May 11, 2022
God is at work through a new discipleship manual that you helped make possible.
In Matthew 13, Jesus shares the parable of the sower: a farmer goes out to scatter seeds—but only seeds that fall on good soil produce a crop. Other seeds are scorched by the sun, eaten by birds, and strangled by weeds.
When faith is not nurtured, belief can be choked by doubts and challenging circumstances.
Leaders of the Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria (CRC-N) saw this happening before their eyes, and they knew they needed to do something about it. With support from caring donors like you, they were able to create a discipleship manual for believers.
Challenges Facing the Church
“One of the most urgent needs of the church in Africa is discipleship. We’ve seen that the growth of the church has kind of outpaced the progress of discipleship,” said Mike Van Der Dyke, one of your Resonate Global Mission missionaries who serves in Nigeria.
All believers face challenges as they continue to grow as a disciple of Christ. Mike said that in Nigeria—and throughout many Sub-Saharan African countries—people might easily fall back into practices from Traditional African religions when facing a challenge.
“If they run into any serious illness, a death in the family, or a tragic event in society, the tendency is to go back to some of the African traditional practices and use them to try to counter what is happening in their lives,” said Mike.
One of the most urgent needs of the church in Africa is discipleship. We’ve seen that the growth of the church has kind of outpaced the progress of discipleship.
The influence of prosperity gospel teaching—and the idea that faith in Christ is more transactional than relational—is also far-reaching.
“We have people who are easily deceived by prosperity gospel teaching, by preachers that come with different teachings that aren’t really biblical but have some biblical references,” said Mike.
Leaders of the CRC-N want to equip believers to grow as disciples and help them grow in their personal relationship with God. They want believers to rely on God and be strong in their faith. So, they asked Mike to develop a discipleship manual.
You helped make this work possible.
A New Discipleship Manual
The discipleship manual includes 18 lessons covering topics including the Bible, salvation by grace alone, spending time with God, worship, and more. The manual is intended for personal use by believers, either individually or with a small group. It has been published in English, with plans to publish it in Hausa, a widely-spoken local language.
“[Our leadership] agreed that it will be used in all CRC-N Churches as a [post-baptism] class for all our members,” said Pastor Sagarga Gargea Nuvalga, General Secretary of the CRC-N. “We are hoping that it will build our members to deeply appreciate and cherish their faith and that they will be able to defend their faith. Together with our other materials, we will grow and nurture members to be practical and effective Christians.”
Mike has already been using the discipleship manual for a midweek teaching at his church. Week by week, the group of 50 has worked through the topics.
“We had good discussions and then many of the people would ask for extra copies of the notes so they could give them to family members or children who were not present,” said Mike. “They became more committed to Christ.”
We are hoping that it will build our members to deeply appreciate and cherish their faith and that they will be able to defend their faith. Together with our other materials, we will grow and nurture members to be practical and effective Christians.
Part of the discipleship manual is encouraging believers to take ownership over their walk with Christ and not rely solely on the church for their spiritual growth. The discipleship manual directs believers to look to Scripture for guidance. As the group at Mike’s church worked through the discipleship manual, Mike also distributed a Bible reading plan. Thanks to the discipleship you helped make possible, everyone was eager to set aside time in their daily lives to read Scripture.
“The Bible reading plan has gone over quite well, especially with the elders. They were very enthusiastic about it and have started using it in their own personal devotions,” said Mike.
Thank You for Making This Work Possible
Thank you for providing good soil and nurturing believers’ faith! Please pray for churches and believers as they work through the discipleship manual.
“The CRC-N appreciates the work of Mike Van Der Dyke, who did not only write this material with support of Mission Board, but also financed the publication of the booklets,” said Gargea Nuvalga.
Mike and leaders of the CRC-N are excited for the ways God will work through this discipleship manual to strengthen believers and the church as a whole.
“We’re hoping that this manual will help people to get better grounded in the Bible, more mature in their faith, and help them develop their own personal devotional and spiritual practices and disciplines they can use to grow over the years so they don’t have to depend on church activities,” said Mike.