The Girl and The Ocean / Jenta og havet

as told by Tincy Mathai 

I want you to picture the ocean. You’re standing on the coast, whichever coast that is, looking out. Can you find the end? Look with all your might, and shy of that island in the distance, can you fathom the distance from one end to another?

     I was speaking at a church right in the heart of the city, at a youth group that a friend of mine from DTS (Discipleship Training School) leads. I was slated to give a devotion that night, I think it was something on God’s peace. The room, Norwegian-style cozy and candle lit, the light warm and inviting in the face of Norway’s January cold. Some other adults bustled around, taking care of some of those practical needs, candles and cake. Some of the teens began to file in, some from Iraq and Syria, and some from Norway.

    The devotion begins, and ends, uneventfully. Afterwards, my friend and I begin to pray for people. She is quiet, at first, she doesn’t say much. As I begin to pray for her, I saw the ocean. Picture it with me again, vast, endless, steady, grand, and unfathomable. And I heard that still, small voice.

      “ Do you know how much I love her? Can you measure the ocean? It’s that big, there’s no end.”

      I looked at this girl, small and quiet, and I say, “I got this picture, a picture of the ocean, and as I got it, I heard God say this. He said, do you know how much I love her? Can you measure the ocean? It’s that big, there’s no end.”

     As I watched the words sink in, I watched the tears began to fall, as she realized the grandness of the love of God for her. Here in Norway, we are no stranger to the vastness of the ocean. The ocean as an endless entity is a fact that surrounds us daily.

    My friend and I continued to pray for people, and we ended the night. As I headed through the January chill towards my bus stop, a car pulled up alongside me, and the girl’s mom, one of the ones helping with the cake and candles before the meeting, offered me a ride home. Grateful for the reprieve from the sharp cold, we were talking about the night, and I told her how wonderful her daughter was. From the corner of my eye, I saw tears begin to form in this mom’s eyes, as she told me of the conversation that her and her daughter had been having.

     “She’s gotten that picture of the ocean often, all the time actually, but never knew what it means, what it meant, all these times she’s seen it. But tonight, she realized how much God loves her.”

      Picture the ocean with me again. Endless. Powerful. Relentless. Persistent. Next time you picture the ocean, or next time you stand on the shore, think of the love of God. Think of the girl and the ocean, and the way God’s love pursues us persistent like the ocean waves never stop crashing up against the shore, and the lengths he will go so we are sure of that love.

 

Tincy is returning to staff the BSN (Bible School for the Nations) here in Kristiansand with husband Hari and daughter, Stefania. This story was a part of Tincy’s BSN outreach as a student in the 2016/17 BSN.

(more…)

Giving Glory to Giants / Å gi ære til kjemper

In Uganda, educating children is like a pyramid. When a Ugandan little one starts school at age six, he or she has 6 million classmates. By the time she’s in high school, that number drops to 800,000. When she goes to university, she’s looking at a mere 8,000-10,000 of her peers having joined her.

    Our friend Jonathan explains this to me as we roll past baby goats and motorbikes, thick farmland everywhere we look: cassava leaves, pineapple and jackfruit in abundance. Brick makers are going about their day, leaving mounds of fired bricks like little monuments on the roadside. The concept of locally sourced is almost laughable here, since the papaya I had for breakfast yesterday came from outside our window and Jonathan just bought pineapple off of some guy’s bike as we head towards the church.

    As I write this, my friend Renske is teaching on the book and life of Joshua. We, as a group, just told the story of Joshua and Caleb and the band of spies, sent to survey the promise land in Numbers 13. My friend Kristin is arm in arm with her Ugandan Joshua to one side of the stage, and I am on the other with my band of ten Ugandan spies.

    I can’t help but feel like it isn’t the first time I’ve played this role before. God, please help my unbelief.

    We talked about the Democratic Republic of the Congo, our next destination, over breakfast this morning, and I asked the question that had been nagging me this whole time: how can you look at a place like the DRC, in all of it’s richness and complexity and issues, and believe that a simple gospel like the one we have could make anything other than a marginal difference? Seeing the Bible as a way of changing nations just didn’t feel like enough, fast enough. It was the question I had been asking for months now.

     I had read all the books I could find on the DRC: it’s history and culture, it’s people and it’s issues, and the solution I held in my hands felt vastly too small.

    Like Caleb and Joshua in Numbers 13, I want to believe the God I can’t see over the giants in front of me, giant like most children will never step foot in school beyond eighth grade. Giants like the damage Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army left in their wake after 22 years in Uganda and Sudan, priceless, precious lives stolen. Boko Haram in Nigeria stole 600-something girls while they slept, for the simple act of pursuing their education. Remember #bringbackourgirls? Sixty of those girls were recently released. If that’s not a giant, I’ll pack up and go home.

     Because God, there are giants in the land. God, make us a generation of Caleb’s. Does our enemy believe in the word of God more than I do? The damage he’s doing on countless souls leads me to believe that might be closer to the truth.

    People like our friend Jonathan are dragging in grapes the size of our heads while we stand there in awe of giants.

     While I read countless books, news stories, and UN reports, Jonathan has eighteen children, some orphans, some not, but so fully loved.. And a school, giving 150-plus children an education, health care, and sometimes even a place to live. And a store, filled with handmade items, employing women to sustain themselves and their families. Jonathan, moved by the word of God, unintimidated by the surrounding giants.

    As Jonathan tells me his story, he tells me of being moved as a young adult by just two little girls. Those little girls are now grown adults, and sixteen more fill his kitchen on the muggy Saturday we go to have lunch at his house,we lounge on couches and chairs, back porches and concrete floors. We talk about school, and laugh at our ridiculous dance moves. He tells me that the reason the school was started was because he couldn’t fit them all into his house. They’re all my children, he tells me. After seeing both his home and the school, called Covenant Community, I believe it.

    Are we giving glory to God? Or giants? Because there’s only one who deserves it. Are we looking into the face of the God who is more than capable of building and restoring nations, and making excuses?

    I sat at breakfast with a lump in my throat, and my processing in overdrive. I’m thinking about my sister Haylee. She loves school, she’s a question asker and an avid learner. I hope and I pray, and I truly believe she’ll never live in a world where her education isn’t a given. Where what happens to countless children across the world will happen to her.

   I sit here in this Ugandan church asking God to teach me a different story. Father, lift my eyes from giants ten times my size, to who you are, creator of the world, greater than even my imagination. Help me to carry the weight of both hope and honesty, knowing that things will not always be easy, but that joy and justice are worth the fight.

    Father, help me to believe you more. Even the demons believe and tremble. I want to believe you and see mountains move. I want to believe you and see the giants fall.

 


I Uganda er utdannelse av barn som en pyramide. Når et barn i Uganda begynner på skolen i en alder av seks år, har han eller hun 6 millioner klassekamerater. Når hun er kommet  til videregående skole, faller dette tallet til 800.000. Når hun går på universitetet, er det ikke mer enn 8 000-10 000 jevnaldrende som har sluttet seg til henne.

    Vår venn Jonathan forklarte dette til meg da vi kjørte forbi baby geiter, motorsykler,  og rikt jordbruksland overalt hvor vi ser: kassava blad, ananas og jackfrukter i overflod. Arbeidere som er i gang med å lage murstein etterlater seg høyder av mursteinsrester som små monumenter langs veikanten. Begrepet “kortreist” er nesten latterlig her, siden papaya’en jeg hadde til frokost i går kom fra utenfor vinduet vårt og Jonathan nettopp kjøpte ananas av en syklende mann på vei til kirken.

    Når jeg skriver dette, underviser min venn Renske Josva’s bok og hans liv. Vi, som en gruppe, fortalte nettopp historien om Josva, Kaleb og spionene som var sendt ut for å speide løfteslandet i 4. mosebok 13. Min venn Kristin er arm i arm med sin ugandiske Joshua på den ene siden av scenen, og jeg er på den andre siden med min gjeng på ti ugandiske spioner.

    Jeg kan ikke hjelpe for å føle at det ikke er første gang jeg har spilt denne rollen. Gud, vær så snill å hjelpe min vantro.

    Vi snakket om den Demokratiske Republikken Kongo, vår neste destinasjon, over frokost i morges, og jeg spurte spørsmålet som hadde plaget meg hele tiden: hvordan kan du se på et sted som DRC, i all sin rikdom, kompleksitet og problemer, og tro at et enkelt evangelium som det vi har kan gjøre alt annet enn en liten forskjell? Å se Bibelen som en måte å forandre nasjoner på, føltes bare ikke som nok, raskt nok. Det var spørsmålet jeg hadde hatt i måneder nå.

     Jeg hadde lest alle bøkene jeg kunne finne på DRC: Landets historie og kultur,  folk og problemer, og løsningen jeg nå holdt i hendene, føltes bare for liten.

    Som Kaleb og Josva i 4. mosebok 13, vil jeg tro på en Gud jeg ikke kan se fremfor kjempene foran meg. Kjemper som at de fleste barn aldri vil sette sin fot på skolen utover åttende klasse. Kjemper som skandalen med Joseph Kony og the Lord’s Resistance Army etterlot seg etter 22 år i Uganda og Sudan, uvurderlige dyrebare liv stjålet. Boko Haram i Nigeria stjal rundt 600 jenter mens de sov av den enkle grunnen at de forsøkte å fullføre sin utdannelse. Husker du #bringbackourgirls? 60 av de jentene ble nylig sluppet fri. Hvis det ikke er en kjempe, kan jeg bare pakke sammen og reise hjem.

     Du ser  Gud, det er kjemper i landet. Gud, gjør oss til en generasjon som Kalebs. Tror vår fiende på Guds ord mer enn jeg gjør? Skaden han gjør på utallige sjeler fører meg til å tro at det kan være nærmere sannheten.

    Folk som vår venn Jonathan drar inn drueklaser på størrelse med hodene våre, mens vi står der i ærefrykt av kjemper.

     Mens jeg har lest utallige bøker, nyhetsoppslag og FN-rapporter, har Jonathan atten barn, noen foreldreløse, noen ikke, men like høyt elsket…. Og en skole som gir 150 pluss barn en utdanning, helsevesen og noen  til og med et sted å bo. Han har også en butikk, fylt med håndlagde gjenstander, som gir kvinner mulighet til å forsørge seg selv og deres familier. Jonathan gikk på Guds ord, uberørt av kjempene og omstendighetene.

    Jonathan forteller meg historien sin, om hvordan han ble rørt som ung voksen av bare to småpiker. De små jentene er nå godt voksne, og seksten jenter til fyller kjøkkenet på denne grå lørdagen da vi går for å spise lunsj i huset hans. Vi sitter på sofaer og stoler, verandaer og betonggulv. Vi snakker om skolen, og ler av våre latterlige dansetrinn. Han forteller meg at grunnen til at skolen ble startet var at han ikke fikk plass til dem i huset sitt. De er alle mine barn, forteller han meg. Etter å ha sett både hjemmet hans og skolen, kalt Covenant Community, tror jeg det.

    Gir vi ære til Gud, eller til kjemper? For  det er bare en som fortjener det. Ser vi inn i Guds ansikt, som er mer enn i stand til å bygge og gjenopprette nasjoner, mens vi kommer med unnskyldninger?

    Jeg spiste frokost med en klump i halsen, mens tankene raste rundt i hodet. Jeg tenker på søsteren min Haylee. Hun elsker skolen. Hun spør stadig spørsmål, og er ivrig til å lære. Jeg håper og jeg ber, og jeg tror virkelig at hun aldri vil leve i en verden der utdanningen hennes ikke er en selvfølge. Hvor det som skjer med utallige barn over hele verden skal skje med henne.

   Jeg sitter her i denne ugandiske kirken og ber Gud om å lære meg en annen historie. Fader, løft øynene mine fra kjempene som er ti ganger min størrelse, til hvem du er, verdens skaperen, større enn til og med min fantasi. Hjelp meg til å bære vekten av både håp og ærlighet, å vite at ting ikke alltid vil være enkle, men at glede og rettferdighet er verdt kampen.

    Far, hjelp meg til å tro på deg mer. Selv demonene tror og skjelver. Jeg vil tro på deg og se fjell bli flyttet. Jeg vil tro på deg og se kjempene falle.

The Adventure of a Lifetime

Note: This was written by some of students of the 2015/2016 DTS chronicling their outreach to Cambodia and Thailand in Winter 2016.


Hello Everyone!

We are the one half of the DTS 15/16 from Skjærgårdsheimen (YWAM Kristiansand) and we traveled to Cambodia and Thailand on the 6th of January 2016. After three months of teaching, a Christmas break and a YWAM conference we set out for our journey to Cambodia. The outreach started with a few days at a guesthouse in Siem Reap, one of the richest cities in Cambodia. At the guesthouse we got over our jetlag and adjusted to the new culture. We tried the new food, visited the markets and got our first touristy feelings put to rest. After a few days we hopped on a Tuk Tuk – the Cambodian answer to a taxi, and went to a nearby village called Puok. This was our first place of ministry.

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A tuk tuk on a Cambodian road

Our First Ministry

The people of Puok live in bamboo houses with a lot of dogs, chickens and even cows walking around. The landscape is covered with palm trees, bright green rice fields and here and there you see water buffaloes grazing. Here in these beautiful surroundings we stayed at a school run by YWAM. At the school the main focus was to teach English, since English is the major gateway to a better life for the Cambodians. During the 3 weeks we were there, we stayed at the school. The head teacher Mariele, one of the missionaries, was leading us during our stay. Our main job was to teach English to the local kids and youth, encourage the staff, and help the teachers. Besides the ministry at the school we played with the village kids and taught them about God and hygiene, planted new corn for a woman who needed help, gave clothes away to the villagers, and shared the gospel about Jesus with them.

We believe that God cares for us in every area of life and that he wants to bless us even with the simple daily things. So in all the things we did, our hearts were to bless and love the people where they were at, because God did that first.

“During two days of our stay in Puok we helped an old lady in the village to plow her cornfields. With Hoes and Shovels we were digging the dry soil for hours in the burning sun while the sweat was running down our backs. While I was standing there in the field God suddenly spoke to me. He asked me if I was willing to serve unconditionally like Jesus did? Was I willing to set aside my own pride and feelings to really serve this woman with joy and a loving heart? God reminded me that this woman was his daughter and that she was very important to him. As God revealed this to me I could feel a big joy in my heart for the opportunity to serve one of his children. The joy grew even bigger when I saw the thankfulness in the woman’s face, as she looked at the cornfield. I also got to know that our hard work in the cornfield had made other people in the village ask questions about “these Christian people” and that they suddenly were much more interested to hear about God and the Gospel. Afterwards we got to pray for some of the women that had gathered and we came back and had bible studies with some of them. As I left the village for the last time, God reminded me that in the same way he makes the corn grow, he will make the faith in their hearts grow as well.”

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Tilling the soil… and hearts

Thailand

After finishing our ministry in Puok and saying goodbye to our new friends, our journey lead us to the YWAM base in Way Ta Loo, Thailand – a village on the border to Myanmar (Burma). Because of the history and situation in Myanmar a lot of people had fled to Thailand, specially the Karen people group. Therefor we were living with Karen people and experiencing their culture. Together with our new friends from the YWAM base, we drove to a mountain village to share the gospel. Our approach was to visit people in their homes and talk with them. We used the second week at the base in Way Ta Loo. In this time we encouraged and taught the staff about working in teams and leadership.

Here is a story from one of the team members experience in the village:

“One day we visited a Buddhist grandpa, who welcomed us into his home. We talked with him and got to know parts of his story, and we also got to share from our lives and about Jesus. The more we talked, the more interested he became in knowing the difference between the God we believe in and his god. He wanted to hear the whole story, all the way from the beginning. So after sharing about God’s plan and love for us, and how he saved us through Jesus and his death on the cross, the grandpa asked if he could see the story – with his own eyes. Luckily we had the Jesus-film with us. So the next evening we came to his house, and to our surprise his living room was packed with people, and we got to show them the movie. It was amazing to experience how God gave us the opportunity to share his love to all these people. After the movie we gave him a bible and he seemed eager to start reading it. We pray that God will continue to reveal Himself to him, and the other people in the village, so that they one day will get to know God for real.”

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Encouragement was a major theme of outreach

Going Back to Cambodia

Sadly our outreach was coming to an end and at this moment we were staying at the YWAM base in the heart of Siem Reap. Going to the city was a big difference from the quiet remote village life in Thailand. The packed streets, busy life and tourists everywhere challenged us to do ministry in a new way. Luckily our previous experiences of teaching helped us, since we were to teach English again, but this time at a bigger school than the one in Puok. The school staff had been dreaming of a new and better version of the school for the next term. So in order for this dream to come true, our job there, besides teaching, was to clean, paint and decorate the classrooms.

We are thankful for what God has done through us these two months and we are excited to see what will come in the future. God has taught us a lot through this outreach; here is one of the student’s experiences:

“On outreach I did a lot of things that I’ve never done so much before. I tried out being a teacher, having devotion, sharing testimony, singing with the kids and leading games – Yes, I was in charge of something. I experienced that God was with me and gave me what I needed in the situations. Even though I sometimes was tired, or maybe not feeling prepared enough, God showed me that He could use me, anyway. I learned that I didn’t need to be perfect, but God wanted my willing heart, and through that, He could do great things.”

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God can indeed use everyone

You can continue to follow the blog for more updates from YWAM Kristiansand! Please continue to remember all the students and staff in your prayers.

Ask A Student…

This fall, we have asked some of our students about their experience with BSN and DTS here at our base. To reflect the dual nature of this fall, with the BSN and DTS running simultaneously, we’ve added twice the content this time! In today’s interview you’ll hear from Renske and Thorbjørn. Enjoy!

Renske

Renske

Tell me something about yourself?

My name is Renske and I’m from the Netherlands. Some people know it as Holland. It’s the same country but some people think it’s different. I have three sisters and both my parents are still together, so that’s a blessing. I was born in a Christian family and I was able to go to Christian schools so I learned a lot about God. I really love to just spend time with friends — just enjoying and being together. I love traveling a lot. I have a boyfriend and he’s from Africa. We’re having this long distance relationship which is kinda hard but it’s also cool to have a boyfriend.

Why are you here?

The reason why I’m here is to do the BSN (Bible School of the Nations). You read through the whole Bible in four months and learn what’s in the Bible and how you can read the Bible. After, we’re going to go on outreach to teach people how to read the Bible and what God is trying to communicate to us through the Bible. I really felt like God was calling me to do it because my foundation was not very strong in Him and it’s good to have a strong foundation in Him for the rest of your life.

What has God done in your life so far here?

I think it started in the DTS. I knew about God before that but now I know more about God’s truth — that He’s loving me and that He made me with a purpose. He healed me from insecurities, depression, and also some addictions. I’m still in the healing process but those are some of the things He’s done in my life here.

Can you share a story where God has taught you something?

So I was at B­City — that is a Christian ministry in Kristiansand where people can come to at night. There was this guy there who really wanted to know more about God and wanted to be prayed for because he had been really scared for a few years. We prayed for him and afterwards we went with him to a quiet room where he wrote down all his sins. After that, we went outside and burned all the papers and prayed freedom over his life. He wanted to be saved, so we prayed the salvation prayer with him. Afterwards, we encouraged him and felt a lot of joy!

If you could say one thing to the world, what would you say?

That God loves you. Because I think that is what God is trying to communicate to us — that He really loves us and that He just wants us to be with Him. That is the purpose of our life. So yeah, that is the thing I would communicate to the world.

 

Torbjørn

Thorbjorn

Why are you here?

I’m here because I have this longing and hunger inside me to get to know God and to let Him hold me, to let Him use my life as He wants to use it. And I just felt that God told me to be here. He just lead me to this point and now I’m here.

What has God done in your life so far?

God has always been there, always had control. He’s been my rock. He’s been my foundation. He has always looked after me. When I look at my life, I just see that God has always been there. He’s always made my life good and He’s always faithful. He’s always there with me in good days and in bad days. And He always gives me so much joy and so much pleasure. For me, I can’t imagine a life without Him. That is so empty—life without Him.

Can you share a story where God has taught you something?

One concrete thing is a bit hard, I think, because there are so many things. God has worked with me throughout the entire DTS. He has reminded me of many things and shown me what has prevented me from getting closer to Him. God has also reminded me of things that make me so glad to be in His presence — just to get to know Him better and to learn so much about Him.

If you could say one thing to the world, what would you say?

Trust the Lord and your life will be so good.

 

You can continue to follow the blog for more updates from other DTS students and our outreach teams! Please continue to remember all the students and staff in your prayers.

Everyday life in Cambodia

Our journey began the 5th of January, when seven excited young DTS students and staff boarded a plane leaving Norway.  After thirty hours of traveling, we arrived in Cambodia, where we would stay for nine weeks. During our layover in Bangkok, we spent three hours at the airport where we arrived, and at the last minute (technically hour) we realized we were at the wrong airport. Where we needed to be was a 45 minute bus ride away. But thanks to God (and our fearless leaders), we made it to the right airport on time and arrived in Siem Reap safe and sound.

We spent our first week in Cambodia in a hostel not far from the city center in Siem Reap.  Our time here was used on team building, which included lots of prayer, worship and seeking God together. Not to mention getting used to the city, food and the heat (the transition from Norwegian winter to Cambodian dry season was harder than we thought). One day, we even had a prayer walk in a temple in the city center and did some street evangelism.

After our week in Siem Reap, we traveled to our first ministry location, Po Peyl, which is located an hour outside of the city. We worked with a missionary couple from the Philippines and their church planting ministry. Our responsibilities for the next three weeks included teaching English class, Bible studies, and sharing testimonies and devotions. When starting to prepare for the first week, we thought that there were only six classes. When we got to the village we learned that there were 24 classes every week. We were not expecting it, but we all joined in the preparations and teaching and had lots of fun with the youth and children.

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With some of the missionaries and children in Po Peyl village 

Outside of teaching, we were involved in community fun-nights, prayer meetings and feeding programs with the children. During the feeding programs, we played games with the kids, removed lice and washed their hair, cut their nails and helped serve them a big meal. We have also gone on “house visits,” where we got to visit and talk with the locals and where we learned a lot about Cambodian culture and traditions. Plus, we were always offered coconuts during these visits! We had a tight schedule everyday, so when there was time off it was always a race to reach the two hammocks.

In addition, we also helped build a fence around the property where this ministry is located. This has made for a funny story. We found that many ants lived here. The first day while clearing the area where we would build the fence, we helped the “The wall of Jericho” fall down, and then we conquered the Kingdom of Ants. In other words, we cleared the area of land where we were preparing to build a fence. Let’s just say the ants were not happy about us cutting down their home. Just imagine seven white people jumping around and yelling in the bushes, while the locals were laughing.

Every Saturday morning, we all traveled back to Siem Reap for a small house church service of eight members (plus our team of seven). All in all, we were five different nationalities. Being in such a small and humble church was very inspiring. Often we think we need to be in large congregations to have powerful worship. While we worshipped at this church, we sang the lyrics “every tongue will confess you are God” in five different languages at the same time. For many of us, it was a very powerful moment and we really felt God’s presence. It was meaningful to all of us to be a part of the everyday life of these missionaries and to truly experience how it is to be in long-term missions (as short term missionaries ourselves). It is inspiring to see how they rely on God for everything and how they include God in everything.

We are excited to see what the rest of outreach has for us!

– Kelsey Lersbak and Elin Iversen (DTS students) 

DTS Outreach Update: Thailand

thai NRTCDTS team in Bangkok, Thailand,  working with students at the Nancy Ross Training Center

One of our DTS teams sent us this report from Thailand, after working a month in Bangkok. Now they have arrived in the northern part of the country, where they will work with the Karen people near Mae Sot. When we arrived in Bangkok, we had no idea what adventures God had for us, which gave us big expectations for our time here! When we took our first steps in this beautiful country, our excitement really started to grow! Even though we were tired after a long flight, we were filled with joy and happiness. It was exciting to think about the month we would have in Bangkok, before heading to some of the northern villages near Mae Sot. Here we are, one month later, so thankful for all we’ve learned during our time here. We’ve stayed at the YWAM base in Bangkok, and it feels like our home! The base has blessed us in so many ways. Showers, familiar toilets (not squatty pottys, which we’re tried outside the base) and Internet are some of the goodies we have here. But the biggest blessing has been the fellowship with people who share a common goal and purpose- to know God and to make Him known. The great thing is that it’s not only a goal, but that its a lifelong journey, as we’ve learned through many of our new friendships!

thai ywam baseView from the base in Bangkok

We have made many Thai friends, and they are beautiful! The culture here is very different from Norway; it is very warm and joyful. If smile at a stranger on the street, they smile back. Everybody is tan here, yet they love people with white skin. Due to this, they use “whitening” creams. So we have to be careful about which skin products we buy! The food here is also very nice! Thai people eat rice and noodles for all their meals- breakfast, lunch and dinner. This was an adjustment for us as Norwegian bread-lovers, but now we really like Thai food! Another thing we love about Thailand is all the markets! So now all the girls on the team wear “alibaba” and “elephant” pants, as we call them. We also have to be careful about the way we sit and the way we’re pointing our fingers or feet. When we’re sitting, we have to have our feet down on the ground, and when we’re pointing, we have to use two fingers. If we’re not doing this, we might offend someone.

To further help us understand the culture, we’ve had a translator with us this last month. There are many people we’ve met who can’t speak English, and our translator has helped bridge that gap of communication. She is an amazing person, and we are so thankful to be working with her! The base in Bangkok is also very diverse. It is a meeting point for Christian teams from all over the world! So not only are we learning about Thailand, but we have also learned about many different nations.

thai 1Praying for the fortuneteller we met, along with our translator

Yet one of the biggest differences is the awareness of the spiritual atmosphere here. There are Buddha statues everywhere, and there are “spirit houses” all over. “Spirit houses” are said to be small houses where spirits of the dead people live. We have also gone for prayer walks during our time here. On one of these walks, we met a fortuneteller. We have noticed that these spiritual things have been challenging at times, as we’ve tried to talk with others about Jesus.

When it comes to ministry, we’ve done many cool things! The first days, we had a cultural introduction, and we went on a prayer walk in two Buddhist temples. The following week, we worked at the Nancy Ross Training Center with the NRTC Student Ministry. We had a lot of fun teaching English! We played many games and laughed so much! We helped prepare food in the restaurant on the base, painted and went on more prayer walks and for evangelism in the nearby university campus. In the evenings, we helped lead a couple of meetings. We praised God through worship, sharing testimonies and playing games.

The two following weeks we served at The Ruth Center. This is a ministry which helps elderly people living in the slums of Bangkok. We washed a huge house, we went on more prayer walks and house visits, and we helped with the “Dream Project.” This project gives elderly people opportunities to make items that they can sell, providing them with an income. On our house visits, we had many good conversations and strong prayers! Many people had a huge reaction to us showing them God’s love. Some of them started crying, and they where really touched by God. Its amazing to see how God is working in these visits and in the ministry! We are learning that it’s not about us, but about Him- everything that happens is to His glory! So far we’ve had a great experience, and we’ve learned a lot! Mae Sot is our next destination, where we’re going to work with the Karen people. Its going to be exiting to see what God has for us there!

Text and Photos: Kine Marita, DTS Student

Student Profile: Henrik

This month, we have asked some of our DTS students about their experiences with DTS here at Skjærgårdsheimen. We’re asked them about what they have learned, why they decided to take a DTS, and what they are looking forward to on outreach. Read what Henrik (21, from Vestfold, Norway) has to say.

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Why did you decide to take a DTS at Skjærgårdsheim?

I decided to take a DTS because I saw that my life needed more focus on what is really important. Last year, I took a short weekend course about relationships and how to live a good life in Christ. After this course, I could see that my view of life was changed, and I wanted those changes to continue. So I started looking for a Bible school, courses, or schoolr to continue the process of learning and growingand something about Discipleship Training School stood out to me. I wanted to give my life to God, but just a little bit, so I could still continue my plans and education. Six months also sounded like the right amount of time for a school- I still had the possibilty to work and earn money the rest of the year. I choose Skjærgårdsheimen because I wanted to do a DTS in Norway.  In the end, I was looking at two different bases, and Skjærgårdsheimen was the one that I liked the best.

What has been the most meaningful week in the DTS so far?

The most meaningful week so far has been the week of teaching with Eleanor Rich. All the weeks have been a part of a bigger picture and all of them are important. But Eleanor’s week was about listening to Gods voice. It’s so basic, but at the same time was it really good to become more secure in the way God communicates with us. This makes all the other aspects of God more trustworthy and just creates a big security in Him!

In what ways has your relationship with God changed since starting the DTS?

Throughout my entire life, others- society, schools, church, my parents and friends-  have tried to tell me what life is all about. And then I formed my own opinion about it- what the world is like, who I am, and God is. This view was not completely wrong according to what God wants and what the Bible says. But this school has been an eye-opener to how God created humans to be and the how our identity is founded in him. I already have a much bigger view about God and how my identity is grounded in him. Before the DTS, I was more concerned with “religious” things and doing “right” Christian things. But that is only about culture. But now I realize God is about and in all cultures.

From my previous experiences, I experienced people judging one other because of what they do, or don’t do. Now, I am very aware of my role in the world, and that it’s all between me and the Creator.

Where are you going on outreach and what are you looking forward to the most?

We are going to Cambodia! I am so excited about it. We have so many opportunities to make a difference for the people there, and to spread Gods love to them through different things.  The ministry I am most excited about at the moment is Justice Water. As far as I know, this project is quite established in Cambodia. But it is a BIG project, and there is still a lot of work to be done. Lack of clean water is a big problem in the third world, and it is the main reason why people become sick in those countries. Hand hygiene is also key to preventing disease. Through the Justice Water project, we will be able to partner with locals who have been trained to bring sustainable clean water tanks and techniques to those who need it most.

We will also have opportunities to teach English classes, work in orphanages, evangelize in the street, and join local church ministry. I really look forward to the outreach, and I am excited to see how it can bring me closer to God, and how I can get to know myself better, the world better, develop relationships with other people, and ultimately how it can challenge me to walk the path God has for me.

 

You can continue to follow the blog for more updates from other DTS students and our outreach teams! Please continue to remember all the students and staff in your prayers.

Photo: YWAM Kristiansand photo database

Learning from the Local Church in Hammerfest

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During our time in Finnmark with Bible to All, we had the privilege of cooperating with some of the local churches in Hammerfest. Not only did the local churches help with many practical details of this trip- arranging places for our team members to stay, providing food, and transportation in Hammerfest- but they were also a vital part of making the outreach happen. We are so thankful for the help they provided and for the new friends we made during our time in Hammerfest!

Filadelfia church in Hammerfest was our church home and “command center” for the week. Not only did some of Filadelfia’s church members open their homes to us, but this church also became our “second home” during the day, where we met for team meals, where we packed Bibles, gathered for worship and prayer, and warmed up in the evenings when we we gave out Bibles.

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We also had the help of the pastor and members from the local Methodist church. The pastor of the Methodist church, Per, was one of our main contacts in Hammerfest. He has a strong commitment to his church and city, and it was so encouraging to see his passion for Jesus and his heart for his friends and neighbors in Hammerfest. He and others in the church joined us for giving out Bibles, and this made the project all the more personal for us- hearing and seeing how they knew or could follow up with the people we were handing Bibles to.

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Another member of the Methodist church, Richard, was one of our most faithful drivers, always offering us rides, whether we were on our way to give out Bibles, or if we needed rides to where we were staying (in the cold or up some of the steep hills of Hammerfest). He had a great sense of humor, always cracking jokes about how we could call him “King Richard” or about the awesome four-wheel-drive vehicle he drove. These church members showed us God’s love through both their words and deeds. They showed us how to live out the Gospel practically, through their hospitality and generosity, and through their words, by encouraging those around them and through prayer.

During our time in Hammerfest, our team’s perspective of God grew. Even when people turned down or did not accept a Bible, the local Christians reminded us of the “big picture”- that God will turn those interactions into something good. We were also encouraged to see the churches’ hope and expectation of how God will use this project for good. They talked about the opportunities they would have to follow up and connect with their co-workers and neighbors. Several hundred people in their city received Bibles, and there will be new opportunities for discipleship. New people might come to church, kids in school will talk about the Bible and their co-workers will ask questions. This created a new excitement in the churches we worked with- to see God do new things in Hammerfest. What a blessing to know the seeds we helped plant will continue to grow and receive water and nourishment, thanks to the local church!

Text: Ana Cline, Communications staff, YWAM Kristiansand                                                        Photos: Thomas Reinink

Giving out Bibles in Hammerfest

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This post originally appeared on the YWAM Norway blog, in connection to the Bible to All project. You can find the original post here

When we at YWAM Kristiansand first heard about the Bible to All project last spring, I think it’s fair to say we had some questions. What will this look like? How much will this cost? Is it practical? How will it be received?

But as we began to pray and seek God about this, we saw a bigger picture. Of his heart for Finnmark and Norway. Of the importance of his principles and truth. How he has created us to know him, and his great love for us. How he longs for all people to know this. Even in Finnmark. As we understood more of this, we’ve looked forward to joining this project.

Our team from YWAM Kristiansand arrived in Hammerfest on Monday night, after around 13 hours of traveling by first car, then plane and bus. We have around 30 people from or connected to YWAM Kristiansand (aka Skjærgårdsheimen) who are part of our team in Hammerfest- DTS students students and staff, YWAM staff, friends of YWAM staff, and both Norwegian and international team members. All of us were excited to come to this beautiful northern part of the country.

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When we arrived on Monday, we started preparing the Bibles and information we would give out, and then settled into the homes where we are staying. There are several families and individuals from local churches who are hosting us and working with us, providing places to stay, meals and transportation during our time here.

After some further preparation on Tuesday, we set out on Tuesday afternoon to deliver the Bibles. We were divided into pairs, and each pair is responsible for a different region or neighborhood of Hammerfest each night. By the end of the week, we will have reached nearly the whole city.

We gave one of the Bibles to a man who was on his way to work. His neighbor overheard us, and when he realized it was free, asked if he could receive a free Bible as well. Soon, another woman came out of the first apartment and asked if she could have one, too. When we asked if she had a Bible, she told us that she used to read from her grandmother’s Bible, but that she wanted her own. We had the joy of giving her a Bible and one for her daughter.

We trust that God is using our interactions and conversations with people to reveal more of himself to the city and people of Hammerfest. Please continue to pray with us for this project, for Hammerfest, for those that have and for those that have yet to receive a Bible.

Ana Cline, Communications staff at YWAM Kristiansand

Staff Profile: Rieneke

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Rieneke (right), one of our new staff

Here is the first in a series of posts about our staff. Rieneke did the Bible School of the Nations (BSN) here last spring, and is now working as DTS staff. We asked Rieneke the following questions, to learn more about her experiences in YWAM so far and her expectations for this upcoming year.

1) Tell us a little about yourself:

 I am 19 years old, and I was born and raised in the Netherlands, in a town called Zwolle. In 2012-2013, I did a “Children@Risk” DTS, in Madison, WI (USA). After my DTS, I returned home to the Netherlands to work full-time for eight months . In March 2014, I moved to Skjærgårdsheimen for the BSN.

 2) Tell us about what you learned during the BSN:

One of the main things I learned during the BSN is that God is constant and trustworthy. As I studied the Bible, I observed that God’s character is unchanging. I saw this over and over again through his interactions with people in the BIble- how he remains the same, and how people who trust him are not let down. He might do things differently than we would expect, but He never lets his people down.

During the BSN, I also learned about the “story” of the Bible- how to read and study the Bible as one big, united story. Though the Bible is comprised of many small “stories,” it is also one big story. And the cool thing is that this story is still going on! We get to be a part of creating this story, right now! God invites us to partner with him, to be a part of his plans and dreams! This means that it actually matters what I do and that I can make a difference, no matter where I am.

 3) Tell us about a memorable experience from your DTS or BSN:

During my DTS outreach in Mexico, I realized that I could make a difference with God. Because of the focus on Children@Risk in my DTS, we worked in a children’s home. In this children’s home, another student and I took care of the boys staying there, and the others of our team worked with the girls. One day a little boy, Juan* came up to me crying because another boy, Diego* had bitten him in the arm.

Together with my leader, we talked to the two boys for over an hour. We found out that Diego had bitten Juan because he came to his bed, with the intention of saying goodnight, but because of Diego’s past, he got upset and the “goodnight” was not received well. We explained to the boys how to treat one another kindly, and told them they could talk to us (or other leaders) next time problems came up, instead of using violence. Though it was cute to see the little boys hug each other after our long talk, I was still unsure if the same thing would happen again next time. Against all my expectations, the next day Diego came to me crying with a similar situation. This time, however, he had not used violence, but came to me instead to solve the situation! That was when I realized that however small things may seem, we can make a difference if we work together with God!

*names changed to respect the privacy of the children

IMG_4167Teaching the Bible in Uganda, BSN outreach 2014

4) Tell us what you’ve learned about and experienced with God during your time in YWAM:

During my time in YWAM, I’ve seen more and more that God really does know best. When I look back, I see his amazing timing- how he teaches me new things or gives me new challenges. A year ago, I can’t imagine trusting and relying on God for financial provision. But because I have seen so much more about God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness throughout the BSN, I am now able to trust God for my finances as full-time YWAM staff.

5) Why did you decide to work as DTS staff, and what are your expectations for this year?

One of the main reasons I decided to come back to staff the DTS this fall is because I believe God told me to (and I value hearing his voice!). Moreover, it is also something I am really excited about. I believe that everyone is called to share about God and His story; we are just called to do this in different ways and places.

If I can play my part in sharing about God and helping others find their part in God’s story and sharing his love with those around us, I get really excited to work with God in the upcoming DTS! I am looking forward to growing together with the students, learning from them, and passing on the things that God has taught me already. I enjoy seeing how God works with different people and am definitely excited to see what God has in store for the students in the DTS this fall.

We are excited that Rieneke has joined us as staff and for the gifts she brings to YWAM Kristiansand! Continue to check out the blog to read about our schools, staff and students!

Photos courtesy of:  Rieneke, DTS staff