When Dmitry heard a radio message that touched him, he decided to write a message of thanks to the program’s producers in Russia. He didn’t expect the conversation to go any further.
“I didn’t really expect to hear back from you,” Dmitry told the Russian ministry team at Back to God Ministries International (BTGMI). “I mostly wanted to share the burden in my soul. So you can imagine my surprise when you sent a reply.”
Dmitry grew more surprised as the Russian ministry team continued to correspond with him, connecting him to church congregations in his area and sending him Bible studies so that he could grow in his faith.
Although God can use one-off conversations or messages like the one Dmitry first heard, the Christian Reformed Church in North America strives to nurture lifelong disciples around the globe.
The following stories show how this discipleship takes place among different generations of people living in our own communities and to the ends of the earth.
Discipling Children in North America
Spike, Morrie, and Mumbly Pete play a key role in developing Micah Benjamin’s faith.
“I have a lot in common with Liz,” Micah adds, expressing his allegiance to one of his favorite lizard characters in an online audio drama.
Micah lives in Holden, Mass. Two years ago the family discovered Kids Corner, featuring characters from the lizard town of Terrene. The stories and characters help kids grow into lifelong followers of Jesus.
Jeremiah Benjamin, Micah’s dad, appreciates how the Kids Corner characters get Micah and his three siblings thinking about real issues while entertaining them at the same time.
“A good example is [Terrene character] Chamy’s science and evolution background, which make it a struggle for her to reconcile her view of nature with the existence of God. Our kids have always grown up hearing about the Lord, and now they understand a little bit why some people might have a different perspective.”
Micah agrees. “I think the stories are really funny and the characters are all interesting. I’ve even learned some things!”
A few times when the Benjamins were too sick to go to church, they listened to an episode of Kids Corner and used the online discussion guide. “I appreciate that the new website ties all the resources together in one place for a given episode.”
Jeremiah sees how the audio series helps build a foundation of faith for his children.
“As the kids get older, I want us to be more involved with serving others. That’s challenging in today’s fast-paced, busy lifestyle, but we try to slow things down and make time to talk about God’s Word. It definitely helps when the kids are being fed biblical values even when we’re not at church or doing a devotional together.”
Discipling Young Adults in Mexico
Fernando grew up in Querétaro, Mexico, where he was raised to practice a “fusion faith” of Roman Catholicism and ancient Aztec beliefs. When he started university, he began searching for the truth.
Fernando got involved in Compañerismo Estudiantiles A.C. (Compa), a local campus ministry program. In fusion faith, people take pieces and ideas from various religions that fit their own ideas. Compa set Fernando on course with Christ.
But Fernando was still surrounded by the familiar mix of faith and ideals on campus, making him uneasy. He wanted to commit to true Christianity, but the path forward was not always clear.
“I get bombarded by Roman Catholic syncretism ‘fusion’ at my school,” Fernando said to James Lee, a Resonate Global Mission missionary. A local leader asked Resonate to disciple young men in the Compa program. Lee began to walk alongside Fernando, encouraging him and helping him work through his spiritual troubles. “To be a true Christian in the university and also in society is to embrace the cost of discipleship,” said Fernando. “It is not easy to follow Jesus, but nothing is impossible to God.”
Finding support in Lee and Compa, Fernando realized he didn’t have to wait until graduation to start living out his faith by serving God and his people. He could start serving right away.
Fernando wanted to pass on the torch Lee lit for him as a disciple. He wanted others to know the truth of Christianity, too. So, he approached many of his classmates and asked if they had questions about life or religion and invited them to a Bible study.
One of the students he asked, Oscar, was looking to grow in faith. Like Fernando, Oscar had begun to question his fusion faith. Fernando and Oscar meet every week to discuss the Bible, using questions Fernando prepared with Lee’s help.
“I have seen the growth of Fernando’s commitment to God every week as he prepares the weekly Bible study with me and shares the good news at his campus,” Lee said.
Fernando and Oscar have become close friends. The two have found truth and encouragement by studying the Bible with one another, and they teach each other how to remain true to their faith while walking through a campus full of differing religious values.
Discipling Adults in Indonesia
As Christians in Indonesia mature in their faith and their stages of life, BTGMI’s ministry team offers four types of daily devotionals for different age groups. A few years ago, these devotional booklets reached a new type of audience—prisoners.
Rev. Glann Siahaya delivers the booklets to a prison in Indonesia’s Maluku province. There Siahaya recognized the opportunity to disciple a group that often feels that their life is at a standstill.
“[Siahaya had] the desire to guide and awaken prisoners so they could experience a good and meaningful life,” said Hetty Limarya, Indonesian interim ministry leader.
As inmates began reading the devotionals, they felt encouraged. Just a few months ago, a group of 20 prisoners began meeting twice a week with Rev. Siahaya, reading and discussing the biblical messages together and also praying for one another.
Because churches are few and far between on most of Indonesia’s many islands, discussion groups like the one in the prison provide discipleship opportunities. Gifts to BTGMI send trained leaders to more than 300 active groups like these.
Thank you for supporting the global ministry of the Christian Reformed Church. As a denomination, we strive to work together to disciple believers everywhere from our own congregations to around the world. As we preach, teach, and live out the gospel within and beyond our church communities, we walk alongside people of all generations as they grow into the likeness of Christ.