First 6 weeks of Justice DTS 2013

The DTS is gong so well with 18 students diving into Gods will and desire together. The DTS is running so well because of 7 awesome staff lead by Calen and Emma Falk. I think that the journey so far has been best described by Emma in their blog. i would encourage you to read the whole thing, here it is… 

In the first week…

25 of us looked at each other. Mostly strangers, soon to be friends, co-adventurers, embarking on a journey together.

As we settled into new rooms, new routines, new lives, we spent the evenings hearing each other’s stories. Tell me about your life, where you’ve come from, where you’re going. Jump into honesty, into openness, into being real together; don’t let yourself hide. Let’s walk together. Let’s challenge each other. What are you here for?

Our mornings in the classroom tent were full of encouragements into intimacy with God. He speaks to you! What is He saying? Share with us.

Calen and I learned some of the exhaustions of being leaders, of the constant questions and decisions, of the tensions of trying not to lead in an authoritarian manner within a culture that expects that of leaders.

loving on each other

loving on each other

In the second week…

The robbers paid us another visit. They came into our living room and took computers right out of peoples’ hands. Calen and Daniel faced guys with machetes, and forced them out of the house using wooden chairs. As a community we faced shock together, and fear, and learned again about praising God in all circumstances.

We learned about the Father heart and Mother heart of God, and allowed that to wash away some of the hurt of lives lived without fathers or mothers. We explored forgiveness, and hope, and love – how can we grasp the realities of these gifts in our lives?

Our schedule begins to take shape, and each aspect has meaning. Through work duties we practice serving each other. Through focus night we delve into God’s heart for justice in this world, and what we can do about it; this week we talked about modern day slavery. Through one-on-ones the staff process with the students, and the leaders with the staff, the deep things happening in their lives – what they are learning, what they are struggling with. Through small groups discussions we learn from one another. On Fridays we leave the classroom and leave the base, to spend time with kids and families in the community nearby – in homes, in schools, in hospitals, wherever we feel called to that week. The students get a brief, very brief, glimpse of the joys and complexities of wanting to reach out to love people in need.

On Friday evening, after a long week, the prayer tent was full of music and dancing and dust.

In the third week…

Our staff team praised God for bringing us a female speaker. One small step in the battle against the oppression of women in this part of Africa – and it was a battle to get her here, but with some determination and miracles, she came. And with her came some breakthrough. The students began to let go of shyness, of inferiority, of difficult pasts, and speak out. As they prayed for one another and spoke words of encouragement, my heart soared at their new freedom.

Together we looked at truth and identity – who are you really? Are you walking in the truth of who you are and were created to be? What is holding you back? In small groups and one-on-ones, we heard testimonies of change and struggle and transformation. God is working.

The head elders of YWAM Africa joined us for a night, sharing stories both joyful and terrible from around the continent. They left us with a message of hope: widespread change can happen across Africa. The poverty and darkness and corruption is not forever. But it will take commitment.

Calen and I learned some of the loneliness that can come from being in leadership. We experienced that often when God wants to move you forward into something new and bigger and greater, there is a breaking down process that has to happen first; a painful process, but freeing. A new season often comes with a new standard, and things that were once acceptable are no longer. On Friday night we stole away for date night, a few blessed hours of letting go of responsibility, of enjoying togetherness, of coffee and cake, and of lifting our eyes up from our day to day work to really see each other.

in the classroom tent

in the classroom tent

In the fourth week…

Our staff team practiced firefighting. From appropriate clothing, to appropriate relationships, to cultural differences, to emerging attitudes, we sorted out one little issue after another. As a staff team we encouraged one another to seize the “discipling moments” in everyday life; this is part of the blessing of the community environment of the DTS, that discipleship can seep into every part of life, in work duties and meal times as much as in the classroom. The lifestyle of Jesus is so much more than what’s in your head.

Our lecturer taught us about receiving the gift of faith, and as a community we immediately had the opportunity to put it into practice. For some time as a base we have been feeling that we weren’t going to be staying in this property much longer, for various reasons (growth of the community, awful landlord, increasing rent, etc). As we prayed together, we felt that the time was now – so Daniel put in our notice, and we now have until the end of December to find a new house to move into. This week we all piled into vehicles to check out a few potential houses, walked and prayed around the property, and trusted God to speak to us and lead us forward. Out of Egypt and into the Promised Land – even if we need to spend some time in the desert first.

On Friday night the DTS went to Canada. After a busy week we often try to organize something fun for Friday night, which can involve having a country-themed night. After a rousing trivia game involving beavers and Tim Hortons, Calen built us a campfire and we taught everyone how to make smores. Many of our Malawians had never tried a marshmallow.

staff meeting, planning outreach

staff meeting, planning outreach

In the fifth week…

Our mornings were full of stories of God working around the world, as our speaker shared his experiences of 27+ years with YWAM in many nations. He reminded us that in a hurting world, our message is one of love and joy and peace – it’s not only that Jesus saves, but that we each have a place and a purpose in his Kingdom, which is now and which is coming still more.

On the weekend, the students went in teams to churches, for a conference and services. For some of our international students this was their first time experiencing a real Malawian church service (i.e. starting an hour late, lasting 3 hours, full of joy), and for some of our Malawian students this was the first time they had spoken in church. Each breakthrough and step of faith is something to celebrate.

At one point this week I experienced coming to an end of my own ability to love, to give, to have patience, to respond with grace and wisdom; the heat and the tiredness and the growing discomfort of pregnancy and the constant expectation left me in such a place of weakness, of feeling fully unequipped. And in that place, as I sat there silently, defeatedly, with God, I experienced Him re-filling me. I remembered that it doesn’t matter where my strength ends, because I don’t live and love and reach out in my own strength anyway. At the end of my ability, He poured His new life into me, and with that I had more to give.

the whole crew with Ed, our week 5 speaker

the whole crew with Ed, our week 5 speaker

In the sixth week…

This is where we are right now, and it has been an amazing one so far. Our speaker is from Germany, young and full of Holy Spirit, and as he speaks I watch the students’ faces, intent and full of life. I watch eyes light up and revelation dawn. I watch students clap as our speaker demonstrates the Kingdom by praying for healing for someone’s foot, and the foot gets healed. I feel my baby move inside me during worship times. And as I listen to words of life and truth being poured out over the students, as I see the staff stepping forward in leadership, as I watch my husband blossom even more into the man God created him to be, I am full of gratitude.

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