The Discipleship Program has been one of the best things that could have happened in my life and our community during these past 17 years I have served at GFA. It keeps us young, with new and fresh ideas to spur conversation and cause us to be aware of our surroundings and God’s call on our lives, to be imitators of Him. Being able to go through the books with the students was a refresher for me as well and kept me focused on why I was here.
In the beginning, getting the Discipleship Program off the ground in Canada was a great time of learning and seeking the Lord for how He wanted it to impact His creation. Having grown up in a Christian home and a safe environment, there were so many things I took for granted about my walk with Christ. When I have young people scrutinizing and watching my every move, it puts things into perspective. Am I really able to say as Paul did, “Follow me as I follow Christ?”
Follow me as I follow Christ.1 Corinthians 11:1
Even though I have never been married, I have more children now than I could have if I were married. These young people that have come through the program have given me a mother’s heart. I didn’t have to give them physical birth, but to see their spiritual growth has been so rewarding. There have been tears and pain and struggle, nothing different than parents would experience with their own children, as they show them the ways of the Lord and to walk in them.
Bumps and bruises come, but each victory diminishes the pain and grief that brought about a breakthrough and the rejoicing that comes with it. Being available 24/7 may seem a chore, but if these are people you love, and know they are created in God’s image for one purpose – to reveal His glory – it is worth it. God’s love is so vast, wide, high and deep! Though my love can’t compare to His for these young people, the little that I can love them, I want to do it with every ounce of strength He gives me.
More than head knowledge
Coordinating the Discipleship Program for many years has given me the privilege of going through the materials every year, right alongside the students. Whether I got to facilitate class and go deeper in studying the materials that were discussed in the chapter, or just read the book they were going through to stay in step with them, I was able to glean so much. Also, it kept me accountable.
Their questions would spur me to look deeper and harder at my own life but also to search my heart to see if it was in tune with God’s heart. Jeremiah 17:9 says,
The heart is … desperately wicked, who can know it?
As the students graduated from their year with us, we would help prepare them for entry back into life after they left GFA. Some chose to come and spend a second year with us, which was an opportunity for a safe environment to continue practicing the things they learned the first year, and also to learn more about the History of the Church. It wasn’t just an easy step back in time, since each student had grown in their love for God and His purposes in their life.
Learning from one another
These young people were a great inspiration to me as we got to serve together. Over the years I had some of them serve as my assistant. To be able to walk with them one on one, hear their heart for God and the things they were struggling with, pray and believe together for God’s work and will to be accomplished, encouraged my faith. Sometimes that meant going for a walk or having coffee together at Tim Horton’s, but together we pulled through and saw God do amazing things. None of these things were an end in themselves but a beginning of knowing and loving God more and trusting Him.
Graduation day was a day of celebrating the past 11 months, knowing that they had succeeded, completed and survived the times when it seemed impossible to move ahead. The students were more like Christ when they left to go on to the next chapter that God was calling them to. I am grateful for each life that has come through the program, for they have taught me so much and I trust that God’s life in me was able to encourage them to pursue their own walk with Him.