In high school, I participated in a few athletic competitions. My favourite was the relay race, where four team members take turns passing the baton from one racer to another until the last one crosses the finish line. The winner of this race isn’t the first runner who crosses the finish line. It’s the team of the runner who first crosses the finish line with the baton firmly in hand. When he or she does, the entire team is rewarded.
The Christian life is like a relay race. We’re each called not only to be disciples of Christ but to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19–20). Each new disciple must grasp tightly the “baton” of biblical truth and pass it on to another, who passes it to another, and so on. To win the race—to influence future generations—we must intentionally live for Christ in the present.
Awaiting death in a Roman prison, Paul wrote a farewell letter to his spiritual son, Timothy. With the tenderness of a seasoned mentor speaking with a timid rookie disciple, Paul wrote:
Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you. (2 Timothy 1:13–14)
It’s easy to imagine Paul’s having in mind a relay race as he penned those words!
The aged apostle asked young Timothy to internalize the teaching model Paul had taught him—the same one Paul had received from Christ—and to contextualize it for the changing needs of Timothy’s congregation. In the same letter, Paul ordered Timothy to strengthen himself in the grace of Jesus and pass on biblical truth to trained people who would, in turn, do the same:
Be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. (2 Timothy 2:1–2)
This passage describes Paul’s mentoring plan for training disciples, which includes three essential components: content, purpose, and context.
- The content is the gospel. It’s what we should focus on and pass on to the next generation—not our own beliefs and perceptions
- The purpose is multiplication. It’s not only about our making disciples but also training them to make other disciples
- The context is relationship. It’s a process that involves close relationships. Books and sermons, letters and articles, play a wonderful supplementary role in the discipleship process. But no distant writer, speaker, or preacher can help you apply biblical truth to your life as a mentor who personally knows you can
Visión Para Vivir, the Spanish-language ministry of Insight for Living Ministries, is more than a Bible-teaching radio program; it’s a ministry that facilitates biblical mentoring. Through conferences and workshops, we encourage pastors and leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean with the Word of God and provide them with translated Insight for Living Ministries’ resources to help them disciple others.
In Cuba, for example, we hold pastoral training workshops where many pastors receive biblical motivation and printed materials to help them better disciple others. One of those pastors shared the impact:
Pastor Carlos, in Cuba we have many needs, but what we lack the most is printed materials that help us make disciples. Thank you for providing us with these resources that Visión Para Vivir produces.
In Guatemala and other Latin American countries, this pastoral training goes farther. Hundreds participate in our pastoral seminars, where topics such as preaching, biblical counselling, and developing leaders are discussed. We not only seek to answer practical questions about ministry, we also provide solid, biblical resources to help pastors grow and teach them to train other leaders to do the same.
We wish to foster the legacy Paul left to Timothy, but above all, we strive to fulfil the Great Commission that Jesus issued to His disciples. We want to be participants, rather than spectators, in this relay race of faith that all believers should run. This is what Vision 195 is all about—all of Insight for Living Ministries staff members and each one of you reading my words being on the same relay team for Christ! Only by running with endurance today, intentionally making disciples for tomorrow, can we influence future generations...who will keep running until the last racer crosses the finish line with the baton of truth firmly in hand.