Tuesday, April 28, 2015

bridge building

One month. Four countries.

And now, a week and a half after returning to London, I am still finding the faithfulness of God through all of it. I am beginning to understand a bit of how He worked to prepare our team for each city and worked in each of our hearts as we traveled across central Europe together.

We end every internship with an outreach, and to end the Winter 2015 internship, we traveled to Berlin, Prague, Vienna, and Milan. I had the pleasure of going to three countries I'd never thought I'd get to travel to, and to return to Italy and feel sun on my skin for the first time in seven months. But more than that, I was amazed at the openness of the people to speak to us. I have grown used to people in London, to being ever-so-politely told that I am wrong, that God does not exist, and that the church is an out-dated institution. But in the four cities that we travelled to, I found myself shoving aside language barriers, tripping over Spanish words, learning to listen to Italian, and hearing the pains of people's hearts.

People don't want to talk about their happiest moments with strangers. I don't know why that is, but I have found that often, if you take the time to see them with eyes of Love, they will share with you the things that are most hurting them. I wasn't prepared for it the first time a woman spilled her heart to me in Spanish, and I didn't have the words to translate to my intern, but she saw the tears in Gloria's eyes, and she knew. So we prayed in incorrect verb tenses and tried not to let our mascara run, and in the middle of a square in Prague, I watched Gloria hear from God.

In Berlin, I talked with several people who had never before met a Christian. The city is so new, the same age as me, and in its rebuilding, they are glorifying the past pain. There are memorials to the Berlin Wall everywhere, and markers still divide East Berlin from West Berlin. When I found myself singing "Hometown Glory" where the Berlin Wall used to stand, I saw God's hand. Because I am a girl from the USA, but He placed me there, singing a song about a united city to a city that is still struggling to come together, and I know that it was the result of following Him. I could not have planned that moment. On our team, we come from countries that have fought against each other numerous times across history, yet we live in one house together. We are God's unification in action.

Vienna was a time of refreshing for me, because we stayed at an International House of Prayer with a worship and prayer room that we could use whenever we wanted. After being on outreach for three weeks, it was wonderful to spend time just sitting with God, writing new songs, and remembering to listen. One evening, we went out to Stephansplatz to perform and do evangelism, and within two minutes of beginning, we were surrounded by a crowd. They sang along and made videos, and in the midst of it, we told them all about the God who created them and the Saviour who loves them desperately. They were so excited to find out more about Him. We also saw several people come to Christ in Vienna.

In Italy, we got to work with both the YWAM team and with a church, and they took amazing care of us. The church made us dinner every night (In Italy, pasta is just the first course), and afterwards, we went out to do evangelism at Milan Design Week. Italian culture makes it perfectly normal to stand around and chat to strangers, so we met a lot of people as we performed and did evangelism. It was also really impressive to see the church members out there with us, talking to people and praying with them. And we finally got to visit the YWAM team in Milan, who came to Bones with us in 2013. They planned so many events for us before we even got there and made sure that things ran smoothly.

When we came back from outreach, we had five days to prepare our end of internship exhibition. It took a lot of work, but on Thursday night, we saw a lot of people that we'd never met come into the church to see our art. One of the nursery teachers from next door to the church asked me if we were doing it to show everyone how amazing we were. I got to tell her that we were doing it to show the amazing change that God had worked in our lives over the last three months.

For me, that's the most gratifying part of looking back over the outreach. Not only did God change me and hand me back hope and joy, but He used me to speak to people from dozens of nations. He used me in languages that I don't speak well and in places I never thought that I'd get to go. It's so exciting to get to be a part of God's Kingdom here on Earth and to realise that the King of the Universe takes the time to transform sinners and rebels and uses them to do His work here.

On our first day in Berlin, we got to go into the Parliament with a member of Parliament. At the end, we got to pray with him and for his work in the country.

In Berlin, we also performed in various places in the city. This was in a plaza right where the Berlin Wall used to stand.

In Prague, we washed windows at a local school.

We also took advantage of all of the tourists to talk to people everywhere.

Vienna had some of my favourite times of evangelism and performance in the trip. On our last day, we got to work with YWAM Norway to do performances in Stephansplatz with a permit and a sound system.

This is Christian preaching during the impromptu performance in Stephansplatz on our first day in Vienna, where the crowd came and took video and stayed, asking us to do more. We got to talk with so many of them about Jesus's love for them.

In Milan, we held a seminar to teach the church about using arts in evangelism to bring God's Kingdom to Milan. Several of us taught on various topics, such as Improvisation in Leadership (my lesson), to Teamwork (Carrie and Peri taught what they learned by leading this school together). After the lessons, we taught them the artistic skills we use in evangelism.

Our visual artists did performance art in Milan, as well, and talking to people while they did it. I love watching them use their skills in public for God.

Me with two of my photos (the ones to the right) at the exhibition that we held in Notting Hill.