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Discipleship NOT For Me

Yap Kim Meng urges us not to be intimidated by the words ‘disciple-making’, but simply to commit ourselves to extend Christian love and care to those around us.

A cry at dawn. My neighbour downstairs discovered his 37-year-old wife had passed away suddenly, with no warning. She was an airline stewardess and a mother of three, with the youngest child only ten months old. James had become a Christian six months before this happened. Now his world was plunged into darkness.

Over the next five years James was in turmoil. He tried everything to get a handle on life. From being a logistics manager he turned to taxi driving so that he could be home more often to be with his young family. He received plenty of advice. Too much. One day I invited him to join my group of taxi drivers who met at McDonalds. He came. I taught him 2 Cor 5:17 - "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come." I quoted it to him and then slowly in my own words, explained it to him. I also cited examples of how this verse applied to my life. I then asked him to quote it back to me several times and explain it in his own words.

The next day, while driving, a few young men asked, “Uncle, you Christian ah?” (referring to the Bible on his dashboard), “You speak in tongues or not?” Without turning around he quoted 2 Cor 5:17 and explained what it meant to him. They were stunned into silence. He went home and did the same with his young family. They looked at him with new respect. He started a family habit of reading the Bible every night.

He told me, “Kim Meng, you are the first person who took the trouble to tell me the Bible in a way I can understand. Others gave me advice, but no one did what you did.”

As a neighbour I saw the difficulties my friend James faced. I could have chosen to ignore them, but I prayed for him. At the right time I was there to lend a helping hand. I did not give advice; I simply shared what I knew about how a verse from the Bible helped me in my faith – simply and clearly in a way my neighbour could understand.

I was simply being a friend. There was no mention of Discipleship, Discipling or Disciple-making. Today James is raising his family well even though his wife is no longer around. It has not been easy. But James thanks the Lord for helping him grow in his faith. He reads his Bible daily. So does his family.

James introduced to me another neighbour whose wife suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). We meet regularly and pray and cry together. Our friendship continues amidst both men's challenging home life. They find comfort in the Bible, prayers, mutual encouragement and a determination to carry on. There is no Cinderella ending, but they see God grant grace and they are raising their children trusting in the Lord and sharing their stories to encourage others.
What can we learn from these two stories?

1. We cannot run away from those God has put into our path – especially our neighbours. God is interested in us and in those near to us. He desires them to be saved and we are His extension into their lives.

2. We can only reach out to others when we walk in their shoes and see things from their perspective. Walking alongside a dear one is how God uses us to impact those around us.

3. We cannot rush relationships or take short-cuts to restore others in their walk with God. It takes time and patience to let the Holy Spirit bring about real-life conviction and changes. God wants to see us changed, and in the process of transformation we will be able to help others respond to Him.