Imagine for a moment, planting a seed in the ground and having to wait 150 years just to see it grow only 4 inches. This is what happens in Canada on cliff sides in the Great Lakes area when a white cedar tree is planted. Along it is the slowest growing tree, once it is fully grown, it can actually reach up to 50 feet high!
All the work of planting and nurturing something that you will never see the full results of seems crazy but that’s what we do a lot of times as we care for and disciple the children and teens at ZOE.
When we think about discipleship, our main goal is to teach them about who God is, how much God loves them, and how they can be the change that their city, country, and the world needs.
Like the white cedar tree though, it’s a slow process. Sometimes we think we see the seeds we planted start to break through the surface and begin to sprout, and other times we just keep praying for the seeds that are still in the ground – even though we cannot yet see any signs of growth.
Some of our kids are on fire for God. We see on a weekly basis how they are passionate about praying for their families and friends to get saved.
In other children, who we do not yet see any signs of growth, we do not let ourselves get discouraged. We choose to give them more nourishment just like a plant or a tree would need.
We teach them different lessons from the Bible or just about life in general. We pray with them weekly. Some of the ZOE staff are also part of our mentors group throughout the week, so they spend more 1-1 time with the kids. We select up to 12 kids every month to participate in a school outreach where we do dramas, dances, and songs, and present the gospel message in small groups. We also select some kids to volunteer at a children’s home in the city. This year we are sponsoring a school and village to bless them for Christmas.
Everything we do with the kids and youth through discipleship is about ongoing planting and watering of the “seeds.” We never know which ones will grow into tall strong trees. Our job is to keep praying that every single one of them takes that step in faith.
Discipleship is an ongoing job. It usually involves a lot of sacrifice, and intentionality. It also means that as leaders, we must live out what we are hoping for them to become. We must continue to nourish ourselves to be tall, mature trees thriving in life so that they will also desire what they see on display through our words, actions, and lives.