This article is a brief summary of Dr. Ajith Fernando’s lecture on disciple making. It is based mostly on 1 Timothy 1:18-19a. It says:
“This charge I entrust you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.”
With his speech he wants to convince us to become disciple makers ourselves! That means he wants us to encourage others to follow Jesus. Every Christian can do that!
To have a biblical example, we look at Paul, who was an expert disciple maker. Amongst others, Timothy was one of his most important disciples. He calls him his child. The greek word that is used here can also be translated as son, but it has a more affectionate denotation. Paul sometimes uses the father-child figure to explain, what kind of relationship exists between a disciple and his spiritual leader, but he also uses the mother-child figure! That means that for the leader it is all about being a parent to the disciple.
Here we find one of the reasons why disciple making has become kind of a lost art. Parenthood takes time and dedication that are very rarely found in our society, because we are used to discharge or dispose of things and even persons when they have become inconvenient. Often we feel like giving up on other people, because their case seems to be hopeless. But what if God acted the same way with us? Therefore, commitment and patience with our disciples is important!
What do we need to become disciple makers? We need trust, love, time spent together. Acts 2:46 says that the early Christians met in each other’s houses on a regular basis. We are called to the same commitment, although doing things regularly has become widely unpopular.
How can we choose which person we shall disciple? We can pray God to lead us. Often, new Christians are burning in love for their savior, but they are also easily tempted and misled by the enemy. It might also happen that people ask us to disciple them. We can meet potential disciples in school, university, at our job, in church or maybe in our neighborhood. The possibilities are endless and opportunities are waiting to be seized.
Let us come back to Paul. He calls Timothy his child. Here lies on of the solutions to our felt lack of time. We find time for the things that are important to us! By calling him his child Paul makes it clear, that making Timothy is one of his major priorities. Even Jesus spent most of the time of his ministry with only twelve people. His disciples were more important to him than preaching in front of big crowds.
The exciting thing about disciple making is that you never know who you nurture. You might be nurturing a future pastor or missionary without ever expecting it yourself. Just be faithful and let the Holy Spirit work and remember, that he often works hidden for our eyes.
Once a person becomes a Christian, they find themselves in the middle of a waging war. It is the war between the old Adam and the new person in Christ. Specific struggles in this war might be obedience, temptations, studies, relationships and many others. As spiritual leaders we have to encourage our disciples to meet their personal challenges and to rise up to their potential. This is what Pauls with the military term: “this charge I entrust you”. It means: I am giving you this command. But before we can give commands to our disciples to prevent them from pain and sin and to help them grow to become mature Christians we have to gain their trust. We need to let them know that we really care about them personally.
As leaders we are driven by ambitions. We can let those ambitions we have for our disciples become our sincere prayers for them. And of course, our disciples can also help us to become more mature Christians and to bring new order into our own spiritual lives.
Who could be a person you might disciple? Take yourself a moment to think about this question. You might not be able to start discipling them right now after reading this article, but you can start praying for them right now!
Frustration, Gegenwind, Druck – unzählige junge Leute können erzählen, wie sie von Ajith Fernando gelernt haben, mit Jesus zu leben und in seiner Nachfolge ‘dranzubleiben’ – auch wenn’s buchstäblich drunter und drüber geht – z.B. in Bürgerkriegswirren in Sri Lanka oder in der Zeit der Tsunami-Katastrophe. Ajith Fernando war Leiter von Jugend für Christus in Sri Lanka und ist weltweit gefragt als Redner und Seelsorger.