Posted by: howvoicebegan | 19/09/2011

Go and Make Disciples

In one of my disciple-making books, the author made an initially stunning remark: if he had only 10 minutes to either bring someone to Christ or turn a Christian into a lifelong disciple, he would choose the latter. He explained it was purely mathematical. A disciple will further disciple even more disciples, leading to more people coming to Christ, and those who claim his salvation will deepen their relationship. In the end, it would bring more to Christ than merely a convert without further connection or deepening.

Being in a community with deep spiritual needs, and especially working with children from broken backgrounds who have the same spiritual needs, sometimes it can be discouraging when it seems everything is going exactly the way it shouldn’t. After dealing with the tsotsis I wondered if any of us in the home were making any sort of progress with the children. The corrections I make to all children are biblically based, yet they seem so intent on remaining in folly that I feel useless.

"Childhood innocence" is a phrase made by someone who never had children.

The other day, I explained that God is interested in our actions, regardless of who did what to us first, and we are responsible for our individual actions. He won’t excuse pain inflicted on someone else because they started it first. I seemed to make a breakthrough until two minutes later the very child I talked to had hit someone else again. Can’t these kids do the right thing, even if it’s only long enough for me to get out of the room and think I’ve done some good?

We’re also up against a culture intensely bent on hurting other people, whether through violence, rape, theft, infidelity, abuse, or whatever else makes a person feel good, in control, or serves their desires at the expense of others. Everything, therefore, becomes a challenge. I’d prefer to ignore the small piece of candy that a child stole from me, but then I remember that it always starts small before they become more brazen. I’d like to write off some childhood fighting as the process of learning conflict management, but I can’t ignore a 15-year-old boy beating up a 12-year-old girl. Dealing with folly, selfishness, immaturity, and the sin nature in 17 children is rather overwhelming at times. At worst, it is downright discouraging, planting doubtful thoughts that we can have any impact on the kids.

It is in these moments of dark thoughts and despair that God brings light. He knows the Deceiver is always at work, causing us to doubt God’s power and the power we have through the Holy Spirit.

“You know what I want to do when I grow up?” the child asked me.
“What do you want to do?” I was only half-interested in a constantly flip-flopping answer; I thought I would just maintain enough interest to give generic encouragement toward any sort of positive goal.
“I want to finish grade 12. Then I want to become a police officer and save my money. Then I’m going to travel the world and change people’s lives… like you do.”
To fill in for my speechlessness, they told me I had changed their life and they can’t forget how good it’s been to go through it. They want to have the same impact on others because of the value they saw in it. “And you know what? I got one of my friends to quit making bad decisions and go on the right path. I know what it feels like to be helped, and I want to help, too.”

It’s just that. Making disciples. It’s influencing and building others in Christ so that they can carry out the same works, increasing in number far beyond what you could ever manage yourself.

God gave me that encouragement to continue to pull through and to train children in the way they will go so that they will not stray from it (Proverbs 22:6). Sometimes on the surface it seems that my work is fruitless. But I guess it’s just that I haven’t picked through all the branches yet.



  1. Good job!

  2. Just wanted to let you know that I very much appreciate your blog. Not only do I have an affinity for missions for the Gospel, but I also like the simple way in which you share what you are learning using experiences and examples from your ministry. It is very encouraging to know that God is working in the lives of the lost through people like you. Keep up the good work!

  3. You are doing a wonderful job. It must be very difficult to show God’s love to all of these people, including the ones causing the hurt and pain. Human nature being what it is, I guess that you must have feelings of anger at what is happening around you, yet these are all God’s children and the ones most difficult to love are the ones who most need God’s love.

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