What’s a student-apprentice?

A student-apprentice - iesu no deshi -

At the beginning of May 2016, I attended a conference where the speaker was a South African pastor called Alexander Venter. He was speaking about spirituality and discipleship, and one of the things he underlined was the need for people who, like me, follow Jesus, to become real student-apprentices. That is, to become not just those who acquire knowledge or try to do what Jesus would do in a given situation – both good things to do –  but who live with Him day by day and learn from Him like the disciples of a rabbi or an apprentice learning a trade.

This idea is taken up by Dallas Willard in several books and Alexander quoted him often.

“The idea of having faith in Jesus has come to be totally isolated from being his apprentice and learning how to do what he said.”

Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God

I decided that I needed to take up the challenge to become an apprentice who is also a student, so when I felt it was time to start this blog the name was an obvious choice.

But, because of our strong connection with the country, I also wanted to give it a Japanese flavour and looked for a suitable term. I found deshi (弟子).

According to one definition:

Deshi means a disciple, a reverent follower, an apprentice, the disciple of the sensei (master).

Other dictionaries gave similar explanations. This was the idea I was looking for, but since deshi is usually used for students in specific areas such as kabuki, rakugo, shogi, igo, aikido, sumo, karate and other modern Japanese martial arts, I decided to make it clear: iesu no deshi (イエスの弟子means Jesus’s student-apprentice and that’s what I am.

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