• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

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Christmas is both a time to consider the wonder of Christ’s birth as well as an opportunity to again marvel at His ongoing presence and work among us.  Chris Tomlin’s song: “Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground)” underscores this thought in such a clear way.  How unbelievable it is that our God chose to come to dwell among us: “Emmanuel, Emmanuel, God Incarnate here to dwell”.

That intentionality serves as our anchor and our model.  Last January, we began the year by talking about such intentionality.  I wrote: “Missional living is a constant struggle of intentionality.  Our lives and ministries continually call for deliberate and purposeful action.  We do not wait for people to move towards us, rather we must move towards them in an intentional way, just as God did916492-16x9-512x288 and does for us.”

As we start this year, we are keenly aware of two facts that weigh heavy on our hearts.  One is the need that many right around us have for a personal relationship with Christ.  We are surprised by the growing number of irreligious or people who believe there is no God.  In a recent Church Life survey done in Australia, the number of people stating that they believed there is ‘no God’ had nearly doubled in the past twenty years.  Another is the constant need for more workers.  Currently, there are almost fifty appointees from our various Support Centers who are waiting to join teams around the world and who are not able to be ‘sent’ because of a lack of funding, training or ministry allocation.

In light of God’s intentionality towards us, in light of His desire that we be intentional in our life, development and ministry, and in light of these facts which tug at our hearts, here’s my challenge to each of us as we begin this year of 2013:

 

That each worker in the World Team community would intentionally

disciple one person into a relationship with Christ and that each worker

would intentionally disciple one person into cross cultural ministry.

 

If only a tenth of our workers met this challenge, we would welcome over thirty five new brothers and sisters into the community of believers.  If only a tenth of our workers met this challenge, we would have more than thirty five new workers ready to be mobilized to new ministries and people groups.  However, I want to trust God for much more than that!

Many years ago, Paul (WT UK) called to see if I wanted to run the London marathon with him.  I thought he was kidding.  I had never run a marathon in my life.  He simply laid the challenge out, stating that he had two bib numbers for the race.  His question was straightforward: “Are you in or not?

If “you’re in” for the challenge I have laid in front of us, then share your ‘yes’ with another co-laborer in the Gospel so that you might pray for one another, trusting this intentional God to use even us to lead others to Him and to challenge others into service.

 

 

15 Responses

  1. I want to say that “I’m in” for this special challenge to start the new year! But I find myself asking, “what has to change practically with my schedule and area of ministry focus for this to happen?” As Area Director there are so many responsibilities that pull me away from active and intentional ministry to a person locally outside fellowship with Christ and to a deliberate discipleship of a believer in cross-cultural ministry. I find most of my time is spent working with people who are cross-cultural workers already as they seek to lead others to Christ.

    So here is what I do commit to, my “all in” for the next few weeks: I will sit down and prayerfully chart out some changes that put me in position to do part one or two of your challenge, or both. Please pray with me in this.

    And I am wondering if there are others of you out there who read David’s challenge, but were thinking the same thing I am? Let’s hear from you. And David, any advice for us?

    • Your comments are refreshingly honest and challenging. I’m glad you’re joining the ‘race’. Welcome! One small thought as to how this might work out in a worker or leader’s life is to intentionally plan time into one’s weekly schedule to be with someone seeking Christ. I’m not talking about making someone your ‘project’, but I think it takes a certain determination (intentionality) to get up from what one is doing and go out to spend time with someone that needs to know Christ

    • Here’s another reply from Henry in Singapore: “I did however want to say that I’m kind of in the same boat as Mark Swallow. My limited relationships with non-believers are limited even more by the busy schedules they run. Hard to break into their lives. Even my floor hockey friends (all are between 23 and 40 years younger than I am) have such busy schedules that we only see each other at games or practices… But I want to be more intentional in how I relate to them and others. So, I will say that I am in. And trust God to help me be more intentional in this. Thanks again for the challenge.” Thanks Henry for sharing!

  2. I keep being reminded that discipleship is both costly and intentional. While I will not hesitate to spend 2 “loonies” on a coffee, I will hesitate to spend $200. The more costly something is, the more intentional I have to be.

    Discipleship is costly as I _daily_ deny myself and take up the cross; and it is costly when I decide to disciple an individual or a group.

    About 3 years ago at a Semangat seminar in Papua, all participants made a commitment to start discipling intentionally, and I took that challenge as seriously as the others. It cost me.

    One of the men I have discipled carries a lot of baggage (a history of being abused, of violence, addictions, immorality etc).I intentionally touch base with and pray for him every day. When he learned that a friend had committed suicide, I just knew he’d go back to his old pain killer, so I drove to the next town where he lives and found him naked on his bed with a bruise on his head. He’d fallen after downing a bottle of rum. The visit took 3 hours out of my plan for the day.

    To be honest, sometimes I feel like giving up; being intentional is costly. Being a disciple is a daily commitment.

    • This is the kind of ‘stuff’ our lives are made of as we intentionally engage ourselves in the lives of others. Thanks for sharing John! May this be a challenge to all of us to realize that this challenge means we totally need God.

    • Thanks for this timely reminder, John. Your words reflect how I often feel about discipleship. I had to talk to myself to write a note to a neighbor whose wife is seriously ill and may not make it. We don’t see each other much, but I felt the Spirit prodding me to tell him I am praying for him. Could it be the first step to more contact?

  3. “I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!”
    (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 MSG)

    YES!

  4. I’m trusting God for the one I’m to develop a relationship with so that I may see this person trust Christ and walk with Christ. I’m also trusting God for my next cross cultural Global partner to coach as the one I’ve been coaching for the past 4 years is soon to deploy.

  5. Thanks for the challenge, I am game! I too am trusting God for at least the one He wants me to disciple into a relationship. There are a couple I am thinking of, but He knows their hearts, so I will walk with them and see where He takes us!

    • It is all about trusting God to work in people’s hearts. Thanks for the reminder. Being intentional means we bathe all we do in prayer.

  6. Thanks David for the challenge. I, too “am in” by God’s grace. It is an encouragement to read that it is costly…an encouragement? Yes. I appreciate hearing how God is using my fellow World Teamers and that they remain faithful despite the obstacles and challenges, so thanks for being an example. My friend’s heart is hard due to life circumstances, but I’m praying that as we meet God would allow me to listen and to ask good questions. I enjoy doing this with you as not only will others benefit but, we too, as believers, will grow.

    • Thanks for your honest sharing of the struggle and the joy that comes from a sincere desire to see another “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

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