Our time with the amazing Rohingya children of Life Bridge Learning Center has come to an end. They say a picture speaks more than a thousand words… So here are about a 100,000 words about our experiences at Life Bridge.
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It has been 38 days when our team left Kona and started outreach. As of today January 24, 2013 we have 21 days remaining. I believe I am finally over my Culture Shock.
It is hot and humid every day. I have learned to use my umbrella to block the sun.
We have all sorts of stinky smells, such as… sewer, dead fish, Malaysian cooking, incense and other smells I cannot identify. We share a 9 bedroom house, with 5 toilet/shower stalls. Our team consists of 4 families, 6 children ranging in age of 1 year to 12 years old. For those who cannot count .. that is 20 bodies with one washing machine and no dryer, just a clothes line!
We are leaders YES we come from the land of YWAM! where all Leaders are Readers and ALL Readers are Leaders!.
We are strong, independent, and know what we want and not want!
We all honor each other, we all respect each other, communicate with each other, are considerate with each other, and most of all we BLESS each other.
At the end of our outreach, I know our God will look down and tell us, “Well job done, my good and faithful son”
Written by: Patricia Shallenburger
Closing in on our half-way mark I wonder if more people than I have had this experience: Counting down the days, knowing we will survive and get through this, but looking forward for it to be over. As for us, we haven’t seen the obvious miracles yet, like limbs growing out, or people raised from the dead, we haven’t even seen a salvation. And so we bury our hearts in hard work, days pass by and we cling to the little victories we get. Like seeing some rewards of our efforts at the Life Bridge school or at Kawan, or finding that we can teach youth and children’s groups pretty well.
But I have come to a point where I want outreach to be more than this. I want it to be about more than surviving, and about more than getting out on the other side, saying I made it. I want it to be good, because God is good, and for now, this is His best for me. So last week I prayed that I would be able to grab a hold of the joy God already has for me here, because I believe that it is there, I just haven’t attempted to access it, yet. Almost immediately something lifted.
Up until then, having joy here has depended on circumstances. I like the school, I’ve enjoyed our (many) cleaning days, hikes on our days off and not the least I love, love, love leading youth group. But as soon as a good activity ends, I’ve found myself falling into a pit again, being overwhelmed with Malaysia, the food, the smells, the fact that I can’t go anywhere alone, or missing my closest DTS-friends, who all went to other countries for outreach.
However after my prayer and decision to get the most out of this, I can tell something has changed. I can’t quite explain it, but I feel lighter, and I feel a strong will to fight even more, not just to make this a good experience, but a great one! And I believe it comes down to this: outreach will be what we make out of it. We can struggle, we can hang in there, or we can thrive, it depends on us. So for the rest of our time here, I choose joy, and I choose victory. I choose to lay down my rights, and I choose to seek Gods ways even when His ways aren’t mine.
I don’t think this experience is as much about doing good works, as it is about growing in His likeness. My prayer is that we all really will. I believe that the more He gets to shine through us, even in our molding and stretching, the more of His impact in this country will last, even when we are long gone.
Written by: Sarah Ørnevik
Blue-white lights flash across my vision, darting from one corner of the room to another. Their speed increases as I try to follow them as they race throughout the room. For this time, they dance gracefully to the music in a rhythm that escapes my understanding. The movement of the lights stops at the end of each beat; a pause that seems to last for an eternity yet lives only a moment.
The streak that trails behind catches up just as a new note is struck and they move to their new assignment in a different part of the room. As the lights rest above someone, a dusting of sparkling light showers down upon their head. As if to wet the spirit, the dusting ends up covering only a fraction of who they are, giving off a subtle sheen before it fades into the background of their thoughts.
For others, the shower delivers a light that soaks deeply into their spirit to ignite a flash of divine brilliance. An excitement of knowing that the Lord has touched their spirit with a new release of His love causes the angels present to respond in awe.
So many times before, their spirits have been touched by the finger of the Father’s love with an effect that looks like the sparkle coming off a magnesium candle burning its full length in that fraction of a moment. The colors that follow this release appear over many as a full spectrum of colors. Over others, a few colors appear and over some, just one or two colors.
Breakthrough, hope, exuberance, strength, dreams visions or a needed caress enter the consciousness of those who’s spirits are open to the favor and blessings that accompany each touch. Strangely, some shake it off as their imagination — missing the opportunity to absorb their gift. Yet a few reach out with their spirit and pull down all the promise the divine lights have to offer; they save the gift and savor the sweet taste it brings.
The songs being sung change and the glow of the dancing lights fades away, leaving only a sweet fragrance of honeysuckle and winter roses.
Written by David
From one week to another, we have gone from a pretty slow pace to busy-busy. By now we’re all involved in different ministries, some requiring early mornings, and others late nights.
Since our last up-date we’ve been introduced to street evangelism. In Malaysia proselytizing is illegal, so we’ve had the opportunity to be mentored by some more experienced evangelists on the “how to”. Based out of the Kawan Centre, a group of missionaries and volunteers meet every Wednesday night to walk the streets of Georgetown, showing Gods love to people and praying for the city. As it was our first time, we got to shadow this group, and watch how they approach people. One couple, Lisa and Travis, have been involved with the ministry for four years, and they shared with us that it took them about six months before people warmed up towards them. Watching them in action now, we get to see many faces light up by the sight of them. They make a difference by noticing people, and showing that they care. Some have even started to ask for their prayers!
A big need here is for more long term missionaries to continue the work that Lisa and Travis are a part of. As much as short-termers like us can be a good help, the need is for more people to keep investing in relationships, watering the seeds that have already been planted.
On Fridays, Penang International House of Prayer, PenHOP, has a five hour prayer and worship meeting that we go to. This past Friday Makayla had a very special experience. She says:
“We were at Penhop and my family was sitting in a circle praying. My brother prayed first, then my mum, me, and my dad. When my dad prayed I saw a light next to him, like a little dot. It started to grow into a human shape, and then an angel with four wings walked out of it. He stepped into the middle, and as my dad was praying He took off his four wings and gave one to each of us.”
This is not the first time this girl has seen an angel, and at the age of eight, she is a great inspiration, as she shares her experiences with how God is meeting her, and speaking to her in different ways. I can see why God wants us to learn from the children!
On the weekends our team splits up into two groups, one for children’s ministries and one for youth. The children’s team works with Door of Hope, which is an English class for children from low-income families. As it is a Christian ministry, the team gets to share gospel stories and worship songs with the kids there, and they are already a big hit.
The youth team goes to Tabernacle of Praise, a Chinese Pentecostal church. We meet with a group of about 20 teenagers, and spend a good three hours with them. Our mission is to teach a “mini-DTS”, and as we share our lives and our stories, we hope to inspire them to grow closer to God. The teens have received us very well, and we feel that God has a lot in store for this group, so we go with high expectations.
On Sundays all of us head out to Tamil Methodist Church, and following the service we divide again into children’s and youth ministries. It is a privilege to meet with a culture so different from our own, and discover that we have what’s most important in common.
And finally, the school year has started, making most of us teachers for the next five weeks! We have been asked to come and teach English at Life Bridge four days a week. Monday started off with a crazy, chaotic and wonderful meeting between new students and teachers. In the weeks to come, our desire is to pour out our love on these children, as their people (the Rohingyas) have no rights and few opportunities in this country.
Prayer needs for the week:
Half of our group is taking a four day trip out to the countryside to meet the indigenous people of Malaysia, the Orang Asli. Pray for open doors and safety as we travel!
The rest of the team will handle all other ministries on those days, so pray for extra strength and energy for them, and for God to show up in unexpected ways.
Nearly two weeks in Malaysia, and things are starting to happen. We’ve had another good week of lots of rest, sightseeing and fun times. But in a few days from now, our schedule will be packed six days a week, so we trust that the Lord knew what He was doing, when He gave us the extra time off to start with.
Since our last update we have had the chance to see more of Penang. Most of us have at some point visited Butterworth on the mainland. That is the town where the school Life Bridge is located, and we have been invited to work there. It is a school for Burmese refugee children called Rohingyas. On our first visits we got the opportunity to clean their new building, and later help moving their furniture. But starting on Monday, a group of us will be taking turns teaching English there four days a week. As much as it is a blessing for us to go and serve at this school, their long term needs is for three teachers and a principal, so we stand with them in prayer that God will provide the needed staff as soon as possible.
We’ve also had the opportunity for a few other outings. Some of us have been both on top of Penang Hill and in the Botanical gardens, and others have been more interested in what the city has to offer. It is definitely a country of contrasts, and we have much yet to discover.
As it has been a week of celebrations, we have enjoyed some good team times together. This past weekend the kids planned a scavenger-hunt for the adults, which ended with some very comical performances, and brought us lots of laughter. On New Year’s Eve we had a dinner together with our hosts, more games, and finally fireworks out in the park for the whole community.
At the end of our party we had an unexpected guest come by… a ragged little puppy showed up at our door-step, scared of the fireworks and hungry for love. The women and children on the team were all heartbroken for the little thing and fussed over him with cuddles and fresh water. But as we all went to bed, the guys made the decision to chase him off. We would have kept him if we could, but it just didn’t seem right to fight for the well-being of a little dog, when there are so many people in need here.
Last week we also started serving at a homeless-ministry called Kawan (which means friend in Malay). Our jobs there will be to prepare and serve meals, meet with the people coming through, and lead a Bible-study for those who are interested in that. Today David did a Bible study about the new character we get in Christ, and several of the men asked for prayer as a result. Alex and Nicholas did a super job handing out soap and tooth-paste to those who wanted to clean up a bit, and as the men were washing, they prayed that God would come and cleanse their hearts as well.
To mention some of our other ministries, we’ll be leading kids and youth clubs on the weekends, helping out in a second hand store and join the local YWAM-ers in street evangelism, so we’ll have lots of different opportunities to reach out in the time to come.
Finally, we have some prayer needs:
Noemi came over to me all excited, sharing she had an idea. I (Sarah) asked what she had in mind, and Noemi answered that she wanted to make a gift for the Malaysian children. I thought it was a great idea and asked her what we should make. Her answer: A cross with glitter on! What a beautiful thought. Thinking that she hadn’t had the chance to meet any Malaysian children yet I asked her if she knew that our host’s daughters, Getzie and Gloria in fact are Malaysian children. Her answer: Yes, I know that. But they know about God. They know God. And I want to give the cross to the children that don’t know Him.
Six days into our outreach, we’re about to settle in quite well. We haven’t had the easiest start, but God is faithful and we’re walking forward in faith.
We started out with a very smooth journey from Kona to Georgetown, with a quick stop-over in Japan and a wonderful overnight stay in Taipei.
But almost as soon as we hit ground here, things started to unravel. Before we knew what hit us, we found ourselves in a very challenging situation. Thankfully, the local YWAM leader, Kevin, helped us through, teaching us about the spiritual strongholds over Penang, which is mainly division. He graciously led us through a ministry time of repentance and forgiveness, and we all came to realize how the enemy is out to stop us even before we get started. Since then, we’ve experienced a new unity in the team, and a desire to fight for what God has for us here. We know He wants to do powerful work through us, as we can see the enemy is fighting hard to keep us disempowered.
So please pray for us! Pray that we grow stronger in unity, and that we daily get to walk into whatever God has for us here. And pray for YWAM Penang, as they are going through a tough time with lack of staff and much transition.
We can’t wait to see all that God has in store for us, but for now we are thankful for some needed downtime. Today we’ve had an all-day Christmas celebration, with good food, games, friends and much laughter. We hope to be able to reflect this joy throughout the rest of our outreach, and bless the people in Malaysia, as He has blessed us.
Today Darrel Lowder shared about the special day of the Lord at the Kawan (Malay for Friend) homeless shelter here in Penang. It’s about the birth of Jesus as found in Luke 2:1-20, the first Christmas story. He shared about the humble conditions and surroundings present during Jesus’ birth.
We are reminded that Angels from God came to shepherds outside the city and said, “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” — this is a Sign.
The Angels told the shepherds “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” — This was a Wonder.
At that moment, in a simple stable, a savior was born! We are to note that this took place in the simplest of surroundings. Filth surrounded Mary, Joseph and Jesus — This is the miracle.
Today, we are also surrounded by the filth of our surroundings, of sin, corruption and sickness. Living in an unclean world, we too are sinners. Thirty-Three years later, Jesus was taken to the cross to atone for our sins. If you also want to have Jesus’ sacrifice of love atone for your sins too, come, stand and receive Jesus Christ as your savior.
Question: How does one fit three months worth of Walmart trips into one 50 pound suitcase? If you have any suggestions, please feel free to contribute. Only, I need to know by Monday night!