Tuesday, September 1, 2009

i met God beneath the neon

Sawasdee Khrap!
Now I know what you're thinking, HOLY TEXT BATMAN! Sorry i've not any photos these last few posts, it's not working for some reason. But i promise to bring back tons of pictures yeah?

Alright so, brief update followed by an extensive testimony so buckle up. = )
We're still in Bangkok, Thailand and ministering here. Since my last update, we've been working in the slums, with the elderly, at churches, in the red light district, and at a college ministry. It's been amazing to see what God is up to here and i hope i can put some of it into words for you.
We split up the teams and Chelsea and I's team leaves for Indonesia on thursday. Please be praying for safe travels and a gentle culture shift as we go. Also, a team member was really sick and couldn't make it to Bangkok but is meeting us in Indo (recovered). That can potentially be a sticky situation so please be praying for her as well. Thank you, now onto the good stuff = )


We did ministry with Rak Teh (Thai for - love %100) last night. We went into the red light district and talked to men dressed as men that sell themselves to men. It wasn't the violent crash of awareness that Soi Cowboy was in my DTS (a huge shady section of town with hundreds of bars, "shows", "massage parlors" and brothels, as well as thousands of women selling themselves. You couldn't look anywhere, there was porn happening any place your eyes tried to find solace.) Soi Cowboy was amazing and changed me a lot but it also really shook me up and i'm glad we didn't put the students through it. I don't think most of them could've handled it.
This area was in Pat Pong (another large sketchy area, but not as visible) and was most of the prostitution where we were was a little more hush hush. It was all really chill until we turned down one little street and stumbled into the thick of it. Bars and brothels everywhere (HOTm@le, Banana Massage parlor, Bunny Boys Lounge, etcetera), all of the employees dressed in matching clothes corresponding to the they places they worked from. As we walked, we were called out to "Sawasdee khrap farang la!" ("Hey handsome foreigners") and every now and then and hand would reach out and softly grab our arms. It was dark there, beneath the neon. It was disturbing but not disgusting. It was intense but that's not what the Lord seemed to be preoccupied with. If I ever someone in God's image it was then. How could i be repulsed at someone whom God loves passionately enough to die for them? They weren't evil, they were people. Was it wrong? absolutely. Injust? without a doubt. Broken people do broken things. I won't talk myself up here either, I wasn't burning with holy compassion, I was swallowing anger and disgust as fast as I possibly could. God had given me a glimpse thus far but I did not want to talk to them. Not at all. However, being a snow white "farang" (foreigner) in Asia didn't help me much as in Asia, the paler you are, the more beautiful you are (which is normally such a cool thing...). So seconds into my eternal dialogue with a God, i was interrupted by Pi-Thui, our translator pulled me aside (and yes, her name sounds just like the spitting sound in cartoons when spoken aloud). She said that two of the boys wanted to talk to me . I turned to see two men around the age of 20ish smiling at me. We exchanged names (Bol and Ho...and Sam) and an awkward lingering handshake, heh heh. And then, we talked. "How long have you worked in Bangkok? do you have brothers and sisters? where in Thailand are you from? what's your favorite thai food? do you like bangkok? do you like working here? are you a buddhist? have you ever met a christian before? what do you think of them?"
They'd both been there for 2 years and hated Bangkok. They were from Isaan, an area in Northeast Thailand known for being well below the poverty line. Many young men and women from Isaan and other poor areas of the country are pressured into this business when the family's rice farm is no longer making enough money because of tariffs on rice in California! Parents hear of a neighbor's daughter working at a restaurant in the city that bought her family a new house and send their children to do the same. (A two sentence of summary of economic exploitation). These two might have been here for that reason or maybe not. They both hated working there. Neither of them liked having sex with men at all either They both had sisters they loved dearly and both loved Som Yum ( a spicy clear soup that basically ignites every antrum of your body with a blazing fire scooped from the deepest flames of infernal hell... but it's good). In fact they loved the stuff so much, they wanted to one day open a restaurant and make it to watch farang like me cry tears of fire. They were both buddhist and had never met a christian before. They asked what i was doing there? I told them, I love thailand, I love God, God loves Thailand, why not go to Thailand. They asked to know more so we shared everything we could. We talked for about 40 minutes or so and then prayed for them, for God to bless them abundantly and for Him to reveal His love to them. We told them we couldn't wait to eat at their restaurant the next time we came through Bangkok and left. This is just a little of last night's happenings.

I pray as you read this, you hear my heart. I don't wanna expose the gory details of the sinful world we live in, nor even paint a picture of the sex industry in Southern Asia, these people are exploited enough as is. And I don't intend at all to overlook sin, sin is huge, it's wrong and bad and will land you in Hell without Jesus. Homosexuality is one of them. But I did get a glimpse of the heart of a loving God last night. Graham Cooke put it this way. "We do not serve a God who's obsessed about our sin, He's obsessed with us. God doesn't get disillusioned with us because He never had any illusions about us in the first place. We all get so caught up on "Judgement"! Right now, we're in a season of prophetic grace, we're in between judgements, one in which the wrath of God was poured out on Christ and payed for us (delivering us from what? judgement) and one when God cleanses this world and takes us home. Until then, there is no judgement. There's discipline, God's loving smack upside the head to get us on the right track to deeper revelations of His amazing character. If we don't respond to it, it stores up, disciplines collect and, if you're really stupid, turn into chastisement. In which case, God pummels the crap out of you (spiritual crap, not literal) to make you holy. But there isn't judgement, no not yet. That's why God put us "in Christ" (Colossians 2). He put us in the one place where He couldn't love us any more or any less."
I pray this encourages you. Last night in the fog of electric lamps and synthetic love, i was caught in a flood of hope and i was soaked. So it's my prayer, that this is a drink of water for you, that the Lord would refresh you for His ridiculous goodness.
I don't know anyone more faithful.
If you have any questions, comments, or you hate my guts for what i just wrote, please feel free to send it to me.
I love you and miss you, I long to see you again soon. pray for me as i pray for you.
-Samuel

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sawasdee Khrap! Greetings from Thailand!

I'll do my very best to post this correctly but it's a little difficult since everything on this computer is in Thai. = )
My team arrived safely in Bangkok a few days ago and we've been loving it ever since. I cannot possibly express the wave of goodness that God has hit me with these past few days. Our God is so ridiculously faithful! I remember my trip to Thailand last year, in my DTS, and the things that God did in me were huge! He showed me a glimpse of His heart for these people and i've longed to come back ever since. And here i am, yet again on an uncertain adventure in the arms of a loving God. It doesn't get any better than Him.
The team is adjusting well. My guys aren't quite used to the Asian culture's quietness as they're a bit more on the um... rambunctious side. Bangkok in itself is pretty overwhelming but i'm so glad to see how little the radical culture shift has shocked our team. God is good.
Thus far, we've been mostly in and out of lectures on Human Trafficking and Sexual and Economic Exploitation. We get into the practicum of ministry in those areas in on Monday. In the mean time, check out these video links and you might get a little glimpse of what i'm talking about.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIvmE4_KMNw - The Girl Effect

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IJiWCHpFRs - Love 146

God has reall torn open my heart since coming here again; i've genuinely missed these ministry opportunities and i'm cherishing every minute of it. It's difficult seeing the injustice and the consequences of a Godless worldview, the chains around this nation but God is at work and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is great freedom.
That's all i can write for now. I love you all and i miss you dearly. Pray for me, my team, and God's glory as i pray for you.
Because of the Cross,
Samuel

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Summer DTS

it's hard to believe i've already been here six months. 
much has changed since i've last written, so please accept my deepest apologies for the speed at which i will try to catch you up. 
As i mentioned in my last post, I've entered into a different position here on the base and now get to be involved directly in the lives of the students as DTS staff. The Summer DTS (Discipleship Training School) started early June as  12 students mostly from the States,  with the exceptions of one Canadian, one Phillipina and one Australian, all of which the pinnacle of awesome = ) ;  nonetheless, the young missionaries arrived and the six-month journey began. 
The DTS program consists of two three month chapters: lecture phase and outreach. 
In the lecture phase, the students as well as the staff (myself, my coleader Chelsea, two other team leaders, and our school leaders: Tik, a fiery Thai girl and Isaac, the quintessential man's man) are challenged to go deeper in our walks with the Lord as we bring in speakers from all over the world to teach on various topics ranging from Hearing the Voice of God to Biblical Overview (4 years of seminarial bible study crammed neatly into 5 days).
It's been amazing to see the students grow and their beliefs be challenged and i can confidently say that for myself and the other DTS staff it's no less challenging the second time around. We have seen the Lord at work in big ways already and we're only a few weeks into the school. 

(the school, 12 students and  6 staff)
There's a myriad more to lecture phase than just lectures however. When not in lecture, the students are either engaging the community of Maui in local outreaches (helping local businesses, picking up trash in Paia or going down into the city and letting the Holy Spirit lead them), serving in local churches alongside YWAM staff,  or in Outreach Preparatory classes.  In the meantime, Chelsea and I serve alongside them, pray with them and help bring the lectures  from the head to the heart, teach in small group times, and scramble to set up the upcoming outreach.

The students were prayerfully broken up into two teams, each with 6 students and both headed to separate locations in Asia short-term to serve for long-term missionaries there. Chelsea, myself, and our wonderful team will be off to the multi-national island of Borneo. The island, half Malaysia and half Indonesia, will be pretty much everything you'd stereotype about a mission trip overseas. We will be sleeping on the ground, sheltered by mosquito nets and makeshift houses,  jungle-trekking through villages  in increasing degrees of isolation from the outside world, eating rice accompanied by obscure parts of obscure animals. All of our laundry, bathing, and a huge chunk of ministry and recreation will be centered around a river running through the country's wooded green labyrinth. I'll fill you in more on outreach in the weeks to come as it's still in planning stages.


(Benaiah and i after a ridiculous three day camping trip known affectionately as Exodus, slightly on the dirty side)
(Doug, Kristolyn and Matt, three of the Borneo team students)
Our team, some of which in the pictures above, is everything i've prayed for. I've been so encouraged them, they each have such a hunger for the Lord that is so refreshing. Our team consists of four ladies, and two strapping young gentlemen (insane yet strapping nonetheless). It's so good to see the Lord working on each of them individually and getting to be a small part of guiding them towards the person the Lord is drawing them into. 
These are definitely exciting times on the base, I'll be sure to fill you in more in the upcoming weeks about how the students are, how i am, outreach details and more of what God is doing. In the meantime, please pray for us. Pray for Chelsea and I, that the Lord would give us wisdom as we lead and unity. Our team, for the Lord to continue to mature us and give us His heart for eachother and the island of Borneo. Finances: the first $2ooo of our 3,300 dollar outreach was due yesterday and a large portion of it has yet to come on my end, Chelsea's and a few of the student's.  God will provide and i'm not worried but please be praying with me. Health and protection. And above all the God is glorified in and through me, this team, this base, the nations.
I love and miss you all so much. I pray for you each time i think of you and i love hearing from you. Your prayers, packages, letters, and funds have helped me so much and allowed me to continue in the Lord's call on my life. 
feel free always to call, write, facebook... or hey come and visit!



Monday, April 20, 2009

Centipedes and the upcoming Summer


Wow, it's hard to believe the students left almost a month ago and we were flung headlong into the Spring quarter. It's been a season of both rest and preparation.
At the beginning of each quarter we hold staff training sessions to equip new staff as well as to remind old staff as to why we're here doing this, to disciple students and spread the Gospel for the glory of God. Now since there were no new staff coming on this quarter we decided to do some team-building and what better way to come together than camping?! So the 20 or so staff all packed up and went to Hana (a rural part of Maui and one of the top ten most beautiful cities in America) and camped out by the ocean, did some worship and mostly hung with the Lord and eachother.

(centipede- aka demon creature from the lowest depths of the infernal abyss. A friend of mine woke up to this little darling crawling on her face. You don't wanna get bit by one of these guys, if you do: curtains.)


that's more or less how i'd sum up this quarter so far: enjoying the presence of God and the mirth of eachother. A woman in one of the churches we go to just lost her home due to the declining economy and had to move everything to a house she owned out in Hana. The house hasn't been used in quite a while and needed MAJOR cleaning so we volunteered. Two weekends in Hana, who'd pass that up?


We spent all day Friday cleaning this house, killing bugs and renovating it's enormous lawn. It reminded me of a home my family and i tore down in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. That evening the guys slept out in tents on the lawn and got up early the next morning to enjoy Hana in all it's glory. We saw a few waterfalls, swam through an underground cave and took in the sights.

Life on the base has been peaceful and sweet, giving me more time to just be with the Lord each morning and evening.
Revival Maui has had a few Rumbles as well as a Life Siege and a Purity Siege since I last wrote and is blooming into a pretty amazing ministry. We keep having more and more people, of all generations, showing up each month just to worship God and pray on behalf of Maui.


As i said earlier, this season is one of both rest and preparation, and as i said in an earlier blog, i have some exciting news. I have been asked to staff the Summer DTS. In just a little over a month, the DTS Coordinators along with myself and my co-leader Chelsea will be pouring ourselves directly into a team of students. For three months we will disciple and equip them to bring them to do the same both at home and abroad. At the end of this 3 month lecture phase, Chelsea and I will lead them off to the depths of Southeast Asia and they'll spend the next three months imparting all that they've learned. And let me tell you, I'm so excited for this opportunity! It's why i'm here. I don't have all the details just yet, like how many students or where our outreach will be but when i do, you'll be sure to know. Until then, i covet your prayers for the task ahead of me, Chelsea, the summer school and this team of students.




(My Co-leader Chelsea)

(oh and be sure to check out the new YWAM Maui Website at http://ywammaui.com as well as the Revival Maui site at http://revivalmaui.com)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Winter Quarter sum up

Alas, we're rapidly approaching the end of the Winter Quarter here at YWAM Maui which means job changes for some base staff, new staff arriving, less rainy weather (hallelujah!) and most of all Outreach for our Winter DTS students. It's amazing to see how far they've come in only three months and so exciting to see their fiery anticipation to "go and make disciples" and pour out just as we as staff have poured into them.

-team Borneo-


It feels like just the other day, we were running to and fro from the airport to pick up 30 or so terrified twenty-somethings and now they're headed into the core of Southeast Asia. I'll provide a brief aper├žu as to what the last three months have looked like.
At our Maui YWAM base and at every YWAM base throughout the world, we accept students, also from all over the world, to come and train. Our primary school is called a Discipleship Training School (DTS). It boils down to three months of intensive spiritual cultivation in the students followed by a three month outreach to "put feet to the faith" they'd just invested themselves in. So in the several months, the lecture phase, we bring in speakers also from all over the world to come and share what God has shown them. We cover topics ranging from pre-evangelism and basic Christianity, to Hearing the Voice of God (take it from a born-and-raised southern-baptist, prophecy is always an... "intense" topic, much like dancing probably would be, hehehe...) and Godly models for relationships (platonic, fraternal and romantic alike).
Believe me when i say it's an intense schedule. There's only a little time each weekday that isn't fore-ordained for ministry.





-team China-


This group of students is particularly close to my heart. I've been so blessed to work with them in the kitchen, or help to hone their gifts in musical worship, to spend my weekends with, or just stay up late in the guy's house (the "Testoster-home") and talk to. They came to the base already annointed people and after three months, you can see such visible changes in their walks with the Lord. It's so amazing to see people that you've spent so much time praying for laying hands on you and praying for you because you're sick or look sad or simply because they felt like the Lord asked them to.
Not one of them isn't going on Outreach which in itself is a miracle as there was a huge financial need (thankfully God operates from a seperate economy). We saw thousands of dollars come in for these students, some of which may have been the Lord's physical hand directly (if you haven't read my previous blog "hilarious givers", check it out, sweet stuff!).
Every second of time spent on these students has come back ten-fold (turns out investing in people works every time... well unless you're Madoff...).





On Tuesday, we send out the three teams of students to their outreach locations (China, Borneo and Bangladesh). For the next three months they'll be trekking through jungles and sharing the gopsel, or teaching in underground churches (which, much to my dissapointment and possibly yours I'll inform you, are not typically "under" ground). = )
So keep them in your prayers, that God would strengthen them and bless them, that He'd give them His words and His hands to serve, that many would come to know the infinite and personal God of Heaven and that above all He'd receive all the glory.

As for me, this next quarter means a much-needed season of rest on the base. I'm still working in the kitchen however the mouths to feed have dropped for 60+ down to 12 or so. This also gives me more time to serve the base in worship and our local churches, to soak up and pour into the other staff here and also to work more with Revival Maui (also some blog stuff you should check out, "Purity Siege").

-Chelsea and I's birthday Thai food excursion extravaganza!-




I also have some very exciting news to share with you for upcoming days in my YWAM life but that can wait for now.
love you all and i miss you.

Because of the Cross,
Samuel

Thursday, March 12, 2009

hilarious givers

i've seen the Lord provide before.
in small ways, in big ways
in subtle ways and obvious ways
in ways asked for and, by human standards, ways that are just plain wierd
but never like He is lately.


Like all schools, this one has some students that can't afford outreach, a mystery both daunting and exciting that's rapidly approaching our avid missionary-to-be's. some need only a couple hundred dollars and some a couple thousand to make this trip possible and turns out God's not even remotely phased by this "deficit".
this is just a couple testimonies as to what God's up to.

there's a white board in the middle of our lecture hall/family room/dining area/foozeball arena/anything-else-social area. On it is a list of ten or so names of students who owe money for outreach. The leaders wanted people to know who needed what so the staff and students would know how to pray as well as how to give. almost hourly, i get to watch with a smile as the numbers go down (it's almost like the stock market, except no smile there).

there's a girl here who owes a couple thousand dollars before she can head off to Bangladesh. every penny she gets is put toward outreach and she's been praying like crazy for God to move. She found 800 dollars placed in her journal the other afternoon. Immediately, the Lord asked her to give it someone else, so she did. no one knew she gave this money away... (well i mean except for me... and now all of you) = ) In only a day, she received another 800 dollars from various anonymous people on the base, some staff, some students.
I love that. If we keep open hands open, God will always fill them. He's just good like that.

another girl here was blessed with every dime she would need for outreach before she even got here, which is amazing. Normally, the students send out tons of support letters, make heaps of phonecalls, scrounge under couch cushions, collecting each dollar sometimes up to the day of their flight. She wrote support letters too. and the money she received, she gave away to those who needed it.

another guy here (this one is my favorite) had a debt of 3,374 big ones. This is before the white board was even posted, nobody really knew how much everyone owed. He was going to bed and there was only one other student in the room. He starts to climb into his bunk and he sees a $100 dollar bill sitting on his pillow. He turned and asked the student if he had given it to him. the student said no and he didn't know who did. he started at getting into his bed again but in the same spot as before, he saw a few more $100 dollar bills. Now he's freakin' out.
"dude, was this you?"
"no man"

he felt something at his feet and looked down to see a small stack of even more hundreds. the two students sat on a bed and counted it all out: 20 of them in all.
TWO. THOUSAND. DOLLARS. right there and no one knows how it got there or how he didn't notice it all at once. in all honesty, myself, this student and some others i've talked to on base, believe that the Lord just stuck His good arm down into the finite and placed a 100 dollar bill on his pillow. When he saw how excited His beneficiary was, He must have thought
"ah what the heaven, i'll give him some more."
a week later, a thousand more came in the mail for him from someone who couldn't afford it but somehow did. 3000 dollars in one week!

{you know what the craziest part is. as i was typing this, there was a knock on my room door. it was this student. he asked if i could come talk to him. He wanted to pray and prophesy over me, you know what he ended up praying for? my finances. he had NO IDEA i was writing this.}

God's just so flippin' cool it blows me away sometimes.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

proskuneo


one of the words that our word worship comes from is proskuneo. it means to incline towards in attempt to kiss. it's paints a picture of gentle proximity to the Infinite God. intimacy without impediment.


i know this is a cheesy example but you know in the movie Hitch:
will smith is trying to explain to...um... the other guy... how he should approach kissing the girl (who's oddly named after an allergy medication.. not relevant, sorry... but it is wierd though right? anyway...)
he tells him to lean in real close.
"you go 90, she goes ten."
i'm starting to think that God is permanently bent over, inclined in at 90% just waiting for us to respond to His first move, to lean in only a little so He can sweep us away in an infinite instance.
lately, you could say God and I have been doing a lot of kissing.


I'm getting to lead or help lead almost four times a week this last month or so: twice a week there's base worship (one large-ish and typically louder and one that's more creative, quiet and chill), every tuesday night for the Winter DTS intercession times ( it's called a rumble. it's basically an hour or so of nonstop worship and focused prayer ), then often at the local churches on sundays and friday nights, and then once a month we do a HUGE rumble and pray for purity on Maui.




my heart here isn't at all to brag. i'm replete with limitations when it comes to music. i just remember way back to 7th grade Sam just starting to learn guitar; the shy kid who only dreamed of playing for his Creator with maybe 10 people around once in a while, now leading all the time for anywhere to upwards of 100 people.
it's cool to just see the Lord working my simple, small dreams into His infinite plan and i didn't have to seek these opportunities out. He didn't have to, He's got a lot bigger of an agenda than writing songs for me and yet He, the Creator, loves creating. i don't know, He's just so flippin' good...