Global Discipleship Programme


“What’s the most important thing in our lives? Are we willing to risk our lives for Jesus in all circumstances?” “Is there any value or belief so deeply-rooted in our culture that we just accept without question?” These are some of the questions raised by the participants of Global Discipleship Programme (GDP), who went on a 3-week mission/exposure trip to Ethiopia last summer. In this interview, Rev. Pak Loh, CEDAR Fund’s mission pastor, also the mastermind behind GDP, will share more about this programme that shakes up the lives of these participants, prompts them to face the world and themselves, and takes them on a transformational journey.

(SK: Sally Ko   PL: Rev. Pak Loh)

SK: What is GDP in a nutshell?
PL: It’s a discipleship process that focuses on nurturing disciples to develop a deeper sacrificial passion for God and His glory. This GDP seeks to model after Christ’s life and ministry and focuses on three areas: world, self, and the kingdom of God. By exposing participants to global poverty issues, their unique and contextualised experiences should stretch them to probe into their core values and beliefs. Putting these under the biblical teaching of fullness of life in Christ, we aim to help the participants to discover the discrepancies and stimulate them to re-consider their roles, resulting in their own reflection on how they can participate differently in God’s ministries and His “Kingdom mission”.

World: to gain a wider perspective of contemporary world issues; not only challenging one’s Christian worldview but also heightening one’s sensitivity to the brokenness of the world.
Self: to begin a self-realisation journey where participants scrutinise their inner beings and rediscover both their inadequacies and given talents are purposed for a greater cause.
The kingdom of God: to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness so to live out a purposeful life accordingly.

SK: What are the objectives of GDP?
PL: We can summarize by using four “E”s.
Experience: We hope that participants would develop a higher level of interest in and sensitivity towards the needs of the world through an intentional cross-cultural exposure.
Education: By diving into the root causes of what they see on the surface and engaging in related co-learning and discussions, participants seek to acquire a deeper biblical comprehension of the given contextual realities.
Example: Through the mutual influence of mentors and mentees, as well as learning from missionaries and ultimately modeling after Christ, we hope the participants are inspired to cultivate in a stronger passion towards God’s purpose for the world.
Edification: With adequate affirmations from the significant others, participants are expected to become more strategic and be ready to move forward to another level of commitment and involvement. Some of them may even become catalysts for channeling the transformative growth to others at church.

SK: What’s unique about GDP?
PL: Strictly speaking, the proposed GDP is not a programme, but a process. It does not primarily seek to develop our own inward pietistic spiritual disciplines, but to engage with the world missionally. It does not focus on teaching, but co-learning, co-growing and co-serving. The experiential component of an exposure trip is not a short term one-off project, but a platform for self-revelation and ongoing reflection. Overall, it is a crafted, experience-based and participatory discipleship process that encourages a lifelong journey of Christ-exalting and self-denying.

SK: What are the critical success factors for GDP?
PL: I guess at different stages, there are different critical success factors. Before we start, we need to have a set of solid theological convictions of what GDP entails: why we do what we do. We should have a clear vision of our final product in mind from the beginning. For example, field location and learning objectives must be set carefully to match with participants’ maturity level in order to create appropriate stresses and challenges. During the process, it is important to remain strategic. As participants move on from the exposure component to the next phase of the reflective journey, we need to instill a strong individual intrinsic motivation for growth; establish a caring and supportive group for mutual encouragement; and provide a mature mentor for guidance.

SK: It sounds like a high level of commitment is a must. Is GDP suitable for all churches?
PL: I would like to give a firm “yes”, believing that every church should have a vigorous discipleship ministry. As Jesus’ disciples, we should live our earthly lives with a commitment to obey Christ’s commandments and fulfill His commission. It is not a high level of commitment but a norm of God’s true disciples. We should not accept a self-centred life with mediocrity. Also, if we have a deeper understanding of the missionary nature of our triune God: Father-the sender, Christ-the sent one, and the Holy Spirit-the empowering one, we will be more keen in making disciples.

SK: How’s your experience with the participating churches so far?
PL: There are three churches who are now actively engaging in GDP at different levels. One of them is more established in mission, so this church supports GDP financially and seeks advice from us when needs arise. The second church has a lively youth congregation. Besides implementing GDP, this congregation has also provided significant volunteering support for CEDAR’s local events and raised funds for some field projects. The third church has a very stable structure and leadership so the church can take up more responsibilities within GDP. CEDAR is now seeking to create a tri-lateral partnership with this church along with a field partner where we can serve and learn. As you see, GDP does not work on a “one approach fits all” principle. In fact, CEDAR discerningly works with the church leadership to tailor-make a GDP for the church according to her own unique missional DNA and dynamic.

SK: Finally, if you were to describe the spirit of GDP in one line, what would it be?
PL: It is my personal conviction that without experiencing the passion of Christ, we cannot truly get involved in the mission of God. Therefore, with this conviction, I would like to see that participants can grasp the depth of Christ’s passion, understand their unique roles and functions in the kingdom of God, and feel God’s pleasure through serving with their given talents accordingly.

The GDP participants from Tsung Tsin Mission of Hong Kong Whampoa Church walked down a narrow path in Lalibela, Ethiopia.
A slum in Ethiopia.
A slum in Ethiopia.

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