Finding Value in Leadership

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Hello, my name is Joshua Martin. I am a student in the September 2011 DTS at YWAM Destination Paradise.  I have learned so much during the past few weeks of lecture.  One of the things that I’ve been learning a lot about here is leadership.  Since this is a leadership DTS, we have a leadership class once a week where we go over a book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell, which talks about what it takes to become a good leader.

A leader has to be a good listener, not just someone who takes control in every situation, but someone who listens to what everyone else has to say.  To be able to lead effectively I have to be able to listen to the people on my team and act on what they say.  You increase your value as a leader by increasing the value in the people around you.

One of the stories that I learned while reading this leadership book is the story of the founder of Costco.  He invests his time and energy in each one of his employees.  He makes it a point to pay all of Costco employees better than average wages, which gives the employees incentive to work harder.  Because of the commitment to increase the value of his employees, his company has continued to successfully grow.  This story has had a large impact on my view of leadership.  Because I never thought that you could increase your leadership potential by adding to the value of others.  This part of leadership is something that I feel that I can really apply to my own life.   When I am trying to share my faith, for example, I need to first learn about the people I am sharing with and what they are interested in or affected by.  I can’t just rush into the situation and try to share God’s love with them while completely ignoring them as a person.  While I am building a relationship with them and showing them that I care, God’s love is revealed.  Good leadership is something that I can use in my Christian walk as well as at my job and in all other areas of life.  I have been learning so much here at YWAM DP and I hope to continue to grow in my relationship with God and my leadership abilities.  Please pray for me to continue to step out into Godly leadership in a way that brings Him glory.

What About Bob?!

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As I sat with Bob over dinner he began to pour out his life story on the table. Once Bob joined us at DP everyone heard a broad overview of his story but it was not until our dinner conversation when I had the privilege of hearing every small detail that built Bobs intense story. Honestly, I had never heard of a life story like Bobs in my life. It is heart breaking yet very exciting and it will keep you on the edge of your seat.  Yes, I’m talking biting nails and everything. Bob’s “former life” brought him to a life of brokenness, guilt, shame and feelings of unworthiness but soon after arriving at DP he had a new found life of, hope and freedom.

Bob starts by backtracking a few years ago when he was dating a girl for a while. This relationship had its ups and downs, and then ended for the worst, they broke up, this left Bob absolutely devastated. After the breakup Bob started filling the hole that was dug out in his heart with earthly desires. He started living a life wrapped in lies towards his friends and family. Bob mastered the art of building a wall of deceit; therefore no one could read his true emotions. On the outside Bob portrayed to people that life was great and he loved every moment of it, on the inside he was broken and collapsing into the lies. Bob started drinking, using drugs and struggling with a huge porn addiction. After months and months of living like this, these earthy desires stretched to new limits and eventually caused problems with the police. Bob was finally fed up with his life and decided to start a new one in the United States, though when Bob left, he literally just up and left everything. Bob did not say goodbye or tell anyone where he was going or what he planned to do.

In the U.S. Bob did not have a specific schedule to live by besides starting life over. He ended up traveling to loads of different states, loving life and enjoying every minute of it. After about three months Bob found himself in Hilton Head, North Carolina staying in a hotel when he started believing lies again and then falling back into the sin he was trying hard to escape from. It wasn’t until soon after this that he decided to take his own life. Bob figured if he could not even live a clean life without falling back into drinking, drugs and porn, then what would be the purpose of living.

Bob began planning ideas for taking his own life in Mexico after hitch-hiking his way there. His first attempt in Caye Caulker, Belize was a failure and Bob became very confused as to why his plan did not follow through. He ended up finding his way to San Pedro, Belize where he racked his brain for more ideas to take his life. After a few days of gathering the goods to successfully take his life, Bob starts his journey by walking north along the beach. During this walk Bob eventually passed our YWAM DP base and Copper, our base dog, and two other dogs that then accompanied Bob during his walk. They all ended up walking about fifteen miles together until Bob found the perfect spot to try his next attempt. It was a deserted wooded area and Bob was sure this time his plan would work. The next thing Bob remembered was coming to consciousness by running along the beach with Copper and the two other dogs right by his side. Bob soon found his way to the YWAM DP base and crashed on the library couch. He doesn’t remember a thing other than finding a place to rest his head and Copper. Francisco, our base maintenance guy, found Bob and quickly ran to get Lynn and Rene, who are base staff. While this was happening all of the students were enjoying our Saturday night movie and were completely clueless to what was going on. It was not until two days after Bob arrived on base that we were all introduced. He shared his story and we accepted him into our lives because he would be staying with us for a while.

Quickly he connected with all of us as students and would answer any questions we had about his life and what happened to him. He ended up staying at the base for about three weeks and even after the first week Bob truly felt like family. By the end of the first week Bob found his identity in God and decided to live his life for Christ. We were all ecstatic for him and could not wait to see Bob grow stronger in the Lord. While he was here, Bob read at least two books everyday, he also read from the Bible then asked many questions about what he learned. It was amazing and inspiring to watch Bob grow spiritually right before our eyes. I know I could truly see a difference; his eyes were calm and comforting, his body language was more inviting, his appearance was joyful and energetic and his personality was more optimistic about everything. Bob came to us as broken glass shattered on the ground but left us with a newfound life and wholeness. He is now back in Holland reborn into the Kingdom of God equipped to share his story with friends and family who are concerned about him. Bob is for REAL a walking miracle and I am in complete awe of his story and it has been an honor to be a part of it! Bob chose this verse in which he now lives by: Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Bob now understands that God has placed him here on earth for a purpose and he will now live out the life God has called him too.

Written by: Dani Luyo, September 2011 DTS

Three Cheers for the UK and Fish and Chips!

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Thank you all for following our adventures in the UK via this blog. What a range of experiences we had! Some were harder than others of course, with a particularly evident spiritual climate in Edinburgh to contend with but that was balanced out by meeting some incredible people and making good friendships all over the country, as you have already heard.

On the 9th September we began to wrap up our time in Sheffield where we had spent an unexpected but rewarding 3 weeks; having all sorts of opportunities to share and serve including door- knocking for a new church, flyering for a Christian Schools initiative, painting a re-constructed classroom in a Christian School  following flood damage and clearing land for the rearing of pigs as part of the ‘Promised Land’ project (growing food for those in need).

We had the good fortune of making friends with a girl who owned a cottage on the south coast of England and were invited to stay there to try and rest a little before the team split up, enjoying a true English seaside experiences including gloom, rain and cold. We did eat fish and chips, though (fried fish and french fries)!!! (and in our defense a post-hurricane was bombarding the west of the country at the time!)

This team had the good fortune to stay together through both Lecture Phase and Outreach (not all teams do) so saying goodbye after half a year of living closely together wasn’t too easy.
Some of the team decided to make the most of being in this part of the world and spent a few days in Europe but everyone had something exciting to look forward to- more travel, internships and Secondary Schools  and for myself the prospect of returning home to embark on new adventures in education.

I know that we were all able to close our time together in the UK knowing God had shown us each a lot about Himself, ourselves and each other; we all came away wiser and stronger. It has been a wonderful experience, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to serve in my own country and was so grateful for how God used this time to help me transition home and soften some of the culture shock that can occur. He is good, isn’t He?!

Thanks for faithfully reading, praying and supporting us along the way.

Louise Essam

(UK team leader)

Meshing Together into Community

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Welcome to this September 2011 DTS school!  There is no comparison to what happens when you put fourteen young aspiring students together in a learning environment where every lecture, every day, is centered around the God of this universe.  Learning together and worshiping together, we are quickly becoming a family. We are meshing together in a way that is new and fascinating to us. We are learning that living in a community requires compromise, sacrifice, and selflessness. But through this selflessness, this mindset, we are becoming altogether something different; a unique set of Family.

From the first day, we have clicked faster than any of us could have imagined. It is entirely too apparent that God destined for each of us to be here at this exact moment.  We have, in these short three weeks since arriving in Belize and settling down at the DP base, become a family. We are learning that family is everything when you live in community. Through becoming family we are learning that it is only natural to laugh together, to lie on the dock and stare at the stars and the moon, to revel in the glory of our God together. We are learning to work well in team-building situations, and to play team sports such as volleyball. We are learning to hold each other accountable, and to also come to each other to talk out our differences when we disagree. But most importantly, we are learning to cry together. This family is hurting. None of us are perfect, our lives our messy. Our hearts are confused and in pain, they are scared. The beauty of this is that God has given us a community to live in which holds us up. His strength pours into us, and we as one have the opportunity and the strength to hold each other up as we pour out our hurts and learn to trust again. This is one of the challenges of community living; trust.  It is a difficult thing to put your trust into thirteen other people whom you had never met before arriving at your destination, not to mention a staff of eight whom you have only had limited contact with. We aren’t there yet; we don’t have a complete trust of each other, that takes so much more time than we have had. But again, there is beauty in this. The advantage of this is that we have time to open up and become completely ourselves. We are no longer holding the cloak that covered us in our hometowns. We are in the process of discarding the guilt and the deception that have shrouded our faces and are taking off our masks. And from this is being built a beautiful relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and with Christ Himself. Through this casting off He is strengthening, and will continue to strengthen our Team until we are unstoppable in His kingdom.

We have been learning these past few weeks about the challenges of living together. One of these challenges is the lack of privacy at the Base. There are moments when one is solitary, when one is sitting on the end of the dock, or on a walk, or just sitting and reading in their room or at the Palapa (the outside soft drink bar), but one is never really alone. Everyone knows what is happening with one another, and because our lives are so open, we know to a degree what each other are struggling with. This can become frustrating. However, the fact that we live so close together is forcing us to become selfless. It’s forcing us to seek God out for a quiet time. It’s pushing us to be more pointed, more intentional about our relationship with Him, and with each other. It is urging us to grow.

On the flipside, there is an incredible amount of benefits to living together. As was mentioned earlier, we are growing as family. Our friendships are fastened together by the joining of our hearts and our minds. Our goals are headed in the same direction. We are forming relationships that will last a lifetime, creating an intimacy with each other that glorifies God in its purity, that bring us closer as brothers and sisters. God is putting into our hearts a tenderness (and sometimes  tolerance) for each other, and He is completely beginning to transform us into a Team. And the laughter. Oh the laughter! We never stop laughing. Even in the hard times, when we are sharing what is grieving us, when we are going through hard times, we always find a joy in the fact that God is setting a fire in our soul and somehow healing us through these experiences. The joy in this community is contagious. We are a work in progress, something that is being molded and reshaped, sometimes starting from scratch. And then there is our Maker, the Potter.

His Holiness has been made evident in this community. This paradise reflects His beauty, His perfect love and His perfect grace. The water, the rain, the wind, they all reflect His raw, enduring power. Our God is truly indescribable. There is no way to contain Him. There is no way to express His majesty. And there is no way to deny that He, and He alone, has orchestrated this school into a flawed, strong, beautiful family. We will grow together as a community, as a family, as brothers and sisters. This is a God-centered home, and we as a family are striving to be closer and closer to Him every day. He truly is pursuing us, and we are preparing our hearts to run to His arms, into His pure, intentional grace. And honestly, there is no place we would rather be.

Called to Love

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The last two weeks have been spent in Sheffield- it is a town right in the center of the United Kingdom.  It is a town made up of seven rolling hills.  The landscape is the type you would picture in a magazine.  They are so green with stone walls and sheep! (I had never seen a sheep before I came to England).

Being in Sheffield had not been a part of our initial plan, but God knew what He was doing.  He has given us many opportunities to reach out to the community around us. The first week we were here we spent most of our time in a school.  The school was flooded last winter, so they have to redo things very fast before the kids come back this Tuesday.  We have been painting walls and cleaning the school. We also did street work which involved hanging out with kids at the local skate park.  In addition, we have spent time working with a program that helps low-income individuals get back on their feet.  We have helped them in their allotments by clearing them out and harvesting some vegetables.

One of my favorite days we had was the opportunity to redo an elder lady’s garden.  We spent the entire afternoon pulling up weeds, trimming, and digging, and this lady was so grateful.  It was an incredible experience and the yard looked totally different from start to finish.

With less than two weeks left on our outreach, we need prayers on staying focused on where the Lord has us now, and that we can finish this whole heartedly the way we started. God is so good and it has been an incredible adventure!  T- wanted to share what the Lord has taught her here in Sheffield.

For some odd reason, I am still surprised when God does something that I was not expecting.  One of my favorite verses is, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:9-10.  One of the main things that God has taught me while in Sheffield is that no matter where I am, I am called to love.  God will always open up opportunities to love no matter what place we are in.  A lot of the work we have been doing here is behind-the-scenes grunt work, but it brings God glory regardless.  This is a time for me to step back and say, “Ok God, here I am.  I’m out of my comfort zone because this is not what I was expecting, but please use me for Your glory.   Use me to love these people.”  Has He done that?  I can say without a doubt, yes.  If you were to look through my eyes, you probably wouldn’t be too astounded by what you saw.  But, if you were to look through God’s eyes, then you would be completely amazed.  So, instead of “coasting” to the end of my outreach, I am asking God to make each day a greater challenge and to give me more opportunities to love.  Of course, I am also asking for His grace and strength to carry me through.  God calls us to trust Him, even if we don’t see the bigger picture- because He does see it.  He painted it. -Teresa