Living as a Disciple
When I stepped onto this island I had expectations of what this time would be like. I’m not going to tell you if they were exceeded or not met but I can say that my experiences here are always unexpected.
If you are reading this because you are thinking about doing a DTS, or because you like to stay updated with YWAM DP, or simply because you’ve just stumbled upon this blog and collection of stories of God’s goodness to His kids. I just have a few things to say about His goodness to me, personally, in this time.
Living in community is a dream in my little town of Boone, NC. We have community gardens, farmers markets, sweet little churches and local shops centered around living and loving in community. Coming to DP with the mindset of living in community, I knew I’d love it. And I do! But that doesn’t mean it is easy at all. You get to be quite close with people when you’re with them all the time in every situation, even mosquito apocalypse. You learn a lot about yourself in that as well. For instance, I’ve learned the value and my deep love for listening and observing instead of being my usual loud and proud self. As well as learning that I really appreciate having chairs like two inches apart so I can move my elbows, petty right? The lovely thing about this community is even when I can’t escape people, I love sitting and reading surrounded by people you care about. I love that there will always be something to do and some adventure to be had. I love that if something is up in my life and I’m stressed or hurting I can always find someone to stop, drop, and pray with. I love that we share stories, laughs, and now many memories. One thing that really resounds with me is how we replicate many of the lifestyles of the apostles.
In Acts 2:42 it says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship and the breaking of bread and to prayer.” We do learn and teach together, we fellowship together, we eat all of our meals together, and we pray intently together. Among those things we conduct ourselves as best as we can, constantly sharpening one another so that when the day comes that we embark on our own personal missions, we have carried out God’s will to bless one another and made lifelong friendships. One of our speakers in the last weeks was telling us that he was just visiting a friend from his DTS that happened many years ago. He said that these friendships really were planned by our Father. That they are lifelong and extremely precious. I must agree. Although I’ve changed and my personality has bloomed I feel like the few deep, deep friendships I have made are here until we meet in eternity. They were unlikely, sudden but clearly treasured.
Besides my thankfulness for my fellow student friends here, I’ve really been experiencing the kindness of the staff. Many of them are intentional with their relationships with us. It is nice to see that the staff can love me and every other student before and after me. It is really cool to see how they learn new things from the lectures they’ve sat in many times (which just keep getting better) and how they continue to grow in areas of insecurity. A few of them have come to be close friends and people that clearly imitate the characters of Christ to the best of their ability. But as the Lord was revealing to me as we walked to my casita, they love us so much and put that love to action. He asked me to seek Him to see what ways I can love and pour into them as well. It’s already been really sweet to see God use me and others to renew their joy in this time that could become mundane. One of the ways we practically saw this happen this very week was a little renovation we did. A little room that I’ve escaped to many times to sit in the comfort and peace of God’s presence, got a little facelift! The prayer room has been a dream of the staff and as it came to completion, it still didn’t feel completed. So with about half the schools creative minds and the staff too we came up with a plan to finish this prayer room and leave a hand print for schools to come. A place that they can experience a very active Holy Spirit and be inspired to continue to make a difference on this base. So as bible pages were pasted on the walls of a little prayer closet, a table was made for art and a couch moved to accommodate more people. As well as quotes and places for words to be put on the walls. The finished project is beautiful and peaceful and everyday I’m in here I can feel the peace of His presence. Leave an intentional hand print, not an accidental footprint as you pass through. I urge you to let yourself be set on fire by inspiration.
One of the points of living life is to let yourself be activated by inspiration right? I think so. Let’s take today as an example, a silly one. I really enjoy reaching goals that I have. One for years has been to swim with manatees. Or even just to see one. Today I had the opportunity to paddle out to the reef, as we swam past the reef and into the cut, I prayed earnestly to see a manatee and thanked God for the dolphin sighting that I still haven’t forgotten about. As we swam Jason pointed at a large floating mass… then two, then three! Then that number doubled and before I knew it, I was dancing in the water with six friendly manatees. I was dumbfounded, I didn’t think I could cry underwater but I did. I know, I know, silly example of being activated by my inspiration (aka manatee buddies).
But let me tell you of a story more potent to this topic. One of the things I found really interesting when I was younger was jails. Probably because I knew I’d never see the inside of one. Jail like the ones in Andy Griffith that only contained a drunk old hick with the kindly voice of ice cream shop owner. But as I’ve grown older I learned that they don’t contain those people. They contain people who break the law intentionally for momentary satisfaction. People who hurt people, people who are just as much God’s dearly loved children as me. So when I got the opportunity to paint a mural in the local jail here in San Pedro, I figured two dreams of mine in one afternoon! We arrived and were put in a cell to finish this mural of Jesus with some others from the local church. Our cell was in between two men’s cells so as custom apparently for most Belizean men we were catcalled as we painted the green strokes in Jesus’ eyes and wrote His very words on the walls.We finished up and their calls had been quieted by the songs of praise that would flow out of us. The work day was coming to an end which meant that the cell beside us was to be released. As these lost men emptied their grey walled and uncomfortable “home”, they stopped to see what we had been working on. One of the men, being moved by the presence of Jesus Christ that filled each of us, came forward with arms outstretched and asked boldly for prayer. Sadly, there was a polite hesitation for the others around me. Even one in my own heart. Shaking off the fear that filled my body with nervous trembles, I jumped forth and began praying for this man. The room quieted as I called out to our Father for an outpouring of His merciful love on these new men. I released them in the name of Jesus with freedom and hope for their lives. Heads bowed and everything completely still until I said “AMEN” and with a shout of agreement, they all rushed out of the jailhouse that I prayed they would never return to. Although I shook in my little Chacos, these men were filled and shouted for the One who makes us different.
I still pray for that bold man and his companions from that cell. They showed me that with the interest that was in me since childhood and the passion for new paint on a brush, the Lord could fill me as His vessel in that moment. All of the goals I’ve reached while being here have been ones cultivated in my childhood. Which fits nicely when I was told that God wanted to renew that time in my life in the beginning of DTS.
I suppose that the whole point of the time that I’ve taken to update you all on this journey of YWAM has been to inspire you to live intentionally. Live like the disciples by living in communion with God daily. Always letting Him give you your direction. Remaining in His love and will. Remain in Him as you work, as you sit in lecture (ahem, future DTS), as you do things that bring you joy, as you spend time with others. You are ambassadors from Heaven, here to show the embassy of Heaven on earth. Do not forget where the fire of inspiration comes from and the glory goes. May grace and peace be with you, dear reader.