Travel Journal

An ancient Buddhist town sits on the crossroads of a major highway near the site of a new university. Thanks to the help of Carroll and Shirley, a new church sits at this important intersection, the only Christian witness in a dark part of the country. Young Pastor “T” and his fledgling congregation are part of a 3% Christian minority in this “closed” country. They represent a giant step toward the salvation of their people. But according to the law, they cannot share the gospel with their neighbors and often experience persecution because of their faith.

Nevertheless, small pockets of gospel witness like this one are springing up all over the country as young believers are discipled and sent out from a small seminary in the capital. Eleven of these young men and women graduated from the bible college seminary on Saturday. Gary Rich, who accompanied the Coakleys, gave the commencement address to the graduates and 300 attendees. On Monday, Carroll and Shirley began training several of the students for their month-long deployment to Buddhist villages throughout the country. Shirley and Billie conducted 2 days of training for the women of the church.

On their way home, the Coakleys and the Richs visited two missionary couples in Singapore for a refreshing time of fellowship and prayer. They write, “We felt God’s anointing on us in everything with which we were involved… The Riches could hardly believe all of the success of T’s ministry and how it has been used by God… WDA has been a great part of it through the power of God’s Spirit.”

WDA labors alongside these brothers and sisters in offering training, resources, and prayer. It is our heart’s earnest desire that through this crucial equipping ministry, this closed country might open its doors to the gospel of Jesus Christ. There’s a lot to be done,” says Carroll, “but few sowers. There are not a lot of people who want to go and have the commitment.”

Pray for the spreading of the gospel and the ongoing work of helping faithful brothers and sisters around the world grow to maturity. Consider making the Coakleys and especially the people in “closed” areas of the world a part of your regular prayers! Work such as this doesn’t happen without the support and prayers of God’s people.

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All our words, from loose using, have lost their edge. – Ernest Hemmingway

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. – Jesus (Matthew 16:24)

What is discipleship?  It is a word that has come to mean both everything and nothing and this is largely because our efforts to define the word normally relate to the actions associated with discipleship rather than understanding the core issues involved.  This is why in some circles discipleship has come to mean evangelism, in other circles it means bible study, scripture memory, and the pursuit of personal holiness, still in other circles it means being active in missional engagement.

But these things are the fruit of discipleship, not the tree itself.  To define discipleship in these terms would be like describing marriage as sex, or parenting, or filing for joint bank accounts.  It certainly CAN describe the word, but it definitely doesn’t encompass it.

And if we’re honest, this is a big problem right?  Jesus left us with a central command to go into all the world and make disciples, and many of us can’t even agree on what that means practically.  But if we’re honest, our problem doesn’t really come from a lack of understanding, it comes from our unwillingness to swallow the distasteful words that Jesus plainly speaks.  Deny yourself, take up your cross, follow me.

The truth is that we have selfish and rebellious hearts that chafe under the command to humble ourselves and submit to the will and authority of one who is higher than us.  The truth is that we are afraid of any cross, because we are afraid of death and pain.  And the truth is that our claims to “follow Jesus” are related much more to our minds and words than to our hands and feet.  At least this is the truth about me.

Is it really more complicated than that though?  Has the word discipleship lost the edge that it was intended to have?  At WDA we’ve thought about this a lot; take some time and check out some more of how we’ve tried to work this out in the day to day and please share your thoughts in the comments.


Jesse DukesAuthor:  Jesse Dukes
Jesse leads LocalScope a WDA Next Generation Ministry