International (MNN) — A lot can change in a year.
That’s exactly what Gospel For Asia is hoping with each semester that passes in their School of Discipleship. Vice President of Gospel for Asia Danny Punnose explains, “The School of Discipleship is a one-year discipleship program with us, more like an internship program, down in Dallas, where they get to go to class a couple of times a week, but the main emphasis is that they would learn to walk with the Lord throughout this whole year.”
Sometimes life is just too busy, and young people don’t know what they’re capable of. They don’t know exactly what to listen for when trying to hear God’s “still, small voice.” Punnose says sometimes, all they need is for someone to give them a chance to bloom. “If someone can point them in the right direction, give them a deeper sense of knowing the Lord, they can do significant things. They’ll change this generation. They’ll go as missionaries; they’ll do great and mighty things.”
To a large degree, when you say missions in the North American church, eyes glaze over. However, Punnose says that mindset is directly linked to discipleship and long-term critical thinking. “We live in a time where everything is temporal, or everything is just right now. They don’t think long term. We live with a kind of consumer mentality and not thinking of anyone else except themselves. It’s really damaged us in terms of missions. Missions is others centered.”
The School of Discipleship is an environment where young people can escape those distractions and gain God’s direction as they seek Him with all their hearts. “We’ve had close to 100 students go through the program,” notes Punnose. “We’ve seen them go back to college: some of them are teaching, some are missionaries in different places, some of them are on staff with us. We’ve seen across the board that they all have this radical change in their heart of knowing the Lord, not just knowing about Him.” When they visit the mission field, they gain a kingdom worldview which challenges them to live and serve in light of eternity.
The School of Discipleship offers the unique opportunity to serve at GFA’s international headquarters, making a tremendous impact on the mission field. Each student represents more than 150 national missionaries and 400 Bridge of Hope children. They also join GFA staff in pleading to God on behalf of the poor, oppressed, and unreached, believing Him for impossible things. “Our heart’s passion is that [students] will go back to their churches, their ministries, may be even go as missionaries, and take that same passion and heart and missions challenge so that they can stir up other people for the heart for the lost and for the Lord.”
Punnose says the GFA philosophy of discipleship is not taught in the classroom as much as it is taught in life, because we learn by example and by doing. It’s head knowledge turning into heart knowledge. Paul told Timothy, “Follow me as I follow Christ,” so GFA seeks to provide godly examples to learn from. “If someone really understands what discipleship is, it’s denying yourself: ‘Pick up your cross and follow Me.’ If you really follow Christ, you will have that heart of missions. Missions in life is not separate; discipleship in life is not separate.”
It is a life-changing year at Gospel for Asia’s home office in Carrollton, Texas (near Dallas). As students study and grow in true discipleship, they’ll be taking on a ministry role in the GFA U.S. office. That work will enable hundreds of national missionaries to bring the Gospel of Christ to the unreached.
The school is open to dedicated Christian single adults who are between the ages of 18 and 27 as of the first day of the GFA School of Discipleship. There is an application process and tuition as well. The college gap is often a good time to regroup and prepare for the direction a young adult can go…because a lot will change in that year.