A China Pastor’s Story
Many years ago, I was asked to do a workshop on discipleship at a conference in Pennsylvania. It was hosted by a Christian organization geared toward Chinese Christians to equip them. One of the main speakers was a woman named, M***. She was a highly successful businessperson who founded and owned a company in China. She was led to Christ by a friend and co-worker in her former job and then won all her employees to the Lord. To help them grow in their faith, she decided to hold an evening service for them every week.
Being a three-year-old convert herself, she had never pastored a church before and needed help. The Lord connected us on the last day of that conference in Pennsylvania and at the end of our three-hour conversation (mostly me answering all her questions through a translator), she asked me to disciple her. We met weekly for several years over Skype (with her translator). Each week she had questions about her Bible reading and I answered them. She also had many questions about church issues and challenges she faced juggling both the demands of her business and her church. Eventually, for her safety (from the watchful eye of the government), we stopped the Skype meetings.
Four years ago, she flew me over to teach her congregation. During that visit, a young woman came to me at the end of the week. She had heard about the meetings and came every night I spoke. She had been so touched by God during the meetings she offered her professional skills to translate everything into Chinese that I had written. This was an amazing thing. Upon hearing about this, M*** decided to print my discipleship books and invited her entire congregation to go through it with her.
Several years later, she wrote a report about their journey through these books. Here’s a backdrop for some things she’ll mention. The Lord led her to have each group come up with a name. Once a month, on a specific night, the members would bring a special dish of food to share. Before they ate, they sang a song and then took communion. After they have enjoyed the food and fellowship, the facilitators of each discipleship group shared testimonies from their group. The Lord was glorified, the people encouraged, and more people were repeatedly added to the church. Almost every month, there was a new discipleship group born because the members were going deeper with God and growing stronger in their faith from the curriculum. They were not only willing to continue with their initial group, they met on another night to facilitate another new group themselves. Here is pastor M***’s report, in her words:
Today I want to share a testimony for Pastor Jay’s discipleship courses…
As a believer of the church in the marketplace, a person who wants to follow the Lord whole-heartedly, and someone who has not a bit of related “technique,” I was an elder who had no choice but to benefit greatly from such discipleship courses. I present the following conclusion with a grateful heart:
This set of discipleship courses is from the Lord. I’ve been exposed to disciple books in other churches and Christian book stores and have used some. I am not saying that those books are not from God. I am just acknowledging that this discipleship course from Pastor Jay brings out God’s heart, which is to see every believer have a real relationship with Him, to become a follower of Him (as a lovesick disciple), and willing to be changed by Him. Pastor Jay wrote this discipleship course not from his own mind and dreams. He was authorized by God. This course was the result of him seriously seeking God’s heart alone behind closed doors in the mountains. Since God entrusted him to write this course, His spirit was with Pastor Jay! According to the way Pastor Jay was and the splendid gifts God put into his life, God released His own teachings in order. This discipleship course thoroughly and beautifully shows the accumulation of a lifetime and Pastor Jay’s super strong gift of teaching. I gasped in admiration at Pastor Jay’s familiarity and skillfulness with the words in the Bible when I first met him. I saw how God used the specialty and knowledge of His faithful servant on this aspect. God has prepared His own servant for a long time before He released His heart through these discipleship courses. I firmly believe this is the weapon God has prepared for the Church in the end times! Why?
The heresies that will abound in the end times desperately need to be discerned by correct and systematic teachings. However, not every believer is able to enter the classroom of theology. You could almost say that most of them can’t receive formal teaching. Therefore, Pastor Jay’s discipleship course has become a seminary without entering a school. Its liveliness and canons are amazingly combined. The unpredictable chaos of the end times, the difficulty of pastoring a church and the complexity of the human heart has made it ever harder to main and strengthen the format, technique, and style of groups in the church. There is a very qualified elderly pastor in our church. She once praised Pastor Jay’s course as wisely establishing the relationship between every believer and the Lord, avoiding the disadvantages from the relationships between people in the cell groups of the traditional model. Early on in our church of the marketplace, we didn’t have groups and our relationships with each other were not close. Ever since we started discipleship, the relationship between the church and each believer was established in a healthy and long-term way through every facilitator of the discipleship group. And the facilitators gradually became the backbones of the church and it also gave birth to super great leaders.
The four-person limit to each group required by Pastor Jay has made the act of discipleship group study a feasible study method in the busy urban life. Better still, it will not bring any pressure to the facilitators. I have seen group-leaders in other churches who lead 10-20 believers in a group. They are very exhausted and can’t maintain a good relationship with everyone because our time and energy are even more limited in the end times.
Through discipleship, our congregation began to have the sense of belonging to the church and we literally became a family. Because the monthly discipleship group sharing has opened our hearts to each other, we began to get familiar with each other and encouraged by each other. Discipleship groups also bring God’s awesome power as well as our love relationship with each other. The most precious thing is, it continues to attract people to actively enlist others into discipleship study. Comparing that with doing their best to convince believers to read the Bible, pastors find it so much easier to just make disciples!
The disciples are frequently accompanied by the manifestation of God’s awesome power! I have already spoken at the very beginning that this discipleship course was from the Lord. And on this point, the other two pastors who preach in our church also give their powerful confirmation. That’s because when the discipleship curriculum entered into deeper courses and content, God motivated the other two pastors to share the related knowledge in their preaching. And what they preached was not decided in advance by the church. That’s a miracle! And it has not only happened once!
Taking the same spiritual food has made the whole church united in spirit. Our substances of beliefs are getting more and more similar to each other. So I don’t have to worry about the congregation getting food-poisoning.
I have never counted the number of the church. I just know that right now our church is too crowded for the whole congregation. Those who come late can only stand to listen. There are no more seats available. Those who are standing extend even to the entrance. I still remember how desperately I prayed to God for people to attend the service before: “Lord, may you fill all the seats in the service tonight.” At that time, there were so many chairs available in the storeroom.
Those who have committed and devoted themselves to their discipleship study and groups began to love the church more and more. The church I mean here is the body of the Lord! I have witnessed an authentic change in their lives. Some troublesome believers, who always gave me headaches, have now become good helpers and I even forget how bothered and depressed they once made me. However, I need to give you a “preventive injection.” The problems are still going to appear one after another after the first group of disciples have finished Discipleship Group—Book 1. But those emerging problems are a good thing to the church because it will bring timely adjustment and prevention so that the second group of disciples will do the same and those who are behind will run to the front! Hallelujah!!
I thank my God for bringing Pastor Jay and the discipleship courses he wrote for the Lord to China. We are a very fortunate church to become the first experimental pilot of this course being used in an entire congregation. Right now, we are experiencing a great harvest. I earnestly wish every church received such blessing!
May God abundantly bless His faithful and wise servant Pastor Jay! May God abundantly bless the church which can accept such discipleship and be with them! May what happened here among us also happen in other churches!!! Amen!!
Note: A year after this letter was sent to me, the government came in and closed down their public meetings. To this day, however, the discipleship groups continue, and the saints are spreading the gospel and reproducing other disciples.