Many times in our response to be obedient to God’s command based on Matthew 28:19, “Go and make disciples of all nations”,we often wonder does discipleship really work? Are you one of those who tried hard to pour out much of your life to a particular person (discipling them) and then after that you discovered this person goes back to his or her old lifestyle of sin?
Or maybe you saw one promising disciple with a lot of potential, gifted with a lot of talents, groomed to be the next promising young leader to be used by God and then suddenly fell into sexual immorality? What happened?
Does Discipleship really work?
Who can forget the story of Noah in the Bible? Called “A Preacher of Righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5), Noah was bold, courageous, anointed, passionate in calling the people of his generation to forsake their sins and return to God, yet after he lived for 120 years he did not see a single convert (Yes, you read it right NOT A SINGLE CONVERT). Noah is a classic example of a faithful witness (Faithful than most of us combined) out there who didn’t see a lot of results.
In the New Testament we see the story of the greatest church planter and disciple maker of all time, Paul, but even himself has his own share of setbacks found in 2 Timothy 1:15 when ALL (not some or a few) his would be disciples in Asia deserted him.
Even our Lord Jesus himself after doing miracles left and right, raising the dead, healing the blind, feeding the multitudes, teaching them in the synagogue with His powerful wisdom and inviting them to follow Him as His own disciples, many still deserted Him (John 6:66) when they realized the cost of discipleship was just too much.
Can you relate to this? Maybe you have been sharing the Gospel to your family for years, and not one has come to believe in Jesus. Maybe you have shared One2One with your classmates and co-workers but have never seen the fruitfulness and the changed life that you expected. You feel that you’re the worst disciple-maker of all time and therefore conclude discipleship doesn’t really work at all.
Nevertheless, God’s word cannot fail, and He reminds us of His word in 1 Corinthians 3:7 (ESV) – So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
Many times we are too focused with the results, worst, we think we are capable (by our own strength) of transforming the lives of those we disciple. But God did not entrust the results in our hands rather he has called us to be Faithful in sharing the gospel, the results belong to Him.
I was reminded of the story of the late George Smith. When George Smith felt called to be a missionary in Africa he immediately responded to God’s calling on his life but due to persecution he only stayed there for a few months and left only one convert, a woman.
Not long after that, he died on his knees praying for Africa. To some it look like George Smith’s ministry was a dismal failure. Discipleship in the eye’s of carnal men who surrounded him taught discipleship didn’t work.
Some years later, a group of men stumbled onto the place in Africa where George Smith had ministered. They found a copy of the Scriptures he had left behind, and they met the one woman convert of his ministry, who led them to the Lord. Later a missions organization did a study and determined that 100 years after George Smith left Africa, 13,000 people had come to faith through his ministry as one person discipled another, who discipled another, and so on.
Again, does discipleship really work? The answer is a resounding Yes. Jesus promised that if we obey, surely He is with us until the end of Age (Matt. 28:20) and the power of the Holy Spirit is already inside of us (Acts 1:8) so we can become faithful witnesses.