Tuesday, January 23, 2018

hope is rising

This update is long overdue, especially considering that I met many of you during my ten-day visit to the States in December. It was amazing to put faces to the people who support me and to get to pray alongside you for the church that our team is planting, for our staff, for the homeless, and for getting to be God's hands and feet in London. 

All of that being said, I don't have an excuse for not writing. We are in our quiet season; when the leadership school students and arts interns arrive in the first week of February, we will begin a long streak of schools that will last until the Christmas season. The weeks have been spent preparing our various houses for that onslaught of students, meeting around tables to discuss the hopes and dreams God has put on our hearts for 2018 (and to put back at God's feet the things that we feel we could have done differently), and sorting through the piles of things that we put off to do "when we have more time." But "more time" is almost over; next week, our whole base heads to Brussels for our base retreat, and when we get back, the students arrive. 

Whilst I was lying in my childhood bed in my parents' house, I found myself asking God for one thing over and over again. I had the space that I needed from London and the perspective from talking to all of you about 2017, and I realised that, somewhere along the way, I got so focused on the day-to-day activities of various schools and ministries that I forgot to hope. You have to lift your eyes to hope. You have to look beyond the circle of what you are holding in your own arms to the heavens so that you can see that there is a way that we cannot even fathom. And that way is far better than the suppositions that we make on a daily basis. I can keep my eyes level and look at tomorrow, but when I do that, I forget to factor in that God will be next to me. Chances are that He will do something that I don't expect. So I need to learn again how to look up, to see my situations reflected in the Light of Heaven. 

Part of that hoping and receiving beyond what I expected has been the opportunity to go on several ministry trips in the first months of this year. I will be travelling to Brussels, Geneva, and New York City in January, February, and March. I am excited to meet with other believers around the world, to make connections that will hopefully lead to us working together, and to see what God is doing where I am not actively working. Going on ministry trips and outreaches gives me a heart for the whole world and helps me from getting self-focused on what we are doing in London. London is but a piece of God's plan! In the midst of my excitement, though, is the realisation that my bank account also did not expect these trips. God is faithful, and I trust Him (I feel like I always reiterate that at this point). If He wants me in these places, He will make a way. But also, if you are wondering what area of need I have right now, this is it. I need support that goes directly to me and my bank account for travel, food, and the other necessities of life that are not covered by my staff fees in YWAM. If you'd like to help in that area and don't know how, please just email me at deborahestevenson@gmail.com. 

I also briefly mentioned above that we have an arts internship and a leadership school starting in February. You are probably tired of hearing about arts internships by now, but this leadership school is our first one ever! We saw a need to raise up the next generation to lead in a Godly way. True leadership, the Bible says, is to be the servant of all. It also means being able to come under authority, being rooted and grounded, and many, many other things that I have come to learn in my time as a part of this team. So this February, we have young people from around the world coming to a three-month leadership school. It is always a growing experience, meaning both full of joy and full of humbling, to do something for the first time. Please pray for our team as we welcome these young leaders to our family! 

Melo and Andres have also recently returned from their honeymoon, and the three of us have begun work on YWAM London Radiant's first-ever March DTS. Yes, we are running two discipleship training schools this year (more room for humility and discovery with God!), and we need your prayer as well as we work through these next months of preparing for the students that are currently applying. 

And as ever, soon we will need a new house for all of these people. God has laid different areas of London on our hearts, and we need wisdom to know where He is leading us next (and open doors and finances...). We also desperately need a space for all of the schools to meet in. Space is one of our constant challenges in London, as you have probably discovered. I know that there are many of you who pray for us on a daily and weekly basis, so if you could pray for our schools that are coming up and for the space that we need, we trust that we will see the fruits of that!

Finally (finally is probably what you are thinking, as well!), I want to thank all of you that I saw in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. When we all prayed together for Hope and Anchor Community Church, or when you came to tell me that you were praying for and thinking of our team, it encouraged me. We don't take it lightly when you say that you are praying. We know the power of prayer, and it is incredible to see you wield that power. So, from all of us at YWAM London Radiant, thank you for your faithfulness.