Friday, April 27, 2007

Mukama Webezebwe! Ola o te a! (Praise God! Hi, how are you?)

(Picture above) When witnessing at this Ugandan family’s home, two teenage girls came to know Jesus Christ as their Savior.

I am finally settled in Redding, California, and I have too many stories and experiences to share with you. Many of you received my e-mail up­dates during my time at D.T.S. in Montana and on outreach in Uganda, Africa, and I hope that I kept you informed on what I was experiencing and learn­ing from the Lord. Included in this new blog site will be new blogs of what I am doing, along with a compilation of my 2007 Spring Newsletter, past support letters, newsletters, and e-mail updates. I think you will be able to enjoy the new format, as I hope to keep you up to date on my new adventures as I embark as D.T.S. staff with Y.W.A.M. in Lakeside, Montana, and if you are new to my God-journey, you can catch up on my past experiences!

Available & Obedient

My prayer was to be available and obedient to God during D.T.S. I knew this was how I could give God the opportunity to work through me in every situation. I have been learning that God desires to demonstrate His power and love though me, but if I hold back or am unwilling, all that is demonstrated is my own ability, be it my weaknesses or my strengths—and I miss an opportunity to glorify Him! I don’t want to do that! I desire to have the glory go to God in all my experiences. But this being available and obedient meant stepping out of my comfort zone many times!

One of these stepping out experiences was in my dance track. My team taught a dance workshop at a local middle school. As this was the first time the YWAM base had done this, we were able to establish a good reputation and were invited back again. Most importantly, we were able to establish relationships with the students, listen to them, love them, and be a positive influence to them.

Mini outreach in Spokane, Washington was one of the most stretching experiences of lecture phase. Several times we walked around the city and asked to pray for people. I had never done this before, and even though I was shaking on the inside, I thought, “Okay, God. Please use this to bless people through prayer and that they would feel Your specific care and love for each of them personally.” I believe that many of the people we prayed for saw that our intentions were sincere, and I prayed that this would subconsciously invoke a desire for “Someone” more, the Only One who truly satisfies. On Halloween night a girl on my team stopped and asked to pray for a group of three people. Now my first inclination would have been not to speak to them because, well, they looked scary. Immediately one person took off into the bar, another just stood and snickered at us, and the third said that she didn’t need any prayer. She was dressed in a Halloween costume, including a long black dress, white paint over her entire face, and red paint made to look like blood was dripping down her face, and her demeanor was not open to God. Then I asked if we could just pray in general for her, not knowing anything specific. She gave a hesitant yes to this. So I began to pray for her, especially about how she is uniquely and specially created and how much God loves her. Afterward, I could see that her demeanor had changed as she realized that we were not there to judge but to love her with the love of Christ. I believe that I could see an openness and connection with her through her eyes. She even thanked us before we left.

My mission’s trip to Uganda was unlike many of my previous missions’ experiences. On my past trips I had done a lot of hands-on service and friendship evangelism. However, our main focuses in Uganda were door-to-door evangelism, open air programs where we shared the Gospel in communities, in prisons, and in an orphanage, teaching seminars in churches, and preaching in churches on Sundays. I did not have experience evangelizing or speaking much previously and do not believe it comes that naturally as I have a harder time talking to strangers, but I like to get to know people over time. So this was a huge step for me. Again I would pray much like at mini outreach, “Here I am, God. I’m going to open my mouth and speak about You. Please give me Your words to say because I don’t know what to say or how to do this.” And God did—all the time! One time I was sharing the salvation message through my interpreter to a group of ladies, and more and more children began to gather round. I had a baby sitting on my lap. One of the ladies and several children asked to receive Christ. Her eyes went from looking so lost to lighting up with hope! It was amazing how many times I saw this—a physical change in a person’s countenance when they came to Christ! I felt like I could relate or maybe understand a little of Jesus and the early Christians as I also ministered to some people who did not even know the name of Jesus.

When I contemplated what I had learned the most from my D.T.S. lecture phase and outreach, I believe there are two main things. One is that God is Alive; He is the Living and Active Word as Hebrews 4:12 states. His Word was alive, impacting, and specific to each person I spoke to, as to the lady and children that came to Christ in the previous story. My own words don’t do that, but God’s words touch people to the depths of their souls, and He will meet them there. The other thing I have been learning is that God is Faithful! He is the Master Builder, putting blocks or experiences of faith underneath me so that I can stand strong and solidly on His Firm Foundation! He has done this in various ways: my previous missions’ trips, youth internship with my church, providing employment at Simpson University, and a place to stay in preparation for YWAM… I left in September with only half of my funds for YWAM, praying that God would provide the rest—and He did through faithful prayer partners. My faith became stronger as I saw Him work in my life and radically in the D.T.S. students’ lives, and I saw many Ugandans’ lives transformed as they came to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I can take these lessons with me each day as I live in the presence of the Living God, remember His faithfulness, and that He is actively working in my life and in other peoples’ lives!

"Set Apart"

During my first week of D.T.S. lecture phase in September I wrote something in one of my lectures that I believed proved true for the rest of D.T.S.

“This is a time to be ‘set apart’ at the burning bush on the mountain (Moses), in the wilderness (John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, Jesus), to learn from the Lord, to hear the voice of God, and to know the heart of God. God chose you.”

What a unique gift I had been given, to have a period of time set apart to spend with the Lord, similar to my Biblical forefathers and Jesus Christ Himself! My speaker at a week long mini outreach spoke further about the burning bush asking, “What is your burning bush? What is God trying to use to get your attention?” (See Exodus 3.) This really hit home for me as I thought back over the direction of my life, the influences in my life, and the passions God has given me. A conversation I had with my mentor towards the beginning of D.T.S. came to me. I had said to her how I love ministering to young people in the emerging generations in America and that I also love missions, but I felt that I had to choose one or the other. She asked me why I couldn’t do both. I don’t think I had an answer at the time or even understood that maybe there was a way I could incorporate both in my life until later. Slowly, God began to confirm my passions that I desired to continue in ministry with young people and lead students in missions in the next chapter of my life.

At the Montana base I also began to develop such a love for the base, the people there, and their mission. Daily I saw their relationship for the Lord and desire to serve Him, to empower people in their personal relationships with the Lord and into the ministry God has for them, and my heart beat the same.

I would like you to meet Buddy.

Buddy is about 3 years old. My team & I met him at the first church we ministered at near Jinja, Uganda. He was one of the many children that craved our attention, but he always was happy with a huge smile on his face. When a member of my team asked what his name was, the people did not know because he is an orphan—homeless. Someone explained that sometimes a Ugandan will let him stay the night at their home or give him food to eat. We met so many children like him, but what could we do? We smiled back, held his hand, and prayed that he would know Jesus’ love.

Recognizing Where God Wants To Use Me

Even though I was a student at D.T.S., God provided opportunities for me to minister to my fellow students. From just listening, sharing, and praying with them, I believe God was able to work through me. I saw how my experiences could relate and speak God’s love, strength, and faithfulness to other girls as they recognized their own struggles and sought help from the Lord.

I have a passion for young people, especially young women, to counsel them, to love them, and to ultimately lead them to Jesus Christ so that they can live empowered lives and fulfill the purposes God has for them to transform their world!

Spring Support Letter

Dear Friends,

First of all, I would like to thank you for your support and prayers for me during my D.T.S. in Montana and my missions’ outreach to Uganda, Africa. I truly felt the Lord’s presence and His guidance through your prayers. And hopefully, you have been able to see through my e-mail updates and this newsletter how my passion continues to lie with the D.T.S. at the YWAM Montana base, which is called to equip disciples to evangelize the world.

During my D.T.S. God confirmed my passions to minister to young people and to be in missions at this time. I saw how I could incorporate both of these things into my life of ministry through YWAM, so I applied to staff the Discipleship Training School in Lakeside, MT (in that same program I participated in as a student). I am so excited to say that I have been accepted! Along with my directors and other staff, I will help facilitate the school, by leading small groups, mentoring individual girls, leading or supporting the leader of a study track, and preparing and co-leading groups of students on missions’ trips to other countries.

I believe that this opportunity communicates my passions to disciple young people and reach the world with the message of Jesus Christ. This position also will utilize my abilities and work experiences in organization and discipleship and my social science degree. I am excited to step out as a leader, to be discipled by Godly leaders, and even for the challenges I will encounter. This further step of faith will transform my life even more, and I desire for God to use me how He desires. I am humbled by God’s faith in me and the responsibility He has chosen to give me.

As with any person who works with YWAM, I serve as a volunteer, receive no salary, and raise my own financial support from individual churches and/or people. (Youth With A Mission is a non-denominational missions’ organization, and is not affiliated or funded by any one denomination.) In order to begin by June 1st, I will need the minimum requirement of $500 per month pledged for two years. I believe that the Lord knows the plans He has for me, the timing involved, and where His provision lies. I ask that you would go to the Lord in prayer to consider if God desires to use you as His provision—to support me financially. If you are not led by God to give, please do not feel pressured to, but I would so appreciate your continued prayers.

If I still need more pledges to meet my needs before June 1st, I will need to move my start date to later summer (the next staff intake is August). Please note that my living expenses may require more than $500, and as much as $700-$800, (estimates). Some of my expenses include, but are not limited to, room and board, personal care, healthcare, car upkeep and insurance, college loans, taxes, traveling, and cell phone.

No amount is too small—the amount spent making a couple runs to Starbucks or eating out each month. Just 20 people giving $25 a month would equal $500! Consider the resources the Lord has given you: a tax return, a rebate, God is blessing your business, a pay raise, or maybe your giving is a step of faith, much like my going. I appreciate anything you are able to give!

Hebrews 11:1, 6 states, “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's [my] handle on what [I] can't see…It's impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that He exists and that He cares enough to respond to those who seek him.” (See Hebrews 11-12 in The Message Bible.) I have encountered a trustworthy God during D.T.S., and I am excited that God will continue to weave a tapestry of faith in my own life through my upcoming journey!

Thank you and God bless.