Discipleship is for Everyone


Shanna thought she understood discipleship: that it was something for only really spiritually mature people to give and receive. That meant that it wasn’t for her.

Her story has a typical beginning. She grew up in Christian community surrounded by fellow believers. Throughout her teen years she participated in a few Bible studies but never really gave much thought to what it meant to be a disciple of Christ. Moving into her college years was the catalyst she needed to reconsider her solitary spiritual journey.

“After my freshman year, I took a year off to work in my hometown and work through spiritual doubt,” Shanna says. Her Christian community began to help unravel her misconceptions about discipleship. “Thanks to some believing coworkers and a few women in my church, I felt loved and supported in the midst of my doubts. They never made me feel ashamed but always encouraged me to seek God.” 

During this time, God presented his next step for this budding disciple: a life-changing trip to Asia with her church.

“I fell in love with the people and place. Also, through the love of those believers, I finally understood God’s great love for me. I wanted to come back to love on the people who had loved me so well,” Shanna says.

Through these experiences God was revealing to her that discipleship is for everyone.

“Discipleship is intentionally pouring into others to give them the tools to follow Christ closely and learn to disciple others,” she says. “That’s something for people of all spiritual walks!”

Shanna thought she understood discipleship: that it was something for only really spiritually mature people to give and receive. That meant that it wasn’t for her.

Inspired by her trip, when Shanna returned to college she sought out an opportunity to work with international students. Now, she had not only a strengthened faith, but a taste of working with people from other cultures; she could replicate in a cross-cultural context the discipling she had experienced in her Christian community.

Shanna returned to Asia this year for six months to continue her journey and help Asians who have never heard of Jesus start theirs. By becoming an intern in one of SEND International’s D Houses, she challenged herself to daily life in a foreign culture and language, while coming under the discipling mentorship of experienced missionaries in community with other interns. She chose the D House program because it would help her grow spiritually, deepen her Biblical foundation, and teach her how to contextualize the gospel in order to begin making new disciples among unreached peoples.

Through this experience, Shanna has not only developed a rich appreciation of discipleship, she is pushing well beyond the boundaries of the average Christian, and she encourages others to do the same. Don’t be afraid to initiate a discipling relationship, she says.

“It is worth the initial awkwardness of asking! God has designed us to need other people,” she says. “You are blessed by being a disciple. You learn how to seek God and reach others more effectively. The person discipling you is also blessed as they rely on him in learning to teach you. It’s not something I want to live without anymore.”

 

Reprinted with permission from Send International.

https://www.send.org/story/dis...

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