International Ministries

What Does Discipleship Look Like?

December 14, 2015 Journal
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Today, discipleship looks like a High School Diploma.


Sitting in the gym of Emmanuel Christian School (Colegio Evangélical Emanúel) with a torrential downpour crowding out the sound system, I couldn’t help but reflect.  The ministry of the House of Hope began in Cochabamba, Bolivia just over ten years ago.  It was then that I met this energetic and talkative little girl named Liezbeth. She was full of life and full of questions for all of the members of the teams we brought.  She would say, “How you call this?” and point to everything.  You could see her curiosity growing almost by the minute.


Over the years, many short-term teams have come and gon and she has been in the middle of them all – watching, learning and growing up.  At first, she was just a pleasant distraction for the teams far from their own children and grandchildren. but soon she was beginning to contribute to the ministry.  After she started going to school, she added extra afternoon English Classes so she could learn proper English.  More teams came down and that gave her a real-time learning lab!  She would practice phrases as she helped with translation for the teams and joined them in their work and their nightly bible studies.  She continued to watch and be encouraged by the people that God brought her way.


In time, her mom married a wonderful man name Richard (Ricardo) and soon came two little sisters.  Some kids would change their approach here and the ensuing competition for attention would begin, but not in this family.  She stepped right in to help her mom, especially when her friends from North America would come.  She was sister and a caregiver all at once.  Her faith was strengthened as she watched her mother grow into a strong leader and role model for not only the teams that came down, but all of the ministries that they worked with.  Soon a series of events would thrust her mom into the lead role of the ministry and she watched her blossom.  She was there as God began to use her mom to touch people’s lives and she saw how the world could be better if we let God do his work in this world.  She began to follow her lead and to teach English on the weekends as a ministry that gave her opportunities to share the gospel to youth and adults alike.


She grew very active in her youth ministry and in the church.  She became one of the chief translators for teams when they came down so that they would hear the word of God preached and hear the testimony of the missionaries and share them with the ministries they were working with.  God was molding her through them as well.  He was using pastors, doctors, nurses, farmers, construction workers, and many more to show her his love and she in turn was giving that love to others every chance she could. 


Now I am sitting here watching this beautiful young lady walk down the graduation aisle with her mother and all one can do is smile when you see such a confident, young woman who is ready to take the world by storm.  In face, she has been doing just that for years.  She will begin preparing next week for pre-med training so that she can now come and join the ministry as an official partner (even though she already was one) and continue to make a difference in the lives of the poor and displaced around Cochabamba.  She is truly a product of how God has for over a decade used short-term mission teams to encourage and empower people around the world to be more like Him.  She is what discipleship really looks like. 


They say her name, Liezbeth Dabne Salvatierra Flores, and she grabs the diploma with confidence.  She turns and hugs her mom with gusto and hands it to her as if she is saying thank you for everything.  She strides onto the stage and takes her place among her friends, but she has no equal there.  She takes her place boldly, laughing with friends, excited for the day, but in her eyes she is looking to the future. She is poised to make a difference for the Kingdom.


Congratulations, Liezbeth!  You are a shining light to us all.


This is what discipleship looks like.


Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Tim 4.12, NIV)