I had encouraged Jason to teach what he was learning to other guys in the pod. This was a principle that I had been learning from listening to the CPM training CDs that recorded David Watson’s seminar in Freetown, Sierra Leone. You learn quicker and more deeply when you teach others the new material you are learning. Jason had been teaching others in the daily Bible study group, but he was especially discipling Malcolm.
I continued meeting with Jason, but added a weekly visit with Malcolm, too. It was encouraging to begin to see how much Jason had passed on. Discipling someone to disciple another really works even though it may seem counter-intuitive. Involve your disciples in the process of discipling someone else from day one. Do not wait until they get some body of knowledge down, start them immediately. Make this a condition for you continuing to disciple them. They learn more and deeper because their information is coupled with experiences.
Malcolm was farther along than I could have imagined. I began encouraging him to disciple other guys in the pod. I wanted him to prepare for the eventual day when he would be released. He would have to pass on what he was learning to keep the fire burning in that pod. As time drew near for his release Malcolm told me that there were two young guys he wanted me to meet with.
I began meeting with Paul * and Jimmy * after Malcolm was released. Here I saw some evidence of generational degradation of information (a copy of a copy of a copy…shows real losses). David Watson had talked about this in the training CDs emphasizing the need for training centers that bring each generation up to the original level. There were some pieces of the discipling process that were not repeated in subsequent generations that resulted in significant weaknesses. This was an important realization for me to experience.
Jimmy did not disciple anyone. Paul wrestled with being shy and not easily finding someone else to teach what he had been learning. I began to wonder if I had failed to keep the process alive and question whether I had invested too much time in people who were not teaching what they were learning. As Paul’s release approached I asked him to pray about someone else in the pod who would like for me to visit each week. Paul informed me the next week that the trustee, Austin *, would like a visit.
Having learned from my failures, as well as successes, I decided to start out differently with Austin. From the first day I communicated my expectation that Austin would have to teach what I taught him if my visits were to continue. He agreed. Quickly he began to tell me of his efforts to teach Tommy. Eventually I learned that Tommy brought his cousin into the study group that was forming. Austin was taking seriously the expectation and the pace was picking up.
While spending some time with David Watson he asked how Austin’s 3-column studies were going. I said I did not know. David suggested I provide money for Austin to be able to photocopy his studies and send them to me through the mail. I noted that the inmates do not have access to a copy machine. I decided to have Austin hand write a copy and mail it to me.
Soon Austin sent me a stack of 3-column studies that had been completed by several others in his pod who were now participating in the group. Each exhibited insights into the text and showed evidence of grasping the need to apply the passage. Several needed to work on stating the third column in the “I will…” format that forces personal application. These were mailed back to Austin to redistribute to the participants. (Regretfully, these were never returned to Austin. I do not know if they were lost in the mail or misplaced at the jail. Months later they were finally returned to me, because inmates are not allowed to receive mail from one another, they refused to deliver them all to Austin.)
[* NOTE: Names have been changed, but all other details are accurate.]