DTS

Community Connections

  |   DTS, Outreach   |   No comment

A couple of weeks ago our time in Istanbul came to an end as we packed up, said goodbye to our new friends, and then headed off to the airport at 4am to catch a short flight to Tbilisi, Georgia.

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When we arrived in Georgia we expected to be in the midst of urbanity once again, but to our surprise, while we were still technically inside of the 1.1 million-person city of Tbilisi, we found ourselves living on the side of a mountain surrounded by fields, cows, and silence. This was quite the change from fast-paced, noisy Istanbul! While we loved Istanbul and would not trade our time there for anything, the peace and the quiet were very welcome and gave us much needed rest even in the midst of ministry!

Some of our time spent in Tbilisi was spent running around preparing logistics for the next phase in our journey but we still had ample opportunity to work with the local YWAM base and partner with them in some ministry opportunities. After getting an orientation to ministering to Georgian people from the local leaders we had the chance to run a 2 day kids camp, travel with local partners to see some of their other work in the country, visit and participate in a service at the international church, and get to know and serve our local partners. Our time in Georgia was short, just under 1 week, but a great chance to get out of the city, make some new friends, and enjoy all that God had planned for us there! As we prepared to leave Georgia we headed out to the airport on our way to our next, and final (for this outreach) destination, a place that will not be named.

IMG_0184 We have been here, in this unnamed place, for just a few days but have already had the opportunity to meet up with friends, some old (for a couple of us) and many new. Chances to serve, bless, and partner with the local workers here abound. Already we have begun working with childcare for some local workers, teaching English to people from the community, building relationships with girls who have come out of the foster system, and generally connecting with the local community of workers. We are very much looking forward to continuing to build these relationships and experiencing what God does through this process!

Chris
On Behalf of the Central Asia Team

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Jumping In …

  |   Alumni, DTS   |   No comment

One of the greatest things about YWAM is its a great place to meet God yes, but also to make friends for life. As a member of the YWAM DP alumni you join a family of people that continue to adventure through life with a DTS experience to connect them together. We love to hear from all our alumni, through visits to the base, Facebook posts, emails or blog posts. Brittany Johnson is an extremely talented writer and below we have featured an exert from her is our personal blog. To read the whole story visit her blog; http://lovebravely.blogspot.com

When I was in Belize for my 3 month Discipleship Training School through Youth With A Mission (YWAM) I struggled with choosing to see God in complete control of my life. I clung tight to the good things I had worked for and I was terrified that if I fully submitted myself to God’s plan for my life and asked Him if the things that I loved were a part of his will, that he would immediately take them away from me. Every part of me told me that I had “earned” them on my own and somehow had the unalienable right to keep making my own decisions– mostly concerning my boyfriend at the time (who later became my husband).

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Through my experience at school, God broke me down to see the beautiful mess I really was and helped me surgically remove the sins that ensnared my freedom in Christ. I had heard of others breaking off their relationships back home, and I couldn’t even let my mind open to even ask God if my relationship and intentions with Stephen were according to His good and perfect will for my life. As a result I gave portions to God that were undemanding of risk or change to satisfy the pull of trust I felt from Him, but in the pit of my heart I began fortifying the little space where I held everything I truly valued.

On the last day I visited “our dock”. My own hurricane stripped disgrace of a dock not far from the base that jutted out into the ocean just around a slight bend in the beach where it enabled me to feel alone with God. Almost every day at 5:10 am I would meet with God to pray aloud, listen, and watch the sun rise (which you haven’t seen a true sunrise until you’ve seen it crest above the Caribbean). On that last visit I finally chose to let God completely destroy the walls around my desires, and instead of feeling fear, I felt an overwhelming sense of freedom and peace. I cried knowing that God was in complete control to give me what I need and take what I didn’t. Even though God was already in control, it was still up to me to decide to see it that way. I am so glad that God IS in control, for He can make decisions based on the ENTIRE picture when we can only make decisions based on the minuscule amount we can see. It was an amazing revelation.

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I looked at my watch and saw that it was time to start heading back, but just when I was about to get up, something strange happened. I suddenly felt like God was asking me to jump into the water. It was clear. It was definite. It was extremely weird. It was my test. And you know what I did? I walked away. I WALKED AWAY!

I thought about not having enough time to change before class started.

I thought about what people might think.

I thought about how silly it was, and how it MUST have just come from me.

But I tell you what, the entire walk back to the base, I have never felt such immediate regret. I thought about what I had just experienced and how maybe that was the Holy Spirit asking me to cement my spiritual revelation to a physical act. Possibly symbolize a new baptism to living in God’s control. And I had just walked away. Like many other crazy things God had asked me to do that I didn’t act upon, I minimized, rationalized, and justified my unwillingness and pressed it into the hidden corners of my heart. But every now and again, God would remind me of our dock and guilt would overwhelm me.

About six months ago God took my now husband and I on an adventure back to Central America, and we made a point of visiting the YWAM base in Belize. I knew among other reasons for visiting the base, I was being given another chance to respond to my call from almost 2 years before. We stayed one night at the base, and that morning, before the sun rose, I snuck out of our cabana to tend to my unfinished business. Walking down the beach in the darkness of night I was overwhelmed with memories and expectant for God to show up. As I reached our dock I could see that the last 2 years had not treated it so well. With hardly enough planks to even call it a dock, I practically leapt from one rotten board to the next before situating myself at the end to wait for the sun to rise. Feeling foolish, I subconsciously told God that as soon as the sun peeked over the horizon that I would plunge in. I prayed while I waited and felt God remind me of a verse I had memorized in Romans 12.

Paul wrote:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

As another version puts it:

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Feeling adequately inspired and ready to go “all-in” I expectantly waited for the sun to show up, but I began to worry. Online I had read that the sun was supposed to have come up over 5 minutes ago. It was really cloudy and judging on how light the sky was getting, I had a sinking feeling that the sun had already rose and was hiding behind the clouds. I felt stupid for “throwing out my fleece” and testing God for a revelation of His love for me that morning. I realized I had the choice to follow through with what he said, on my own, without Him coming through first, and with a bursting heart I leapt off the dock, fully clothed, into the water.

And then God came through.

As I clambered out of the ocean and back onto my plank, the most explosive fiery ray of light burst from the East. In tears I watched as the most beautiful sunrise I had ever experienced unfolded over our little dock. I was completely satisfied in that first shimmer of orange, but God wasn’t done yet. Because that is how God is. He lavishes His love upon us and just when we are filled He tells us He isn’t quite finished yet, and continues to outpour his love until it completely smothers any trace of shame and disbelief. And there was MY sunrise. The Fiery orange led into bursting red and magenta with glory rays slicing through the clouds (yeah, the scientific name for sundays is LITERALLY “glory”). And if that wasn’t enough, ten minutes in, the entire Western sky behind me seemed to echo His glory in hot pink-fringed cotton candy clouds. I was miserably in awe. I was soaking wet with a huge grin on my face. God came through, at just the right time, and not a second before or after.

1455950_10152063692571535_1878030244_nI believe the Holy Spirit confronts us with little choices like these, which to the world can sometimes seem radical… silly… or just straight up crazy. But when did Jesus ever ask us to live comfortably? When did he ever show us how to blend in and strictly follow decrees and religion? Christ is the ultimate example of what the world calls CRAZY. His entire ministry constantly threw a curveball to what society thought was right living. Why would he expect anything less that that from us?!

 

Therefore, I choose to be:

Unconformed.

Unsatisfied.

Uncomfortable.

Unconformed to the world’s standard of living, unsatisfied with my faith and always pursuing more, and uncomfortable in such a way that the only way I can make it through is to fully depend on God. Because anything less than that is not my all. And Christ CLEARLY asks for EVERY part of me.

Brittany Johnson – 2011 DTS Alumni

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Curveballs

  |   BSN, DTS, Outreach   |   No comment

Often you hear the analogy of a curve ball symbolizing an unexpected change of plans. Well if you get to live the life of a YWAMer, you soon realize that curveballs are just to be expected. I like to think that God throws some of them them our way in order to grow us and help us to experience more. Over the last 4 months of my life, God has been pitching like it’s the World Series and now I find myself in Washington DC on the American Independence Day watching the fireworks.

10333777_1479333682301344_4351059595867121605_oWe’re a tight little team of 6. We’ve got two BSN students and three DTS students (curveball). We’re embarking on an adventure together to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to follow God’s lead in evangelizing and discipling the lovely people that we meet there.

This team is team is raring to go but one thing has held us back for weeks now. Obtaining visas for the DRC. It’s been a long process and for some reason the methods we were trying just weren’t working very well. So we decided to change tactics, fly to DC and apply in person. This was a blessing in disguise, or you could say, another curveball.

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We rolled with the opportunity and left quickly. When we arrived, of course God provided a great place for us to stay near the capital and we quickly applied for our visas. And so the waiting began, and what better place to waste some time than in Washington DC? We got to tour the capital and I was realizing how much of a blessing it was to be stuck in DC. We were thoroughly enjoying ourselves walking past the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the National Monument, and war memorials when I got a phone call.

Our visas had been processed in only three hours, which should have taken three days! At that moment I realized that God was behind this, and this curveball that he threw turned out to be a way to bless us. We spent the remainder of our time in DC bonding as a team and enjoying our freedom in Christ as a nation enjoyed their freedom from tyranny.

The thing about curve balls, if you dig in and swing, it will most likely be out of the park.

Joshua Duft – Currently leading BSN/DTS Outreach in DR Congo

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Opportunity is Everywhere

  |   DTS, Outreach   |   No comment
After 3 days of travel, including a visit with Stef’s family in Houston, we arrived in Istanbul just over a week ago and what an amazing time it’s been.  From sharing through surveys along the Bosporus with local partners, to helping out at a local rap concert on the park, to learning about Islam from a world expert, and even having the chance to walk in Paul’s footsteps in Ephesus, we’ve had an incredible experience so far. 

 

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Our days here have been long, spending upwards of 3 hours a day just traveling back and forth between ministry opportunities, something our local partners have grown quite accustomed to in this city of nearly 20 million.  However, the commutes have been quite enjoyable, walking through neighborhoods that have seen commuters for millennia; sailing from Europe to Asia across the Bosporus by ferry; and hoping on the occasional tram, this city is truly a place where ancient meets modern and East meets West.

 

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The culture we are in allows for ready and easy conversations to be had.  A 2 minute trip to pick up water can easily turn into an hour conversation over tea; an intentional walk through the park can result in sharing truth with over 30-40 people; and the inevitable times of waiting and commuting can lead to valuable time to meet new people or even simply learn from observation of those around us.
Our time here will soon come to an end as we move on to Georgia but we will not soon forget the relationships we’ve built with our partners, our landlords, and even the strangers we’ve met here.  Istanbul is a city of great beauty and great openness to hear what truth may be shared, may God bless this city and His people here and may their numbers grow daily.
Chris – Currently Leading DTS Outreach in Central Asia
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Arrival In Panama

  |   DTS, Outreach   |   No comment

While it has been a crazy trip already, catching buses, staying in hostels, and eating sandwiches on a bus for three days in a row, God is clearly in this trip and moving in the hearts of those we encounter. Officially leaving Belize on Saturday the 21, we jumped on a ferry boat and then a bus heading down to Punta Gorda, Belize. Staying the night with some friends and moving on in the morning to Puerto Barrios, Guatemala where we then caught a ride to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Upon arriving in Honduras the realization hit us that English Speakers are hard to find and the little Spanish I know is much more rusty than I realized. Despite the obstacle we met a rambler from South Africa, traveling through central and South America as a photographer, who was heading in the same direction as us. Our new friend Peter not only helped us book our bus ticket and hotel room in for the next night in Managua, Nicaragua but went on to be sure we had the right tickets all the way to San Jose, Costa Rica. After some fun conversations and a few tips from Peter we parted ways in Managua and headed onto Costa Rica. While in Costa Rica we realized that our timing was not going to work to catch the transport to Panama we had hoped. We were easily able to stay another night at the YWAM base in San Jose and soon realized it was the Lords timing for us to be there.

 

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The base in San Jose hosts many Outreach Teams as well as missions teams from all over the United States. We had the privilege of meeting one of these missions teams from Brandywine Valley Baptist Church, in Wilmington, Delaware. Having an extra day inSan Jose gave us the opportunity to meet this youth group and share the adventures of life together. Our team had the opportunity to share our story, and our heart for the upcoming adventure in Panama with their students. Building relationship and sharing the love and acceptance we have found in Our Father with students choosing to live the same lifestyle with Jesus.

 

After a night of sharing and a few card games we packed up early on Thursday morning to finish the final haul of our journey into Panama. Despite some trouble at the border and missing our planned water taxi ride the Lord continued to provide and despite the rain got us safe and sound to our Panama home.

 

9217554Since arriving we are adjusting well into our new location. With limited fresh water, and a hard floor as a bed the adjustments can be a bit challenging but that has not hindered our desire to venture deeper into the jungle to learn more about the indigenous people of Panama. Early next week we hope to travel into our first village, while also helping around the home we are staying in. Our hearts remain geared for relationship and adventure, finding Jesus in new and exciting ways and showing others His overwhelming, never ending love. While the indigenous people have a troubled history and often are feared or looked down on by those traveling through, we pray for awesome ways to connect and to build relationship.

 

We look forward to keep you posted on our adventure and ask for your prayers and encouragements. Specifically we pray for the home we are staying in, to remain a safe place and a place of joy, peace, and vision. A place where teams can see Fathers heart for these people and this area, a place to embrace adventure and a reputation that encourages relationship.

 

Will Richardson – April DTS Panama Outreach Leader

 

 

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