Going into my DTS through YWAM, I had a jaded view of God. I came into the Discipleship Training School willing to learn, but I did not think God would meet me like He did. Not only did he smack me in the face with His love, He showed me how much authority I had when I let Jesus lead every step of the way. It seems backwards, but it has been a journey of learning that true freedom comes with obedience, even now that I am staffing the climbers DTS in New Zealand. It is a willingness to lay down my pride. Through this humility and obedience, I have found so many special gifts that the Lord loves to give His children. One of those gifts I discovered while on missions in southern India was the gift of discernment.
I am a scared person naturally. I am still scared of the dark and jump at any relatively loud noise So, it made absolutely no sense that God would give me the ability to discern spirits. But, I think that’s exactly the point. I really did not even believe in the gifts going into YWAM, so picking up on demonic presences was absolutely terrifying. This was when I realized that Spiritual world is just as real as the physical. Ephesians 6 said it best when Paul said “the struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
During our outreach time in India, we did rock climbing ministry in Hampi which means that we go out to the places with climbers, climb with them, and make friends so we can share the love of Christ. On this particular day we walked past a run-down temple to get to where we wanted to climb. I decided that I would go off by myself and pray over the temple. That was mistake number one, going to this place myself. But, as I am walking I see this really old man next to the run-down temple with a smaller, still intact temple with lit candles. I felt a heaviness in my chest, but kept walking anyway. Then I as I turn back to meet with my group, this old man comes closer to me and all I see are his glowing green eyes. At that point, I thought my eyes were tricking me. But when he started manifesting, I knew it wasn’t a trick. Being alone, I knew this was not my battle to fight so I sprinted back to my team. The wailing and the drum beating continued. Out of breath, I insisted we start praying. That’s when the wailing and drumming stopped.
After I calmed down, I realized how amazing it was that something like that happened. Should I have gone into that kind of situation alone? No. Was it like a scene from a horror movie that still gives me goosebumps when I speak about it? Yes. But, it is a true testament to the power of Christ that lives within us. He is so powerful and strong that even walking past a demonic force 200 feet away, could cause this sort of reaction. It also displays the power of intercession. Prayer and worship among a group of people does make a difference–it sheds light into the darkness. This was the day that I learned the gift of discernment is nothing to play with; all the dreams I have been having, all of the heaviness in my chest, and dark presences I saw were real. I am so thankful that God is a God that lives inside of us and takes on battles for us (2 Chronicles 20:15). This testimony goes to show how the spiritual realm is more real than any western culture understands. We are warriors for the gospel and already have a victory when we are in Christ.
To learn more about Taylor and her ministry, click here.
By: Taylor Phillips
One day my husband, Shawn, and his cousin were led to go pray for some people at a popular public place. Shawn saw a man with very large hearing aids and asked if he could pray for him. The man was reluctant to let them pray; but his Hindu friend said, “He’s a nice guy. Let him pray.”
After praying several times for his hearing, there was no noticeable difference. However, his demeanor began to soften. Once he had softened, Shawn was able to tell him a little bit about Jesus.
Months later, we saw this same man. This time, he was excited to see Shawn, and even asked him to pray for him! He began telling us all about his home country. He and his family are from a predominantly Muslim country in Asia.
It would begin a friendship that God would bless in many ways. For Christmas that year, we gave our Muslim friend a Bible in his native language. His son moved to town the next day and moved in with him. The son immediately started reading that Bible and told his dad he wanted to ask us some questions.
When we met him, he clutched his chest and said that he “had many questions about the faith” for us. He said he had previously studied 3 different religions, and that as soon as he started reading that Bible, he knew it was the truth.
We met him just 3 weeks after giving his dad the Bible. And, 3 weeks after that, he was baptized at our former church. He’s now attending a Christian church and telling other Muslims about Jesus. He’s adamant that Christians be water baptized. He said that, after he came up from the water, he saw his “old man” floating there.
Since he was baptized, his mother has become a Christian and his formerly-agnostic sibling now wants to get baptized. The open door here led to us building a rapport with other Muslims who are all acquainted through the man we gave the Bible to. We visit them and pray with them.
We once delivered treat bags full of dates to them, along with gospel tracts about Jesus and the Quran. We trust that God is watering the seeds that we have planted, and we know that He will be faithful to bring the increase.
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” 1 Corinthians 3:6 NKJV
For more information on Shawn and Lori’s ministry, click here.
By: Shawn & Lori Irvin
Growing up, I really never gave a second thought to sleep. It seemed automatic, a natural part of life that happens. You wake up, expend energy throughout the day, eventually getting tired and then you lay your head down and go to sleep. Simple. It was always simple until I went on my first International mission trip as a 20 year old college student.
I went to England with around 50 other college age people. We were going to serve for a week at a conference. I was pumped. Sleep was the last thing on my mind. Even further away from my mind was two words that all International travelers battle, JET LAG!! You mean the stuff that comes out behind the engines on planes (the white stuff lagging behind)?? Boy, was I totally unaware of what crossing six time zones can do to your body. It blindsided me and propelled me into a battle with sleep that has carried on for the past 18 years. Read More
One hundred and thirty kids were registered for camp. Everything was prepared, a team from Egypt was there to help us and the buses were bringing the kids from the refugee camps to the front gates of our center in Zahle, Lebanon. Two Egyptians for each group were checking kids in and giving them their group color. It was noisy, and most kids could not stand still from anticipation. Some kids we knew from the school and some were brand new to our center. Though a bit chaotic, it was an organized excited chaos.
As the kids were lining up I noticed one girl who had been in my group therapy classes at the school, her name is Nawrieh. Now my heart has always gone out to her because her mother is very harsh with her and speaks very poorly of her in front of the other children, guests and Nawrieh herself. Each time her mom says something about her you can see Nawrieh, a normally funny, outgoing girl, pull back when she hears her mother’s words. Though completely capable Nawrieh gets nervous when put on the spot and her backup when she feels cornered is aggression.
I walked up to her as I saw she was beginning to get a bit combative with another girl and I pulled her aside. Through a translator I reminded her that I needed her help because she goes to the school and I needed her to show the other kids who didn’t know how we act in school. Then I made her “pinky promise” me that she would do it. After that each time I needed to remind her to behave better I just had to give her the “pinky promise” and meet her eyes and see the understanding cross her face. Though her behavior was not perfect, she became one of the best behaved students in her group. And on the last day, with one last “pinky promise” and a kiss on the cheek she headed out the door and down to her bus to go home. As the kids all left the team exhaled a deep breath of a crazy but rewarding week creating an atmosphere of love and presence of Christ for all the kids who walked through our gate.
Click here for more information on Kelsie and her ministry.
The remote areas of Papua New Guinea hardly seem like they would be harmed by the hazards of modern technology, but in 2016 I realized the far reaches of a Western moral plague. That was the year I travelled to this economically impoverished nation along with a group of humanitarian aid workers representing YWAM Ships Kona (a branch of Youth With A Mission International).
Underneath the merciful shade of palm trees on a scorching April day, hundreds of villagers gathered to receive medical consultations and treatments from our international contingent of volunteers. My role was as a journalist — to document the plight of the local people in order to raise awareness and recruit more volunteers to help in the future. But I had a secondary role on this day of downloading the “JESUS” film (the most translated movie in history, having been recorded in more than 1,600 languages) onto people’s smartphones.
You might be surprised to learn that rural third-world residents have smartphones, but many do. Those phones often go unused for weeks at a time when the battery is depleted, but they are recharged when their owners are able to make the occasional trip into a city or if one resident in the village has a power generator. Most homes don’t have electricity. Despite the lack of internet access there as well, we were able to create wifi hotspots using a ministry tool called LightStream, created by the U.S.-based Renew World Outreach.
Because of the fact that more than 90 percent of households there don’t have even one television, smartphones are as much (if not more) a source of entertainment in Papua New Guinea as they are in the U.S. Sadly, one of the most downloaded features on phones there is an item most Americans are also familiar with: Pornography.
As I helped people download the “JESUS” film and other Bible-related material onto their phones during that outreach in April 2016, I began to notice the trend. Close to half of the men I interacted with had Western pornographic videos whose titles were “shameful even to speak of” (Ephesians 5:12) on their phones. That is a sad reality considering that (by the testimony of locals) the degradation and disrespect of women has already been a cultural problem generations before pornography was imported.
Navigating this issue created two awkward situations. First, as several female volunteers joined my media crew a few weeks into my trip to help get Christian content onto people’s phones, I had to warn them about what they would likely find on the devices. Secondly (and sadly) many men didn’t have space on their phones for spiritually edifying clips because of the amount of porn they had downloaded. However, it is at this point that the story becomes encouraging.
Most of the men we encountered were more than happy to delete pornography off of their phones in order to make room for the “JESUS” film and audio recitations of Bible books in their own langauge. That’s because Papua New Guinea is a predominantly Christian nation, yet most people do not own a Bible, nor are their pastors highly educated. Therefore, discipleship is often lacking. The opportunity to have the word of God (and, by extension, a deeper relationship with God as well as moral guidance) was an unprecedented, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most of the people we met.
We, as volunteers, didn’t even tell the men what to delete from their phones. We just told them they needed to delete something to clear space for biblical input and they unhesitantly discarded pornography. They didn’t necessarily do so because they knew pornography is sinful. They did it because they recognized the Bible and the story of Jesus to be of higher value.
For those who had pornography on their phones, I downloaded the apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus (a letter that touches on the issues of lust and sexual immorality). And everyone got the “JESUS” film in tok pisin, the most commonly spoken language in Papua New Guinea.
Pornography has created new challenges to discipleship, but Christian missionaries are still coming up with God-given solutions.
It’s refreshing to be back in the Philippines ministering to young people! Unlike many countries, the Philippine government allows the gospel of Christ to be shared in their school systems. And because of that, we have witnessed an amazing movement of God throughout the public schools!
Last week, we had the opportunity to share the gospel with over 5,000 students each day. The Spirit of God was moving so mightily that I witnessed countless students moved to tears as they experienced the amazing love of Christ. I’m excited to share with you that each day, hundreds of youth came to know Christ!
On Friday morning, I visited the largest high school in the city where I live.
It was 6am, and nearly 700 11th and 12th grade students gathered at the school’s outdoor basketball court to hear about Jesus.
After sharing the good news of Christ, God spoke to my heart, that instead of doing an alter call, He wanted us to intentionally approach the students and pray for them.
As we began praying for the students, we played the worship song “Beautiful Name” in the background. It’s amazing how worship stirs up our hearts to respond, because we witnessed hundreds of students, with tears in their eyes, surrender their lives to Jesus!
In fact, many of the students were so moved by God’s presence that you could hear their tears over the music.
There was one student that God drew my attention to in the front row. This young lady was crying and I could sense that God was doing a mighty work in her heart. I later approached her and asked her what was going on. She replied that she was a muslim and that she was crying because she was feeling the presence of God! How amazing is that?!
I’ve always said that, ‘One moment in the presence of God can change someone’s life forever.’ And that is not only true for this young lady, but for the hundreds of students that came to know Jesus last week!
I will continue to share the gospel throughout schools in the Philippines. Please pray that God continues to open doors and utilize me to win thousands to Christ!
For more information on Tom and his work in the Philippines, www.modernday.org/field-workers/tom-gustafson
– Tom Gustafson
Living in Africa was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The culture…the people…the life change. There are no words that can adequately express the feeling of watching God change the storyline of someones life. It’s truly a miracle.
But before the end of my adventure in Malawi, the locals weren’t the only ones who walked away with a change in their narrative, so did I.
In February of 2016, I was walking home from visiting some of the locals I had befriended when a group of men followed and assaulted me from behind. Using a small metal pipe, they landed a devastating blow to the back of my head that immediately knocked me unconscious.
Fortunately, as the men were rolling me over, a gentleman ran up and chased them off before they could inflict anymore damage to me. He then carried me home where I was then taken to a medical clinic for evaluation.
When I woke up the next morning, all I saw was darkness. The damaging blow to my head had resulted in a brain injury that left me blind. I can’t even begin to communicate all the emotions and thoughts that ran through my head… “Would I ever see again? Would I ever get to see the face of my future wife and children? What church would hire a blind pastor?”
But even in the midst of all those fearful thoughts, I clearly heard God speak to me…“Keeton, continue your ministry.”
I remember thinking, “What? That makes no sense. Yesterday I was assaulted. I’m now blind and you want me to go right back out on the same trail and walk two miles blind?”
Immediately God spoke to those thoughts, “Yes, trust Me. I’ll be with you.”
I wrestled over this with God for hours. But in that, I remembered all the times that God has been faithful. He had never once let me down. And I knew that even in this situation, no matter how helpless it seemed, was no different.
So, I obeyed.
I’ll never forget the moment my security guard walked me over to the trail and the feeling I had when he first let go of my arm. I was so scared. And as the tears ran down my face, I cried out to God that I trusted Him and then took my first step. In that moment I felt an overwhelming peace as God spoke to my heart, “this is true worship.” In that moment I knew everything was going to be okay. My situation hadn’t changed. I was still blind and more vulnerable than ever, but God was with me. And He wouldn’t let me down.
Obedience. Faith. Trusting God with every single step that I could not see. I was learning to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Over the next eight days I faithfully embarked on this adventure. And every single time, I would never complete it alone. Each day God would send a different person who would call out my name, grab my arm and accompany me the rest of the way.
And as a result, not only did many Malawians came to know Jesus, but I fell more in love with Him myself! And to top it off, eight days later God fully restored my sight! God is so faithful! I’m so amazed at how He works all things for good if we will just trust Him!
Today, maybe you’re facing a difficult situation that is overwhelming and God is asking you to step out and walk by faith, not by sight. If that’s you, I want to encourage you because the challenge for many people is that it’s often the start that stops them. It was for me. And I learned that you’ll never finish something that you don’t start.
You don’t have to have the faith to say, “I can see how this is going to unfold in the end.” You just have to have faith to take the first step.
By: Keeton Storts – Partner & Communications Manager, Modern Day
In the mid-1970s, Cambodia was plagued by a brutal regime that resulted in one of the worst mass killings of the 20thcentury. The Khmer Rouge, under the leadership of Marxist dictator Pol Pot, terrorized the Southeast Asian country sending many to labor camps, prisons and killing fields across the nation, where they later died of torture, disease and starvation.
The Khmer Rouge was responsible for the deaths of over 2 million people before it ultimately fell from power in 1979. Tens of thousands were made widows and orphans, and those who lived through the regime were severely traumatized by their experiences.
Four decades on, Cambodia is still grappling with its past. Families battle with multi-generational wounds that manifest themselves both psychologically and physically.
I’ve been serving God in Cambodia for nearly two and a half years. As a prayer warrior, I spend many evenings prayerfully interceding for the salvation of Cambodia as well as for the healing of those scarred by the Khmer Rouge Regime. Through that, God has been faithful in opening doors for me to share my faith with the various people I encounter. Some time ago, I was able to share my testimony with a neighbor in Siem Reap. I am very excited to say, that he accepted Jesus as his Savior! Now that’s worth celebrating! I have also witnessed God perform miraculous healings. Through prayer, a cut off toe was replaced, blind eyes see, deaf ears hear, diseases have been healed and a spirit of hope has replaced depression and anxiety!
Apart from my day to day encounters, I’ve been prayerfully searching for a ministry to be a part of. This past year, God answered that prayer when He connected me with Sue Harris. Sue is establishing a healing ministry in Phnom Penh for Khmer people and asked if I would assist her team with a Living Waters Healing Seminar in June. Of course, I said yes!
When It came time for the seminar, we were encouraged to learn that 125 people came seeking healing! I’d never seen anything like it before. With each speaker, we sat on the edge of our seats as we listened to the brokenness of their stories. Many cried as they shared of the sexual and relational brokenness they had been carrying from various wounding’s.
But as Jeremiah 30:17 tells us, “I will restore you to health and heal all your wounds.” And that’s exactly what happened!
Through the seminar, attendees became more self-aware of their wounding, were able to initiate and commit to the healing process and many left healed! And what’s even more exciting is that we are hearing stories of attendees going home and sharing their testimonies with their families and friends!
Let the healing begin!
God is at work in Cambodia! Please continue to pray for the salvation and healing of this country.
For more information on Carol and her ministry click here.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Names in this article have been altered to protect identities.
A wave of unrest that accompanied Bolivia President Evo Morales’ political ascent engulfed many expatriates there who had hoped to advance the cause of civic improvement. A marked feature of the Morales regime — staunch anti-Americanism — has made U.S. citizens working in the South American country targets of its notoriously corrupt law enforcement and judicial systems. Read More