By David Selvan
A young man was going galloping on a horse. An elderly man stopped him and asked where he was going. Replied the young man, “Sir don’t stop me. My heart is brave, my horse is fast, my sword is sharp and I am going for the war”.
Again the elderly man, enquired. “Son.. Stop! Where are going”?
Replied the young man, “Sir, please don’t stop me. My heart is brave, my horse is fast, my sword is sharp and I am going for the war”.
The elderly man whispered, “Son, The war is up north and you are headed south!”.
‘It is not good to have zeal without knowledge nor be hasty and miss the way.’ Pr. 19:2
I joined the Bombay Baptist Church, 30 years ago like the young man in this story, full of zeal to serve the Lord. But without the right knowledge I was heading in the wrong direction. Through loving and caring discipleship, I was helped towards the right, fruitful, direction.
Listed here are five areas of my life that were impacted by discipleship
“……So if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed” Jn 8:34 to 36
Freedom does not mean I am free to whatever I want to do; on the contrary, it means I am free to do what I am created to do. I left home at the age of 17 to join the Indian Navy. My faith and convictions began to erode during the first four years of my life there. Without the safety of godly home or a Christian fellowship, I was very vulnerable to all kinds of pressures. I was afraid to come close to people in authority fearing that my freedom would be curtailed.
For a brief period, my love for music got me involved with a music band and bad company. This led me away from God and I was on the brink of falling into a sinful lifestyle and its consequences. My dual life style continued to trouble me, until one day I decided to talk it over with Pastor Stanley. I feared that my life would be monitored and controlled. On the contrary, I was given much help, encouragement, guidance and prayer support, till I was free from such entanglements. I discovered that there was safety and progress in a disciple relationship. I found a place to belong and to grow under this newly defined freedom.
FRIENDSHIP AND FAMILY
“God sets the lonely in the family …….” Psalms 68:5
I was 20 when I was posted to Bombay after the training in the Indian Navy. I missed my home. I was lost without my friends and family. I was shy, fearful and nervous to meet people in the church. In order to avoid people I would come to the church service five minutes late, occupy the last bench and leave five minutes early. I did not dare stand at the bus stop opposite the church, lest I have to talk people from the church. However, my desire to find help forced me to attend a Tuesday prayer meeting at the pastor’s home. The cell members welcomed me and I felt at home. The following Sunday I was invited to pastor’s house for lunch and that lunch turned out to be the beginning of a new journey of discovering my life in God. I became a part of the family. I found a home to belong. I had a place to unwind. I had a shoulder to weep. I had a live class room to learn. When I began my own home, I drew a reference for many aspects of my own family from the exposure I had in my mentor’s home. Some were taught and others I caught.
FULFILMENT IN FUNCTION
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said and I will make you fishers of men. Mk 1:17
The purpose of discipleship is to prepare us for a God designed functional purpose for our life. Vic Gledhill taught us that there are two destinies in life. The first one is our eternal destiny and the second one is our functional destiny. The former is to do with our eternal home in heaven and the latter to do with our fruitful functional life on this earth. Though I had the desire and zeal to serve the Lord, I had limited skill. Praying aloud was almost impossible for me. Even saying grace before we had a meal was difficult. I would disappear from the table, on the pretext of washing my hands, so that I would not be asked by the pastor to say grace. I could do all kinds of practical work, but any public speaking, prayer or any activity that would demanded facing an audience would unnerve me.
Stanley gave me many opportunities to use my ministry skills. He would take me with him to prayer meetings, Bible studies and house visiting. I remember accompanying him to the Students’ YMCA at Grant Road. I strummed the guitar, while he would lead the group in singing. Gradually, he encouraged me to lead in singing also. He made me read the scripture portions and then asked me to share a few thoughts during bible study. Subsequently, I was leading the Bible studies.
I was 22 when I preached my first sermon, in the church at Colaba. I received lots of appreciation from many people, but I was not satisfied till I heard my mentor’s feedback. Stanley gave me a long list of merits and then gave me two points to correct. One was to do with my mannerism and another to do with my attitude and posture. I remember those corrective tips even today, when I preach.
I was given many opportunities to experiment with my gifting. I failed many times, but with encouragements and gentle correction I was able to grow and find fulfilment in my function.
FULFILMENT IN MINISTRY
Though I knew I had the call of God to serve Him, I was not sure of my gifting. The teaching, “Be faithful in little and more will be given,” was repeatedly taught to us. This truth helped me to stay faithful in whatever role was given to me. I was sent to Coonoor in 1999. Having spent many years in a big city like Bombay, living in a little hill station like Coonoor was a challenge. We had our first baptism service within 10 months of our arrival to Coonoor. Nine people were baptised. That came as a big boost in our ministry, for me and my wife, Debra. Nearly 15 years of discipling in Bombay, began to bear fruit in our life in Coonoor. Praise God.“ you did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last”… Jn. 15:16
“Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.” I Co. 4:15
I struggled a lot in the area of rejection. I manifested many of the symptoms of a rejected person. Without much patience, love, grace and skill, it is highly laborious to nurture people with deep rooted rejection. I would get depressed easily. I constantly looked for affirmations, and appreciations. Correction meant rejection for me. I craved for an exclusive place in any relationship. Anyone who appeared better than me was a threat to me. With consistent love, teaching, prayer and encouragement, my mentor helped me come out of these deep problems in my life. Vic Gledhill always challenged me to be a manly Man. He explained to me the difference between mothering and fathering, and often challenged me to embrace fathering.
Without discipling, I would have remained a crude, young man with zeal for the Lord, but lost in the world. I thank and praise God for godly men, who laboured in my life to bring forth much, good and lasting fruit for God.