Being Discipled: Personal Stories from My Life
When “disciple-making” is mentioned, many of us tend to get cold feet and jitters in our stomachs. How can I share the gospel with an unbeliever when I have questions myself? Or how can I get into a discipling relationship with another believer when I still struggle with issues in my life? Who can be up to the task of disciple-making? I understand and share this struggle. However, part of the reluctance is also due to our perceptions – we think that disciple-making is best left to experts or at least to those who have got their life together. Disciple-making is simply life on life – as we point each other to Jesus and live out the Christian life together in response to the grace of God in Christ Jesus given to us.
I remember two men who have discipled me. One was Kim Meng – an older brother in Christ in church; and another was Michael Haykin, my Church History Professor at Southern Seminary. Both taught me about Christ and the Christian Life and modelled it for me.
I was a young Christian in my 20s when I met Kim Meng. I just started teacher training at National Institute of Education (NIE), then at the old Bukit Timah Campus. I had just been baptised at Grace Baptist Church and been a member for a few months when Kim Meng casually in a conversation asked, “Hey Ollie. Would you like to meet me once a week in the morning for breakfast at the NIE canteen overlooking Botanic Gardens? Let’s meet to talk, read the bible and pray – just a simple fellowship over breakfast.” I was eager to grow and learn about what it means to be a Christian and I said yes. Little did I know that this marked a period of significant growth in my Christian life. From Kim Meng, I learned how to read the Bible and let the Bible “read” me – we spent 6 months reading through only the first three chapters of Ephesians. I learned how to pray through the Psalms – letting Scripture shape my prayers. This is a practice I have continued to carry out in my prayers. We also spent time walking (with our eyes open!) and praying while we enjoyed God’s creation at Botanic Gardens. I saw Kim Meng modelling how to pray in different ways. What impacted me most was watching and learning from an older brother in Christ who is living the Christian life with conviction. It put flesh on what I was reading in the Bible.
I was an older Christian in my 30s when I met Michael Haykin. I was doing my seminary studies at Southern Seminary and undertook two modules on Church History. Dr Haykin was my Church History Professor. There I was the only Singaporean student on campus, trying to study and work hard in order to be better equipped for Ministry, and yet struggling with living in another country on my own. Dr Haykin was also “an international” – he lives in Canada and travels to teach in the Seminary. In the midst of his teaching and instruction, he often met me over lunch and even invited me out for dinner. It was in both the classroom setting and the times we had over informal meals that I learnt from him. He had a passion and love for Christ and for the Church. He showed me the importance of Church History and how it should inform our thinking. He also connected history with pastoral concerns for the church. I learnt how the past should give us balance in our theology and practice, by avoiding the excesses of the past. However, what really shaped me was his approach to church history – it wasn’t just a bunch of dates and facts about events that happened; rather it is about living, breathing Christians from the past who lived their lives trusting and obeying Jesus Christ in their own particular times. Even today, I appreciate Church History and love reading biographies of those in the faith that have gone before us. These past saints motivate and inspire me to press on in my ministry.
For both men, their impact in discipling me came not from their qualifications. Rather it was simply life on life – they lived their Christian life before me and shared what they had learned from the Bible and from Christ. Discipling another comprises of instruction and imitation as we teach from the Bible and model what it means to live it out. Both men discipled me, because they too have been discipled, and because they love their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and in their joy they cannot help but tell and point others to him.
By Pastor Oliver (Ollie) Chia