Discipleship on Mission for Mission

  • 10 October 2017
  • MinistryLift blogger

Josh* just graduated high school, is part of minority people-group, and lives in a not-so-desirable neighbourhood in a mid-size city. He comes from a broken and blended family with not much financial wiggle-room. His claim-to-fame is playing second-string on a two-time defending championship football team. His church is not overtly "cool" and he only started participating in middle school because his parents forced him. How do you disciple Josh?

Josh was invited by his youth leader to join her on a short-term MB Mission team. He was willing, but the obstacles were not insignificant: few guys were going, he didn’t have not enough money, he was the only racial minority participant, and he’d never even been on an airplane before. It was a miracle he even participated.

The money unexpectedly came in the week after he gave up trying and had quietly committed his needs to God in prayer. With the door now open he stepped through. He struggled through team training as the only guy, thought he was going crazy when his ears plugged on the airplane, and endured weeks of reaching out to children in a strange culture which was his least wanted ministry option.  

I met Josh while his team was debriefing its survival of four weeks "over there." He was a little shell-shocked, but as he unpacked the experience and considered where he had met Jesus, he began to see his own context differently. A new man began to emerge. He still referred to his football heroics, but he was no longer reflecting on just the game, but on the needs of his peers—young men like him. He was already beginning to think of guys he could invite next year. Listening to the Holy Spirit, dwelling in the Scriptures, and being attentive to the voices of a disciple-making community were producing a noticeable transformation. Josh was not just learning about Jesus; he was becoming more and more like Him.  

A celebration night capped off his team's debriefing days. Josh nervously paced at the back of the room dreading his turn to address the crowd. When his name was called, however, the gentle giant spoke with confidence, described the transforming power of the love of his team, and the kids he "hated" working with. And he gave voice to a heart responsive to whatever call God had on his life. Which, as was abundantly clear, would lead to a much greater life story than being a two-time defending football champion.

A Bus Ride That Took An Unexpected Turn

  • 28 November 2016
  • Randy Wollf

busIt was going to be a three-hour bus ride. I sat down by myself and hoped it would stay that way. 

Just as we were about to leave the bus terminal, one more person got on the bus. Sure enough, he sat down right beside me.

Even though I still wanted to be alone, I started feeling guilty about my selfish attitude. I prayed, "Lord, if you want me to speak to this person, get him to say the first words." 

A few minutes later, the man picked up his book and started reading. I thought, "This is good."

Then, it happened. The man put his book down and looked at me. I started getting worried. 

His very first words to me were, "So, what do you think about God?"

For the next three hours, I had the opportunity to listen to and share the Gospel with my new, unsaved friend—someone who was obviously seeking truth. 

In John 12:42, we see that some of the Jewish leaders believed in Jesus. Yet, they refused to share their faith because they were afraid of getting kicked out of the synagogue.

In my experience, fear is one of the main reasons why I sometimes don’t share my faith. I’m afraid of what people might think. I’m afraid of awkwardness and conflict. Of course, sometimes I’m just selfish and don't really care about the other person. 

Yet, there is one thing that conquers fear and selfishness: love. If I really love someone, I am much more likely to help them. Obviously, I need to help people with their physical needs when I can. Yet, my highest calling is to help them take faith steps towards the One who took our place on the cross—the One who died and rose again so that we might have a deeply satisfying life both now and forever. 

Jesus’ love compels me to love others, even strangers on a bus. 

What are some of the fears that keep you from sharing your faith? How might Christ’s love help you overcome those fears?

Note: For additional help on sharing your faith, check out Six Ways Anyone Can Share Christ and Eight Biblical Reasons for Sharing Christ

Randy Wollf is Director of MinistryLift and Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Leadership Studies at MB Seminary

What Gives a Character Character

  • 15 December 2015
  • Keith Reed

I abandoned my books and chose the easier option. I entered “how to develop character” into the Google search bar and readied myself for instant transformation. Instead, I was underwhelmed by a series of articles on how to create a compelling character for a fictional story. 

As I recovered from my initial disappointment, I realized that the development of a fictional character has valuable parallels to how you and I establish our own character. Authors reveal the virtues of their characters by forcing them to respond to a variety of experiences. The same is true of our lives. Our character is shaped and refined as we react to the world around us.

As we follow characters throughout a story, we see them change. A character has to change or else their story isn’t worth following. Which is partly why authors rely upon an obstacle that threatens the very nature of their character. Their character has to face a problem. The problem is what creates the required urgency and tension to keep us interested. The problem is what keeps the story moving. The problem is what instigates the character to change.

A character’s obstacle is crucial to the construction of a story. The author must insert a problem into a character’s life while also ensuring that the character has been developed enough to ably respond. The timing is vital.

While it is easy to see parallels between our lives and those who live in an imaginary world, it becomes more complicated to compare God with the author of a literary novel. For instance, there is no indication in the Bible to suggest that God will only allow us to face what we are able to bear. Instead, we read dozens of stories of God placing people in situations for which they are ill-equipped to handle. Consider the message that Elijah receives from an angel in 1 Kings 19:7"the journey is too much for you!"or how Moses feels in Exodus 4:10-13"please send someone else" (thanks to Ron Edmundson for these examples).