The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a disciple as "one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another; a convinced adherent of a school or individual". Discipleship, then is simply the training process that one goes through in order to fulfill the role as disciple.
All very technical, I know. From my perspective, though, being a disciple of Christ is much deeper than that. As followers of Jesus we are called to "take up our cross daily" (Luke 9:23). This doesn't sound like light lifting, does it? Actually, if we are to model how Jesus did it, I would say it's a pretty heavy burden. And yet, in Matthew 11 Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” How do these two sentiments go together?
Only in relationship with Jesus, can we carry our cross in a way that feels light. 1 Corinthians says "God who has called you into fellowship with Christ Jesus our Lord is faithful." After we have crossed the line of Christian faith, we are called to fellowship with Christ; to know Him more intimately than a brother or a friend. When we try to follow God's law without an understanding of His heart, we burn out. We may love Him and long to follow Him, but it will feel heavy if we are not in right relationship with Him. It is by learning from Jesus, by allowing Him to transform us from the inside out that we are able to "take up our cross daily" in a way that doesn't feel hard and burdensome.
This is just some of why discipleship is important for missions. There are times people sign up for a mission trip out of obligation or wanting to follow God's law. After all, God said, "Go make disciples of all nations", right? Yes, absolutely. But rarely do we make disciples of anyone before truly being a disciple ourselves. So are you learning from Jesus? Do you spend consistent time with Him in prayer and reading God's Word? Because the truth of the matter is that we teach out of who we are-- and anything short of being a disciple of Jesus won't cut it in the mission field.
Do you want to join one of our mission trips? It's a life-altering adventure that you will never forget and we pray you choose to join us. But know this... we will disciple you. Whether you join the mission trip to Ecuador, Ghana, or Israel, the training is similar. You will learn ahead of time about the culture and environment of each place. You will learn how to serve others in a way that draws out their God-given dignity and you will also learn how to grow in closer relationship with Jesus. Our training is interactive and personal and grace-filled. You can ask questions about scripture you don't understand and we'll do our best to guide you closer to Him as we dive into the Bible together. I'm excited to see what God will do IN you even before He operates THROUGH you in the mission field.
Are you ready for a faith journey? Our next trips are scheduled for Ecuador (May 29-June 5) and Ghana (July 5-15). The first application deadline is Jan 26.