“…and another year goes by…”

I remember when I landed in Texas on August 17th, 2012, after a long flight from my hometown Boise, ID. I got off the plane, my eyes red from crying most of the flight over (after an emotional goodbye with my family and best friend), and made my way to the baggage claim. I got a text from my house mentor, someone I had never met and only talked to on the phone briefly, and told her I was short and wearing an orange shirt. She found me and I remember walking out of the airport and being smacked in the face with the heat and humidity that makes mid-August infamous in Texas for. The drive to my apartment was so much to take in. The sky felt so huge…and I realized that’s because there were no mountains. Everything was flat. And brown. I remember thinking, ok, Lord, here I am sacrificing this year to You like You asked. Let’s get it over with so I can get on with the life I’ve dreamed of having – being a pilot in the Air Force, maybe studying Journalism, and eventually becoming a missionary pilot (long down the road, that is).

Here I am, nearly a year later, still disliking Texas and the heat as much as when I first came, but so thankful for the year I’ve had here and so completely changed by the Lord that I’ll be coming back to live here and serve as a full-time staff member of Gospel For Asia for as long as the Lord wills me to. Isn’t that crazy? Tell me this is where I would be a year ago and I would have smacked you! Just kidding. But seriously, when you buckle down and seek the Lord’s will – actually desire to know what HE wants for you, not what YOU would like Him to want for you – surprising things are going to happen. You might just have to give up dreams you’ve cherished since you were tiny. You might have to give up comforts, like living in an area of the country that is absolutely beautiful and perfect to go to one that nearly kills you with its humidity and heat and insanely large insects. You might have to accept the fact that you won’t be around for as many family holidays as you would like…you might miss important family milestones and even feel a bit lonely, seperated from the people you’ve lived with and loved all your life.

It’s different for each person, but giving things up comes with picking up your cross and following our Savior. Does that sound depressing? It’s difficult, yes. But when I understand that the desires of my heart are now irreversably entwined with the desires the Lord has for me, and when I dwell on His incredible love, and how like in Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete only in Him, and chapter 3:3, my life is hidden with Christ, and He is now my life, then my perspective changes and there is nothing I would rather be doing than following where He leads.

Home is with Him. That’s one thing I’ve learned this year. If He calls me to Antarctica it would be all right, because He is with me in Antarctica and I am fulfilling the purpose He created me for by obeying Him.

Spending a year here at Gospel For Asia’s School of Discipleship has taught me a marvelous paradox…to obtain freedom, I must become a slave. To experiance life to the fullest, I must die – only in sacrifice will I gain my heart’s desire. Prayer is the most powerful weapon given to mankind – the ability to enter the presence of the Lord God Almighty and to intercede before His throne. Fellowship and transparency with the body of believers is vital to spiritual growth. Brokenness and submission are worthy goals I will be striving all my life to attain. And the greatest of all is LOVE.

As my year here ends, so does this chapter of my life. But the full story, the great adventure, is just beginning.

So Much learning!

I am learning a ton of new things here at School of Discipleship…. but don’t worry…. I still do manage to have fun 🙂 Like today, for example… we got to start our house meeting before supper, then have a wonderful supper of barbequed burgers, macaroni salad, chips, and pickles….

Then, best of all 😉 ice cream, chocolate sauce and bananas for dessert 🙂 It was scrumptious!! While enjoying our dessert, we finished our house meeting. Tonight was an evening where a few of us girls were having tons of fun just being silly 🙂 After fooling around for a bit, we got down to doing our assignments…

Right now, we are going through the book Before You Hit the Wall, along with the booklet Learning to Pray, the combination of these two are called Spiritual Disciplines. Prayer is a huge part of the ministry of Gospel for Asia, and it is an area that I consistently need to work on at this point in my life. Going through this book has been quite helpful, it has given me quite a bit of head knowledge, but the issue is that now I need to get down to it and make the choice to apply what I am learning, otherwise this year will benefit me very little!

Sometimes the choices that we have in life can be aggravating, and we complain that we have too many, but then when we were not given as many choices…. we complained that we didn’t have enough choices! I am so glad that God is in heaven, and that He knows what we are in need of and what will be a hindrance to us! May God be praised!

 

Learning to Pray

The Lord has definitely been trying to teach me different things since I have been in Stoney Creek serving as a student for Gospel for Asia. The staff people had said that I (as a student), would have to learn to die to myself but I didn’t really think a whole lot about it until I was actually into the program. It was then that I noticed that God wanted me to give up everything! My plans, my ways of doing things, and my will is what I needed to learn to totally submit to God. Praise the Lord that He is working in my life in that area, not that I have achieved everything but I am getting there!

God has been teaching me that I need to pray more. I need to be a person that is totally devoted to praying for others and not just me. I need to be praying for the nations around me and for those in other countries. I want to have more of a passion and a burden for the lost souls around me. I never realized until I came to Gospel For Asia that there was so many people that have never heard the Gospel of Jesus being preached. They have never even heard of His Name! That’s something that was very shocking to me! I really appreciate at Gospel For Asia that they have so many prayer times together. They take the time to pray and stand in the gap for these nations. They are definitely a praying people! “Lord, help me to be more of a prayer warrior.”

Another thing that God wants to teach me is to be more encouraging to people. I have been a fairly negative person in the past but I am seeking to change that. By God’s grace I will seek to encourage others in their walk with the Lord instead of putting them down. I want others to lift me up especially when I am struggling and so I need to do that for others as well.

I believe that the Lord has so much more that He wants to teach me this year while I’m at the School of Discipleship here at Gospel for Asia. Please pray for me that I will be open to the Spirit’s leading and that He will work marvelously in my life. Pray that I will go home a changed person (for the better) and that I will become the man of God that He wants me to be.

God Told Me I Was Beautiful!

This post will take a bit of a deeper, more personal look into what the Lord has been teaching me and showing me as of late. If I can find the words to express it. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them.

Abba Father, the Comforter, the Creator of everything, my God, and my Savior. The past few months have been quite an interesting adventure, with the notorious highs and lows that are usually involved. However, something I never expected happened. As is often the case, the Lord has different plans than me, and if I’m patient enough to wait on Him and be content on where He takes me, then I will see that all the trials I go through were well worth it. Just like Romans 8:28 promises.

For those of you who know my past, you know it has been rather rough, yet through it all God has proved His overwhelming love for me time and time again. Without Him, I truly would be destroyed by the enemy, but in Christ, there is victory! That being said, I have had my share of struggles, and even though I know they are all lies of the enemy, for years I have entertained those lies until they became “truths” I believed in my heart. These lies have plagued my heart and my mind for many years, and even though I knew they were lies and not the Truth of God’s promises, it was really hard to let it all go and trust the Lord.

That being said, here is just one story of how God has been ridding my heart and mind of these lies: (note: I am not trying to brag through this story, I am only trying to share with you what God revealed to me.)

I have always had issues with my self image, thinking I am ugly, no one would ever think I’m pretty, and if they say so, then they only said that because they are trying to be nice. I would read Psalm 139:14 “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” That whole chapter would bring me comfort for a short time, but I never truly believed it and tucked it in my heart as Truth.

Now, God has been working on my heart ever so gently, and I have been gaining self confidence and am beginning to view myself the way He created me. He has given me friends who compliment me a lot (it’s really hard to accept compliments when you don’t believe they are true…). Then one day, after I got a little frustrated with a few of my friends for complimenting me so much, I was a little convicted and God told me to write apology letters to them, and to thank them for their encouragement. This was before a Tuesday night prayer meeting, and when I got home from that I was really tired (like most nights), so I got ready for bed.

As I was getting ready for bed I heard clearly “You’re beautiful”. God told me I was beautiful?! I guess I can’t argue with Him, so I said thanks and then went to bed. The next morning, however, He said it again. “You’re beautiful.” This time I believed it in my heart. God made me, if He says I’m beautiful, then I must be in His eyes, and His opinion is all that matters. That day I dressed up just for him.

This story is only one of the many that has been happening lately in my life. God has been restoring my heart, and my mind so much in the past few months that honestly, I’m not even close to the same person as I was before. I’m closer to the Lord in our ever growing and deepening relationship, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Anyways, thanks for reading this semi-different, more deep and personal newsletter. I’d love to hear your stories of God’s restoration in your lives! Just post them below in a comment, or send them to me in a message or email.

Pray Praying and Pray Some More

SD Orientation 031

The Lord has definitely been trying to teach me different things since I joined as a student for Gospel for Asia‘s School of Discipleship in Canada. The staff had said that I (as a student), would have to learn to die to myself but I didn’t really think a whole lot about it until I was actually into the program. It was then that I noticed that God wanted me to give up everything! My plans, My ways of doing things, and My will is what I needed to learn to totally submit to God. Praise the Lord that He is working in my life in that area, not that I have achieved everything but I am getting there!

God has been teaching me that I need to pray more. I need to be a person that is totally devoted to praying for others and not just me. I need to be praying for the nations around me and for those in other countries. I want to have more of a passion and a burden for the lost souls around me. I never realized until I came to Gospel For Asia that there was so many people that have never heard the Gospel of Jesus being preached. They have never even heard of His Name! That’s something that was very shocking to me! I really appreciate at Gospel For Asia that they have so many prayer times together. They take the time to pray and stand in the gap for these nations. They are definitely a praying people! “Lord, help me to be more of a prayer warrior.”

Another thing that God wants to teach me is to be more encouraging to people. I have been a fairly negative person in the past but I am seeking to change that. By God’s grace I will seek to encourage others in their walk with the Lord instead of putting them down. I want others to lift me up especially when I am struggling and so I need to do that for others as well.

I believe that the Lord has so much more that He wants to teach me this year while I’m at the School of Discipleship here at Gospel For Asia. Please pray for me that I will be open to the Spirit’s leading and that He will work marvelously in my life. Pray that I will go home a changed person (for the better) and that I will become the man of God that He wants me to be.

Seeing through Jesus’ Eyes!

What did you learn on the vision tour? 

Visiting South Asia really opened my eyes to what it means to live a life committed to Christ. Without realizing it, I had been like Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, claiming to give my life to God, but all the while holding back a portion for my control, to do with it what I wanted to do. Talking to our brothers and sisters on the field opened my eyes to see that Jesus called us to give Him our ALL. The cool thing is He gives us back so much more than our all—He gives us Himself. There is SO much joy in following Jesus. I want Him to have ALL of me. – Anna

What impacted you?

The people are beautiful. In the beginning of our trip, I was overwhelmed by looking at the masses as I tried to see each of them as Christ does. He took the time to create each of them exactly as He wanted, and He knows even the secret thoughts of their hearts. They are known, intimately, but they don’t know this. “What a tragedy!” my heart cried. And then I saw our brothers and sisters who have committed their lives to sharing this incredible truth. Their eyes sparkle with warmth. Their smiles are so inviting. Indeed, even their feet are lovely (Romans 10:15). Instantly, my heart was comforted and my peace returned. These missionaries are simple people with struggles, feelings and desires just like me, yet their love for Jesus and faith in Him gives them eyes to see beyond this life. The work the Lord is doing through them is utterly astounding. There is so much hope because of Jesus! I am very thankful for the national missionaries. I want to be just like them. – Elizabeth

How were you encouraged? 

One thing that really encouraged me were the national missionaries. Their prayer life is so radical. They pray based on who God is, not on who we are. If someone is sick, they simply lay their hand on the person, bow their head, and say, “I declare healing in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.” And move on. Their trust in God is so simple and honest. Like a child. – Elizabeth

Share your story

Jesus loves you.” I have probably heard those three words hundreds of times during the course of my life. Have I taken those three precious words for granted? Unfortunately, yes.

I am now able to take those three words and apply them to every person in Asia. Half of the world does not know those three words and we have the privilege to tell them. I was able to see the hope that Jesus’ love brings when I looked at our brothers and sisters in Asia. I was able to see Jesus’ love in the children’s smiles. I was able to understand how Jesus takes us, who were once abandoned, hopeless and filthy, and changes us into something beautiful. When I think of all the transformation going on in Asia and how so many people are coming to know Jesus I often think of the metamorphosis of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. We lived completely different lives before the Lord chose us and turned us into new creations.

At the Bridge of Hope center, two girls danced to a song about butterflies and God’s glory. They spread their wings (arms) during the dance, and it brought tears to my eyes to see them as once in bondage in the slums, but now, because of Jesus, they are free to fly. It gave me much hope that every child in the slums and in Asia will have their own set of wings in God’s timing.

The love that the Lord has for us remains a mystery, but there is no doubt it is powerful and has the ability to change people. I would like to pray that all of Asia would know of Jesus’ love and that as a family of Christ, we would be reminded daily of His great love that He has for us, and that we grow intimately in love with Him. – Nikki

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