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GROWING AS A DISCIPLE TO BE A DISCIPLER

Updated: May 21

by Daniel, Bi-vocational Leader of Ministry House and Life Groups in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.


I got to know Pastor Leslie of International Christian Fellowship (ICF) in 2016. As I got to know him, I also wanted to learn how to do ministry under him. However, instead of discipling me, he started getting to know me and took interest in my student ministry then. Slowly but surely, he invited me to walk with him as he follows and serves Christ.



Initially I was looking for a direction for ministry even when I was serving the Lord. I believe God answered me by sending Pastor Leslie and Auntie Linda to cross my path in this journey of life. Since then, I have been learning and growing under them till today. And I am expecting to grow more in the days to come till I can see myself overseeing one life group after another.


1. Vision

The most important thing I learnt from Pastor and Auntie is to have a vision. I have a heart to serve the Lord. Yet I didn’t have a clear direction in life: Who is my target audience? Where is my area of service? Where can I serve the Lord?


I discovered deeper about the Great Commission at that time. I was taught that “Vision is caught, not so much as taught”. I was thinking and praying for a vision for years and when I eventually received it from the Lord, I was so overjoyed - to know that God has called me and is giving me a clear direction through my shepherd. It certainly helped me a lot in my ministry and my walk with the Lord as I started to re-align my life around this vision, i.e. to build strong and biblical disciples after our own kind.


2. One-To-One Discipleship

I thought I was doing discipleship at the start of my student ministry. I liked to do it in both big groups and small groups. But building a personal one-to-one relationship or going the extra mile to care for and nurture a disciple was foreign to me; it was a hard thing for me. I had no patience or perhaps I was simply lazy.


Under the discipleship of Pastor and Auntie, I began to discover the importance of one-to-one discipleship. It was not a job, but rather a lifestyle. Moreover, I learnt how to be a people-person and build on relationships based on God’s truth and not on programmes or activities. I also picked up from Pastor that “being is more important than doing” and developing a Relational Thinking instead of Terminal Thinking. All those lessons helped me a lot in my ministry and discipleship journey.


And true enough, when I began to embrace those truths and principles, I could see fruits in my ministry. I no longer experience “burnt out” in ministry but a renewed passion to serve. I deepened my relationships. There was fruitfulness in meeting with people and prudence in managing human resources, time, money, etc. as I brought others to join our journey of discipleship.


I was often being challenged far beyond; not only to speak the Bible truths to my disciples, but to live out the truths with them and be a godly role model for them. It meant that my life was under 24/7 watch and there was no privacy in many ways. I must be true to myself as I taught and shared my life with my followers. I found this painful and tedious at times yet somewhat impactful. Such ministry was not a touch-and-go type. Seriously it was more of me having to lay down my life for those who were following me when I challenged them to come and see if they would decide to follow. And after a while when I would learn to follow faithfully after my own leaders, I could experience fruits in my own discipleship ministry.


3. Outreach or Evangelism

This was not my forte. I would always run away from evangelism if I could. I could try harder in the areas of studying the Bible, giving, serving in church, organising camps, or meeting up with more believers, etc. But deep in my heart, I knew evangelism was my weakness and I eventually needed to overcome this weakness as it was something God called us to do – witnessing to others.


Pastor and Auntie showed me how to pray earnestly for the lost. They were actual examples as they crossed culture and language barriers to share the love of Jesus Christ with the people in Vietnam. God is working and bringing people in this nation back to Himself. I was slowly impacted and challenged to emulate my leaders. It took me quite some time to have a breakthrough. Through their care, patience, teaching, and guidance, I was able to overcome this hurdle, and eventually teach and challenge my own disciples. I needed to have the compassion to go and reach out to the lost in order to have others imitating me in their lives. (1 Corinthians 11:1)


I discovered that when I eventually obeyed my leaders with the right submissive attitude, the Lord really blessed me with fruits to encourage me. It was no wonder that when I was proud and overrated myself, I was going through a lot of struggles and conflicts inside myself. However, I was able to let go of my ego and humbly commit myself to the Lord and obey Him through my leaders. I also experienced a breakthrough and now my heart could understand more of God’s heart for the lost and the least. I was willing to reach out to them as the Holy Spirit led me.


4. Accountability

I thought I knew what accountability was until I met Pastor and Auntie. They took me to a next new level of accountability. I was taught about accountability not only for ministry but also for every aspect of my life. I began to realise it was not merely a working accountability but more of a trusting relational accountability. Before that, I compartmentalised what ministry was and what my personal life was. Who would open one’s personal private life to another? Pastor Leslie helped me to understand how to build trusting loving relationships. In other words, it must begin with being secured within my inner being. And when my life was transparent and that I willingly allowed my leader or Pastor to come in and speak to my life at any time, my ministry actually became fruitful. I was put back on track.


It was very different from the ministry I joined before. I was taking care only in ministry part and somehow the relationship was where I decided which part I would like to open to others. And that led me to some hidden sin, some doubts, some misunderstanding, and I kept some secrets for myself.


And slowly I was burned out and felt distance in relationship. But now, with my leaders, I saw that my relationships with others were strengthened, and there was no room for sin. My ministry was in the light with guidance and direction, which was very good for me.


From one who hated it, hesitated to do it and did it selectively, to one who surrendered my will to God, learnt to obey and was honest about my life. It was truly a blessing and privilege to have someone listening to me, caring and loving me, and walking with me in this journey.


5. Submission and Obedience

This was the most challenging aspect of my ministry and life. Again, I was so proud to think that I had enough of submission and obedience with the numerous years of ministry. I thought I knew what it meant to submit and obey.


With that prideful attitude, my relationship with Pastor went through a lot of struggles and distance during the initial period I was working under him. I disagreed with him on many things. I didn’t support him and doubted his direction at times. I was easily offended by what he taught especially when he pointed out my weakness to me. So, I began to withdraw. I also chose to do other things by myself. When my heart was not having the same heartbeat with the leader, there was no fruit.


I went through the period of dry season. I cried out to God. I repented. With God’s help, I re-establish a genuine loving and trusting relationship with my leaders. And I willingly submitted under their authority (Hebrews 13:7, 17). Only then my breakthrough came.


There are many other things to talk about Pastor and Auntie; they are really a blessing to me. Like the way they helped my wife and me with our relationship and marriage. Pastor helped me to focus on my vision and ministry. They helped us to have confidence in what we have in the Lord. They shared Bible knowledge and experience. They encouraged opportunity to build the church without walls, do business as a mission, etc. I give thanks to the Lord for such wonderful and godly leaders I have in my life and ministry. They have left a mark in my heart, and it was truly a life-changing relationship for me.



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Dear Daniel, Praise God for directing your steps towards intentional discipleship under the guidance of Ps Leslie and Linda. Great to read about your learning journey, and your desire to grow to be more like Christ. May I encourage you in this holy pursuit, and pray that the Holy Spirit will lead, anoint and bless you with His wisdom, joy, love and peace always. Shalom.


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