Rebekah Daniel, Biblical Counseling Graduate Student
It was my second summer counseling at the Wilds. For the first time, biblical change had fully clicked in my own mind, and I could not wait to explain it to each of my campers. One week, a girl in my cabin had a birthday. I didn’t usually buy my campers anything for their birthdays, but I had told her I would buy ice cream for hers. I learned later that night that this girl was not saved and had some heavy burdens in her life. I soon found myself not caring about getting her ice cream for her birthday but wanting instead to find out what serious things were going on in her life and give her the gospel. The urgency I felt about this was consuming my mind. I talked with a close friend and explained I was considering skipping the ice cream trip and diving in with her to see what was going on in her heart. My friend encouraged me to celebrate her birthday as planned in order to build the relationship. With a renewed sense of peace, I met up with my camper, bought her ice cream, and played games for a while. I was still pained by an anxiousness to hurry up and talk to her.
As we left the snack shop to go sit somewhere quieter to talk, she turned to me and said, “No one has ever bought me anything for my birthday.”
All of my anxiety shattered in the wake of her statement. My noble plans completely crumbled. It was like God’s plans and intentions slapped me in the face when I realized that this was, in fact, His agenda. I was overwhelmed by a deeper love for my camper to know Christ.
This encounter marked the beginning of the story of discipleship the Lord has unfolded to me over the last few years. Discipleship and ministry are much more than one-on-one, heart-to-heart conversations. Ministry is life. Buying that camper ice cream was a bridge to a gospel conversation. The Lord also showed me this when I was an RA at Bob Jones. I learned that when I have a group of people that are my assigned ministry, I tend to get tunnel vision. Rapport is built, spiritual needs are identified, and truth is spoken, but I often limit ministry within the box I have allotted for it.
Last summer, I had the opportunity to co-lead a team at the Wilds. This was the opportunity to disciple and love twenty-five girls for eleven weeks. God taught me much last summer, and I still have awesome relationships with some of those girls even now. However, halfway through last summer, I realized I didn’t really know them well as people and hadn’t spent as much time having fun with them. I tried to adjust this mindset toward the end of last summer, but it wasn’t until this past school year that I began to see the fuller timeline of discipleship – truly a life on top of another life with influence for Christ integrated with the mundane.
This past school year I had the opportunity to be a mentor in a dorm at Bob Jones. What I learned this past year has widely shifted my view in leading at the Wilds this summer. Throughout the school year, the Lord gave a variety of kinds of discipleship relationships. I learned that ministry happens when a girl comes into my room and just uses my microwave and tells me about her day. I learned that counseling a freshman each time they fail a quiz is ministry. Listening to a close friend who knows God well but is struggling to believe His promises is ministry, even if truth never leaves my mouth. I learned that having discipline conversations with students who got in trouble was part of their growth, too; it all falls under the umbrella of discipleship. And YES, the conversations where I talked with someone about a habitual sin pattern or a lack of an in-depth knowledge of God are thrown in there, too, but discipleship is not exclusive of those ordinary-life opportunities.
While this may sound simple and already evident to some, this has radically reshaped my view of ministry and my role in it. I am a steward of each relationship God gives me. I’m a steward of the relationships with the girls on my team this summer, not an owner of them. It is not up to me to calculate the timeline of change in their lives or mine. God promises that what He began in me and them He will complete (Phil. 1:6). As a disciple and a disciple-maker, I am a steward in both roles. An owner will manage, and a good leader will lead in transparency. No matter my role or title, in God’s kindness He allows me to be a participant in His mission of redeeming and restoring His children by His precious grace for His glory.
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.