Summer 2024

THE INCREASE: The Power of a Changed Life – Steven Souza

Discipleship changes lives.

I think we often rush over the idea of discipleship. We easily forget the very last commandment Jesus gave us before He left earth:

“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.” –Mark 16:15

God has been moving amongst our team this year. He’s been showing me what it looks like to take my relationships with people to the next level in order to not only tell them what it means to follow Jesus, but show them.This year, a few of us on the team have been intentionally focusing on discipleship. As a result, we’ve seen the power discipleship can have to change people’s lives and revolutionize the world with the Gospel.

Chase Whitley, Alex Cobb, and I have been faithfully gathering this year to dive into God’s Word together. Beginning with just the three of us, this Bible study has continually grown larger every month! More and more men are joining, hungry for God’s Word to transform their lives. It’s been amazing to watch men soak in God’s Word over and over again. Experiencing the newness of the Gospel through these men, as they grasp the incredible truths, is inspiring. As I watch them hear it, learn it, and live it out, I see their lives transforming.

In addition to meeting with my teammates for Bible study, I’ve been discipling a friend from back home. This man, a Muslim, recently found the truth of the Bible and gave his life to Christ. The biggest reason he chose to come to Christ was because he realized he didn’t have to do anything to earn His love. To know God would love him just as much on the day he committed his life to Him as He would fifty years from now blew his mind. He wanted that kind of love. And he’s now claimed that kind of love for eternity. I’m watching as he’s taking in all the intricacies of the Bible—what Jesus says and what Paul teaches—and he’s letting it rock his world! His excitement brings me back to the time I first gave my life to Christ. I need this sort of refreshment to remind me daily that this journey God’s taking us on is not supposed to be mundane, it’s to be joy-filled and life-giving! By discipling others, I’m able to recognize this truth more and more.

We see this dynamic played out over and over again in the Bible, as disciples of Christ disciple others. Jesus discipled the twelve, who then discipled many. Paul discipled Timothy and Barnabas. We all need to have people who are challenging us to grow closer to Christ and people who we can pour into as well.

I wish I had the kind of perfect love for others that Christ does, but I make way too many mistakes. The way I can show Christ’s love to others is by owning up to my mistakes and asking forgiveness of them. I can learn from what I’ve done and aim to be more like Christ. Likewise, when others make mistakes I can forgive them. By showing others I still love them no matter what they do, and then helping them move forward in their journey, I can show them the kind of love God shows me daily.

When God speaks, things happen. When we speak, we need to follow it up with action. We’re called not only to tell people of Christ’s love, but to show it to them.

Steven Souza

Steven Souza is a member of the Tampa Bay Rays and a regular contributor of The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.

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