Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thanksgiving thought

This is a short email note I sent out to my family and just wanted to share. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Love you all

Hello to the family from Australia!

I just wanted to send out this quick hello to say Happy Thanksgiving! Don't we have so much to be thankful for? Every single one of us have had food to eat, a place to lay our heads, different clothes to wear every day, cars to drive, we have more than we could ever really need. Even though money may have been and may still be tighter in the past this year, we still have had money in abundance. Without even realizing it, every single member of our extended family is living in the top 10% of the entire world in wealth. We have more than most people have in this world even while in a recession. Despite some struggles through health issues, none of us have had our lives threatened by the water we drink or the food we eat. There are so many people in this world who die every day from a lack of clean water and other simple necessities.

The interesting thing is, all of our privilege that we have enjoyed either part or most of our lives often becomes the greatest curse we will have, rather than blessing. What if our privilege really just blinds us to what is really important? If there are people dying everyday from lack of something I have so readily, whenever I want it or need it, isn't there something wrong with that? How caught up in our own world often are we?

This Thanksgiving is going to be really different for me. While I am thousands of miles away from home, I am also preparing to leave in just 9 days now to go to a country where clean water is not always readily accessible, where people live in extreme poverty, where people die everyday from lack of medical support for AIDS and other disease. I'll be living near orphans who are afflicted with HIV/AIDS and have been rejected most of their lives, near tribal groups who have never heard about the God who loves them so much, and also near Americans and Europeans who spend thousands to come and relax on the gorgeous beaches. Can you believe all these things could exist in one place?

I am getting ready to experience all this first hand. To see it and be in it and live in it. But I am more than thankful, because I am preparing to meet people who's lives are drastically changed by the smallest gesture. They don't need cell phones or fancy cars, but what they need is love. Isn't that what we all really need?

Let's give thanks for the things that money can't buy, that recession can't stop, and that last forever.

"For God SO LOVED the world THAT HE GAVE His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16


Click here for a special Thanksgiving treat

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Learning the missionary way

Before you get too jealous about us being in Australia, I wanted to tell of some of the harder aspects of living here. I’m realizing more and more just what it means to be a missionary, and I have had the privilege of speaking with numerous full time missionaries that have given me a lot of insight. Here are some things that have not been typical for Laura and I, but is simply a way of life for most missionaries.

Very little money

It is quite crazy when I stop to think about it that we are actually paying a large sum of money to come her to work, lose many personal privileges we had back home, and actually “suffer” in many ways. The logical perspective would be that we should get paid to be here, but we are not making one cent. This is the life of a missionary, never being able to accumulate material wealth. The base pioneers who started this base left very well PAYING jobs in order to PAY to do ministry. No one here has much money, thus making simply entertainments such as eating out, or going shopping, almost none existent.

I have heard numerous people have said they were not able to go to a concert or take a trip to Sydney because they had no money, even though the cost was as little as $5. This is not going to say that it is a difficult thing to do to rely on others for support. I haven’t talked to anyone yet who have said they like asking for money or that it is an easy thing to do. It is actually a very humbling thing which is hard to do. Humility in asking for support is just one more thing that is necessary for missionaries. It is not at all like we are on vacation here, and when we go on outreach it is only going to get harder.

Little to no privacy

Here we live on a small base, in small rooms, with lots of people. On base it is nearly impossible to have alone personal time without someone else being around. There are only a few areas to “hang out” which are constantly occupied.
Very little transportation

Here public transportation is not good at all, and the little that there is, is very expensive. This means that the majority of the time we are stuck on base or only to what is within walking distance. Thankfully we are privileged to be within walking distance of the beach and some restaurants, as well as the mall which is a 20 minute walk away, but I quickly found out that to walk most places takes far more time then I have. There is only a few families that have cars here, and even they are very limited as to where they drive them.

No choice of food

The meal plan here is not like cafeterias at Universities back home. There is only one main course, usually with salad and some kind of bread, and only on occasion do we have desert. If someone doesn’t like the meal, then they don’t eat. There are not the many choice of food like there are back home, and there is no flexibility as to when we want to eat. Breakfast is from 7:00 a.m. to 7:45, lunch from 1 p.m. to 1:45 and dinner 6:00 p.m. to 6:45, and besides those times there is no eating unless it is a snack that we buy ourselves. Food here is also very expensive!

These are only a few of the small differences, and there are many more. I am certainly not complaining about the life style, for I personally enjoy it must better then the individualistic life style that I usually live back home. However, this does not mean that it is easy to adjust to by any means.

Days have continued to fly by, and we are now in week 8 of 12 of the lecture phase. We are continuing to prepare for outreach, and continuing to learn and grow in our relationships with God, with others, and with each other. It has been a struggle, and it will continue to be, but I know it will be for both of our benefit.
Below is a link to the blog of one of the other guys here, Jun. I encourage you to check out his blog if you would like to know more about what life is like here.

Friday, October 30, 2009


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Monday, October 26, 2009

Update and counting the cost

These past few weeks have flown by.We have entered into the second half of our lecture potion, and we are officially a quarter of the way through our entire DTS. The first six weeks of lectures focused inwardly, on our personal relationships with God, and we discussed topics such as forgiveness and repentance, God's destiny for our lives, and the character and nature of God. Now we are turning to focus outwardly on how God views the world. This week we began talking about missions,and we also began doing outreach preparation.

In beginning outreach preparation we have been continually reminded of the difficulty of what lies ahead. We are told again and again how much people are stretched on outreach, and this will only be more so for Laura and I because we are in a committed relationship. We had several conversations last week about what our relationship is going to look like on outreach, and it has been something that we have been struggling with, as it is going to be the farthest away from what our relationship looked like in the states. Because of the culture, there is no physical touch allowed, and we have also been warned that our one on one communication will be very limited if we are even to have it at all.

Though we know that outreach is going to be the hardest thing that either of us have ever done, we know that it will only drive us closer to God as we depend solely on his strength. We also know that outreach is part of counting the cost of being a following of Christ. It is quite strange when I really think about it that we are paying a large sum of money to travel to another country to suffer in many ways which we could have completely avoided by staying at home.

Today we talked about what true conversion really means and about counting the cost of being a disciple of Christ. The base leader, who is teaching us this week, made the statement that, "we did not join a social club, we joined an army
(2 Timothy 2:3-4)." What a true statement that is! When choosing to follow Christ we did not choose an easy task, however, the benefits of experiencing God to the fullest is worth it, and something that we would not trade for anything. Laura and I are simply beginning to learn why Paul said that he counted all things as a loss compared to knowing Jesus (Philippians 3:7-8).

We also know that what we are doing is not only about this life, it is actually more so about the next. "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pittied more than all men (1 Corinthians 15:19)." We know that what we are doing is about eternity, it is about showing God's love to the world, and it is worth the cost of being uncomfortable.

However, even though it is worth it, that does not mean that it is going to be easy by any means and we have continued to experience the difficulties of outreach weeks before we leave. Please continue to be praying for us as we prepare for outreach and as we continue to grow here.

Please also be praying for Laura as she is experiencing health difficulties with either allergies,as it is spring here, or some kind of sinus infection.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Address

Before coming, we gave out our mailing address, but that address expires the end of the month. Please use this new address if sending anything :)

Name (Laura or Stephen)
c/o YWAM Wollongong
PO Box 4040
Shellharbour NSW 2529

Love to you all!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Outreach take 2

Because of the sensitivity of our outreach location, the leaders have requested that we do not publicly post any details about our outreach location. We did find out today that we will be going to South East Asia, and that Laura and I will be in the same group. I'm very excited about our group and know that God has great things in store for us.

If you would like to know more information about our outreach, please send me and email at:

I'm planning on sending out an email soon to tell about our outreach location, and this email address will be the only means of contact that I will have while on outreach. Laura's email address for outreach is:

One of the major prayer requests about outreach right now is money. Over all as a group there is still $45,000 that need to be raised. Even though Laura and I have been blessed to already have our outreach fees paid for, there are many who are faithfully relying on God to provide the money for them to go.

I would ask that you would even prayerfully consider donating to someone in our group. If you would be interested, please send me an email.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Photos by Josh Hantho

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Month #1

Month 1

Today marks the one month anniversary of me being here in Australia, and what an eventful month it has been. I want to spend some time updating you on what has been going on in my life this past month, and then let you know how you can continue to be praying for me.


In the class room we spend 12 hours every week receiving teaching from a variety of different guest speakers. So far we have had a local pastor, an YWAM national leader, and a former YWAM base leader speak to us on the topics of: Hearing God’s voice, Repentance and Forgiveness, and The Father Heart of God. Many of the class sessions that we have had have left my head spinning. Although I say my head, it is really more a stirring of my heart that causes me to think. The topics that we have covered have been very challenging to many of my former ways of thinking and it takes quite some time to process all the information. It seems I am never done processing the information before we receive teaching on another topic which has a similar effect.

Most of the teaching has been excellent and beneficial, though it is far different than the teaching that I have received from the Greek style of education in the states. So far none of the teachers have used bullet points, graphs, power points, or fill in the blanks as I am used to. The instructors tell a lot of stories, do hands on exercises, and are willing to go down “rabbit wholes,” as one speaker put it, if there are questions on a topic that is not necessarily being addressed.
I have struggled somewhat to fully grasp what each speaker is trying get across, due to my preferred analytical style of learning, but there has been at least one thing in each class period which I could think and study for days, even without structured teaching.

One of the best things about the lecture portion is that those who are teaching stay on base with the rest of us. This means they eat with us, hang out with us, travel with us, and “do life with us,” as is the popular saying here. This allows us to really get to know the instructor and to ask questions that we didn’t have time for in class. This is something that I desired while being at my University that was lacking; closeness with those who are imparting information which has the potential to change your life.

Continually in Scripture we are warned against the danger of false teachers (eg. Colossians 2:8, 2 Peter 2:1-3) and as Paul says we are to “Test everything. Hold to what is good” (1 Thessalonians 21). I have found living in the same community with those teaching me has allowed me to do just that; it has allowed me to see if the speakers practice what they teach. Not seeing pastors or teachings out side of a professional environment has hindered me from doing so in the past.

Outside of class

We don’t have near as much free time as I had expected, except for the weekend on which generally we are able to do what we want with our time. During the week when we are not in class our time is filled with intercessory prayer, worship, evangelism, one on one mentoring, small groups, and work duties. Evenings are also generally free, but always seem to go very quickly. We also have a community night every Thursday when members of local churches, or others that we have met in the community, are invited to the base for a time of worship and teaching, along with a tea and social time.

Thursdays are my highlight day of the week because of the opportunity to do evangelism. The past two weeks I have gone to spend time feeding and talking with the homeless in Wollongong, which has been a moving experience. I’m now beginning to build relationships with them and I look forward to going there every week. I also enjoy community night because it is always good to see new faces on base and have the opportunity to meet some none believers in the area.

Other highlights out side of the class room have been: Taking an adventurous trip to Sydney, seeing dolphins in the ocean, going to the beach on a daily basis (when the weather is nice), going to see a local water fall, and doing a DTS amazing race.
Laura and I

Being in an environment with such close community has been a real change for Laura and I. It is hard to find a place to go where we are able to have a private conversation, and we haven’t been able to have the one on one time near as much as we were able to at home. However, the staff here has been very generous to us, allowing us to go on a few dates, and have even encouraged us to spend more time together. As some of you might not know, YWAM has a no dating policy during the DTS, but Laura and I have been allowed to be the exception. Although we haven’t had as many date opportunities as at home, it has been such a blessing to be able to see Laura, and spend time with her everyday. We have learned a tremendous amount about each other, but at the same time learning and growing closer with our personal relationships with Jesus.
Out Reach

We are still uncertain where we are headed for the outreach portion of the DTS. As I found out soon after I got here, there is not a pre-planed location for out reach. In order to determine where to go on out reach, we simply spend a week praying asking God to reveal to us where to go. Because of YWAM’s globalized organization, there are seemingly endless locations we could go. The one thing we do know for sure about the location is that we will be going somewhere in the 10/40 window.


-Please pray for wisdom and guidance for an out reach location
-Please pray for the health of everyone on the base. (There seems to always been someone sick, and sickness spreads like wildfire here)
-My relationship with Laura,that we would continue to learn out to serve one another, but that we would stay focused on the reason for us being here, which is growing in and serving Jesus

Thank you for your time, I miss you all and am praying for you all. I really would enjoy to hear an update from you on what is going on in your life and how I can be praying for you. It would mean a lot to me if you would take a few minutes to update me on your lives.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hello from the common room...

says Laura :) Yes this is officially Laura writing you all the way from the common room on our base in the chilly land of Australia! It is surprisingly chilly here with the weather moving from winter into spring. It has also been rather rainy the past few days which has been, at times, rather refreshing but also tends to add to the overall chill in the air. It's now Tuesday evening of week 4. This week, we are learning about the Fatherheart of God. These past few weeks have been an incredible journey, each day holding more than I can really even recall. I have been stretched in ways I never expected and have been discovering things contained within myself that I never knew were there.

Last weeks teaching was done by a woman from South Africa named Fiona. She was a lovely firecracker of a woman! Right at the beginning of the week, she made it clear that she would love to meet with each of us individually to talk about anything we may like. And by the end of the week, I believe every single person did sit down with her, if not more than once, simply to talk about life or issues that had come up throughout the week of teaching. She gave of her time and heart abundantly pouring out all she had to give, only to go on to another week of teaching somewhere else. The topic was repentance and forgiveness. I remember at the beginning of the week, reflecting on the teaching and feeling like what she was talking about would go all over the place topically. But by the end of each day, I would come away learning some incredible concept that applied and challenged in a way never expected. Just a few of the topics she touched were how we put people in boxes, seeing the value in individuals, asking questions of others, sex, desire, and much more.

This past weekend was a mixture of ups and downs as I'm finding most weeks to be. Sometimes, it's been really difficult going from such extreme ups to such extreme downs. It becomes rather exhausting really fast. Something I've found to also be challenging to me is the lack of ability to get off base whenever you like via car or something faster than my own two legs! I really miss being able to hop in my car and go somewhere whether to actually get somewhere or just go for a ride for fun. Since the base isn't huge, I sometimes start to feel a little stuck. Besides that, I have already had a horrible case of the flu that took me out a few days, I randomly will get hives on my chin and face which can be kind of uncomfortable, and sleep on the top bunk (mainly because that's the bed they put my name on to sleep on) which has surprisingly been working out well, considering my fear of heights. My favorite time of day is often cuppa time which is a mid-morning tea and cakes that most everyone on base takes. It's a brilliant idea that Americans somehow are missing out on! Otherwise, I really enjoy having some time to just hangout with people or curl up with a cup of tea and a book.

I am ultimately here to grow in my faith and learn how to bring the gospel to all people and all nations. I have grown tremendously in both areas. A few mornings a week, we join in intercession for different people groups and nations, praying for God's heart for them. It's amazing some of the images, passages, and thoughts that God gives and we are able to pray through. Just this morning, we spent time praying and seeking God's heart for Indonesia, the Philippines, and Samoa where the earthquakes and Tsunami hit. I kept getting the idea of "new foundations" in my mind towards Samoa (I took it to mean re-building on new foundations, of love and faith alongside actually re-building what was destroyed), and also of many people very self focused and busy being pulled out of that into an attitude of great love and self-sacrifice for each other.

I promise to write again soon and tell much more about everything I've been experiencing! I have made a few great friends, one of which was married about a month ago and her and her husband (Renae and Aaron) are leaving in just a few days to go out to New Zealand for a two month ship tour calling out missionaries. I am so sad that they are leaving as we have been becoming such great friends (Stephen included) but I know they are going to be used in some incredible ways and God is challenging me to lean more on him and less on any relationships I've been developing here.

Sending my love to you all,

Laura :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Coke Story

I wasn’t able to make it up on time to go for a run, and the reason was because I was woken up at 2 a.m. by Kevin and Nick coming into the room. I had turned on the heat because I had been freezing at night, but when Nick and Kevin came in they made a lot of noise, and Kevin began to complain very loudly about how hot it was. I remember sitting in the bed thinking to my self about how mad I was, how angry I was, and how fed up with Kevin I was. I have really been struggling to love him, just because I have felt he is very prideful and disrespectful. But as I was laying there thinking of how much I disliked Kevin, God began to grab a hold of my heart. He said to me “Stephen, he just needs love. He doesn’t need correction or judgment, just love.” I battled against what God was telling me, but eventually I realized my sin and gave in.

God then put on my heart to buy Kevin a coke the next day and tell him I loved him. I thought to myself “Yeah, definitely, sure God I’ll do what you say,” but really I was expecting that I wouldn’t even remember in the morning. However, this was not the case. The whole morning God put on my heart to buy a coke for Kevin and tell him I love him. He would not let me forget! So, right after lunch I went and bought Kevin a coke. As I was walking to and back from the store I realized that Kevin was having a good conversation with Raph.

I went right to the room because I felt that is where God wanted me to give the coke, and as I walked into the room I told God that if he really wanted me to give Kevin the coke, that he would be the next one to come in the door. It was not seconds later that I heard footsteps pounding up the stairs and in walked Kevin. I must say, I was not surprised. As I gave him the coke I said to him “This might seem a little weird, but I really felt like God wanted me to bless you in this small way and give you this coke, and I wanted to tell you I love you.” He took the coke he had a huge smile on his face, but was also in complete shock. He said to me, “no way! You won’t believe this, but I was coming to the room to get money to go buy a coke. I really wanted to get one, that is so crazy.” He then said, “give me a hug.” I gave him a hug and then told him that I really want to get to know him better. He said, that he would love to talk sometime.

It is crazy what happens when I obey God’s voice. It was not an easy thing to do, it took a lot of humility, but of course, it paid off. I heard him a little later telling a whole group about it, and when he saw me he said, “that guy totally made my day!” It is amazing how the smallest things can impact lives greatly. No matter how weird of things God tells me to do, I know that I will do it, because he knows what is best.

Not only was I able to make Kevin's day, or more so God make his day through me, but the next day we all went to the beach and God prompted me to ask Kevin if he wanted to take a walk on the beach. He said he did, and we ended up having a great conversation, which was actually the first conversation that we have had. I was able to see beyond my presuppositions, and see who he really was. He is a great guy, who is hungry for more of God.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Typical Day at DTS

I wanted to give you a little idea of what we are doing right now, so below is the schedule of my day, with a description of what happens.

5:30 a.m Wake up
5:45 Leave for run to the beach
6:00 Prayer walk on beach
6:30 Arrive back, shower
7:00 Eat breakfast
7:30-9 Personal devotional time
9-10 Base Worship
10-10:30 Cuppa time-This is the morning tea time, it is call cuppa because it short for a cup of something. They have amazing pastries and I have become a huge fan of tea with milk! Something new I have picked up from the Aussies here.
10:30-12:45 Lecture
Each has a specific topic, last week was hearing the voice of God, this week is on forgiveness and repentance. We have guest speakers each week, and I'm really excited for the speaker this week, who is on the national board for YWAM.
1:00 Lunch
2:00-3:30 Lecture
4:00 Work duty
On work duty we clean EVERYTHING! Out side and in. We also have to help prepare and clean up meals. Honestly, I'm learning some great life skills. A lot about cooking that is for sure! It is really a family here, we do everything together, I absolutely love it.
5:00-6 Free time
6:00 Dinner
Evenings are free!

I hope this gives you a good idea of what our days look like! We miss you all.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

DTS so far

Last week was our first week of class here, and for the most part I wouldn't really consider it to be a class. The speaker was a local pastor who has been involved with YWAM for sometime now, and the topic he was speaking on was hearing the voice of God. Below is an exert from my journal entry about one of the days of the week.

I woke up at 4:00 a.m to Laura at my beside asking me to come pray for her. I must say, she startled me a great deal, and when I got up I wasn’t quiet sure what was going on. As it turns out, about half the base were infected with the same virus as I had our second day here, possibly H1N1? Thankfully it is only a one day virus, but it is a very bad one. Laura said that it was the worst that she has ever felt! She was up all night throwing up until she came and got me. As I found out in the morning this was the story of a few others on base, and then quiet a few more had diarrhea. Throughout the day more and more people began to feel sick and had to go sleep. It was not a good feeling missing part of our group during our daily activities. I found out also that the virus was not only on base, but many other places in the area. Our guest speaker was so sick that he was not able to come, nursing homes had to be shut down, and there was prayer request after prayer request from local churches for members who were sick. It not a good day for anyone when it came to health.
Another very odd thing was that when I was up with Laura, that when I looked outside the sky was blood red. I thought that it was just me, but then as other woke up we began to realize how strange it was. When we went outside we found out that everything was covered in dust. We had a huge dust storm over night! All the locals said they had never seen anything like it before. As the sun came up the sky turned from red to orange, and eventually turned clear again. With the combination of the sickness and the sky we were convinced the world was about to end!
God really answered prayer for Laura and I. When she woke me up I spend the next few hours praying for her and reading Scripture out loud. From that point on her chills went away, she was able to dink some liquid, and she finally got some sleep! Praise God! She looked so miserable; I wonder if that is how I looked when I was sick? Laura slept most of the day, but she was able to get up and around for a little while which was great to see. I think she will be back to normal by tomorrow, that seems to be the pattern with everyone that has gotten sick.

Yesterday, Laura and I decided we need to put our faith into action and go do evangelism on the street after a good conversation with our guest speaker Berry. God had been putting on my heart for awhile the desire to go and do out reach, but I had been resisting. At lunch I decided to ask Berry some questions about being filled with the Spirit, which he most certainly is, and after a short conversation he brought up the fact that he needs to be doing evangelism in order to continue to be filled with the Spirit. When he said that God convicted me and I realized I’m the same exact way. At Judson I would have a spiritual conversation, get more fired up, have another conversation, get more fired up, so on and so forth. But, I have only had a few good Spiritual conversations in the past few months. I was drying my self out spiritually. Berry actually challenged us to do evangelism in Wollongong, and once he said “there are so many people here that need Jesus” I knew I had to do something that day.
So, Laura and I recruited Josh and Nick to come with us, who had never done any type of evangelism before, but seemed very excited. Before we set out, we sat down and asked God to show us where to go and who to talk to. And he did! God had put on Laura’s heart a field and groups of three; on Josh’s the surf shop, on Nick’s kids, and on mine, surfers, kids, skate park, and an old man with a hat walking a dog. Because two of us had something to do with surf we set of toward the surf shop. But, before we got there we saw a group of teenagers in the field playing footie (rugbee). As we approached them, I said to Laura “so what do you think,” to which she replied, “I’m not really feeling drawn to them.” However, right when we said that, the boys split into two groups of three. We agreed this definitely was not a coincidence, so we went and talked to them. We had some good conversation and found out about their faith. There were no decisions to follow Christ, but later in the day when we returned home they gave us a friendly wave. I think they really saw God’s love in us at least.
Our next stop was at the skate park, where I felt God wanted us to split into groups of two. Nick and Laura went to the skate park, Josh and I kept on heading to the skate shop. In the next 45 minutes, we met a total of six other people and had 3 spiritual conversations. When we met back up all of us were fired up! It is so fun to do the Lord’s work, and it is so spiritually energizing.
The whole time, however, I was looking for the old man with the hat. All of the other things God has showed us we had found, but not the old man. But, this morning, when Josh and Kevin were outside looking at the sky, around 6 a.m. they saw and old man, walking a dog, and he had a hat on! When the described him it was exactly the picture that God had put into my head! They went and introduced themselves, and he said they should talk again in the future.
All of this is very new to me, I really don’t know quiet what to think of it. It is obviously from God, but my question is, is all of this new, or have I simply not been listening to God in the past? I’m beginning to think it is the later, but I’m still uncertain. Maybe it is a mixture of both?

In our afternoon session we continued to hear the stories of the rest of the DTS students, and I was blown away by some of the stories of the other students. I can’t believe the pain that some of them have had to go through. It doesn’t seem quiet fair that I have been spared from so much. I have never had to under go a real tragedy in my life, and while I was in deep sin when I was younger, God delivered me from it and set me on solid ground. While it might not seem fair, I praise and thank God continually for blessing me with a loving and supportive family. Really, many of the problems and pains that other students have gone through have come from family problems. Focus On The Family really makes sense to me now. If all families would truly be God honoring, if parents would only stay together, if fathers would truly love their daughters, if siblings would truly serve each other, the world would be a much different place.
I was amazed at how recent the ordeals were that the other students have gone through. I think I had a false perception that everyone would be coming in “having it all together.” But really this is not that case at all, and I’m glad it’s not. There are kids here who lived in unrepentant sin in the summer, and have only been able to break free being away from home in an Christian environment.
I really did expect that I would come here to a group of other young people who were on fire for their faith, who want to go into missions, and who wanted to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Instead, most people here have no idea what they are doing with their lives. Many are using the DTS as an escape from college or just as a time to figure out what to do next. I don’t even think there are any other students here who know they want to do missions for sure, though there are a few exploring the idea.
All I know is that each and every person here is supposed to be here. Each and every person has a unique and miraculous story of how they came to be here, and it is obvious that God wants them here. It really doesn’t matter that they are younger than I thought, that they aren’t as mature as I thought, or most of them aren’t going into full time missions. What does matter is that God is going to change their lives here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

YWAM notes

These are my notes from the first set of lectures from Bruce, the man who started the base here in Wollongong. He mostly just talked more about who YWAM was, and it was very informative. These aren't very detailed notes, and might be hard to follow, but I hope you can learn a little more about the base here and about YWAM by reading them.

YWAM Lecture notes
Thursday, September 17
What is YWAM?
Mission is a task to complete
What is it about Youth that is special?
Youth will not be tentative, but be willing to jump right in
What is YWAM’s approach to missions?
How can we use the gifts and abilities to bring God glory in the world?
Three main focuses
1. Evangelism
2. Mercy Ministries
3. Training

Training is for evangelism and mercy ministries
Loren had to wait five years before he saw in ministry (1960-1965).
YWAM was started in Australia by Dean Sherman!
“God needed me to get out of my comfort zone. He was calling me out of being a local Christian to being a global Christian if I was going to do missions.” –Bruce Skinner, talking about when he choose to leave Wollongong, his home town most of his life, to go to DTS in Hawaii
Bruce was lead away from Bible school because the things that he desired in his heart did not line up with what the school desired. People left the school with a very inward faith, not a mission’s focus. Bruce desired to go deeper into missions and the Holy Spirit.
It took 18 months before anything happened with YWAM Wollongong. After God reveals a step to you, it takes time before the next thing happens. That is what God was trying to teach me through the story of Abraham.
Prayer, Prayer, Prayer.
God provides, always! There is always enough, have faith. God knows what you need, act on his call and he will provide.
How much faith does it take to start with something? How much does it take to start with nothing?
Faith is putting your whole weight in something that you don’t know exists.
If I can do it in my own strength, then it’s not God.
If you have money, if you know where the money is coming from then it’s not really in faith.
YWAM Foundational values
Value-Something of worth to an individual or group
If it is of worth, it is going to cost you something
Biblically based
Worship, Holiness, Witness, Prayer, Fellowship
Witness-Bring the Gospel to those who do not know them
1. Know God
All aspects of worship are a result of the outflow of knowing God.
2. Make God known
3. Hearing God’s voice
John 10:1-18, what is the passage talking about?
The Bible tells of the general will of God, but not specifically for you personally
Why would God talk to people in the Bible but not to us?
God doesn’t speak to us the way we expect him to
Obedience is key
You have to learn the difference between your thoughts and God’s thoughts
4. Practice worship and intercessory prayer
Practice means it is never ending, it is never perfect
Desire to “get into the battle”
Engaging in Spiritual warfare


God gave man authority over the earth (dominion mandate)
We still have authority over the earth today
God doesn’t engage in the earth unless he is asked
Ex. Daniel in the lions den. Why did Daniel have to pray? Did God not know he was there? God waits for permission to enter the physical realm
It took a long time for Daniel’s prayer to be answered, but he kept praying, and God came.

5. Be visionary
What is next? How does God want the body of Christ to advance next?
Vision is from God, they are his ideas
6. Champion Young People
Putting young people in leadership positions and support and help grow them
7. Broad Structured and decentralized
Allows for quick movement
Structures should serve the people. Structure should follow the vision, structure is controlling
Overseen by elders
Elders receive information from others and make decisions accordingly
8. International and interdenominational

Theology-study of God
Three levels of theology
1. Dogma (Indisputable)
2. Doctrine (Open interpretations of Scripture)
3. Opinion
Paul says he lives as if all three categories are dogma (passage?)
I love the focus on Christ, not on doctrine!
YWAM allows for open doctrine, not dogma
9. Have a Biblical world view
Philosophy, ideology, perspective, thoughts about the world
Our subconscious mind
We want to view the world as Christ views it
The Bible gives us God’s perspective on everything
The West has a huge separation between physical and spiritual
The Bible views God cares about everything
It has created a higher view of the pastor, healer, worship leader ect, and not the servant
We have to change our mind set from some things being spiritual and some not
10. Function in teams
It is always tempting to try to do something your self
Individualism is not in the Bible
Community, family, eldership is
God is a God of community
The whole reason God created the universe was for relationship
Embrace differences
11. Exhibit Servant leadership
Servant leadership is counter-cultural

12. Do first, then teach
Godly character is more important then gifts, abilities, and talents
Basic philosophy: You become your teacher
13. Be relationship oriented
“We desire to be united through lives of holiness, mutual support, transparency, humility, and open communication, rather than a dependence on structures or rules.”
God is about internal government
The external government’s job is to enforce what should be on those whose internal government has failed.

14. Value to individual
Caring for every individual uniquely according to their needs
Our education systems are based on the Greek Model
They are based on industry, producing is what is valued

15. Value Families
About 80% of everything you learn is learned in the family
Families are called together

16. Rely on relationship based support
No staff member gets paid
Promotes accountability, communication and mutual prayer. It involves the donor as a ministry partner.
Creates further dependence on God
Assures that everyone who joins, does not do so out of profit.
The pressure to raise support is not on you, it is on God. You do your part of communicating the need, and he will provide

17. Practice hospitality
Practice generosity
Hospitality costs us something

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wollongong Overlook

Prayer Request, and a little about life here

Yesterday was my birthday, and I guess today kinda is to my too as it is the 14th in the states, and it was a really good day, until the evening. The staff threw me a little party,and it truly felt like we were family even though I had only been there a day. The rest of the day we did orientation and played a few games, but in the evening I started to feel sick, so I went and laid down after dinner. I began to have the shivers and felt sick to my stomach, and I ended up throwing up, which for those of you who know me well know I never do! That was only the second time I can remember ever throwing up. I'm still not sure what is wrong, whether I have the flu or whether I have food poisoning, but I have continued to feel sick today and have had to miss most of the activities. Please pray for a quick recovery to my health!

I wanted to mention a few things about Wollongong that are not so good, just so all of you don't get to jealous :)

First, there are big birds that fly into the glass early in the morning, which sounds like muffled gun shots. After about 10 or so bangs, the birds then grown in pain, I guess I can't blame them. It is quite annoying though, and may have to take up bird hunting while I'm down here.

Second, there are two different phosphates for the sink, one for hot water, one for cold. I don't understand. So basically, when you have to wash your hands you either have to use very hot water, or very cold water! Strange.

Third, there is something called veggiemite which is a yeast abstract spread which the Australians love to put on toast. It is absolutely awful! Thankfully I can avoid that one, but still it is quite strange.

I have been shocked at how hard it is to understand people sometimes as well, that is another difficulty. One of my favorite Australian terms is that they call cotton candy "fairy floss." What?

I'm so excited to be here, it is going to be a time of large Spiritual growth for both Laura and I. It is obvious that this was indeed God's will for us to be here, even though it is going to be very challenging. God Bless!


This morning we had our first time of worship as a group, and what an experience it was. When we first began to sing, and everyone was more towards the charismatic side in worship, I felt really out of place and almost a little embarrassed. But, just as Darren Wilson says in the finger of God, the more I saw it, the more normal it became. The other interesting part is that this morning God really put the prayer of “God make me like a little child” on my heart. That really is what everyone here is, they are just children of God who are unafraid to love their daddy. They are not scared to dance before him, shout to him, and fall on their knees before him. They realize their only audience is that of Jesus, that it doesn’t matter if others think they are crazy with how they worship God.

As I worshiped with this group of Jesus lovers I felt the same feeling that I did when I attended the Hillsong concert at Willow Creek back in June. The only difference was that there were no lights, there was no great sound system, I was not with 9,000 other people, and the musicians were not professional. So how was it that I could feel that way? It was because God’s Spirit was in the room. It was not only their, it was evident. As I sang to our king I also began to realize why Hillsong is so attractive to so many young Christians. It is not because them, it is because they invite believers to worship Jesus with all their heart; as “The Stand” says, “with arms high and heart abandoned.”

The charismatic movement, or at least that of what I have experienced this far, is not about “weird” ideas about the Holy Spirit, it is about worshiping Jesus with passion, as we were created to do. When I look at the descriptions of the saints worshiping and singing to God in Scripture, I don’t see a group of people standing with their arms at their sides softly singing so that those next to them can’t hear, what I see is a group of people falling down in reverence before God, and shouting to their king at the tops of their voices (Revelation 4, Isaiah 6). Why do we not worship God like that normally? Could it be because we are not really filled with the Spirit as we should be when we are worshiping God? I’m beginning to believe so.

What Hillsong, and other charismatic’s do is invite the passion that has been contained inside believers to come out. They invite them to sing, dance, and shout with passion. I’m convinced that believers are longing to worship God with passion, but that many are too afraid to show it because of what others think.
As I was singing this morning I couldn’t help but think that only a few hours earlier, Judson’s chapel was happening and they were singing songs that were very similar to the ones that we were singing; maybe they were even singing the same songs! But as I thought about it, I became saddened at what a difference it was. Here at the DTS in Wollongong, people are unashamed, and they are madly in love with Jesus. The overflow is simply what is seen in worship. But, I’m sure that the same old was happening at Judson chapel. Maybe a few people raising their hands in worship, but over all most believers sang a half-hearted effort and thought more about what other people were thinking about them then they did about who they were singing to. This cannot and should not be! I wish so badly that all of you who are following Christ could be with me here to worship our king with unashamed passion, just as we were made to do.

Monday, August 31, 2009

It's not about Australia, it's about Jesus

Within the past few months we have had to explain to person after person where we are going, what we are doing, and when we will return. In each conversation the same things seem to keep coming up.

First, people are amazed, and many jealous that we are going to Australia. I must say, while both of us are excited to go to Australia, it is not an easy trip to make; we are not going for a short tourist vacation. We are going to be one of the places in the world that is farthest away from home for three months, that is not an easy thing to do, especially for both of us who have never done anything like this before. So, are we "lucky" to go to Australia? Yes, we are, it is a place not many people get to go, and many want to, but it is not an easy trip to make for us.

Second, I find that in these conversations, we end up talking more about Australia then about the reason we are going. The reason we are going is because Jesus has called us, we want to serve him, we want to obey him, we want to grow in him, we want his name to be spread throughout the whole earth, and we want to glorify him! This decision is not about us, it is all about bringing honor to Jesus! Sadly, getting past where we are going has been a hard thing to do, and we even find ourselves getting caught up in it sometimes. If Jesus was calling us to Oklahoma we would go. If he was calling us to Africa we would go. If he was calling us to Antarctica we would go! It is not about where we are going, it is about why we are going, to reach those who have not heard the good news of the gospel!

A little while ago I heard a pastor say "Christians should live lives that demand explanation." I'm sure that if we would have finished out our degrees at Judson and gone into the mission field after, not many would be surprised, but the fact that we are putting a hold on college demands explanation. My prayer is that in giving the explanation for us doing so, that God will be glorified, that we will not receive the attention, that Australia will not receive the attention, but that Jesus alone will be gloried!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Continued Call

I just finished reading a book by Hedi and Rolland Baker, who are missionaries to the poorest country in the world Mozambique. The book was filled with stories of hundreds of stories of miracles that God has done because of their radical faith in him. The Bakers have planted over 9,000 churches in Mozambique and their ministry continues to grow rapidly. Something Hedi wrote at the end of the book struck me again as the reason Laura and I feel the need to go into the world now:

"The Lord is calling for servant lovers who will call in the outcasts, who will go into the dark corners of the world and compel the poor to come. And they will come. They'll come by the millions. Who will go and leave their life of comfort and call in the broken? Who will go and be a learner? Who will go and lay their life down for Jesus among the poor? The Lord Jesus wants His house to be full. It's time for us to go out to the poor, to the broken, to the homeless, to they dying, the lonely, and call them to come in. Thousands and thousands of missionaries and ministers need to go out to the darkest places, to the poorest places, to the forgotten places, because the wedding feast is about to begin and so many of the poor haven't been called. Rush and call them. They will come."

The song that has become our kinda of theme song for our trip is a song called "I Will Go" by Starfield. The lyrics are listed below. Will you go?

I Will Go lyrics

To the desperate eyes and reaching hands
To the suffering and the lean
To the ones the world has cast aside
Where you want me I will be

I will go, I will go
I will go, Lord send me
To the world, To the lost
To the poor and hungry
Take everything I am
I'm clay within your hands
I will go, I will go, send me

Let me not be blind with privilege
Give me eyes to see the pain

let the blessing You've poured out on me
Not be spent on me in vain
Let this life be used for change

I wanna live for you
Go where you lead me

Send me!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

On September 11, less than a month from now, I will be leaving to Wollongong Australia to attend a Discipleship Training school. The school consists of Bible training and missionary training for three months, and then three months of practical, hands on, missionary experience somewhere in 10/40 window. If you want to read more about what I will be doing you can go to this link:

In this note I wanted to talk a little bit more about why I chose to drop out of school to attend the DTS. Fist, I must say that I am going to miss you all very very much. I am going to miss being at Judson this year, miss playing soccer, miss my family and friends, miss many of the comforts that home has to offer, miss everything that is familiar to me. It was my desire to continue at Judson, and it was my plan, but as Proverbs 16:9 says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."

Here is how I came to the conclusion that YWAM is where I am supposed to go.

1. The Lord's guidance

A few months ago, I heard a message from a missionary who sent out a desperate call for full time missionaries. He said there is a need that is not being met in the world, that there are over 1,500 people groups that have not yet heard the good news of Salvation, and that there is a need for workers go to tell them. When I looked into this claim, it could not have been more true, there is a desperate need for full time missionaries! When I found this out, it began to bother me deep within my soul. I could not sleep many nights, and began to wake up to dreams of people crying out that had not heard the gospel yet. Every time I would go to spend time with the Lord the first thing that was on my heart was those who have not heard the gospel yet. On top of that, God lead me to passage in Scripture that continue to continued to add fuel to the fire, like Romans 15:20-21, Acts 13:46-47, and of course Matthew 28:18-20. The way I felt could best be described by Hedi Baker, a missionary to the poorest country in the world Mozambique:

“I was drawn to the less popular, less beautiful, those who were left out and ignored...I was restless, always interested in other cultures and languages, and especially the poor. I could not sit around at home, absorbed in myself and my own world.” Hedi Baker, There is always enough

Because of my restlessness, I decided to look into heading into missions. I began to look into different missions organizations, one of them being Youth With A Mission. I had been told by four people with in the past four months what a great experience they had at a discipleship training school through YWAM, so I decided to check it out. After looking into it, I found it was exactly what I was looking for. I could begin training to be a missionary, and get three months of missionary experience, without making a full time commitment. This would allow me the option of going back to Judson, which is definitely a possibility.

After talking to Laura about it, who had been feeling similar inclinations to go into missions, we decided that we would apply to the DTS, and if we did not get in, that we would be perfectly content with going back to Judson. We knew that if God wanted us to go to DTS, he would get us there.

One of my main concerns was what both of our parents would say, and my prayer to God was, "God, if you really want me to go now, please give me my parents blessing, and Laura's parents blessing." Right away when Laura informed her parents about our decision to apply, they were very supportive, however my parents were not. But, three days after I told my parents about YWAM, my mom called me to say that she just wanted me to follow Jesus, and if that meant going to YWAM now that is what I should do. But there was still my dad who had to give in, and two days later I received an email from him in which the first line read: "First, I'll start with the conclusion: You may go, with my (our) blessing." I had not told my parents about what I had been praying to God, and yet my dad told me the exact thing I had been praying. Since then, every little detail that needed to fall into place for us to go has: my application was accepted, the money was provided, our visas were approved in a day, insurance was worked out without having to purchase any extra, and we were able to buy cheap plane fare. If God does not want us to go, he is not making it very obvious.

On top of how I believe God has made it clear that I am to go now, there are other reasons that God has put on my heart that I believe point to this being the right decision.

2. Life is short. James 4:14 says "why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." When I die, or Christ returns, I want to be doing everything in my effort to advance his kingdom, I want to be obeying him and honoring him in all I'm doing. Really, what was I waiting for?

3. Everyone in the world needs to hear the gospel. Romans 10:14-17 says "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to comes from hearing the message." Students at Judson are hearing the message. They hear it in chapel, in class, from friends, in church...they are hearing the gospel. What I can't stand to think of are those who have not heard it at all. Why wait to tell them?

4. Simple obedience to Jesus. Jesus commanded: "Go and make disciples of all nations." (Matthew 28:19). 2,000 years after Jesus commanded this, all the world has not heard the gospel. Why is that? Because not enough people have gone to the ends of the earth. Jesus had already commanded, he has already called, I am simply obeying. Why wait? People need to hear now! There is no time to waste, life is short.

If you have any questions or comments please let me know. I don't know where God will lead me after YWAM, maybe back to Judson, maybe into missions full time, who knows, maybe I will go to be with Jesus or he will return before I'm done with YWAM.