Friday, November 30, 2012

North and South: Irish Edition

For our two weeks in Ireland, we stayed in two places. The first was in Rostrevor, Northern Ireland, which is just across a bay from the Republic of Ireland.

The YWAM base that we stayed at was right on the water, and the week that we spent there was a time of rejuvenation after Scotland. We painted and picked up trash and prayed and led services, but we also spent a lot of time in personal reflection and learning about God. The bases's resident nun, Anna Mary, taught us about the Catholic/Protestant troubles that have ripped Northern Ireland apart for decades.
We also hiked - a lot. In our free times, we hiked to the top of the mountains outside our back door and jumped from peak to peak. It was exhilarating to be so close to the magnificence of God's creation in that way. I always speak to God more easily on mountain tops, so it was a real blessing to me.
My favorite part of the trip was the afternoon that I spent singing in a nursing home. The people were hilarious, even though they were deadpan at my hilarious joke (Question: What kind of cheese is not yours? Answer: Nacho cheese!).
The thing that I learned most clearly in Northern Ireland was how praying consistently for a place and its people can change things. We have the ability to transform things in the spiritual realm, and the team at YWAM Northern Ireland have done that by daily praying for their city and reaching out to its residents. I have begun to do the same thing for London. If you think of it, I'd love for you to pray with me.

This is the view from the front yard of the base:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Glasgow from Glass Lens

We stayed in Glasgow, Scotland for two weeks. We lived in an old homeless shelter and helped the new shelter with cleaning and sorting food. We also worked with Destiny's Angels, an organization that helps battered women and prostitutes, among other people, to rebuilt their lives. When we weren't doing that, we did a lot of street evangelism.

This is our group doing street evangelism. We had free face painting, and we also had a sheet of paper on the ground with a question, such as, "What is your biggest wish?" People stopped to write their answers, and we started conversations with them.
This is a homeless woman that I met on a bridge and fed.
And finally, this is Amy Lucas and me outside the homeless shelter.
This is a picture of the whole team on our day off in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Round Trip - Wales

The time has come to post my outreach photographs! I am sitting on a couch on a rainy day in London, and I finally have the time to invite you guys into my time of outreach.

First stop: Wales

We stayed in Cardiff for two weeks in late September/early October. We went up to the Welsh Valleys nearly every day and passed out flyers for a service that we were holding in which we hoped that people would encounter God.

I had the opportunity to spend a night at a Pakistani woman's house, and in between being stuffed with spicy food and laughing, I got a taste of life in rural Wales. It's a damp, dark, cold place, and Treherbert, the town in which we stayed and worked, there was heavy drug use and alcoholism. The people of Treherbert never lifted their eyes to the beautiful mountains around them; they were too consumed by their misery. But for our team, it was impossible not to see God in those surroundings.

Here are some pictures of Treherbert:


And these are of Cardiff:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Newcastle, England

I am here with the final team newsletter from our time on outreach! Here is the team newsletter about Newcastle, England:

Where we last left off, we had left Cork and were headed to Newcastle. We left Cork at 5pm on Tuesday afternoon, knowing it would be about 24 hours until we arrived in Newcastle. God provided remarkably for our team during this time of travel. We stopped in Belfast at 2am and our next bus was not to leave until 6am. Since we were not on an overnight bus, we were not allowed in a bus station. Thankfully, there was a 24hour McDonald’s within walking distance. We trudged through the rain with our considerable amount of luggage only to arrive at an overcrowded dining room filled with drunken University students in Halloween costume. Through prayer, Mats’s quick thinking, and the blessing of God, our team was actually given the entire second floor of McDonald’s all to ourselves.  At 5am, we left for the bus station to continue our journey with three more buses and a ferry.

Twelve eventful hours later, we arrived, tired, sleep-deprived and in desperate need of showers in Newcastle. Here we met our new housemates. During our time in Newcastle, we lived in a YWAM house with four guys from the Netherlands, England and Norway. Life with these four men was never dull. It was quite different from our base in London, but we always felt welcomed and wanted by these new brothers.

The Newcastle YWAM team organized a large evangelism event called The God Story. Our main purpose in Newcastle was to promote the event and to participate in it as the drama team. Unbeknownst to the Discipleship Training School (DTS) students, our first activity in Newcastle was to be a faith day. A faith day is a day where all eight of us left the house at 10:30am with no money and no food and were told not to return until 9pm. Before leaving we prayed for direction from God and left the house in total faith that He would direct the day. When we left, we felt God tell us to turn right and this was the first of many vague and confusing directions.

To describe this day in detail would take many pages, but in short, God provided what we needed right when we needed it. For example, one of the team members felt the effects of low blood sugar and within five minutes of seeking God’s help, He directed us to a Catholic church, where we were given coffee and biscuits.

Not only did God provide, but He also blessed our team unexpectedly. Late in the afternoon, when we were cold and discouraged, we headed to St. Nicholas’s Cathedral, a beautiful Anglican church, to rest. We were sitting and writing notes of encouragement to hand out on the street later that evening, when a choir started practicing for a Requiem Mass in honor of All Souls Day. We stayed for the service and while none of us are from the Anglican tradition, our spirits were rejuvenated by a time of worship in such a beautiful place.

After the service, we went back into the city to hand out our notes of encouragement. By 8pm we were exhausted and hungry and not looking forward to the hour walk home. One of our team members felt called to ask for a free bus ride home. While not all of us were convinced, we supported and encouraged her and stood faithfully by the bus stop as she stepped courageously onto the bus to make the request. Our prayers were obvious when, to our surprise and delight, the bus driver said yes before she had even finished asking her question. The eight of us happily ran onto the bus, climbed up to the top, and collapsed into bus seats for an enjoyable ride home. When we got home, it was really fun to share all that God had done with our leaders and discuss all that He had taught us. We also enjoyed eating our £2 kebabs.

The next week of our time was spent in drama practice and flyering, handing out flyers to advertise The God Story. The plan was to perform the drama to the Lifehouse song, Everything, on the Friday night of the event and to perform a drama called The Clincher, one we had never seen before, on Saturday night. We partnered with a team from the Netherlands for our time handing out flyers in the City Centre. All together we passed out about 15,000 flyers and had the opportunity to speak with many people about God.

This is the first time The God Story was held outside of the Netherlands, and we were excited to be a part of it. The first night about 150 young people attended for a night of music, dancing, rapping and our drama. The first half of the evening is primarily entertainment, and the second half, introduced by our drama, is a serious and clear representation of Christ and the Gospel. At the end of the evening, at least 25 young people made a decision for Christ.

The following evening, after a full day of flyering, the event started as expected. About 80 young people were there enjoying some games and music when all of a sudden the fire alarm went off. Everyone evacuated, with or without jackets, into the cool night, to the assembly point at the next block. The team’s prayers were answered when we were allowed back in about 30 minutes later, roughly the same number of people re-entered the building. We continued the evening with little change. The night ended with 10 more young people committing their lives to Christ.

Our whole team was encouraged and thankful to participate in such a powerful event. Acting in dramas on stage was a very new experience for many of us. Yet, we found our nerves give way to true worship of God while acting. Both dramas were well received and many commented on how powerful they were.

Our last day of outreach was spent as a day of remembrance and honour of what God has done in all of our lives during this DTS. We started the day in praising God for all He had done, the things He has taught us and how He moved. We ended our day with special team time. One team member would sit in the centre of a circle and the other members would share what they love and appreciate about them as well as words of encouragement and affirmation.

Our two months of outreach have come and gone faster than we can believe. We have seen God move in incredible and unexpected ways and we have grown even closer as a team. As we are preparing to return to London, and looking ahead to our futures, we will never forget the lessons learned over these months or the family members we have gained along the way. Thank you for your continued prayer and support. Please continue to pray as we say some difficult goodbyes and trust God for our next steps.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Glasgow, Scotland

This is the team newsletter from Glasgow, Scotland.

Our team arrived in Glasgow, Scotland without clear direction of what our two weeks there would be like. We were hosted by the Glasgow City Mission, the first city mission in the world! We arrived after dark, and Andrew from the mission picked us up from the bus station. Most of us literally piled into the back of his van and rode in the dark across town to the building we’d call home for two weeks. It was an exciting introduction to our time in the city for sure.

Our first few days in Glasgow were spent in preparation. We gave the building, an extra one the mission uses to house the homeless in the winter months, a deep and thorough clean and even painted much of it. We also spent a lot of time in prayer for the city and asking God what He had for us to do in our time there.

Our first Sunday in Glasgow we attended Destiny Church as a team. After the service we met many members of the congregation who gave us lots of ideas for things we could do to bless their city during our time there.

We started our street evangelism Monday in the city centre by going off on our own and speaking with people on the street. The people of Glasgow are open to speak, and approaching someone by saying “hello, my name is and I am from, what is yours” elicits a response! If you continue on and say “what do you think of Jesus” most will give you a answer. It’s a quite different atmosphere from London.

During Arise All Nations, the outreach we participated in during the Olympics, some of the team evangelized with the team from Colombia and learned a neat evangelism technique. We taped large white paper to the ground in city centre and wrote a question at the top, either “what is your biggest wish” or “what do you hope for” and had markers on the paper. We’d ask the people who walked by the question and invite them to write their answer. This simple technique provided so many opportunities to speak with people, especially young people. So many were willing to share their answers to the question, to speak with us, and we were able to pray with many. When people asked why we were doing that we told them we’re Christians and will pray for everyone who wrote something down that night. It was a great way to engage people in conversation about God. We used the paper method multiple days and found each day it got better and better.

While some of the team engaged with people over the questions, another part of the team did face painting. They painted the faces of countless children and young adults. While they painted (and did a great job of making the children look like butterflies and Spiderman, rather than blobs on the faces of the squirmy children), they’d pray for the people they were blessing and their parents, while others on the team would speak with their parents. It was a fun way to speak with people and tell them the reason they were painting faces is because we love God and God loves them, too.

The Glasgow City Mission has a food pantry we lovingly called the cannery. There are large shelves of canned food organized by date, ready to be given to the hungry in the city. We were in Glasgow during their harvest season, and we were able to help in the cannery twice. The first time we organized the shelves, making room for future cans. The second time we sorted and put away fourteen large boxes (boxes that would hold four seated team members) of food. Our team worked together like a well oiled machine and we surprised Andrew with how quickly and efficiently we worked.

When we met the members of Destiny Church, we learned about Destiny’s Angels, their mercy ministry to the city. We spent a morning in their facility helping in various areas, cleaning, sorting clothing donations, helping in the office and preparing bags of food for distribution. We also helped at two of their drop in tea times, one for the homeless, and the other for women affected by abuse, prison and prostitution and by inviting people to the drop ins. It was great to work with another ministry in Glasgow and see the people who genuinely care for the people of their city and love them as the hands and feet of Christ.

We had one day off while we were in Scotland, and we used it to go to Edinburgh. We walked up a large hill/mountain (the name changed depending on what team member was speaking and where they are from) to enjoy the view of the city. From the mountain we walked the Royal Mile, between a royal palace and the ancient castle. We enjoyed the outside of the castle and then split up and everyone went off to see what they wanted. Some enjoyed a nice meal, a walk around the city and shopping while others took in more of the sights. Edinburgh is a much older city than Glasgow, and as a team we learned each city has its own charm.

One of the final things we did in Glasgow was attend an Ethiopian church. While on the street, Israel met a pastor from Ethiopia and he invited us to his church. The team members who are in the drama, Masks went and performed it for the church. Amy explained the drama, I shared my testimony and Jason shared about our evangelism in Glasgow. Israel preached in his native language. The people of the church were extremely welcoming towards us and were glad we cared enough of their city to come and tell the residents about Jesus.

While we did not know what to expect going into Glasgow, we clearly saw God. We prayed for countless people, told many about the love of God, and were able to help the Glasgow City Mission in their preparations for their winter shelter. Our time in Scotland was fruitful and made us even more excited for what God is going to do on the next portion of our outreach in the Republic of Ireland.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Outreach Update

Hey guys,

I am so sorry that I haven't updated in ages; I have not had computer access in about a month. I will catch up when I return to London later this week. I will eventually post the update from the team time in Glasgow, Scotland, but for now, here is an update that my roommate, Laura, wrote about the team time in Northern Ireland and Ireland:

Our team’s time on outreach has just flown by!  We are currently in Newcastle, England and preparing to head back to London in a few days.  But before we go back, we want to tell you all about our time in Rostrever, Northern Ireland and Cork, Ireland.

We travelled from Glasgow, Scotland to Northern Ireland and had quite the adventure.  The trip involved busses and a ferry, and unfortunately many of our team members experienced some seasickness on the ship.  The ferry was quite posh with shopping and many seating areas, and those of us who were not ill enjoyed the trip.  By the time we arrived at the YWAM base, An Cuan, in Northern Ireland we were so relieved!  It was a long travel day and so great to make it to our final destination.

We did not know what to expect for out time at the base, but were excited to stand beside the team there and support them in whatever they needed.  Our time in Rostrever was much more relaxed than both Glasgow and Cardiff and was a welcome change of pace for the team.  We spent hours praying, for Rostrever, for Northern Ireland and Ireland to unite, and for God to move in the area.

There is a YWAM team called Fire and Fragrance from the Hawaii base who moved to Northern Ireland and is committed to the area.  We participated in many of their prayer and worship meetings, and Laura and Valaurie even lead one, which included communion.  It was a great time listening for God’s voice, and supporting the people and the area in prayer.

One day our team split up into two groups and went out to love the people of Rostrever.   One team went to a nursing home and spoke with residents and some sang songs for them.  The residents enjoyed the conversations and one woman even recommended finding an Irish husband by winking at the men on the streets!  The other team prayed, walked through the neighbourhood and spoke with the people they met along the way.  Seeing the area and the river was a great introduction to the city for them.

There is a large rock on a nearby mountain used by Druids for worship and there are many myths and legends surrounding the rock.  We walked up the hill as a team and had a time of praise, worship and prayer.  There is something special about being in a place where you can see the entire area, even the Republic of Ireland, and praising God and pleading for His change to come over the area.

Many on the team really enjoyed being on the mountain and climbed even higher two other days as a group.  They found the experience to be amazing.  It was muddy, exhausting and everyone came back with wet and muddy feet, but said it was well worth it.  After forty minutes of climbing you can see two countries, two coasts and find God’s splendour clearly displayed.

Part of the base’s priority is to reach out to their immediate community.  We helped in this by picking up rubbish from the streets while praying for the area and a group of us even went to a small pub one night!  We spoke with the people at the pub and enjoyed the traditional Irish music by local musicians.

The base hosts two worship nights during the week.  We attended two as a team and all clearly felt the presence of God.  Elizabeth shared her testimony with the people in attendance and encouraged many in their own relationship with God.  Beth, Jason, Mats and Rora (me) led worship the night our entire team lead the weekday service.  We set up stations throughout the room where people could wash their hands in order to come to God with clean hands and pure hearts, an art table, communion and prayer.  It was an amazing time for us as a team, and also for those who attended.

Part of our mission while on the base was to bless the people who live there.  We painted the apartment of a family on staff, a bedroom for the incoming discipleship training school students (DTS), deep cleaned the kitchen and even made a large batch of applesauce for the DTS students to enjoy with their breakfasts!

After what felt like a much too short week in Northern Ireland we got on the bus and headed to Cork in the Republic of Ireland.  We had to make the adjustment from Pounds to Euros and to gas heaters from radiators in the church we stayed in!

Our goal in Cork was to bless the church.  The church has been in existence for decades, but is struggling right now.  We spent days painting the front of the church building to make it more inviting.  We combined our painting with evangelism and gave out much Christian literature and even a few Bibles.  Many who passed by on the sidewalk stopped to talk and encourage us in our painting, as they said they really appreciated the new look.

While at the church we blew a fuse which took almost 24 hours for our lights to come back.  We were extremely thankful for the gas heaters as we spent an evening crowded around them and talking.  We shared our most embarrassing moments of dts, our favourites, what we have learned and other funny stories from our time together.  Our night of no power turned out to be one of our favourite nights of our entire dts!

Our team lead the entire Sunday morning worship service for the congregation.  Everyone pitched in and it was well received. The people in the Masks drama performed, showing the people that we as Christians sometimes hide behind a mask rather than showing our true feelings and fears.

The Sunday morning service was so great we invited the congregation back for a special Monday evening service, extremely similar to the one we hosted in Rostrever.  Those who attended, along with the team, had a beautiful time with God.

The church hosts a monthly prayer meeting we joined in on.  We were all encouraged by the percentage of the congregation in attendance and their obvious love for their city and for God.  We left confident that God is going to move through that church and the people of Cork will feel the love of God through His people.

Upon leaving Cork we embarked on a 24 hour journey back to England, our home country!  More on that to come...