May 14, 2010

Moving forward, but holding on tight to what's behind.

With the encouragement of Matt and my Mom, I thought it would be appropriate to write one more blog here on the the adventures of two brothers.

It's hard to figure out where to even begin summing up such an incredible experience. Over the last month people have asked me often how my trip was. Every time I see a montage of images fly through my head, from Speaking at churches, to backpacking into villages in Papa New Guinea, to scrubbing rust off a ship, to making incredible friendships, to the sheer wisdom I gained. Not to mention the way the Lord seemed to gently and lovingly pull me close to His heart.

As Matt mentioned, if you haven't read his blog under mine, read it! I'll forever look back on the experience of my last six months, and smile knowing that it forever changed my life. I believe every person should take six months where they go and take time to grow in themselves!

I could go on and on about the stories and friendships I made. But I want to share the three areas that I grew in the most.

1. Restoration of a relationship with Jesus. It's hard to put to words how and when this happened. But I went to YWAM hungry for TRUTH, and feel like came home in more in love with Jesus. I know that sounds pretty hokie pokie, but it's the truth. I was reminded over and over again, by others, by reading the Bible, and through prayer, that I'm deeply loved. I needed this, I think we all need to know we are deeply loved, just the way we are.

2. Opened my eyes to the Beauty of the church. This was huge for me. I both know Christianity isn't perfect, and never will be. What I realized though, was the the church is made up of broken PEOPLE, it's not a building its people. People who believe in hope and love. People who are bound to mess up and make mistakes, but people who when operating the way God hopes, can be the most beautiful thing eyes will ever see. I spoke about this to a small gathering of believers, the church, in Sydney. I called out and said some of these words about the church:
It's the church who says, we can't sit back and let people in PNG, Africa, and elsewhere to die of preventable diseases. That's absurd.

It's you and I a church that rises up against child sex trafficking, racism, and poverty.

It's a people willing to mentor young teenagers struggling with depression and suicide, and they would do it for free, even if they were treated like crap the entire time.

It's a group of transformed individuals so in love with Christ that they would stand up on a platform and scream out at the top of their lungs to a room of young teenage girls that they are BEAUTIFUL and they do have to believe the lies of the media and world.

The church I'm talking about has the ability to take a criminal who is addicted to the craziest drugs, full of violence and hatred, and transform him into a humble, loving compassionate follower, willing to do anything for the sake of the gospel that saved his life.
(I've seen it with my own eyes.)

3. Believing in myself and the dreams within me! A few weeks into YWAM I discovered something in me. A dream. A life goal to run after with all my heart. That's to develop a youth movement, that helps young people discover who they are through creative strength-based leadership programs! Opening up Youth Centers where young people can go and have a safe place to be where they are invested in and valued, where relationships are restored, and kids walk away living a life with Passion and Purpose.

So that's what I'm running after. Life back home has been interesting, it's had its challenges. I'm so thankful and blessed by the people in my life. My friends, my family, those who continue to support me. The thing I feel like God is telling me more than ever is,

Be Free Jason, Be Confident, and Be Loved.

With that I will run into what life has for me. Thanks for supporting me and being a part of this adventure.

Like Matt I to have my my own blog. Check it out! Love you.

May 13, 2010

And so life continues..

I remember sitting at a Macca's (McDonald's) in Australia thinking to myself, "Will the day ever come? How much longer until I return home?"  It seemed like an eternity away...

The decision to leave for 6 months was one of the best in my life.  However, it was a difficult one, it felt like a "leap of faith", and I often doubted myself.  "Will I have enough? Will my friends be there when I return? What if I can't find a job? What if my life is forever changed?" And those were the thoughts I had before I left!  From the moment I decided "YWAM" in my heart, I should have know what kind of challenge would be in store. After all, how does vine yield a greater crop?  The dead branches, and even the living ones must be pruned.  And so this common analogy first explained by Jesus to his disciples might accurately describe my journey.

How so?  I was challenged to give up my comforts of familiarity.  I started over in many ways with new people, new traditions, and nobody knew me (except my sidekick Jason of course, but we spent half the time away in our respective teams traveling around Papua New Guinea and Australia).  I lived in a dorm-style room crammed with 9 other guys from all around the world.  Talk about a clash of the worlds, we had England, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and America represented in a 15'x20' box!

I wish that was the only challenge, but it was only the beginning.  Long story (6 months long!) short, God used some circumstances in my life to pull me very close to him.  I frequently asked about my future, and I felt his response was often a very simple, "I will be with you."  I questioned a lot, I wrestled with pride that was deep in my soul, and I found myself in desperate need for my Father.  One night I stayed late at the base and used a concrete grinder to attack some old tiles in the hallway.  Nobody was around, Christmas was a week away, and it was miserably hot.  I was sweating profusely and my mind was absolutely racing with thoughts.  Finally, I broke down.  To my knees I collapsed and tears came rushing down my face.  And then I felt God near me. That's all.

Understand, the challenges that I refer to were "heart issues".  It was, I believe, the natural pruning process I chose to go through.  But the journey beginning to end was certainly the best of my whole life.  Somehow I will pull from a common financial theory to elaborate: High risk, high reward. And yes, the reward is well worth it. I will spend my whole life referring back to the lessons I learned, the people I met (such as my school leader, Buddy, on the left), and some very special moments that I witnessed.  With some things in life, you have to choose to do them, as few great adventures in life just happen.  And the best part, no one can ever take this experience from me.  It's mine forever.

I would like to take this moment to acknowledge everyone who helped support me financially.  I raised over $10,000 to cover the school fees, the outreach fees, my Aussie visa, and my international plane tickets. Oddly (or maybe not that oddly), I raised exactly the amount that I needed, and not a dollar more.  I am, through this journey, very humbled.  Thank you supporters for believing in my dream.  And for those of you who are considering an adventure like this... I challenge you to DO IT.  Purpose Precedes Provision.

Well I made it home.  That Macca's is a thing of the past.  It turns out, my time away was only a season, and now I've entered a new one.  If you desire to follow my "life journey" then check out my personal blog:

Oh life...