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.

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.

Staff Profile: Rieneke

rieneke

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

Changing Lives in Congo, One Clean Foot at a Time

anna hobbesNathan “Hobbes” and Anna Wagner are the school leaders for the Bible School of the Nations (BSN). This summer, they were outreach leaders for the BSN outreach to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they partnered with the BELT (Biblical Education and Leadership Training). Part of this program and their outreach included teaching biblical seminars to local pastors and community leaders. Anna and Hobbes describe some of their experiences and the impact the BSN outreach had on the people of Congo. 

After our plane ride to Uganda, a night spent sleeping on airport chairs, an 8-seater plane ride to the Congo and a 12-hour jeep ride down a very bumpy road, we finally arrived in Poko, a town in a far-off corner of the jungle in the Congo. Over 300 people surrounded the car to welcome us with singing and dancing. It was all a little overwhelming, but we also felt very honored. We’ve never seen a welcome like that before! The day after our arrival, we started the BELT seminar, which we taught together with three of the BSN students on our team.

It was a hot afternoon, and we were over 100 people in the church. The theme we were teaching about was forgiveness and reconciliation. After we finished the teaching, people began washing the feet of those they had forgiven or had asked forgiveness from. At first, we thought that people were getting out their handkerchiefs because it was so warm outside, but then we realized that many of them were crying as relationships were being healed: between tribes, generations and people of different positions. One lady was crying as she washed the feet of her husband who now lived with another woman. When she could have so easily chosen bitterness, she chose forgiveness. Seeing people changed in these ways makes it easy for us to travel to remote places and do what we do.

foot washing congo

Relationships were healed as many of the participants washed each others feet, asking for forgiveness and praying for one another. 

During our outreach, we also partnered with Kairos, an organization which is working to make an oral Bible available for local languages all over the world.  According to statistics, almost half the population of the Congo doesn’t know how to read. With over 200 known languages in the nation, many people don’t even have the Bible in their own language yet. That’s why it was so exciting for us to partner with Kairos to make this oral Bible, in the local language of Zande, during our time in Poko. Six Zande speakers recorded 70 stories and we edited them with the help of a local school teacher –all with the sounds of goats and chickens in the background.  The finished product was put onto solar powered audio players and distributed, to the joy of the Zande speakers.

We are so thankful for the passion that Anna, Hobbes, and the BSN have for bringing God’s Word to the nations. Please pray for the continued work that BSN and BELT teams are doing- that more people would be equipped, trained and transformed with the Word of God through these programs. You can read more about BSN here and BELT here.