The prayer time with key leaders on a Zoom call was a little awkward for a few minutes, but the beauty of praying together for the needs in their diverse neighborhood transcended the method of communication. Henry Bouma shares, “The prayers began to flow as the men became more familiar with the video conference tool and by the end of the hour we were uplifted and grateful that we could join together in prayer.”
The ability to move from face-to-face relationships to digital discipleship is based on a deep foundation of Life-to-Life® disciplemaking that Henry and Jacqueline Bouma (Navigators I:58) have invested in their Grand Rapids neighborhood over many years. They authentically share life and Jesus, holding Bible studies and growing generations of disciples among young adults in their community.
“We have more than 40 young people who regularly participate in Bible study,” says Jacqueline. “We break into small groups, led by those we have discipled. We are always looking for those who have leadership potential.”
Investing in the next generation is key to creating disciplemakers who then invest in the next generation and on and on to grow more disciples. Henry says, “We invite those with potential to learn about their spiritual gifts and life abilities. They write a mission statement for their life and invest in young people, receiving training and mentoring along the way.”
Bible studies and discipleship training continue in this season of COVID-19 and physical distancing, with regular check-ins via text, conversations, and online video conferencing. “Initially there was a little hiccup in our connections,” says Henry, “until we got into the stride of using social media and virtual tools. Now there is as much opportunity for Life-to-Life discipleship as there was before the coronavirus pandemic.”
The high school leadership training continues twice a week. A recent meeting featured a guest speaker who encouraged the young leaders to be a voice for justice in their community. The concern for their community during this COVID-19 crisis includes both physical and spiritual needs, as Navigators inform and help their neighbors find local resources for food, educational services, and city programs.
The spiritual fruit of the investment in young leaders is seen in graduates who are now disciplemakers. J.P. and Mario have gone through the discipleship program and are now investing in Life-to-Life discipleship with the next generation in their community. As college students, they are now growing in their vision for how God can continue to transform lives!
“Ultimately, I want to return to Asia and be the director for the Christian mission school I attended,” says J.P., “but for now I am reaching out to students in America. I don’t have to figure out the next step of my plan—my job is to obey what God tells me to do today.”
Mario shares how he has grown. “Henry taught me how to spread the Word of God no matter where I am. He invested in me, studying the Bible with me, and teaching me how to pray. Now, I mentor someone else, pouring what I have learned into another person. I do not know what God has in store for me, but I know that He has been faithful, and His grace is why I am alive.”
Through a foundation of prayer, the Boumas humbly and faithfully pour the love of Christ into those they disciple. This prayerful stance is reinforced during the pandemic, as Henry and Jacqueline get up in the morning and ask God how He wants them to serve and who they should connect with each and every day.
Pray that God will show you how you can invest in the people living in your neighborhood, just as the Boumas. You too can make a difference! Pray for your neighbors, be observant about what they may need, pray for God to open a door for relationships.