re·viv·al – a restoration to bodily or mental vigor, to life or consciousness.
I recently led a four-week outreach up to the East Coast and back down to Texas. There was a mix of mega-churches, hurricane relief, college ministry and a major national event we served on this trip. I was with a team of 26 that were primarily Discipleship Training School (DTS) students. For those unfamiliar with Youth With A Mission (YWAM), a DTS is the entry-level school that all YWAM’ers must complete. For most coming to YWAM, the “DTS Outreach” is their first taste of missions, and for all, it is their first chance to share about their new-found relationship. Around the globe I have asked missionaries about their DTS, and almost always the first response is a story from outreach. Personally, DTS Outreach forever changed my life, which I have written about on this site. No eight week period of my life has done more for re-framing and organizing my goals, ambitions, and dreams for my future than what I experienced on my DTS outreach to New Orleans, South Korea, and China. I remember it like yesterday, sitting on an over crowded train, late at night, passing through Beijing after a long day of ministry when one of the most fulfilling moments of my life washed over me. Or, how 48 hours into that outreach, I was standing in front of 20 teenage boys inside a juvenile detention center outside of New Orleans; only 16 months removed from being in jail, and 13 months since becoming a Christian myself. There is just something about Outreach and how the Bible, Jesus, scriptures, truths, principles, and Holy Spirit come alive when you put them into application. Of course, it is not isolated to special trips called “outreach” in order to experience these things; however, for most it is the first time there is intentionality to share their story of God – and He honors that. So through that deliberateness, the most memorable experiences are created. It’s like a first date with the woman you love x Christmas morning x what I am sure the birth of a child is like! God comes alive and you never forget it. It breathes revival into your life.
I share that to give insight into the awesome privilege and responsibility I have before God and the students I am fortunate to lead on these trips. Yes, God will move despite the leader, but also yes, the leader of these trips can significantly facilitate encountering God for the students. Not all that come to do a DTS go on to become full-time missionaries, but I believe all that graduate DTS are forever changed, and the outreach portion is a central brush stroke in the mosaic that is created within a person’s life. Fortunately, the location God directed us towards back in June happened to be experiencing revival.
This past group of students from all over America were special. Never have I led a group that caused me to look in the mirror each day and evaluate my own attitude. They were hungry for God, it was raw, it was revival in their hearts. Each day had its own hurdles, as all outreaches face, but from top to bottom they were there for each other, good attitudes, focused, deliberate for things of God. Couple that with real, passionate, unembellished focus of each organization and ministry we worked with, and it was an outreach leaders dream come true. Here are a few stories from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia Beach
Gospel Hut, Raleigh, NC – This was the easiest, most noticable depiction of revival on our trip. As we gathered in the medium-sized living room of a college house shared by four girls, I could sense this meeting was different. We joined a weekly worship and prayer meeting called Gospel Hut, which is geared towards college students in the Raleigh/Durham area. There were 75 people in the living room! We worshiped for an hour and it was the loudest I worship set I have ever been a part of. There was a moment when I looked around and saw dozens of millennials singing-crying-laughing and it took me back to my days at Shiloh. The worship was vulnerable and sincere; identical to how it was with the guys having their lives restored during the worship times at Shiloh. There was a literal restoration to body and mental vigor as the definition describes. Especially at the end as the leader of the group asked to pray for the leaders of our team. I stood in the middle of several as they waited, listened and shared what God spoke to them. A certain word is still ringing in my spirit. It is partly because of the anticipation, but also because of the responsibility it carries, which slightly nerves me. He said that God was going to extend the tent pegs of my influence, and it wasn’t just in the material realm of assets and resources, but also in people. He felt that in the coming season individuals would come into my life that would be people I walk most closely with. Not just ministry friends, but individuals I would walk hand-in-hand with, discipling and imparting into. The atmosphere can only be described as revival.
Oak Tree Academy, Virginia Beach, VA – Our first two days in Virginia Beach we were charged with helping an annual seminar at a local Christian school called the “RE-Conference”. Typically the themes of this conference begin with a “RE-” word such as, Regenerate, Reconcile, Restore, etc. But unusually, due to the Hurricane, as well as the unexpected death of a principal, there was not a theme at this years “RE-Conference”. Our involvement the first day was nothing more than sitting at a table with a group of teenagers. The ratio was one YWAM’er to four teenagers processing in small groups, and building relationship – or trust – with the teenagers. The second day, we shared a little more from the stage about missions and ways they could live missional as teenagers. And at the end of the second day we performed a production we brought on this outreach that was based on three of the DTS students real-life testimonies. It was a powerful strategy for those two days. The first day did not seem very involved, but it was invaluable to establish relationship with each student. The second day was a totally different dynamic from the start. The students walked in looking for their new YWAM friends, talking, laughing, and opening up. Then came the Drama Production. It is a powerful production that touches on real life issues – pride, vanity, substance abuse, insecurity, abortion, and greed. It is a relevant message that illustrates perfectly the redemption that is possible through a life surrendered to Jesus, because it is their stories. Each teenager was glued to the play. At the end a DTS Student shared her testimony and it was as if she was on fire. Impassioned, and direct she challenged the teenagers to consider their life, then consider Jesus. We separated into small groups for the remaining 20 minutes of school, for most groups it wasn’t enough time. An hour after school had let out, when all the groups had finished and the dust had settled there was four teens that gave their heart to God, and ten recommitments to Jesus! And this was at a Christian School! We hung out with many of the kids at different places throughout the rest of our time in Virginia Beach. It was remarkable to see the lives changed. I was thinking back to the “RE-Conference” a few days ago and was thinking they missed the theme, it should have been RE-vival.
Hurricane Relief, Myrtle Beach, SC – Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael were tragedies, but in the midst of the storm, myself and the outreach leaders actually viewed these catastrophes as confirmation that we chose the location we would be the most benefit at. Not only was there a major hurricane that hit the area we travelled to a week in advance, but while in Myrtle Beach Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida. It diminished to a Tropical Storm by the time it made it to South Carolina, but by that point the area could not handle any more rain. It was agonizing, but even through the turmoil Jesus moved. After a long day of ripping out moldy sheet rock one of the DTS students led the owners of the house to the LORD!
Together 2018 – For those that have not heard, Together 2018 just passed a few weekends ago, and our outreach team, along with all of YWAM Tyler had the privilege to serve at this national event. Over the course of two days at Texas Motor Speedway 90,000 people packed the stadium to hear from over 60 national leaders, and prominent religious figures and christian artists, including, Francis Chan, Hillsong, Lecrae, Tony Evans, Ravi Zacharias, and even a few YWAM leaders, Loren Cunningham (founder) and Andy Byrd.
It was an amazing weekend that brought in thousands of salvations and equipped hundreds to go back to their college campus and begin a campus ministry. Here is a video that depicts the weekend from the perspective of YWAM’er. Enjoy! Together 2018 Recap Video
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Until next time.