Discipleship difficult from a distance

POSTED ON 2012-12-07
  by Dena McMaster

Lisa Kappeler must live downriver from the Uriay believers and can't spend the time she would like to with them.

“Discipleship is a messy process more often than not. We stumble, fall, get back up and even walk for periods of time in the whole growth process,” wrote Lisa Kappeler, missionary to the Uriay people.

She is facing some unique problems in discipling believers. Lisa is living in a Abau village and makes trips into the Uriay village. This means that her teaching and discipling is sporadic—whenever the Abaus can take her to the Uriay village.

At times she travels down the river to work with her translation co-worker, Tyob, only to find he’s not in the village. Then she spends her day visiting with believers, listening to the Bible teachers and sometimes talking with one of the men who misunderstood some of the Firm Foundation Bible lessons.

“On a previous visit,” she wrote, “I heard one of the teachers share something in the group that was really off. I didn’t get to talk with him that day to see what he’s really thinking but I planned to chat with him about it this last visit. It totally worked out that he, another believer, and I could sit and talk together about it. So we talked and he saw where he was off and seemed to really grasp what the Word says about it.”

Often she is “marooned” on the island where the Abau people live because rain and high water make it difficult to travel to the village where the Uriays live. At those times she has realised that she must accept what God has for her and rest in that.

However, on a recent trip back to the village she was warmly welcomed by her Uriay friends. Imi, a dear friend and a fellow believer, greeted her as she came around the bend and walked along as the canoe continued up river to a landing spot.

“I had tears in my eyes as I saw her—thinking of all the times I shared her story with folks in the USA, Bahamas and Paraguay—and now to finally be with her again.” wrote Lisa. “It was so cool!”

The Uriay believers were not meeting together but as Lisa encouraged them, Albert, one of the Uriay men promised he would teach until others came to help him in the task.

“So the people have started meeting again since I’ve returned to the field,” Lisa wrote. “The men even met last Friday night for the first time in months. The ladies were supposed to meet but the leaders were sick so they didn’t – but they’re planning on it this week.  So that is super encouraging to hear – even though I’m two hours downriver, the fact that I’m visiting is enough motivation to get them going again. I had a really great chat with two of the ladies yesterday and it was so neat to see how they continue to read, pray and seek His face.  It was a sweet time of fellowship with them.”

Praise God with us that many Uriay believers continue to walk with the Lord. Pray for Lisa as she struggles to disciple the believers and translate the Scriptures. Pray that she will be able to make more frequent and longer trips into the village.

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