If We Want Our Disciples to Surpass Us, What Happens?
When fellow workers in the harvest tell their amazing stories, it captures my attention. That’s what happened during a YWAM gathering in Asia. Coworkers from many continents sat shoulder to shoulder. We listened carefully as the host interviewed our friend.
Interviewer: How did you get started with Disciple-Making Movements?
“My native country is mostly Muslim. I was a pastor. Three times I had this dream. Very clear. Lots of people were walking by. From many ethnic groups, walking without hope. ‘Why Lord?’ He said to me, ‘This is for you.’ ‘But I’m a pastor and preacher. I am caring for my flock.’ He said, ‘You need to work on your primary goal. All those people who walked by—help them.”
“He told me, ‘You know where they are going, but you are not helping them. Go. To places not safe. To find the lost.’”
Interviewer: You decided to obey and go. What did you do next?
“I prayed and fasted for 40 days. On the 39th day, the Lord gave me a vision of where to go and who to look for. Soon I met the guy. I used to minister to him. He was a Muslim-background believer. He had been chased out of his community. That very day, he was thinking of ending his life.”
“From that day, I began to encourage and disciple him. For one year, we went around together in and out of villages here and there. We met with hundreds even thousands of people. In the evenings we’d discuss what happened, what we did. Any good responses today? We prayed for all we met, watching God do His work.”
Interviewer: The two of you teamed up as active disciple-makers.
“Yes. We were always looking for Persons of Peace.”
“One day as I was walking. The Holy Spirit said to stop. I heard someone talking very loudly in a shop. I went in and overheard, ‘My wife is pregnant. It’s been 10 months!’”
“I knew that the local tradition says in this situation, she should go sleep in the barn with cows. I asked the Holy Spirit, ‘What should I do.’ ‘You must help this man.’ When he came out of the shop I told him I could hear what he said. I asked him, ‘Do you mind if I go to your house and pray for your wife?’”
“He was a bit shocked. ‘If you want to please come.’ I rode with him on his motorbike. Now I was the one shocked because it took over 3 hours! We came into a village. In the distance was a mosque. That is where we stopped. I followed him inside. As we entered everyone came up to him and kissed his hand. Suddenly I realized he was the Imam! I’ve come into the lion’s den.”
Interviewer: What were you thinking at that point?
“All I could think of was to ask, ‘Holy Spirit, do you want to kill me?’”
“Eventually I asked the Imam, ‘Shall I pray for your wife?’ He looked me in the eyes, ‘Yes.’”
“After being introduced to his wife, I prayed for her in the Name of Isa al Masih.” (Jesus Christ in Arabic)
“The Imam and I exchanged phone numbers. ‘Please call me when your wife has given birth. I’ll be near a beach close to where we met.’”
“A week past and no SMS or any calls. Then one morning, I was busy training believers at the beach. We were about to baptize new believers, but I was interrupted. They told me someone needed to talk to me and was waiting outside. ‘Tell him to wait till I’m done.’”
“This person sat outside, but not far away. He was listening to everything that was going on.”
“I went out to discover it was the Imam. After greeting him, ‘As-Salam-u-Alaikum.’ I asked, ‘Has your wife given birth?’”
“A troubled look was upon his face. He said, ‘No.’”
Interviewer: No? Now, what were you thinking?
“He’s come to kill me!”
“Then I asked, ‘Did you hear what I was teaching?’”
“Yes. All of it.”
“I asked, ‘Is it possible we could all join together to pray for your wife in Jesus name?’”
“Desperate by now, he nodded his head with agreement. I gathered everyone and we prayed.”
“Ten minutes later he got a phone call: ‘Please come home now, your wife is about to give birth!’”
Imam said, ‘No. I cannot come home now. Find the midwife.’
“5 minutes later another call: “You have a son.”
We were so happy for him. I said, “Go home.”
Interviewer: He must have jumped onto his motorcycle and raced home!
“That’s what we expected him to do. But he said, ‘Not yet.’ ‘Why?’ I asked. Then the biggest shock came. The Imam declared, ‘I want to be baptized. I heard what you taught about Jesus and I have received a miracle from Him. I will follow Him.’”
Interviewer: A new disciple and a Person of Peace. Right?
“Yes. God answered his prayer for his wife and baby. God answered our prayers for a person of peace. He was a new disciple and truly was a person of peace. Just like in Luke 10:6. I discipled him. Through his transformation and his own bold testimony the Gospel spread. Though outwardly he is still recognized as a Muslim leader, he is a faithful follower of Jesus. In both words and actions, he is an obedient disciple of Jesus.”
“God is blessing and using him to make disciples who make more disciples. The Gospel keeps spreading. At this point, the number has grown to 3,000 disciples.”
Interviewer: Such wonderful fruit. What would you say to those of us sitting here with you?
“This work is not easy. I have been spit upon. I’ve been chased from villages. I always know Jesus is with me in all of it. So persevere.”
“If I can do this, you can do this.”
“Here’s my belief. Our disciples must become bigger than us. My disciples have done far more among their people than I ever could.”
“We must desire to do what we see in the Book of Acts. I need other people around me. I also need a mentor. Timothy had Paul. Right now I mentor and disciple hundreds of people but I also need a mentor.”
“Thomas* over there is a good mentor. [He glanced over at Thomas, sitting off to the side.] He asks not only about my ministry but he asks me, ‘How is your wife? How are your children?’
“Don’t think you are strong in yourself, relying upon yourself. Don’t be thinking you can get by without others around you. Get connected.”
Interviewer: We all need friendly accountability. Thank you for your story and your words of wisdom. And thumbs up to Thomas, your mentor.
Coincidentally, I was on a conference call with Thomas last night. Without me mentioning this story, he gave us an update on our friend’s progress in this Muslim country. In the movements he helped launch, there are now about 20,000 followers of Jesus. Thomas adds, “He’s doing far more than I could ever do.” That’s what can happen.
*not his real name
What stands out to you from this story? How will you apply it in your life this week?