Disciplemakers for Life: From Collegiate Roots to Continued Growth

As Micah made the transition from high school to college, he felt like his life in high school hadn’t reflected his faith in Christ. He wanted to make different choices in college and learn how to walk in his faith.

From left to right: John and Jess Payton family, Micah and Monica

After filling out the Iowa State University housing information and making dorm preference selections, Micah was assigned to a random roommate in a dorm that wasn’t on his preference list. 

When he emailed his future roommate to coordinate what to bring for amenities, he saw that God had a hand in this “random” assignment. His roommate introduced himself and said that he was a sophomore and would be leading a Bible study in the fall. They became not only roommates, but also friends, and Micah experienced Life-to-Life® discipleship from the start of college. 

After his freshman year, Micah continued to grow his faith foundation through a Navigators Summer Training Program (STP), a discipleship program where college students do life together while being employed for the summer in a specific location. At the start of his sophomore year, he was connected with Parker for ongoing discipleship. 

Parker was in veterinary school. Even with the demands of his program, he still had a passion to be engaged in collegiate ministry. He knew from his own experience of growth through Navigators Collegiate at University of Wyoming that God could use the college years for significant spiritual growth. 

He spent a year on EDGE Corps (a post-college internship with Navigators Collegiate) and then was an associate Navigators staff at Iowa State

“I saw Micah grow both inwardly and outwardly during our time together,” says Parker. “The first semester we were studying the fruit of the Spirit, and he was soaking these qualities into his character. He also was overflowing with a passion for sharing the gospel, especially in his fraternity.” 

As they spent time together, Micah was able to observe the lifestyle of disciplemaking in Parker’s everyday choices. 

“Parker was an example to me of how to stay connected to God and filled by God so you can pour out into others,” says Micah. “I know he was spent at the end of each day—he was married, in vet school, and on associate staff—and still he invested in me and pointed me toward Jesus in every decision I faced.” 

Emily, Parker’s wife, was also discipling students. She discipled Monica, who was part of a sorority. 

When Micah and Monica started dating, they looked to Parker and Emily for an example of marriage and ministry. Micah shares, “They would always point us to Jesus, in every stage of our relationship, every decision, every emotion. We still stay in touch even though we live in different cities now.”

Finding Spiritual Growth Opportunities in Every Life Stage

Now that he is almost four years past his college years, Micah reflects on the difference in growth opportunities while in college and now in the workplace. “Navigators Collegiate did a good job of preparing us for continued growth. Especially in my senior year, they emphasized the importance of finding a church community and continuing to reach out to people in everyday life. College can be a hot-house growth experience and once we are out in our careers, the pace of Christian growth seems slower. Sometimes I wish I had community right next to me like I did in college. I could call someone and get together in 10 minutes.” 

In his first job out of college, Micah struggled to make time to disciple others. “I wanted to disciple someone because I know that when I am discipling someone else, I am also growing and learning about myself. My wife was able to connect with some students in the college town where we moved, and she discipled them.” 

Now that they have moved to another city, Micah and Monica are once again looking for a church community and starting to connect with like-minded friends. They know that God is with them and guiding them in this season of life. 

Micah also notes, “One of the perks of The Navigators community is that in most any city, we can find some alumni, or friends of friends, and connect with other people who share our values and passion for disciplemaking.”

How Cross-Cultural Missions Inspired My Purpose

Both Parker and Micah had significant short-term mission experiences that shaped their view of God’s activity in the world and His call to make disciples. In his work as a safety engineer, Micah finds himself in cross-cultural and international contexts and can live out his calling as an ambassador for Christ in everyday situations. Parker and Emily are currently exploring next steps that might include a long-term overseas commitment. 

“I went to vet school not just for my own career, but as a way to possibly serve overseas,” shares Parker. “In many rural communities, people rely on livestock for their livelihood, and serving the needs of their livestock is a way to be welcomed into their homes and lives. I’ve had the privilege of going to Africa several times and we are now exploring the possibility of relocating to West Africa to serve. As a vet, I can get a visa even into countries that aren’t simple to enter for other purposes.”

How To Grow in Your Faith after College

How can someone who follows Jesus in college transition to their next seasons of life and continue to grow as disciplemakers? 

John and Jess Payton invested years on college campuses with The Navigators before taking on their current role as directors of field staff recruiting. They invested deeply in Parker, Emily, Micah, and Monica while at Iowa State. 

John: Today we help grads think about how to cultivate spiritual family. They can continue to invest in their extended family and invite new people God brings across their path into their lives—a neighbor, coworker, or parent on the soccer sidelines. The everyday decisions that young professionals make about work and lifestyle set a trajectory. We want to position them for greater Kingdom impact. 

Jess: The accelerated time of growth students often experience in Navigators Collegiate is like a fire that remains hot because the coals are close together. As people move on, the coals are separated and may cool off. Periodically, they need to connect with someone who will fan their flame. Even when they are scattered, they can maintain relationships with people whose hearts beat for Jesus, the lost, and the nations. This scattered Navigator family can continue to nurture people like Micah, Monica, Parker, and Emily over the long haul. 

Discipleship Tip:  

Who are those people encouraging you in your relationship with Jesus? Reach out to one of them this week and share how their intentionality has made a difference in your life.

Disciplemakers for Life: From Collegiate Roots to Continued Growth | The Navigators Collegiate Ministry | 08.02.22-Article-Web

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