By Rajesh Mathew
Discipleship is a process that is vital to Christian growth and maturity. It provides a secure environment through a strong, trusting relationship, to develop insight. It also provides the right Biblical counsel and care for a young Christian, who desires to build his life with godly values and character. As teenagers and young adults, many habit patterns are learnt and nurtured. Habits feeding their sexual desires are amongst them, and they are often hidden and kept as a secret. Anything kept hidden can lead to sin.
Efforts to overcome these sexual impulses often fail and when that happens, we succumb to temptation. This leads to guilt followed quickly by depression. However, if we could confide in somebody who genuinely cares for our spiritual well being, someone like a spiritual parent, then we have the support and help to overcome compulsive habits and their destructive behavior patterns.
In Paul’s epistle to Timothy he cautions, “Flee the evil desires of youth…”. The advice given to Timothy, with regard to lust, is a father’s counsel to a son who has decided to keep his life open to correction and counsel from his spiritual father. There are many young people who sincerely desire for a close walk with God, but their spiritual growth gets stunted because they succumb very quickly to sexual temptations.
Here is a story of a young man in our church who struggled with the issue of masturbation. He tried hard, but could not get victory over this habit. Finally, he shared his problem with me. I was filled with a fatherly love towards him. It must have taken him a lot of courage to trust me and to expect me to understand him. Besides this, his willingness to open up to me, made me want to accept him with all his shortcomings. I offered to prayer for him, and there started a relationship of mutual trust. I offered him all help by providing useful literature to read, encouragement and counsel. I also expected a high level of accountability from him and asked him to call me whenever he was tempted. He was willing to be vulnerable. He called me occasionally, when he struggled and I would pray with him over the phone. Praise be to God that he was free within three months. But it was an outcome of trust and openness from both sides. I made myself vulnerable by sharing my own experiences of struggle in the same area when I was a young man.
Here is another testimony which is been forwarded by Pastor Vinny Varghese of ‘Sangathi The Fellowship’ of a couple from his church.
“I am part of Aadhar Naigaon Sangati and minister as a leader under Sangati the fellowship, which is part of GMI group of churches. In the year 2009, I was a leader, ministering the Word and leading in worship, but I was living in sin. I was in a sexual relationship with the girl I loved. I thought I had kept it a secret, but my sin exposed me. I thought of running away, hiding or going back to my village. I was confused and finally, came to my pastor for counsel. He gently guided me back to the right track and I decided to follow in obedience. It was not easy in the beginning, but we learned to walk in obedience. As we followed the instructions of our pastor, the difficult things became easy and joyful. I completed my pre-marital course and decided to get married. Our finances were low, but by the support we received from our church family, we were able to have a decent wedding. Our pastors cared for us and nurtured us tenderly for a year and a half. During this period we did not minister or serve in the church. Eventually, when the pastors saw the change in us, we were restored back. Today we are ministering and leading in the church. We believe that it is through discipleship that we have found our way back and we thank our pastor for the support he gave us.”