When I was a young mom, a friend opened up my dusty bible and showed me that what Jesus had done on the cross two thousand years earlier was for me. Until that time, I hadn’t understood that heaven was a promise from God, guaranteed by His Son’s death. It took me two years to accept that eternal life was so simple and to invite Jesus into my life.
I soon discovered, however, that although receiving Christ was simple, living His new way of life was not! Much of my spiritual foundation had been tradition, religion, and misguided thinking. I realized that I needed to know more of the Bible so I would not miss anything God had for me. I joined a Bible study led by a woman named Elaine who deeply loved God and knew His Word. Whenever group members asked her a question, she would direct us to the Word and often would quote it. It was obvious to me that the Bible shaped Elaine’s life and relationships. I asked her, “I’ve met many Christian women, but your love for Jesus stands out to me. Why?” In response, Elaine told me about discipleship, which she described as one person helping another grow in the Lord, allowing the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit to change that person’s life. Many years before, a friend, Chris, had discipled her. I realized that a discipling relationship like that was exactly what I needed and wanted. I blurted out “Will you disciple me?” Little did I know that for years Elaine had been praying someone would ask her that specific question.
Elaine and I began meeting together, using discipleship books by The Navigators. It was not just studying the books that radically changed my life, however. It was also the experience of having another woman sit with me and open her life and heart to me. Elaine lived out 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8: “We prove to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives” (NASB, NIV).
It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know
Elaine’s authenticity and vulnerability about her personal challenges and sin created an atmosphere where I could candidly share my struggles. Elaine listened and did not try to fix me. She continually encouraged me to look to the Bible and trust the Lord. She taught me how to have daily times with Jesus in His Word and how to apply the Scriptures to my life.
Elaine’s love for Jesus and His Word was contagious. Before long, I had caught her passion; my excitement about Jesus became so uncontainable that others started to notice changes in me. I asked Elaine to disciple my friends also but was disappointed to hear her say she didn’t have time to teach them.
“Who will teach them if you don’t?” I asked.
“You will,” she replied.
Figuring that she might not have noticed, I relayed my lack of credentials: “I have been meeting with you for only two months. I don’t know much at all. What if they ask me something I don’t know?”
“You are not growing because of what I know,” Elaine assured me, “but because of Who I know.” Although she continued to meet with me, Elaine lovingly moved me out of the “nursery” and helped me begin to teach others.
Clearly I was discipling women not because I thought I was capable but because I wanted them to have the opportunity to know Jesus the same way I knew Him, I trusted the Lord to help me. Through the experience of seeing Him use me, a young Christian, to teach another, I discovered that my heart’s passion was discipleship. I loved teaching others to love Jesus and obey His Word.
My life was like a pebble thrown into the middle of a pond, making one ripple upon another ripple until the ripples met the shore. One life lived for the Lord and invested in another could have impact for generations to come! Jesus had given the Great Commission: to go and make disciples of all nations. The twelve people Jesus discipled went on to disciple others who in turn discipled still others. Now I, too, was part of His Commission, and as time went on, the women I discipled also went on to disciple others.
Behind us are many people who have given their lives so others would know Jesus Christ. Before us is the challenge to keep discipleship going from generation to generation. This is the discipling vision. Go and make disciples. Look—don’t you see it? The fields are ripe for harvest!
You’ve been reading “Reflections from the Heart of a Discipler: Life-Changing Friendships on the Journey,” by Gigi Busa, an excerpt from Friends on the Journey. Part of the three-book discipleship resource titled A WOMAN’S JOURNEY OF DISCIPLESHIP, Friends on the Journey equips you to invest your life in others who will in turn invest their lives in future generations. Now available at navpress.com.