Life-to-Life® discipleship opportunities are significant to help believers grow in their relationship with God. It can also be important to incorporate diversity within these relationships by meeting with someone who is not like you. We have so much to learn from one another!
However, many people have not had the opportunity to be discipled, led, or trained by someone who looks like them. Being discipled by someone with a shared ethnic identity, who has similar experiences, or someone who can understand experiences without elaborate explanation, can be a rare gift for some believers. Majority culture friends can take this simple source of comfort for granted without realizing it.
Personally, I have never experienced Life-to-Life discipleship or training by someone who looks like me, an African-American woman. This makes me eager to make myself available to those who come after me. As I transitioned to the University of Central Florida this summer, one strong desire and prayer was to minister to and disciple at least a few young black women. To my joy, along came Jasmine!
During our recent time together, Jasmine recounted, “I knew about discipleship because my sister was discipled within The Navigators, so I came in looking for it for myself. I wanted to grow more in my relationship with God and have someone who was ahead of me and able to walk alongside me. I thought of ethnicity: it would be encouraging to have someone in my life who has gone through similar things. The churches I’ve been part of are predominantly white, so I thought being discipled by someone who looks like me would also be important for my ethnic identity.”
I’m eager to continue meeting with Jasmine throughout her time on campus, encouraging her in her faith and identity. Having been on my own journey the past several years of growing in my ethnic identity, I’m excited to pass along the many things I’ve learned along the way.
Two takeaways: if you’re like me, part of an ethnic minority but ministering mostly in a majority-culture setting, amen! Keeping going! But don’t be afraid to ask God to send you someone just like you. If you are a majority culture person discipling a young believer whose ethnicity is different from yours, amen! Keep going! Just know that it can be impactful for them to hear from someone who looks like them. What could it look like to help make some connections? Or invite a third friend into your times?
As we move forward with igniting disciplemaking movements, may many nations and peoples be reached, included, and represented.