Archives For What our Graduates Do

Isaac and some people from his church in Thailand

Matt recently visited Isaac to see first-hand how he is building a disciple-making ministry in Bangkok. What is it like to see discipleship happen in Thailand?

Meeting on the Degree programme, Matt Bodinham and Isaac Lasky became fast friends. Upon graduating in 2014, both Matt and Isaac began building disciple-making ministries, spread out across the globe.

Matt went back to his hometown to begin building a youth discipleship charity and Isaac moved to Thailand and began to serve with New Anglican Missionary Society. Here is Matt’s story of his visit.

“This past spring my wife, Amy, and I had the opportunity to go and stay with Isaac and his wife Pat. One of the things that I enjoyed the most about getting to see them, was the opportunities to see what life and ministry look like for them.

Isaac Lasky and Pat Lasky

“Isaac and Pat live in a Christian Student Centre, and run the local church that focuses on that group. As well as living amongst the students, Pat works at the coffee shop in the centre. So, within hours of landing in Bangkok, we were sat in a cafe being introduced to numerous Thai people that Pat and Isaac work with, and are discipling.

“We learnt that culturally, Thai people don’t really introduce each other, so Isaac filled us in on their names, where they’re from, what they’re studying, other things he knew about them, and most importantly, what they brought to the church. It was clear just from this that Isaac was very intentional at getting every member of the church to invest and help with the running; something that I believe is a key tenant of discipleship and faith.

Matt and Isaac on Palm Sunday

“On Palm Sunday, Isaac had asked if I would lead the sermon, and I was happy to do it (if not a little nervous at having to speak through a translator). When we got to Sunday morning, I was looking forward to standing up in front of people and sharing the message that I felt that God had given me. The reality was that I was in for a surprise, because by the time we got to the sermon, I was the last one to do something for the service.

“Isaac had invited a twelve-year-old (on the spot) to the welcome and connective parts of the service, and that was just the beginning. Whether it was leading the worship, preparing a meal for everyone afterward, doing
a dramatic re-telling of the Palm Sunday Story, every single person in the room led a part of the service- even Amy, who was asked to do the English half of the reading (again, on the spot)!

“It really made me think of my own church, and what our expectations of the congregation are: do we just ask the same people do jobs, or do we make it the role of the whole church to lead? This, I think, is a really key piece to discipleship that I see Isaac really model well, and it was such a blessing to be able to get to see and be a part of it.”

Isaac & Pat Lasky in the Village

What would you do if 3000 young people turned up at your youth group next week?

This past week we brought together the leaders and volunteers from seven youth groups who are investing in young people.  They gathered to pray, worship, rehearse what God is doing in their local churches and to sharpen their ministries towards making disciples who make disciples.

12508945_1092012094163956_5313833936411244066_n20160109_105215

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our alumni, Sarah Keshtkaran from Hamburg, Germany shared a challenge from based on Acts 1:

41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 47 And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

“I want to be very honest with you. I have been part of my church since over six years now. And we have always been a church. God has been carrying us for over 80 years. But having a church doesn’t mean building disciples. Making disciples will always build the church, but I have seen far too many churches that do not make disciples.

In summer there were about 30 girls added to our group – just like that. But we weren’t ready. They sat in groups of 15 girls, each with one leader.  But now we don’t know where most of them went.  We didn’t even know all of their names, we couldn’t be interested in each one, we couldn’t teach them, we couldn’t build relationships. It was too much for us to take.

For our youth group of 300 young adults we only have five small discipleship groups so far. There are only ten people that we have walked through that process, who are able and willing to lead others in their discipleship walk. So there are over 200 young adults, seeking God but not having more than songs and a sermon once a week.

Yes, God is gracious. And yes, I know, that he has always been building his church with unanswered needs and unperfect people.

But what if tomorrow 3.000 young people showed up at my youth group?

I want to be prepared. I believe the work and the pain that discipleship costs me is worth it. I want to do what Jesus did, I want to go all the stages from the unchurched, to the teachable, to the assistant, to the leader who becomes greater than I am. I want to do it – because it’s worth it.

This passage is often referred to like “this is the dream we’re all living for”, that the Lord would add to our church daily. Just like that, after one speech.

But if I think about it, it might turn out like our greatest nightmare if it would actually happen in my church. Why? Because we’re not prepared.

We want the miracle, but we might first have to get prepared. Do the work that Jesus did, so we’re ready for the miracle.

The church was able to take these 3.000 in, to have fellowship with them, to break bread with each one of them, to pray and share and be together because there were enough leaders among whom they could split that number up.

They didn’t have big church buildings. They didn’t have speakers so all 3.000 or 4.000 could hear the preacher and the worship team better. They had living rooms. And I don’t know about your living room, but mine isnt big enough for 3.000 people. And maybe that isn’t God’s purpose for living rooms. But we read that it worked for the early church. So how did it work?

I read of 72 having been sent out and trained by Jesus and of 12 very close Apostles. That’s 84 leaders. 3.000 new believers. That means 36 for each one. That sounds far more like a living room number.

The church was able to grow because Jesus had done the work of leading people through all the four stages: start – grow – lead – expand. He had done the work and the church was prepared.”

IMG_5487  IMG_5483

IMG_5478  IMG_5482

 

 

 

 

Isaac NAMS team

Eight months ago we highlighted the exciting opportunity to send Isaac, one of our graduates from the degree programme, off to Thailand. He’s been learning the Thai language, building relationships, and participating with the local church.

In April, Isaac joined a team traveling throughout Nepal to meet with church leaders and participate in conference sessions on discipleship. Shortly after their arrival in Kathmandu, their plans were disrupted by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck on 25 April and the aftershocks that followed.

The conferences moved forward but the team spent much added time in prayer with the local believers. Isaac partnered with local pastors to communicate his message in each session. He drew from his experiences discipling young people in Colchester, resources from his degree studies, and tools that had been effective in the UK to inspire church leaders in Nepal to prioritise discipleship.

He then returned to Thailand wrestling with all he had experienced in Nepal – the destruction and devastation all around him, and the commitment and devotion of the believers in all regions of Nepal amidst such tragedy. What a privilege it was to bring such encouragement, hope, and truth into the places that had experienced so much loss.

As I listened to Isaac’s reflections on his time spent in Nepal, he spoke with a heavy heart, as one who had been deeply affected by what he saw and heard. Those memories won’t leave him, but they can be used as fuel for furthering the work of making disciples and living out of a closeness with God.

I could see a fresh resolve in him to continue in the work God has called him to in Thailand. And we can partner with this graduate through prayer for the work in both Thailand and Nepal. To see lives changed. To see disciples made. To see the church alive.

Isaac 2

Three months ago we were celebrating Isaac’s graduation from the degree programme. Today we celebrate that he is getting on a plane in London and heading out to Thailand.  He’s not going to Thailand for the reasons most 23-year old lads go… Reign Director, Kyle McKinnon shares a bit of Isaac’s story:

Isaac grew up in Colchester and he proudly speaks about his hometown to anyone who will listen. I first met him when He enrolled in the Reign Ministries degree programme in 2011.  Over the past 3 years our team has been blessed to come alongside him and see him equipped in mission and discipleship.

The first time I visited Colchester I was able to watch Isaac lead a small discipleship group in his grandparents lounge.  That evening I also got to have a meal with his family and hear about his passions.   As I drove home from that visit I reflected on how Isaac represented so many other British twenty-year-olds.  He had a family that loved him, he enjoyed sport, and he was part of a community that he was proud of.

Over the past 3 years the team at Reign has often heard Isaac carrying on about the merits of Colchester and his local football team.  And although we tease him, we are proud that he is so proud, because what we see when we look at Isaac is a normal bloke who loves life and loves people.  We can hear his love for people spill out when he talks about his church, his football team or young people he is discipling.

Beyond Colchester, Isaac also has a huge heart for the world.  During his placement in Colchester God gave him lots of opportunities to develop relationships with young people and university students from a broad international community.  Over his three years of training I saw his heart for people grow and break at the same time.  I have seem him tear up over the friendships he made while visiting India, Moldova, Germany, Poland, and Thailand. Each visit overseas expanded his understanding of the world’s deep needs.

So it didn’t surprise me at all when he said that he felt God was calling him to go to Thailand for the next couple years.  The need for God to work mightily amongst teenagers in Thailand is huge.

Today we celebrate that God is taking a Colchester lad with a love for God and for people and is using him to help meet that need.  And we pray that God will keep raising up Colchester lads like Isaac who will take Jesus to the world.

 

Hannah graduated in 2012 after studying youth ministry with Reign Ministries.  Today she is married and splits her working hours between the a Youth Project in the midlands and a part-time role supporting the Training Team at Reign.

Here she shares about how what’s like to minister at the crossroads of an economically diverse community and how she is seeing God work in the lives of teenagers.

IMG_4319

Matt and I have lived in our village for around 8 months now, and already feel as though we’ve been wholly welcomed into village life. The one thing that surprised me most about this small village is the diversity; driving down any one street you can see huge stately houses, yet just across the other side of the road are rows of run down council houses. “The crossroads” (actual crossroads) marks the shift between the more affluent side of the village and the more impoverished side. The majority of the kids we come into contact with are from the more impoverished families; occasionally they can’t even pay the 50p entrance fee to our youth club.

 With only one shop, two pubs and nowhere really for kids to hang out (especially in bad weather) the Youth Project is invaluable for our young people. We work with kids from the age of 7, all the way up to 18. And although I don’t like to judge success by numbers, our groups have grown significantly in the past 6 months and we’re now working with around 30 local kids, with numbers rising. 

The exciting thing for me, however, is seeing God soften the hearts of the young people I come in to contact with. Many of these young people come from really challenging backgrounds, and face pain and rejection that I can’t even imagine.   Yet I’ve seen them slowly understand the amazing love that God has for them. Slowly understanding that he is merciful and gracious and wants to be in relationship with them. It’s so great hearing them debating with each other passionately about issues that really matter.

I’ve seen these kids welcomed into our tiny little church with opened arms, without distrust or judgement. It can be so easy to become disheartened with petty church (and village) politics, but when I see my little ones sitting right at the front of church, trying to sing along to unknown hymns, and listening intently to preachers (who to be frank – not even the best of us struggle to pay attention to) it lifts my spirit and warms my heart.

Our prayers now would be that soon we could actually live within the village, to have a missional home, and to bridge the gap between the crossroads.