February 5, 2016
Outreach. You hear so much about it in YWAM. You spend so much time talking, praying, and preparing for it. You fund raise and you buy your hiking backpack and your bug spray, you spend hours in intercession for your country and have meeting after meeting about what to bring, what to expect, what to prepare for. After three months of nonstop outreach talk you feel like you're ready. You know everything you need to know. You're bursting at the seams to go put into practice everything you've learned. You're prepared. And so then you go. And you realise- you're not prepared at all. Sure you know not to point your feet at anybody, not to touch the top of their heads, to always bow slightly when greeting someone older than you, to eat everything that they give you as a sign of respect. You know how to share your testimony and how to pray. But there's a lot of things you don't know. You don't know what it feels like to be away from your family on Christmas, or to be hot enough that your knee caps sweat even at night, or to cuddle up so close to a sweet Indonesian orphan that you end up picking lice out of your hair for the next several weeks. You don't know how it feels to eat massive amounts of mucus noodles and fish balls, how to learn to gag secretly or hide durian fruit in your bag. You don't know what happens in your spirit when the mosque announces calls to prayer five times a day. You don't know how it feels to sit with lepers and watch them cry because you're the first people who have visited them in years. But most of all you don't know all the ways God is going to use you. And when He starts doing it, you realise you were never prepared at all.
One day in Thailand you're headed to a Budhsit funeral, andsomehow the crazy pastor who is your contact has you all up front doing the everything skit and sharing the gospel. Your heart is pounding out of your chest and you're looking around for monks coming to arrest you. But somehow they aren't there. A woman catches one of you afterwards, wanting to know more about this God of yours. You promise to email her, because that crazy pastor is pulling at you insisting it's time to leave. As all eleven of you pile into the back of his van and drive away, you see the monks arriving, somehow delayed, and begin to wonder if you pastor isn't as crazy as you thought. One day in Thailand that same pastor is taking you to teach English to the Thai army. He tells you to be careful not to mention Jesus there, only to tell you moments later that the Holy Spirit has told him you are to preach the gospel. So you do, and the guards are mysteriously missing. And you pray for every member of the Thai army individually. One of them accepts Jesus, many are physically healed, and all are shaken by their encounter with "something they've never felt before." One day you are in Thailand at a Christmas party (okay just about every day you are in Thailand you have a Christmas party for some reason you still don't understand, but I'm speaking of one day in particular) and you pray for a lady's knees and cry with her as for the first time in many years they feel no pain. You tell her why this is, and who has just healed her. She wants to know why this God who she's never served would do such a thing for her. You get the pleasure of telling her that's not all that He did for her, and you pray with her as she comes home into the Kingdom. One day in Thailand you preach the gospel at a juvenile detention center and watch as almost all of these criminal children accept Jesus into their lives. The guards are too busy to stop you because over there in the corner you can see that they are receiving prayer themselves! One day in Thailand you join with a leprosy ministry, and you sit with three ninety year old women with missing limbs as they laugh about your blond hair and chatter happily at you in a language you don't understand, happy just to be with you.And every day in Thailand you crawl happily into your makeshift bed on the floor and you stare wide eyed at the ceiling of the church attic you're staying in, listening to the rats scurry across the ceiling and wondering how on earth you got to be apart of any of that, and thinking that there's no way it will happen again tomorrow. But then it does.
And then you leave Thailand and you go to Lombok, Indonesia. You tell yourself that Thailand was crazy, but that is not how outreach normally goes. You tell yourself to get ready to just sow for awhile, you've had your fair share of reaping. And for awhile you do. You stay at an orphanage and make bracelets with the children, talk and laugh and do devotions with them. You begin teaching English at a kindergarten and laugh helplessly as the children cry in terror at your white skin and cling to their teachers. You teach English at the same Christian elementary school and junior high every day for a couple of weeks, and you're happy to bless the teachers, the students, the school. And then you get a chance to run their Friday chapel, and you do the everything skit and preach the gospel, though you know they've heard it. and then the Holy Spirit starts stirring you up again. He starts giving you words to say, so you look at your leader for the okay to speak a little more, she nods and you tell the kids that just because they go to a Christian school doesn't mean they have Jesus. Just because they have Christian parents, a high rarity and blessing on this Muslim island, still doesn't mean they know Jesus. You tell them that the only way to know Jesus is if they choose Him for themselves, You ask if anybody wants to do that. They almost all raise their hands. You think they have misunderstood you, so you explain again. More raise their hands. So your team spreads out one on one. You ask them if they believe, if they want Him. They say yes and you begin to pray. You realise they don't understand your English prayers, so you decide to move out of God's way. You touch them and ask the Holy Spirit to do His work in them. As soon as the words leave your mouth the tears start flowing, and they sob and they smile and they have the most genuine encounter with the Holy Spirit you've ever seen. So you move to the next girl and it happens again. And Again. Then you leave the orphanage and you stay at a village and do medical ministry. You massage old Muslim women's sore muscles and you stroke their hair. They take of their shirts, wanting you to rub their backs, so you laugh and you do. You play and sing with the children, and pray under your breath the whole time. You love each person God sets in front of you in whatever way you can. You walk all around the village to pray for a man with tuberculosis, a women with chest pain, whoever is before you. You do the everything skit again in a Muslim village (where you have been strictly warned not to speak the name of Jesus) at the insistence of another crazy pastor, and pray the whole time that God would close the eyes that should be closed, and open the hearts that should be open. And He does. And every day when you take your bucket shower you're wondering again how in the world you got to be here. Why in the world God chose your little ragamuffin team for such important work. But by this point you realise how little of it has to do anything at all with you. You realise that God likes to choose the weak and helpless to do His biggest work, because then it can be no doubt that it was Him who did it, and not the eleven teenagers and twenty somethings who entertain themselves by making their water bottles talk to each other and pretending that they are part of fake TV shows.
And now you are in Bali, Indonesia. You're surrounded by drugs and alcohol, sex and greed. You are in a place of Hinduism and partying, You have no contact here, but are simply sent out day by day to listen to the Holy Spirit, make friends, and see what God wants to do. It would be easy to say that the crazy part of outreach is over, but then I've said that before. And this God of mine who I'm just beginning to scratch the surface of, isn't done with my little ragamuffin team. He isn't done surprising us yet, and He certainly isn't done with Indonesia. So bring it on Bali. The same spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in me, and every step I take sends demons running and hiding because of the power at work inside of me. He came to set the captives free, to awakenthe dead to life, and to bring life abundantly. And I come in His name.