She is just 15 and the Lord is pursuing her by sending me. I go out every week onto the downtown streets of Denver with no agenda other than bringing the Kingdom presence into the dark places. This particular night rocked my heart. I immediately started talking to this young girl, simply showing her value by being willing to listen and show compassion for her dire situation. I don’t have the ability to be her parent, take care of her basic needs, or deliver her from a deadly drug addiction… But I know the One who can do all of those things and so much more. God gave me words of comfort and encouragement. I asked the hard questions and this girl let me in, giving me permission to speak Truth into her life. I ended our evening praying for her to know the God who sent me to her because He loves her so much. A few days later she called me and we were able to build trust into our friendship. I’m humbled God is using me to bring hope to a broken little girl and pray she will come to know our great Father in Heaven!
Kingdom Night in the city of Denver was amazing! God lead me to a rather tough looking guy in his early 30’s. I found out he had recently been released from jail and was living in a halfway house. This guy just poured out his life story; I could tell he needed someone to listen. His biggest wounds in life came when his 3 young sons were taken away a couple years ago. He was so broken from this and desperately missed his boys. The Holy Spirit gave me the picture of his broken heart looking similar to how God’s heart is broken and missing the time when this man knew Him and loved Him as a child… He was shocked at the word of knowledge God gave me and moved by the comparison, saying he never thought of it like that. He said to me, “I don’t know why you’re talking to me and you’re so nice”. I explained that God had meant to say these things to Him tonight; I was simply the messenger. I’m reminded that the Lord will use even bad situations to draw us to Him. The Kingdom of Heaven is near and I love being part of that movement.
Perspective shift... a Christian worldview and the rest of the world…
The past week in my Community Development school this was our topic of study. The very first lecture from Christine Colby (a YWAMer with a background in nursing) wrecked me to bits! I sat in my chair silently as tears just kept flowing… I had no control of the water works. She raised questions like: Why is it women in the third world & China don’t want their female babies and choose to bury them alive? Why do some men in developing nations burn their wives with boiling cooking oil and receive no punishment? Why are so many governments corrupt and think they are above all law, even God’s law? Why do we hear of people who cry out to Allah “if Allah wills…” in their time of anguish?
For me these thoughts provoked more thoughts which just lead to incredible heartache! I know so well what those situations look like. My very own eyes have witnessed all of this. I was actually experiencing flashbacks. I never realized how much all of this was resting just under the surface of my resolve. I thought of a woman in so much pain she was repeatedly crying out to Allah to take her life- I saw her. I thought of a woman in India whose female baby I delivered, push the baby away as distaste crossed her features. She already had a daughter and had been hoping for a son… what ever happened to that little girl? I thought of the family in India who received a phone call as we were visiting their home that the husband’s brother had just burnt his wife up and she died… These stories burst before my eyes at the smallest hint of resemblance. If I’m honest that lecture ended with me extremely anxious to get on with the part where Jesus brings hope, joy, and life!
And I’m relieved to report that He does just that! The Bible, God’s word, is true… and when the word became flesh, he expounded upon that truth through example and sacrifice! As a believer in Christ and a follower of the way… it’s my calling and my pleasure to reflect God’s truth. Nothing and no one is too far gone to be beyond cure, restoration, or transformation. But no amount of humanitarian work, relief projects, or government handouts will make even a dent in poverty (both physical and spiritual) when they don’t include our Father in Heaven! We must look at the matter of the heart and compare it to what our Creator has established. When this is our soul focus there are no limits on the freedom that can be had.
I have this great sense of urgency. My perspective has shifted or I should say broadened to hold a glimpse of the One’s point of view. I took a good look at Genesis last week and was reminded of God’s perfection… Let it be once more.
YWAM runs training programs quarterly. Throughout 2012 YWAM Denver has trained 424 missionaries and sent the gospel of Christ to 26 nations around the world! I’m honored and you should be too… being part of God’s work in the Kingdom!
I’ve had the most incredible pleasure of serving the base here in Denver as a staff person with several responsibilities… Registrar, Childcare, Kitchen, Small group leader for the secondary leadership training school, and friend to many. It’s been a crazy season of business, fun, and hard work. I’m learning about balance and taking time for myself to recharge as well as making better priority of keeping my loved ones updated. It’s been hard especially not having the free time I’d prefer to do lots of writing/blogging. BUT I’m currently in-between quarters and working on catching up a lot and recharging my batteries! =) As I write about lots of things I realize most people won’t read everything, but I write for myself too… I often look back and read my posts to remember what God has done!
A new term was just coined here at YWAM Denver… the back story first: we have a rather famous family among us, The Murphys: John & Bethany and their 6 precious kiddos! Many of us make ourselves available to families around the base when they need a sitter… now we call sitting for this family; Murphing! I would just like to say that Murphing is one of my favorite things to do! All our base kids are a blessing they bring so much to the community. We need them to bring us to the level of family! They enrich my life so much and remind me of my amazing siblings, nephews, and niece back home!
It’s still tender, thinking that my Gram is no longer here but in Heaven healed and rejoicing. I will always be grateful for the angels that allowed me to travel home and hug her neck one last time and proclaim Jesus’ love to her. God showed me a glimpse of heavenly joy the day she passed and I will never forget that feeling. Peace is a stillness in my spirit that feels like flying!
I have been able to occasionally make it to my small group through Foothills Community Church on Thursday nights! There are about 10 young adults that gather together in the Backstrom house for snacks, fellowship, and the Word! I adore them all and hate missing out when other things keep me busy! This particular picture was from a special Night of Worship at Foothills where Mr. Zach Backstrom led worship. I brought along one of my small group girls and we really enjoyed the intimate presence of the Lord!
Our base was literally busting at the seams every Monday as the school from our mountain campus joined us! As a base we were blessed to use our neighboring church Faith Bible Chapel’s huge sanctuary for morning worship! The bustle of those days was incredible as about 200 people were accommodated… especially meal times were nuts! It’s glorious to see the way God has given our base favor with lots of students!
This period of rediscovering unity, friendships, and community with all new people has been hard and fun at the same time! Often I look back at the previous years relationships…. My lovely Birth Attendant School ladies! They were my closest family and friends for the best year of my life! I was incredibly surprised with a visit from Meghann, a BAS sister who was exactly that… for our year together we became so close like sisters! Which was especially awesome for me because I miss so badly all the time living in my role as big sister! Meghann caught me in the middle of a worship time and when I came through the door the shock and happiness was evident! You may have seen the video posted on facebook by Megs dad! I cried! I pray blessings for all my BASers… God has given us a bond that time and distance could never break! I miss you girls!
My sweet little office… I had a great time doing a little redecorating by bringing in some softer lighting, pictures, and organization. Everyone enjoys our space now and we get lots more visitors =) SO much happens in this office! We answer about 80 emails daily, take lots of calls inquiring about YWAM-DTS-and I especially have come to love the honor of calming worried parents! We also process every application, help with visas, and pray for our students! I love the personal aspect of getting to share with people why I love YWAM and Denver and this Community!
A dear friend, Kristen. She should inspire you. A wife, mother, hard worker, and lover of Jesus. She rediscovered some of her identity and calling in the past year as an artist. She does it to honor and glorify our King! And that it does. This particular night was her very first time creating in public at a worship conference. God gave her a picture to encourage myself and a friend as we both were finding strength in the Holy Spirit to not let fear or rejection stand in our way. It was a painting of Jesus looking into a veiled woman’s face, you could only see the back of her and there were these awesome swirls of color whirling around them. It seemed to move and speak… beautiful!
My girls. I learned so much from them. I’ve peeled back a new layer finding a truth to humility in leadership. I don’t know all the answers, I can’t usually fix the problems, I listen more than I speak and I have grown in new ways as a leader of these 4 lovely women. They blessed me with their openness, vulnerability, and perseverance as they sought after their relationships with Christ Jesus! One way we enjoyed getting to know each other was over ethnic food! Both Mexican & Korean foods prepared by our very own representatives of both countries! To balance it out I took them to I-Hop for traditional American breakfast & the Hard Rock Café for burgers! We climbed a mountain together (literally), got creative with paper and glue, shared our hearts over coffee, went to fun events, and had many meaningful conversations! I love these women and thank God for the chance to walk beside them and take a tiny bit of the inheritance of each of their fruitful futures!
YWAM Denver worship. As a base we are blessed to have many incredibly gifted musicians. We have about 4 full worship bands in rotation and I was asked a couple weeks after joining staff to jump on a team and sing. I’ve come a long way with confidence and freedom in my worship. I really enjoy helping lead our family into the throne room every week!
One of my greatest pleasures every single week is church! Although every minute of every day feels like ‘church’ I knew it would be important for me to find a place to fellowship outside of my YWAM family. I admit that I still tend to church hop on Sundays, but I can tell you my commitment every Monday night is to Family Night. It’s a house church, located in my town of Arvada at the Lewin’s home. We eat together, fellowship, worship, pray, and share as the Spirit guides us to encourage the body of believers and renew our hearts with anticipation to make Him known as we leave the front door and live lives worthy of the name of Jesus! I have found true friends and family in this sweet and humble home. I enjoy filling the 4 empty seats of my car with students to bring along- they always want to come back after experiencing the presence of God. One particular night I was blessed when one of the elders prayed a blessing over me. He also said that the presence of the Lord is felt by everyone close to me when I am lost in worship and that he believes that someday soon I will be given a guitar… the Lord wants to further my musicality with this instrument! I was so thrilled… for years learning to play the guitar has been on my to do list, but first I need a guitar!
Resound Conference! So much healing took place through just one weekend in the rural farming area of Boulder, CO. It was 3 days of breakout sessions and evening worship with a word. The Resound ministry team brought the Word of the Lord; revival. We heard some incredible bands like Kye Kye, Jeremy Riddle, and Ascend The Hill with hearts open to whatever God had planned. For me David & Melissa Helser were key to my own personal break through experience! Melissa spoke one session called discovering your breakthrough sound through the idea that there is a sound within me and that God is cheering me on to take the risk of being vulnerable and sharing that with the people around me as an offering to Him. The Helsers also spoke together in a sessions about Marriage and Ministry. I was blown away by their evident adoration for each other and their God, they have such an incredible testimony. The entire weekend was so uplifting and stirred awake the sleepy places in my soul!
It’s tradition in the School of Ministry Development to have small group Theme Bowling night! Other groups dressed as characters from the Blue Man Group, Little Old Ladies, and the little green plastic army figures to name a few. In my group we dressed as Pennsylvania Amish folks! We looked so legit! I can’t believe we went in public like this!
YWAM Colorado gathered together for our 2nd annual Acts 1 Conference! We loaded up the entire base and traveled south to YWAM Colorado Springs. The purpose of the conference was simply to seek the Lord- just as the desciples were doing in Acts 1. Through worship and prayer and fellowship we waited on God. He spoke some powerful words over YWAM and our community. God also wrecked (in a good way) so many individuals lives! Including my own. I was especially seeking God for peace from feeling overwhelmed regarding the future ministry God has called me to in starting the Midwife Training School. The Lord spoke through a friend during prayer that I was caught up in the wrong wording for what I was feeling – it’s not overwhelming, but instead The Weight Of Glory! God said part of why He has chosen me is because I am not seeking the stage and I don’t fell 100% equipped… that’s how He knows He will be the one to receive the Praise, that’s why God says it must be me. God also spoke that I am like a wildflower in a meadow turning all day towards the light of His face- because seeking him is the only source of wisdom. An awesome prophet also spoke over YWAM “Entering A Season of 34 months of: You Will Not Fail” He encouraged that in this season there will be times when I may feel on the verge of failing, but have faith, don’t give up and encourage myself in God.. Refuse to let negativity get hold, or the lens of disappointment to take over, but get the Lords perspective!
There seems to be this almost underground following of Christians that are aware of some powerful documentaries that should spur us all into action! I love that in YWAM we hear about these things and are able to take part. This past quarter I have seen a number of these films and I hope you’ll take note and find a way to see these also and allow God to reveal his heart in some of the world’s most horrific injustices which take place every day! Above is a picture from a special viewing of the documentary It’s A Girl. We took a van full of people out to watch this informative film about female infanticide. I also watched Nafarious, about the realities of sex trafficking/slavery around the world, and Rainbow Town about one families quest to take in hundreds of orphaned African children providing for their basics needs, love, and education. It’s important to see these things through the eyes of our God- who is Love and Hope.
Holdays… this year every holiday reminds me of the previous years holiday. In 2011 I was spending Thanksgiving with my BAS girls and a fabulous missionary family (from Oregon) in Hyderabad, India! In 2012, I spent a lazy Thanksgiving in my sweat pants cooking with a few great friends, watching the Macy’s Parade and White Christmas. We consumed a HUGE traditional Turkey dinner with cookies and pie to follow. It was cozy, sweet, and a true comfort since I was not able to be with family.
I had the privilege of volunteering some time serving a wonderful ministry ran locally through contacts in Haiti! Heartline Ministries runs life skills programs for people in Haiti to learn how to earn a living and care for their families. One project teaches them to make jewelry, metal art, and purses! Haitian Creations then sets up booths in America to sell these well-made beautiful products. Each item has a tag with the story of the woman who made it along with her personal ID number so that the proceeds go directly back to her! I worked a full day at the Holiday Food and Gift Show at the event center in downtown Denver! I had an awesome time and look forward to continuing to serve on occasion for this ministry! Thankfully my good friend from my bible study group is one of the people on Staff for Haitian Creations!
Many of you know that I love music, especially live shows! I was so excited when the Lord provided through the generosity of my supporters a little extra that I used to buy 5 tickets to the Francesca Battistelli concert at a local church! I took my small group girls and we had so much fun! I was blown away by Franny’s heart along with her husband (the drummer) to share the gospel and sing God’s praises! I loved spending time with these girls!
Graduated my girls! First on the left is Hyoung, she is back in South Korea and just welcomed a baby nephew, she plans to go back to university and connect in ministry with her church through her passion of photography! Laken is back home in Pennsylvania where she just got an awesome job at a coffee shop, she plans to reconnect with her church community and pursue ministry through God’s dream of creating video testimonials! Next is May, she has returned to Mexico to spend quality time with her family before taking the bar exam in a couple months to become a lawyer and pursue her dreams of using her career and gifting to bring hope to women in crisis pregnancy situations. And then we have Christin, who has returned to Las Vegas and already has a great job. She has a variety of dreams and goals but ultimately she wants to walk out a life that glorifies God! I could not be more proud of the journey these ladies have been on! Really though… it was a little comical how I would even cry with mama-like joy after they each did their speeches! I love you amazing women of God! You continue to be in my prayers!
I prayerfully decided to stay in Colorado this Christmas. I felt the Lord calling me to stick it out alone this year. It was hard, but I did have the company of one super sweet, snuggly, cute guy! That’s right, Ike the dog and I spent Christmas break together! I took a job house/dog sitting for a lovely family! I sort of hid away for that week. I think I needed a social break after months of overload and God knew that of course! I missed my family in Washington so much, but skype helped as we opened presents together over the internet on Christmas morning!
Also wanted to say thank you to the people who sent me cards and gifts! I was so very blessed by your thoughtfulness! In one gift I received was new lipstick! RED! Thanks Heather! I wore it out on New Years Eve, thought it was a nice colorful way to welcome 2013… plus I knew there was no New Years kiss threatening to smudge it! LOL