A Lesson in Discipleship at the Pool

Written by summer intern Michelle Morency

At Mission Adelante we believe that making disciples goes far beyond what happens in a classroom or in a Sunday School program. My experiences this summer have echoed this truth as I’ve had the chance to invest in a handful of girls throughout my time here. This past Saturday I took two girls, Ashley (9) and Perla (8), to the local pool. These girls hardly ever get
to go to the pool, and so they began with trepidation, neither wanting to admit their fear of deep water. We slowly moved from the shallow end to deeper water, learning how to hold our breath, swim without plugging our noses, and float on our backs. We advanced to drills of jumping in and swimming longer distances. I would swim beside them, ready to hold them up and all the while encouraging them. Throughout this whole process the girls also learned how to encourage each other as they took risks and faced their fears. The girls were overjoyed each time they accomplished a challenge and were motivated by their successes to push themselves further.
After many little victories and lots of excitement, the girls were determined to jump off the diving board before we left. Although I was hesitant, there was no stopping them. It was a wonderful victory for each of them to jump off for the first time and they both left the pool beaming with pride of their success.

It may seem tedious, tiresome or time-consuming to disciple children at all, and especially to concentrate on only a few, but I believe that real growth happened for Ashley and Perla on Saturday through the challenges that were set before them. Also, countless situations during our time at the pool opened up teachable moments or spiritual conversations. What is exciting to me is not that Ashley and Perla learned to swim better. I am encouraged by the fact that they are the future leaders of this community and that they learned in a really small way how to trust God when he asks them to take a risk for Him.

Going to the pool was not what I pictured for summer discipleship. My suburban, task-oriented mindset gave me dreams of weekly Bible studies and prayer with the girls. I used to feel that time spent with them was ineffective if we had not talked about God. I have learned that discipleship, however, is about sharing life. To make real change in a girl’s life demands much more of my time than a weekly Bible study and calls for a friendship first. Jesus trained the 12 not in classes or seminars but by spending a lot of time with them. Consequently, he was able to speak truth into their lives.

Jumping off a diving board is a small challenge, though it seemed big to the girls. In their Christian lives they are sure to face greater trials, as the early apostles faced trials and persecution. We are told over and over in Scripture that trials await, but that God is purifying us through them and developing perseverance (James 1:3 and 1 Peter 1:7). We must be constantly strengthening each other for Jesus has said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37). We must take on a view of discipleship that equips others, even children, to become workers for God’s Kingdom, and for his harvest field.

Upcoming dates: Everyone is invited to our End-of-Trimester Parties! Come celebrate the accomplishments of adult English learners, teens, and kids, and the incredible dedication of our many volunteers! Both the Bhutanese and Latino parties will be Sunday, August 14 at Wyandotte County Lake Park. The park entrance is at 91st Street and Leavenworth Road in Kansas City, KS.
  • Bhutanese End-of-Trimester Party: Sunday, August 14 at 4:00 p.m. in Shelter #6 at Wyandotte County Lake Park. Please bring a dish or drink to share.
  • Latino End-of-Trimester Party: Sunday, August 14 at 5:00 p.m. in the "Beach Shelter" (Turn right after passing Shelter #6) at Wyandotte County Lake Park. We'll be grilling 'burgers and 'dogs, so please bring a side dish, dessert, or drink to share.