As promised, here is the first monthly update on what’s been happening in my life ever since I left South Africa:
LEAVING OR ARRIVING?
Saying goodbye to my parents was the hardest thing I ever had to do. They are truly the most wonderful parents and I’m so grateful that I get to call them my friends. At the airport my dad gave me a fantastic prophetic word of release: ‘You’ve often gone out of the harbour to do your thing. But you would always return to land, where it is safe and familiar. Now you are being released to go into the deep waters, where the ocean is wide and vast and the waves gigantic. I see you in this little boat, but for some reason the waves will not overwhelm you, nor will you be sunken. You’ve got this.’
I had a SOZO session with the lovely Bev just before I left, and I saw this picture in my head of God waiting for me at the departure gate. I knew that this was confirmation that I would not be alone at all; He would always be with me. After I went through customs, I felt this wave of peace hit me. I felt confident that I could take on this mission in an unfamiliar land with God right there by my side.24 hours later, I finally arrived in Redding, California. Instead of sharing a room with someone, I get to have my own room. That is a double blessing (and double the closet space) indeed! Since I’m staying at the Simpson University, I also get 3 meals per day. It is a relief not to have to buy food and cook for myself every day….!
There are 23 other BSSM Students living with me at Simpson University, and we have quickly become a close family. Some are from Australia, others from New Zealand, some even from Guatemala and Puerto Rico. And of course, there are also a couple of Americans WITH CARS which makes it so convenient for us foreigners! I haven’t had a problem with transportation so far. That is a huge relief.
The first day of class was extremely overwhelming, and I’m not exaggerating. Out of 10,000 applications, only 1,400 got accepted for the First Year. And yet this sum of people also felt like too much; there were literally people EVERYWHERE; strange faces from over 60 nations swarming the Civic Centre (where the 1st Years take their classes). Everything was new, unfamiliar and overwhelming. This prayer was prayed over us, and this is also my prayer for this year:
'This year is going to be a great year, no doubt about it. But that is not my prayer for you. My prayer for you is that this year will prepare you for the next 20-40 years of the greatest years of your life.'
BSSM Leader's Prayer / Tuesday 13 September 2016
After surviving the first day, we already had to jump into doing homework: daily Bible reading, required book readings (When Heaven Invades Earth, Defining Moments & 30 Days To Understanding Your Bible), and we will also have required City Service projects that will be launched this month.
We’ve already had the honour of listening to Bill Johnson (senior pastor of Bethel Church), Kris Vallotton (senior associate leader of Bethel Church & co-founder of BSSM), and Leslie Crandall (associate overseer of BSSM). Their words are powerful, revealing and life-changing. Their hearts are all about accepting God’s love for us, bringing the kingdom to earth, encounters with God and just constantly being aware of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives and around us. These are all crucial things every believer needs in their lives!
The first Friday after I arrived in Redding, I took the opportunity to go to Bethel Church. It is situated on a hill, just a stone’s throw away from Simpson University. It is surprisingly not as big as I thought it would be. It is very intimate, warm and so much like Harvest Christian Fellowship! I was really surprised. It felt like I was right back at home. They have a coffee shop in the foyer with a bookshop just around the corner. When they did the tithes and offerings they did the Declarations, exactly the same words that my mom always uses… Even the people in the front rows were interacting with the speaker while he was speaking, making jokes and ‘talking back’, like my dad would say!
The most surprising thing of all? Some of their core values are the same as Harvest’s: Love, Honour, Family & Real... It just goes to show that God is truly alive and working in the churches. There is obviously something in these core values that is important to God at this time and moment that we are living in.
Because we are such a large group of 1st Years, we’ve been divided into groups of 65 per team. We call it Revival Groups and each group have a Revival Group Pastor. Mine is Matt King from Australia. He’s got a real heart for people and this is his vision for us:
‘Our supreme desire and pursuit is Jesus Christ. He is the One we are fascinated with. We will relentlessly look to His presence…’
We also had our Revival Group Retreat at the majestic JH Ranch this past weekend, and he gave such an amazing word of encouragement to us:
‘You are all Abrahams in a strange land. You’ve had to leave everything behind: your family, your friends, and your home. Everything that’s familiar and comfortable to you, you left it all behind. All of you are out of your comfort zones. Abraham had no compass, no GPS, no tripadvisor.com. But he knew he had to go because God wanted him to go. Sometimes you don’t know where you’re going but you knew you couldn’t stay where you were. There is an inheritance waiting for you, just like there was for Abraham. God is so proud of you for sacrificing the familiar things to go into the great unknown. Your inheritance is waiting for you and you are going to get it.’
I would just like to express my heartfelt gratitude for your continuous words of encouragement, prayers and support. I have already been so blessed during this short time that I’ve been at BSSM, and I am expectant and excited for what God is going to do in me (and through me) this year.
I would also like to especially give my sincere thank you to those who are supporting me financially. This would not have been possible at all without your contributions and sacrifices.
Till next month, when I send out the November 2017 newsletter.