Ageless Disciplemaking

After my wife, Joann, died in 2017, I was feeling very lost. Around that time Jay Pritchard (also with Navigators Encore) sent me an email of condolence with the brief words of encouragement, “You still have the gifts.” I was so inspired by his note that I immediately sat down and listed the gifts God has given me.

I began to reflect on two men I had been discipling for a couple of years. The first was a man from England. He emailed me and asked if I was the Jack Blanch who had ministered in Manchester, England, in 1969. He remembered three messages I had presented to a group of students when he was a new believer. The last message, on spiritual multiplication, still burned in his heart some 49 years later. How amazing!

He felt very alone and discouraged in his desire to make disciples. I began to pray for him regularly.

A few weeks later, he sent me an email saying, “Somebody must be praying.” After 49 years he finally has two men who want to be discipled. One is Nepalese. As we continued corresponding, he shared that he has had no success in evangelism. Last Sunday someone in his church approached him and asked him to explain the gospel!

The second man I have been discipling is a Canadian whom I had met while leading a Navigator training camp in Nebraska in 1967. We became reacquainted while he and his wife served as summer volunteers at Glen Eyrie. I have been helping him learn how to share the gospel. Last year he accompanied me on a trip to Spain to visit my son and people I had ministered to during my years there. He was astounded at what he learned about prayer and evangelism as we traveled together.

With these two in mind and Jay’s comment about my gifts, I asked myself how many people I thought I could impact at this stage of life. I decided that I could disciple 10 people and wrote that number on my daily prayer list. They started seeking me out, and now I am actively working with nine people.

I have become convinced that those I disciple need to know I love them, they need a lot more people praying for them, and they need hope for both the present and the future. I have asked them to read and think about John 15:1-17 to give them hope. I am also using John 7:37-39 to encourage them to believe God for “rivers of living water” to be flowing out of them. I am recruiting new prayer warriors to energize their efforts.

Recently one of the people I disciple emailed me: “I am having great conversations with some friends about the Kingdom of God. This has been an amazing thing and I am very encouraged by it. Your prayers are being answered!”

Not only does this fruit encourage my heart, it also compels me to press on in Life-to-Life discipleship!


Where are you in your journey with God? Do you have gifts you are not utilizing? Pray for God to show you how you can be used fully for His glory. No matter what season of life you’re in—younger or older—God can use your gifts! 


  1. Hi Dean,
    My friend Gary Kallio would like to be in touch with you.
    How might he do that?

    Thank you,
    Gary Glenney-long time Nav staff, presently in the Seattle area.

  2. Jack, always love hearing your motivational and practical stories! Life has thrown all of us some curve balls but one of God’s nonverbal messages to us is that as long as we are breathing He still has work for us to do.

  3. Encourages me Jack, Seems many others are taking encouragment to disciple a few that God guides them
    to. Had a young college student express his desire to be mentored by an older Christian just yesterday.

  4. Jack, I enjoyed reading this and fully believe God’s work for you is not done. Keep spreading the Gospel. Lots of people still need the Good News you’re sharing.

  5. It’s amazing to me how things go full circle. Jack, you and JoAnn were on the Golden Hills Missions Team back in the early 90’s when my husband Joe and I were first recruited into the world of missions. Almost 30 years later and we are still enjoying serving on the missions team at our local church and being involved with both local and international missionaries.
    We did not recall that your ministry was with Nav’s. Now our daughter Caitie is serving in her third year in the Navigator’s collegiate ministry

    Janice and Joe Compton

  6. Jack, thank you for this encouraging message of discipling as a lifestyle. I have the desire to be and do like this and am askiing God to help me step out in trust of Him to give me His words and steps with people he brings in my path. Am praying to grow in the gifts he’s given me for His kingdom.

  7. Thank you, this was really encouraging while my husband is suffering back pain and we are mostly shut-ins. We do still have the gifts and the Comforter!.praise the Lord Jesus!

  8. Thank you, Jack. You & Joann were a blessing to our group in Fresno years ago and you continue to be a blessing today. Thank you for sharing
    Jet & Dorie

  9. I am 88. The love of my life died this past Sept. I am praying for God’s leading as to what He wants me to do. So far it is a lot of prayer. I am praying for many…in and out of the church. Thank you for your encouraging message. God Bless you and keep you. John

  10. Thanks so much Jack! I very much appreciate your sharing, and your example in continuing to love people and invest in them throughout your life. Even in your sharing you are inspiring others, like me, to do the same. Thanks! Chuck

  11. Jack, you are an example and an encouragement to all of us. Yes. “You still have the gifts.” R

  12. Thank you for the encouragement! Last Fall I had 3 compression fractures in my back and thought God couldn’t use me again. This week, I am going back to Jail ministry with women who desperately need the Lord! The Lord has graciously healed me! Praise the LORD!

  13. Very encouraging note and all the reminders that if we are breathing, God has a plan for our lives and we need to pray and move forward using the gifts that we have been given by God!

  14. I was an American student in Santiago de Compostela in 1978. The first morning I was looking for a place to live and a beautiful American woman stopped me to chat. She was Joanne Blanche. The couple invited me into their home on several occasions. In 1983 my husband and I traveled to Spain and we visited them again…They were such an encouragement to us. They visited my mom and dads farm at some point (in Martelle, Iowa) ….they made such an impact on our lives just because of THEIR LIVES! So good to see you here, Jack!

  15. Encouraging indeed! Am doing the same in the midst of my Stage 4 cancer. Ac 20:24; 1 Co 15:58
    Jim Chew

  16. Sorry, my comments was too long. No prior warning of the stated limit to the number of characters permitted.

    Briefly, Just to say thank you for sharing. Keep loving your people, which is the hallmark of a true follower of Jesus. Keep praying for each one as Jesus did, though unrecorded for every disciple.

    I officially left the Navs after more than 50 years of active involvement as I was unable to fulfil the job description for an associate. Fondly remember my time with many pioneers including Roy Robertson, Gene Tabor, Gene Denler and others.

    God bless
    Tom Lee

    1. I’m happy to learn seniors are still pugging away. Sharlng part of your experiences encourages me. I was not in the nav ministry, but had some friends who were involved as volunteers from Oklahoma City, Ok. This was back in the years 73-77. Did any of you meet Gene Warr, Kent and Kirk Humphreys, they were actively involved volunteers?

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