Bosnia & Herzegovina – What is Jesus doing?

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The only way to do anything significant would be to ask what Jesus is already up to here. Because Jesus has been here for a long time already! He’s in all the places that we are not, and we don’t need to be present for Him to do anything! What a waste of time it would be to do something that He isn’t involved in. As we looked, we found Him playing games with children, sitting drinking tea by the river with the thirsty beggars on the street, and with some unexpected people coming to English classes or cultural evenings.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that the people in Bosnia & Herzegovina have gone through a lot over the recent years. So, what do they need most? We were praying one day, and God showed me something
Some of the people in the city are hiding away. Through that they feel safety, but in the end, it means that all the pain stays locked inside. Some are reaching out their hands, realising there must be another way. We can invite them into true safety. God is our fortress, our hiding place. God said through Psalm 91:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in who I trust.”

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been to children’s home a few times – spending time, playing games, and making crafts with them, and generally trying to give them a fun time. They’re all completely chaotic, but all so wonderful. One morning, we were asking God what we could make with them, and we felt He was saying ‘boats.’ It’s recorded in Luke 8 that the disciples and Jesus were in a boat, in a big storm. The disciples were scared, and woke Jesus up who was sleeping. I can hardly imagine the reality of what happened – He spoke to the waves and the wind, and told them to stop, and they did. I don’t understand the extent of the storms that a huge majority of these children have gone through, but we found out that morning that Jesus is in the boat with them; they can call on Him and He’ll always be with them. He’s safety and security in an uncertain world.

God captured our hearts for Bosnia & Herzegovina. He spoke to us, and showed us our part in the big story of a place He’s always been.”

Love,
Anne, Becky, Christian, Daniel, Elsa, Janina, Kajsa, Robyn, Suzan.

Kalispera Athina! (Hello Athens!)

By | DTS, Europe, Outreach, Sept/Jan 2012/2013 DTS | 2 Comments

We are in Athens! And though Cyprus and Greece speak the same language, the two countries are very different from each other. The economic crisis is much more evident here than it was in Cyprus; the streets are packed with people who have lost their jobs and homes and have nowhere else to go. 80% of immigration into Europe comes through Greece, so in addition to all the Greek people without jobs, there are loads of other immigrants joining them in their desperation. The church we’re staying in is right in the center of the red-light district; we’re surrounded by drugs, graffiti, and prostitution. Despite all these things, God is really showing us the beauty of Athens and helping us to love the city as much as He does.

We teach English and German to refugees. Most of the people who come to our lessons are from Afghanistan and Iran. We teach all ages and levels, from the most basic, to more advance conversationalists.

Three times a week we serve food to Greek, Iranian, and Afghani people. This takes place in the same building where we’re staying. Between 70-150 people come for food and fellowship. Before serving the food, there is some time for us to present a drama or give a talk. During eating, the aim for us is to build relationships. It can be challenging because of language barriers, but we try.

In addition to these things, we also get to be a part of some other fun things in the city. Here’s a cool story Miguel had from one of our days out:

One  afternoon we met up with another YWAM team that’s also here on outreach to worship together in a popular square called Plaka. It was really great; both teams were working together as if they had known each other for a long time. People around came closer to find out what we were doing. After a little while some of us got up and started to speak with the people around us. Dortje and I spotted a guy we wanted to talk to, but he got up from where he was sitting and left before we could even speak to him. We were disappointed that we had missed him, but that disappointment was short-lived because we spotted the man again sitting near to our group who was worshipping. We approached him and had a good conversation. He was feeling anxious and upset about something that had happened to him earlier that day. It seemed that he really needed someone to speak to, and we were there at the perfect time. He told us that he had wanted to go into the church that is at the square, but it was shut. So, he considered taking the tram home, but felt to sit down, drink his coke, have a smoke and then go home. That’s when we approached him. We mainly just listened to him. He was going through a bit of a rough time in his life, and all we really could do was to listen. At the end, we prayered for him and gave him some scriptures. He was really encouraged. He kept telling us for minutes how encouraged he was, how different he know felt after talking to us and that we should keep doing what we’re doing. Sometimes all that people need is someone who is willing to really listen to them.

It’s so rewarding to see how God touches the lives of the people we meet!

We have many more stories and we can’t wait to share them with you when we return home. Until then, keep praying for us and our last three weeks in Greece!

Love,

Alex, Dortje, Edel, Jake, Janik, Josien, Kevin, Lisanne, Miguel, Samantha & Susie.

Outreach in Macedonia!

By | DTS, Europe, Outreach, Sept/Jan 2012/2013 DTS | One Comment

Our team made it to the first outreach location of our 2 month outreach phase: Macedonia!

We had some travel adventures; Our Megabus broke down in the middle of the M1 in London on the way to the airport which caused us to grab our bags, jump the fence and hike to the nearest Underground.  We nearly missed our flight but thankfully we all made it to Macedonia on May 3rd.

In Macedonia things like the culture, the food, the people, the weather, the atmosphere, etc. are very different than we’re used to; but in very cool ways!  Our contact here has definitely been a big help in getting us plugged into the culture and community and we’ve been able to meet a lot of locals.

One of the words that was given for our team before we left was that we were meant to “be” a lot more than we were meant to “do”,  and we’ve noticed how spot on that has been from the beginning.  We spend a lot of time getting to know people and talking about life together. Through these friendships we are able to inspire people to ask questions, seek further and help them open up their hearts and minds to God. Because God loves them more than they could ever imagine!

Sports ministry in particular has been a great opportunity for us to get better involved with the community here.  We have spent a lot of afternoons at the park,  taking a basketball and football and starting up a game with local youth, the students,  and even the older generations of the community.  It’s also been really cool to be able to spend time with people here that don’t even speak English and we’ve made a lot of new friends that we’ve been able to re-connect and have coffee and conversations with.

 

One of our favorite stories  from the past month is about our time spent with a people group here called the Roma gypsies.  They live in a very run-down part of the city,  and most of them are beggars during the day throughout the streets.  The first time we visited them we brought strawberries to share and a football to play games with them.  We had a great time playing with all the kids,  about 30-40 of them all together. We felt like God wanted us to bring them clothes,  nail polish  and some bread. We spent a long time just hanging out with them;  painting nails,  playing games,  singing songs about Jesus and His love,  giving gifts and sharing bread with them. It was a great experience!

It’s crazy to think that our time in Macedonia is already coming to a close. Outreach here this far has been great,  and we have had the most incredible opportunities to be a part of what God is doing here.  We’ve seen some cool things happen,  seen God moving in others and have experienced His love for them at the same time,  and that is such a great privilege to have over our short time here.  We are so grateful,  and so in awe; God is good!

Love,
Anne, Becky, Christian, Daniel, Elsa, Janina, Kajsa, Robyn, Suzan.

DTS outreach in Cyprus!

By | DTS, Europe, Outreach, Sept/Jan 2012/2013 DTS | 3 Comments

The first thing you notice in Cyprus is the glorious sunshine and sweltering heat. It’s absolutely fantastic . The island itself is gorgeous with mountains, bright flowers, and beaches all around. Not a bad place to spread the love of Jesus! Time is a relative concept here. When someone tells you they’ll see you at 10:00, 10:45 is perfectly acceptable. People are much more relaxed about things. Relationships are the important thing, not schedules or tasks.

Before we arrived in Cyprus, we knew the country was divided into a “Greek side” and a “Turkish side,” but I don’t think any of us realized that there was an actual, passport controlled border; and that by crossing that border, it feels you’re stepping into a completely different country. It definitely adds an interesting dynamic to the country and to our outreach!

We do things like spending time with God, listen to & give devotionals, we worship and we intercede; During those hours we ask God what to pray for and what to share, and then we pray those things for Cyprus. We also go into the town and talk to people about life and God.  On Sunday we split the team up to go to different churches (of varying nationalities) and we preach, share testimonies, lead worship, perform dramas, and share in community. We have also been working with the youth. One youth group is at the International church on Sunday mornings; the other is a Monday night young adult group. We also meet several times per week with some Sri Lankan university students who go to school on the Turkish side of Cyprus. We go over there a few times a week to hang out with them and help them practice their English. We’ve had some really encouraging experiences with them!

Our main contact here in Cyprus is a wonderful man called George. George is a church planter and the pastor of the Sri Lankan church we’ve been working with. He used to be involved with YWAM here in Cyprus. Because of his many different contacts, we’ve been able to be involved in many different activities here in Cyprus. It has been a real challenge for us to step out of our comfort zones, but also a huge blessing!  Besides the Sri Lankan church we are also involved in a Filipino church, a Bulgarian church, a small, Sri Lankan village church and an international church.

We also worked with Anastasia, a 23 year old woman with a huge heart for God. With her family, she founded the country’s only Christian radio station, which has recently been recognized by the government and approved to reach the whole of Cyprus. We visited the station and as a team, we helped clean the station, we recorded a song that we had written as a team and we also did a radio interview. It’s really exciting to think that all of Cyprus will be hearing the song God’s given us, and the story behind it. That’s what you call an outreach!

It seems like we just stumble into situations that God has planned for us. We’re really able to see how badly God wants to reach His people. So for now we’ve selected one of the many stories to share with you all.

It was 2:30pm. Miguel and I (Josien) wanted to encourage shopkeepers with prayer for their businesses. We found out that not all Cypriots speak English but the ones that did were really open to talk and we were able to pray for a few business, which was very exciting. We came to a leather shop and the guy working there was about our age. When we asked to pray for him, he said, ‘”Well, I’m an atheist, but please tell me everything about your faith.” Then he gave us chairs to sit on to make the conversation comfortable. He had loads of questions and interesting thoughts for us. He was really searching for God and for truth. After talking with him for about an hour, he allowed us to pray for him. He was really impressed. “Wow!” he shouted, “You guys really prayed with your soul. You are great Christians!” He had never seen anything like that. We exchanged phone numbers to meet again. He also wanted us to meet his friends because he wanted them to hear what we believe, as well. What a great outreach experience!


Love,

Alex, Dortje, Edel, Jake, Janik, Josien, Kevin, Lisanne, Miguel, Samantha & Susie.

 

First Days Travel to Chomutov: Part 2

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Tuesday the 2nd April arrives at 5am and I weep silently into my pillow. We head down into the lobby after hasty showers – my throat is still burning from the cup of tea I unwisely downed in the sad hope that a bit of caffeine might bring me to life.

It’s when we are gathered in the lobby that we receive the unfortunate news of Luce’s illness. She has to remain behind, tragically, while the rest of us head to the airport, via the criminal taxi service that leaves with empty seats so that they can charge for two trips, for our 7:20 flight from Edinburgh to Prague. We manage to check in (or Czech in, as somebody wittily remarked) and get through security without too much fuss. There was a bit of a hold-up involving an unnamed team member and a bag of toiletries, but aside from that we made it to our terminal with time to spare.

The two hour flight passes quickly, many of us catching up on the previous night’s sleep-deficit by snoozing the hours away. Another half-hour bus ride takes us to the train station in Prague, where we have rather a lot of time to kill. Fortunately, Burger King is an international franchise, and happens to be present at the station. Ordering ten meals takes rather a lot of time, even being blessed with a server who speaks remarkably good English, but still not quite enough time for our train to have arrived.

So we wile away the time in the restaurant, before clumsily extricating ourselves and our many items of luggage from amongst the chairs and heading to platform 6S for our train. They have double-decker trains! But ours isn’t one of them, sadly. It takes two and a half hours, but we finally arrive in Chomutov, at around 4pm.

We are met promptly by Martin, Ulga and Hanna, who take us to the church where we are staying. We dump our belongings, and spend some time introducing ourselves and meeting the Pastor of the church. While talking with Martin and the others we realise that many of our plans may not be viable, so some of the evening is spent trying to rearrange and reorganise what we are going to do (staying F.A.T. – Flexibly, Available and Teachable). The rest of the evening sees the purchasing of bread, ham and some delicious garlic butter stuff for dinner, and some relax time. After some more team prayer time, for Luce, as well as other things, we head to bed.

Reporting from Jacob

First days travel to Chomutov

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Monday the 1st April, 2013, 3:30pm. Today is the day we begin our journey towards the Czech Republic. We arrive in stages, some more on time than others, at Carlisle train station, in order to catch a TransPennine to Edinburgh. All of us are (eventually) present, minus Emily whom we are meeting at Edinburgh Airport. The train is late, to the good fortune of those of us running a little behind, and we begin the process of cramming fourteen people and twenty-eight items of luggage into a carriage that is evidently not designed to accommodate such an influx. However, after a few minutes of jostling and heaving the bags are away, we’re seated, and on our way to Edinburgh.

The shining sun seems to signal good things. To me it signals an hour and a half of blinding agony, but that’s neither here nor there. An hour and a half of cards at the table we managed to nab brings us all safe and sound to the beautiful capital city of Scotland. We locate the bus that will take us to the airport. We sit at the back, because we’re cool. After half an hour of trying to stay on what were surprisingly slippery seats and marvelling at the stunning architecture we all pile out and drag our luggage into the Arrivals area.

While waiting for Emily to materialise we raid W H Smiths and Costa, loading up on hot chocolate and sweets. I buy a giant custard cream because (a) it’s a giant custard cream and (b) I think the excitement of travelling has gone to my head. We loiter around the airport while clever leader people make arrangements for taxis to take us to the travelodge. It turns out that hard case suitcases are really fun to spin around on. When the taxis arrive we try unsuccessfully to fit everyone in, but it just isn’t happening, so Isaiah and myself are volunteered to wait behind with the remaining luggage while the others are delivered to the hotel.

Not too much later and we are all together again.  We are given our room keys, dump our luggage, and have a team meeting and prayer time over chips and drinks – it’s around 9 o’clock at this point. We chill out in the restaurant for a bit longer before heading up to bed in preparation for what is to be a horrendously early start.

New Base Leader : Miriam Lowe

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Meet our new base leader!

Miriam Lowe is from New Zealand and joined YWAM in 1991 when she did a DTS at Homestead Manor. She came up to Carlisle in 1999 and helped her husband Richard start YWAM Carlisle in 2001. Miriam worked in the background and home-schooled their two sons, Jacob and Ben, while Richard was leading the base. Several years later Richard handed over the role of leadership to Emma who has just stepped down and is moving on to new ventures. Over the past few months Miriam has been meeting with Emma and talking about the possibility of taking on the role of base leader. Miriam believed that there was some unfinished business with her role in YWAM Carlisle and so she has accepted to lead the Carlisle base.

We sat down and asked Miriam what she’d like to see happen in this team and in the city and this is part of what she shared:

“Lots of Jesus stuff! I’d like to be a community of people who are about the Fathers business, a team who is growing up and working in partnership with God.  It’s about putting time into our team and maturing and becoming well developed in our relationship with God. “

We are excited to have Miriam as our leader and for this new season that we are heading in to. Please continue to pray for Miriam as she takes on this new role.

Please see below to read Miriam’s own profile.

Hi I’m Miriam from New Zealand

Doing my DTS 21 years ago I realised that there is the most amazing King who has the most amazing Kingdom – one full of all that is good and right, just and loving and that’s what He cares about -seeing His way come and invade ours and having every single wonderful person on planet earth hear about it.

What compels me is His heart for each one – that we would know the passionate love of Him as our Father, set into freedom by Jesus and living with all the life of the Holy Spirit and to go and do what Jesus did and more. So I get up in the mornings knowing that whatever I do today I want to be a part of creating possibilities to see this happen in the lives of those around me and out into all the world. I love that I can be a part of this family business where God invites us all to work in partnership alongside Him to see that each person gets to see meet Him for themselves.

 

 

 

St. Barnabas Youth Cafe

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Several of the DTS trainees and staff work at a youth café on Tuesday evenings that happens at St. Barnabas Church. It is run by the Network which is a youth church made up of cells whose goal is to reach out to young people in Carlisle and the surrounding areas. The café is a place for young people to come in from the cold and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, hang out and play ping pong.

Becky who is on the September DTS shares what she enjoys about working at the cafe…

“My favorite part about working at the cafe is just the fact that it’s the perfect environment to create opportunities for relationship. The kids that come week after week are really great, and since we see them on such a consistent basis, we actually get to slowly build friendships that allow us to care for and love on these kids; or if anything, just lets us live life together with them. We open up a safe environment for kids to hang out in, and a lot of the time now, those are pretty hard to find. I love that we get to offer that to them and that they are so willing to be a part of it, too. I believe Jesus was a lot about relationships, and so hopefully our ministry through the cafe, and the relationships and friendships we build there, will in turn become more and more a reflection of Him.”

Student Dinners

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We have loved making dinner for the university students on Wednesday evenings but they have come to an end for now.  It has been great to get to know the students and enjoy a meal together and build relationships. We asked several students to share what they have enjoyed about the meals and here’s what they had to say…

Great food – Shannon

A highlight of the Wednesdays! – John

Community Building – Matthew [the chaplain]

Good idea, easy way of cooking – Alice, Elly

Epic idea! Love it when I can go 😀 – Naomi

Awesomeness – Charlie

Most excellent – Oz

Awesome, really enjoy the food and socialising, perfect night to Wednesday and a good time. :) – Aimee

We’ve also had some very dedicated volunteers from St. James Church that have come to greet the students when they arrive and serve the food to them as well and we’re so grateful for all of their help!

Heather shares what it’s been like for her…

“I’ve loved it! It’s been awesome. I like people, and I want to greet people, I like that. I’ve been overwhelmed by the people who are coming, and I’ve been really touched by the many thank yous that I get from the people of YWAM.”

Alongside the dinners we have had some special events, such as trips to the lake district, picking rubbish in the neighborhood, etc. We have also run a Student Alpha course. The participants will continue to meet together to look further into the Christian faith.

We so appreciate all the prayers and support we’ve had in this ministry. Now we’re handing the running of the Student Dinners over to the Chaplaincy at the University (although we continue to have input) and they hope to start the dinners up again after the summer. God has worked so clearly through this ministry, and we hope and pray that he will continue to do so.

DTS Gathering in Wrexham

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The September and January DTS trainees headed down to Wrexham last week for the DTS Gathering, a week where several other bases come together for a week of teaching and evangelism. Here’s what a couple of the trainees have to say about their experience…

Kevin:

“One day we went out on the streets we asked people if there was anything we could pray for, had them write it down on postcards and then later prayed into it as a group. It was hard for me at first, until we hit this group of boys. They were a mixed experience. Some of them were genuinely curious, and some of them were just mocking us. They wrote down their prayers, and we left. Later I looked at the prayers. ‘Make weed legal’, ‘make me rich’ but then there was one that stood out to me. A simple message: pray for my stepbrother Matt to get better, he has leukemia. When we prayed into that, my heart just broke. I was in tears. God’s love for that guy and his family hit me like a sledgehammer, nothing less. Sharing it at testimony time that night was just as rough. And I knew that one guy, just one, made that whole day worth it. That day was titled a success after that, just because of a teenager smoking weed on the street, that suddenly understood what it was all about, and God shared his heart for the guy with me.”

Josien:

“For me the gathering was a step in faith. It was really nice to celebrate the goodness of God with so many people and to reach out to the people of Wrexham. It was the first time that I actually prayed for somebody on the streets and I was surprised that the people where so positive and open to prayer. One of the most inspiring moments for me was when we prayed for 4 boys of the age of 14-16. We prayed for them and they had a hard time trying to stay cool and not let the others see their emotions; God really moved and reached out to guys and used us to be part of that.”