the whirlwind called "DSC 2016"
Discipleship Summer Course 2016 • 22 students, 12 staff, 14 kids
8 nationalities • 5 topics • 3 weeks
Wow, what a whirlwind it was! As a staff team we started one week before with preparations. Praying & worshipping God together, talking about the schedule, preparing handbooks and welcome baskets. Saturday: the students arrive. All a bit wary and wondering what the coming three weeks will look like. Two families with 4 kids (and one of them on a strict gluten-free diet), a family from England, a single mom, some couples with grown-up kids (who were not present), some single ladies, a man from Turkey, a young girl from Italy… they all arrived and started to acquaint themselves with their new “home”, fellow students and staff. We did a round of introductions and everyone is curious to see what God has for them in the coming three weeks. Play some games, eat some food and start to settle in.
Monday: first day of lecture. Worship together on the base and there are “new” songs and a different style of worship for many. Some come from a very traditional reformed Christian background and they’ve never worshipped God with their hands in the air or with these kind of songs. Some are used to the style and feel comfortable. The “foreigners” try to follow along when we sing in Dutch and do their best. First lecture begins, theme: Holy Spirit. Wow, what a whirlwind. For many it was a very new topic that brought many questions. Second half of the week, a new theme: Father heart of God. WOW, another whirlwind. Many have never heard of this concept before. Of course they’ve known “Father God” but to really comprehend all that that statement contains is new for most. Unconditional love and acceptance… empowerment… some students struggle to receive the message fully. There are so many new things. Some walk out of class crying, we follow them and listen. Encourage them to not quit: being challenged to open up our (often closed) minds and spiritual worldviews is never easy, but it’s necessary. God is too big for us to have Him figured out already. The children’s program has a rough start, the kids need to get used to the new surrounding and schedule. But as the week continues, things run smoother.
Victory, the ones who struggled had an encounter with God. They heard the information and experienced the truth. More tears, but this time of wonder and awe. Can God really do that? Yes dear, yes He can. Campfire and singing and the week comes to an end. Second week begins….
Theme: Identity. If last week was challenging, this week is ten-times more hard to swallow. What? I can hide behind different masks like piety and arrogance, timidness and humor? What? God calls me to come out of hiding and enter into intimate relationship with Him? For one student, it was too much. The person decides to go home. We pray, send cards of encouragement, and trust God that He is at work no matter what. The week gets more intense as there is a “family camp” running at Heidebeek at the same time and they have an outbreak of the flu. One by one people start getting sick… still God is at work, students and staff break the power of lies that have held them back and embrace the truth that God says about them. A week of breakthrough… and sickness. Thursday night seminar about evangelism with an outreach to the market on Friday. Unfortunately our family was hit by the sickness too soon and we weren’t able to participate, both kids and momma throwing up. Thankfully it went over fast, and by Tuesday we were back in class for the last week.
Third week theme: Missions. What a transition from identity to missions… felt a bit awkward for some, but it was well thought through. When you discover who you are (and who Jesus made you to be when He died for you) then you have so much more reason to share it with others. Our speaker was a man who had been a missionary in the Middle East for more than 20 years. He didn’t communicate head-knowledge, but he shared passion and people were inspired. But it was also quite a challenge for many, it’s never easy to get out of our “comfort zones”! Thursday we round off with a “love feast” and our wonderful volunteer cooks make a special Indonesian meal for us: Gado Gado. We ate with baskets as plates and celebrated by blessing each other with gifts. A few days earlier we put all our names in a basket and we each drew them one by one. The assignment: ask Holy Spirit how you can bless this person. It was wonderful to see how Holy Spirit really did lead people to buy gifts that were encouraging, confirming and blessing the receivers. Friday: evaluation, cleaning and goodbyes. Wow, what a whirlwind!
Three weeks can be so long and so short at the same time! God did so much in peoples’ lives, and we were so busy that the time just flew by! One student decided to do a full 6 month Discipleship Training School because they feel God is really calling them into missions. There was another student from a very traditional reformed Christian background who wanted to receive more of God but was held back by the fear of the “unknown” (things which were not common to them or hard to comprehend with their minds, mostly things about the Holy Spirit). At the end of the school this student stood in front of class and boldly proclaimed how much God had done in their life over the last three weeks. How free and full they felt, and that they are open for wherever God will lead them. Wow! Another student who was Christian but had an Islamic background shared that they felt so much peace when they were with the group. They said sometimes it was hard to follow God because they learned so many different ways, Islamic and Christian, and were sometimes not sure what to do with it all. But after being in the school this student said that when they pray to Jesus they really feel it’s different and have peace, they now know for sure WHO is the truth!
Wow, what a whirlwind! Turning lives and worldviews upside down, turning people inside out and taking off masks and the whole time God with his love is blowing around and inside of all of us. It was an incredible 3 (4 for the staff) weeks. Papa God is so good and faithful to lead us into the truth that sets us free! We know and stand on the promise that God will bring the good work He started to completion (Philippians 1:6), in the students lives, and in our lives as staff.
This was the first school/course that we staffed together since we became a family. It had some challenges, tired children and tired parents, but we made it and we really enjoyed it too! Ezra took his morning nap in a camping bed in the hospitality office, Nora played with two of the other younger kids in the “creche”. As parents we took turns who would attend the afternoon/evening activities and had a babysitter a couple of times so we both could attend. We held most of our staff meetings in our living room so that the kids could have their afternoon nap. We’re tired and thankful that it was a short course and not a 6 month school (haha!) but we really loved it! Being able to see how much God can do in a three week period of time is faith-building. And of course as He worked in the students’ lives, He worked in ours too. We both came away with some new insights and (beginnings of) breakthroughs.
Wow, what a whirlwind! Discipleship Summer Course 2016.