I first become aware of the Men’s Discipleship Network shortly after the passing of my wife, Gail, in June of 2005. I was invited to a bible study by my church’s men’s ministry leader, Joe Avolese. The early morning (6:30 am) study fit my life well as I wasn’t sleeping much anyway. This study was attended by men that seemed to be mature in the things of God and at first I did not feel that I belonged. I came to the Lord in 1978 and was always involved in bible studies, cell groups and generally pursued my faith and embraced the truth of one being a disciple of Christ. Although my “God Journey” of almost 30 years brought me through some good times and times of challenge, walking through my wife’s illness and death brought me to places in my faith walk I knew very little about. At times I had no faith at all. Perhaps God wanted me to sit among these men for a bit.
It wasn’t long before I learned of the events that the Pastor Scott Caesar and his team of coaches put on called Men’s Discipleship Boot Camps. Powerful, no nonsense, half-day events to grow men up in their walk with God and challenge them to be men, real men, as defined in the Bible. I found these events extremely valuable as they addressed a lack in the church and provided the antidote for many of the problems and challenges in Christian life today…. a lack of Christ-like, masculine manhood. The message of being a biblically based man coupled with the accountability found in a band of brothers of like mindedness and the practicality of being this “new man” all the time (even at 2:00 on a Tuesday afternoon) not only spoke to my spirit, but gave me permission to sit around the table with other men just like me. Some broken, some mended, some recovering, some victorious, all brothers and all sons of God.
For me, the bible study and the events allowed me to recover from a deep hurt and loss. Yes, I am scarred, but I have learned to be proud of my battle wounds for they, like the stripes on the back of my precious Lord Jesus, show the seriousness of the fight and the value of the prize, my service to my brothers so they, too, can claim victory. I have learned the love of a brother and the commitment they have towards me. I have felt a brother reach down and pull me to a higher place. I have had the privilege to reach down to another in order to lift him. I am amazed as to the unity in the room as Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Jew and gentile all gather to worship Christ and share the knowledge of His kingdom.
I have established friendships and “family” ties through this ministry that cannot be broken. It is even through this ministry that God has presented me a new love and marriage partner as God continues to restore me. Men’s Discipleship Network and it’s Ministries as well as the men (and women) associated with it have provided me an atmosphere to pursue Christ in authentic and practical ways that bring glory to God and significance to my walk. Discipleship is the giving of my whole life, for the whole of my life, to the learning of the ways of Christ and the pursuit of the knowledge of His kingdom. To the Glory of Christ.