Outreach is often an exciting time with a lot going on, but at other times it can be very slow.
On our way to Alotau, we were so excited to be the first team from YWAM Newcastle to serve on the s/v Ruach, YWAM Ships Newcastle’s first vessel which arrived in Papua New Guinea the same week we did. However when we arrived, due to unforeseeable circumstances, our plans changed, and we were soon sitting at the YWAM campus in Alotau with very little to do. Our leaders were working hard to make new plans for outreach, but for a time, nothing was taking off. Our team was getting more and more frustrated.
One day, I was getting so impatient and frustrated that I just had to get out. I asked two friends to go with me for a walk around the campus.
I started complaining to them about the circumstances, but one of my friends gently rebuked me.
She encouraged me, reminding me that we needed to be patient, to trust our leaders and choose joy despite the circumstances; and I knew she was right. Immediately I repented (I had learned during lecture phase that repentance really means changing your mind), so I decided to change my mind.
In that moment, I felt resistant to giving in. Thoughts of ‘I deserve to be angry’ were pulsing through me. I knew the truth, though, that my old self has been crucified with Jesus, so that I would no longer be enslaved to sin. The old Anneke is gone, and the new has come.
So, I prayed, “God I’m so sorry for having such a bad attitude, for reserving a right to be frustrated. Thank you that I’m not a slave to my circumstances or how I’m feeling right now. Thank you that your Spirit lives inside me and that You can enable me to live out patience and joy. I choose your joy.”
In the moment I didn’t feel any different, but I simply choose to yield to God’s Spirit and to represent His kingdom right there and then, despite the feelings and the circumstances I was experiencing.
With my mind renewed, I was able to think clearly. Since we began walking I had noticed the large amount of rubbish that filled the beautiful green fields and the road we were walking along. I was so blinded by selfish thoughts and anger that I was deaf to the whisper of the kingdom inside me. So, I decided to start picking up rubbish, praying out loud and thanking God for the truth that His kingdom lived inside me.
Soon my friends joined in. I began to feel a little sense of victory and soon the frustration and anger was replaced with joy.
I felt like an overcomer.
I wasn’t seeing anyone healed, preaching a sermon, or doing anything spectacular but in that moment, I felt like I was living out the kingdom. I was choosing to align myself to the victory Jesus had won for me; the victory of being dead to sin and alive to Christ. I was choosing to be an overcomer. It would have been enough that I simply chose and encountered joy in that moment of frustration, but the kingdom is so attractive that it didn’t just stop there.
Soon three little girls we had met earlier that day saw us picking up rubbish and decided to walk with us. They were on their way home from school, but went out of their way to join us on our walk; going the opposite direction of their house. “Why are you doing this?” they asked. We replied, “Because God has given you this beautiful nature, and this rubbish makes it look so ugly.” They understood and immediately joined in, taking great pride in digging up cans that were stuck in the mud from the heavy downpours of rain, or going deep into the long grass to grab a small shred of paper.
Maybe it didn’t mean much. Maybe they didn’t go on to change the culture of their village. But at least I can say that in a moment where frustration and anger would have been a ‘natural’ response, we chose a supernatural response. We chose to yield to the joy of the kingdom that’s been freely given to us. Even if it has no impact on anything, or anyone, it’s made an impact on me. I can choose to be an overcomer in every situation, big and small.
Before we see nations transformed and people redeemed, we must chose victory in the small things.
Choosing patience in the queue at the grocery store, choosing joy when your package doesn’t arrive, choosing kindness when the waiter gets your order wrong. The things that no one sees and don’t really matter are the moments where great leaders are made. I believe leaders are born when ordinary people are faced with ordinary circumstances, but decide to do something extraordinary. God by His Son and through His Spirit has given us a victory over carnal living, it’s up to us to live it out.