A few weeks ago I had the amazing privilege of joining together with 6000+ believers (mostly Asians) at the Global Discipleship Congress (GDC) in Manila, Philippines. It was a transformational experience as God used several Spirit-filled Asian leaders to challenge us to intentionally live a life of making disciples — to live out our faith and to pass it on to others. Wishing that all SEND members could experience GDC along with me, I started jotting down a few notes for a potential blog (a poor substitute for actually being present, I know, but hopefully better than nothing).
Rev. Edmund Chan
The Global Discipleship Congress got its start with God working in the heart of Rev. Edmund Chan, a Singaporean pastor with a passion for seeing churches be intentional in their disciple-making. As Rev. Chan welcomed us to the Congress, he remarked,
“My burden for the church is that many Christians don’t pass on to faithful people the things that they learn. Or worse, they try to ‘pass it on’ without ‘living it out’! Oftentimes, we live a life of inconsistency that compromises discipleship and truncates disciplemaking. The 2016 GDC Asia Conference seeks to address this need for the Asian Church. It’s time for the Asian Church to arise in the disciple-making mandate! Join us. A global discipleship movement is well on its way!”You can read here how God led Rev. Chan to start the Global Alliance of Intentional Disciple-Making Churches. I encourage you to take a few minutes to browse this website and explore some of the resources. I had the privilege of hearing Rev. Chan speak on prayer at a local church following the Congress. To my recollection, it is the most compelling sermon I have ever heard on prayer. I encourage you to take some time to watch it here.
Regarding the Congress itself, three important themes stood out to me:
Intimacy with God must be the one thing that we pursue above all else. Without prior consultation, the first and last speakers of the congress (Rev. Edmund Chan and Dr. Peter Tan-Chi) both spoke on this theme from Philippians 3:8-13. Other speakers also emphasized this truth.
Suffering is necessary. Every speaker at the congress also touched on this theme in one way or another.
Relationship is key to discipleship. This includes our relationship with God first (reiterating #1 above), and then our relationship with people. Discipleship is not primarily about programs or methodologies, but about relationships.
Praise God for the amazing work He is doing in and through His Church in Asia, and may we ALL press on in intentional disciple-making, living out God’s truth and passing it on!