Monday, June 21, 2010

Part II - What YWAM Perth *does*

Last week I gave some idea of what it is I am doing here in Australia, and I promised that I would also give a quick sketch of what the bigger picture is of YWAM, and specifically of YWAM Perth. So....without further ado, let's go!

First of all, I'll briefly explain what YWAM is - although I think most people are somewhat familiar with it, so I'll make it quick. Youth With A Mission (YWAM) was founded 50 years ago with the idea that years of theological training did not necessarily qualify people to serve the Lord effectively, and should not be a requirement before encouraging young people to pass on the love of Christ through missions. At the time, this was considered a revolutionary concept. Over the last 40 years, YWAM has grown to more that 16,000 people serving in over 1,000 bases on every continent and in over 160 nations around the world with the mission to "know God and make Him known".

YWAM Perth was started 25 years ago with 10 people and has grown to be about 300 staff, plus hundreds of students coming through the wide variety of training programs each year. There are dozens of ministries operating from the base, both in Perth and throughout the world. I will focus today on some of the training programs, as well as some of the ministries we have going on.

The *culture* of the base is one of working hard as a family. And we do work hard...there are no scheduled days off during the year except for Christmas day, and even this we spend together! We eat 2 meals together a day, and the singles are squeezed in 10-12 people per house! Despite this, everyone seems to get along really well. One thing I have really appreciated about the family atmosphere is how inclusive and inviting everyone is - there really is a sense of family here. Corporately we have many times together each week (in addition to 2 meals per day)...worship on Mondays, intercession on Tuesday and Fridays, staff meeting on Wednesdays, evangelism on Thursdays, and Friday night meetings. Everyone spends the first 1/2 hour of the day working together to get the base cleaned up and we also have a lot of family times doing things like going to the beach or park, BBQ's, game nights, movies, etc. It is definitely a bit different than the way we do things back home! It hasn't always been an easy transition for me, but I am learning and growing each day.

So, let's start with the training programs - the primary "school" being the DTS (Discipleship Training School). This is the entry level school for anyone wanting to be involved with YWAM, or for those just wanting to set aside 6 months to really focus on who God is and get His heart for them and for the world. This is what YWAM is best known for.

There are also a multitude of 2nd and 3rd level schools. These schools are generally 3-12 months in length and train people in more specialized areas. Did you know you can actually earn your AA, BA, MA and PhD through YWAM? Yup!

So, there are a few dozen higher level schools here in Perth, covering topics like health care, counseling, biblical studies, education/youth & child ministries, media, frontier missions (unreached peoples), worship/music, community development, community transformation, etc. All in all, there are over 35 different schools offered each year with about 500 students coming in for training. Wow! That's a lot!

Moving on to the ministries here...I'll just focus on a few, but you can actually find out lots more (if you're just REALLY wanting to know all the details!!) at - it's actually a great site!

So, basically, it is helpful to recognize that all YWAM ministries focus around 3 primary areas - evangelism (making God known), training and mercy ministries. Within these 3 areas, YWAM has identified 7 "spheres of influence" that they feel cover the various aspects of society - religion, government & law, arts & entertainment, education, busines, media, and family. Hopefully that helps give some perspective.

As you can imagine, much of what we do covers multiple "areas" and "spheres" - for example, my ministry - Pathway - would be both evangelistic and mercy ministry in scope, and covers different spheres such as religion, education, and family. Yeah? Yeah!

Okay, so here is a quick look at the ministries we have going on here in Perth, and a brief description of them...

100 Clinics - planting 100 mother-and-child health clinics in poor communities throughout the world where there is little to no health care. They train local people using *simple health care* teaching in areas like: how to deal with diarrhea, dehydration, nutrition, etc.

Ark International (Children at Risk) - we are "defending the rights of children at risk, restoring their dignity as children of God, and developing their God-given gifts" in this ministry. Who are children at risk? Kids who are impoverished, abused, neglected and worse.

Art Refuge - these ladies use art to connect with people and create a place for people to open up and talk. They work with abused women, homeless people, the elderly, and those in detention. Plus, they do a lot of teaching around the base and working with the different schools there.

Asia Impact - There are over 10,000 Asian-Buddhists in Perth, and we are very close to many Asian nations. These guys partner with Asian churches in the area and are reaching the Asian community for Christ.

Australian Relief and Mercy Services - Also knows as "ARMS", they work with families at risk for short periods helping in whatever way is needed - cleaning house, watching children, running errands, gardening, and just being there in tough times.

Backbone (Support Staff) - well, I guess this one speaks for itself, huh? These servant-hearted folks take care of those things like: property, vehicle maintenance, kitchen, accounts, hospitality, accommodation, etc.

Bible Education and Leadership Training - in partnership with Wycliffe, training church leaders in Nepal, the Congo and the Pacific leading toward community trasformation.

Boomerang Teams - this is the "short term" outreach opportunities for people to get a taste of missions - similar to what I did in Chico.

Children's Resource Centre - this ministry is based in Thailand and is a partnership with ARMS, ARK and Asia Impact offering counseling, education, and training for children at risk. They work in slums, with trafficked children and offer sports programs - the Nak Suu Tigers rugby academy.

Create International - they make movies and other media projects for cross cultural evangelism that are in the mother language and are culturally relevant to different people groups - similar to the "Jesus" films.

Faces 58 - their goal is to transform communities and to see the faces of the people change.

Island breeze - using dance, music and dramas from the Islands to share the gospel.

Justice for Women and Children - fairly self-explanatory, but focused primarily on women and children who have been trafficked into the sex trade.

Media - part of the "backbone" ministry, they put together all forms of media for the base; including print, internet and video - these guys are very talented!

Megacities - with a vision to transform large cities, they coordinate with churches in different cities and surrounding areas to pour into that city for a full year with hundreds of teams from our base, as well as other bases and ministries. The 2010 city focus is Mexico City. We will be focusing on London in 2012.

Mission Builders - these are short-termers who come and help out at the base for any amount of time from 1 week to 3 months. Looking to check out YWAM, or just want to come alongside and help in a variety of areas? This is a great place to do it!

Sports Ministry - using sports to connect with youth and communities in order to share the love of Christ.

Youth Ministries - working with youth in a variety of ways - through school presentations, discipleship, sports, camps, music, youth groups, etc.

Yeah, so this is just a snapshot of some of the things going on here! This past Friday night, we were given some statistics of what we have accomplished in the past 3 months...check it out!

- we have spent over 2,000 hours in prayer in JUST our prayer chain time...which, by the way, is a 24/7 prayer chain that has been going on for over 12 years now!
- over 100,000 hours of work and ministry have been completed - all of this being *volunteer* work, as no one is paid a salary.
- we have seen over 1,000 people come to the Lord!

Well, although there is so much more going on that I could talk about, I will end now. Some things just have to be experienced, don't you think?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

"What is it you *DO* exactly???"

I get this question a lot, and I have to admit - it's a hard one. Not because I'm not doing much, but because what I'm doing is vast and huge and has many implications. Not only that, but I'm only a part of the whole, which is doing even more and is even that much more intricate and vast. Where to start? How to put it into a short blurb so you don't see the ol' eyes glaze over, yet offers enough information to adequately cover the question? Ah yes, that is the trick!

Importantly, and legitimately, I need to clearly communicate what I'm doing. After all, I'm asking people to support me and the work the Lord has called me to! So, I have decided to do a multi-part series that covers this question, as well as the following...what YWAM Perth is doing, my vision and plans for the next 3-5 years (and beyond), perspectives on sharing my needs – outlining the big picture, scripture study on giving to missions and missionaries, a discussion on the standard of living for missionaries, and why I’m in it for the long haul (and what that means).

By they way...did you know that you can receive email notification when I update my blog? It's true! And it's easy! Take a look up at the top of this page - no, not that far up....yeah - there! See in the upper left hand area where the word "follow" is? Just click on it, and put in your email address. Yup - it's that easy.

Okay then - let's get to it. So what is it I *do* exactly?

You probably already know that the ministry I am working with is called "Pathway". The short of it is that we are working with refugees and immigrants as they come to Australia, helping them in a variety of ways as they integrate into this new society. What that means on a daily basis is that I go out and meet with families to help them with practical things like: English, cooking, parenting, driving, navigating the bus system, going to the doctor, explaining bills, budgeting, etc.

Just who are these refugees, you ask? For the most part, they come from "unreached" people groups - meaning people who come from nations where Christianity is restricted or illegal and there is no viable church and less than 2% of the population are Christian. They are brought to Australia because their own country is so unsafe for them - due to war, famine, political unrest, and dire personal threat (of imprisonment, torture and death). They have seen and endured things no human should ever know about. They come primarily from the Middle East, Northern Africa and Central & Southeast Asia. Most are Muslim, although some are Hindu, Buddhist and even a few are Christian.

Most of the time, I am invited to come in to their homes to help them learn English. Although refugees are eligible to receive English training, many young moms are unable to go since they don't drive and have no one to watch after their children. They remain completely isolated. We meet these ladies in many different ways - door knocking, in the mall, on the bus, through social service agencies, word-of-mouth, etc. We make our home visits in pairs, at least until we know a person well. Although we start off with English, it quickly develops into many other areas. Since these women tend to be young moms with small children, one of my favorite ways of working with them is to come alongside them as a mother would and help them in their parenting.

So, as I said, most every day we are heading out to meet with different ladies - two or three per day. Some we meet with weekly, others fortnightly and still others occasionally. This is in addition to the various things happening at the base, such as Monday morning worship, Tuesday & Friday morning intercession, Wednesday afternoon staff meetings, Thursday night evangelism and Friday night meetings!

We are going to be starting to work in the detention centers next month, as well as partnering with local social servce agencies to serve the refugee community. Right now we have two free English classes per week, and will be expanding on that - at the Migrant Resource Center and also at the detention center. When refugees first get here, they spend from several months to a few years in detention while their background is checked out, and so we will be working with the people there. We are also starting to work with the Immigration department, to be the "first contact" for people - picking them up at the airport, and working closely with them for the first 6 weeks they are in the country in finding housing, work, furnishings, getting settled in, etc. All of this with only 2 of us full-time in the department!! We also have another person who is with us 6 months of the year and one more who is with us about 1/2 time as well.

You may be wondering about the spiritual aspect of what we are doing with these ladies. Most of my English lessons are centered around what I would term "Kingdom principles", meaning we talk about unconditional love, guilt and shame, forgiveness, etc. All of this is intended to get the ladies thinking about the bigger picture and how they fit into it, and leading up to deeper discussions of who God is, who Jesus is and what the Bible says. Since almost all of them are Muslim, they already believe in one supreme God, and they respect Jesus as a prophet - but they have been given some gross misinterpretations of who He is. For example, they have been told that Jesus didn't actually die on the cross, that he was switched with Judas at the last minute, but no one realized it because they looked similar. In much of this, only the Lord can reveal the truth to their hearts, so a lot of our preparation is spent in prayer, prayer and more prayer, seeking the Lord for His help and strategies.

We also regularly pray with the ladies, and they are very open to this. We are handing out Bibles in peoples' native languages and doing all we can to introduce them to the God who loves them personally and profoundly. Additionally, we have some videos we watch & discuss with them such as the Jesus film, More Than Dreams (this is a major way God is reaching Muslims right now...we Christians aren't going to them, so He is sending His Spirit in their dreams!!), and others like it - they are in the native languages of the people we work with (a lot of them are made by a YWAM Perth ministry called CREATE International).

The Muslim community is considered "resistant" to the gospel, and the reasons for this are deep and complicated. However, we have seen some good fruit in our ministry. One family of siblings are very interested in accepting Jesus as Lord. One of the brothers already has, and the other two meet with us regularly with lots of questions. This is not a quick process, and you have to be willing to walk alongside people throughout it. There are two young men who recently were saved and baptized and are so excited about the Lord. Many others are hungry and eager to learn more. We've seen several who have received instant healing after we've prayed for them - from migraines, back pain, for work. It all works together!

Well, this is a snapshot of what I'm doing here...I feel like I could go on, because there is so much more, but I'll end here! In July I'll be taking a course to earn a certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), which will take 3 months. This will not only help in what I'm doing currently, but will also help as I move forward into other countries to minister, as ESL is always in high demand.

As I mentioned before, I'm going to be putting out a little multi-part series to address several topics...I expect to get one out per week or so - I'd love your feedback! Thanks and God bless you!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Mild Meanderings of the Mind

I'm thinking maybe I should write a book about my's been pretty interesting, really. Shocking at times. I don't know that people would believe some of the things that I've been through. Hmmm...maybe it would be a way to earn some additional support.

Speaking of support, I've realized I'm at approximately 50% of what I need to be at. That is not good. I have sufficient funds for my monthly expenses if I'm careful, but not enough to plan for the future. Currently, the future includes: Sierra's senior year in school, going home to visit in June 2011, renewing our visas (and Sierra's passport), medical insurance renewal, etc. So, I'm open to creative and clever ideas to increase my support base! Any ideas?

So I've started getting back to my hippie days a bit...okay, not really, but in a way! I was always fascinated by all-natural things and by home remedies, organic foods, gardening, etc. For the past year or so I've been making a point to eat more "whole" foods - sometimes called "clean" foods - basically, things as close to their natural state as possible. And, lately I've also been making things from scratch a lot more and not having much processed food. I'm really enjoying it and it's igniting a desire in me to learn about gardening! There is a store here called Kakula's in which they sell tons of bulk whole - several different types of flour, or herbs, or whatever - and you can buy as much or as little as you like. It's basically like a natural foods store from back home. I really like it.

It makes me think of what I used to dream of when I was a little girl...I had visions of living on a farm, with lots of children, and animals. It eventually grew to be orphaned and foster children that were on that farm. Now I'd like to see moms, too...learning about parenting, nutrition, work skills, being discipled in their faith. I've picked up and laid down this idea a hundred times in the past. Recently, a friend and I were talking and found out that we have the same exact dream, down to every detail. Hmmm...where are you taking this, Lord?

I simply cannot believe Sierra will be 16 this month. Is it even possible that I am old enough to have a 16 year old daughter? And not only that, but a daughter who graduates High School in a year and a half? Impossible, I say! I'm absolutely in mourning about her growing up and over the fact that I don't have more children. I feel like I still have so much more "mothering" in me. I definitely want more that weird?

Well, I s'pose that's all for now...maybe I'll meander on a bit more another time....night y'all!