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Understanding The “Go”

When I was younger, the word “disciple” always dredged up images of dusty, bearded middle-aged men in robes, trudging along behind Jesus, as he moved from town to town preaching and healing people. The image is, of course, courtesy of the film Jesus of Nazareth, which I watched when I was about eight years old, possibly my first visual impression of what Jesus and his disciples looked like.

Jesus, ‘dat you? Image source: Pinterest

Of course now, some 35 years on, I am aware that the film, while eye-opening in many ways, did also put blinders on how I had viewed discipleship. It is also the shallow understanding of the Great Commission that many of us have, to “go into all the world and make disciples of all nations”. It seems like a daunting call, that requires a great sacrifice of family, career, income and often, life.

My key misunderstanding was with the word “go”. To me, it meant foreign lands, different tribes and tongues, time away from work, separation from family, poverty, hardship and even illness.

But the “go” in Matthew 28:18 does not mean any of those things. The word was written in the present continuous tense, and is meant to be read “as you go.”  That changed what discipleship meant to me. It meant that in the everyday things I do, working, taking care of my family, serving my church, I am called to be a disciple and to make disciples.

The call to discipleship that I received feels more like a mandate. I knew that above everything else that I could possibly do to serve the Lord, the one thing I had to always be doing is making disciples. The message of the Great Commission resonates with me personally, and I know that it is actually God doing the work, and I was in the privileged position of being allowed to help. It is like story Ps Rhordan shared in his book Marked to Magnify, about Ken Malmin allowing his small son to paint the fence with him (pg27). God is always looking for people to “help” him paint the fence, not because we are so good at it, but because He enjoys the relationship.

So, I am glad that I have been allowed to try and fail. I am only too aware that I don’t have all the answers and have made mistakes in discipling. In fact, I would be the first to confess that not everyone I had been in discipleship with still walks with the same fervour that they did when we first began. But I am grateful that I still have the opportunity to keep the friendship, to continue to speak life to them, and to pray for them with understanding. And through these things, God does His work. He hears, he heals, he restores, and in that, they know that there is a loving God who will always wait with open arms for his sons and daughters to come back to him.

 

If you don’t have a copy of Marked to Magnify yet, approach your LifeGroup or Ministry leader on how to get a copy. Alternatively, drop us a message here or email info@fgasingapore.org to enquire.

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#iamadisciple – Esther Teo

Faithfulness sets the foundation for fruitfulness. In making disciples, it may seem that our initial efforts to reach out are futile, but as we continue to faithfully sow into their lives, God is also faithful to change both us and them. Esther's story of discipleship is a great example of that!

1. Describe the time when you decided to transition from “regular weekend Christian” to “fully devoted follower of Christ”.

I think it was a just gradual process as I journey with Christ, working to become more and more "fully devoted".

2. When did you become a leader?

9 years ago.

3. As much as you can remember, recollect the initial memories of starting out as a new leader. It must have been an eye-opener! Any funny moments, memorable ones? Any painful memories?

I started as a lifegroup leader in my own lifegroup, DNA with Audrey and Juliana for a very short period of time. Then I stepped down from my own lifegroup and joined the SURGE ministry because I felt God was calling me to reach out to girls who are younger. The initial 3 to 4 years of leading in the youth was tough as my members were either super irregular or didn't want to attend lifegroup at all. Out of lifegroup meetings, it was hard to meet them too. There were a lot of rejections. I struggled a lot and always prayed and asked God, "I've obeyed your call, and did my best, so why no progress? Did I do something wrong? Is it me?" Then God spoke to me and said my focus was wrong, I shouldn't focus on me, but them, because that was His focus and I should still be faithful with what I was called to do. I continued to be faithful and eventually God gave me 4 very teachable girls with regular attendance. That was my highlight then and still is now. 

4. How about the best stories that make you feel like, this is all worth it?

It was when one of my members who constantly "rejected" me and "fly my aeroplane" (Chinese term: the person stood her up) told me, "Thanks for constantly reaching out to me even though I kept avoiding you." I remembered we were at this brunch cafe with all these noisy echoes, and when she said that, my heart dropped and I teared. I realised that this is why God had asked me to be faithful. 

5. What is the biggest challenge for yourself as a leader?

Communication and facilitation. Language is not my forte, and sometimes I find it hard use the right words to ask the right questions at lifegroup. Till today, I'm still learning communicate and facilitate better. 

6. What has God taught you through leadership?

Faithfulness, Love and Patience, and most importantly to lead by example. 

7. Complete this sentence: Discipleship is…

Discipleship is intentionally walking and journeying  alongside others towards maturing in Christ.  (The DE book definition sums it up better! This is just the simple definition I have at the back of my head, haha.) 

8. Enough about you as a leader - let’s talk about you as a disciple. What do you love or appreciate most about your leader(s)?

Auntie Sue and Angie reached out to me when I was a youth. I appreciate most when Angie was there to guide me, teach me about the Bible and show me the way. She was always there, loving me as I am, rejoicing with me through my ups and comforting and encouraging me through my downs. 

Rhordan also, in a way, "disciples" all the youth leaders. Whether it was through the Bible or by giving us tools to facilitate lifegroup, there was never a time in his teaching that we did not go back without gaining a revelation, insight or knowledge.

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#IAmADisciple – Hinswee & Bat Ching

Elder Woon Hinswee and his wife, Bat Ching, are a powerhouse couple known and loved by many across our campuses. With them also comes years of discipleship experiences! Despite all that, they candidly agree that the ultimate ‘trainer’ of their discipleship walk is still their daughter.

Read their story and learn about the challenges and heart-warming rewards of discipling.

1. Describe your early days as a leader, along with funny and memorable moments!

Hinswee: When I was in my second year as a Christian I was asked to lead the Chinese youth group. The youth that I led knew Christ more than I did! They knew the Bible better and were more talented in many areas than myself. As such, I had to do a lot of reading to answer a lot of tough Bible questions, as well as plan a lot of activities for them. I led a challenge with the youth to complete the Bible in one year! One of the youth actually completed it before I did!

Bat Ching: I co-led with Hinswee, before taking up the leading role of the children's ministry in Chinese service in 2008, as the person-in-charge had left for another country. The kids who came to the Chinese service were from low income families. Besides Bible lessons, I also had to teach them personal hygiene, like brushing their teeth daily.  

2. What are your favourite personal stories of discipleship?

Hinswee: I had a memorable discipleship with then-youths Caleb, Cynthia and Esther (now serving in the Chinese Campus). We completed DE after more than 2 years. We also went to the prayer mountain in Korea many times together, and went for street evangelism and “treasure hunting” in Orchard and Macpherson areas.

Hinswee and his disciples, all grown up.

Bat Ching: One of the boys in my ministry asked me for a Bible. I gave him an NIV. He liked reading the Bible so much that he got so familiar with the content. Even when his mom scolded him for misbehaviour, he was angry, sobbing, yet he was reading the bible!  And he told me, he would want to become a pastor one day.  He is now 18, attending another church.

3. What is the biggest challenge for yourself as a leader?

Hinswee: Then, I had no mentor. Time needed to be spent with the people I discipled instead.

Bat Ching: There was insufficient man power to sustain the ministry and I was running it solo.  Over time, I grew stressed. The parents of the kids were pre-believers, and they were unhappy when I disciplined their kids, and so disallowed the kids to come to church.

4. What has God taught you through leadership?

Hinswee: Patience!

Bat Ching: Never run ahead of God.  We must rely on Him completely to seek His direction and pace.

Life group!

5. Complete this sentence: Discipleship is…

Hinswee: The way God intended His kingdom to be established and reign on earth.

Bat Ching: …Coaching others on how to follow Jesus, through our own spiritual experience, with the Holy Spirit and our knowledge of His living words.

6. Enough about you as a leader - let’s talk about you as a disciple. What do you love or appreciate most about your leader(s)?

Hinswee: They were very trusting and gave me a free hand as a leader when I started out. They had a burden and were always thinking of how to win souls.

Bat Ching: Their practice of spiritual gifting, wisdom, love and patience in building the family of Christ.

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#IAmADisciple – Nalinee Barrett

Our theme for 2017 ‘Marked to Magnify’ is a call for us as a church to make disciples. In the spirit of it, we are getting up-close and personal with a few of FGA’s leaders to find out what it means to be a disciple who makes disciples. We kick off the series with Life Group leader and Production Team Head Nalinee Barrett, whom you might recognise as a familiar face at our weekend services as she is always seen ensuring that the service programme is in order. Besides her passion to bring excellence to each service, Nalinee also recognises that successful ministry cannot be without discipleship and relationship. Read on and get to know her, then high-five her when you see her in church this weekend!

1. When did you become a leader?

I am not exactly sure, but I think it was in 2008. I started as the leader of the now-defunct Drama ministry. 

2. As much as you can remember, recollect the initial memories of starting out as a new leader. It must have been an eye-opener! Any funny moments, memorable ones?

It was fraught with mistakes! It was my first time in any leadership position in church, so I didn’t really know how to disciple people. So most meetings were more like drama workshops than anything akin to spiritual growth. Many of the people in the team were “fringe” people - people who weren’t really connected anywhere else. So the ministry gave them somewhere to belong, and to connect with like-minded people. It took about 2 years at least, before I understood how to balance the practical and spiritual aspects of ministry. 

3. How about the best stories that make you feel like this is all worth it?

Every person that I have been able to  point to a more intimate relationship with God is a good story. The journeys are always unique and I feel very honoured that people trust me enough to let me be privy to their journey. Some of them have become friends and partners in ministry as well, which is very exciting. It is never a short-term thing, so I don’t think I have been doing it long enough to have “happily ever after” stories yet. 

4. What is the biggest challenge for yourself as a leader?

As much as you want everyone you lead or disciple to grow closer to God and become rooted in FGA, it doesn’t always happen. There are people who decide to move on and start attending another church, which is painful, but I am glad they are planted somewhere. But the biggest challenge is continuing to love and try to stay connected to people who decide they don’t need God, or think that being part of a church community is not a priority. My human flesh always wants to give up and give my attention to the people who respond more positively to discipleship. But as someone once said “Love in all its forms is ... very difficult”. And when I feel like I have failed with someone, I just have to remember that no one understands rejection the way Jesus does, and then my issues become quite minute. 

One of my mentors taught me the “catch and release” method of discipleship. Give people enough latitude to discover for themselves the depth and breadth and height of God’s love for them, and be there when they need you. So far, this method seems to work. :) 

5. What has God taught you through leadership?

  • Stay humble because you can’t take credit for anything. 
  • Know the word, read as much as you can. The questions people can ask will astound you. 
  • Pray for the people you lead. There is great power in that. 
  • Get behind the vision of the church you are serving. 
  • Surround yourself with people who are like-minded and give wise counsel. 
  • Stay accountable. 

6. Complete this sentence: Discipleship is…

Discipleship is mandated for every Christian, to be a disciple who make disciples. 

7. Enough about you as a leader - let’s talk about you as a disciple. What do you love or appreciate most about your leader(s)?

They did not judge my shortcomings, encouraged my gifts, taught me with patience and love, and continue to be available to me for conversations, counsel and crazy-time. They don’t pretend to be perfect, don’t hesitate to correct me when I need it, and always demonstrate a higher goal that challenges me. 

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