My latest, totally unexpected, nearly inconceivable ministry trip took me to Lubbock for a Mini-SST.
What is a “Mini-SST”?
Season of Service and Training (SST) is a summer camp YWAM Tyler hosts for teenagers from around the world. These are two-week camps that mirror the Discipleship Training School, just on a much smaller scale, and are contextualized for Generation Z teenagers. Throughout the school year, YWAM’s SST Department organizes and leads “mini-SST’s” at schools and churches all around the world.
Personally, the past year God has laid it on my heart to redeem a past relationship. It is one which truthfully, prior to last spring, was not even a blip on my radar, let alone urgently pursued. But surprisingly, it has been uncomplicated, straightforward, with little drama. And like all shattered and strained relationships, God wanted reconciliation, so He set me back up with Trinity Christian School – my elementary and junior high school. In all seriousness, only God could have opened this door at the place where I was definitely not a model student and really did not leave on the best of terms. But, doors just happen to open when God is ready and the fields are white for harvest, “I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut” Revelation 3:8.
We had a daunting mission before us. Not only was I at my junior high alma mater, but our YWAM team of 17 missionaries were tasked with grabbing the hand of 109 teenagers and placing it inside God’s hand in all hopes that these teens would encounter God in a way, or ways, they never have before. But, these weren’t just any teenagers, we are talking teens who have 1) grown up in church, 2) have gone to a very well-run, well-prepared, well-taught Christian school their whole life, and 3) come from very privileged homes. I admittedly didn’t know where to start.
To give a little background, I have been working alongside the Student Affairs principal of Trinity High School since the spring to organize outreach opportunities for the high school. Trinity already offers 13 outreaches for their high school students all over the world, so we have been in discussion about potentially having YWAM Tyler design and lead a few of those. Thankfully, this year YWAM Chicago will be a location for one of these trips! As for the next couple of years, we have a much larger vision that involves most of Trinity and many from YWAM Tyler. Whether it was the case or not, this “mini-SST” with the junior high felt like YWAM’s trial-run with Trinity Christian School. So, not feeling pressure to perform or manufacture anything, we took a shot at it, anxious to see how God was going to encounter these kids who have grown up in such a well-taught, well-prepared, very privileged school!
The week of November 12-16.
Each day we began with worship, followed by a teaching that is typical to YWAM campuses all around the world. For sure the worship was captivating, and yes there were “ice-breakers” and engaging games sprinkled in between, but boy the first four hours were all over the place! It was like every student received a morning espresso shot prior to getting dropped at the front door. It felt like a mix between Christmas Eve and recess. The students did not know what to expect. Really no one knew what to expect, and rightfully so. Trinity had never done anything like this for “Missions Week”, and YWAM had never been to Trinity. Thankfully YWAM’s SST team works with teenagers year-round and this was just another walk in the park for them. It took some adjustments, but we finally had the students’ attention. With the help of the Trinity faculty, we grouped the students with a Missionary, 8 students to every 1 YWAM’er. Let the relationships begin.
Apart from making the connection, my responsibility was to organize the outreaches every afternoon. Including the parents and faculty going out with us, there were 132 people. To ensure no one would slip between the cracks, we separated into 6 different outreach groups of about 22, led by 2-3 YWAM’ers. We were spread all around Lubbock! From evangelism at Texas Tech, to Adopt-A-Block with the Lubbock DreamCenter, to paying and praying for people at the laundromat, we did not hold back. It was our heart to stretch and open the young students up to a world many had yet to experience. And the stories were incredible! The young, future leaders of the church were bold, relentless, and fearless. I saw 13 year old girls approach 20 year old college students without hesitation and ask if there was anything they could pray for them about. I heard an 8th grade boy hear from God during a prayer time that he would, “see someone with a top-hat at 2:30pm.” And he did! But, without a doubt the best part of the outreaches came when one team came back from the homeless camp, Paul’s Project, having led two people to the LORD! One was a woman who was living there, but the other was a Trinity student who said, “I think I felt God’s love for the people there, and for the first time I could feel the same kind of love for me.” She gave her heart the LORD right there, alongside a YWAM’er!
These are just a few stories from the same outreach team that went out together, but each team had similar encounters. God moved and impacted the students in a way that can only get the attention of kids who seemingly have it all. They would pray during intercession times for the outreaches and God would give them pictures, names, or visions and they would run into them an hour later! I saw a red balloon during one of these times. Random right? And 2 hours later at the South Plains Food Bank GRUB Farm, a man named Ramon walked in with a bouquet of flowers attached to a red balloon. Of course we prayed for him, of course God spoke to him, and of course only God could have orchestrated that! There was instance after instance of God doing similar things, and it was blowing everyone away – including my former teachers. They were shocked to hear what I was doing now, and even more baffled to see it, haha! God had truly incited a transformation, and it was in conjunction with the seeds they had planted years before. Ms. Kuss, my 5th grade teacher told me, “Your life is an answer to my prayer,” and I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to express my gratitude to each teacher in person. It was even funny to see one of them the first day, and find out she brought all my former yearbooks the following day. Needless to say, my YWAM counterparts loved it… All in all, each detail, teaching, outreach, and relationship was what was required to grip the attention, and heart, of the people at Trinity.
Until next time,