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He Knows Just What I Need

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Coming to YWAM DP I desired answers. Answers of what the Lord has for my purpose, where I am supposed to go after my DTS (Discipleship Training School), how I was going to get to that point, and when that was going to be. In other words, I wanted to know God’s plans. I was thinking that getting these answers, God would just snap His fingers and unfold my future before my eyes. I never would have imagined that God was going to dig into my past as well as confront how I am doing right now, but oh boy He is!

I do not have a horrible past or childhood; just a broken home and what I viewed as normal teenaged troubles. I did not think these things really affected me but I have learned over the past few weeks, that these things have a massive grip on my life. I am challenged daily to assess what I hold to be true, what others say is true about me, and what God reveals to me to be true. Amid the challenges and newly found knowledge of who I am in God (which I’m still finding daily) I find myself surrounded by people that are on fire for God and I find myself growing closer to Him and all that he brings. I see others around me, who in a matter of a week I could call family, struggle to uncover the same strongholds in their lives.

YWAM DP has set-up a community that allows us to connect with one another rapidly and deeply; doing so many things together, lectures, worship, cooking, small groups, homework assignments, chores/work duties, going to town, swimming, snorkelling, and scuba diving to name a few of many. We experience how one another processes, grieves, expresses excitement, etc. Community living here causes us to naturally bond with one another and allows us to have someone to grow with and relate to while still being from all walks of life and coming together for one common purpose; to be better equipped to share our love in Christ with others.

In this time, I have found myself diving deeper in relationships, I come from a family of secrets and I have learned I don’t put my trust in others, God has been doing many things within my heart. He knew that coming to my DTS I wanted to know more about myself and He gave me just that, but in a raw version, in our first week of lectures we touched on foundations: the character and nature of Christ. Then we did identity.  This week was a week God had crafted just for what I had asked. As a result, with this newly discovered knowledge of who God sees me as I then find myself struggling to let go of what I see myself as because is it far beneath what God has. After being reminded and gaining yet again, a new understanding of who Christ really is it changes the lies that I believed to be true.

All in all, these first few weeks of DTS have been God-inspiring, being able to learn so much and growing closer to God. I have received more than I thought I would from my entire DTS, but only in the few short weeks I’ve been here. You’ve got this Lord, and you continue to show me repeatedly!

Akira Murphy

Known by Love

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John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

1 Corinthians 13:1-3If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Wouldn’t it be great if I could be judged by my fish bumper sticker not by the amount of homeless I drive by with my windows up? Or if on Sunday, my outfits and raised hands in worship made me a better Christian and it didn’t matter that I don’t talk to my neighbor of 3 years. How nice would it be if I could be a jerk to my incompetent coworkers so long as I did my quiet time each morning? If I could just wear a Kerusso t-shirt and not have to interact with anyone in public it would be so much easier. There are so many ways I have wished that I could be judged as a Christian, so many things that I hope people, and sometimes even God, will notice. Despite all my attempts to re-brand and shift the focus, the world (all people) only look at one thing; how I love others, and I fail at that more than anything.

pexels-photo-210585For a long time Christians have tried to define themselves by anything and everything other than the words of Christ in John 13. If you go to church regularly, if you give a tithe, if you don’t swear, if you repeat this special prayer, if you check yes in the box, if you read the right books, etc. Take your pick. Christianity has become a fad, a social class, a political party, it’s become a club that we join because membership promises some great benefits.  We treat it like our alma mater and buy license plate covers and coffee mugs so that others will know that we are part of the group. However, the kingdom of God is not like the things of this world, a message Jesus tried so hard to get across. My eyes were recently opened to this as I observed it in others and God was quick to reveal the hypocrisy and striving in my own heart.

Finding a person who has been personally hurt by a Christian is often as easy as looking at the person next to us. We all have stories of either pastors, leaders, parents, friends, coworkers, or just random strangers yelling on the street who have carried the name of Christianity yet their impact on our life left us hurting. This happened to me recently when a couple individuals, with whom I had a relationship with, attacked my character behind my back and spoke some very hard and hateful words to my face. As I watched these individuals worshiping in a corporate worship session a short time later the sincerity of their worship did not convince me that they were Christians. Why? Because I did not feel loved by them. It was then that God opened my eyes to the truth spoken 2000 years ago; it does not matter what we do, if we do not love, we are not Christian.

This is why so many individuals have been hurt by Christians, because we have defined what a Christian is on our own terms and not God’s terms. We have believed this lie that we get to define what it takes to be a Christian and therefore we do not worry so much about loving others because that’s not a criterion. There are people all over who call themselves a Christian but don’t love, because why would anyone when we are taught to think that going to church and putting a fish on our car is enough to get us to heaven. The problem with this is that God gets the blame for what people do under the name Christian. So when a pastor beats his wife God gets blamed because this man was a “Christian”. God is a god of love and it is by love that his followers should be known. When we substitute anything but love as an identifier for Christianity it ends up with God getting the blame for our sinful actions.

pexels-photo-496283Following Jesus has never been about what we will get out of it. It isn’t an investment that we get to cash in on upon death, or a golden ticket to ride on the long black train. Following Jesus is about realizing that he loved us more than we could ever deserve and therefore we should love others. It’s about giving grace because we received grace. In Matthew 18 Jesus tells a story about a man who had his debt forgiven by his lord and then turned around and demanded that his debtor pay him. The news of this comes to the lord and he calls this man a wicked servant because he received grace but did not give grace. This is the essence of Christianity, we must love others because he loves us. If we do what Jesus does we are like Jesus, a Christian, if we do not do what Jesus does (i.e. love) then we are not Christian.

Loving others is hard, it is much harder than most of the other ways we try to define Christianity, and I am the first to admit that often times I do a lousy job of it. It is something that takes practice and lots of work because it’s not always our first instinct to love one another. Thankfully we have an example in Jesus and scripture that teaches us how to love (1 Corinthians 13). So let us return to the words of Jesus and let our religion and our faith be defined by our love for one another. Then, slowly, we can hope that the name Christianity will leave a pleasant taste in the world and not as bitter of one.

Micah Hampton

"let hope rise"

Hope

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If you google stories of hope, you may be surprised what comes up. Rather than just hearing about success you find resources; resources for people in need of hope. You find stories of people conquering eating disorders, depression, addiction and cancer.

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Release

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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.

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Forever changed

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March 26, that’s the day that we got to Cuba, now nearly 2 months later I sit on a night bus heading from Cancun, Mexico to Belize City.

It’s quiet and dark on the bus, we have the whole thing almost exclusively to ourselves and I find my mind wandering, pouring over the last 2 months. In many ways the time seems to have flown by, gone in the blink of an eye. I can remember clearly stepping out of the airport in Havana, it seemed much hotter then IMG_3805Belize, maybe only because of all the concrete and asphalt. I remember following Hatniel (our contact) to a bus, our team was amazed by Cuba, we couldn’t help but comment on all the vehicles, cars older then our parents (sorry guys). This was only the beginning of our journey. We would see much of Cuba and meet many incredible people who we will not soon forget. Now it all seems like some sort of a dream as I sit here in the dark recollecting. While I can do my best to describe the emotions and the experiences, surely my words will fail to do justice to the true experience, none the less I will try.

13244899_10154093427437787_8974960081550566456_nI have never done an outreach before, but I will take a stab in the dark and say that this may have been a struggle to lead and the way in which Josh and Donny led the team was outstanding. For those of you who have never been to Cuba you may not understand, but Cuban culture is unlike anything I have experienced. I have been to other warm, Caribbean cultures where time is of little value, but Cuba takes it to the next level. Time is a means of only a very very rough estimate; for example you may be told a car will pick you up at 9:00am, but at 1:00pm you get a call saying the car had problems, but don’t worry another one is on the way, the car finally shows up at 4:00pm. While this may not have been an everyday occurrence, it is a good idea of transportation and timelines in Cuba. Now this casts a negative light on the culture and I most certainly mean to do no such thing. The lack of concern for time may be frustrating for someone from a western culture but I assure you there was much about the culture that our team loved.

Food. The food of Cuba was beyond expectation, we could be assured our daily intake of rice and beans but we would also be treated to many delicacies and fantastic desserts. It actually seemed that every new location we went to would have its own dessert speciality, a unique treat to get from street vendors. One place might be churros, the next night have guayba filled pastries, one thing you could count on was delicious Cuban coffee for one peso or the equivalent of 4 US cents. Far beyond the great food was the warmth of the people, no matter where we went we warmly welcomed. We would do house visits to pray for and encourage members of the church, they would often feed us and give us coffee or offer to slaughter a pig… They have a huge heart and reflect the love of Christ so well in this. In fact on one occasion I asked a vendor if she sold coffee, I was told no, but was then given a glass of coffee for free that presumably has been for her personally.

IMG_6626We got to travel all the way for Havana down to Santiago and then full circle back. Along the way we met so many cool people. For example there was our over qualified translator, Pablo, he could rap, play guitar, bongos, sing, do amazing wood carvings and even masonry work. Or there was Joani, he was 41, had been in wheel chair for 20 years. People told him he would be a burden to society, never amount to anything, now he is a carpenter that loves Jesus and he overflows with joy. Cuba was full of warm amazing people, people who loved so so well, like God calls us to. The passion they have for the church, for growing the body of Christ, for knowing the people was so encouraging. They truly are a beautiful people. We went to minister to them, to teach them, yet I know that we walked away with more than we left.

Cuba and all it’s hectic scheduling and random transportation had struggles and it had victories. We took 12 people, most having only been acquainted for 3 months and we went to Cuba. In some ways this trip was extremely difficult. We left with 12 people, and only returned with 8. It’s a hard thing to lose team members regardless the circumstances. I can however say with certainty that even though we may not understand it, God had his hand in it weaving it together for his glory. I won’t lie and say it was easy, it wasn’t, but we pushed through it as a team, leaned into God and grew closer because of it.

FullSizeRenderOutreach forces you out of your comfort zone no matter who you are, it forces you to ride in cramped cars designed for far less then your number, it forces you to sleep on a cold or hot floor. You get closer with your team members than you thought possible and perhaps then you would have liked. The inevitability of outreach is that you see people at their worst and thankfully also at their best. Like it or not you come out as a family, mess with one of us and you mess with all of us. We leave Cuba a unit, bringing light and freedom wherever we go, that is our mandate and right as heirs of the King.

Do I have regrets from this outreach? Maybe yes. There are situations I could have handled better, there are times I could have stepped up more. Would I change it if I could? Absolutely not. Our team killed it. We were refined by our struggles, we come out better and stronger on the other side. A team of warriors. Again I snap back to the present and I know there is no one on this bus that I would trade away, this team was hand picked and hand assembled for this outreach and it’s awesome. I am excited for what the future holds, I am excited for what’s next for all of us, but surely I will miss team Cuba. Spending 5 months with someone, being with them almost every waking minute, and sometimes every sleeping minute, creates an incredibly strong and unique bond.

I am beyond blessed to have been part of this team and forever changed because of it.

 

Val Dalberg