Sunday, February 04, 2018

Adventures in Multiplying Disciplemaking Friendships in AZ, NV, and UT...

"The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught."
—Mark 6:30
Click any image below to enlarge for viewing.
I've known Derrick (above) and June Smothers for over 16 years. We first met at a missions conference at Pekin Bible Church, Pekin, IL—where we both were speaking. At that time in our lives, God was in the process of launching Cadre. And God, through the Smothers, was in the process of launching a Gospel-centered church in an area in Utah that had no such church. Derrick is now the Executive Director of E3 Connection. He's a missionary of encouragement and equipping. Does that sound familiar? This is God's story of our partnership in multiplying disciplemaking friendships.

However, this disciplemaking missionary adventure begins in Arizona. The three amigos (me, Stacy, and Ivy) spent a full day together with our disciplemaking friends, Ed and Pam Brockway. If Stacy and I ever grow up, we want to be like Ed and Pam in how they live and spread Jesus-like disciplemaking friendships. Ed wrote me in 2017: "Bill, thanks for pulling me close years ago and challenging me to live as a disciplemaker. I'm regularly investing in nine college students. We're studying Jesus and trying to make disciples like He did. Is there anything greater than this? Thanks for the push. Love you." See what I mean? They are beautiful followers of Jesus.

Then we headed to Mesquite, Nevada, where the Smothers live. Soon we were encouraging and training pastors and ministry leaders from Nevada and Utah at River Valley Bible Church. It was so much fun. In the words of Derrick, "You are so weird Allison. Hardly anyone comes to this part of the country to do ministry. We don't have huge numbers. Funding can be a challenge. And it's not cool or sexy." Well, we like to think of this part of the world as "Cadre Country." Here's why I love this type of challenge. A number of those pictured above are leading the only Gospel preaching church in their counties. In other cases, there might be one other Gospel-centered church in the county. Stop and think about that.

Being disciples, who make disciples, who make more disciples. We think of this as multiplying Jesus-like disciplemaking friendships. It's how King Jesus takes over the world one heart at a time. (Above left: Garreth (and his wife and another missionary couple) have started a church in a highly religious area of Utah that has never had a Gospel witness. There is one now! Tony (on the right) is an unpaid pastor who runs a landscaping business. Here's why I love this!

After the training, we immediately loaded up the car and headed out deep into the state of Utah—about a 5 hour drive. It was disciplemaking friendship all the way. (Car rides are always the excuse for more time together following Jesus.)

The next morning, we were guests on the Mike and Heather radio show on Key Radio in Provo, Utah. This Gospel-centered radio station is a beacon of hope and encouragement to believers—and an evangelistic seed for those who are not believers. We had a lot of fun and there were a lot of God moments. After our time on the radio, we had a great time encouraging Matt Gould, the new pastor at Grace Bible Church in Springville, UT—a church that the Smothers planted years ago. After that, we went to see the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The next day, we gathered with 30+ pastors and church leaders at Fellowship Bible Church in Lindon, UT, to encourage and train them in disciplemaking friendships. Since Derrick had already experienced this training a few days earlier, we did it together this time. I hope you get the idea we're serious about making disciplemakers... not just talking about it. :  )

How Jesus launched a disciplemaking movement that continues to this day.

 We explored Jesus-like disciplemaking values like simplicity, friendship, and withness.

 To be a "leader" like Jesus is to be a disciplemaker like Jesus.

 Rethinking what it means to be a healthy church.

Tapping into Jesus' "secrets" for a disciplemaking movement that continues to transform the world one heart at a time.

After this fun day of training, encouragement, and friendship, the Allisons jumped into Pastor Rodney Zedicher's van and we headed out another couple of hours deep into those beautiful mountains for Ephraim, UT. Rodney pastors the Ephraim Church of the Bible. He and his wife Deanna have seven kids—one boy and six girls. What's not to like about that? We were already bonded at the heart even before we got to know each other. Did I mention that their family vehicle is a 15-passenger van? I can't make this stuff up folks.

I had the honor of speaking in the morning service. 


If you're really bored, you can watch my message above. If the video does't appear, you can watch it here.

After lunch we reconvened for a disciplemaking training lab. Recently, Ephraim Church of the Bible birthed another church in a nearby community and some of those folks were able to join us for the afternoon training. Here's the short we received afterward: "Thank you so much to you and your sweet wife and daughter for spending time with us and for drenching us in God's inspired truths today!"


Here's a very cool thing. We're going to continue our disciplemaking friendship with Derrick and June Smothers and E3 Connection. Derrick will be spending five days with us at our house in IL this March and he'll be a part of our Ministry Is Relationships train-the-trainers gathering we're doing at Dave and Rennie Garda's house in Sycamore, IL. Plus, Derrick will be a part of this in Central IL. We're just going to keep slow-dripping Jesus-like disciplemaking friendships until people from all nations are being disciples who make disciples—who make more disciples. It's the only hope for the world. That's what Jesus said to do.

All that to say: Thank you for reading all the way to the end. You must truly be a friend. We thank God for you. Would you please pray for us? About 1-2 times a month, I'd like to send you a short email with details about how you can say a quick prayer for us. If you are willing to be on our email prayer team, please email me and put "prayer team" in the subject line. We'd be glad to pray for you too. I mean it. This is how Derrick and I have stayed in touch for 16 years. (For up-to-date ways you can pray for us, go here.) Can you help us? We couldn't take any part of this disciplemaking adventure without people like you who love us, pray for us, and give $ to Cadre. Every expression of partnership breathes life into our souls… and enables us to do the same for many others! For more information about how you can partner with God, the Allisons, and Cadre Missionaries, go here.  Cadre Missionaries is a recognized 501(c)3 ministry and donations are tax deductible.

No comments: