A Beautiful Story
As questions about personal disciple-making continue to come in, I thought it might be helpful if I shared a story that might help you get a better understanding of what we’re hoping to see happening in and through UPC.
A Beautiful Story
Pat Soyorur grew up going to church with his family every Sunday. He has fond memories of occasionally eating at Bob Evans after the worship service. When he was in high school, he was somewhat active in the youth group at his church. But then he went to college. Pat was presented with many new and seemingly wonderful opportunities. Religion took a back seat in his life. For several years he lived like everyone else around him. Deep down, he knew he wasn’t living the way he should have been. But it didn’t bother him enough to change. Life continued.
When he was 26 years old, Pat became acquainted with a man somewhat older than him. He knew the older man was pretty serious about God. And he was impressed with the way the older man seemed to genuinely care about him. As their relationship developed, the older man asked him some questions. They were theological questions, but Pat didn’t really know anything about theology. The older man picked up on that fact and said, “Would you be willing to let me teach you what the Bible is really all about?” Having been treated so well by this older man, and being able to see several admirable qualities in him as well, Pat agreed to be taught.
Over the next several months, Pat and the older man met to discuss the Bible. Many of their meetings were over the phone, since they didn’t live close to one another. They read the Bible together. The older man asked Pat good, probing questions.
“What do you think this passage actually means?”
“If this were true, how would it impact your daily life?”
“What do you think Jesus is trying to teach His disciples here?”
Two things began to happen. First, Pat began to respect the older man more and more. And, second, Pat began to realize he had never really come to understand what the Bible really teaches. Nobody had taken the time to teach him the way the older man was. Nobody had patiently answered his many questions the way the older man was. For the first time, Pat was really learning, really growing, and really getting excited about Jesus.
The older man often used a word with which Pat wasn’t familiar: glory. The older man was always talking about God’s glory, and glorifying God, and being glorified one day. Pat couldn’t quite figure out why the older man talked about glory so much. But life continued.
One day, after nearly a year of reading the Bible and talking with the older man, Pat was sitting in a chair. It was a big, black chair. The older man had recommended a book for Pat to read, and he was sitting in the big, black chair reading the book. As he read, something the author had written gripped him. He felt a lump in his throat and tears welling up in his eyes. He closed his eyes, big tears rolled down his face – first on the right side, then on the left. He fell forward, out of the big, black chair, onto the floor. There, on his knees, he worshiped God. He had finally come to understand what the older man meant when he talked about the glory of God. Things changed. Life had new meaning. Pat was filled with purpose and joy. Jesus had become precious to Pat, and Pat believed that, the whole time the older man was teaching him, he had been very precious to Jesus. New life began.
Pat and the older man continued to talk about the Bible with one another. Pat was hungry to learn, even more than before. The older man taught him what it meant to live for God’s glory. Pat’s behavior began to change, bit by bit. Pat began to teach others what the older man had taught him. In time, Pat and the older man stopped talking regularly. They began to talk occasionally. And they still do. But the older man had done something invaluable for Pat. He had invested time, energy, and (most importantly) love, into a process through which Pat came to know what the Bible is really about, why God is glorious, and how to live to glorify and enjoy God. He helped Pat come to know Christ, grow in faith, and go and make disciples.
Not long after that 18-month period of time, Pat began to feel the Lord calling him to be a pastor. And today, Pat Soyorur is a pastor. If you are a member of UPC, he’s your pastor. The letters in “Pat Soyorur” are the same letters in “your pastor.” This is my story. It’s a beautiful story. Isn’t it?
While I love the older man who personally discipled me, many years ago, he would be the first to admit that he’s an ordinary man. He works in the HR department of a metal coating company. He has a wife and four grown children. He attends a small PCA church in South Florida. And I’m not the first person he personally discipled, nor am I the last. In fact, he did for me what someone else had done for him. And now I seek to do for others what was done for me. My favorite moments are the ones when people I’m personally disciping come to understand God’s glory. I loved that moment in my journey. I tear up just thinking about it.
At UPC, we want to train as many of our members as possible to be ready, willing, and able to personally disciple others. We want to equip you to invest in someone’s life, over a period of time, to help them truly know Christ, understand how to grow in faith, and be able to go and do the same for others; to go and make disciples. We want you to be the older man in a beautiful story. If you want that too, everything else will fall into place as God leads, provides, and empowers you to that end. For now, seek the Lord. Ask Him to give you faith to, at least, keep listening and learning as we continue to flesh out our vision for personal disciple-making at UPC.
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