Monday, August 16, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

South Africa-Jo'Burg

Our last stop for our time in Africa was in the capital world-cup city-Johanesburg! I again would be lying if I said I wasn’t driving there in fear and expecting the worst after hearing so much stuff about the city-but again God’s faithfulness proved to be true!

We arrived in J-burg the day before my 23rd birthday and I wasn’t too excited about it as We were told we would be staying at a YWAM complex in the inner city, where you mainly want to just stay indoors unless you have a vehicle to transport you from A to B. I was scared! And to top it off, the first thing we hear from the YWAM staff during our orientation talk was, “Are you Willing to Die doing the work of God, what is your theology on missions and death…????” J-burg is not a safe city to any extent and as much as that statement created fear in me, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has big plans for that city. The heart of the YWAM base there is to raise up the youth to change their nation, to change their hurting city and even though we started out in the city with fear, I left with HOPE and believe J-burg will be a city after God. As the song “God of the City” cries…”greater things are yet to come and greater things are still to be done…” I pray this over J-Burg and over the youth that will lead the country.

During our time here, we were blessed to work alongside 2 other YWAM teams who were staying at the base. One team was from Swailand and the other from Argentina. They were a great blessing to us as we were able to build relationships over the language and cultural barriers and literally see God bring together people from all over to work out His plans. One group worked at a kid’s camp called “the winds of change” another group went and played sports with local kids at a sports complex in the neighborhood and a third group went to the fan park in the city and talked and prayed with people. All groups had amazing stories to tell about how God moved. I was part of the school and fan park groups. The fan park was a great experience as I began to see one of God’s promises fulfilled in my life.

At the very beginning of DTS, when we were learning about hearing God’s voice, God had given me a vision of me playing soccer with some African youth in an indoor arena. I had no idea what it meant, but I continued to see the same picture throughout DTS and just felt like the holy spirit was saying my passion for soccer was going to be used to show God’s love….and it was so werid b/c when we got to the fan park, there was this
5v5 field set up that looked like an indoor arena and I had the opportunity to play soccer with a bunch of guys there in the afternoons….a totally cool confirmation for me that God continues to speak like He does int eh bible and He is faithful to fulfilling His promises!!!

Working at the school was also a great experience as I was put in the 6-7th grade class and able to teach and encourage them in their faith. For many, Christianity was just about church, but in our 2 weeks we really sought to open up their eyes to the power of God and His desire to have a meaningful and personal relationship with them through prayer, studying His word and serving Him. It was crazy some of the stuff these younger kids were already doing. One girl in particular, Toheble, started evangelizing in one of the roughest parts of town and had started her own women’s prayer group/church from people she had talked to. A 6th GRADER!!!!!- what an amazing testimony to me that God will use whoever is willing, and a challenge as I asked myself, “am I willing and bold like Toheble”? These kids are on fire for God and they are what bring me Hope as I pray for J-burg. They are running after God, interceding for their community for the nations and seeing God use them in some great ways!

On another note-beyond working in the school and fan park, God revealed some pretty amazing things to me personally while in J-Burg. Upon arriving in J-burg, I was feeling discouraged about ministry and feeling inadequate but I felt God calming me with the words, “it’s not over yet, take hope, I wills show you amazing things in these last few weeks.” I began reading 1 John and God continued to bring me to 4:4--“The one who is in me is greater than the one who is in the world”. The power of the living God rests in all of us-but believing in this has been a hard journey for me this DTS, especially when it comes to healings. I had never experienced any type of healing, but I wanted to believe in it either way and I wanted to declare with faith that God is our healer. So in Durban, my faith was tested. I had an ankle injury that left me sitting on the sidelines during our VBS week and leaving me very frustrated and confused as I wanted to believe that He truly wanted to heal me so I could continue interacting with the kids…yet it still continued to bug me. So I had a choice- I could have declared God’s goodness in the circumstance or sulk…I continued to have faith that I would see God’s miraculous power, and about 2 weeks later, God remained faithful. My ankle was not healed, but someone else’s foot was!
One of my Argentina friends (David) had been suffering a swollen foot and at first I felt odd asking if I could pray for it b/c it was a small injury, but I knew that it was annoying him and I also believed God wanted to heal him. So through my broken Spanish, I finally riled up enough courage and prayed for Him knowing I had to be obedient to what God had been saying. Later that afternoon, David came and told me that his foot was completely healed. I couldn’t believe it- it was such an incredible confirmation to me that GOD IS INDEED GOOD AND THE ULTIMATE HEALER! But God wasn’t done yet!

I had also been suffering from a horrible cold and the a few nights after David’s foot healing, I developed very swollen glands and was up all night in congestion. The next morning during our prayer time, I was really discouraged b/c I was supposed to be helping with worship, but I had no voice, I felt like crap and did not feel like going to the kid’s camp. But God silently prompted me to turn to Psalm 86:17 where it says “show me a sign of your goodness” so I began to pray that throughout worship. At the end of our worship time, they asked all the sick people to gather in the center to get prayer (there were many of us L), and as they were praying, my throat suddenly opened up and I could swallow again. It was the craziest thing I have ever experienced!!!!!! I couldn’t stop smiling and was jumping in my skin to share and testify to God’s goodness after the prayer. So I share that to bring hope and encouragement that even though sometimes we don’t see God’s power work when we want it to (like with my ankle injury), He is still at work in one way or another. We may not always understand it, but He will show His goodness to us!

South AFrica-Durban

The energy flying into this city was incredible! The World Cup games had began the day before so soccer fans were EVERYWHERE. Never in my life have I been able to play soccer in an airport with people from italy, Algeria, Scotland, England, Canada and camaroon. Let alone in one of the most dangerous airports of the world, J-Burg. But it was so cool to see how one thing like a soccer ball can bring together people from all over and provide a window of opportunity to share what we are doing.

Our actual stay in Durban proved to be a difficult few weeks for myself and team. Our first week was spent at a local church helping establish a VBS program. They really don’t know what “kid’s ministry” is so we were helping some Canadian missinarys instill a vision for the future. But our attitudes were crap to say the least. No one wanted to be doing it, most of us felt like we were not being used at all as there were onlyl 10 kids and 9 leaders. We ended up having to stay at the church with no shower use and no transportation, and tension just seemed to be building within our team dynamics. But God is faithful and gracious, PRAISE THE LORD, He did not give up on us. For me it was a turning week as I began to see that it’s not the big things that count-it’s our heart and laying down our rights so that God can move how HE wants to move.

God gave me Psalm 95:6 one day-“come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker…” and hit me with the fact that we are called to worship Him in all circumstances. He is our Lord, why wouldn’t I trust that the VBS is where we were meant to be? Sure, it may not be what we felt was the “right” ministry, but we have the responsibility to worship God in our circumstances, both fun and not fun. So God really humbled me to begin to see the week as His divine workmanship. And as it turned out, hearing the kids’ testimonies at the end of the week were enough to bring me crying to my knees that once again God knows best!

The second week we worked in various settings-one of the key people that impacted us was a lady named Petra. She has a huge heart for the homeless and prostitutes of Durban. She has established a safe house away from the city and as she goes out on the streets every night, sees numerous people accept Jesus into their lives. It was encouraging and challenging to work with her as she is a woman with more boldness than I have ever seen. I would be lying if I said it was easy and I was not afraid walking the streets at 11 pm at night in South Africa talking to prostitutes and homeless people, but it was incredible to see God move in their lives and see Him provide oppurtunities to pray with people and share His love.

Lastly, we also worked with a local “House of Prayer” church, consisting of some very hospitable and loving Indian women. They bent over backwards to make us feel at home in Durban, from providing home-cooked lunches on the beach, a prayer walk of the city and a free pampering session for our entire team. Their love for God flowed effortlessly out of them as they ministred to us and blessed our socks off! It challenged me to view my time, recources, food, money…everything as gifts from God that are given to be used to bless others! They were a wonderful example of believers living out God’s love!

Zambia- Lusaka

After 2 weeks in the southern part of Zambia, we traveled another 6 hrs to Lusaka, the capital and biggest city. While there we did more soccer stuff with local youth, and spent 2 days with a after-school program called “kids alive” that is trying to help one of the poorest townships. The education programs are horrific and the crime rate is among the highest-but these kids sure do know how to smile and have fun.

The main thing we were involved with during these 2 weeks was Grippes, a developing community right beside the YWAM base. Each day, we walked over the fence and through the field to a community of mud huts. The people there were amazing! Everyone that we met would invite us into their home and offer us their lunch or dinner-I had never experienced hospitality like it before. They were always so happy to help us out and spend time with us.
One lady that we got to know very well was Brenda. Brenda has 2 children and lives with her sister making samosas (fried dough triangles filled with rice) and fritas (fried dough) out of her hut. They are the best things you have ever tasted and everyday she greeted us with a big smile. She attest to living a hard life, but she still finds a way to have joy. Such a great testimony to us!

Another great experience with the village was working with the school. Every day we would go play sports with the kids after school, and though we couldn’t speak their local language, we had a lot of fun learning net ball and helping build a football pitch for them. I again was the only girl playing soccer in my skirt, but I soon left my true passion to learn the “women’s” sport of netball. The girls loved helping us (or maybe more laughing at our lack of skill) and the mother’s even joined us one day for a match where the teacher’s and I won! J Through this experience I really began to grow a passion for middle school girls. Throughout the DTS, God really began to speak to me about using me as an encourager for broken girls and I absolutely loved playing with these 6th graders. I never felt like much of a kid person till I met them. They were so beautiful and really were a great blessing to my life as they invited me to hang out with them.

We also had the great opportunity to work with the teachers of the school. Usually groups that come in only target the children, but we made a great effort to build relationships with the teachers and were truly blessed in return by them. We had them over for dinner the one night and then spent 2 hrs learning and singing songs with them-they had so much joy in life. They volunteer at this school, but travel up to an hour to get there-just to volunteer. I don’t know how they do it, but they were a great inspiration to us.

Lastly, one of the people that really touched my life in Lusaka was a YWAMer named Sizwe. Lusaka was one of my favorite places, but it also had one of the most scariest experiences for us as girls. We had decided to go to a pre-cup “friendly” football game between Zambia and South Africa, but it proved to be the worst day of our entire trip. The crowd consisted of mainly drunken men and after about 15 minutes of verbal abuse and numerous physical advances, we ran out of the stadium, the other 2 girls and I pretty shaken up and in shock at the abuse. I left feeling like a piece of meat and utterly degraded, and saddened by the fact that this is the typical response towards women with many of these men. And through it all, I felt God saying to me “I love these men just as much as I love you”-and it was a hard pill to swallow. So we were supposed to be working with Sizwe later that evening, doing ministry at a local mall, but as the evening unfolded it became a great healing time for the girls and I and God began to work on that pill a little bit. Sizwe had a lot of great wisdom to share and stepped in the gap for us in asking for forgiveness on behalf of the Zambian men. It seems little talking about it now, but it spoke volumes to me. We all have been wronged by people, but seeing someone innocent step in the gap and take on that blame for us so that we can walk in forgiveness towards those that harmed us is quite a testimony to God’s love and exactly what He has done for us. He too has stood in the gap for all of us sinners. So I’m forever grateful to Sizwe and his evening of “counseling”.

But as Lusaka came to an end, we looked ahead to our time in South Africa and the building anticipation of being in a country where nations from literally ALL OVER THE WORLD were gathering…..

Livingston, Zambia


I learned just how important the power of words really are. With our words we can speak life or death, and sometimes we may not know which we are doing. I had quite a negative beginning as a local tried to “prophesy” over me about my future. This is a new concept to me to begin with, but I do know and believe that prophecy is given to bring hope and encouragement, not make you fearful of your heavenly father and scared of the future. So be careful what you say and pray over people. Satan will try and use whatever words come out of our mouth to bring us down.

After much prayer and team encouragement though, I was able to put this in the past and rely on God’s voice and not others’. One such great opportunity was while sharing my testimony at a local high school youth meeting. I had felt God’s prompting to share and had been preparing something about how I’ve been learning about God’s Fatherly Love. But as we were driving to the place, I began to feel unsettled about this and began to sense God wanted me to share about forgiveness and my journey and breakthrough in this area. I was not prepared, so I quickly thought up something in my head right before I was to share. It turned out to be a total God-thing as the topic that night for the youth was on forgiveness and relationship reconciliation. So cool to see how God moves and works and an encouragement to me to really listen and obey God’s voice in all things!

Livingston days were pretty laid back, moving from different places like local orphanges, hospitals, schools and villages. But after 3:30, it was football time! With a wide-open dirt pitch and 30 some kids running around barefoot, we Muzungus (white man) split up and joined the teams. For me this was a great experience as I enjoyed showing up the boys J, and they enjoyed making fun of one another when I pulled a nice move. However, it also was an eye opening experience to just how blessed we are as females in North America. Not too many girls play soccer overseas-they are not really given much opportunity and are looked down upon as being weak. So I pray my interaction during those weeks on the soccer pitch was a positive impact to them that women too are created with God given abilities.

Another amaing part of Livingston was meeting Jeanette. She and her husband own a private orphanage and have taken in 9 abandoned children and are looking to take in up to 30. They have become “mother and father” to these beautiful children and having only been married for a year, they have taken on quite a task, but are doing so with joy and obedience to God’s calling. Jeanette was a great impact to me as she talked about her childhood dream of moving to Africa and helping kids. She did not grow up Christian, but now that she has met God and has stepped out in His calling, she can see how that dream was given by her heavenly Father. God has a dream for all of us-both the believers and the not-yet believers and it gives me great hope that the dreams I felt when I was younger do fall into a bigger plan! We have a heavenly father who loves us and cannot wait to reveal more and more dreams to us!

And Lastly, ZIG-ZAG, our beloved friend. Zig Zag is amazing and has really humbled me and given me a renewed passion for kids and building up a strong generation of youth who want to change the world. He is such a kind, giving person and a talented artist. One that I believe God will use in many ways. Whether we were elephant hunting with him, walking through sketchy markets, meeting his friends, playing soccer or playing with kids he was a great friend to all of us. We were so blessed to have the chance to spend our full 4 weeks with him. He just seemed to appear in our lives and the only way to explain it all was God and his perfect timing! When we looked back we saw just how much God was orchestrating everything. One such example-we had prayed as a team in may where we should spend the opening day of world cup. We had the option to fly to Durban early and be in the S. Africa for the opening ceremony festivities; or we could stay in Zambia an extra day and invite people we had met to share in the ceremonies with us. We felt we should stay in Zambia even though it seemed “cooler” to be in the host country, and as it turned out, we spent that evening at Zig Zag’s family’s house, got to pray with Him and His family and really had a great evening. God is amazing-once again, one little step of obedience in hearing His voice, and we were truly blessed.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

the problem with fear

Fear's definition: not trusting in God. I've been gripped pretty severly the past week with this thought. I thought I was trusting enough, but everytime we talk about africa and the stats of South Africa, I freak out inside. I put on a smile and laugh saying "God is Good, we will be safe", but I have not believed it in my heart.... He wants us to focus on statistics and what seems like "reality"-b/c once we get our eyes off of our father, fear sets in, we focus on it and give the devil a foothold, a ledge to sit and torment our minds, a place to mess with our dreams and our faith in Who God says He is.....

Praise God though- I can testify that He has broken the spirit of fear for me We are talking about spiritual warfare this week and just how proclaiming things in the physical realm affect the spiritual realm around us-so as we spoke out who we were in Christ and then what His plans were for Africa, what He sees in Africa, and I found myself crying out for the city of Johhnesburg and declaring hope, peace, love and light over that torn city. and the song "God of this city" was echoing in my heart as I felt God speak and declare "that city is mine-no longer will it be a city of violence, rape, murder, drugs, light will penetrate it and send the darkness fleeing....." I no longer want to look at the staggering stats but have hope and see that it will be redeemed, God IS NOT FINISHED THERE YET! There is hope rising, and I am going into that city and country bearing the name of Christ and HIS power in my life...darkness cannot stay hidden where there is team, along with many other ywam outreach teams and probably other missionaries going to world cup are bringing THAT TRUE LIGHT...the devil stands no chance...Our VICTORY is already WON! Hallelujah!!!!!!!

PRAISE GOD, I no longer have to fear our time there, for we are not given a spirit of fear but a spirit of love and hope...I am a bringer of LIGHT and cannot wait to see how the darkness tremble at GOD's HOLY POWER.......

please continue to keep our teams in your prayers, that we can continue to be devliered from the power of fear - I praise God something was broken today, but the devil is a roaring lion and I know he will try I ask for continual prayer as i embrace God's overcoming spirit!!!!!!

love you guys....

Sunday, May 9, 2010

byron bay outreach

Byron Bay is the stereotypical beach/hippie town where all backpackers flock to for extended periods of time. we had the oppurtunity to stay with a local church and minister to the community through 2 sport tournaments as well as serving alongside the Byron Bay YWAM team at the annual Nimbin festival and their weekend bar-b-ques.

Byron proved to have many interseting experiences. We arrived very tired and were sent straight away to helping with a community bar-b-que in the park downtown. Every friday, the byron ywam team sets up free burgers and music as a chance to get to know people and share their testimonies. our job was to go meet people-and i began to see that I have allowed myself to become comfortable with indivdualized living-i don't like when random people come and start talking to me, so I had trouble trying to do it myself. But it was cool to see the Holy Spirit work in the conversations I did have. I was just making small talk and without even knowing it, I was sharing with them about finidng my identity in Christ over things in this world and learning how to forgive others-and it flowed naturally, which to me was somewhat of a new concept. So that first night went pretty well-but the next day was an even more "different" experience.

We spent the day at the annual Nimbin Festival, which is a weekend set aside to celebrate marijuna, handing out free pancakes and chai. I'm to young to have gone to woodstock-but if i could imagine what it was like-Nimbin was it! I was quite out of my element to say the least-upon arriving, the parade was starting and a giant blown-up blunt was paraded down the street as everyone around us lit up and enjoyed oblivion. I really did not know how to start any conversations with people, but as I stepped out and tried, God once more blew me away with His movement, not mine. Twice during the day, I was able to share with people parts of my testimony-and thankfully I didn't feel like I was forcing it upon them, they just happened to ask the right questions...

and the coolest converstaion happened later at night-these 2 european girls were getting chai and really wanted to know why we were handing out free food, so my friend marcelo told them to come talk to me becasue he had to work on the chai station..and it this point in the night, i was tired and not really feeling bold in approaching anyone to talk- so it was totally God ordained for these girls to be close by and honestly seeking to hear about God. For the next hour my friend johnathan and I were able to share with them a lot about the gospel and again it was cool to see how God put us 2 together at that exact moment because Johnathan is more blunt and up front and was sharing a lot of facts and points from the bible and I was sharing a lot of personal testimony....julia, one of the girls was really really searching, not quite there yet, but she was asking the right questions and i encouraged her to keep asking and searching because God was the one giving her those questions-He too is searching her out, so I pray someone she meets in her travels will help shed some more light on that.

Lastly, in Byron we also held 2 sport tournaments on the beach. We had a great turnout from people and were able to break down a lot of walls against christianity. So many people kept saying, "you guys are christians?" and really surpsied that Christians can have fun and want to give out free food and want to love on people and would set up sports tournmanets on the many people just have a misconception of what we are all about. Christ came to give freedom and life-as a Christian I'm learning more and more just how much I have a responsiblity in showing that to people. and it is cool to see their face light up with that fact that being a christian DOES NOT HAVE TO BE BORING!