You’ve done the hard work. You’ve found a person of peace who wants to live for Jesus. They have repented, been baptised in water and received the Holy Spirit. They are now truly a new creation with a whole new life in front of them to discover. Our enemy does not like this one bit. He will do everything in his power to make sure the new believer is tempted with the most alluring sins he can think of. The last thing he wants is for this new believer to become mature and start destroying his works.
So, what do you do after someone is born again?
How often do you contact them? How much do you protect them and how do you know when they are strong enough to stand on their own?
I have recently taken up gardening as a hobby. It is interesting learning how to go through the process of growing a seed into something edible such as a cabbage or potato. There are so many factors you need to take into consideration such as the type of soil and the amount of water and sunlight needed. One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t always plant a seed straight into the ground. Most of the time you need to plant a seed into a contained indoor environment where it is protected from the elements until it grows into a seedling. After it is developed to the point where it is strong enough to survive in the wild, you transfer it to the outside soil. For some plants it takes a few weeks whereas for others it takes a few months.
New disciples are like seedlings
If you haven’t already figured it out, the gardening analogy is to show that new believers are a lot like seeds that have just started to germinate. They are seedlings in the faith and need to be nurtured until they are mature enough to be out on their own.
My wife and I recently baptised a new believer. She moved into our town with her young son looking for a fresh start after some serious problems with her previous living arrangements. My wife met her at a music program for toddlers and invited her back for lunch. After talking with her for a while it became clear that she was ready to give up her old life and start living for Christ. We warned her that it wasn’t going to be easy and that she was likely to suffer persecution, but she wasn’t going to be deterred. Sure enough, the day after she was baptised, it started. She was told by her flatmate that she had to move out immediately. She had nowhere to go apart from back to her previous house which would have been disastrous for her new-found faith.
We had a decision to make.
We had a spare room which would be ideal for her and her boy. If she moved in, she was willing to pay board and we needed the money. The only trouble was, we had three children of our own under five years of age. We had to decide whether we were willing to make this commitment with so much already going on in our household. However, if we didn’t do it, the only option she had was to go back home but she was nowhere near strong enough to withstand that.
We decided to pray about it.
We thought of how Jesus trained his first followers. His first 12 disciples ate with him, slept near him and constantly watched how he lived. They saw his example and were able to ask him questions at any time.
We then thought of how those first disciples trained others after Jesus went to heaven. It says in Acts 2 that all that believed were together and had all things in common. They dedicated themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers. Again, the new believers learned by example and by being able to ask questions at any time.
We then thought of Paul and how much time he spent with new believers. We can read about this in Acts in verses such as 14:28, 18:11, and 19:9-10. We also see how much time he was willing to give to new believers even when he wasn’t with them by taking the time to write long letters to them.
Opening our home
After thinking about all these examples from the Bible, we decided to allow her to move in for a short time until she found somewhere permanent. A short time ended up being two and a half months! During that time, we frequently read the Bible together, taught her to share her testimony, how to be a strong mother to her son and helped to protect her from the tricks of the devil. She learned by our example and she was able to ask us questions at any time.
She has now moved into a place where she is thriving and starting to learn to evangelise and disciple others. The 10 weeks she was with us helped her to become strong enough to withstand the forces of the world which were trying to weaken her faith.
It was hard work for us.
There were times when I missed my own children because the young lady and her son were taking up so much of our time. Occasionally we would take our family out for a day trip simply to have our own time together.
I honestly can’t say whether we’d do it again if a similar situation arose. I’d like to say we would, but the reality is that it was a lot of work. It’s so much easier to talk with people briefly and have a nice conversation and then go your separate ways. But that doesn’t make disciples who bear fruit. Sacrificing your own desires and time to spend with new believers does. How you do that is up to you. If you can’t live with a new believer, at the very least, commit to meeting every night for the first 10 days. Have a meal together then pray and read the Bible together. Show them by your example how to follow Jesus and allow them to ask questions at any time. It won’t be easy, but it will be worthwhile.