Friday, January 3, 2014

The Ministry Trifecta: Evangelism, Discipleship, and Meeting Physical Needs

Happy New Year!

Recently the Afayo team has been studying the Francis Chan book Multiply.  It's a book about making disciples, who then make disciples, who then make even more disciples.  It is both an encouraging and a terrifying concept!  As we study this challenging material together, our sending organization, Every Child Ministries, has encouraged us to emphasize evangelism as we go about our ministry here in Uganda in 2014.  As we have discussed these critical issues as a team, we have come to realize that there are three necessary ingredients for doing mission work: evangelism, discipleship, and meeting physical needs.  All three present significant challenges in a cultural and economic setting such as eastern Uganda, and it can be difficult to do all three well.  But to be effective ministers of the gospel, we really have no choice!  We must 1) present the good news of Jesus Christ, 2) help those who believe in Christ to grow and live out their faith, and 3) be the hands and feet of Jesus in meeting the physical needs of those around us.

In a very beautiful way, this concept becomes reality as we minister to and live life with our brothers and sisters in Naigobya.  In our weekly men's and women's Bible studies, we regularly share the gospel message with those who attend.  Just yesterday, as we studied the power of the cross and the riches we have in Christ, five men gave their lives to the Lord!  Another man stood up and said "some of us aren't quite ready yet - we need to hear more!"  God is working in the hearts of these men!  That's evangelism and it's at the heart of what we do.  However, it does not and cannot stop there!  Like the other men and women in their Bible studies who already know the Lord, these men need to grow in their faith; they need to be discipled.  Through regular interactions with the Afayo team, these followers of Christ receive teachings that help them to strengthen their walk with God and which encourage them to share their testimonies (and the gospel message) with those around them.  That's discipleship, and is absolutely necessary if the message of Jesus is to transform this community.  But again, even this is not complete if we don't also help to meet the physical needs of those whom the Lord brings before us. Not because evangelism and discipleship are incomplete in and off themselves (a person can be saved even on an empty stomach!), but because we as messengers lack credibility with those we are ministering to when we refuse to help those in need (James 2:16-17).  And if our faith, without actions, is dead, why would anyone really want to listen?  In an attempt to put feet to our faith, the Afayo team has undertaken the task of helping two men from the Bible study receive much needed surgeries, one for a hernia, and another to remove a large growth behind his ear (see photo below). Each surgery costs only about $100!

You might be asking, "is there something I can do to help?"  While our Current Needs page gives you many ideas, I would like to highlight one that is associated closely with our community Bible studies.  Recognizing that very few of the men and women we minister to have Bibles, I decided in late October to challenge the men to attend our weekly Bible study consistently, and promised them a new Bible as incentive!  With over 30 men attending regularly, it has been a challenge for me to find the resources to purchase the Bibles!  But God has provided, and we have been able to give 21 much needed and appreciated Bibles to those who have met the attendance criteria.  In the coming weeks, many more will be awarded a Bible in the men's class, and now that the same incentive has been offered to the women, many will be needed for them as well.  Would you be willing to purchase a Bible (or several!) so that we can get the Good News into the hands of as many people as possible?  A Luganda Bible costs only about $12, but its value is immeasurable as we live and grow together in Naigobya.  If you would like to contribute to this cause, please send your gift to:

Every Child Ministries
PO Box 810
Hebron, IN 46341

Or

Follow this link to the Donate Now site on ECM's web site.

In either case, designate your gift for the Afayo Project and indicate that it should be used to purchase Bibles.

Evangelizing. Discipling. Meeting Physical Needs.  I can't think of a better way to spend my time in the coming year!  How about you?

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