My Disciple Maker Story
By Melissa Schuerer
Before I Knew Christ
Let me set the stage with a white, middle-class, agricultural environment where everyone I knew celebrated the Christian holidays of Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Add a healthy education in American Christian culture of the 20th Century and you have a real life Norman Rockwell existence.
I grew up in a Christian culture, but not a Christian home. My parents never attended church, but they took me and my siblings to Sunday school until we were in junior high.
My third grade public school teacher taught the entire class to memorize and recite The Lord’s Prayer before we went to lunch. I knew the Christmas story of Christ’s birth, the Easter story of His resurrection, Adam and Eve, and Jonah and the whale. This was the extent of my Christian education as a child and young adult.
My growing up was lived mostly in the 1960s where the hippy movement was toppling the Christian culture in America with a message of free love. It was basically a do-as-you-please counter culture that was frightening to me as a young adolescent due to the strict rules of conduct I had been raised under, but a little intriguing as well. It was during these years that I made a choice to not give any mind to Jesus or God. However, I secretly admired my peers who were raised in church by church-going families – they were much more settled than I.
I went off to college in the early 70s and from that moment on, evangelical Christians began intersecting my life. My first college roommate was a Christian. I worked as a camp counselor during the summers and there were always one or more evangelical Christians in the crowd. I kept them at arms length.
I was married in the late 70s and we moved to Montana for an adventure. Our daughter was born four years later and the whole Christian thing was awakened again. I did not want my daughter to grow up outside the walls of the church as I had.
We went to church to have our daughter baptized, but we had to join the church first. They put us in a membership class and the only question I remember being asked was, “What church are you transferring your membership from?” I was the only person in the group who had never been a member of a church. Therefore, I had to be baptized by sprinkling in order to join the church.
On a Sunday morning we were all being inducted as members of the church. The robed pastor went down the line introducing each new member and telling from where they were transferring their membership. He came to me and announced that I would be admitted into the church by baptism.
I was as nervous as a cat standing before all those people. The pastor asked me several questions which I had to affirm by replying, “Yes.”
“Do you believe in God?” Yes.
“Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son?” Yes.
“Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?” Yes.
When the pastor sprinkled the baptismal water on my head, I thought I might faint.
As the water trickled down my neck and back I experienced the most excoriating spine chill of my life.
It was a spine chill of conviction.
I lied when I said I believed in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I didn’t know anything about them. How could I believe in theses mysterious, ethereal beings that I knew nothing about?
Why won’t anyone tell me about them?
I had accomplished the goal of raising our daughter in the church, but I felt I could never be a part of it. I was forever consigned to being an outsider; an ignorant impostor because I was too proud to ask questions.
How I Came To Know Christ
Around this same time, my husband was telling me about a gentleman named Doyle he worked with who had invited us to their Sunday church service. I had never met this couple, and being apprehensive, was not thrilled about the idea of going to an unknown church.
My husband’s relationship with Doyle continued to deepen and develop. We had a few more social outings with Doyle and his wife, Claudia, but I kept them at arm’s length. They were kind and enjoyable company, I simply didn’t want to be confronted with Jesus.
Doyle and Claudia moved to California for work and three months later, my husband received a call from Doyle saying he needed to come to California for better opportunity. So, off we went to northern California where my husband went to work at the same company Doyle was working for. Doyle and Claudia were the only people we knew, so we spent every Friday night with Doyle and Claudia coming to our home to watch the TV show Dallas and have dinner together. We attended church with them every Sunday.
Sometime later Doyle led his secretary to the Lord which led to me receiving a phone call from Claudia. She was inviting me to join her and Deb, Doyle’s secretary, for discipleship training. I think I stammered my way through that conversation, but I remember telling Claudia that I didn’t know anything about the Bible and didn’t even own a Bible. She told me that was okay, I didn’t need to know anything about the Bible. I reluctantly agreed to join them.
Claudia, Deb, and I met together weekly at the local Burger King restaurant for discipleship training. I was learning a lot, but still didn’t understand salvation and asked a lot of challenging questions. I didn’t think Jesus was real, so wrapping my head around who the Bible says He is was daunting.
After a few months of my belligerent objections, Claudia sent me home with the book More Than A Carpenter, by Josh McDowell. It is a short little book that sets forth concrete evidence that Christ is real and alive today.
At the end of the book was a prayer of salvation. After reading all that evidence, I could no longer deny that Jesus was real and that He is alive today. I recognized my condition as a human being to be a sinner who is incapable of freeing herself from its penalty.
I prayed the simple prayer of salvation around midnight in March of 1983. I looked up from prayer expecting some great wind of the Holy Ghost to fly into my soul, but nothing happened.
After I Came to Know Christ
Some weeks later, we came to the lesson where we had to share our faith story. I honestly shared the story you have read to this point. I looked up to see Claudia and Deb with stunned looks on their faces. I said, “Nothing has changed. I am still the same person I was before I prayed that prayer. The only change I have to share is that I think about God and Jesus more than I ever have in my life. I also stopped watching soap operas because I use that time to do this homework.”
There was celebration that evening.
I read a bible verse shortly after sharing my conversion story:
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
It became instantly clear that I had been justified (declared not guilty once and for all) by believing in my heart that Jesus was real and alive today. The need of His death and resurrection were personal to me.
I had truly been saved, not just by believing, but by confessing with my mouth to someone else. The moment I shared this story was when my life was truly transformed for all eternity.
The Lord opened my intellect to understand His Word and gave me an insatiable hunger to know more and grow deeper roots. It hasn’t only been a journey of intellectual pursuit. It has been a journey of learning the disciplines of the faith: prayer, quiet time, meditation, memorization, giving, fellowship, worship, etc.
Fifteen months after entering into discipleship training, we moved back to Iowa.
It was grueling to leave the incubator of discipleship training. I silently prayed one memory verse all the way from California to Iowa: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Within weeks of moving, I was invited to join a women’s Bible Study in the community. Within a year, I had begun discipleship training with some of the women from that group.
In the twenty two years we lived in Iowa, I discipled women. It was the most blessed experience of my life. The privilege of meeting with others around the word of God, in prayer and fellowship is truly the most intimate and fruitful time the Lord can give us.
I am a disciple maker. This is what the Lord commanded all believers to be and to do; thus this blog.
I hope to impart some of the wisdom I gained as a disciple maker in order to help you, dear reader, to go forth and make disciples. They aren’t our disciples, they are His; we are His vessels of delivery.
An old saint once told me, “God doesn’t have any grandchildren!” God only has children and they are created when disciple makers step out in faith to produce the spiritual generations to come.