Family Discipleship — part 1 (by Sam Horowitz)

We love our specialists and experts. When we have a problem, or something needs to be done, we turn to the experts. Over the last several decades, unfortunately, most American churches have taken this to an extreme when it comes to making disciples.

Several years ago, I asked a team of leaders what they would do if their neighbor knocked on their door one morning and shared that they had just become a Christian. After an uncomfortably long period of silence, one tentatively offered up that they would bring this new convert to church — so that they could begin to hear my preaching. Of course attending worship is an important part of being a disciple, but it was clear to me that the men and women in the room — all of whom had been following Jesus for twenty years or more — believed that disciple-making was best left to the experts.

This trend is even clearer when it comes to making disciples of young people. A recent survey of Christian parents revealed that the majority did not feel comfortable or capable of instructing their own children in the faith. That finding was often true, by the way, even among “core” church members and Children’s Sunday School teachers!

When the people of Israel were preparing to enter into the Promised Land, and God was instructing them on the fundamental ways of living that would enable them to keep the covenant they had entered into with him, he told them:

These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

If faithful parents want to raise faithful children, we must have the same attitude. There are no shortcuts. First, the hearts and minds of moms and dads must be on Jesus and his teaching. We must be spending time with him and his words daily, and not only on Sundays. We must learn to look at, process, and interact with the world through the lens of the Bible’s story.

And then, we must be continually teaching our children the Gospel and living the Good News out by faith. The pairs “when you sit/when you walk” and “when you lie down/when you rise” are not particular opportunities to be teaching, but are Hebraisms meant to include everything in between two opposites. For most of the church history, this was the way new generations of disciples were raised. Parents shared their lives of faith with their children. The idea that we could outsource this to experts, though pervasive today, is in the grand scheme of things a novelty.

This is not to say that youth and children’s ministry “specialists” have no place in the church, or are unimportant. I write to you today as one with many years of “professional” experience in children’s and youth ministry. But these ministries must be added to daily family patterns of discipleship, in the same way that most people live healthy lives by adding occasional visits to medical professionals to daily healthy practices.

Are you sharing your life with your children (or grandchildren, or the young people of your faith community) in a way that demonstrates the effect of the Gospel in daily living? Are you taking advantage of the opportunities life presents in “all you do” to be “diligently” teaching the ways of Jesus to the young people entrusted to you?

Next week: Practical suggestions for family discipleship

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Family Discipleship — part 1 (by Sam Horowitz)

‘Follow Me’ (By Manik Corea)

It was my first time in Paris. Emerging from a railway station, I struggled to find my bearings with a map. A Frenchman offered to help me get where I needed to go. Unfortunately, I spoke no French—nor he any English. So, we communicated by sign and he gestured in grunts and hand signs where I needed to go. I tried to follow his instructions, but got lost a couple of times further along the way.

This contrasted with my first time in Chicago, where a stranger offered not only to help me find my way to a particular Metro station, but to accompany me on the journey. His ‘follow me’ was much preferable to simply being pointed in the right direction.

Discipleship is first and foremost an invitation to journey with and after Jesus.

Where you get to and what you become in life depends fundamentally on who you’re following and which road you take. Jesus once described life starkly in terms of two roads, one broad that leads many to destruction, and one narrow – on which only a few find life.

We must trust Jesus through His Holy Spirit to be our surest guide on the narrow way to God the Father, because in Jesus, God has come to us. He knows the way because He is the way. It is no accident that the earliest followers of the Christian faith were known as followers of ‘the Way’ (Acts 9:2; 11:26; 22:4).

It is no surprise then that the first and most common phrase Jesus used on prospective disciples was simply ‘Follow me.’[i] It is not clear in the original Greek whether this is a command or a request – perhaps both. But the implications in many of the contexts where Jesus used the phrase is clear – he was calling with some intended force and expectation that those he called would give him their unqualified attention and an obedient response.

It was a call first and foremost to himself.

On the other hand, the Jewish rabbis and the Greek philosophers of His day expected disciples to commit themselves to a specific philosophy or a definite cause – i.e. to their teaching rather than the teacher. The call of Jesus was wholly personal – his disciples were to follow him, to be with him, and to commit themselves wholeheartedly to him.

Likewise, we as disciples are called to make Him the singular focus of our lives; to a way of life that is entirely in keeping with His character, saving work, and kingly reign. We are called to an all-consuming love for Him. In that sense, Christian discipleship is predicated on the claim of total devotion by Christ.

‘Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.’ (Matthew 10:38; cf Luke 14:27, Matthew 16:24-28; John 10:27; 12:25-26).

In fact, he can brook neither rivals nor competition, nor accept even reasonable requests for deference or delay (Matthew 19:21-22, Luke 9:57-62).

Discipleship is the all-life response we are called to make to God’s gracious free gift of salvation in Christ Jesus. This demand, as John Stott said, is as total as the offer is free.

We either follow Him with our all, or we are not following him at all.

Are you truly following Him today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[i] See for example Matthew 4:19; 8:22; 9:9; 19:21; John 1:43; 1:44; 21:19; 21:22.

‘Follow Me’ (By Manik Corea)

New Start, New Vision – The NAMS GAP Launch in Kathmandu, Nepal (By Isaac Lasky)

Legend has it that King Prithivi Narayan Shah stood upon Chandragiri Hills and first caught a glimpse of the beauty of Kathmandu valley and decided it would be the capital of a unified Nepal Kingdom. In that same spot around 300 years later the NAMS Nepal Global Apprenticeship Program team prayed that they would be used as disciple making leaders to plant disciple making churches for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Kathmandu valley

From 23rd-25th August 2017, Isaac Lasky (NAMS GAP Coordinator) was in Nepal for the orientation of three NAMS Global Apprentices working alongside our NAMS Regional Leader in Nepal, Tek Prasad Rijal. The days were packed full of learning, discussion, worship, prayer and fellowship and finished with a commissioning service for the Global Apprentices. Topics included ‘Knowing God’s will,’ ‘The NAMS Rule,’ ‘Steps to Becoming a Disciple-making Disciple,’ and ‘the Life Cycle of Discipleship.’ The apprentices gained a clear understanding of discipleship and practical ways to apply this to their life and ministry.

NAMS GAP Nepal

These Global Apprentices will be receiving hands-on training and guidance as they purse the passions God has given them. Currently, they are looking to start a new work with university students and children in Kathmandu using their musical, sport, and English language abilities as a tool to bless people and build new relationships, whilst also continuing to build on existing discipling relationships they already have. We are very excited to be investing into these three young leaders. We wait in expectation to see how the Lord will use them locally, nationally, and even internationally.

Please pray with us for them.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a Global Apprentice, please visit www.namsgap.com for more information.

 

 

New Start, New Vision – The NAMS GAP Launch in Kathmandu, Nepal (By Isaac Lasky)

A Foretaste of Heaven! NAMS Africa Summit, Kenya 2017.

‘Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!’ (Psalm 133:1). That is an apt verse to describe our recently concluded Africa Summit meeting in Kenya over the weekend of 18 August 2017.

KenyaSunmmit

It was a much-anticipated event – the first ever NAMS Vision meeting taking place in East Africa. About 20 or so participants from African countries like South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Congo (DRC) gathered with 5 NAMS companions for a weekend of hearing the NAMS story and vision and being encouraged and equipped to make disciples the Jesus way commanded (Matthew 28:19-20) in order to plant new churches.

In the weeks preceding the event, Kenya had a largely peaceful General Election, and we thank God that we did not see the violence that marred previous elections and the aftermath, which would have made travel to Nairobi difficult for many. However, a few days before the event, our NAMS Sub-Saharan Africa leader Gabe Smith was struck down with a lung infection and was not able therefore to fly to the event as planned. As he was the main organizer, we had to do some last-minute reorganizing. We thank God not only that the event could continue without him, but that he is now fully recovered.

The Africa Summit was held in a Roman Catholic retreat center about 30km out of Nairobi. The temperature hovered around a pleasant 20 degrees Celsius for the most part of the days. The lovely setting of the grounds enhanced our time together, which was designed to be a mixture of prayer, worship, teaching, training, and free time for networking, rest, and retreat. We were also blessed by the great service and the food cooked up by the cheerful staff of the center.

Some of the participants made long journeys at their personal cost to come, including one Anglican pastor from Congo who had to make a three-day journey by bus each way. We were encouraged and humbled by their immense desire and willingness to sacrifice to meet with us for the sake of the Gospel.

Looking back on that weekend, we were richly blessed by our interaction with many wonderful leaders, pastors, and servants of God – a mixture of clergy and lay leaders, old and young, some working in church ministries and others in the marketplace.

We were able to share the NAMS story and vision that God has taught us: disciple-making disciples as the seeds of new churches. We heard stories from the lips of NAMS companions from places as diverse as North India, Egypt, Chile, and Thailand.

The rich, heavenly sounds of African voices in worship and dance was heard and seen between sessions, as well as inspiring testimony and teaching not only from NAMS Companions, but also from our friend Richard Mayabi of Church Army who gave a clarion call to the African Christians present to make disciple-making and mission a priority for the African church – or risk losing ground in Africa.

NAMS Companion Bishop Bahemuka William celebrated at Sunday Communion and preached a stirring message. In his sermon, he quoted his friend, retired American bishop Fitz Allison who said, ‘If you don’t give the Gospel away, you don’t get it!’ Indeed!

The outcome of this meetings is that there is a clear desire among participants representing different Anglican dioceses and other non-Anglican churches across East Africa for partnership with NAMS. We are now praying that in time, we can plant a NAMS base community in East Africa to facilitate the work God is clearly giving us to do there.

We thank all of you who prayed for us during this week and for the meetings. God heard your prayers and gave us a wonderful foretaste of heaven, Africa-style! To God be the glory!

 

A Foretaste of Heaven! NAMS Africa Summit, Kenya 2017.

Raising Disciple-Making leaders – A NAMS story (by Manik Corea)

Seemingly serendipitous meetings in the midst of daily living can become the setting for life-altering divine appointments by God’s grand design, and the Scriptures provide many illustrations. An unsuspecting shepherd sees a burning bush, a tax-collector sitting at his booth hears the words ‘follow me,’ fishermen are met and called by Jesus at the edge of the waters, an Ethiopian in a chariot on a desert road is met by running courier on divine duty.

I first met Isaac at the edge of a barbecue grill in England as he cooked a picnic for the members of his church.

He was barely 19 years old and was telling me about the six months he had spent in India on a short-term mission internship working with destitute young adults and children. I sensed immediately a heart for lost people and, perhaps, a calling to somewhere other than his home country.

That brief meeting culminated two and a half years later in an invitation from Jon Shuler and me to Isaac to join NAMS as an intern in Bangkok. He arrived in October 2014.

NAMS Companions are united under Christ for the work of (1) making disciples that make disciples, (2) raising up disciple-making leaders, and (3) helping start disciple-making communities or churches. Isaac is an example of the kind of disciple-making leadership that we seek to raise up through our work.

He came to us with a strong foundation of faith through the godly influence of his own family and DNA Networks, his sending church. But, in the time we have spent together these last 2+ years I have seen him grow and develop into a more confident, faithful, and faith-filled pioneering leader who now is not only a full-fledged NAMS Companion, but who has been given increasing leadership responsibilities in our global work.

How did it all happen?

When Isaac joined All Nations (our NAMS community in Bangkok) as an intern, I began to meet with him weekly for discipleship. We prayed, read Scripture, shared vision, and planned together for the work of the Kingdom. We also met one other morning with another leader, to strategize for our work and pray for NAMS Companions globally—and for those we were seeking to reach and disciple locally.

Isaac also accompanied and assisted me in two small groups I led at that time, one of which was a Great Commission Cell meeting in my home.

The other group was our ‘Questions’ group: five young Western expatriates, none of whom were believers. We explored big questions of life, like ‘Does God really exist?’, the problem of evil and suffering, and other religious worldviews. Isaac grew adept at listening and then answering such questions with wisdom, and there were clear opportunities to present the Gospel as well. This outreach group gave Isaac an opportunity to watch and learn how to do pioneering outreach in a cross-cultural setting.

Within a year as an intern, I encouraged Isaac to find his own avenues for mission. With our Thai partner church, he launched and led an English Club to teach and practice conversational English and play games on a Friday night. He began to intentionally reach out to try and disciple a few young guys, including two Pakistani asylum-seekers who were part of our community. We continued praying for people that he was building relationships through playing football and other social activities (including a young migrant worker and his family, and another young Thai man).

Isaac continues to actively disciple young people. God has opened a door of discipling opportunity for him in a Christian student hostel for university students, 80% of whom are Buddhist.

Today, Isaac is the Global Coordinator of the NAMS Global Apprenticeship Program (GAP) through which he hopes NAMS can raise up other disciple-making leaders for our global three-fold work.

We can see that Isaac is a gifted leader God has given us for global mission. We thank God for bringing him to us, and for the role he gave us in preparing him for his ministry to the Kingdom.

 

Raising Disciple-Making leaders – A NAMS story (by Manik Corea)

Partnering with NAMS (by Manik Corea)

Our weekly blogs, like this one, are read across the world by numerous NAMS companions, supporters, intercessors and friends. We are grateful for every one of you wherever you are reading this from. We pray that what we write and share would not only be an encouragement, but make a positive different to the quality of your walk as a disciple and follower of Jesus.

Please will you also continue to pray for us, that we would stay faithful to the work God has called us to as NAMS companions?

What exactly is that work, some may ask?

Our primary goal and work is to help plant and multiply disciple-making communities/churches through the intentional making of disciples and raising up of disciple-making leaders.

We believe that God raised NAMS up for such a time as this. We, along with faithful like-minded Christians, churches, organizations, networks and movements around the world, are calling and equipping Christians and churches to obey the final commandment that Jesus gave to his apostles and by extension, to all His Church everywhere through the ages (see Matthew 28:19-20).

We do this by being and making disciples that do the three things Jesus said his ‘made’ disciples would:

1) they will be missionary followers, whether to their neighbours or to the nations (i.e., they go where they are sent);

2) they will be plunged into the fullness of relationship and community with our Triune God and his people (i.e., they are baptized into the triune God), and

3) they will be taught to do all that Christ asks (i.e., they obey all of Jesus’ commands).

Believing this to be a serious call, we have banded together as NAMS – a working company of brothers and sisters around the world living under and accountable to a common rule and order – in order to work together for the spread God’s kingdom to all people.

But we cannot do this work alone.

By definition, the Church is the body of Christ, and so wholly dependent not only on Christ our head, but on each part of the body. For ‘we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.’ (Romans 12:5, ESV).

Therefore, we seek friends of NAMS who will pray with us and for us, and who will give to the work we are called by God to do.

If you would like to pray regularly for NAMS work in these and many other places, please write to our Global Prayer/Intercession Co-ordinator, Mary Garrison-Ruiz at mary.garrison@namsnetwork,com.

If you would like to learn how to be a friend of NAMS or would like to learn how to be a part of NAMS, write to info@namsnetwork.com.

If you would like to be a NAMS Global Apprentice, are young or young-at-heart and would like to spend a year or two in one of our NAMS base communities learning to be a disciple-making leader, go to www.namsgap.com.

If you would like to partner with NAMS in an active way locally, you can become a NAMS Centurion. Find out more at www.namscenturion.com.

Finally, if you would like to give a one-time or regular gift to NAMS, go to this page of our website to do it on-line (or, contact us if you are in the USA and wish to do a direct bank transfer or send in a cheque): http://www.namsnetwork.com/be-involved.html (click on ‘Donate now!’) at the bottom of the page.

May the words of Galatians 6:9 be an encouragement to us all today to continue the work God has begun in us: ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’

Partnering with NAMS (by Manik Corea)

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.