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YWAM 60th 2020, A Time to Die

"Let us embrace what the Lord is doing: the final result can be that we will be able to bear more fruit than ever, much more."

Photo by Dan Edwards on Unsplash.

**This is a personal website and reflects my thoughts and convictions. It does not represent any official position held by Youth With A Mission.**

This is the original title of an article written by my friend, Tom Bloomer towards the end of last year.  It is based on John 12:24;

However, now that our world has been shaken by the pandemic, it is even significant in ways we could not see then.

Tom sent the word to me and Markus Steffen, President of the University of the Nations, to judge.  We both felt it is more than relevant, it has the marks of a word from God. 

We then asked him to expand on the pruning metaphor, knowing he is a very knowledgeable gardener.  This has meant so much to me, partly because I grew up on a small farm and my dad and I pruned over 100 fruit trees every winter.  The majority of those were pear trees that produced an extraordinary amount of wild growth every spring and summer.  All the new growth went straight up, often producing “suckers” (as Dad called them) that would not produce fruit and would turn the trees into useless wild growth within a few years.  The peach trees were different, as were the apricots, cherries and apples.  But each needed annual pruning. 

Please stop and ask the Lord how this word applies to you and any ministry you are associated with.  (The bold headings are my additions.)

“We are praying for more fruit, that is our deep desire. But there are conditions for bearing more fruit, and one of them is dying.

Another is pruning, to change the image – any experienced gardener will confirm that correct pruning is the key to bearing much fruit – and pruning is also the only regular maintenance needed for mature plants.

YWAM is mature, at 60, and we have also been in a season of rapid growth – actually, wild and unchecked growth. The factor that concerns me is the number of small ministries and tiny bases that are not bearing much fruit.  They should be pruned.

We are called to work in teams

For example, I know personally one committed, lovable couple who have been trying to pioneer a base in a European country for several years now, with no staff. They have teenage children, work outside jobs due to inadequate support, and have tried to run DTS’s with 2-3-4 students. They have 2 apartments for the ministry, which has worked until now because they house DTS outreach teams targeting their big city and that’s how they have paid the rent.

But that phase is over . . . and not just for a few weeks. The world has turned . . . and will never again be the way that it was. We have not been this way before.

The other worrying trend is small teams, sometimes only a couple, going out to pioneer YWAM in some place. Sometimes they have children, and/or one of them has to work at least half-time. They proclaim that they are pioneering YWAM, but in too many cases it’s not working. There is no fruit.

Both trends are failing because they are trying to operate outside of our anointing: YWAM is teams. Not a couple. A couple all alone in a city cannot be YWAM, by definition. Apparently, each of these couples has been “released” by a YWAM leader somewhere; but letting people do what they want to is not leadership. It is irresponsible.

All of these so-called ministries should be pruned. The people should be recalled to join growing ministries and bases, or released to begin the long and difficult preparation to be influential in the spheres.

Are you called, knowledgeable and equipped to impact other spheres?

Most YWAMers are not qualified to have an influence in a sphere: they have nothing to say. A symptom of this lack of preparation is the unprofessional manner that many betray when they try to sign up on LinkedIn. It would be funny, if it weren’t so pitiful.

In September 2019 I gave a word at our big (for Switzerland) charismatic conference, to the effect that a wave of judgment would soon sweep the world; and that this time, Switzerland would not be spared (as it was in 1914-18 and 1939-45). This word was well received, and I was able to lead in a time of prayer for 90 minutes afterward, consisting entirely of confessing the sins of the nation. I shared this word with the leaders of YWAM in francophone Switzerland a few weeks later, and it was well received by that group also.

What I did not see, nor never imagined, was that the coming economic judgment would be precipitated by a worldwide pandemic.

Sometimes smaller means more fruit

So, YWAM is now being pruned: conferences, schools, outreaches, everything. It is not a selective pruning of our choice, it is massive, universal, blunt-force pruning.

My conclusion, and hope, is that we would not resist the pruning. We need to be ready to let ministries and bases die, and not try to keep them on life support.

The severe pruning has already begun; but if we collaborate with the Master Gardener we will enter into a season where we are smaller and more nimble, but able to bear much more fruit.

One hundred-fold.

Since the whole Church, and our nations, are also being severely pruned, wide doors of ministry will open up rapidly. The potential in this new season is mind-blowing.

We need to be praying, and acting, to see that our Redeemer will do what He does best. We know that our Redeemer lives.

What is meant by pruning?

Which branches should be pruned, both in our lives and in our ministries?

First, the dead and dying: what is not bearing fruit? Are all of your activities actually reaching and ministering to people? Even if there is growth, activity and noise, they do not necessarily mean fruit, they may even mask the lack of it. We love vision and challenges and mobilization in YWAM, but is this exciting thing we are hearing about actually bearing fruit?

Resolving intractable conflict (like Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15)

Second, branches rubbing against each other: they will eventually scape the protective bark off and open the plant up to disease. Do you see two people continually in conflict? Healthy disagreement if fine (iron sharpens iron), but constant conflict hurts morale and eventually destroys hope. How to tell when one of them has to go? When their conflicts start to negatively affect those around them, one of them has to go. In Genesis 13.5-11, we see that Abram and Lot had to separate because of constant conflict between their followers. Separation is not a sin; it can often prevent a situation from degenerating to the point of bitter infighting and jealousy.

Some of our oldest activities should be closed down

Third, pruning often consists of not just shortening a bush, giving it a haircut; but for many bushes, especially mature ones, we remove one third of the oldest growth every year, cutting from the bottom. So, the bush is opened up to air circulation, reducing the risk of airborne diseases. Check out your oldest ministry activities: are they still bearing fruit?

A caution: avoid the temptation of immaturity, to simply sweep away everything that went before, to be able to start over with a clean slate: the old wine is best!

More light!

Fourth, the opening up of a plant lets the light in; and new growth occurs where light can strike the branches. In recent years, a new pruning technique is being recommended, called ‘well of light’. For fruit trees and for most free-standing roses, it involves cutting out the centre branches completely, leaving a basket-shaped plant whose walls are the exterior branches. To get an idea, hold out your hand palm up, and spread your fingers: you see how the light can now easily reach the centre of the plant, and bring forth new life on the branches.

In our early days, we used to talk a lot about ‘walking in the light’, in other words keeping short accounts with our sins. In many of our staff and community gatherings, we would wait before the Lord and ask the Spirit to show us if we were holding anything against a brother or a sister; and we would not go on with the meeting until everyone had the opportunity to go and quietly ask forgiveness. When was the last time you did this in your community? Are you walking in the light? Or in old hurts and misunderstandings and suspicions? 

Jesus said the Sabbath was mandated for our sake

There is an enormous amount of travel, meetings, conferences, constant scurrying about in the Church; when I teach young leaders, they are always amazed to hear me emphasize the Sabbath. Many of them have never heard any teaching about it. I was struck by the Facebook post from Al Akimoff: “We neglected the Sabbath for so many years; and now the Sabbath has come to us.”

Yes, we are all in an enforced season of rest, of pruning. I saw it coming last December but saw it an only an economic judgement; never imagining that the worldwide recession (or depression) would be kicked off by a pandemic. I also thought that It would be somewhat voluntary, and that we would have time to put it into place.

Instead, it is involuntary, brutal, and massive.

It may seem brutal, but…

Beginning gardeners underestimate just how severe a good pruning job must be. We have a saying: “Let your neighbour prune your rosebushes.” This is because we are all tempted to be sentimental, and to not prune nearly enough.

The Master Gardener is not sentimental, He lives in a ‘well of light’. In His love, He will prune and even judge severely: see Isaiah 5.1-7. Sometimes this is the only thing that can bring us back to total dependence on Him.

Already, our conferences, schools, seminars, outreaches, and community life meetings are being severely pruned. But we must be ready to accept the pruning away of many of our ministries, and even bases.

Let us embrace what the Lord is doing: the final result can be that we will be able to bear more fruit than ever, much more.

Tom

Burtigny, 27 March 2020”

Copyright 2020 Thomas A. Bloomer

35 comments on “YWAM 60th 2020, A Time to Die

  1. Wow… Thanks Tom! (and Lynn!)

    Like

  2. Warwick Murphy

    I believe that is a clear message of hope from our Father. I have heard various interpretations re this virus overr the past weeks. However this I believe is the clearest Message yet. Not just for YWAM, but a broader audience. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    Like

  3. thanks Tom, your words of meditative wisdom are food for soul and spirit.

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  4. Suzan Lim

    Thanks Tom. That so resonates what I believe the Lord is doing in YWAM and worldwide. May peace be on us all as we continue to wait on the Lord and see how He works in our lives and around the world.

    Like

  5. Susan Murphy

    The voice of reason and faith,Tom. Thank God! What an extraordinary time we are living in. Thank you Lynn for sharing

    Like

  6. Andy Holten

    Thanks for sharing this with all of us Lynn! Very timely word.

    Like

  7. Great word tom. Our base will sure meditate on it.

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  8. Seyi Etim

    Tom and Lynn
    Thank you guys for the words of Wisdom. I read your post with great interest. I was saved on the YWAM base in March of 1975. I did an soe in Hurlach and outreahes in Amsterdam etc. Then staffed in Dunham, Quebec and Vancouver Canada before leaving YWAM to marry. I went to seminary and pastored for about 30 years. My wife and I retired in 2017, and went to CROSSROADS in Kona in 2018. We returned to staff in 2019. My observations: I was schocked by the changes. Some very good and others not so good. I was struck by what you wrote on “waiting on God, allowing the Holy spirit to search our hearts during intercessions before proceedings. I agree with you that not much of that is being practiced very closely. With so many young peoples coming in drones which is great! However, the basic principles of YWAM must not be jeopardized. I have fought many battles since 1975. But I must say that those principles learnt in the early years of YWAM have saved me and my family. My wife and I been married 39 years with 6 children and seven grandchildren.
    Thanks again for your words. I pray that all the leadership take it to heart and let The Lord do His ‘PRUNNING WORK”, TO HIM BE ALL THE GLORY. Seyi (formerly Sammy) Etim

    Like

  9. Dylan Atkinson

    Thanks for sharing this Lynn. It’s deeply challenging and provoking.

    A couple of thoughts sparked by Tom’s pruning metaphor and the call to Sabbath.

    I wonder if we neglect sabbath because we see it as a period of down-time at the end of a week rather than a time of preparation for the coming week? Perhaps if we saw it as a winding up as opposed to a winding down we might be more intentional.

    Then a fruit tree cannot prune itself, it simply yields to the Gardener’s pruning, which incidentally always stresses the tree because it is an unquestionably painful process. Thus the tree doesn’t get to decide which branches are removed, it must faithfully trust the wisdom of the Gardener.

    A tree is never pruned the same way twice. Not only is every tree unique in its branch configuration, but every season’s growth on every tree is different from the year before and the year to come.
    The one implication of this is that there is no such thing as a tree pruning template – a one style fits all. We incessantly seek to reduce Kingdom matters to the knowledge of formulas/methods/recipes, while it is actually Governed by the principles and values founded on Love.

    My last thought is that pruning is not intended to make trees pretty, on the contrary, pruning leaves trees looking like shorn sheep – bleak. (Naked without shame Genesis 2:25) Pruning is to make trees fruitful. This is my great challenge, I focus more on the aesthetic of the ministry than the impact of the ministry.

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  10. Thank you, Tom, for your word and Lynn, for sharing it here. My wife and I started and lead a small YWAM base in Jacksonville, Florida and I also serve on the IFMLT. In the past 5+ years the topic of pruning has been very prominent in our frontier meetings. I found your thoughts on this to be educational and challenging. Regarding it being a “time to die” for small YWAM ministries and bases, I have a different take. Maybe the solution for these trying times and in order to see more fruit, aren’t more “elephant” bases but many, many more “rabbit” bases. Consider this quote: “The illustration was shared by our guide for the discussion comparing elephants and rabbits in the area of multiplication.  The scenario was take two elephants (male and female) place them good close proximity to each other and come back a year later.  At that time how many elephants will there be?  The answer is 3 (the two you left a year ago and one more).  Now take two rabbits (male and female), place them in close proximity and leave them there for a year.  When you come back how many will there be?  The answer was more than 200,000!!!” (The Network) The YWAM landscape today, in many places, resembles what happens when a new Walmart Super Center moves into an area. In time, all the locally-owned businesses close their doors because they can’t compete with the prices and marketing of the big, shiny Walmart. People say, “well that’s fine, because we all end up benefitting.” If getting cheap stuff at a cheap price is your goal, then you’re right. The institution is killing the movement. The large mega-church/mega YWAM base can do a good job of adding, but structurally is contrary to multiplication/movement growth. To summarize, 1 large YWAM base of 100 students in Florida is not comparable in potential fruit-bearing to 10 YWAM bases with 10 students spread across the State. It all comes down to MOVEMENT thinking!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dylan Atkinson

      I believe you’re right.
      Tens of thousands of small churches in Korea have closed because a ‘Walmart church’ comes to their town.
      I’ve got other concerns about the favouring of big basses in that I’ve been troubled about how big bases require huge budgets and maintenance and administrative teams. I’m concerned because schools are then viewed as sources of necessary income rather than their original purpose – the two consequences I see coming from this attitude is; schools, especially DTS’s, are running even if the school leaders and staff aren’t adequately prepared and, the screening process of the student applications is biased towards economic considerations thus accepting almost anyone regardless of their suitability/readiness for that school, plus favouring students who can guarantee to pay their fees.
      The other concern is that the fallout if a big base is forced to close is much greater than in the case of a smaller base. And smaller bases can be much more responsive to a Word to change direction.
      I do however agree after 20 of trying to pioneer YWAM in a big city, a married couple isn’t a team. That doesn’t mean married couple cannot be on teams but a couple who pioneer something somehow become that thing’s parent and they then become overly protective.

      Like

    • Scotty Meades

      I think that is a very good point! Especially in difficult to reach areas small is much more efficient.

      Like

  11. Guy and Joële Zeller

    Thank you so much dear Tom and Lynn. And let’s all process that individually, as families, teams and communities in the fear of the Lord !

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  12. famillezeller

    Thank you soooo much dear Tom and Lynn ! And let’s all process that individually, as families, teams and communities in the fear of the Lord!

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  13. Thank you Lynn, for sharing this, and Tom for taking the time to write out this spot on word that the Lord gave you. I believe the application is for YWAM, but also for those of us working in the spheres. I’m seeing that in the community college where I now teach full-time, we are having to re-think “normal” and how we deliver education. I was already teaching some online, but the two classes that weren’t online are learning a whole new way of learning! I’m looking for what God is doing in me, in my students, and between us.

    It’s only been a few days since the shift to “online only” classes began, but one thing I’ve seen in my students is a greater hunger for connection (or maybe it’s just expressed more because of the new format for meeting). Some new doors have started to open because the classroom got pruned in a day, literally. As I was waiting for my guest speaker to arrive, one of the students said, “Hey, we just got an email from the President of the college and Spring Break is starting a week early.Today is the last day of class.” The email was sent while I was walking down the hallways to the classroom. That’s how quickly things changed for me. (By the way, I’m grateful for my YWAM training in flexibility; it came in quite handy here!)

    That was a Thursday afternoon two weeks ago; I haven’t seen them since that day, until a couple of days ago when we began to meet online (and only a handful showed up due to the newness of it all, technological difficulties and who knows what else). This is only the beginning of the pruning, so I don’t know what the fruit will look like, but I can see in part: It looks like a 40 minute conversation with a vet who hadn’t returned to class for a couple of weeks because something that happened in class (I may never know what) a few weeks ago triggered PTSD and he left for the ER in Denver (70 or more miles away); it looks like meeting students’ family members (and pets — 2 cats and 2 dogs so far); it looks like conversations about anxiety and uncertainty, and making wise choices (discussing a case study about teamwork to a depth that doesn’t usually happen in the classroom). What will this pruning produce in the teachers, the students, the schools? I don’t know yet, but I’m expectant, and curious, and hopeful too. We are certainly all in this together – in more ways than one.

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  14. Very good perspective. Thanks for sharing. Hoping that we will catch where God is leading us through this time.

    – young guy in Australia

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  15. Ouch! and Amen!
    May God do His work among us for His glory in His way.

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  16. Gaston Etsru

    Thanks for the word
    As we are thinking about what to do may he’s will be done.

    Like

  17. Amy Holten

    Thanks Tom and Lynn for sharing this. Even in the midst of everything going on it is encouraging and exciting as we press in and press forward. Blessings!

    Like

  18. Roelof Van der Merwe

    Amen!! Thank you so much for this timely word. We need this. I totally agree with this.

    Like

  19. Madeleine

    Just a food for thought.. Pruning an apple tree doesnt necessarily bring more fruit, but it brings better and bigger fruit. An old tree that hasnt been pruned produces lots and lots of tiny apples, that do not have a lot of nutritions. Pruning means less apples, but more valuable ones.

    Like

  20. Dave Buehring

    Thanks for posting Lynn. Excellent words, Tom. Couldn’t agree more. God is on the move! Our pressing in for refreshing our own friendship with Him, rightly aligning to obedience and His purposes through our lives and ministries are essential in this season. Letting go of dead wood frees us to embrace fresh fruit that advances the Kingdom, better and blesses the lives of those around us, and glorifies our Father in Heaven. Blessings on you both. Miss seeing your faces. 😃

    Like

  21. Sukdev giri

    Shalom from Nepal.its good timely word of the Lord to body of Christ as well.i am taking my time to go deeper n listen what He says about me and our mi is try here.

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  22. Bob Griffing

    Lynn, I was in YWAM in the 70s and 80s in Germany. Now, nearly 30 years later there are things I respect about YWAM’s ministry more than ever.

    In late summer of 1978, Loren was one of the speakers at a Leadership Conference in Hannover. I remember one point in his Keynote Address to this day. Speaking about the 5-fold ministry from Ephesians 4, Loren asserted that he would never allow a prophet to lead a ministry on his or her own. Prophets are led to prune away dead wood, etc. But left to themselves, they will keep pruning—since they will always discern more imperfections—until they have pruned the very roots of a ministry away.

    If we look at 1 Cor 14, we read that it is the prophet’s job to give the prophecy, and the congregation’s job to test the prophecy. One could say that once the word has been spoken, it belongs to the congregation to test and apply. I know you understand this, because I once saw you set a limit on a prophetic-evangelistic impulse.

    Please urge your proven leaders and healthy teams everywhere to test this prophecy and find appropriate application.

    With best wishes,

    Like

    • Thanks, Bob. That’s a good reminder to have on this blog site. Each prophecy has to be judged, or evaluated. Markus Steffen and I both felt this was a prophetic word with passing on to others. I did not post it on an official YWAM site because that might have led people to think that it was a confirmed word for the entire mission and for every small team. So, I put it on my blog.

      When a word has been confirmed by others (in this case, two senior elders of YWAM), then it needs to be interpreted in the power of the Holy Spirit and applied by the power of the Spirit. The prophet Agabus had a prophecy for Paul and that word was confirmed by those who were there. Then he and the others there interpreted it as a warning about going to Jerusalem. That interpretation was right as well. Then they all applied it by begging Paul not to go. But Paul knew that was not the right application. The Lord had already warned him about the dangers, but also convinced him that he should go anyway and he did. That led to him being a witness to Caesar’s household, which was a confirmation of an earlier prophecy in his life.

      Those who wonder if this word is about pruning them, as a small team, should take it to the Lord and ask their elders to do the same. Then they need to apply it as the Lord leads. Not every small team should be recalled, but some (probably many) should be drawn back to a safer place. I have seen a lot of vulnerability in our small teams. Some come through that phase and begin to bear a lot of fruit. Some others get “picked off” by the enemy.

      Like

  23. Duane and LeeAnn Rawlins

    Wow. This is an amazing Both Duane and I are in our last tears and both have been so blessed by our time in YWAM However we both agree with Tom council and hope and pray the present leader ship will head it. Bless you Tom for writing this and Lynn for sending it out. There is safety in the council of many the Word says. So grateful for the wisdom God has given the leaders over the years May God quicken the hearts that need to head this

    Like

  24. Mary/Manisha Romer

    Pruning is important! Thank you all for good words that were heartfelt!

    Bless you all! I am hoping to start on a new sphere, and agree that God, the Father, really wants me to be focusing on him.

    Like

  25. I think this statement is very true: “Most YWAMers are not qualified to have an influence in a sphere: they have nothing to say.” Personally I believe the Lord will lead YWAMers (whether staff or alumni) to engage the business world and other spheres, with more skills and authority.
    Often working on a YWAM base is a pretty simple experience, which can be glorified in a wrong way, too. How many staff are really called and led by the Holy Spirit to be on a particular base or team (whatever the size of the ministry)? A 2-year stint in YWAM can be a good experience for many young people – or just a DTS – but I am afraid quite a few are recruited by enthusiastic base leaders to remain on staff, year after year… I think that can be quite irresponsible as well, no?
    A large staff and many “activities” can feed our egos. Does 100 staff and 2-4 schools a year mean that the base leaders have now “arrived”?? Are YWAM bases really reaching the world? Or mainly running programs and raising money for the maintenance of the buildings? Is that the real meaning of working in teams?
    Big churches have an issue with small house churches (they aren’t “real churches”), big corporations have their way with small businesses… do YWAM leaders despise small teams, because they don’t fit into some glorified image of those old base communities?
    And, how is all this supposed to work in the spheres that we have preached about for decades? Or, can YWAMers actually minister, trying to bring the Kingdom of God influences, in the “world”? Without a large team, or a “base”?
    I guess I have many questions…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jari, some of your statements are suggesting sinful heart intent: feeding egos, running programs and raising money for buildings, despising small teams. My New Testament reading this morning included Matt 7:1-5.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Scotty Meades

        But, you do know this is true sometimes. Large institution has a tendency to take care of itself. I am not saying of ill intent but of just natural consequence. I have worked and led at big and small for over 30 years. On teams and as just a married couple and a staff or 2. Our success had to do with our ability to obey no matter what. I’m glad we didn’t get pruned off the YWAM Tree in some of the difficult times when nothing seemed to be happening. It is hard to be small and seemingly insignificant. Its easy to be big and seemingly important. Having been on both sides, small is where the hardest lessons were learned for us. But, I appreciate all of it. It has all led us to the place we are today. Business, Unreached Peoples, Being an accepted part of the global coffee market place and helping others Yers achieve the same.
        http://www.ywamcoffeeschool.com
        http://www.adventurecoffeeco.com

        Like

  26. Pingback: YWAM 60th 2020, A Time to Die – Lynn Green – konaKyra

  27. Roger Harsh

    Than you for the word! Blessings

    Like

  28. Been pondering on this!

    Like

  29. Myriam CHATELAIN

    1980 DTS and SOE
    You saw me until year 2000 at the base of Lausanne, (reception)
    During the winter season, a fruittree has no fruits, no leaves. In the région I grow up there is none, because of the climat .(freezing). But God put there a a special tree. Its leaves are green all year long. More long years it lives, more it can give oxygen, more it can give wood to thé carpenter and heat in the chymney. We call it once a year the king, a sacrifice of a young one for the joy of celebrating the new born King.
    I remember Darlene saying we will not refuse people even we need to rent rooms in Vert Bois. Hospitality generosity this is YWAM.
    I remember an other leader say “in YWAM we have the privilege not accept on staff a person, for the church it is not the same” A YWAMER is also a church member. Normaly he goes to church on Sundays. When Loren came back to rebirth the base, he came with his own staff. As a good gardener, he found a few branches there. He went to question each one individuely to know their call and spoke a few specific words. Some left. The building was completly destroy inside. No more schools, no more activities inside, just a few people to repare and keep the place. It is interesting that today, the Lord put on the heart of all the citizen to thank these people behind the scene.
    John 5: Jésus knew the paralitic was there for a long Time, did he ask him to leave ? He took 2 minutes not long hours of débriefing, just to say a specific word, yes a miracle only for one person. What? a problèm, it was on a sabbat day. Jesus was then in Big trouble. God is so good, so above …. May the Lord our God give you leaders and teams, families or whathever the name you will call your ministry the light that shine so much that there is no more darkness. Thank you, we give thanks, families we love you. Where is gold? Jésus in each one of us.

    Like

  30. Remy OR

    Lynn,
    I am sitting here at YWAM Furnace NZ and your blog has resonated and I have shared it with staff and leadership. Many take it as a hard pillow to swallow but this message was one that has resonated with me since July of last year.
    Being new to YWAM (DTS 2019 Creel, MX) I have been surprised and some times alarmed at how biblically illiterate many of my colleagues are. This is a time for restructuring and for self analysis and prayer to ensure that it is God who has called us to YWAM service and not personal desire or want.
    Thank you for having the courage and focus to share this message. God bless and thank you for your service.

    Like

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