“Randy! It is good to see you!” I had not seen Ken for four years. I had seen him in many places since that day as a child when he first sat in our home and told us about remote tribes who knew nothing of Jesus. I had been to many meetings where he was the featured speaker but had not talked more than to greet him. Several times I had stood beside my father as the two of them talked. The man traveled constantly, speaking to hundreds of churches and meeting many thousands of people each year. Now, after four years of living in the jungle, the man actually knew my name. That impressed me.
Years later the warm hand of another man grasped my shoulder. I turned. It was another one of our mission leaders. I do not remember the conversation but I do remember the warm greeting and personal interest that this leader gave to me as an insignificant teenager. His warmth, kindness and personal interest left a glow. We have not had significant interaction since. He was a minister of God to me that day.
Looking back over the years I can see that God used many individuals to influence my life. Some said nothing to me directly. Their attitudes or reactions to difficult circumstances spoke volumes. Others taught me from God’s word by addressing a group. Very little of it was intentional one-on-one discipleship. All of it was intended to lead disciples. I wanted more but did not know what I needed or whom to ask. Still, God was at work to bring people into my life who would lead me to Him. These people were shaping my metanarrative or over-arching story of what is true and what is not. Their own stories, being written within God’s story, were forming my understanding and shaping the lens of my worldview.
Is there a path or destination for discipleship? Are we to hop from Bible study to Bible study hoping to glean something of value; or is there more? Should we be wandering aimlessly in church looking for that special encounter, or is there a Biblical path to maturity and living with eternal purpose? Is discipleship just something for new Christians or is there more for those who have been around church a while? We could follow the typical paths in the church of studying the life of Jesus, jumping to Old Testament prophecies, hopping through scripture in money workshops, collecting nuggets on marriage during the weekends and sitting through a few missions moments.
In addition to teaching content, are there a Biblical patterns for methods of teaching? Is there a path to more quickly bring men and women to a maturity where they can carry on the work of the ministry?
What more is there?
These are some of the things missionaries in training are learning at the New Tribes Bible Institutes and the Missionary Training Centers. https://usa.ntm.org/training
How do you begin discipleship where there are barriers of an unwritten language, a mysterious culture, divergent worldviews and completely different assumptions of what is real and what is not? How do you build relationships of trust which lead to a maturing church full of people who are able to carry on the work of the ministry?
Is our objective to save people from an eternity of separation or is it to bring people into intimate fellowship with and eternal worship of the God who is worthy? What is maturity?
Please pray for us as we seek people to send to New Tribes Mission’s training in preparation for missionary service.