I got on the airplane ready to take on the world. I was moving to India to be a missionary. I couldn’t wait to save as many lost people as possible in India. About seventeen hours later we landed in New Delhi and I…discovered the dirty secret of the mission field.
The same guy you are when you get on the plane is the same guy you are when you get off the plane.
I guess I thought there would be some kind of miraculous transformation somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.
I was the same guy in India as I was in America, and that was a problem. Actually, there were two problems.
I Had Never Made a Disciple
I arrived with dreams of living out Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations as a big, bad missionary. But then I realized: I had never made a disciple in my life. I had studied it in Seminary, done a lot of ministry, and preached a bunch of sermons, but actually making disciples? Absolutely not..
Just to be sure, I checked my math: The amount of people I had personally led to faith and taught to follow Jesus so they could reproduce it with others?…Zero.
Yup, I had made no disciples. Why did I think that would change when my address changed? I started to question my business cards:
Big, Bad Missionary
Maybe I would just be: Matt, Bad Missionary.
Unfortunately, never having made a disciple was the lesser of my two problems.
I Wasn’t a Disciple Worth Reproducing
I went with the goal of being an amazing missionary who saved everyone. But what actually happened is that the Indian believers taught me how to follow Jesus.
I met faithful Indian believers who were literally risking everything for the sake of the gospel.
- People who were rejected and driven out of their villages because they put their faith in Jesus.
- Young, 17-year-old men, who said yes to Jesus knowing it would get them get kicked out of their family.
- Pastors who were beaten and almost killed for their faith.
- Women who had been raped because of their allegiance to Jesus.
All willing to give up everything they had to buy the treasure they had discovered in the field. Never in my life had I seen such love for and commitment and faithfulness to Jesus. Their love for Jesus made my love for Jesus look a whole lot more like liking Jesus rather than loving Him.
I realized I was not a disciple worth reproducing.
A hunger began to build in my soul. I wanted what they had.
“A hunger began to build in my soul. I wanted what they had.”
And those first few years in India, even though I tried to do a ton of ministry, mostly I learned from those Indian believers what it really looks like to love and follow Jesus as a true disciple.
What About You?
Have you actually made a disciple? Or, like me, have you just studied and talked about it a lot? When is the last time you shared your faith with someone far from God? Or the last time you trained a new believer on obeying Jesus or sharing him with others?
And are you a disciple worth reproducing? What if everyone in your church…
- Prayed the way you pray.
- Fasted the way you fast.
- Shared the gospel as often as you share the gospel.
- Served the way you serve.
- Loved the way you love.
…what kind of church would you have? What if every Christian was just like you?
I realized back in 2008 that if we multiplied a bunch of Matt’s, it would have been an issue. We would have had a problem.
“I realized back in 2008 that if we multiplied a bunch of Matt’s, it would have been an issue.”
I realized I had been satisfied surpassing some kind of minimal standard for following Jesus in America and that I had some growing to do.
I started praying desperate prayers, watching those who were really living it. I committed to radically follow Jesus. And…God changed me. And he can change you too.
Can you imagine if we became disciples worth reproducing, and started making disciples who made disciples? We would see cities flipped upside down. We would shake a nation. It would be the book of Acts all over again.
That can happen. God’s doing it through our ministry in India. Just last year we started 8,070 churches and 56,000 people put their faith in Jesus and made him the King of their lives.
Let’s be disciples worth reproducing and make as many more as we can.
It starts with us.