A wise man once said to me “discipleship is like parenting…sometimes your kids throw up on you, you have to be ready to clean em’ up and keep going.”
So far, in my experience as a parent (to my 3 beautiful children) there are some things that are very consistent…
- Someone spills something daily.
- My kids whine when they are tired.
- They like things that are not good for them, like sugar and video games.
- My kids surprise me with how smart they are! And how kind they are to others! And how much they really do love Jesus!
- Big brothers like to torment little sisters.
- Little sisters like to torment big brothers.
- Even amongst the drama of tormenting each other…my kids love one another deeply.
- Parenting is more work than I thought.
- Parenting is way better than I thought.
- Every night I go to bed exhausted…but every night I thank Jesus that I have the most amazing life.
Leading DTS is no different. You really never know what is going to happen. From one day to the next your “kids” may whine, spill, gravitate towards things that are bad for them…and then totally blow you out of the water by how caring, kind, generous and in love with Jesus they are! It’s more work than I was expecting, but definitely more rewarding than I could have imagined. “The greatest miracle is a transformed heart.” Transformed hearts are happening daily here in Kona…a fulfilling way to live for sure!
For the most part, our group of students came into DTS not sure what to expect. Scared, excited, intimidated…and some very wounded and dry. We have 10 different nations represented in our school, which means that English is NOT everyone’s first language. Monja from Germany…ChoHee from Korea…Arlette from Paraguay…it is a beautiful thing to see the Nations of the world come together and become family. I constantly think to myself “what would it be like to go and do a DTS in Korea, or Germany…where everyone is speaking Korean or German?” DTS is a time where God brings up the things in our hearts that are hurting and need to be healed. What would it be like to do that in another language? Not to mention the cultural differences in each of these nations. Our sweet Korean students must have been shocked at how bold and boisterous us American’s can be. Our American and European students are constantly trying to get our Asian students to talk more. How in the world do we have such love and unity with each other as a huge, international family? Only by the grace of God!
Every week has been life changing for our students, our staff and us as leaders. Our line up of speakers has entailed: Aaron and Ronda Barker (that’s us!); Mark Anderson (leader of Call2All organization); Loren and Darlene Cunningham (Founders of YWAM); Scotty Kessler (highly influential and intense discipleship trainer); Brian Brennt (Founder of City Central Church and crazy revivalist); Matt and Laura Nelson (our co-leaders and revivalist friends!); Edwin Fillies (YWAM pioneer, base leader in South Africa and Switzerland, founder of “Nations to Nations”); Peter Xu (leader of a Chinese Underground Church movement that has 20 million believers in it’s network…has been in prison 5 times for the Gospel!); Erik Fish (leader of a simple church planting movement on universities); Danny Lehmann (YWAM Pioneer and gifted speaker, teacher and evangelist); and Andy Byrd (base leader of YWAM Kona as well as leader/pioneer of the Fire & Fragrance movement). Just reading this list again makes me smile over the faithfulness of the Lord to provide all of these amazing people to speak to our group!
Our weekly schedule consists of daily lectures, 2 hour blocks of time in the prayer room for prayer and worship, small groups, one on one discipleship times, work duties, ministry nights, community outreach nights, as well as plenty of “Ohana,” or “family” time as a group. On top of all of that our students are required to do a weekly journal assignment, several book reports…outreach prep, oh and we have forced all of them to train for the next “Peaman” race (a monthly race held down at the pier).
As their “parents,” we have seen a few complaints, some sad faces at times, and tired/bloodshot eyes…but more than that we have seen a group of students fall radically in love with Jesus, rally to give their lives away and commit to following Him for the rest of their lives! What more could we ask for?
With the help of our amazing staff we have seen: Jeremy turn into William Wallace, Nali turn into freedom girl, Arlette’s sorrow turned into joy, Erin’s voice come alive, Alex rockin’ it for God, Brenda gain fresh vision as a mother of the faith, Livingstone lead out as a man of God…and SO much more. Rayelle is going to lead a Children’s army someday….Jess is a prophetess…Jaime is a fire starter for Jesus…Eric is a wild man for God…and on and on and on.
In just two weeks we will be breaking into teams to share the Gospel with the nations. We have teams going to Brazil, The Philippines, LA/NY and Kenya. Our family has the privilege of leading the Brazil team where we will be working with a local church in the city of Sao Paulo, doing “boat ministry” evangelism up north in Imperatriz (a gateway city to the Amazon), as well as working with local tribes in Campo Grande. Our kids have been practicing their soccer skills as well as eating tons of beans just to prepare themselves for this next adventure.
I can’t imagine what it will feel like when my own children graduate from high school…or college, or get married…when I am already a basket case when they do things like ride a bike for the first time, score a goal on the soccer field, or go up on stage for a small performance. If I feel so much joy over the little things in my children’s lives…how much joy must our Heavenly Father feel as he sees his kids become passionate for Him, excited to go to every nation with the Gospel?
There is really no greater honor than serving the King.
**Stay tuned for some blog entries by our students and staff…I want you to hear first hand from those whose lives are being radically transformed. It is a joy to work with such an amazing group of people. Thank you Jesus.
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