by Rohan Mohanty, Ex-member of ICF-HCMC, Vietnam. Today, he is serving full time as a youth worker in a local church in UK.
In 2017, my wife and I gave our lives to Jesus. My wife, Nhung, was a new believer and I was experiencing spiritual awakening after many years of spiritual infancy. At that time, we were a part of the International Christian Fellowship in Ho Chi Minh City (ICF-HCMC) and our pastor was Rev Leslie Lim. Nhung was growing in the Ladies Bible Study while I was in a discipleship life group made up of mostly young professionals.
Sometime in 2018, Pastor Leslie invited Nhung and me to a one-to-one discipleship training. He and his dearest wife, Aunty Linda, met us at either our home or theirs on a weekly basis over a course of three years. They introduced us to the vision of living an intentional discipleship lifestyle by showing us how Jesus did the same in His three-year ministry. We also went back to Christian foundations, studying a solid study book that was packed with Bible passages. As a married couple with kids, we also covered God's design for marriage and parenting.
As we were being taught to be disciple-makers or multipliers, Pastor Leslie and Aunty Linda's expectation was for us to be able to teach whatever they taught us. For me, that meant understanding the content of the materials deeply so that I could master it. Many times, I must admit that I struggled with some of their teachings (especially doctrine regarding water baptism and the outward expressions that start with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and women's church leadership). I had to wrestle with them like stubborn Jacob who wrestled with God. I must take my hat off to them for their patience, gentleness, and perseverance with me. Through much of their prayer, the Holy Spirit worked in Nhung and especially me to bring us all to one mind (Philippians 3:15) on all things.
After studying Christian foundations, Pastor Leslie and Aunty Linda started to teach us how to apply theology as we received our calling into full-time ministry. Pastor always reminded us that he was teaching us principles that he and Aunty Linda had learnt through experience leading in different mainline denominations and also planting a church. Now that I am in full-time ministry, I can see that their training of principles are paying off. Many of those who are serving with me love the Lord and have solid Bible knowledge through seminary training. However, they lack in application. Today, I have the chance to impart these practical ministry learnings to others, starting with the importance of vision and calling.
After the second year under the discipleship training, we prayed together that I would have disciples to teach. Along came two committed young fathers of similar life stage with me (and Vietnamese wives too) who yielded to my training and continue to do so until today. It is a joy to be a vessel of the Lord's work of renewing lives and raising up labourers for the Kingdom. One of the young fathers I disciple now has been invited to serve as a lay leader in his church and the other has expressed the desire to join the ministry full time.
Towards the end of our three years together, Pastor Leslie identified and very crucially flagged me on an area of my spiritual life that I had been neglecting. While my Bible knowledge had vastly improved by year three of our discipleship training, I had under focused on my relationship with the Lord. While my study time was deep and regular, my quiet, prayerful, seeking devotional time was weak and irregular. I made excuses for my neglect in this area but the truth was that I needed to address it. I am now committing a lot more time and effort to prayerful devotional time with the Lord.
Over the three years, we studied, prayed, celebrated, cried, laughed, and sang together. We learnt, forgave, argued with, gave, and received from one another. We also shared many a hearty meal together. We became a family; Nhung and I came to see Pastor Leslie and Aunty Linda as our parents. Our kids treated them as grandparents. When we needed a break, they cared for our kids. When Nhung gave birth to Micah, they cared for Mia.
Through living by example - even though it was a short period of time - Nhung and I had a chance to experience what it was like to be raised by godly parents. We were pruned and shaped until we bore good fruit. Pastor has given us a treasure chest of recommended reading to supplement our Bible study so that we can continue our learning and growth. Now, we seek to journey with others so as to be able to pass on what we were taught to others, fulfilling Jesus' instruction to us to make disciples.
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