The Journey Begins...
Kia Ora from Tauranga, New Zealand!
My name is Jennifer Lind and this is how my journey began.
I'm American, born in Texas and raised on a farm in Colorado. In January 2016, I embarked on an unexpected journey after enrolling in what is known throughout Youth With A Mission (YWAM) as a Discipleship Training School (DTS). The school is five months long in total. The first three months took me through an incredible lecture & training phase, equipping me with much needed spiritual knowledge as well as lots of great cultural and medical knowledge. During this time, I became closer to the Lord than I have ever been and learned to trust Him greatly as He stretched my knowledge of what faith truly is. I had to learn to rely on Him completely for all my physical, emotional, spiritual and financial needs. Over and over, I saw God move miraculously and it has forever changed my understanding of trust and faith in Him.
Once upon a time...
I was living the life and I was happy, or so I thought. I had a really nice truck as well as my own motorcycle. I owned one of the top Nubian dairy goat herds in Colorado. One of my part time jobs was getting paid top dollar as a trainer/exercise rider for working horses, the other was working as a veterinary assistant. I was also breeding imported AKC German Shepherds and training them for protection work, obedience trials, family companions and service work. When I wasn't working I was kickboxing, dancing and helping teach karate.
I was quite busy and definitely proud of all my earthly "accomplishments".
The truth is, I was at the lowest point of my life. I felt lost, broken, alone and ashamed. I had lost myself, faded into the shadows of the world and didn't even know when it had happened. It was moments of compromise and the excuses that followed, where I had drawn myself a road-map to contentment. Did I realize I had gone off-road and that it was getting rougher by the minute? I think deep down I did, but I was gripping a wheel made up of pride, too ashamed to admit I was going the wrong way. I could have redirected my course early on and found my way back down the patched up road I had just traveled. All I had to do was trust the Lord's voice. Therein lied the problem, trust. I was so hurt, that I couldn't allow myself to trust anyone or anything. I was in survival mode, afraid to stop and listen. Then comes the day when I hit my dead end and could run no further. In that moment of desperation, God came. He showed me a new road and asked me to choose. Stay where I was, in a faded and hopeless place or go with Him along this new road where I would come to truly know Him, and find my purpose.
The Turning PointI was at work, when a gentleman came up to me. I had never seen him before, so naturally I greeted him and asked if I could help him. He didn't need anything, but told me he had been pulled towards my workplace by God. I was a little wary, as I had no idea if he was truly hearing from God. He stopped talking after a few minutes and looked at me completely serious. He said "I think you are why I came here today" then asked me, "Are you going somewhere?" I was more than surprised, because just that week, I had been researching DTS schools that would be starting in the next couple of months. I told him I had no plans, but that I had recently been looking at some schools online. He asked if there was one I had found, I told him yes, there had been one school "Wild-heart" that was a possible fit for me, but it was in New Zealand and started in just a couple of weeks! He nodded his head and said "I am hearing the word stagnant, like you have been in one place too long and you haven't moved forward, God says "GO", He will meet you there." At this point his eyes started to tear up and you could hear the father heart of God behind his words as he said "You are loved, so, so much. He just loves you so much." Then I started to tear up. I laugh at how awesome and crazy this situation was and how God works things together for His glory. Little did I know, in a couple short weeks, I would be walking down a dock in New Zealand, boarding an incredible medical ship that would be my home for the next three months, "Pacific Hope".
I walked alongside seventy-one fellow students (representing 18 different nations) as we prepared ourselves to go into yet ANOTHER nation for two months of outreach! During this time, I grew in wisdom and patience and saw God's hand at work in every area of my life. I remember during one of those last weeks of lecture phase, hearing the audible voice of God for the first time. I had never felt something so powerful, so full of feeling yet somehow a type of sound. As my knees buckled and I lay there with my face on the ground crying tears of joy, I knew that I would forever serve God with all my heart, for all my life. It would never be a question. At that moment, I realized that I would give up anything and everything I had on earth to follow Him. And that is exactly what I did.
Fast forwarding to my outreach, I landed in Port Vila, Vanuatu on the island “Efate” with my incredible team known as "Wild Heart". We then took a ferry boat across to the island of Malekula, which was about a 17-hour sail. It was incredible for me to experience so much of Vanuatu by boat, to be sitting on the back of the ferry as it slowly made its way across the ocean all through the night. It was a peaceful time for me, a time of reflection on the past couple of months as well as an excitement for where I was and where I would be going in the following weeks. I have never heard God more clearly than those months out in the jungle with no electricity, no wifi, no western comforts, just my Father and I and the gift of a world He created just for me. My excitement grew increasingly as we neared Malekula, I was ready to burst before we could even see the island! Eventually as the sun came up and we got closer we could see it out in the distance, it was unbelievable! As the hours went by, I became more aware that God had put this passion for mission work in my heart from the start and I was finally walking it out! In the weeks that followed I grew close to the families in the village of Lambubu and quickly became part of their beautiful community. I went through a small adoption ceremony in that village and was chosen by a family there to be their adopted daughter! It was an incredible time for me and I spent the next four weeks spending most of every day with my momma (Anneth) and my three little sisters (Silvia, Misa & Baby Suzie). Likewise, most evenings were spent with my family, along with my papa (Robert) when he got back from work. Together we cooked native foods such as banana and manioc laplap, gato, taro simboro and snake bean. We did clothes washing with a piece of wood as our scrubbing board and worked digging up new gardens (which would provide food for the children at school), we went diving in the sea to spear fish and we took walks through the cocoa plantations and sampled the sweet and delicate fruits. I found one of the most delicious fruits I have ever enjoyed, it is called "Pomplemousse" and learned how to make an entire meal out of pressed/heated coconut milk and papausa (breadfruit) grown on the local trees. I helped weave houses out of bamboo, helped teach the young children (pikinini) in church and school and learned much from the elders. I especially enjoyed long walks with my sisters and fellow village women as we gathered food and supplies from the jungle around Lambubu.
My team and I led devotions and worship for the village throughout the week as well as teaching in the church most weeks, which we mostly tried to do in Bislama (the marketplace language of Vanuatu). With our ship "Pacific Hope", we provided well over 7,000 Nivan people with free medical care and supplies! The ship went to islands with villages most people can't/don’t reach, villages in desperate need of clinical supplies and medical attention. By the direction and Grace of God, not only were souls saved but also lives! That is something to be celebrated! We built relationships to last a lifetime and had experiences that can only be labeled as absolute miracles! We went to Vanuatu to serve and bless the Nivan people and they ended up blessing us more than I knew was possible. I learned so much about being content and saw what true happiness looks like. Even with all their hardships and struggles, they can come together as a family every single night for a meal together and show through actions that relationship is what matters most and they are content. It is so refreshing to see people that don't need what the world offers them. If they have food on their table (well, floor, as they don’t have tables), a roof over their heads and family around them, that is all they need to be happy. I feel honored to be a part of their lives and to have a chance to learn from them. There is truly so much to learn from others, if you are willing. Never for a minute think you have gone as far as you can, pushed as hard as you can, reached as high as you can, learned all you can. We should be learning, growing in wisdom, seeking, and moving forward every single day that we are alive. That is life. It is beautiful, wild, and uncontrollable. Thankfully we don't have to be in control, our Father in heaven will direct us if only we give Him the chance. The Bible says that faith without works is dead. I think we should all be asking what the next steps forward are. It's ok if you and I don't know, He does.
Moving forward four weeks, we traveled to yet another island (Ambrym) on long boats. It was an amazing time and we again got to build relationships and help in the community. Here I was tested greatly to rely on God's strength, not my own. I love to challenge myself by pushing hard and always being on the move. But the last week we were on Ambrym I came down with a severely high fever and strep throat. It was extremely painful and hard on me in every way. I wanted so much to be out in the village with the people, but my energy and strength were completely gone and I physically couldn’t do it. The fever and chills exhausted me, I had almost no physical energy due to not wanting or being able to eat most days and even drinking was unbelievably painful. I still had some amazing opportunities with the village there (such as helping write in Bislama for the head teacher of the school). I still felt disappointed that my last week was sabotaged by sickness. I felt God comfort me greatly in that time and really help me to find peace with being still and letting Him move. Yes, we must be available for Him to use us, but sometimes we must be still in His presence and just listen. I recovered completely, praise God! With the help of some amazing team prayers and heavy antibiotics! It was a time in which I learned to praise Him, even when I was confined to my bed.
While overseas I learned countless, valuable lessons. I would encourage every person that I know to travel overseas at some point in their life. The world is a big place and for it to "go around" so to speak, it needs all hands-on deck. We all need to be moving forward. Each of us is unique and priceless. Our input matters. We are not mistakes, we are miracles. Think of the world as a body, then imagine you are something that goes unseen, such as a lung or maybe a bone. What would happen to a body if one by one each part decided to stop working for the good of the whole body? What if your lungs stopped working because they felt like they went unnoticed or unappreciated? What if your bones wouldn't connect because they were only concerned about themselves and didn't want to hold together to supply the strength that a body requires of them? Exactly. That body would quickly decay and eventually die. Why do many in the world today care only about themselves? It's never been about just you or just me. All glory is God's, He is the author. We can't, as pages, rip ourselves out and decide where we should go in the book of life. We need to be flexible, to learn to hear His voice and to know when it's time for the page to turn. It is beyond me that we care more about our technology than we do the people and world around us. We live life through screens and windows and wonder why it is so hard to love people? To love life? A wise man once said "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result". Because I said yes, I was challenged out of my comfort zone and my life will never be the same. I made the choice to lay my life down and to pick up my cross. God has spoken many things to me in this past season and they have completely changed my life for the better. Three of them I will share with you and pray they are an answer to someone's prayers as they were to mine.
First, what is the greatest commandment? (Matthew 22:35-40)
35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
We can't love someone we don't know. You can go to church every day of the week, but unless you have a personal relationship with Christ you still won't fully know Him. The Bible tells us that His sheep hear His voice. So, I get tired of people telling me that they can't hear God. That He doesn't speak to them. He is speaking all the time, but we won't know His voice if we have not spent time with Him. His word is living, that means that as you spend time in the word and in prayer His thoughts become alive to you and His voice becomes clear. I couldn't hear God's voice for a long time, then I realized it was because I never spent any time with Him. I was too busy. I had work, life, friends, family etc... But He is a jealous God and He wants all of us, not just what we are comfortable handing Him.
Second, what is the great commission? (Matthew 28:18-20)
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
So clearly spelled out here is what Christ has commissioned us to do, "GO, make disciples of all nations". To disciple means to teach, to be an example. So, clearly, we need to be focusing on a bigger goal than what movie to watch this weekend or who has the best sales coming up this month. Seriously. We are in fast moving times and yet people are comfortable keeping their heads in the sand and going through the same never ending routine. No, you do not have to be on the mission field to serve God, but you do have to make a choice and in that, take action. Faith without works is dead and a double minded man is unstable in all his ways. That is what the Bible tells us. It isn't a rule book,it is the living word of God. It is here to HELP us, but we have the choice of using what God has blessed us with. He is not a dictator, He will stay there with His arms open and let you live your life, even if it means you are walking away from Him. But you can't ever say He left you. He isn't the one that walks away. I have learned so much in all this time that trying to write it down is near impossible, So, from my heart, I’m just sharing some of the things God has shown me. It may not be helpful to everyone, but I am writing it with the hope it helps someone to connect the dots.
Third and lastly, what does God require of us? (Micah 6:8)
8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
That says it all. There is truly nothing to add to it. Take time to really think about this verse. It is incredibly powerful! True to His word, God has been growing in me a heart of humility, kindness and justice. I hope my testimony helps to better show you what I've been doing and what God is doing in me and through me. I can barely keep up with everything He is training me in. I have never felt more connected to His will for my life and I have never known the humility I am now learning to walk in. It has been anything easy, yet so worth it!
The Lord replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do.”- Psalm 12:5
I am extending an opportunity for you all to partner with me and to support what God is doing in the nations. God has placed on my heart to continue here for the next two years to start with and possibly longer. If you are interested in supporting me or helping cover my monthly living costs ($500/month) and/or outreach fees (flights $1,000-$2,000 per outreach), then you can donate here or online using the website listed below. Please feel free to email me with any questions or if you want an update on what I am doing overseas. I want to keep in touch as best I can and share what God has been doing! It is an incredible time to be alive. Also, know that even small donations make a huge difference. Such as $20 a month. If you feel like God has put missions on your heart and you want to support what He is doing through me, just do it! It can be $20 or even $10 and you will still be that part of a working body helping to accomplish a greater goal.
Thank you all so much for your prayers and support!
YWAM Marine Reach NZ Website (Online Payment Option): http://mrmdts.org/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Vanuatuoutreach/
For more information and newest updates check out my blog! - https://jenniferrae92.wixsite.com/throughmyeyes
POSTAL ADDRESS FOR PACKAGES AND LETTERS:
YWAM Marine Reach Training - Jennifer Lind
237 Warner Road - RD3
Tauranga, NZ 3173