(This article is from Current Thoughts and Trends Magazine, NavPress,
by Dennis Cone, Editor; used by permission)
It doesn't take a rocket scientist (or even an etymologist) to see that the words disciples and discipline are closely related. The Navigators (the publisher of Current Thoughts & Trends, CTT, in case you didn't know) has from its inception been a discipleship ministry, and one of the disciplines we're widely known for is Scripture memory. The following anecdote, related by Waylon Moore in his book Living God's Word, gives some insight into why.
Dawson Trotman, founder of The Navigators, knew a single woman (call her Miss Jones) who had been serving as a missionary to China. In 1948, while she was on furlough in the United States, China became embroiled in the civil conflict that eventually resulted in the communists taking over the country. Missions perished. Despite the turmoil, Miss Jones returned to the field. On the day of her departure, Trotman went with her to the ship and prayed with her.
Before two years had passed, Miss Jones was imprisoned. Missionaries and Chinese pastors were being killed daily. When the government decided to expel all foreigners, Miss Jones got on one of the first planes out. As soon as she arrived back in the States she went to see Trotman. “I just wanted to stop by and say thank you,” she began.
“Don't thank me,” said Trotman, “I was only one of many who prayed for you.” With tears in her eyes, she said quietly, “But what you told me four years ago on the ship before I left saved my life.” Trotman couldn't even remember what he had said. Miss Jones went on to recount the ordeal she had just suffered through — the persecution, the pressure, the torture. She told how their captors had encouraged the prisoners to commit suicide, and many did. “I considered it,” she admitted. “But every time I nearly gave in, what you said came back in my mind. When you prayed with me on the ship, you shared a verse of Scripture. I took that verse and memorized it on the way back to China. That's what kept me from killing myself. That verse saved my life!”
After Trotman told this story, a number of people in the audience converged on the podium to ask him what the verse was. Trotman asked why they wanted to know. They said it would be ideal to use in counseling someone who was discouraged. After a pause, Trotman announced that he wasn't going to tell them the verse. “Why not?” someone asked. “Because,” replied Trotman, “There are hundreds of them!”
Dr. Moore comments, “Trotman was right, of course. God's Word contains thousands of verses that can work like a miracle drug to bring new life to a hurting person. His silence caused us to reconsider the power of a single verse to change lives if we adopted a lifelong habit.” The habit Dr. Moore is referring to, of course, is memorizing Scripture. He goes on to say; “Nothing I've done in 40 years of ministry has consistently been so productive, so broad in its payoff for the time spent, as the habit of memorizing verses.”
At the beginning of the year, I used this column to challenge you to join me in a commitment to memorize one verse a week. I thank God for the 11 readers who contacted me to say they would do it. They have been a real encouragement to me as I've struggled to reestablish this habit. As you read the summaries and columns on discipleship in this issue (August), maybe you will be inspired to take up this discipline.