The Part-time School in Cyprus

It was on a Royal Mission training day that God spoke to me. During the training days about miracles, I challenge myself to let God speak to me about people in the room. From Psalm 137:2, God said that there were people in the room who had abandoned their ministry due to exhaustion and bitterness. During a call, people came forward. The stories that follow are painful. This didn’t let me go. In our search for disciples, we miss an important target group, namely the broken ones among the disciples of old. What would happen if this group started to rise again? The Gospel of Mark My favorite Gospel is without a doubt Mark. In addition to the fact that it is the first written and shortest gospel and that many miracles and deliverances are described in it, that gospel also has an important message about discipleship. A Gospel is not just a biography of Jesus. All four Gospel writers have their own purpose and message that they want to convey in their story about Jesus. This is also the case with Mark… One of the reasons why the Gospel of Mark is so short is that he tells little about what Jesus taught. Well, he saysthat He taught, but often notwhat . It is also noticeable that a lot of attention is paid to the disciples. A lot is said about ithow the disciples experienced certain events. It is remarkable to see that Mark chooses to encourage doubt and fear in the disciples more than his colleague Matthew does. The story about Jesus calming a storm is covered by both Gospel writers. In Matthew it is mentioned by Jesus that the disciple was anxious. Mark, in the same history, says that the disciples “feared with great fear.” There are many more examples in the Gospel of Mark, especially focusing on Peter. If you pay attention, you’ll get a little nervous at the end of the gospel. Jesus goes to heaven and He places the great commission, to go into the world and proclaim the gospel to all creatures, in the hands ofthis disciples. That makes me a little nervous. How can the fearful and repeatedly failing disciples ever achieve this? It seems overconfident that Jesus dares to do this…Mark as a disciple It is interesting to consider what motivates Mark to address this theme of “failing” discipleship in his gospel. One reason would be able to that he was friends with Peter. It appears that Mark based his account of Jesus largely on this disciple’s observation. Peter can perhaps be called exemplary when it comes to failure as a disciple. Mark’s main reason for teaching readers about discipleship is his own experience. We also encounter this Mark in the book of Acts. There he is taken on a missionary journey by Paul and Barnabas (Acts 12: 25). This would undoubtedly have been at the intercession of his cousin Barnabas. During this journey something happens to Marcus, which makes him decide not to go any further. He may be overcome by fear, which is not surprising, because serious things happen during the journey. The moment Mark makes the decision to return to Jerusalem, they are on the island of Cyprus. Paul really blames Mark for taking the wrong path in Cyprus. This becomes apparent when Paul and Barnabas plan to make their next journey. Barnabas wants to take Marcus back with him. Paul is strongly against this, because Mark had abandoned them (Acts 15: 38). An argument arises between Paul and Barnabas, with the result that Paul seeks another traveling companion (Silas) and leaves Barnabas and Mark behind. Barnabas means ‘son of comfort’. He lives up to this pastoral name in what he does with Marcus. It touches me when I read how Barnabas wants to get Marcus back on track. In Acts 15:39 it says that he takes him to Cyprus. A confrontational place for Marcus, because there, on that island, he dropped out. It seems as if Barnabas wants to give him a new chance in that place. It’s not so much a new opportunity for Marcus to prove himself to Barnabas. It is a new opportunity, a moment of recovery for Marcus himself. Recovery in Cyprus By the way, things turned out completely fine between Paul and Mark. In one of his letters he calls Marcus a good colleague of his. I am convinced that Mark’s restoration to ministry and discipleship took place on that island of Cyprus. Faced with his fears and failures, he was given the opportunity to make a new choice. That choice is very important, because discipleship is extremely important. The building of God’s Kingdom is at stake. We are often looking for the key to discipleship, how to disciple people. That is an important question and a challenging puzzle. In addition, it is also very important to consider how disengaged disciples can be restored. I am convinced that the church is full of bitter, disappointed, disillusioned and disengaged disciples. Once thriving in their ministry, but now burned out. Once started enthusiastically and full of passion, but now ended up on the sidelines. Where have they gone? Maybe you recognize it yourself while you are reading. I meet them at the Part-time school. Only after a number of lessons do I read the stories of students who dropped out as disciples in the reports. Those stories only come after a number of lessons, because something has happened to them. They haven’t been to Cyprus, but something has happened. They have had a renewed encounter with Jesus. He is the One who brings them back to the moments of stumbling. It’s confrontational, but so healing. I am so very grateful that God opened the Part-time schoolalso used to restore discipleship. Could it be that you need a Cyprus moment? We would like to be a Barnabas for you…

About Martin Dol

Getrouwd met Annemarije en vader van 3. Hoofd Onderwijs binnen Royal Mission en gek van geo-cachen.

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