WEC’s history is full of men and women who have made extraordinary sacrifices for the sake of the gospel. And costly discipleship remains a cornerstone of WEC. John Bagg reflects on what sacrifice means for WEC workers in the 21st century.
When my eldest daughter was a baby, we arranged a service for her to be dedicated. This was a public commitment by the church and by us, as parents, to dedicate ourselves to nurture and care for this little girl as she grew up. One of our friend’s young sons got very upset as the service went on. He had come to the service expecting that our little girl was being sacrificed and, as he had never seen a service like this before, he was somewhat underwhelmed by what unfolded before him that morning!
Sacrifice or costly discipleship is one of WEC’s core values. Firstly, this means wholehearted commitment to serve the Lord. Secondly, it means willingness to give up anything and everything for the sake of something of far greater value: Christ and the growth of his Church.
WEC believe that costly discipleship is a vital principle in kingdom growth. It is an important spiritual discipline in the growth of God’s people, and the gateway through which an even greater blessing, fruitfulness and intimacy with God, is found.
Elfi Bohl’s story illustrates this. Elfi, along with her husband Hans, currently serves as Area Director for Africa, based in Dakar, Senegal (see boxout).
“As a teenager, music was truly my passion and I was convinced that the Lord would use this gift in me. I even dreamt of becoming a music star and I prayed, ‘Lord, use me wherever you want’!
In 1989, my family and I moved to Gambia, West Africa. Life in Africa was very different. I had little privacy and at the end of a long, hot, busy day, I was often too tired to attend to my passion for music. I missed times of undisturbed space where it was just me and my music! I taught some children’s songs in Sunday School and led worship occasionally but, over time, I began losing my joy and became quite depressed. Why did God not allow me to develop what I did best? And why did he send me to Africa after all?
“Through a painful process of sacrifice, God transformed my passion into an instrument he could use for his purposes.”
I came to realise that music was more than a passion in my life: I needed it; it gave me fulfilment and a sense of ‘worth’. In short, it gave me an identity. So, I broke down before the Lord and decided to lay the music and my dream on the altar like an offering, in order that I might fully accept his plan for my life. In exchange, I received a new identity from God, rooted in his unconditional love. He filled me with a new self-worth, hope, peace and joy.
Several years later, the Lord prompted me to learn the African harp, called the Kora, and to use traditional melodies to create scripture-based songs. By his grace, these culturally-relevant songs have touched peoples’ hearts and brought new opportunities to share the gospel!
This is my story of how, through a painful process of sacrifice, God transformed my passion into an instrument he could use for his purposes. I continue to submit the music to God and he, in turn, continues to create space and opportunities for me to glorify him through it.”
Story after story from throughout WEC’s history, and from around the world, show how the willingness to give something up to God leads people into a place where they are free to serve and to receive the blessing of something far more valuable.
People have given up houses, careers, financial security, possessions, passions and desires in order to serve Christ and the communities he leads them to. These same people, looking back, would never trade what they have gained for what they gave up. And we recognise and honour those who have paid the ultimate price and given up their very lives. Even then, we who remain have the privilege of seeing how the Lord uses this most costly type of discipleship to bless the nations and bring glory to his name.
These life choices matter. They demonstrate to all that Christ is of greater worth than any earthly thing. Where we are seeking to be church, we must continually demonstrate that the Saviour we are proclaiming is worthy of our all. And a willingness to persevere in costly discipleship shows that he truly is our greatest treasure.
Could God be calling you to serve in a different culture? Come talk.