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.
Note: This was written by some of students of the 2015/2016 DTS chronicling their outreach to Cambodia and Thailand in Winter 2016.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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
Helene is one of our DTS students and we have asked her to write from her outreach in Thailand and Cambodia. She will write frequently and you can follow what she and her team are experiencing in an another culture, with team life, and what God is doing trough their lives.
The lights have been turned off. Around me people are trying to sleep. For most of them, including me, it’s not working. Not so weird considered that the clock just turned 8 pm (Norwegian time). In approximately 3 hours we will arrive in Asia, and in the busy streets of Bangkok. The moment we have been waiting for since we applied for the DTS, which now seems a bit scary, is here – outreach! Tears have been shared, the last loaf of bread with brown cheese have been eaten, and we have left our stiletto heels at home. At least for the next 9 weeks.
Cultural changes are coming our way, and we couldn’t be more excited. For the cold showers, the toilet visits without toilet paper, and “the unknown amount of rice”. But what we really look forward to is to see God change people’s lives. When you don’t really know what you’re traveling to, it’s hard to know what you can expect. How is the language, the climate, the humor and the social behavior? I guess we’ll find out. But one thing I do expect, is to listen to what God wants us to do, use the authority given to us by Him, and see great things take place. See healing happen, hearts being softened, see villages get clean water, and experience people getting a revelation about Gods grace and love for them.
24 hours have gone by, and I’m now laying on the floor of a bamboo cabin, which bay the way is my bed, and thinking about the last day. After 10 hours in plane, 10 hours in bus, and a lot of waiting, we have arrived the village and the YWAM base in Way Te Loo. We have experienced to sit in the back of a pick-up truck, while driving under the same shiny stars as in Norway; joy. I’ve also experienced the feeling of puking during the bus ride; not so much joy. But it’s all a part of this huge adventure we call outreach. There is all ready a lot of different cultural challenges, like our beds, our clothes, and the sanitary conditions. And I’m sure we’ll experience a lot more, both good and not so good situations, that will shape us as people.
I believe that God has many plans for this journey, and He has already made the road ready for us to walk on. I guess the best thing is to trust that the maker of heaven and earth knows best. And did you know, all this goes for your life as well!? You don’t need to travel the world for loving the people around you. Just think; who can I make a difference for today? And I’m sure you’ll find an answer.
You can also be a part of making a change, by praying for us. We would appreciate that more than you could imagine. Thank you! God bless you.
Here is a devotion from one of our DTS Staff, Ana Cline, while one of our teams recently visited a school in Bergen. The text for the day was Matthew 6:24-34.
Lately, God has been teaching me a lot about stress. I’m someone that can easily feel stressed. Maybe this is because I’m a person who likes to plan and feel organized, and when things don’t go “according to the plan,” it’s easy to stress or worry. To worry if things will turn out the way I think they should.
But God has been reminding me that stress is NOT a good thing. Stress is something that can limit the joy and peace he wants to give us. In Matthew 6:24-34, Jesus tells us pretty directly not to give room for worry.
In day-to-day planning and life, I can easily get caught up in stress. Day-to-day needs or interactions seem to present “worries” that often fill my head. I often notice this worries starting with “what if” questions.
“What if I don’t have enough money this month?”
“What if this doesn’t turn out the way it should?”
“What if I get sick?”
“What if this person doesn’t like me?”
You see how easy these questions and unrealistic situations develop. These “what-if” questions generally cause worry about things that will never even happen, causing unnecessary stress!
In Matthew 6, Jesus says “not to worry about your life, what you will drink or eat, or your body, what you will wear.” For me, this is a tangible reminder that God sees my life down to the daily necessities. If the creator of the universe tells me that he will provide for my daily food and clothing, why do I waste time and energy worrying? Jesus also reminds us that worrying does no good; we certainly can’t add any time to our lives by worrying (Matthew 6:27), so why do we spend so much time doing this?
Not only does God tell us that he will provide for our needs, but he tells us why: because we are valuable to him. He isn’t just providing for our needs because he has to or out of obligation, but because he is a loving Father and Creator! As his children, we are made in his image, and he wants to provide for our needs, no matter how big or small.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Matthew 6: 25-27