Faith has to be a personal and intimate thing. If faith is not personal thing, it is nothing else than guidelines to live by. Here at DP we welcome so many people who are looking to personalize their relationship with Christ. Running a Discipleship Training School is all about creating a space where people can seek a personal relationship in an uninterrupted environment. Faith is personal. Relationship requires time and work as trust is an additional choice. I am honored to be a part of a team that creates the space for people to find these things for themselves as we continue to grow along side the students.
This week in the FCM we have been spending time learning about relationships, we spent a lot of time doing personality research as we learn how to have self-relationship and how to love who we are. I am fascinated by the idea that God created each and everyone of us uniquely and in a very specifically individual way, yet we still seem to fall into certain similar categories in order to help us live out our lives in relationship with each other.
Everything tastes better dipped in chocolate. Even if you are not a chocolate fan (which is crazy!) I think you still have to agree that everything dipped in chocolate looks more appealing… Delicious!
If you are reading this blog looking for some good dessert recipes, I’m going to start by telling you that you might be a little disappointed. Although I am a big fan of baking and making delicious things, this blog is much less about yummy food and delicious desserts, and much more about what God has been teaching me through “dipping things in chocolate.”
I recently returned to my home in Belize from a two-month long outreach in Zambia, Africa. While there, I learned many things and God showed up in many ways to me. But actually the number one thing I took from outreach I would say is, the power of prayer.
Philippians 4:6-7 says:
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
This is almost a perfect description of how our outreach went, and it was all thanks to prayer. Before leaving for Zambia, the other leader (Ally) and I took lots of time to pray about literally everything we could pray about. At first I didn’t fully recognize why we were praying for some of the things; I mean obviously I knew prayer was good, but I don’t think I fully recognized the power of our prayers. But Ally would always say, “Joshy, let’s just sit down and ‘chocolate dip’ this whole situation and outreach in prayer.” Every time, immediately after praying I would feel so much peace about whatever we had just prayed for and knew somehow it was all going to work out great.
Turns out that all of our prayers made a huge difference during our time in Zambia as God blessed us everywhere we went and everything went so smoothly. We walked in God’s peace everywhere we went, and the few “problems” we ran into, we prayed over and they all worked out great! Now for those of you who have led outreaches or missions trips before, leading a team of 12+ people is not always easy, and by the end the thing you want most is just some space to chill out, relax, and not have to deal with anything. But that is not how this trip went. By the end both of us still had so much peace and actually felt ready for anything. I don’t really know how to describe it, but basically what God taught me through Ally and this outreach is that “dipping” everything in prayer makes a HUGE difference.
So I am learning this day by day and it isn’t one of those things that just happens, it takes practice. But I am learning to approach every situation with prayer, whether it is starting my quiet times, dealing with finances, seeking wisdom in relationships, or even just praying safety over a car ride or thanking God for the little things. I am finding it makes a big difference in my life.
I love this quote by Mahatma Gandhi that says,
“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
I find this quote to be so true. So often I have no idea how to approach a certain circumstance and I feel like I want to just ask God for answers, but I am constantly reminded that God wants to be a part of the process. I have to take a second to humble myself and recognize that I can’t do it on my own, and that even when I don’t have the word’s to pray, as long as my heart is in it, God will figure out the rest.
“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” -Max Lucado
Prayer is not a “spare wheel” that you pull out when in trouble, but it is a “steering wheel” that directs the right path throughout life. It’s kind of like going from having training wheels to riding a bike with just two wheels. I am no expert and am just beginning to learn to balance and steer with the “big boy” tires on, but everyday I bring God into the little things I notice a difference, because walking in God’s peace is about the most amazing thing anyone could do.
I encourage you, if you often find yourself stressed out or worried and looking for answers, to bring God into the process. Practice bringing the wisest guy around into every situation, trust Him, hand over your worries and fears to Him, and let Him deal with them!
During the few final weeks of my DTS I really felt like God was calling me back to Belize to attending a second level school with YWAM DP called the FCM (Foundations in Counselling Ministry.) “The FCM is a 3 month course (with an optional 3 month outreach) that introduces students to a Biblical framework for Christian counseling, equipping them with skills to provide counseling in a hurt and broken world.” – ywamdp.org
As soon as I got home I applied right away, had an interview with the beautiful Ally (our school leader) and little did I know that within 10 minutes of our conversation she was going to tell me I was accepted back to Belize to do the FCM this July, and I had to be there on my birthday. Best birthday present ever, right? It all worked out so smoothly and happened so fast it seems like God was already at work preparing me for my next journey. And, then things went down hill from there. I started to look for work to start saving up money. I applied to almost every place that was hiring, and didn’t get one single call back, which become extremely discouraging. I was a nanny on the side, but not enough to pay for the entire FCM. A couple months went by and I gave up trying to find a job. On top of that, I had a lot going on at home and with my family, that I become easily distracted and started to believe these lies the enemy was throwing my way, things like “I wasn’t ready to do the FCM” or “I have to much stuff to going on here to pack up and leave again” and found myself in the mindset that it was all true, that I wasn’t suppose to go back to Belize. But deep down inside me I had this fire burning passion for people who were hurting, who were tied down by their ball and chain, a passion for freedom, that when I thought about YWAM, everything they stand for and what they are doing on the shores of Belize and in the nations, I got that gut feeling that you really can’t explain, but you know it’s right.
Again, I started to really pray and seek out not only God’s heart behind doing the FCM but my own, and this was when God completely shut the doors to the lies the enemy was feeding me and re-lit that fire burning passion in me. So just like that I told the enemy that he had absolutely no place in this decision that I was making, so here I am.. getting ready in embark on an even bigger journey.. that starts in just a few days.
A number of months ago I found out that I would be assisting my good friend Josh Lake in leading an outreach team from our January 2016 DTS and I could not have been more excited! I was ready for this, I had just finished my first school as DTS Staff and was about to start my second, the time was right and I was getting an opportunity to step into greater leadership and responsibility. I thought back to my DTS outreach to Papua New Guinea and how much fun we had there swimming in the river, preaching sermons every night and getting to know the locals without a care in the world. Of course I knew leading would be different but I had no idea just how different it would be.
March 26th 2016 We left base and headed out on our way to Cuba! Before we even left the island of Ambergris Caye our credit card gets swallowed by an ATM as we tried to withdraw money for the first time for our travels. BOOM. The weight of leadership immediately hits our shoulders as Josh and I scramble to figure out a solution in the next five minutes before our boat leaves for Belize city. No immediate solution so we just push on, trusting God has a plan to take care of us.
The next afternoon we make it to Havana, Cuba and meet our contacts. Were staying at a Church and the family is great, were able to sit down and make a plan of attack for our next couple weeks, this allows Josh and I to grab a breath of air and get some answers before plunging back into the sea of unanswered questions that we were swimming in upon our arrival in Cuba. Questions like Where are we going next? How are we going to access the team money? What will we do for ministry? What are we going to eat? How will we get around? Will the government kick us out of Cuba if were found staying at a church? Can we legally preach? and the list goes on and on.
This is just a taste of what it’s like to lead an outreach team and let me tell you it is far different than the happy go lucky, worry free experience I had as a student. As a student It wasn’t my responsibility to feed myself and my 12 team members let alone get them all over Cuba and organize ministry times. But when we step into a situation we can not control, God is able to step in and save the day if we ask Him to. Lucky for us we did and he answered. By His grace alone we were able to not only survive but thrive in Cuba during our outreach. We traveled to 7 different locations, preached over 10 different sermons, conducted leadership training seminars for local pastors, and build lasting relationships with the Cuban church. God took care of us and lead our team trough an unforgettable experience full of personal growth, shared struggles, and finally, full reliance on Him.