A Eureka Moment?
Suddenly, a student in South Africa had a eureka moment.
“I get it!” he burst out during a class discussion of Luke 16. “Unbelievers are supposed to give us all their stuff so that we can have friends! That’s the verse I’m looking for! We get all their stuff!”
Mystified at such a misinterpretation, his professor was nonetheless satisfied to see something else finally come to the surface. While this student’s so-called “discovery” failed to reveal the true meaning of the text, it did expose the true thinking of his heart—and that’s exactly the “eureka moment” the professor himself was hoping for.
Ask yourself, why was this student “looking for” such a verse? What sort of beliefs lie buried beneath his words? How exactly would you uncover and address his worldview?
Learning how to ask and answer these kinds of questions is a critical skill in biblical discipleship. As the Academic Dean and lead lecturer of Christ Seminary in South Africa, Dave Beakley has, by God’s grace, invested nearly 20 years toward this end. Throughout the years, remarks like these from his students have formed the drumbeat of true discipleship, creating key moments not for embarrassment, but for education.
“If it didn’t pop up there, that wrong thinking would be there the whole time. You’d have no idea,” Dave began.
“You just don’t know until you’re with people that long”
In the same way that Jesus’ own disciples demonstrated deep misunderstandings about God even after three full years of instruction (cf. John 9:2–3; 14:7–11), surprising revelations like this have “popped up” from Dave’s students long into their training. “You just don’t know until you’re with people that long,” he continued.
Africa’s entangled religious history only confirms why this is so often the case. Much of “Christianity” in the African continent arose not from life-on-life discipleship, but from hit-and-run preaching. As a result, masses of hearers were left behind who would simply “maintain gospel language” on the surface and retain pagan thinking underneath.
Therefore, because many Africans grow up within this jungle of entangled worldviews, Dave stressed that if you want to speak into what’s going on deep within someone’s heart, “You’ve got to just be there. And you just don’t know—based on peoples’ backgrounds and experiences—what’s going to be there to pop up.” In other words, being present with people provides key opportunities to observe their lives and then ask them questions that engage their hearts.
Scripture confirms the necessity of this time together when Solomon writes, “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out” (Proverbs 20:5). Simply put, if a disciple is going to make spiritual progress, he must spend time in his teacher’s presence (cf. 2 Timothy 3:10–11). Therefore, missionaries must follow Paul’s model of imparting “not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives” (1 Thessalonians 2:8). This is real discipleship, and as Dave concluded, “That’s why you’re there.”
Full-Time Presence Means Full-Time Discipleship
While the classroom serves as a key catalyst for “drawing out” the heart, it’s by no means the only one. COVID-19 regulations, unexpected funerals, and countless dinner table discussions have all helped to bring deeply engrained beliefs to the surface in South Africa. This is why it’s critical for TMAI faculty to live alongside the people they serve. Their full-time presence enables full-time discipleship.
In supporting TMAI, you help make full-time discipleship an ongoing reality in the lives of saints around the globe. As we come together for a concentrated season of prayer from July 11–18, would you please pray that God would grant continued presence and progress to those at Christ Seminary and the other TMAI training centers?
 David Beakley and Nathan Odede, “Influence and Authority in an Oral-Oriented Culture” in The Implications of Inerrancy for the Global Church: The truthfulness of God’s Word defended, explained, and extolled by authors from 17 countries across the globe, ed. Mark Tatlock (Maitland, FL: Xulon Press, 2015), 210–12.
 Ibid., 209.