For missionaries, making disciples in a cross-cultural context consists of four stages; modeling, assisting, watching and launching.
The OMF teams in Thailand are well acquainted with this pattern; first modelling being disciples of Jesus, then helping new believers in their faith, before stepping back and ‘watching’ indigenous believers begin evangelism themselves. Finally when the indigenous church is grown and maturing, missionaries are able to ‘launch’; they can hand over all ministries into the hands of the Thai people and praise God for the work he has done.
Tim Noble – Modeling Incompetence
A few years ago, our family relocated to the Ayutthaya province to work alongside a church. Our aim was to encourage church planting throughout the province. I was quite inexperienced in direct church planting, having spent the previous ten years teaching English in a university. What could I – a veritable newbie, offer this church which was already functioning quite well on its own?
Surprisingly, my weakness turned out to be my greatest asset. No one could mistakenly think I had come to lead the church. I was dependent on church members and leaders to help work out how we could bring glory to God in more than our little corner of Ayutthaya.
As we prepared to go on home assignment, I tried to encourage the church: ‘You know that I’ve made my mistakes, and yet God has been at work here in our midst. If God can do this much through me, imagine what he can do through you!’
Just prior to going on home assignment, Mos asked me what he should do. I thought for a moment, before explaining that we need to be willing to work outside our areas of gifting. For example, I don’t consider myself a gifted preacher, but I am always glad to preach whenever given the opportunity. Not long afterwards, Brenda overheard Mos telling Kai, ‘You really should try preaching. Ajaan Tim says that sometimes we need to serve in areas outside our gifting.’
When we returned from home assignment, we were amazed to see that the church had almost doubled in membership. Not only that, they had maintained the vision to plant other churches in neighbouring districts. Now, this church of about 40 members is involved in planting two other churches!
Emanuel Zwygart – You do, I Help
Our family is part of a church plant that was started in Nakhon Sawan, Thailand, more than three years ago.
Assisting people in ministry is an important part of our life. As we serve the Lord together, we try to assist new believers in the area they serve and where they are gifted.
Me, a student in her twenties, had been watching people from the church hand out tracts for quite some time. Others hearing about Jesus excited her. Was ‘evangelising’ a gift the Lord has given her?
People without Christ were obviously on her heart.
One day, I saw Me getting involved in a conversation with someone she met. I heard her saying: ‘Your life will get better when you believe in Jesus.’ At this point, I joined their conversation and supported her.
After the experience we went through the discussion again.
First of all, I wanted to affirm her in how I was encouraged to see her sharing Christ. But I also wanted to help her to keep the message of the gospel clear.
I asked her three questions: ‘What would you say is the heart of the gospel? Why should we believe? What do we like to add to the gospel?’ We came to the conclusion: ‘Yes, the Lord can change situations and can do miracles, but there is no bigger miracle than Jesus dying for our sins so that we can have the forgiveness.’
It is not easy being Christian at Me’s university, but since our conversation she has helped a friend to come to know the Lord.
Discipleship takes time and ongoing involvement, it is training on the ‘job’. Assisting does not always lead to success pastillas parecidas al viagra. There are setbacks. But it is worth taking the risk and I am excited to see local believers growing as we support them.
Sijmen den Hortag – Displaying Discipleship
One day a new lady joined our house group. Niam, one of the church members, introduced her to me as her neighbour, Mae Lop. Though she showed interest in the gospel, she kept it at a safe distance by talking about it as the ‘new faith’ of her neighbour: ‘her God is helping her, her God has changed her.’
I wondered if I had to visit Mae with Niam for a more personal conversation about Christ. But I soon realised that I wasn’t needed. Niam looked after her neighbour, praying together, pointing to God’s blessings in their lives and encouraging her to read the Bible daily.
Weeks passed, but one Tuesday night Mae Lop changed her wording to ‘Our God is helping us and answers our prayers’. From that moment Mae Lop started taking steps to trust God more and more. Just as we were able to help Niam to grow in her faith, she was now helping her neighbour.
Mae Lop developed a hunger to see other people come to know the Lord. She started to pray for her son’s salvation and shares Jesus with her co-workers during harvest season in the fields. If she can’t answer difficult questions from others, she will take them to Niam and ask for her advice.
There are many people to reach in our area of Thailand, and we try to reach as many people as possible. It is an answer to prayer that we now see a young believer training her sister in Christ. Hopefully soon, the church in our town will be able to reach out to others without our help.
This model sounds wonderful, but in our first four years we hadn’t been able to go beyond the ‘assist’ stage. We are still involved in a lot of assisting, but by God’s grace we are starting to ‘watch’ young believers ‘assisting’ new believers.
Eng Kiat & Anong NG- launching cell group leaders
As we spent time doing personal Bible study with Somsee, we could sense her hunger for the word of God. She had the potential to become a great cell-group leader in the church-planting work at Tachang district in Singburi Province.
We brought her along to see how we led the cell group at Wat Yai Soi village. In leading the cell-group, we make sure to follow a fixed format: worship, thanksgiving, Bible study and intercession. Sometimes during the study, we asked Somsee to explain a theological truth using her own words and illustration. We soon noticed she that she may have the gift of teaching.
Not long after this, the need to start a new cell-group at Takham village arose. We asked Somsee if she could co-lead the group with us. With careful consideration, plus a little be it of fear, she agreed. Some weeks she led the worship and thanksgiving. Other weeks she led the intercession part. Then we got her to lead the Bible study section. We tried to give her feedback and suggestions at the end of each session. After six months we were ready to let her lead the cell-group fully (with us still in attendance). Today Somsee is leading the thriving Takham cell-group without our presence, she has even trained someone to be her assistant leader!