Sunday, April 16, 2017

BSSM Missions Newsletter: Santa Barbara




              

 

 

 

 

So much happened on this trip and the Lord revealed so many things to me that I just knew that I had to write this special newsletter.

It is also a fantastic way for me to process everything that had happened on this trip…

This is an incredibly long (but exciting!) newsletter, so prepare yourselves.
 
THE NIGHT BEFORE

I had three very significant dreams the night before we left. It was also the first time ever that Bill Johnson or even a Revival Pastor featured in my dreams. Here are two of the three dreams that I had that night:
  
- 1st dream:
It is a Monday morning before class at the Civic Centre. I’m having a chat with a fellow BSSM student. She has light brown hair and in this dream she is a ‘very good friend’ of mine.

After we finish talking, I say goodbye to her because class is about to start. I take her left arm and give her a kiss on her left hand. As I’m doing it, Bill Johnson (the speaker for that day) walks past me and sees me doing it. He smiles at me and says, ‘Those kind of kisses are the best kind of kisses.’

 - 2nd dream:
A banquet or celebration of some kind is taking place at Bethel Church for all the Revival Pastors. I am a volunteer at this event, helping out in the kitchen. Elizabeth King (my Revival Pastor’s wife) addresses the crowd and interprets my dream: ‘The first dream Vicki had was symbolic of her intimacy with the Lord. She has reached a new level in her relationship with God, and it is a level that Bill Johnson recognizes and values also in his relationship with the Lord. However, this is only the beginning stage. Vicki just needs to keep on pressing in.’

The same girl with the light brown hair is at the same function. I am so excited about this revelation that I rush back to the kitchen to tell her. But for some reason I can sense that she is not yet ready to hear about this revelation, so instead I don’t tell her. I am a little disappointed that I can’t share the first dream with her. I say to her, ‘I’ll tell you about my first dream later, because it’s an important dream.’

As I woke up from these dreams, I wondered who this girl with the light brown hair was. I had never seen her before in my life. I felt the Holy Spirit saying to me: ‘You’re going to meet her on this missions trip. You will find her.’

ARRIVAL IN ISLA VISTA

There were 47 of us in total that left on Wednesday morning, along with 7 vans. Forty of us were 1st Year BSSM students; the rest were 3rd Year interns and two were our Revival Group Pastors (Matt & Elisabeth King).

It was a long drive – over seven hours long – but it was a good drive with great company. We arrived in Isla Vista late that night, and there was this midst coming from the ocean. It surrounded our arrival. It was so mysterious, as if God’s presence had been anticipating our very coming. Isla Vista is a student college community right next to University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). UCSB is known for being the second largest partying student community, and if you’re over the age of 22, you’re considered old and practically a senior (yikes! that’s me!).

We each received an air mattress to sleep on, and I was put into a group with 3 other girls. But instead of getting a house like all the others, us girls were put in a music studio garage. From the moment we had arrived in Santa Barbara we could already sense that the atmosphere and community here were completely different than what any of us had ever seen before. It has that surfer/skateboarder feel to it, and the vibe is very laid back and creatively cool. I could already see that this missions trip was going to be a very interesting one. I had done a couple of missions trips in the past before, but they were all in Africa where poverty of mind and materials is the number one challenge. But Isla Vista was something different. I would soon find out.

In the past I often tended to have a religious mindset. When I came to BSSM, I worked very hard at renewing my mind and learning about the grace of Jesus. I would often judge and condemn those who chose a life of partying, binge drinking and living promiscuous lifestyles. I could never understand why people chose to live like that. So when I arrived in Santa Barbara, it hit me:

For the next 5 days I was going to be surrounded by people whose lives are filled with partying and mindless satisfactions. And I was intend on finding out exactly WHY people choose to live this kind of life…
   
HOUSE OF PRAYER
   
The first day of our Missions Trip we all drove to the very center of Santa Barbara, which is about 15 minutes’ drive from Isla Vista. We met up with the owner of Hoffmann Brat Haus (a German-style beer hall restaurant). Upstairs they have a place called House of Prayer, which was formerly a popular bar and late-night drinking place.

The owner, a born again believer, told us the amazing story of a woman who used to be a bar dancer at that very same place years ago. She was dancing on the tables one specific night when a man pulled her aside and prophesied over her life: ‘God is calling you to a different life. The next time you dance here, it will no longer be a house of fun but will be a place of prayer.’ She left the bar and that life that very same night. Her life was changed forever.

Many years later, the same woman returned to this place. As she entered the place that used to be a bar, she started dancing, weeping and she even went a little bit crazy. The now new owner pulled her aside and asked her why she was so overjoyed, and she told him her story. It was very encouraging for the owner to see how things had come into full circle.  

So with this story in our minds, we were sent out to minister and evangelize to those in the streets of Santa Barbara.

CREATIVE STREET EVANGELISM
   
I had prepared some creative endeavors before I left Redding, so that I could have something to give to people. Some of those stuff were colorings I had from my coloring book, and at the back I wrote prophetic declarations. Another thing that I made was decorative flags and I wrote one word on each of them. They proved to be highly successful and the people on the streets loved them.

I also had a chance encounter with two people sitting on a bench: the one was an Indian lady who told me she prayed to Mother Mary. I explained to her kindly that the only way to get to the Father is through Jesus Christ. There was a black man sitting next to her as well. I encouraged them both with some prophetic words and I gave them each a coloring paper with the declarations on the back. I asked them if they wanted to give their lives to God and they were so excited and ready to do that. And they gave their lives to Christ!

One of my Revival Group friends – Adib from Lebanon – approached an elderly lady and asked her if she was having back problems. Adib is very bold when it comes to praying for healing and he has absolute faith that God wants to heal each and every single person, no matter what the condition. For me it’s a little bit different because I don’t want to give people false hope, and also because I am still trusting for healing for my own body. (I know this is an area that I have to grow in) Thankfully God is full of grace and compassion, even towards us believers who sometimes have a limited viewpoint of Him and what He really is like.

So back to Adib and the elderly woman: He asked her to sit down, and he started praying for her back. He stretched out her legs and saw that the one was shorter than the other. He prayed for her legs as well. All through this I also put my hands on her legs, but I was a bit hesitant. Then Adib asked her to walk and see if she felt anything different. She tried to walk in a straight line (something she hadn’t been able to do before) and she was able to do it! She sat down again and stretched her legs out again. This time her both her legs were even! And the pain in her back was gone! She was even more astonished than me! She said, ‘I’m actually on my way to the doctor to find out what’s wrong with my back.’ And Adib, full of confidence and faith, said to her: ‘You can go to the doctor, but I guarantee you, he won’t find anything wrong. You have been healed!’

Yes, she had been healed by the Doctor Himself!

PROPHETIC BOOTHS
 
Later that afternoon we returned to Isla Vista, and we were told that we would be divided into different small groups to make up prophetic booths. I was a little nervous about this, mainly for one reason:

When I was younger, I definitely had the gift of prophecy and the gift of spiritual discernments. But as the years went on, I began to experience a lot of disappointments and hurts in my life, and I told God that I wanted to give back those gifts to Him, because it wasn’t doing me any good at all. So for the last couple of years that prophetic channel has been mostly quiet. It’s not that God wasn’t still speaking to me, it was that I was choosing not to listen. I had turned a deaf hear towards His heart for people.

When I arrived at BSSM last year, we did some – but not a lot – prophetic exercises. I was very hesitant to do this, as I felt that this season at BSSM would be a season of rest, restoration and redemption (and it has definitely been all three those things).

So here I was in Isla Vista, and we had just been instructed to get ready to do over 3 hours of prophesying over people. I said to God, ‘Lord, I am just going to abide in You. I will keep my heart quiet before you. Speak to me and I will listen.’

As it turns out, this is all I really needed to do: to completely surrender my will to Him, become quiet within myself and allow Him to speak through me. After that night was over, my group had prophesied to over 7 college students and every time my words had been spot on and had cut like a sword into their hearts. I was astounded; it seems like God has not only restored what I had once ‘lost’ or given back to Him, but that He has given me more than double the gift back. This is what’s so great about God’s love for us: He gives us more than what we really deserves. I went to bed that night with a very grateful and thankful heart.
 
KNOCKING ON DOORS
 
Because we had such a late night the night before, we were given the next morning off. Everything is within walking distance at Isla Vista, so I was able to explore and walk around for a bit and experience this very different and diverse culture. I was also able to relax a bit at the Jesus Burgers house. It was here that I saw the girl from the dream I had before I came. I couldn’t believe it! She was leaving in her car just as I arrived. I only saw her back, but I knew it was the same girl from the dream. I could see that she lives in the house next to Jesus Burgers, so I decided to wait it out and see if I would see her again. 

That evening everyone got together and some of our team members were given a chance to share testimonies or do a sermon. One girl, Tania, who is also a 1st year with me and a fellow South African from Bloemfontein, gave a very encouraging sermon on ‘Abiding In The Vine’. Once again I felt that Jesus was reminding me to just rest in His love, and that I didn’t have to do anything to receive more of His love for me. And then Tania did something very interesting: She told us to hold out our left hand in the air, and then to kiss it! She told us that it was a symbolic gesture of Jesus’ love for us, that He was proud of us no matter what. It was such a prophetic confirmation of the dream that I had had before I came here!

After this, we had a get-together with Jesus Burgers, a ministry that was started by Jason Lomelino fifteen years ago. Every Friday evening they give out burgers for free on the streets of Isla Vista. They have a house situated right in the middle of Del Playa Street, which one of the busiest partying streets there is. It is also a house of safety for anyone who feels unsafe (especially girls) or needs a place to nurse a hangover. Many students’ lives have been drastically changed by this ministry, and most of the young people who volunteers for this ministry were once partygoers themselves.

Jesus Burgers has a very respectable reputation at Isla Vista, so that night we partnered with them to give out burgers. However, it was freezing cold and rainy that night, so instead we went and knocked on the doors of the houses. The music was blaring loud everywhere we went. We shared the gospel with the partygoers from 10 p.m. until about 12 a.m.

Some of the students were out walking in the rain, most of them stone drunk out of their minds already. There was also a lot of students high on drugs. My group felt that knocking on the doors weren’t very effective, as it was groups of people partying and the music too loud to understand each other. So instead we started ministering to people walking on the pavements. We approached quite a number of people, and prayed for them. But all of them did not want to receive Jesus, because – in their own words – they wanted to ‘have a drink first and not feel guilty about it.’

As we were walking around and ministering to the people, I felt God saying to me to look beyond their words, actions or even their appearances. ‘Look into their eyes, and tell me what you see.’ Just by doing that, I was able to discern very quickly between the ones who were not believers, the ones who were believers and the ones who had been believers but had lost their way. It made it so much easier for me to know how to approach them.

One such girl we met, she told us that she has a living relationship with the Lord. I could sense that she is definitely on fire for God and that she is not into the partying scene at all. She shared with us how she often feels incredibly lonely, left out and rejected by her peers because of her relationship with Jesus. She felt so encouraged by the fact that we – fellow believers – had approached her. We prayed for her and we prophesied over her, and she left us feeling very much empowered, encouraged and not so alone anymore.

And then the next girl. The very next girl we met was a stark contrast to the previous girl. She was just as beautiful, and the way she was dressed showed that she comes from a wealthy background. She had her boyfriend with her, and some of her boyfriend’s friends were with her. She ‘looked’ happy and was smiling and everything. But when I looked into her eyes, all I could see was a hollow emptiness. I was completely taken by surprise. And then I heard God say to me: ‘This is the difference: I AM the difference. Do you see now?’ I immediately picked up that she was high on something. It wasn’t alcohol, because when I hugged her, I couldn’t smell anything on her. Out of her group, so she was the only one who could barely stand still. The rest of my group started ministering to her boyfriend and his friends. But for some reason this girl wanted to talk to me and to me only. She started asking me all kinds of questions, like where do I come from and what am I doing here? At first I didn’t want to talk to her because I could see that she wasn’t in her right frame of mind. But then I felt God saying to me, ‘Look at her, Vicki. She is pursuing what you have, even though you’re not pursuing you. I am inside you, and she is drawn to Me. I am the One pursuing her. Give her what she so desperately needs.’

I looked at her again, and decided to give her a go. I asked her, ‘Do you ever feel lonely or depressed?’ and immediately she stood still. She nodded her head ‘yes’ and was about to answer when her boyfriend interrupted and told us that they had to leave soon for the next party. I said to him, ‘Just give us 5 minutes, please.’ I went on to tell her my testimony, of how I felt the same way and how I almost died from a gunshot wound, and how it turned my life around. I asked her if she wanted to receive Jesus. She said to me, ‘But I am a Christian.’ And I replied, ‘But do you have a relationship with Jesus?’ and she told me no, she would like to have what I have. Again her boyfriend tried to get her away from me. By now I was holding both her shoulders to keep her from falling over. It was as if she was completely fixated on me and only me. She was now ignoring her boyfriend.  I was about to lead her into the prayer of salvation when her boyfriend once again wanted to get her away from me. I could see there would not be enough time for her to repeat the prayer after me, so I did a very simple and quick prayer over her life. And then she was gone, under the dominance of her boyfriend.

I walked away still praying for her. I said out loud, ‘May she wake up tomorrow morning knowing that something had changed tonight. And may she remember. And may she feel the difference inside of her.’

No longer I felt like I could condemn or judge people. It could’ve been me standing in her shoes, it could’ve been me feeling empty and hollow and lifeless.

I will never know whether something really happened that night, but I know that I’m forever changed by this one encounter. The contrast between her and the other girl differs like day and night. And I realized how privileged I have been, to have always have had a Savior to save me from my desperate circumstances. And how drugs, alcohol and a promiscuous lifestyle was never an option for me simply because I didn’t need to. It’s because I have always had God as my Father, Jesus as my Friend, and the Holy Spirit to guide me.

As I walked on further into the night, I heard Jesus clearly say to me: ‘This is why you go to sleep with a smile on your face, while others wakes up with a hangover and a heart full of regret.’

I went to bed once again with a thankful heart and a changed perspective.

DELTOPIA
 
The very next day was The Day. It had finally arrived. Deltopia was now in full swing. Deltopia is a party weekend event that takes place in Isla Vista every year. It was a glorious day, the sun was shining and everyone was ready to party. We partnered with Jesus Burges once again, and that day over 600-700 burgers were handed out. Between 6,000 - 8,000 students walked the streets, going from one party to the next, looking for a quick fix.

All over students were crawling the streets, going from house party to the next house party. Loud music was screaming at us from every distance. Everyone were either drinking or on their way to drinking. At every corner were policemen, some with dogs. A couple of students were being arrested right in front of our eyes. Almost all the girls walked around in bikinis or something more revealing than bikinis. Some girls were so drunk out of their minds that they were not even aware that they were completely topless. For each one of us BSSM students it was quite the wake-up call as to what life can be outside the BSSM bubble.

At the Jesus Burgers house there was a massive sign that said ‘Free Blessings.’ We used this sign to draw people in that wanted prayer. Another fellow BSSM student had made a sign that said ‘Tattoo Interpretations.’ This proved to be highly successful. The students loved it. So we were able to look at their tattoos and then prophecy over their lives.

There is a beautiful park with a view of the ocean just opposite the Jesus Burgers house, and there’s swing where you can sit upon. At one stage I took a break from the madness and went and sat on this swing. I asked God, ‘What drives these kids to live this kind of life? What kind of a life is this really? It is so… purposeless.’

And I felt how God said to me, ‘I’m weeping for My children. This is the Fatherless Generation. They might have a biological mother and a biological father, but they don’t have Me. They are orphans. This is what drives them to do what they do; they are looking for identity and searching for meaning.’

I let my mind wander back to South Africa, how, only about two years ago, it was on the news everywhere how the Stellenbosch University students had also started with something similar to Deltopia. And I heard God saying to me: ‘Kill the seed while it is still young. South Africa’s youth does not need to end up like Isla Vista’s youth. I want to draw them back to Me.’
 
  * YouTube Video that UCSB student made of Deltopia:

* LA Times article on Deltophia:
 
  SANTA BARBARA CHURCH
 
  That afternoon, Matt asked a couple of us students to prepare a word of prophecy and a word of knowledge for the church that we were going to attend later that night. I was asked to give a word of prophecy. Immediately I heard God say to me: Broken Hearts & Disappointments. He led me to prepare a couple of verses regarding these two topics, and that night I gave the prophetic word. There were about 150 people in the congregation; about 10 people stood up for broken hearts, and almost all of the congregation stood up when I called out disappointment.

Afterwards about 4 people came up to me and told me how blessed they felt by the word that I had given. It had been my first time giving a prophetic word to a congregation, and I had been shocked at how many people have experienced broken hearts and/or disappointments! One of the people who came up to me was a South African Afrikaans lady. She had recognized my accent immediately, and was so happy to meet a fellow South African girl. She told me that she had done the Hillsong Church’s Bible School, and that’s where she had met her husband, an American. They now live in Santa Barbara. (One of the girls that I had prophesied over at the Prophetic Booths was from Pretoria, an Afrikaans girl just like me. She’s au pairing in Isla Vista) What a small world indeed!
 
  ISLA VISTA STREET EVANGELISM
 
  On Sunday afternoon we were asked to do street evangelism again, for one last time. This time around the streets were quiet and empty. The contrast felt a bit eerie, but for some reason I strongly felt that the peace of God were surrounding me, Theresa and Johannes. We started walking down the street, and here and there was a couple of students playing ping pong in their front yards. Here in the United States they don’t have the high walls and fences to keep intruders out, so it’s quite easy to walk up to anyone and start talking to them.

And this afternoon was truly amazing. It was like a dream, as if Heaven itself had opened up, and it was super easy to talk to everyone and just to give them encouraging words and prophecies. Every single person one was open to receiving what we had to offer. It was truly an amazing and almost surreal time. The previous couple of days had been so hard for us, because people were mostly not open to receiving what we had to offer. But this afternoon was something incredible. Something definitely had shifted in the atmosphere. It could also have be because people were now nursing hangovers and/or shame, but it could also have been because we had finally broken through in the spirit…

ISLA VISTA CHURCH

That evening we went to Isla Vista Church, where Jason Lomelino is the pastor (he’s also the founder of Jesus Burgers). We had an amazing time of ministry and worship there. Afterwards the BSSM students formed a line to  pray for people. A lady came up to me and Rebekkah and said she was having back problems, and it also caused problems in her knees. She wanted restoration for both. So we let her sit down as we prayed for her. While we were praying, I felt that nothing was happening. I felt that God was telling me that He wants to restore her heart first. So we stopped praying and I asked her if I could pray for her heart. Immediately she started sobbing. I encouraged her and prophesied a little over her. And then we continued to pray for her body, and when she stood up, she said that the pain was completely gone! That was truly an amazing breakthrough for her body and her soul.

JESUS BURGERS LEADERS 

After we finished at the Isla Vista Church, Matt said we now had the evening off. But then he said he was looking for 24 volunteers who would be willing to go prophecy over the Jesus Burgers leaders for about 2 hours. By now I had so much confidence in this gift that God had restored to me, so of course I raised my hand.

We all drove to a wealthy neighborhood in Santa Barbara, and it was there in someone’s house that we all prophesied over the leaders. This time we were not split up into groups, but we were allowed to prophecy one-one-one over people.

There were moments that we as BSSM students had to wait for other BSSM students to finish before we could prophecy over certain leaders, so while we were waiting we would prophecy over each other! My beautiful friend Rebekkah came up to me and shared a vision of me that she had seen just moments before: ‘I see you as a bride, having your first dance with your bridegroom, Jesus.’ Of course I started getting all emotional and teary-eyed. She had no idea what I had left behind, or about the fact that I almost got married. This was truly a special message from Jesus to me. It was as if things had come into full circle.
 
  THE MORNING AFTER
 
  On Monday morning we packed up and started to say our goodbyes. We went by the Jesus Burgers house and I saw the woman from my dream again. This time she was unloading groceries from her car, and I could see her face. She looked exactly like the girl from my dream! I stood there for about 10 minutes, contemplating whether I should go up to her and tell her about my dream. But for some reason I felt that something was holding me back. I can’t think it was fear, because I am generally not afraid to approach strangers at all. And then I remembered the second part of my dream, where I had felt that the timing wasn’t right to tell her. So I decided not to. I felt a little dissapointed (just like in the second dream), but I know this was the right thing to do. But I will always wonder a little bit…

Matt & Elizabeth gave us their final words before we left for Redding, and Matt said something profound:

Bill Johnson shared something with the 2nd Year BSSM Students about two years ago, just as they were about to leave for their missions trips: ‘Your Missions Trip is going to be like a window into heaven, into what is possible and what can happen. It is your choice to decide to step into that window and stay there, or you can decide to go back to your normal life and forget this window ever opened up for you.’

Overall, 36 people were led to Christ on this Missions Trip, two of whom I led to the Lord. This missions trip had involved plenty of plowing and sowing, most of the time feeling like you were sowing seeds into the wind. One can look at the statistics and easily feel discouraged, or one can simply have a long term outlook on everything. Just because we don’t see the results now, doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. We need to have eternity in our perspective, for we have eternity in our hearts.

I also believe that when you look at South Africa, the harvest is undeniably ripe. The seeds had been sown into the land over 500 years ago, when those persecuted for their faith fled from Europe to Africa. Our heritage is rich and our inheritance is there, waiting for us. The seeds are only being sown into Isla Vista now, but just look at my beloved South Africa: It is ready.
 
  ONLY 4 WEEKS LEFT
 
Yes, yes, yes. Less than four weeks of school left! I have to say that after I returned from Santa Barbara, I felt ready to pack my bags again and go back to South Africa! I am unbelievably excited for my parents to come, I truly miss them. My next and final newsletter will be written after I’ve returned home.

Thank you, once again, to all my sponsors and everyone that has made this schooling possible.

I just want to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude towards two specific persons who made this Missions Trip possible for me. If it wasn’t for your direct financial contribution, this experience would not have been possible at all:

Mike Maree & Michael Fischer

Thank you so much and be blessed!

Vicki Fourie

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