Wow, what a year! As I reflect and look back over my time here as a GFA School of Discipleship (SD) student, I am just amazed by what the Lord did in my life. And I look forward for Him to continue breaking me, molding me, and creating me into what He wants me to be, leading me where he wants to go.
One of the biggest things I saw and experienced while being here has been the power and presence of God displayed so evidently here. He is definitely at work through this ministry! First off would be the most important and effective way – prayer. We pray a lot here. Someone once told me when I first got here, “We don’t plan prayer around our day, but we plan our day around prayer.” This is so true! And it is such and joy and encouragement to get to be a part of those (many!) prayer times, and then get to see God answer them. This year definitely grew my faith in prayer. Even in my personal prayer life and relationship with the Lord.
Another way I know God is at work with GFA is by getting to hear some of the staff’s personal testimonies and hearing how God is working in their lives personally and as they serve at GFA. And another way is through hearing stories and reports from the field. God is for sure working and saving so many people’s lives in Asia! But ultimately, I know God worked in my life so much! I know He still has so much to do, but He has also brought me so far. He broke my selfish flesh in areas I didn’t know needed broke. He taught me how to have grace for people – even when they fail. We all fail, including me. So, God has shown me to have grace on myself when I make mistakes, and to give grace to others, because He has given us such amazing grace.
God taught me how to live in a community with other people. We’re all different and unique, but we all have one thing in common: to serve Christ and advance the Kingdom of God. He showed me how to love these people for who they are – none of us are perfect – like He loves us, even if it takes a cost.
God showed me how to be fully content and joyfully serve Him, wherever He places me. To be honest, staying in the IT Department for my second vocational training assignment was hard at first. But God helped me to totally overcome that! I am so thankful for the team I got to serve alongside. I truly love those people!
God grew my trust and faith in Him so much! Not having my SD Tuition fully funded and losing my one and only monthly supporter was really hard. But I prayed a lot about it, and finally got to the point of having peace in the Lord, knowing that He was going to provide because He always does. He is so faithful! Building this faith in Him drew me into a closer relationship with Him, which has been so special.
My favorite course was probably Touching Godliness by Dr. K.P. Yohannan. It was so hard, but God taught me so much in that book! He showed me what it means to fully submit to those in authority – even when I don’t agree, or don’t feel like it is “my way” or the “best way”. He taught me that we can obey without fully submitting. Submission is all the attitude of the heart.
God grew me in the knowledge of church traditions: liturgy, founding church fathers, leadership names and meanings, and even why the leaders wear what they wear! 😉 Attending a “small-o” orthodox church this year was not the easiest at first. But I started to really enjoy it. I asked lots of questions, I saw the influence liturgy has in our faith (Satan can’t stop us from saying what is already written and right before our eyes!), and I am now fascinated by how the ancient church got established by who.
A special Scripture passage that stayed with me all year was Psalm 139 verses 7-10 “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”
Moving away from home – family, friends, and familiarity – was really hard. But God gave me such a peace about it, and I had such a rest in Him, knowing He was with me the entire time, and was going to give me the joy and strength to get through this year.
So now with the year wrapping up, I am very excited to see where the Lord leads me next! SD has changed me. So, with everything that I have shared with you and so much more that the Lord has taught me and grown me in, I want to keep applying it all to my life. I can’t go home and act like nothing happened. I need to take everything I have learned, and keep growing, keep learning, and keep applying it to my life for His glory.
Sometimes it is really hard to fit in with the people around you. You feel like everyone around you has a different way to say or do things. You feel like you are on the outside looking in. You feel judged and looked down on. This can make it hard to go to a social gathering or hang out with “friends”. You try to put on a good impression for those around you to think that you are having a good time, but you actually aren’t. You feel unheard and ignored. No one takes your advice or hears out your opinions. You feel like you still need to please them, even when they don’t respect you.
This has been my struggle over this last month. It has been really hard. But I know God, by His strength in me, brought me through the worst of it and taught me so much through that. The biggest step I took was talk to my housemates about it. Apologies are the #1 healing key for overcoming this hurdle–asking them for forgiveness and forgiving them, as Christ has forgiven me. Through sharing with them and a couple other people, I have felt better and less overwhelmed with this struggle.
Yes, I still struggle with it, but it is going to take time – God’s perfect timing. God has reassured me a ton lately that I am created just the way He wants me to be, in His image, with the personality of exactly who He wants me to be… I am just going to be myself. I am not going to care anymore what other people say/do/think about me. I’m just going to be who I am, who the Lord wants me to be…
Making that decision and being reassured that God always loves me, no matter what I’m like, has also helped me to know that He also loves them all, too! Even if I see that they are different than me and I have to fight so hard to get along with them, God has taught me to have grace for them – even when I feel like they have failed or have not done things the way I think is right. No one has done everything perfect; I know I have not. Jesus, perfect and sinless, offered so much grace and forgiveness upon His disciples and us believers, so how much more should we, imperfect and sinful, have grace and forgiveness upon ourselves and those around us. I am reminded of a very good example of grace and forgiveness… Jesus says we are to forgive seventy times seven, meaning numerous times over and over. I have learned to accept people for who they are, and by God’s marvelous grace upon me, I am now able to have more grace towards myself and those around me.
So, I want to encourage you to be yourself! Don’t be ashamed of who are and what the Lord has created you to be. Don’t let the people around you judge you and try to change you into something you are not. Live the life the Lord has in store for you. . . And I used to think I wasn’t very emotional. But I have come to learn that we all need our emotions. Emotions are the glue, the main key, that connect us to other people and build relationships. So, find just one person (even just your mentor or pastor!) to be open with and process those emotions.
Recently we did a study on the Book of Philippians. It was so good–what amazes me is that Paul was still able to write such a letter like this, full of so much joy, gratitude, hope, and encouragement, while in the midst of difficulty.
Paul writes this letter while in prison about 54-62 AD. He wrote it to a church community in Philippi that he had planted on one of his visits there. He wrote it to build his relationship with the church body there, to update them of his situation, to thank them for their support in his ministry, to increase their faith so that they could face threats, to give them peace so that they get along better, and to inspire them to live out their faith.
his joy for his fellowship with the Philippians, and the good work the Lord is
doing through them. He also rejoices in the fact that Christ is being preached.
Paul give us the
following instructions: Be united. Be selfless. Be considerate of others. Be
humble. Don’t complain. Rejoice in the Lord always. Be cautious of the enemy.
Stand fast in the Lord. Be anxious of nothing. Let your requests be known to God.
Meditate on good and true things.
Paul says that our work is not the result of our own effort, but that God’s work in us is what gives us our energy. What we do in life is an expression of God’s saving work in Christ. We find strength through God’s power in us. Believe that God will complete the work He has started in you. God’s work begins in the individual life but is to be lived out among other believers in fellowship with them. All our work is God’s work and it is continuous until the Day Christ returns. Paul tells us that the most important motivation in our work should be love. So, since our work is of God, let us strive to work and serve Him in a worthy manner. We should be like-minded with the other believers we work with.
Having the mind of Christ is to think of others before yourself. We need to be humble and considerate not only to our Christian friends, but all of those around us. Jesus died on the Cross (the lowest humility ever!) for the sinners, not the righteous. In everyday life, we have the choice to humble ourselves and give others the credit for success, ultimately God. Or to be selfish and take all the glory and credit.
Leaving my home in Idaho to come to GFA School of Discipleship and everything that that step of faith entailed–being away from family, work, my church body, friends, the list goes on–has really showed me how near God is!
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! Lamentations 3:22-23
I have felt His presence so clearly, and it has been such a delight, knowing He is with me, no matter where I go, and who else is with me. He is omni-present, and is wherever I go. Psalm 139:7-10 tells us, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Or Where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” This passage been such an encouragement to me while being here, away from what is familiar to me.
I have been experiencing so many “God-Moments” and seeing His power displayed here so vividly! He is so faithful. I have learned to worship Him more, even in the smallest things. I have learned what it means to earnestly pray, which we do a lot of here. God is so powerful! I am in awe now. God is definitely working through GFA, and I feel so honored to be a part of and witness it.
You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ’til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when He reminds you
That you’re an overcomer
Five years ago, a friend shared this song (Overcomer by Mandisa) with me, and God is still using it in my life this year. It had been my theme song for January. He has given me an abundance of strength and lavished His love on me to overcome so many struggles this last month. What a privilege to know I have victory in Him!
We read through and discussed K.P. Yohannan’s book, Touching Godliness, talking all about submission. Ultimately to God of course. But then to the authority He has delegated above us. “Bitterness leads to rebellion. And that rebellion to man leads to rebellion to God.” God taught me so much through that book! At times, I felt like it was too much. But He always showed Himself faithful. He caused me to humble myself under Him, and those in authority over me here. I have overcome so much through Him! And He has given me strength, hope, and faith to keep fighting, reminding me that He is holding me in His arms this whole time. He has saved me and bought me with his precious blood, and I have victory in Him! He gets all the glory for all I overcame last month.
Yes, I still have a long way to go, as it is a lifelong changing process, but I am praising Jesus for how far He has brought me. He is so victorious! He loves me, and has bought me with His blood. What keeps me going and gives me strength, by God’s grace, is pressing forward. Not to look back in regrets, but keep moving forward, remembering all God has brought me through. So don’t give up! Keep fighting. Make little moments matter. Look to the little things.
Oh victory in Jesus, my Savior forever He sought me and He bought me
with His redeeming blood He loved me ‘ere I knew Him
and all my love is due Him He plunged me to victory
beneath the cleansing flood
(Victory in Jesus by E.M. Bartlett)