A Year in Review
I am grateful for yet another year of wonders, mysteries, and grandeur far too wonderful to hardly believe, yet I know I have seen that my redeemer lives. Please take a moment and join me as I endeavor to share what we accomplished through faith, surrender, and partnership this year.
The Dream Center Youth Trip
Los Angeles, California
Spring Break 2011
I ate alone that very first breakfast on the campus of the Dream Center; it was for the best since I had to eat through tears. The cafeteria was staffed by young men, old men, gruff men, and groomed men. They all had one thing in common: hopes of overcoming their life’s addiction. One by one they were drawn into this peaceful, purposeful place.
This was by far was the most unique team I had ever taken on a mission. There were only two requirements for this assemblage: Did you hear God’s voice speak to you to come? And are you a teenager? The members were not only young in age, they were infant in spirit. They were diverse in interests and personalities, yet by the time they returned, they possessed an air of commonness and maturity that normally would have taken many seasons to develop. Serving the poorest of the poor on skid row will do that to a person. Brushing up against a brutal beating, witnessing to transvestites, and looking into hollow eyes and scruffy beards all have a way of making you realize that your life just isn’t as dreadful as you thought before you arrived.
All electronic crutches (cell phones, iPods, etc.) were left behind in Michigan in hopes that our minds, our time, and our hearts would be available to hear and see all that God had for us to do. This was challenging at first but not even missed by the end. Oh, the glorious fruit of a life surrendered to His work!
In L.A., I lived 24/7 with five young ladies for eight wonderful days. Each one was so different from the others, yet each one had so much to give and so much to reveal. The young men on our team, just as diverse, grew together in passion as they reached out together to those who were wearied from the storms of life. I embraced it all and counted myself among the rich to be given such an opportunity.
Thank God for the Dream Center. Thank God for the countless men and women who have responded to the cries of the afflicted and addicted, to the innocent and the guilty, the hopeless and the helpless. God forever lives and moves and restores through His willing vessels -- hearts surrendered to Him.
Team South Africa
One Thing Leads to Another
There is so much potential, power, and passion held in one three-letter word: Yes.
It is saying "yes" again and again that really gets us anywhere in life. Last time I checked, "no" stops everything. I can see in my life that my willingness to say "yes" to whatever God has had for me has propelled me on journeys that my mind never could have conceived. And still I feel I have only just begun.
"Yes" is what brought me on my most recent trip to South Africa. This was the smallest team I have ever taken, but that is what was needed for this mission -- a team of musicians armed with nothing more than an instrument and a passion for the heart of their King.
Each day, these young musicians played, sang, and believed for God to move in our midst. And each day, He showed up in fresh new ways. I marveled as these young ladies, without hesitation, set the atmosphere for hundreds and hundreds of students to hear the hope that is only found in Christ. Without reservation, they shared all that was within their hearts both in word and deed. I must confess that there were many times when pride poured out of me in the form of tears and I stood in awe.
This was my fourth return to beloved South Africa. It was everything it always was, yet so much I had never experienced before. We spent four days in the school systems reaching no less than 400 students at each assembly and well over 900 each day. Each school was ecstatic to have us in their presence, and it was evident that their hearts were ready to hear hope as hundreds and hundreds received Christ.
This was the second time that I joined forces with the Conquerors International Strength Team overseas. By combining the gifts and resources of both teams, we were able to provide an even greater experience for the young people all over Qwa Qwa. The strength that we were able to bring with two teams functioning as one was exhilarating and effective!
During my time there, a big part of my job was to inspire pastors and youth leaders to equip and empower young people like they never have before and in fact like they have never even heard of before. Yowza! That was challenging. In their country, there is not a strong focus on young people. As I shared how youth are actually the pulse of our communities, that they are the very hope of their cities, I could sense that I was challenging many to their very core. I spent an entire day teaching how God chose to empower young people for great exploits all through His history book. He even trusted one young Virgin Mary to carry His one and only Son. Selah.
I was overjoyed to spend time with old friends and make several new ones, too, like Pastor Mark with Freedom Ministries. Much-loved Jeannette made my all-time favorite South African treat: pumpkin fritters. We experienced a meal that put Martha Stewart to shame with Sean and Audrey. In fact, I am submitting these two individuals to assist with the Marriage Supper in Heaven. It was one of those evenings that will cause me to smile for years to come.
I had the utmost privilege of ordaining one humble servant, Abram Moloi. Pastor Abram has been my trusted interpreter every time I have been to South Africa. I have watched this man serve others unswervingly with heart abandoned. I pray now that, through his ordination, he will step out fully into what God has for his life and family.
In addition to all of these blessings, I had the utter delight of doing ministry with June Blanshan, the very first full-time missionary sent from RLC Mid Michigan. To see June in this nation serving and loving the people of South Africa took my heart places I cannot express. You see, the part that she now plays in this nation is directly related to my "yes" so many years ago. It is here where my gratefulness cannot be expressed in any earthly language. It is here that I can only stop and worship Him….
To say "yes" without knowing the question; that is what Christianity is all about. To say "yes" with abandonment of the how, why, or when, to say "yes" when it's really not timely, to say "yes" when you feel weak, to say "yes" when all around you say "no" -- this is where I endeavor to live. No matter where I end up or where I take my last breath, I pray that there is no "yes" I have left unspoken.
Take a moment right now and say "yes" to God’s plans for your life. He will never leave you disappointed.