I will do it when I am retired - I have said that many times and to many people. When 2016 loomed, I decided that the time is right and I must not procrastinate any longer. I told myself, "What could be more worthwhile doing now that I have all the time in the world"? However, I was still not convinced that I could stay the whole 34 weeks. I began to think of holidays, trips overseas and other fun activities that I may miss. I also have weekly choir practise, Taichi class and voluntary activities. Niggling doubts began to creep in especially after class started. I prayed about it.
Apart from me, other members of Disciple Red 2016 are young, boisterous and lively. This is so unlike any class I am familiar with and I have attended many courses or classes in my time. We come from different backgrounds, a wide span of age group, varying professions and not to mention different personalities and characters. After the first week, I started to doubt my suitability again but this is the only Disciple Red class that I can attend for 2016. If I drop out of this class there might not be one in 2017. I decided to pray more and persevere. I made the commitment and decide to participate wholeheartedly in all aspects. I tell myself not to think or worry about activities beyond my control. I also tell myself that if I make the commitment then I am the one who needs to adjust.
Our weekly classes are held every Sunday afternoon 2.30 - 5.00 pm. Sundays happen to be a busy day for me as I have another commitment right after service. As soon as service is over, I have to rush for lunch and be back for class punctually despite other duties.
Over the past 10 years, I read through the bible 3 times. My favourite books, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah I read more. Those not so favoured I read only dutifully. Now through Disciple Red, it is reading with a purpose followed by a discussion. I get to hear different viewpoints from scholars (through the video segments) and also from my groupmates. It is a valuable learning experience that I find refreshing, broadening and informative.
As we work our way through the books of the Old and New Testaments, we begin to get used to the way the Disciple Red classes are conducted. Classes are not tedious or boring as the format keeps changing. Most weeks we have group discussions. It is also very comforting to know that there is no right or wrong answer. We are free to express our viewpoints any way we want. But one thing is certain, we are expected to participate actively. The facilitators are there to guide the discussions and make sure everybody has a chance and will say something. At times when the class is small, due to the absence of some, we ended up taking turns at expressing opinions. Discussions are always sprinkled with laughter and shared experiences.
Within each week's lesson there is a part specifically dedicated to identifying and developing the characteristics of a disciple. I find this section very useful as it helps me to identify my strengths and weaknesses and to use my experiences, background and even expertise in my journey to becoming a disciple. This section also makes me see that I can and should use whatever I have in hand now.
All the readings I do very early in the mornings, usually from 5.30 - 6.30 am, when all is quiet and my mind is fresh and clear. Although the classes weekly are packed, we also have time to interact during the short breaks. This is when we share holiday experiences, happy moments, some personal sadness, light gossips while enjoying delicious cakes and pastries. Through the whole period we become closer often communicating through social media.
At the time of writing this, we are in the 30th week and looking forward to completion. Readings are definitely lighter now with only 3-4 short chapters from books in NT allowing me so much more time to contemplate on the "Marks of Discipleship" and my next course of action. I did not miss any class until week 27 and 28 when I was called to participate in an assignment overseas.
I would like to thank all the facilitators for their patience and resourcefulness throughout the course. I am so thankful by God’s grace I was able not only to complete the course, but also enjoy it. I know His hand will mould me into becoming a disciple. I also know my late father (Rev. J. Manurung, Methodist missionary 1949–1967) is smiling down on me. Looking back, Disciple Red was a breeze.