By Joshua Hire, missionary in Peru
Recently 14 men and 2 women traveled to the Shawi Discipleship Center in Peru to learn more about God. They came from 9 different communities in all corners of the jungle. They came by boat, motorcar, walking and in the back of pickup trucks. They came in through the rain and the sun to hear God’s Word. It was a great week. We ate and fellowshipped together, played soccer, and spent many hours together in the Word of God.
They were so hungry for knowledge of God. We would study all day together and then have church service in the evening until 9:00pm. Afterwards they would ask to leave the generator on until 11 or 12 at night to continue reading and studying. Then they were up at 5:00am singing hymns to start the day before digging back into the Word. It was exciting to see their desire for God.
One afternoon we were studying together when someone read to Luke 14:27: “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
The question was posed to the group: “What does this verse mean? What does it mean to take up your cross?” The room went silent for a few awkward moments as the men pondered the statement. Finally, someone spoke up and said, “I think that means as disciples we may have to suffer to follow Christ.”
Again the room went silent as that statement began to sink in to each of the new believers in Christ. Then finally someone spoke again, “We have come here to be disciples. We have come on long boat rides in the rain. We have walked through mud and rode in the back of pickup trucks in the hot sun. We have left our village, homes, families and fields to come here and be prepared for the work God has for us. We are carrying our crosses and following Christ.”
I was amazed by the statement. Such deep understanding can only come from the Holy Spirit. These new believers understand what it means to carry the cross. They understand that a life devoted to Christ is not necessarily an easy life. They understand the cost of discipleship.