“And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him…”
“When we had come to the end of those days, we departed and went on our way; and they all accompanied us, with wives and children, till we were out of the city. And we knelt down on the shore and prayed.”
I’ve had similar experiences with disciples.
It was May 1992 and the war had jumped from Liberia into Sierra Leone. The rebels were raping and butchering the people in the interior of the the country. The US embassy was advising all expatriots to leave.
The leadership asked me as a single man to accompany the women, their wives and small children to the hovercraft (a ferry-like boat that took us across the canal to the airport). Before getting on, I met one last time with the disciples whom I had poured my life into for the two years we were there. It was one of the most precious moments of my life that I will never forget. (I’ll tell about the other one in a minute).
You see, we taught all the students in a large Bible school setting each Saturday, but then all the leaders had their own discipleship groups they met with during the week.
I had an evangelism group that met with me three days a week for teaching and impartation and then we led them out into the streets for evangelism. Such precious memories I have of that time. Several of those disciples went on to establish large ministries and churches. The fruit remained.
They cried and wept with me on the seashore as we said our good-byes.
The same type of scenario repeated itself in Gambia. Carolyn and I met with our entire staff and team and I stumbled through my farewell speech all choked up between sentences, knowing I wouldn’t be seeing most of them again.
I had a prominent visiting Nigerian minister with me who had to run out of the room because he was overwhelmed. He said he’d never in his life seen or heard of any white man doing that with the Africans. Many cried and wept aloud. Such love, gratitude, and affection prevailed in the room. It was another moment that was imprinted in the corners of my mind.
THE MISSING ELEMENT IN DISCIPLESHIP
Discipleship is not just about teaching in a classroom setting, but it’s the very imparting of our lives and souls to others. Listen to the heart of the great apostle:
“But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.”
(1 Thessalonians 2:7-8)