When we envisioned Discipleship Essentials, we wanted to provide solid and proven content for church leaders to use to disciple believers. We had seen over and over again across the globe Christian communities whose faith was shallow because they lacked teachers. When their faith was challenged through persecution, they abandoned their faith because they had no training.
We discovered a great hunger for this content when we began to tell others about it, but something surprised us.
McDaniel Phillips is coordinating our Discipleship Essentials ministry. “We went to India, to the Philippines, to the Middle East and we heard the same requests over and over. ‘This is great material, it’s just what we needed, but how do we use it?’ They asked us to train them on how to use the material, teach them to humble themselves as leaders, teach them what kinds of questions to ask to help believers learn for themselves.”
So we launched a Train The Trainer program in the Middle East to start with. We have only just begun, but we have trained over 500 individuals representing over 1000 churches across the Middle East and have many more trainings planned in these and other countries.
“Sometimes the Lord opens a door and if you’re willing to take the risk and step into that opportunity, great blessings are waiting for you,” said McDaniel.
Here is the testimony of a man who is working with us on these Train the Trainer sessions across the Middle East.
I grew up in a city on the Nile River. I have a big family, an important family in our city. My friend is also from a big important family. We often did not think through the consequences of our actions before we did things.
I was maybe 16, old enough to know better, but one day I am biking with my friend and we see these girls. We were being naughty, calling things out, following them. Suddenly we realize we are in a different part of town, a not-great part of town. We turn around and see a group of 25 men following us. We were in big trouble.
We kept going and the crowd followed us. I remembered that I knew a man on that street — my father’s chauffeur. I knocked on his door and he came out and spoke to the crowd. “You do not know who these boys are,” he said. “Let me tell you.”
I was so ashamed that I had needed rescuing, that I had behaved so shamefully. Following girls and saying the things we had said – this was not how I was raised to treat women. It was foolish. I took a taxi home and went into the guest room. Where I come from, the guest room is where you entertain guests, where a guest may rest. I could not bring myself to face my family. I had brought shame to my father’s name – perhaps I deserved to be no more than a guest in his house now?
My city is both Christian and Muslim, but my family does not follow Islam or Christianity. Religion was not forbidden, but not encouraged either. I prayed to God because I had caused this shame in my sin. I had a friend who was a Christian and so God used that shame to get me to church with my friend, and in time I gave my life to Christ.
Years later, I was working for a Christian ministry and found myself working in Jerusalem. Being an Arab man in Israel is sometimes not such an easy thing; being a Christian Arab man in the Middle East is a tricky thing always.
That day, there was a choir singing. There was this girl. She was beautiful. So beautiful. grin I had grown up a lot since that afternoon that led me to church for the first time, but still I waited until the choir finished and then I followed this pretty girl. (I was much more polite this time.) When she finally turned around, I told her how beautiful she was.
Are you a Christian, she asked.
Yes, I said.
She smiled. Good – because I have given my life to Christ.
We eventually married and had three children, and were living in the West Bank. When Israel and Palestine would shoot at each other, our city was geographically caught in the middle. It was not good. At night, we tipped our kitchen table on its side and slept with our heads on the floor because sometimes gunfire would hit the buildings and come in through the windows.
We were invited to come to Canada by our former mission and we are now Canadian citizens, but our people are never far from our hearts so I travel back there frequently.
Please pray for this man and for his family. Pray for the leaders he works with and that Discipleship Essentials will be a tool that effectively disciples the church. Pray that as we equip the local church leaders that they will be able to train other leaders. Pray that the local church will have an increasing knowledge of the Word of God so that they may able to stand even in the midst of persecution.