From Disciple to Disciplemaker at Camp Lejeune

As a new follower of Jesus, Malachi Onwuka sought out community when he arrived at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He found it in a Navigators Military Bible study.

Two men at the beach, chatting by the ocean on the sand. One of the men is holding a baby boy.
Malachi Zachary and one of his children spend a day together at the beach talking about Jesus

Malachi’s eagerness to grow spiritually was soon evident, and he was invited to join a smaller group of Marines who intentionally ministered to others.

“I started listening to these guys talking about specific people they’d shared the gospel with in their circles of influence. That was such a challenge for me,” he says. “That was the beginning of me looking outward instead of just at myself.” The next day, he shared his faith with a guy he worked with at the base. It was a lot easier than he’d thought!

Through the group, Malachi began to understand what laboring looks like: “abiding in Jesus and inviting others into that.”

As Malachi’s time in the Marines neared its end, Navigator staff Zachary Mills invited him to stay in Jacksonville for more training in discipleship. The two began to meet every Thursday for dinner at Zack’s house. Malachi loved the challenge of the questions Zack asked: “Why do you think that? What are you asking God for?” Malachi was struck by how Zack responded to what he shared. He was “quick to listen and slow to respond,” he says.

Malachi believes the deepest impact of their time together was simply observing how Zack interacted with him and his children. “He demonstrated some qualities I’ve always wrestled with,” Malachi says.

Malachi longed to have the same impact on others that Navigators had on him. He saw the power of Life-to-Life® discipleship, of watching other believers live out their faith. After Malachi left the military in November 2021, he decided to join The Navigators on staff.

Following Zack’s example, Malachi and his housemate open their house to Marines. For some, it’s become a weekend home: a place to hang out, discuss deep life issues, look at Scripture together—and have fun!

Malachi helps facilitate a small group in the Camp Lejeune Bible study and meets with men. He finds joy and purpose in seeing those he is discipling grow in Christ and get excited about reading the Bible together and praying together.

Life in the military can be a hard road, but God is at work even in the hard places. Jesus acknowledged that “in this world you will have trouble” but He promised hope and peace to those who follow Him (John 16:33 NIV).

Through Life-to-Life discipleship, Zack and Malachi share that hope in Jesus with those who serve our country.

Discipleship Tip:  

Find someone who follows Jesus and ask them honest and challenging questions about their relationship with God. For example, “Where are you energized in your relationship with Jesus and where are you struggling?” Then invite them to ask you similar questions.

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) visual information does not imply nor constitute DOD endorsement.

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