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Its amazing to me how many of us have gone to church our whole lives, raised children to know and love him, have even had arguments and taken stands on his behalf, without ever haven read and understood the word he left us. In the Bible, God tells us who he is, why he came, and how we are to live on earth. I don't know about you, but I am 100% guilty of this.
Until a few years ago when I could no longer quiet the fire that had been burning in my spirit. It just wasn't satisfied with the small amount I was feeding it. It was HUNGRY for more. After leaving a church and for that matter, a denomination that had bee comfortable my whole life, we set out to find God and a community of people that felt the same way.
We fount it. But also what we found would change our lives forever. We found a man leading a group of people out of pure humility. He confessed to his shortcomings, but knew without a doubt what he was to do about it. He had our ear. Our first assignment after attending for a short time, was to read all of the red letters. He gave us a week. Wow...he means business, haha. We were intrigued and excited. We read all the read letters found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts and Revelation. Then because of his prompting, he challenged us to reread it for the next 4 weeks. We did. Something was igniting. Then, soon after that, he made an off the cuff comment about before next Sunday, read the four gospels. He even knew how much time it would take. We did it. Wow again!
So this is how it started. We went from there, to in-depth studies in different books. While Ron found himself pulled one way, I felt called to read the New Testament, even though I had just done it a year before. It took a few months, but I did it. Hugry for more, I quickly went to riding the Old Testament. I powered through all the names, the places, the do's and don'ts that at the time didn't make a lot of sense. I knew it would begin to become clear if I kept reading. It did. His word started coming alive.
I can't even begin to explain the POWER in the text he left us. Forget that it's the most read, oldest, intact piece of literature on planet earth, but it's alive! I learned God's character and nature. I learned Satan's character and nature. I learned the human character and nature. Things in life became very clear. I even asked God to make himself known to me. I asked him to speak to me, to show me things. Guess what? He did. I would wake up each morning with some new gift he gave me. An understanding, a knowing, a connection, a new heart for someone I struggled to forgive. It was blowing my mind.
I could see clearly how his word had been distorted over the years by us humans that have been deceived by Satan. I could see the beauty that he intended. I could see the Father's heart so clearly. He is love. Love requires things though. Things I needed to lay at his feet. I found myself to have a spirit of rebellion, selfishness, judgement and more. I had idols that I was hesitant to lay down, as they gave me false comfort. Day by day, he lovingly showed me the places I needed healing. Still growing and learning and seeking him in all those areas. But my hope is now FIRMLY rooted in the God I learned to re-love.
You see, the God I thought I was serving was based on my own selfish wants and desires. I was doing him favors by telling everyone what the answers were to this broken world. Who am I to think I hold that kind of knowledge? Healing step one...stop thinking I know everything. I don't. Not even close. Not one step without sitting in his word and asking him where to go, what to say, what to do. Not. One. Step.
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33
and I find it wonderful that he is talking to us about fear and anxiety here...
"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow with be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is it's own trouble." Matt 6:24
Friends, seek first the kingdom of God. The treasure is endless.
So to start this off I just want to always express my heart of gratitude towards the time invested that you guys have put in to follow what I am doing and support. So, thank you all so much. These last three months have been absolutely amazing. I have been able to be challenged in so many areas, some being, teaching, coaching/grading students, studying, and always communal living! When I got to the Aus I had about a week before I had to start preparing for my teaching. In that, I was able to connect with students and get to know this year’s class.
After that I had 5 weeks to prep before I was to teach on the book of Ecclesiastes. Wow, what a time that was. I learned so much, but the golden nuggets that I was always left with were the questions…
“what is our then?” (once I do this…THEN I’ll be happy)
“why are we so easily unsatisfied with what God is doing now?”
I taught through the themes of “vanity” and “life under the sun” in my teaching to help the students get more of a grasp of what the potential author was trying to say out of this wisdom literature book. It was amazing to identify in my own life what some of those “then I’ll be happy” expectations were.
March was an incredible time, but wow, so much unexpected situations came up. Usually I have a grasp on that due to March being the busy week in our family because we have almost everyone’s birthday. But this month was jam packed with surprises. The things I was preparing for were, my teaching, my girlfriend’s birthday, my birthday, a potential flight to come home (for a friend’s wedding), and our spring break.
But as we neared the end of March, as most of you know, the virus spread quickly. Unfortunately, with those circumstances, and the prayerful decision from our leadership team, we had to shut down the school and send all of our students’ home. Staff had the option to stay but was encouraged to get home and work from there. For a bit, we were determined to ride it out there in Aus, but as uncertainty grew about VISA’s, medical insurance and the American economy and our supporters, we agreed the wise thing to do would be to shut down until fall. Due to the school closing down, we are now having to basically invent an online course to allow the students to finish from home.
(Praise the Lord)
With that all being said. I have arrived back home and my time in Aus has been cut short for now. We are all so blessed to be home and even more so because we can still continue everything we were doing in Aus right here where we are. I will still be coaching and grading students through FaceTime and will be helping out the school in any possible way that I can from home. One thing that really stuck with me that I thought was incredible, was a word that our base leader got from God. He said that the Lord, in this time, was calling us all home to our home nations, to reach our literal neighbor. WOW. What an amazing opportunity for us.
- for all the students to make it home safely
- for them to be encouraged, strengthened, and motivated to work from home
- for me while I’m home to be able to sow into my community and build/strengthen my relationships
- for the school to be fully funded in costs to maintain our property in this time
Thank you all again. I love you and will hope to see/chat with you soon.
(After the virus of course)
If you’d like to contact me
I'm writing with a heavy heart to update you on changes that have taken place three days ago.
Our leaders had to make the tough decision to immediately send all of our students’ home. Australia has started putting in stricter regulations as things start to progress. The number of people allowed to gather is shrinking, the ability to feed over 60 people is getting harder, international flights from Australia are close to being cut off, and ultimately, it’s impossible to quarantine our students properly.
This means that over the next few days everyone has been packing all their belongings, saying goodbye to deep friendships and will suddenly be back at home.
Despite all the disappointment, confusion and sadness, the atmosphere of our house has been one of worship & peace! God is doing small miracles in our lives and we’ve experienced the power of choosing trust!
Some Good News
We are in the process of setting SBS up online, so our students can still finish the school, studying the prophets & completing the whole Bible! This is such an incredible opportunity for their family & friends to see firsthand what they’ve been doing and be able to learn God's heart alongside them!
How this has affected me personally:
I had the option to stay or go home since I'm staff on a two-year visa. This was a very difficult decision for me because I felt like I just got here & am now fully settled in. Also, it is a lot safer here then home currently.
At first, I wanted to stay BUT then God stirred my heart to go home.
Ever since I stepped into missions, I've always been faced with leaving & laying down family to obey what God was calling me to do. BUT NOW God is giving me an opportunity to choose family first in this time & it's really incredible!
A lot has happened though since that decision. At first, I couldn't get a flight, but then finally got one (triple the normal price). Charlie also decided to go home and found a flight for the next morning ... so we quickly packed him up, then attended a dress-up dinner to send the students off well. 5am came quick & before I knew it, we were saying goodbye at the airport, not knowing for how long. After, I was left in shock with how much happened in One Single Day. Every day following has been full of ups & downs, from student's flights getting suddenly canceled to experiencing God's crazy favor and peace.
Through it all, God has embraced me with His presence and I am overwhelmed by a strong sense of security, knowing He is in control. I continue to trust Him & believe that He is doing such a deep work in this time!
What the near future holds:
It is going to take a lot of creative, eager minds to make it possible for the students to continue online. As staff, we will still do everything we’ve already been doing, and study different books to help the students as much as possible. Our heart is to provide the support they need to finish the school strong. Our locations may have changed, but our commitment still remains. I'm so expectant for what's in store and know that God works all things for good!
How you can be praying:
- Wisdom & Strength for the leaders as they navigate these next few months
- Safety & favor over all of us traveling home, that we stay healthy, have no stress, and no flight cancellations
- Complete comfort over all of our hearts as we process this huge change
- Peace, strength, & encouragement for Charlie & I
- Pray that hearts will be softened with gratitude all across the world
- That there is a QUICK end to the virus
- As we are in quarantine, my prayer is that laziness would not have a hold, but that we would seek God & go to His Word and be encountered by it
*In the midst of all this, God gave Celeese a little treasure on the way home. She had to fly back herself, which is never the easiest way to travel, especially under these conditions. But it ends up a young girl from a different YWAM Base on the Goldcoast was on her flight and had the same 24 hr layover at LAX as she did AND was also headed to Toronto, Canada where Celeese was heading. Can you believe God is so kind? The two became fast friends, even getting a hotel room to get some sleep. In the chaos, God is always providing. What a beautiful testament of his love for us.
A couple of days ago I had the most interesting and challenging call from a young man that found our organization via the social media venue, “Instagram”. He shared his contact information for another social media communication tool called, “WhatsApp” and we talked internationally for about 45 minutes. What I discovered is important and I thought worthy of sharing. And as we know, sharing of ideas leads to change and this needs to change.
So the young man’s name is Bonny. He was born in India, raised in Dubai, and became a Christian when he was 17. He grew up in a Hindu family and after struggling with issues of guilt and shame, he began searching for forgiveness in religion. He spent a significant amount of time studying different religions, but the more he searched, the wearier he grew (his words). After sinking into depression, he met with a counsellor who was Christian. He listened to Bonny and encouraged him to read the book of Luke and further, the rest of the Bible. The more he read, the surer he became that God was real. He ultimately gave his life to Christ. He attended churches of different denominations, developing his personal relationship with God and learned to lead small groups, evangelize, pray and intercede for the nations.
Over the past few years he was given opportunities in public ministry, through preaching, teaching and giving Gospel presentations. He learned about Youth With A Mission (YWAM), an organization focused on international missions and did his first Discipleship Training School (DTS) with them. After the course, he knew he was to stay in missions and commit to long term serving. His heart is for Thailand, the Himalayas and the Middle East. Most recently, God has spoken to him about attaining a deeper understanding of Scripture and is working toward attending the School of Biblical Studies (SBS) in Kansas City.
All this, leads us to the challenge. When I work with a young adult called to missions, we start first talking about finances and fundraising. As you know, you can’t really be a self-supported missionary. Sure, there are some exceptions where someone has property working for them, or they’ve figured out an online business that keeps them funded but doesn’t require a large time commitment. For most missionaries, this is not the case. They are predominantly dependent on the church body… the senders…that’s us!
For Bonny there are three major challenges. Again, if I were to begin working with a young adult from a first world country, like the United States, I would start by asking them who their support base is? Usually we start with what church do you attend? Then we move to how supportive their family is. Then, how big is your support base of friends? Starting with his church, he doesn’t have a home church like we would picture in the US. One where he grew up, where his parents are actively involved, where many had poured into his young life. He was older, didn’t have the roots needed for a big support base and frankly, the church is probably supported with funding outside the country, leaving little for a missions budget, if any. This would be strike one for financial support.
The second thing I would ask is, “how supportive is your family”? This would be the next level of support. For Bonny, no one in his family knows the Lord. Before his mother died, he said she was strongly against Christianity. Since then, his father has been softening to the idea, on the basis of human interest…he loves his son. He didn’t mention siblings or aunts and uncles, but we can make a pretty good guess that none of them, if they exist, are Christian either. Strike two for traditional fundraising.
Lastly, friend-based support. Bonny is at YWAM staffing, his friend base is missionaries. He has gotten some support through people he has run into and done ministry with, but his numbers are not enough. Strike three.
The challenge for Bonny is to make connections with Christians that believe in what he’s been called to and are willing to share their personal resources with him. We trust that God will provide for his needs. And while this is every missionary’s challenge, I can’t help but think we need to consider what our role is as the church. For me, this perspective has opened my eyes to our responsibility as a church…as the whole church. Presbyterian, Baptist, Non-denominational…doesn’t matter. The Bible makes it clear to go make disciples of all nations. And why would we challenge that directive? If we believe God’s word, we know the life it brings. If we are bathed in His word daily, we know what a great love has been offered to us and how much our Savior loves each and every one of us. There is nothing like it. Nothing like it.
Sometimes for me to gain perspective, I have to take myself to another place. I generally have to go to the place of suffering. When a friend of mine is faced with suffering (a child that’s lost, an illness, loss of a parent, loss of a job, a marriage ending, anything that brings us to our knees)…this is where we see the value of the Savior. Not when life is great, we’re celebrating our wealth, good fortune and health. We forget our need there. But as with all things, life will bring suffering. None are void of it. This is where I gain clarity.
Now picture a world of young Bonny’s waiting to hear the good news. Suffering from depression, hopeless circumstances, and overall sadness. It’s like when you are having a hard day and a friend comes and gives you a good solid hug and reminds you that you’re loved. This is what the word of God brings to the nations…brings to all of us.
I pray that with all my ramblings each month, I offer some sort of perspective that motivates you to dive into the lifegiving word of God and to share both your time and resources with missionaries giving of their own lives to be sure the message of hope is delivered. When your are the recipient of this message, you will be reminded of it’s value. May God bless you and give you revelation to His word and love. Amen.
It starts with faith. God gave me a word to share this day and I do not want the freshness of His revelation to fade.
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