to be in obedience to Jesus’ teaching. These are: Luke 14:26,27,33; John 8:31-32; 13:34-35; 15:7-8. Let discussion of these scriptures be at the center of your time together until you are sure it is time to move on without ever forgetting them. Any serious disciple-making disciple must memorize them. Also Matthew 4:19; 6:33; and 28:19. These twelve verses must be read, marked, learned, and inwardly digested. They will be a reference to your entire journey.

What structure do we follow? We have learned through many years that the key to discipling another person is time with them, and honesty before the Lord. There is not a rigid structure. We pray to begin and end our time together. We speak of the things the Lord is teaching us from our daily time with him in scripture. We bring our struggles and difficulties into the light. We laugh. We encourage. We build one another up.

Learning this is difficult. No one sets out on this path and immediately finds it easy. It requires tenacity and a willingness to start again when we fall. We have been told repeatedly by the Lord that this way is narrow and hard, but he promises us that it leads to life. Ask him to help you. Constantly flee to him for help. He will come to your side.

5 Obstacles to Becoming A Disciple Maker

Disciple-making Disciple: Step 7

Step #7. You are praying to be reproduced. You are not content until the one being discipled has begun to disciple another. They take up the ministry of being a disciple-making disciple along with you. You want them to soar, not remain dependent on you.

Perhaps the biggest difference between someone who says he is following Jesus, and a disciple-making disciple following Jesus, is that the latter is desirous of becoming part of the spread of the kingdom of God. He or she wants to be actively ensuring that the love of the Savior that has come to them goes to others. They know that means another person following Jesus. Nothing else will satisfy. They have heard the Lord Jesus teaching plainly, that if they “bear much fruit” they will “prove to be his disciples” (John 15:8). They do not want to be tested by the Lord and found to not be proved.

Many at first think this means becoming an evangelist, but this is not so. It only means intentionally finding someone to walk with on the road of discipleship, and then another, and another. This is a universal calling for the Christian. It is the same for a plumber or a school teacher. It is the same for a clergyman or a congressman. It is not about the occupation, but the vocation: the call of all believers. And this ministry path, once begun, is for life. It does not have a season.

With one person it may start when you introduce them to a life changing relationship with the Lord Jesus. With another it may be clarifying the gospel they already say they believe. With another it may be helping with the basic nurture needed after conversion, which if well done will last them a lifetime. With another it may be helping them find the equipping they need to fulfill their calling. With another it may mean helping them find the arena for their particular ministry. But with all, it will mean helping them become a reproducing disciple. There is a goal in discipling. It is that they faithfully reproduce.

The constant prayer of your heart for the one being discipled is for them to begin to disciple another.

Why? Because a disciple who is not making other disciples is not yet fully discipled. It is that simple.

 

Disciple-making Disciple: Step 7

Disciple-making Disciple Steps: Step 6

Step 6: The ministry of the discipling disciple is to be honest and transparent before the Lord Jesus, in the company of the one being discipled. You are not better, you are a brother, you are a servant.

The person discipling another is most of all showing the one being discipled what a life looks like lived in the light of the scriptures. Not a perfect life, but one struggling honestly to allow the Spirit of God to “conform them to Christ.”

The disciple-making disciple is equally as accountable to the Lord as is the one being discipled. Both are accountable under the word of God.

In a very short time, the two will find they are not any longer “one up, one down,” but two on the road side by side. Either may “speak the truth of the Lord” to the other, at any moment. They are listening with the ears of their hearts for the glorious sweet voice of Jesus.

What happens when you meet? The ordinary things of the day, the events of the week, are discussed prayerfully. What does the Word of the Lord have to say about this? What is Jesus speaking to you? Have you heard his voice this week? What has he revealed to your heart?

Then the truth God has revealed in Jesus is brought to bear upon the subjects that you have talked about. It is turned into prayer. That is it. Everything is turned toward the Lord Jesus. His word. His will. His love.

The meeting will not be a burden. It will be a joy! It will be a time of expectation. “Come Lord Jesus” will be the cry of the heart of those who meet.

Disciple-making Disciple Steps: Step 6

Disciple-making Disciple Steps: Step 5.

Assuming you have found someone to disciple you, and you have memorized the six scriptures in which Jesus gives us guidance for what we will look like when we become the disciples he desires, what comes next?

Step Five. I make a practical covenant with the person discipling me. I will spend quality time each day in the word of God, beginning with the gospels. It will be my personal appointment with the Lord. I will prayerfully open the scriptures in order to meet with him. I will be accountable to my discipler for this appointment with Lord. I will develop with him or her a plan to gradually become grounded in the whole counsel of God in the Old and New Testaments.

When I started my journey to ordination, on the first day of my classes at seminary, the professor in my first class said this: “More people praise the scriptures than read them. More people read the scriptures than understand them. More people understand the scriptures than follow there teachings.” Forty-nine years later I can attest to the truth of that teaching moment. The church is full of men who do not follow the teachings that God has revealed to us in his Holy Word. Many do not understand, even if they read. Many do not read at all.

Beginning regularly to come into the presence of the Lord with the Bible open on our laps, or on our table, is the bedrock new habit for someone wanting to learn to be a disciple of Jesus who can make another disciple. This “hour” (yes, it should grow over time to be this, at least) must become sacred. We do not miss it. We make plans to keep it even in difficult circumstances. We grow to never miss it because we so often meet the Lord. He waits to meet us, and we do not want to miss him. He so often speaks to us through his word written.

Most of those I have known who are serious about this discipling journey keep some kind of notebook or journal by which they keep a record of these times with the Lord. They have found that making notes about what they have read, or pondered, or “heard” during their times with the Lord, helps to keep them on track. It gives them a way to remember the Lord’s mercy when times are difficult. It shows them their progress with the Lord. It gives them a way to share with the one who is discipling them.

Let us end here. We must be willing to be held accountable to this covenant. If we will not seek the Lord when and where he may be found, we are wasting our time and that of our discipling leader. If we can not give this time to the Lord Jesus, most days if not all, then we must ask, “are we really wanting what he has to offer to us?”

 

Disciple-making Disciple Steps: Step 5.