School of Discipleship in Canada

Story from the Mission Field: Leprosy

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When I was on a Gospel for Asia vision tour in South Asia a year and a half ago, I met a woman named Mina, who was affected by leprosy. Mina told me her story.

She had suffered from the disease for 40 years, and lived for most of that time in colonies with other people suffering from leprosy. Her husband had died, and her son lived outside the colony, only visiting occasionally. To earn some money to pay for her medication, Mina had to beg. Every day from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., she would beg outside a local religious site.

This visit to the leprosy colony was one of the hardest parts of the trip. Most of society has shunned these people, and there was so much suffering, so much despair. But we met a group of missionaries who loved and cared for the leprosy patients. They ministered to their needs in both practical and spiritual ways, like cleaning their wounds and praying for them. We saw a glimpse of hope being poured out.

Hope in this place of suffering is almost a paradox. Mina, the woman I met, smiling with genuine joy? The men and women who said they were encouraged by our team’s visit? A man who prayed to the same God I worship? But it’s true. And it’s only because of the love of Christ working through the missionaries serving there; His love touching the lives of the suffering; His love displayed through my team members.

I’d like to leave you with this quote from Pastor Jiva, a missionary who started leprosy ministry in another region of South Asia.

“’It is because of God’s grace that we have the strength, courage and motivation to work among these people, to share with them, to hug them, to love them and to care for them,’” – Pastor Jiva

(Quote from http://www.gfa.org/news/articles/compelled-by-love/)


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World Leprosy Day was observed on January 25, 2015. Although leprosy is foreign to daily life for many of us, thousands still suffer from the disfigurement and devastating social stigma caused by this disease. In 2013, 215,557 new cases of leprosy were diagnosed globally. More than half of these were in India. (source: World Health Organization)

Dedicated missionaries like Pastor Jiva are reaching out to people afflicted by leprosy in South Asia, touching their lives with the love and care of Christ. This ministry takes place not only on World Leprosy Day, but also on every other day of the year. We can be part of impacting their lives with hope, too! Visit Gospel for Asia’s Leprosy Ministry page here.

Counting Up the Cost

In the Great Commission, Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples. Before we can do that, we must first be disciples… hence the School of Discipleship! It doesn’t stop with me learning how to be a disciple, though – I must go and make disciples of others. True Discipleship by William MacDonald is a radical challenge for followers of Christ. Will we be more than just fans or followers? Will we be committed, sold-out disciples?

An area the Lord has been growing me in is counting the cost of being a disciple. Being a disciple means not just having a warm emotion of following Jesus, but consistently dying to myself and daily taking up the cross.

One day in the bathroom I have a small revelation – following Jesus won’t ever be easy, but it is so worth it! When Jesus called the twelve disciples to follow Him, He didn’t promise them ease or comfort; He promised pain, persecution, and suffering. Being a disciple will be hard, but it is worth every heartache, every inconvenience. Following Jesus is worth everything. A quote from True Discipleship really fits here: “…the Christian life deserves everything or nothing.”

God gave me Ephesians 4:1 tonight, as I was praying and seeking God’s calling on my life. “…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

Over the past several months, God has asked me, will I follow Him no matter what? As I prayed and searched my heart and sought God’s face, I found that my answer is Yes, absolutely. I want to be wholly committed to Christ, no matter what.

Pastor Danny has encouraged me to count the cost of following Jesus as I think about the different options before me in the future. Following God’s call on my life might mean giving up my home, my family, my dreams for the future, my photography. Will I be willing to give those things up and just have Jesus for my everything?

Being in Canada, doing School of Discipleship, being away from my home and family and what is familiar hasn’t been easy – but it is so worth it. Dying to myself, daily choosing to follow Jesus first, and being a disciple of Jesus Christ are all things that I am learning to do as I follow the Lord.

Counting the cost also means coming to a point of decision. I can’t say I have arrived at the goal or achieved the prize, but I have counted the cost and I say yes, I will follow Jesus no matter what.

In the recent past I had a very hard few weeks, when my grandma was sick and maybe dying, Auntie Jacie was fading from the cancer, and my best friend Emily would be moving to New Zealand for a year. I didn’t want to stay here. I wanted to give up and go home. But God really spoke to me through a song that was just randomly playing while I washed dishes one night – Today by Brian Doerkson. “Today I choose to follow you. Today I choose to give my yes to you.” I was reminded that God had called me to be here in Canada at this time, and I still needed to follow Him, trust Him, and give my yes to Him.

song lyrics by Rend Collective, “The Cost”

“I’m saying yes to You
And no to my desires
I’ll leave myself behind
And follow You

I’ll walk the narrow road
’cause it leads me to You
I’ll fall but grace
Will pick me up again

I’ve counted up the cost
Oh I’ve counted up the cost
Yes I’ve counted up the cost
And You are worth it”

If I choose to follow Jesus, it means He needs to be first in my life in everything. First place in my priorities, how I spend my time. Jesus must be on the throne of my heart, not myself or anything else. And that means that I must forsake all else but Him. I must give up my dreams, wishes, talents, money, family, and time. None of these things can be priority. I need to surrender all those things, and seek Him first. And that’s one area that the Lord is still growing me in – forsaking all but Jesus.

If I say, “Today I choose to follow you” – that means I need to follow Him first and only.

Jesus said, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” He repeated that over and over – in Matthew 10:39, Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, Luke 17:33, and John 12:25 – because it is so important.

William MacDonald says in True Discipleship “… life hugged for self is life lost, but life poured out for him is found, saved, enjoyed, and kept for eternity…”

Holding on to my dreams, my desires, and my possessions will never result in a fulfilled life. But a life forsaken to Jesus – that is where it’s at!

A true disciple is a bondslave to Jesus. Do you think a bondslave has anything he is holding on to for himself? No – he has forsaken everything. And I, as a bondslave to my master Jesus Christ, must give up everything to be His disciple.

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” When Jesus said that in Luke 14:33, He meant it! Not just that we should give up everything, or that it might be a good idea – we must forsake all or we cannot be His disciples.

When it comes to forsaking all and being a disciple, it means forsaking more than just money. All those things I listed above – dreams, talents, possessions, desires, and family – ALL must be given to Jesus.

I want Jesus to be my strength, my security, and my everything. He redeemed me, and now I’m not my own. It is only right that Jesus be first place in my life!

What the Lord has been teaching me about being a disciple isn’t quite cut and dried where it fits exactly into one category or chapter. But what He has been teaching me is that Jesus must be first place in my life.

Following Jesus won’t be easy, but it is worth it.


This post was a written assignment for the True Discipleship class in School of Discipleship year one, originally written in August 2013. 

summer hike

Tonight I’ve been going through a few photos from last year, remembering some of the good times I had in Canada. I found a few treasures from one summer night in July, when Crissy and I went on a hike, on the Bruce Trail on the Niagara Escarpment.

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I took this panorama on my iPhone, and I really love the perspective of the sky all the way to my feet. Click on the image and zoom to view it larger :)
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Seasons of Change

I’m excited to be doing School of Discipleship year 2… but instead of returning to snowy Canada, I’ll be staying in Texas! This unexpected change of plans happened just this week, and I miss Tim Horton’s and my Canadian family already. It’s always an adventure to follow wherever God calls and I want to keep trusting Him and His plans for my life, like I’ve been reading in Jeremiah 29:11-13.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:11-13

So Texas friends, I’ll be seeing you more often!

PS – to find out more about what School of Discipleship Year 2 is… check out my most recent newsletter right here. Also, I’m raising financial support for this year of discipleship. You can support me at www.gfa.org/sd/elch.

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Faces of South Asia : Mina

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Mina lives in a leprosy colony in South Asia. She begs from 4am to 11am every day at a local temple. She is outcast by almost everyone.

But look at her joy.

Meeting Mina, talking with her, hugging her, praying for her — these things I will never forget.

 


In September/October 2013, I had the privilege and opportunity to travel in South Asia for two weeks as part of my year-long discipleship program (School of Discipleship.) My eyes were opened, my heart was broken, my life was changed.

This is the first, I hope, of many stories that I share from South Asia and how the Lord impacted me there.

A Testimony of God’s Provision and Confirmation

Before I even came to Canada, God used two things to totally confirm that I was supposed to come. While I was raising my support, I was
praying that I would have 100% pledged before I came. Looking at my support report a few days before I left for Canada, I realized that God had answered that prayer! Many people had been generous with one-time gifts and monthly pledges, and God showed me His provision by bringing in my support.

Six days before I was set to fly to Toronto, I got out my passport and had an awful realization. My passport had expired last August! Oh no. Mom and Dad and I began praying, and looking into getting my passport renewed. It was easy to blame ourselves for this mistake, but we had to choose to believe that God is sovereign and is in control. Romans 8:28 and Matthew 19:26 were promises that encouraged me.

The normal route to renew a passport is to go to the post office, make an appointment, apply for renewal, and wait a few weeks for the new passport to come in the mail. But I didn’t have the time to do that – I needed to leave in 6 days!

It was a situation that seemed impossible for humans, and that was just the place for God to do a miraculous work! The leaders of GFA Canada and an auntie who helps with travel things for GFA gave us good advice about renewing my passport quickly, and directed me to go to the Federal Building in downtown Dallas. And I got my passport just three days before I left for Canada!
Every time I tell this story, God’s provision completely blows my mind. He completely confirmed that it was His plan for me to come to Canada, and it is so exciting to be here, right in the centre of His will.

Life recently.

What if time is relative? Wrapping my mind around that concept is difficult. Like trying to comprehend infinity or the size of the universe.

Nevertheless. Time goes faster for me these days – maybe it’s because there is so much to do, and almost every moment of my day is mapped out.

But I’m enjoying this time. Building relationships with wonderful people, learning so much, growing so much.

And enjoying a few donuts while I’m at it.
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February 12 was Pancake Tuesday. We made bacon pancakes for supper.
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Susan and Sharlena and I went to a social justice event and shared about how Gospel for Asia is bringing hope to children in Asia. And about School of Discipleship.
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Eight people make up our School of Discipleship class: Crissy, me, Daniel, Sharlena, Ashley, Abbey, Michelle, and Chris. We don’t always make it to lunch at the same time, but that day we did :)
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We eat some delicious food around here.
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Three times a week, we have class. Reading, listening, learning, and discussing.
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And taking random selfies. Just for fun.
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Happy Saturday!

hello from canada!

I’m a few days into my second week at Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship here in Stoney Creek, Ontario. So far everything has been fantastic. There have been hard parts, and challenges, and struggles – but God has been so faithful to me so far. He’s not going to stop now.

Last Wednesday my classmates and I finally found out what we were itching to know — where we would be working in the office! My ministry placement is in the Web Department. Trevor is our coordinator, and besides myself, two other students are in Web: Ashley and Crissy. Working together is already such a blessing. Part of my job is writing some posts for the Gospel for Asia Canada blog (blog.gfa.ca). So far I’ve put together posts about our first week at School of Discipleship (read that here,) and what we’re learning in class (read about knowing Jesus more over here,) and then my most recent post was about myGFA (this one has a video too! click here to see it.)

I’ll probably be posting over on that blog more than here. They have us pretty busy as School of Discipleship students. Three times a week we have class; throughout the week we have assignments; we work in the office Monday through Friday; we have morning prayer, evening prayer, and house prayer; we have activities on the weekends.

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Last Sunday (January 20) we visited Niagara Falls! This is our class. Left to right: Crissy, Abigail, Michelle, Daniel, Rueben, Ashley, Sharlena, Elicia, Chris, and Barb (Rueben and Barb are our house mentors.)

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The Creed of the Church

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds;
God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God,
Begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.
Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from Heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man;
And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
He suffered and was buried;
And the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures;
And ascended into Heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father;
And he shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead;
Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life;
Who proceeds from the Father and the Son;
Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified;
Who spoke by the prophets;
And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
And I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
Amen.

This is what I believe.

2013 is the year that I have dedicated to growing more like Jesus. I’m part of Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada. Striving to know Jesus more fully and intimately.

The mission of Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship is to assist men and women to become devout followers of Christ and to fulfill the great commission by enabling them to know Jesus more fully and intimately through the careful study of God’s Word along with practical teaching and training relevant to each individual God given calling.

What I’m studying currently: the core values of Gospel for Asia and the Bible from 30,000 Feet by Pastor Skip Heitzig.