Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Metaphorical Resonances

I'm sitting here in the dining room on base while waiting to start the day. I'm listening to the wonderful Bruce Cockburn on my iPod, but I can hear the cafe blasting Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor in the background. The conflict of musicality is surprisingly appropriate to my mood this week.

I feel like this week has been a week of conflicting duality. On the one hand, I've experienced such incredible things as getting my prayer language, God giving me the physical hugs I'd been asking for, and being healed of something after prayer for the first time. But on the other hand, I'm feeling dry. I think this is mostly due to the fact that I am pretty much a zombie at this point. (Walk, watch me walk like a zombie ...)

So the contrast between what may be the most famous organ piece written and an obscure artist's album inspired by St. Augustine is a pretty good metaphor for my topsy-turvy, mixed up mindset.

Speaking of metaphors, it has not been lost on me the accidental symbology of my imminent departure date.  The school will be flying out of Perth in two Sundays, leaving on the afternoon of Easter Sunday. My school is primarily female (only one male student, poor chap!), and will be leaving to spread the gospel on the anniversary of Christ sending the women to spread the news that He had risen.

Coincidence? I think not!

Outreach is quickly approaching, and my excitement is growing. Over this last weekend, $9,000 came in so that ALL our school will be able to go! My current problem is locating a place I can put a bag of clothes on outreach. Because we will be dressing like the people in Nepal and Cambodia, I will have no use for my tank tops, shorts, and most of my tee shirts. I'm sure you can understand why I'm not too keen to backpack with absolutely useless items as a result. I want room for sanitary wipes. ;)

This week is focusing on missions, and I hope to tell you more later.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

System Overload

A Note of Explanation: Despite the rather ominous title, this is quite the positive post. However, I tend to imagine my brain as capable to handle only a certain amount of crazy busy before it starts dreaming of electric sheep. Thus, I also imagine it giving me status reports in a polite, electronic voice - "all systems go," " system overload," "low fuel," "system failure," etc.

Well, this week is pretty much jam-packed with craziness. In addition to all my funds being due in two days' time, I have a group research project to work on (read: start) and a militant atheist to follow up with, not to mention the fact that I won't be speaking until Saturday except for evangelism and keeping up with supporters from home.

But I do need to tell you the cool things God has been doing around here. We'll go chronologically.

Week 8 was all about evangelism, and is my favorite week so far. The speaker somehow managed to combine all my passions and experiences in speech and debate in his teaching of how to share the Gospel. I'm telling you, it's majorly exciting to realize that your background in analyzing strangers to persuade them to your side can actually be used for good! And yes, I know I was told that inside the league at almost every opportunity. Some people are just slow learners.

For application that week, we did street preaching. All American prejudices against showing my hand aside, it was an incredible time. We were in Northbridge on Thursday night as usual, and just had a whole lot of personal testimonies and presentation of the good news. That night, two people prayed to repair their relationships with God! That was a first for our team!

The next day, Ian resurfaced. Remember the false prophet I mentioned a while ago? Yeah. So one of the girls in my school, Nicole, is from Germany. She was sitting in the city centre, reading a book, when she happened to over hear the conversation of two women near her. It dealt with one of the women's children, and Nicole felt she was supposed to talk to them about Jesus. This was not on any base evangelism day, just on her own.

Anyway, as soon as she decided to talk with them, Ian walked up to her and started staring at her intensely. Nicole tried to ignore him, but the second time she made eye contact, he started speaking about how she and her country had killed so many people, and how she had to come Australia to kill more. Nicole told him that Satan had told him that, at which point Ian walked away.

Nicole was then able to share with the women, who asked her for prayer into the situation.

On a side note, I really like the philosophy of evangelism here in YWAM. It can essentially be summed up as "effective evangelism ends up bringing the subject closer to Jesus than when the conversation started." It definitely takes the pressure off, as I am no longer expected to hit people over the head with a pre-canned "turn or burn" speech, and can instead focus on actually getting to know and care for that person.

On the same note, I still suck at starting conversations with complete strangers.

That weekend, I started emailing with a young man I had encountered on outreach with the drug kids of Perth. This particular gent was not part of the gang, but because he was on break from working in the mines and his best friend ran with that group, he was out with them too. Bonus points for run on sentences, OK?

When I first met him, we spent a while arguing about the Bible and the difference between absolute Biblical truth (do not kill) and cultural Biblical truth (don't wear anklets with bells on them). The weekend after week 8, I discovered a Facebook message from him, wanting to continue the argument in person sometime. Granted, this request was phrased in terms of the "intellectual challenge" I presented, but I figure any opportunity to talk about God while using the skills I learned in debate should be seized upon.

Piled on top of that lot, I became very I'll during week nine. It didn't become apparent until that Wednesday, and I still don't know what it was. It involved a fever, sensitivity to light and noise, lethargy, dizziness, and a hoarse voice. I'm pleased to report that I didn't miss a single class, but don't assume that I was present for them. I sat in the back of the room, alternatively bundled up and not, trying not to fall asleep or fall over while the teacher taught.

I'm very glad that I wasn't incapacitated until Wednesday. Tuesday was my shift for Hands-On Compassion, and it seemed like my team would finally be able to visit the detention centre, which had opened up for the first time for the previous group. It was not to happen.

However, I think God never actually wanted me in the detention centre. I'm almost 100% certain I joined the Priceless group to give me a greater heart for city people. Every week we haven't been allowed in the jail, we've gone to the city instead.

Last Tuesday was pretty incredible. That morning I'd dressed as closely to my Northwest normal as I could, complete with hair, make up, and matching weather. The fact that it was overcast seemed enough to make my day pretty awesome (it is the simple things in life), but when we went into the city, we ran into a group of cybergoths and punks who were just chilling on a corner.

It was my first time having someone try to sell me drugs - pot and speed - and it was really heart-breaking to hear a 17 year old state calmly that drugs are the only reason people like me talk to people like them. It was a great time - I had a conversation about Bach and classical music theory with an older punk man who called himself "Vomit," but the thing I really was impressed by that week was how diverse and wonderful city people are.

I have another update to write, so I'll let this one die now.

Thank you for your prayers!