Story Behind The Photo: Serene

Serene shares some insight on the story behind the photo. Check out some of what she learned on her YWAM DTS outreach!

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My DTS outreach was filled with a variety of new experiences and with anything new comes opportunities to learn. I would say one of the biggest lessons I learned on outreach started with a conversation that took place even before we left Asheville. During our lecture phase, I had a long conversation with a staff member and what was said really stuck with me. The conversation was about what it means to truly give yourself to God. I was scared of what it meant for me if I surrendered everything to God. I had a comfort zone and a plan for myself that I was not willing to give up. I was given a verse during this discussion that really came alive for me on outreach. The verse was Ephisians 3:20 “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we could ask or think, according to the power at work within us” This was one of the biggest lessons that I learned on outreach; that I don't need to fear what I'll lose if I completely surrender my life to God because through His power He will do abundantly more than I could ever ask or even think. My plan doesn't even compare to what God has for me once I lay it all down. 

I knew before leaving on outreach that we would be spending a lot of our time doing evangelism, however, to be completely honest with you this was something that I was very fearful of doing. I was excited to go on outreach and share the love of God, but I was hoping sharing the love of God would look a lot more like doing hands-on work helping people with practical needs rather than doing outright evangelism. I was afraid I wouldn’t have the right words to say and that what I had to say would only make me look foolish in front of everyone listening. If you asked me at any point before my outreach I would not have been able to predict how drastically this changed for me. Outreach pushed me to lay down these insecurities and give them to God knowing that He will carry me in the areas I lack. The first time I shared the gospel I was shocked by the pure excitement that it gave me. From that moment on, to my surprise, it was my absolute favorite thing to do. The moment that I surrendered the fear that was holding me back, God took it and in return gave me a new passion. I started to love sharing the gospel and my personal experience with Jesus. It became my favorite ministry of all and I was honored to have the opportunity to witness God change hearts. I'm so grateful that God changed my mindset and for the new experiences that came along with that change. 

Another aspect of my life that I learned to lay down was my thoughts. I learned through my outreach that God can do great things with our thoughts and give us great answers to our questions, but before He will do these things we have to tell Him our thoughts and ask Him our questions. There was a specific time in Tanzania when I ran into some tough new questions for God. I was tempted to push them down because I was afraid that what might come from asking would bring me further from God. Still, I was convicted to be honest and have a raw conversation with Him about how I was really feeling. It was a tough conversation to have and it definitely took me more than a few days of grappling to come to a place where I felt at peace with the answers I received. However, when I did receive answers I felt like my eyes had been opened to a greater picture of the sacrifice He made for me. This newfound awareness filled me with joy and excitement. This new understanding never would have come to be if I hadn't learned to have an honest conversation with God. Instead of hiding my questions from Him, I learned to give them to Him fully knowing in return He will give me the answers that are for my good.

One of the most important things that I learned to surrender on outreach was the idea that I can lean on my own strength instead of God’s. There were plenty of times while in Tanzania where I was physically tired. We had lots of busy days full of ministry outside in the sun and some days I lost my desire to press on with our planned activities. In these moments of weakness, I would have rather taken time to rest instead of finishing off the work to be done. Looking back, for almost every one of these times if I did choose to rely on my own strength I would have missed out on some of the best moments. I remember one specific time being so hot and tired but contrary to how I was feeling the ministry was so much more amazing and fruitful. I remember having a thought that day that I wanted to be more willing to give up comforts if it meant being a part of ministry like this, because any comfort of this earth could not compare to the reward I was given that day of seeing His work being done. I think God uses those moments when we are most tired just to show us that we can’t do anything by our own strength but instead by the power of the Holy Spirit. I had to learn on outreach to seek God over my desire for physical comfort. 

During lecture phase, I learned that God is so worthy of everything we can give, but during outreach, I experienced how much of a pleasure it is to give Him our everything. He wants our surrender so He can show us so much more. When I think of this I see a picture of me and Jesus. In this mental picture, I am standing holding a tiny little jewel in my hands. I love and cherish this tiny jewel so much. I love it so strongly that I cannot take my eyes off it. I am standing there with this tiny jewel in my palm watching it all day long, every day. On the other hand, Jesus is standing in front of me with both hands full of beautiful jewels that are all colours. The jewels are 100 times more stunning than my one jewel, they sparkle in the sun, and His hands are so full that jewels are spilling onto the ground. Jesus is standing right in front of me with His beautiful jewels and He wants so desperately to give them to me. He really wants me to have them but I just won't look at Him. I won't look at Him because my eyes are so fixed on my one little jewel. If I only looked up from my small jewel to look at Jesus I would have something so much greater that wouldn’t even compare. The jewels represent my life. What I learned on outreach through various experiences was that I have two options to choose from for my life. I could plan my life out meticulously and stick to what I find comfortable and enjoyable. With every season hoping that things will go just the way I plan it but still know that it won't. Or I could surrender it all to God and live for what He has planned. In the end living a life more fulfilling and exciting than I ever could have imagined. A life that would not compare to any plan I could ever dream up for myself. What a pleasure to have the option and what a pleasure to make the decision to give my life fully to God. 


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