Multiply HOPE (Multiplica Esperanza) is the mission-focused discipleship initiative being launched by our North American Division Multi-cultural Ministries Department in response to the overt and covert increase in personal and global fear and insecurity. The future of our planet looks bleak.
Discipleship is very much alive and will never die because it’s not an option. It is a mandate of divine origin.
The concept is simple, and God Himself gave the clear directives:
“But watch out! Be very careful never to forget what you have seen God doing for you. May his miracles have a deep and permanent effect upon your lives! Tell your children and your grandchildren about the glorious miracles he did.” (Deut. 4:9, LBT)
Allow me to break it down.
First, there is a warning. The NIV says, “Only be careful and watch yourselves closely.” What are we being forewarned about? The warning is explicit, “Never forget the things your eyes have seen.”
Principle one: When we engage in discipleship, whether it be with our children or our neighbor, we must tell them the stories of the great things God has done for us. Discipleship takes a human experience, the sharing of memories, events and moments in which God has done something on our behalf. The story is real, the memories are still fresh and our words are spoken with excitement and a deep conviction.
In the scripture we are considering, God is addressing the Israelites who had witnessed a series of supernatural miracles through their sojourn. They had survived their 40-year desert pit stop because of a series of glorious, supernatural interventions from a God whose love was stubborn.
Before entering the long awaited coveted land, they were told, “Do not forget what you have seen,” you are going to need those stories. Don’t let them fade away.
How could they not retell the dramatic “impossible” things they had seen to their children and grandchildren?
They had witnessed the literal parting of an open sea. Food had descended from heaven. Water had gushed from a rock. The hungry desert serpents had bypassed them. Their children thrived. A cloud of light lit their way in the night and shaded the scorching sun during the day. Then finally, they arrived at the boundaries of the promise land. What God had promised, He had delivered.
In this divine design, first comes a warning call. Then God says, “Don’t ever forget what you have seen.” Third, recognize that what you saw and experienced were not high-tech human interventions manufactured in a lab or factory. God ALONE did them! Lastly, God says, “Repeat your stories as often as you can to your children and your grandchildren.”
As we are intentional in the practice of these four principles, the discipling cycle is guaranteed to move forward from generation to generation.
When our two sons were young, I told them my stories of how God had parted the waters for me to come to this country. They could imagine how ridiculous I must have looked when I traveled from San Francisco to Woodburn, Oregon, with a cardboard sign graciously handwritten by a Hawaiian woman that God had providentially led my way as I wandered aimlessly in the San Francisco airport trying to figure out how to get to the nearest Greyhound station. I did not speak or understand any English, so this “angel,” who told me she had a bit of Hispanic ancestry in her genealogy, understood enough Spanish to write me a sign that read, “Please help this young man get to the Greyhound bus depot in downtown San Francisco. His destination is Woodburn, Oregon.”
My sons laughed every time I retold the part about being so hungry, yet being so afraid of making a fool of myself by asking for a cookie, or a sandwich in a way that no one would understand me, that I decided to go hungry.
From those very humble beginnings, and after a series of “glorious miracles,” I ended up at Walla Walla College studying my third year of college, even though I had no money and knew no English.
I still recall my first class with John Dybdahl. He came into the classroom, presented himself and announced that he was going to be teaching Pentateuch. That was about all I was able to understand. After that, I succumbed to a world of darkness filled with anxiety and feelings of doomsday because I knew I was heading for a huge failure.
Thirty plus years later, I bumped into Dybdahl at a meeting at the Portland Adventist Health Hospital and the first words that came out of his mouth were, “Are you Cesar De Leon, the Cesar De Leon that was in my classes years ago?” When I responded that it was indeed me, he continued, “I often wondered how in the world they let you into my classes.” I responded, “I used to ask myself that very same question.”
My sons have heard me tell the many stories of how God intervened in my life in such powerful ways on so many occasions throughout my life. I would like to believe that my stories have impacted their lives and faith journeys in ways that will impact their own children and grandchildren.
“But watch out! Be very careful never to forget what you have seen God doing for you. May his miracles have a deep and permanent effect upon your lives! Tell your children and your grandchildren about the glorious miracles he did” (Deut. 4:9, LBT).
I have two sons who know that there is a God in heaven who cares, who is ever present and who is invested in their lives as He was invested in their father’s life. I would like to think that discipleship has taken place, and that HOPE has been multiplied.