“My life is hidden in Christ’s forgiving nature,” wrote Melanie from Indi…
She and her husband had been raised as Roman Catholics, but when she was able to do so, she began visiting a fellowship that taught her the gospel. Her husband still doesn’t attend church with her and their two children, but has received Christ.
A quick visit with Luke for Cindy's birthday in August!
Jim has led her through 13 of our 80 GMO Bible studies in the past six years, asking her good questions and tracking her spiritual growth. He notes that he has verified her salvation, and that she is walking in the Spirit, applying Scripture and interceding for others in prayer. Jim has explained the need for evangelism to her, which she says motivates her to “share the good news of Christ with all.”
For the past month, I’ve been coaching a division of 70 Online Missionaries through the discipleship philosophy of our ministry and the tools and techniques available to them. A lot of things that might seem obvious need continual reinforcement: for instance, when someone like Melanie comes to us claiming to be a Christian and asking for prayer, the chances are greater that they mean Roman Catholic, have a works-based assurance and a “recitation” understanding of prayer itself.
We’ve given them tools to visualize their journey through our ministry process as well as their spiritual journey, explained why we track things meticulously each step of the way, and given them a suggested step-by-step initial follow-up plan that suggests questions. I’m sharing those questions with the kind of answers that would be appropriate reasons to mark spiritual milestones, as Jim has done for Melanie. As Disciples mature, there’s a trajectory like that of Ezra’s, who “set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules” (Ezra 7:10). In other words, they end up going from a learner of truth to a mobilizer of others in acting on the truth.
I’ve especially emphasized the need to keep things centered on Christ and His grace and not just the facts and obedience, and to use the Parable of the Sower as a model: only one soil out of four becomes fruitful—the first is especially important, as it illustrates the loss of the gospel before full understanding takes place: one reason we emphasize getting to them as soon as possible with good questions like the one Philip asked the Ethiopian eunuch: “Do you understand what you are reading?” (Acts 8:30)
And without the kind of guidance Melanie is receiving, most are prone to end up like the seed sown among thorns: choked by the cares of life, fruitless, and ambiguous (to onlookers) as to whether or not there is true spiritual life at all.
According to the Joshua Project, Melanie’s “South Asian Affinity Bloc” is the largest of the 16 they identify, with the highest number of unreached, (an estimated 1,837,400,000), and the lowest average % of evangelical believers (0.1%) with whom they may connect. I really see God’s hand in Melanie’s connection with Jim, one of our most active disciple-makers. Jim is a disabled, retired pastor, who is well-equipped to continue helping her take each next step with Jesus. What does Melanie say about their relationship? “Online Bible study helps me to know my Jesus more. How to live for Jesus…”
This week we finished the five-week study with the first group of 70, and my plan is to go through the same content with the remaining 10 English Online Missionary branches in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2024, (which started Sept. 1st). We plan to take portions of our meetings: the teaching, the graphics, the resources and the Q&A sessions after each talk, and turn it all into an eLearning course for incoming Online Missionaries. I would ask you to pray for the whole effort—it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. Personally, I suspect the Lord’s return is very near. I think our ministry has a strategic position for people like Melanie, and that accelerating the process of ensuring that the message isn’t misunderstood and lost or choked out by distractions, is the purpose for which we’re called at this time in history.
Speaking of history, it has repeated itself, in a way. When we joined Campus Crusade for Christ in 2004, we moved to FL just in time to enjoy Hurricane Charley’s direct hit on the Orlando area. Emily was in the “Big Bend” region of Florida for Hurricane Idalia this week. It made landfall at Keaton Beach, 75 miles southeast of her, as a 125-mph, Category 3 Hurricane. She said it was not as bad as she thought it might be and she didn’t experience any flooding or loss of electricity. Thanks to everyone who prayed for our daughter!
And thank you all so much for your gifts and prayers which make it possible for us to help volunteers reach people like Melanie every day!