by: Josh Gardner, New CKM Discipleship Director
“The harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest field.”
This was the subject of three sermons I heard consecutively in three different states during the Fall of 2001. At first I thought, “Wow, Jesus really wants me to pray,” but by the third time I knew it was an unmistakable call on my life to take the Good News of Jesus to all who hadn’t heard it. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, Jesus was calling me to become a man who lived out the Great Commission and made disciples as a way of life.
One day during my senior year at Liberty University, I found myself in a discipleship class. The professor asked, “Who has plans to be in full-time ministry?” All hands went up. He continued, “Who has been discipled?” About ten hands went up (noticeably missing my own), when the Lord spoke to me and sparked a consuming passion to be HIs disciple and to be in an intentional discipleship relationship.
I prayed for God to send me someone, and He did. The Lord sent me a church planter named Warren who discipled and trained me. He brought me into the rhythms of his life, shared his family with me, and brought me into a missional community on fire for Jesus. Looking back now, it was those years that Jesus was preparing me for the work ahead.
It was in that missional community of people loving Jesus and making him known locally and globally that I was transformed. We attempted pioneering church planting work in the Middle East, a work continuing until this day. Over the next 7 years, the Lord used me to recruit, train, inspire, and lead teams to the Middle East to further the work among Muslim peoples there. Jesus taught me about intimacy with Him and His mission to all people. He taught me about true, raw discipleship. He taught me how to live the mission with faith.
My first 15 years of ministry experience were as a volunteer pounding the missional pavement as a waiter, carpenter’s apprentice, construction worker, concrete polishing, event coordinator, etc. But along the journey, I prayed for a Godly wife and full-time vocational ministry opportunity to do God's work.
Jesus graciously sent me my best friend and beautiful wife, Che’, who I met five years ago this Fall. We now have two amazing children, Clara Rose and Gabrien Quinn, who each bring indescribable joy to our lives.
For the last 3 and half years or so, I have had the joy and privilege of serving and being ordained at First Baptist Church of Stuart as the Student Minister. I am currently pursuing my Masters of Divinity in Apologetics at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
This past fall, however, I felt the Lord calling myself and my family to a new adventure in Anderson, S.C. as the Discipleship Director for CKM. Jesus has called me to be a proclaimer of the Gospel and to make disciples until there is no place left to reach. I couldn’t be more excited to serve at CKM and look forward to what Jesus is going to do in the lives of all who come under the care and teaching of CKM this year.
Sadly, we live in a culture that believes you can enter into the kingdom of God without having “dropped your nets” to follow Him. Specifically, the students who have sacrificed a year of their lives (through Crossroads Discipleship Home) to be with Jesus, to learn from Him in community, will not be disappointed in the outcome. My role will be to fan to flame, the only way I really know how, by fixing our eyes on Jesus together. We'll join Him in His mission by actually intending to do everything He asks of us. This will happen by establishing a healthy rhythm of life in which the Gospel penetrates every aspect of the individual. We will be striving this year to be with Jesus and to become the kind of people who easily and readily obey Him in anything and everything He asks us to do. I invite you to join us as we work fervently to serve the local church and live out the greatest command.
To Him who will do far more than we can think or imagine...be all the praise, all the honor, and all the glory forever.
About the Author: Josh Gardner serves Clayton King Ministries as Discipleship Director. He is a graduate of Liberty University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies, and currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity in Apologetics at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Previously, Josh served as a Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church Stuart in Florida. Most importantly, he is an unashamed Jesus junkie who wants to see the Great Commission fulfilled in his lifetime. He is married to Che and they have two children: Clara (3 years) & Gabrien (5 months). Follow him @JandChe.