Just 2 weeks ago I was serving in Turnu-Severin, Romania. I had the opportunity to go teach in a Pastor’s School which was started by Touch the World Ministries. When I first found out about the opportunity, I thought I would be traveling and ministering with David Cooper, Project Director for Touch the World. In the providence of God, however, David was not able to go on the trip. So, I was left either to travel by myself, or invite someone to go along with me. I considered inviting the pastor of a church that was not currently involved in missions, giving him the opportunity to see mission opportunities first-hand, hoping he would then come back and lead his church to be involved in missions. While this would have been a good thing to do, God had other plans.
God put it on my heart to ask Brett “Chick” Ciancanelli – creator of The Second Wind – to go along with me instead. I had the privilege of leading Chick to Christ a couple of years ago. Since then, we have been meeting regularly for intentional discipleship, fellowship and encouragement. He had never been out of the country before (except for his honeymoon and a cruise – neither of which count). So, I thought the one-on-one discipleship time, and opportunities for serving together in Romania would be a great step forward in his spiritual journey. That was certainly the case.
Chick had many opportunities to share his testimony while we were there – in a kindergarten, in church services, in the Pastor’s School, and with other individuals. He got to see brothers and sisters in Christ worship in different ways and in a different language. He got to see many things that expanded his view the world, including the poverty that is the daily reality of most people on the globe. In short, it was a life-changing experience for him. To get the full effect, you should really read his thoughts about the trip in his own words.
Standing back and seeing all that God has done through this experience, I cannot express the joy that is overflowing in my heart. There is the joy from investing in Romanian pastors who will go take what they have learned and serve those God has given them to lead. There is the joy of challenging and encouraging other Romanian believers to be salt and light in their community. But, there is also the great joy of seeing one you have been pouring your life into grow even more spiritually. The things he saw and experienced are things that God continues to use in His life to grow him as a follower of Christ. And, I have been overwhelmed with joy to see the ongoing excitement in his life as he has been given opportunities to share his testimony with co-workers since we have returned home. These opportunities at home have come as a result of his obedience to take the gospel to the nations. And in that, I rejoice.
So, here is the question: “Who are you helping to grow as a follower of Christ?” Parents, are you helping your children grow as Christ-followers, teaching them and letting them serve Christ with you. Church member, are you spiritually walking along with someone that is younger in the faith – teaching them, challenging them, serving with them, encouraging them to grow in Christ? Everyone should have a “Paul” in their lives – someone who is investing in them. But, everyone should also have a “Timothy” (or Timothy(s)) – those in whom they are investing for the purpose of spiritual growth. In part, this is a matter of obedience – based on Jesus’ commission in Matthew 28:18-20, and Paul’s admonition to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2. But, I can testify that it is also a matter of joy. There is great joy in seeing God use your life as you invest in others, and in seeing those in whom you have invested experience the joy of seeing God use their lives for His glory as well! Making disciples who will make make disciples . . . all for God’s glory – a wonderfully joyful experience!