“She has a map! That's just like in the back of your Bible, the missionary journeys of Paul”, Craig Kraft, OC’s Executive Director, excitedly shared about an OC missionary and her recent travels through Asia.
Sure enough, the map looks curiously like those maps in the back of your Bible – pinpointing the stops along Teresa’s recent missionary journey to Asia where she travelled from place to place - flying, or renting a jeep and travelling with other leaders and driving into remote communities, to equip leaders and guide a disciple-making movement using the Discovery Bible Study tool. After a glimpse into her story, we knew this was a story we needed to capture and share.
When you first meet Teresa, both her boldness & humility quickly come to the surface. She is not a loud, boisterous type of bold, but rather speaks with a quiet confidence, that pulls you in and has you nodding along.
Recently, I had the privilege of connecting with Teresa in three different settings – through casual conversation over a shared meal in the cafeteria-style setting at our recent staff retreat, in a more formal presentation to the whole Outreach Canada staff team, and sitting down over a Zoom call to glean more from her experience.
No matter the setting, her conviction and passion are contagious. Listening to her story awakens in you a conviction that you too could (and should) be involved in effective disciple-making. A conviction not driven by guilt, but rather inspired by the hope that God could use you, too, as a disciple who makes disciples (who makes disciples).
Also, no matter the setting, Teresa is quick to take any praise directed her way and point that glory and awe to God! “I’m really convinced that the Lord is delighted to use a weak person … to reveal his glory through a weak person” are the very words she began our recent interview.
Start of DBS Journey
Prior to Covid, Teresa had been using different models of Bible Study to train leaders on the mission field, but she sensed something was missing. When she returned to Canada, due to Covid, she was invited to take a Discovery Bible Study (DBS) “Taster Group” designed to introduce people to DBS by personally experiencing the dynamics of a group.
“I sensed something missing [in other trainings] but I didn’t know what exactly. When I sat in the DBS taster session, I realized ‘This is it!’ [Discovery Bible Study focuses on] immediate obedience for life and also in mission … and it’s so simple. It is biblical. I reflected on the way the Lord Jesus makes disciples and it is so simple that everyone can do it. So, I was convinced”.
What is a Discovery Bible Study? Murray Moerman says “A Discovery Bible Study Group is a disciple-making group, typically between 2-6 people, who form a small community focused on following Jesus and making disciples who make disciples … the process is simple, focusing on allowing the Holy Spirit to apply the Word of God to us personally, inviting us not only to knowledge, but also, in response to insight, obedience.”
After experiencing the DBS Taster Group, Teresa decided to “try out” Discovery Bible Study, by starting a DBS group with five seniors in a Baptist housing ministry.
“What actually gave me confirmation” Teresa shared, “was one of the ladies who was 84 already.” This senior, a 4th generation Christian, shared that she had been praying for the church and studying the Bible since she was young. But then, Teresa shares, this woman came to a point of deep disappointment where she felt her prayers weren’t answered, and that when she read the Bible, she didn’t get anything out of it anymore. So, what did Teresa do?
“I just invited her. I mean, I knew her story, so I invited her to do DBS and I said, ‘Give it a try and see if it is different’. On the second session, [the woman] actually said ‘You know what? I started praying again and I started walking with one of the neighbors every morning.’ I said ‘That's great’. And then on the third session, I encouraged, “Would you like to just take the lead, facilitate a group?” She said, “I don't know if I can do it at my age.” I said, “Try it out.” She did. It was fabulous. And so is she… I mean, her change in just three weeks becomes so convincing. For me, it's a confirmation. So, I started engaging my ministry relations in Asia and that's how it started”.
The Discovery Bible Study difference
Teresa shares that, previously, “the Bible study models I used depended on the leader. The leader does all the preparation – not only leading, but teaching, and everyone just comes to sit there and listen. There may be interactions, but [the focus is on] the comments or insights of the leader … there can be good discussion, but the emphasis has not been on actions of obedience.”
Alternatively, in DBS, the Holy Spirit, together with the Scriptures, fills the ‘teacher’ role. A facilitator (not a teacher) guides the group through a simple 7-step process of reading and engaging with Scripture, and listening for God’s voice. In fact, the commitment to this facilitator role (over a teacher role) is so intentional, that the facilitator role is shared among the group, and even new members are encouraged (and expected) to take on the facilitator role, even within the first few weeks. The focus in the group is not just knowledge, but on listening to God’s voice through the Scriptures, practical obedience (with accountability) and sharing with others.
Teresa, in her modern-day missionary journeys throughout Asia, has been focusing on training leaders and equipping them to facilitate disciple-making-movements, primarily through the tool of Discovery Bible Study.
She began using DBS in two countries, in Asia, at the end of 2020 and recently returned for another trip to continue her work in that area.
Curious about her most recent trip, I asked her, “How many leaders were trained on your last trip, Teresa?”
“178,” she answered.
“Wow, 178 leaders!?”
“Oh sorry,” she responded, “178 churches. 1568 leaders!”
How inspiring to hear how her commitment to making disciples who make disciples is turning into an entire disciple-making-movement across two countries.
Read more of Teresa's Story in Part 2: “Stories of a Disciple-Making Movement in Asia” where we share stories from Teresa’s recent trip to Asia. Stories of God at work through the tool of DBS. Stories of a Disciple-Making Movement.
If you’d like to learn more about the DBS method, you can read this practical article, How the Church can Make Disciples in 2023 or sign-up for a DBS Taster Group.
Melissa Berry is the Digital Content Coordinator at Outreach Canada. Her favourite part of her role is getting to share stories - the stories of OC people, & the stories of how God is working! If she had a free afternoon, you'd probably find Melissa on an adventure with her husband & two children (with a chai tea in hand, of course).