When Navigators Workplace staff Roger Van Noord went into his bank last year to handle some financial business, he met Bryan, a young new assistant bank manager. Typically, Roger is eager to engage people in spiritual conversations when he gets the chance, but he hesitated. “Maybe I should wait until next time,” Roger thought. “I have plenty of time to get to know him when I come in to do business.”
After going back and forth in his mind, Roger decided that thought was the evil one trying to dissuade him, and that the Holy Spirit was prompting him to have a spiritual conversation. So, Roger asked Bryan a simple question—“Who is Jesus?”
Bryan quickly responded, “The way, the truth, and the life.”
God had been preparing Bryan for that conversation! He had come to faith a few months earlier but had not had a chance to grow in Christ and was eager to know more. The two agreed to meet for breakfast one morning the next week before Bryan started work. As they met, it became clear to Roger that Bryan had a zeal for God but very little knowledge. They started reading through John 1 together. The next week, the pandemic shut down the opportunity to meet face-to-face.
With years of experience in disciplemaking, Roger listens to God and those he interacts with to discern how to move forward.
“I don’t want to rush someone any faster than they want to go in terms of Bible study and learning about God,” Roger says. “So usually I will have one meeting, then ask when they want to meet again. Once things shut down, Bryan and I met on the phone to read and discuss the Bible together for an hour. As we were wrapping up, I asked when he wanted to meet again. He said, ‘tomorrow.’ That pattern continued as we met for four days in a row. Then we shifted to meeting twice a week.”
Soon Bryan asked if his friend, Christian, could also meet with them and read the Bible. Christian was also new to faith and eager to grow. Roger brought Navigators Workplace staff Jon Hans into the group to help with the discipling relationships and Bible study. Roger had discipled Jon for nearly 10 years and knew that he would connect well with the young men, who were closer to Jon’s age than Roger, who is in his 80s.
A Door to A Community
As the weeks of Life-to-Life® discipleship turned into months, with phone meetings twice weekly and periodic park or backyard times, it became clear that God had bigger intentions for these eager young disciples. They both want to share the Good News and the truth of the Bible with more people in their relational circle. Both Bryan and Christian are Chaldeans, a historically Catholic ethnic minority mostly from the current country of Iraq. The Detroit area is home to 100,000 Chaldeans, and they share a vibrant community life.
Bryan has a heart for reaching out to his family first. “I particularly want to reach out to my brother and show him who Jesus is so he can see the truth and be filled with the Spirit,” Bryan says. “I want to share the Gospel, the truth of the resurrection so that others may know and experience what I now know.”
Christian and Bryan are eager to engage their friends in conversations about biblical truth. Recently, they did a study in Romans with two of their friends, sharing the truth in Romans 8 that Jesus knows what we need even when we cannot describe it in words—“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26).
From Disciple to Disciplemaker
As Jon continues to disciple Christian and Bryan, he is impressed with their heart for others.
“They understand that this isn’t just for them,” Jon says. “They are always wanting to invite friends and family any time we are gathering. They want to share what they are learning with others.”
Jon went through this same transition from disciple to disciplemaker, as he grew in his relationship with Jesus. When Jon first met Roger in 2011, he thought he knew what it meant to be a Christian, but he quickly realized he had no real knowledge of Jesus or faith. He was new in his career as a financial planner and Roger led Bible studies and lunch discussions at the company where Jon worked. At first, Jon decided to attend because a free lunch sounded good. But he quickly realized he was hungry for more than lunch.
“I realized that even though I knew a few things about faith from my childhood, like many millennials, all the actual beliefs I lived my life for were contrary to faith,” Jon says. “Once I started following Jesus, meeting with Roger, and going through Scripture, I experienced a transformative peace in my life.”
After growing as a disciple, Jon started discipling others. He started leading a Bible study at work and meeting individually with people who wanted to go deeper. He took what he was learning from Roger and poured it into others.
While using his skills as a financial planner and also discipling people, he realized that he wanted to shift the focus of his life and go all-in for discipleship. Now with Navigators Workplace, Jon pours into men like Bryan and Christian, to grow the next generation of disciplemakers who will reach new disciples in their spheres of influence.
Pray that many in the Chaldean community in Detroit will come to know and follow Jesus! As you consider your own community, where is God calling you to reach out and make disciples?