Bogotá, Colombia 2008
Journal Entries from Jodie
All day long on both Tuesday and Wednesday, the team saturated the schools with the good news that God loves them, sees them and has a plan for them. Through games, songs, drama, candy, and a message, 575 young people came to know Christ.
After they prayed the salvation prayer, we then opened up the floor for anyone to come forward who desired prayer for anything in their lives.
The team was flooded with young people again and again throughout both days -- young people who were hungry to experience more of God. Did I mention this was in the public schools?!
Before leaving, they were all invited to join us at the upcoming Extreme Fire youth conference that we were hosting at the end of the week.
Our first two days were extremely full and fruitful. I taught at RHEMA on Tuesday night, and then the team and I ministered at a mid-week service in Pastor John David’s church. Here the team shared a powerful drama and special music.
When I gave the salvation invitation, 10 more joined the Kingdom! One of them was a man whom the team had literally just spoken with out in the streets before the meeting.
We opened up the altars to pray for the sick and those desiring direction in their lives; the team was able to pray for scores of individuals and experienced many displays of His Spirit as they prayed!
Thursday and Friday I ministered to youth pastors and leaders, and the team gave out John Maxwell’s book, Leadership 101, in Spanish. As always, even the Colombian leaders of the faith were hungry for all they could get of God, and we had a powerfully fun time together.
Over the course of the two days, we went on a Journey of Passion -- which by the way is one of my personal favorites when ministering. Thursday night also kicked off the first of three nights of the youth conference: “Extreme Fire.”
Through the youth conference and the pastor’s conference, we were able to encourage and deliver the Good News to over 2,500 people. During the nights of the youth conference, there were strong numbers of salvations and recommitments once again. The last night climaxed as I shared with them how their God and their world needed to hear their voice and, as they used their voice, the power of God would accompany them.
This is where the whistles came in…the team had brought with them a three-in-one compass, whistle and flashlight, and everyone who attended the conference received one. This was to be a reminder to them of what God desired for their lives.
I shared with them how William Wallace from the movie Braveheart was brutally tortured to near death, and just before they finally executed him, with all the power that he could muster for one last moment, he used his voice and cried out one word: FREEDOM!!
The young people were challenged to use their voice, to cry out freedom to their world: freedom from sin, freedom from poverty, freedom from habits, freedom to live the life they were born to live! Those in attendance screamed out freedom and blew on their whistles, signifying that they desired to use their voice for the sake of the Kingdom.
There was nothing like the energy that was experienced that night. It was totally awesome to be one of the team members that made this conference come to pass for the youth of Colombia.
The team helped me to minister at all three of Pastor John Romick’s services on Sunday as we ministered on Dangerous Surrender. Again, the team was able to minister a powerful salvation drama and special music that brought many to the altars, weeping and yearning to join the Kingdom. It seemed that everywhere we traveled we bumped into hungry hearts. The fruit of our labors was abundant, and the joy of our hearts was overwhelming.
Often team members do not know how to convey what happens to them during the course of a short-term mission trip. I tell them you don’t necessarily have to say anything; just live out what God has done on the inside. By doing so, you become a living letter known and read by all you know. Others will be able to put words to what you have experienced here in Bogotá.
Throughout this journey, I kept going back to the scripture found in 1 Corinthians 2:9, for it was the only way I could articulate the amazing things we experienced as we became international ambassadors once again. He continually amazes me and takes my breath away. There is no one like our God…
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him."
Jodie Takes the Plunge: Polar Plunge 2008
South Africa 2008
Rewind to 18 months ago when I took a team of 24 to South Africa, in part to complete a metal building that was designed to be a much-needed workshop and laundry facility for Thrive. Together, you, I, and the team did our part in the completion of this building. None of us would have ever guessed what God was really up to.
Just weeks after our departure, Thrive experienced a devastating fire that put an end to a building that had been the crowning glory of their property. This thatched haven, where scores of teams had gathered to eat, pray, play cards, train, and relax, was now unusable, and more teams were soon on their way to help fulfill the mandate that Niel and Alece van Rensburg, founders of Thrive, are called to fulfill.
Yet, in the midst of adversity, our God was faithful and sufficient, for just a few weeks earlier a team from Mid-Michigan (*smile*) did their part to complete a building that, unbeknownst to anyone, would soon become the main gathering place at Thrive, just in time for newly arriving summer teams.
I was breathless when I was able to comprehend the chain of events and how God literally puts the pieces together not only across county lines but country lines as well! I know we read about these types of things happening and watch these scenarios unfold on Christian television, but to actually be a main character in this God-drama is altogether lovely. We were part of a provision that God orchestrated before there was a need. What seemed like such a tiny portion to fulfill for us turned out to be a key in God’s master plan. Is there anything to hard for Thee?
What is Leadership Day? A school assembly held for key movers and shakers within many different school systems throughout Qwa-Qwa, deemed the poorest of the poor in South Africa. Students come together for one day on a routine basis to receive leadership training in hopes of impacting their world. This is where I found myself one Wednesday morning.
It started with the feel of a great basketball game as the students cheered me on to the stage. I was surprised at their enthusiasm and grabbed hold of the moment and ran with it. My message to the nearly 300 attendees was "Choose Success Today."
Success does not come when we have our degree or our dream. Success is not measured in how much we make or where we live. Success is not an end; it is a process. Choose success today. God is more interested in what we are choosing this day than what we desire to choose in the coming days.
Right in the middle of our time together, the day was interrupted with a ploy from the enemy to try and halt the message that was coming forth, yet we took action; we prayed, cast out, and commanded peace to rule and reign. Once we all came together again, I continued to teach the students on choosing success and living out their destiny.
It was clear from the events that took place that the enemy was in a frenzy at the thought that we would dare to live out our destinies. Can’t hardly blame him, for he knows that in the heart of every believer is a destiny that is intended to destroy him and all his efforts. May freedom continue to reign in the hearts of those young leaders in Qwa-Qwa! Selah!
Gotta Love the Interns!
I was fueled by the presence of 10 interns! My time spent with them did more for me than I dare admit. Ten young, vibrant, energized, purpose-filled people that tugged on my every desire to reach down into the generations beneath me in hopes that somehow I might have the privilege of being a part of their journey. Though our time together was short, I have logged the moments into my heart and will look forward to hearing about how each one of them is making Him famous!
This type of setting has become a preferred part of GWM. Teaching and preaching in this atmosphere seems to effortlessly flow from within my deepest parts. It is so much FUN! Each place and person is so different, yet the hearts of these pastors are the same no matter what country I am in.
The Lord had certainly lined up an engaging set of teaching times that took even me by surprise! In my opening comments, I warned them that this was an interactive conference and 100% participation was required -- from rowing in an imaginary boat, sharing gifts with one another (according to Acts 4), playing basketball without a ball, listening to my favorite movie scenes, and finally the capstone -- grasping a paddle in God’s Kingdom to make an imprint on their nation.
During the course of the two-day conference, I was able to bless them with handmade bracelets and paddle key chains that were made by members of our church family in Mid-Michigan. Each item represented powerful truths that were declared during our time together; all were designed in hopes of watering the seed of God’s Word long after I returned home.
"Sharing Life Together" was our theme, and that is what we did from the very first moments until the closing prayer. I was pleased as well to share life with one of my dearest friends, Janice Skaggs. This was her first opportunity to travel abroad, and I was happy to oblige! She ministered beside me every step of the way and left an indelible impression on the hearts of South Africans. She captivated her listeners with her authenticity and seasoned life; I have never been more delighted to call her my friend.
This trip to South Africa was one of the few I do without a team in tow. It afforded me the opportunity to soak in every minute and relish in the goodness of my God towards the likes of me! I was treated like royalty amongst the poorest of the poor, yet I wonder if I could ever get them to understand that they are in many ways the regal ones. They have captured my heart, and I will be forever indebted to them.
I invite you to take a moment to take in the photos above that hopefully will continue to paint a picture of all that God brought to pass through partners, friends, and church family. We truly are our strongest when we are devoted to one another in love. Thank you for believing in me and thank you for caring about them!