Our LORD once made a bold statement that should help us stay the course. He promised “the gates of hell will never prevail” against his church. (Matt. 16:18) That’s an invigorating battle call! The war will range long and hard, but Christ and his church (us) will overcome the powers of darkness.
Pictured to the right is a young man I met in early 2022. His name is Jim Gibson, and I’ve come to know him as a “tenacious” disciple of Jesus. The first time I met with him and a few others to discuss Timothy Network’s purposes, he left saying, “I’m ready. I want to do this!”
Along with three other men from the Southside congregation in Shelbyville, Jim has been part of a Timothy Network “Equipping Circle” for the past 18 months. This training is an immersive discipling experience for leaders. The goal is that they, in turn, make disciples and help their congregations become proactive about disciple making. The group also includes an elder and two deacons.
Jim recently told the group about obstacles he faced in trying to share his faith while in high school. I asked that he put these experiences in writing. With Jim’s permission, I’ve included his reflections in this e-letter. His story provides encouragement for remaining steadfast in the mission of disciple making – even when results come slowly!
Stick with it! Mike Stroud
From Jim Gibson, Shelbyville…
I was definitely the “overly-Christian” guy in high school. I was the person that would annoy people by inviting them to church or always talk about something Jesus related. People saw me that way, too. They would sometimes comment on it in derogatory or mocking ways. Two guys, in particular, stand out as I think about on that time. They were in two separate crowds of people. Both went out of their way to mock me.
Sometime after we had graduated, I noticed one of them posting Christian media (scripture, music, quotes, etc) on his Instagram feed. On Easter and Christmas, he directly messaged me online and wished me a happy Easter and merry Christmas. Along with that, he kept telling me that he wanted to get together. We eventually met. Not only did I learn he had become a follower of Christ, but he was also a youth leader with a congregation in town! The other guy I mentioned also messaged me online a few years after we graduated. He had a different story, telling me He said he was in a dark and messy season in his life. He wanted me to tell him more about Jesus and Christianity!
I’ve thought about it a lot. What if I had let their taunts shut me up back in high school? Two passages come to mind as I reflect on these experiences.
The Lord said through the prophet Isaiah, “So My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.” Sometimes it’s hard to trust and believe that, especially in the impatient and “microwave” culture we live in. We want immediate results, we don’t want to wait and endure. It’s easy to think something He called you to do was for nothing if you don’t see the fruit of it immediately after.
For me, one of the most encouraging and edifying verses in the Bible has been 1 Corinthians 15:58, when Paul says “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
Nothing we do for God EVER goes to waste! He uses everything offered up to Him. His Word will never return void, even if we never see the fruit. I’ve seen this play out several different times in my walk with Him. There have been situations where I thought there was no way any good would come out of what I gave to Him or His people. The passage of time has shown me otherwise, however.
Regardless of what you think and feel concerning what He has called you to do, He is working and doing something great in the midst of it! Don’t give up!
P.S. Jim has had further contact with the second man in this story. They are scheduled to begin meeting, talking about faith and God, and studying the Bible soon. Let’s pray for him!