Thursday, July 3, 2008

At All Costs ~ Winter DTS News

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

God has taught me so much during this season of my life as I’ve been recovering from mono and pneumonia while staffing a Discipleship Training School full-time, including lecture phase (Jan.-March) and leading an outreach team to the Mediterranean area (March-May). After months of illness and doctor’s visits, I began taking several vitamins and supplements to aid my recovery. This has helped me get well, even though this is a greater expense than I am used to. Now I am a frequent of the health food store and trying to learn more in an effort to stay well. During my sickness, I have also been learning to rely on God’s strength just to function or accomplish something. I’ve had to humble myself, to not do everything and to ask for help (something I do not do well). But my God, fellow staff, friends, and small group girls have been there for me, praying for me and encouraging me! As this DTS’s school theme is “At All Costs,” it has been real to me in a new way, while I was so frustrated on outreach to be sick, yet again. My burden of illness seems such a small cross to carry when compared to what Jesus asks of me, even my life in Luke 9. I don’t know what I may go through in life or in death, how much physical, emotional, and spiritual turmoils, and I don’t know how I may handle it. But I do know that I can do all things with His strength. I know He is with me through everything, and I do know that people knowing the love of Jesus and coming into relationship with Him is worth the cost!

Small Group Blessings

My small group consisted of five amazing girls, who I grew very close to: Hannah (Canada), Stephanie (Idaho), Emily (Virginia), Michele (Washington), and Crystal (Pennsylvania). Not only were they vulnerable with me and each other and desired to grow so much, but they ministered to me also. I am so proud of them. Stephanie was on the Thailand team and stayed in Thailand after her outreach to continue serving there. Emily and Crystal were also on the Thailand team and are home to help family for the time being. I know God has more great things in store for them (I could see both staffing or doing another school). Hannah was on my outreach and may teach preschool again, but is interested in working with handicapped children or with abused women. And Michele is accepted to begin the School of Biblical Studies here at the Montana base in September. She desires to go on to Spanish speaking countries.

Dance Ministry

Though I was unable to dance for much of dance track, we had an amazing group of girls. Four girls were on the India team, and two girls, Ja (Thailand) and Amber (Canada), were on my team. Once I felt my strength return, I danced with the girls and helped teach several dances we could take on outreach. They were so willing to learn, work hard, and connect with the music that we bonded, and it was such a joy to work with them. While there, we performed several times at our church and for our friends (yes, including me), and I pray it blessed the church members and ministered to our non-Christian friends’ hearts. Amber desires to begin a dance ministry with girls at her home church, and go do a School of Biblical Studies in South Africa later. Ja is going back to Thailand to continue bringing Jesus to her people (she serves in her church and has been a translator for several of our YWAM teams).

The Stifled Cry of a Lost Nation

Currently, this nation's government upholds separation of church and state and freedom of religion, in writing. However, the politically right majority (strict non-Christian religion) desires to choke out the minority, which is more prevalent in the west of the country, in cities, and especially in many of the people of the city where we lived. Surrounded by the enemy's hold, the blindness of post-modern acceptance versus the chains of strict religion, materialism, sexuality, and laziness--all these distractions would seemingly war against one another, but Satan is using these things to lull the people into a deep sleep, unaware of the deception going on as they are hypnotized by the evil eye (double meaning here for Satan and Izmir's evil eye; native people believe one can bring evil on another through their eyes, so many wear eye jewelry or have an eye at the door of their home to reflect the evil sent to them.).

With 99% of the population is this religion, there is a huge need for God. As our team spent more time there, we could feel the spiritual oppression of Satan. We were led to spend much of our time, especially in the first month, praying that spiritual strongholds would be broken. We also felt that reading the Word of God would be an act of spiritual warfare as we read and studied Acts and Ephesians and read the Bible aloud. One day we traveled to a fortress built by Alexander the Great with the San Francisco DTS and prayed and worshiped on top of the fortress, which overlooks the city. It was really powerful to be lifting up the name of Jesus Christ even as the call to prayer reverberated throughout the city. Another impacting week, we partnered with the South Africa DTS to pray around the city for 7 days (as the Israelites marched around Jericho). We went to different areas of the city each day, and walked and prayed in groups. On the seventh day we prayed as we completed a circle throughout the city, by bus, walking, ferry, walking, and bus. We concluded with praise and worship at the church, thanking God for what He was doing.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

(Pictured:Ja and I with our friends at a traditional restaurant for one of our friend's birthdays, which had traditional food, live music, dancing, & yes, tambourines were the bomb!)

For people to meet Jesus in a non-Christian nation (10/40 window), it often is through relationships built over many years. The missionaries, church, and pastor were so grateful that we were able to stay in one place for 2 months. This enabled us to establish deeper friendships with many native people. And it is funny because you’d think we would need to try to meet people, but God brought people to us. Our team would meet in the park and worship, and people would stop to listen and talk with us. We would get together for coffee, to their house or our house, and be able to talk about many things, including Jesus. Some came to church with us (their first time) and were able to hear the gospel, something they had never heard before. We saw hearts were softening toward God. The guys on our team became friends with one guy. He made a commitment to Christ, and they continued to disciple him. After we left, he is now helping with worship at the church. Another guy worked near our girls’ apartment, and he would often stop to listen to us when we were meeting in the park. We tried to talk with him, gave him a Bible, and invited him to church; however, he did not know English. He came to church and made a commitment to Christ--praise God! I have learned since I have returned by our teammate Scott’s e-mails, who stayed for an extra month, how he came to know Jesus. Before he met us he asked God to reveal in a dream the one true religion to him, and he had a dream of the cross. Then he met us!!! Scott wrote to me that another man gave his testimony in church and was saved through a dream about Jesus! My own attempts for God are so feeble, but here is fruit of what God is doing, when we cannot even see it! These men were recently been baptized!

Me and Kristina, who is our contacts' daughter, looking so cute. She would sing to herself in the car, and I loved it. She didn't speak English, but I tried to talk with her anyway.

Summer Sun? Actually, Snow in June...

(Pictured: my team and pastor being goofy at church.)

I am back at the base in Lakeside, Montana for the summer working as receptionist, going to play rehearsals (yes, I am a small play for our theatre school), and maybe working grounds later this summer before beginning preparations for the Fall DTS which I am staffing. My students went through debriefing week and are now scattered across several countries. It is a hard adjustment back to life in America for me this time. I realize how much spiritual oppression we were living under overseas. I know I am supposed to be home, but part of me wants to stay there and continue ministering to my friends and the church there--especially when I face the reality that my not know Jesus. And they do not even know what they are missing--the greatest gift of all--Jesus! The only truly gift that matters in a person’s life because that is how we enter into true and eternal relationship with our Father God through Jesus Christ. I emotionally and spiritually hurt for them, but I know that the seeds planted are in the hands of the Lord, and that is the best place for them to be. I am keeping in touch with my friends, the church, and missionaries via e-mail. I continue praying that the Lord would guide and use my words of friendship and Jesus to penetrate their souls and nourish the soil of their hearts.

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" ~ Romans 10:12-15 ~

I pray this letter has blessed your hearts. I wish I could deliver my experiences to you in person!

God bless you in Jesus Christ’s Name,