Sunday, May 29, 2011

Football and First Corinthians

A couple of weeks ago I was trying to probe the minds of some of my students for new ideas about how to encourage fellowship and just to kind of give our youth group kind of a shot in the arm and shake things up a bit to rekindle interest and passion in the students. They gave me some really good ideas, and one of them was to have a football (or soccer) match with the kids of the youth group forming their teams. Well, we did it yesterday afternoon. There are a lot of things I need to change the next time I do one of these matches with our youth group, but over all it went really well. The kids played so hard and I was amazed to see the talent of the boys an girls alike. It was really cool getting to have them do something different and do what they love at the same time coming together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

After the soccer game, we had our normal youth group program and continued our series, The Race to Revelation, and this week we were in 1 Corinthians. I don't know if it was because of the soccer or what, but kids just kept coming in during the Bible study and by the end, we had about 50 students at youth group (that's big for us). I definitely struggled trying to only get on slight soapboxes for the sake of time, but honestly between divisions in the church body, immorality, and spiritual gifts I really was giving a teaching on pretty much all of my "pet subjects". The things that the students hear me say over and over again, they werenow able to see for themselves. There were quite a few somber faces as the verses were taught on how we're not to do with believers who continue to live an immoral lifestyle. And then dealing with how we should be able to say "amen" to what others say in the church and how "God is a God of order, not of disorder" was a whole other task to try and not spend too much time on it. I'm so excited so many people ended up coming for that study, now I just pray they continue to come (we had a lot of new students last night).

It was a really cool time of having both fellowship and legit Bible study, and I'm just so stoked to see what God's going to do as we continue getting new ideas and more passionate about the things of Him.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Zeal defined: great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or objective. God is good in how He's given me a new amount of zeal for the youth ministry here at CCJ. Due to some events of the past year, the overseeing of the youth group has been placed on my shoulders... ok I should say it fell on my shoulders. I've been doing what I thought was the best that I could, but still felt like I was in a rut in how I tried to make our students into true disciples. The teachings are solidly based on the Word as we are making our way through the whole Bible (this Saturday, we're doing a survey through the book of Romans), our worship team is almost made entirely of students and they're actually doing really well, and we're doing events to encourage fellowship, but again, I just felt like I was missing something. Then it was like God just radically jump started my heart for the ministry, and instead of being a burden of something I "had" to do, it has now become a real burden on my heart to see kids come to know Christ and become His disciples. It's funny because now it's all I think about, I'm thinking even people may be getting sick of hearing me ask for prayer for the youth group each time prayer requests are given, but it's seriously the one thing I'm consumed with these days. Yesterday, I met with some of the youth of the youth group and asked them for some more ideas of what we could do to make it an even better group and encourage more students to come. They offered some awesome ideas, mainly in the fellowship aspect, such as a spoons night, soccer matches, and games to play, but then they also really wanted to do more outreach and go and host youth group on location more. That was really cool to hear them have a desire to do that and now knowing they enjoy doing that, it just gives that much more encouragement to do so.

Yesterday, I realized that there were 17 million people in Uganda under the age of 15... which is very much reflected by our youth group which is about 30 kids and all except for about 5 are between 10 and 15. I'm realizing too that if you don't get a hold of kids here before they're about 15, you pretty much loose them and increase the difficulty of having them be seriously living the life God has called them to. Between both culturally accepted practices (lying, stealing, sex before marriage) and also poor theology (Jesus died so you could have stuff, and it's all about how you feel), the students are inundated with the world and pulled away from what God desires for them, and the students 16 and up seem to really already be set in their ways, although I know the Holy Spirit can get a hold of and correct anything, there's still an added sense of urgency to get the students solid before that point. Right now I feel like I'm holding a crate of eggs and am so afraid that I'll do something to spoil them, that if I do anything in my flesh, give them a poor example, or fail to make the most of this opportunity that I'm just contributing to them not living godly lives. Needless to say I feel like I'm standing in front of a fire hose with all the desires and passion and brokenness I'm feeling for our little youth group, but I guess that's how it should be. Jesus was filled with compassion for the multitudes as they were like sheep without a shepherd, I just pray that I will share in that feeling and that I would listen to God's voice as He shows me how to be a part of a solution to that problem.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Counting the Cost

On the mission field, you get used to missing out on certain big events in the lives of those who are still back in your home country. You see the pictures of the weddings and the babies, you hear the stories, and you just kind of accept that it's part of life as a missionary. But then there comes the milestones that you miss out on that hurt and you know that if it didn't cost thousands of dollars to go back for that event, you'd be on the first plane. Well, one of those milestones is going to happen tonight as my brother graduates from high school. I sometimes can't believe that I'm not going to be there for this event of his life. My family and I are all very close and so it's just pretty painful to be away for this big event. The main comfort I get is from the verse, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters- yes, even his own life- he cannot be my disciple". The work that God has called me to in following him comes first, there's a time for everything and it's just not the time for me to go back to the States for this. But boy howdy is it tough missing out on this one! Anyways, just thought I'd give y'all a little insight into this little struggle of mine.

If any of you who read this, know my brother Kyle O'Hea, give him a huge hug and tell him "Princess!" He'll know what it means. I love this guy more than words can ever say, and am just so glad I get to see him when he comes to visit me in just about 2 months.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Skeletons...we've all got at least one or two hiding in the closet, some seem scarier than others, but they're there nonetheless. Soon I'll be turning the big 2-5...dun, dun, dun... and I'll be honest and say that I have a nice menagerie of my own skeletons that not even those closest to me know about, things I've done/said/thought in the past that I know God has forgiven me for, but it's still seared into my memory about what I fell into. But despite how this may have begun, I wrote this to be more of an encouragement than anything. You see, one of my mottos is "Life's too short to have regrets" - now I'm not talking about sky diving or things like that, but what I'm talking about is sin. That little nasty thing that we try to excuse, tolerate, avoid, but still somehow we allow it to stay in our lives. Some people's skeletons come in the shapes of what they've drank, smoked, or done with someone... and God can definitely restore them and has already forgiven them if they just accept that, but the rest of this post is for those who haven't fallen into those things yet.

As I mentioned, I'm turning 25, and it dawned on me the other day, that I'll be 25... never smoked, drank alcohol, been kissed, asked out, and the list can go on. Now, I'm not wanting to seem legalistic, especially on the alcohol front, I have my own reasons other than just the command to "not be drunk with wine" to keep me from doing that. But the others, God has just been so faithful in keeping me from those situations - even though sometimes I wanted to have that temptation in some rebellious way. I'm writing this for all of you out there, who maybe feel like I have at different points in my life where I felt like God is almost making me miss out. I see the pictures, attend the weddings, see the babies and I won't lie that sometimes I've questioned why God has kept some of those things from me. I watch the chick flicks and see the "happily ever after" and wonder when it's coming for me... and then it hits me... 1) God knew what His plan was for me (and you) before I was born and 2) I'm not "broken" and nor should I try and fix the "problem". I don't need to go and "live life", I don't need to throw myself at whoever will give me 5 minutes attention because the bottom line is that I have a loving Father and Savior who loves me so ridiculously much that I can't bear to miss out on what He has made me to do because I'm pursuing what I think I'm "supposed" to do or have. I can state with a clear conscience to the girls I disciple that it's possible to live a life of purity and that you don't want to sell out to what Hollywood or even our friends say is the "norm" and miss out on knowing God in some of the coolest ways. Now, I'm not saying this to pat myself on the back, because it's seriously by the grace of God that He's kept me from these things... because seriously I've wanted the normal high school/college/and now early adult existence, but again and again, He continues to reinforce what has become my theme verse for life that "His ways are not our ways".

So my friends, take heart... be still, live blamelessly, and remember we already have enough skeletons... God's plan for you is so much more stellarly awesome that you could ever dream or imagine if you just SEEK HIM FIRST and stand strong because again, life's too short to have regrets.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

First Thing's First Day 3

This post is a day late because our internet was down... but here we go.

The last day of the conference got off with kind of a hectic start but from 8:30-1:00ish it was non-stop. We had quiet times in the book of Daniel and the kids learned about standing firm and not compromising. Then we had our last worship set, and considering that all but 2 of the worship team were students, I would say they did an awesome job with the worship for this conference. Then I taught on When Jesus Rose, and it was cool getting to bring together what all of the Gospels said about the different facets of the resurrection and the events following. Then it was small groups again, and I have to say that my guys who led the groups again did an amazing job pouring into the kids over the conference. And then it was time for the baptism.

We had 16 kids end up getting baptized. I will honestly tell you that I may or may not have gotten a little teary eyed with some of the kids who I've had the honor of getting to see begin and grow in their walks, be obedient in making this public demonstration of their new life in Christ. One of the kids who got baptized is Benji - Benji is the son of our key translator and he's always kind of done his own thing. He's 9, and although he has his moments, he's an amazing kid who I've seen God do some big things in changing his heart. He was my little right hand man throughout the conference and the words that seemed to constantly be on his lips were "can I help!?" I love that boy, and am so stoked to see what else God is going to do in his life. It's through things like this baptism that God reminds me of what everything's all about. We are to go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit... and it's cool to get to be a part of that in some small way.

All in all, it was an awesome conference with A LOT of answered prayer. I want to thank everyone who lifted it up in prayer. Only God knows what is going on in the hearts of the students, now just continue to pray that the word fell on good soil, and not on the soil where there are rocks, thorns, or birds waiting to swoop down and take it away. Pray that these kids do grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that they become true followers of Him who are passionate for living for Him alone.

Friday, May 6, 2011

First Thing's First Day 2

Day two of the youth conference began bright and early as I met with the leaders and we got ready for the day. By 9, the students had taken tea (breakfast) and were having their quiet times in Jeremiah 1. From there the day was pretty much non-stop as Ryan taught on When Jesus "Teached", small group times, presentations-where the students get a chance to perform something, Danielle teaching on When Jesus Prayed, the groups breaking up for times of prayer, and then the "storm" hit.

Now by that point the clouds were looking rather ominous but praise God nothing too serious came of it. The storm I'm talking about is the time span of about 45 minutes where everything seemed to go wrong and my "problem children" were rearing their little heads. I've been fairly good at keeping calm as things don't go exactly according to plan, but I'll admit that when it's several things at once, I get really overwhelmed really fast. The food wasn't ready when it was supposed to be by over 30 minutes, the worship team didn't quite understand what I had been wanting them to do for the next set, some of my volunteers didn't show, and a couple of students put me in not very good positions for me to be the bad guy. In the end after pretty much loosing it, I had to have both Ryan and Bev basically reel me back in. Ryan through prayer and Bev through bringing me lunch and just being absolutely amazing as she set everything up for communion.

From there, we had Bev teach on when Jesus died which was followed by Communion. The plan was for the kids to write down a sin that God's been convicting them of and then they'd put it on our wooden cross and then take communion. It kind of started out crazy as the students didn't quite understand the memo that they needed to take this seriously... but then they got it and it was really cool.

They then had a nice long small group time and then it was time for the games. The first one is what we call "Ebibuzo Time" where it was basically a Bible quiz through the whole Old Testament and really the students knew their stuff. It was awesome. Then we had our messy games which just involved a lot of nasty stuff and me having to do what I tell others to do so needless to say I was really messy and a little nauseous in the end. From there we had a rap concert put on by our worship leader (sounds kind of funny I know), it was an awesome show and the kids loved it! It was then dinner time and clean up.

And that sums up the second day of the conference. I won't lie, the fatigue is kind of starting to hit, but I just have a half a day left... I've got an awesome team and an even more amazing God who is at work, so I just need to remember to trust HIm to the very end and enjoy watching Him work in crazy cool ways.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

First Thing's First Day 1

Well, after a week of God pounding into me that I just needed to chill out and not obsessively plan everything for the conference, it took a very conscious effort to not freak out in the hours before we kicked off the conference. I went to town to just kind of breathe and then it was go time. Benches were brought out, tents set up, worship team was warmed up, and before we knew it, it was go time. By 1:30 we had pretty much our usual kids for youth group and by 2:15, we had about 100 kids.

We began with worship, and then I taught an overview of the Gospels just kind of laying the groundwork for the rest of the conference. I won't lie, it wasn't not the most lively of teachings because 4 Gospels in 45 minutes...well, you get the picture, but at least they hopefully are a little more familiar with those books. Then they broke out into small groups and it seems like always it's in the times of small groups that God really brings a lot of stuff to life, so that was cool.

Also during small groups, we served the kids a snack of popcorn and juice. Now, I know this may seem funny to make a point of, but I was served in such an awesome way today in preparing the snack. Normally it's myself and three other kids (one of which has passed away and another who has moved to the village) all under the age of ten pouring over 100 cups of juice, but today I had a couple of amazing friends take it on and they seriously would yell at me (in a good way) whenever I tried to do anything. Pouring juice... it's funny how that little thing can leave such a mark, but the way that those friends of mine served me in doing that is really something I won't forget. I wish that we all would just look for the simple ways to stoop down and wash one another's feet... it doesn't have to be big, extravagant, or expensive it just simply takes caring about someone enough to see an area they can be served in. It was really too cool.

From small groups, it was then time for Jess to teach and he taught on when Jesus came and his approachability compared to the God Moses spoke to. It was just really a great message to be thinking about our walks with Christ and do we really have a relationship with him? Which was then followed by another small group time.


After that, we played a game where a team was blind folded and they had to listen to their team member direct them where to go in order to reach their goal while avoiding "mines" as well as not getting distracted but the leaders who were trying to distract them from hearing the voice they were supposed to. We tied that into the idea of what Jess taught on and how we need to listen for God's voice and not allow the "noise" of this world to keep us from hearing and obeying him.

Finally it was dinner time. It was a little chaotic, but in all we had enough food and right as everyone was going home, the skies opened up and I really don't know the last time I got that soaked in a storm. It was seriously perfect timing though and I'm just so thankful that God waited until then to bring the rain.

So here I am processing the day, staying up a whole lot later than I should... but honestly I'm not tired because I had a really great team who just stepped up and made it where I didn't need to do all that I normally do. God was awesome in how He truly did give me a peace that only comes from Him, and I just look forward to what tomorrow may hold.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Heart Breaking

Throughout preparation for this conference, I've made it a point to really be on my knees in prayer...prayer for the students, leaders, details, etc... It's sad to think how much I've fallen short on this with previous events. Well, as I've been truly trying to seek God on this event, I've now come to the day before the big day and I could feel myself gravitating towards my usual tendencies of freaking out, taking everything on my own shoulders, having unrealistic expectations for myself and those around me, but then a really cool thing happened, without planning or forethought I found myself in the church in tears as I was crying out to God for this event. It wasn't anything I had anticipated doing, God just seriously brought me there and I had God speaking to my heart about a lot of things and breaking my heart for the students in such a painful and real way that words can't describe it.

Now, although this was a very raw and awesome moment that was between God and myself and I want to keep most of it that way, I wanted to share one big thing that God spoke to my heart about...that schedules and to-do lists don't save people and they don't make disciples. God does give people the gift of administration, and I'm not dogging on that because I praise God that He's given me that gift, but I've become so much of a "Martha" and failed at being concerned about "the better things". I do things not for God's glory, but for mine, and that's bad juju. I'm glad that God showed me this now, but man am I afraid as He tests me to see just how well I've learned it. It's not by might or planning or color coding that students will get saved over this conference, but it's by His Spirit alone and that's what I have GOT to remember as I go through the next couple of days.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Half way through the race

Well, I guess it's more than half way, but still... Yesterday, in our little youth group we finished going through the Old Testament in a survey fashion. Our series entitled, "Race to Revelation" is meant to teach the students what the Bible has to offer and say outside of the "safer" books. It's to open their eyes that the God of the Old Testament is still just as infinitely loving as New Testament and that His call to holiness wasn't just meant for the Jews, but it's meant for us today. I love getting to hear what my students have learned as we've spent just over a year going through the Old Testament from books that many of them didn't even know existed before then. This next week we're jumping off into the New Testament with our youth conference and it's bitter sweet saying goodbye to the old, because it really was so cool studying it and then teaching it to the students. It probably took years off of my life, I mean I love Ezekiel but studying for and teaching him in one week was intense. But it really was an awesome challenge and now I can have the confidence in knowing that the students know a lot more about Scripture and about their God then they did before and that truly "All scripture is God breathed".

Temper Tantrums

Being on a compound that's never lacking with small children these days, I've grown accustomed to having to lay down the law on the whole temper tantrum front. One little boy in particular is a pro at throwing them, I mean he wells up and screams and you think he's dying but then you see someone gives him what he's wanting and he stops immediately. One day I was informing him of the error of his ways of how "you can't cry or get upset every time you don't get your way" and it was really almost mid sentence that I had the shocking realization that I struggle with my own temper tantrums. I mean, if I don't get my way... watch out! If you don't give me what I want, say what I want, or do things the way I want them done, well it's over. I feel bad for the people closest to me because they have really seen my fits in full force. I typically am really good (maybe sometimes not so good) at hiding it when I'm around others but then around a few "lucky" people, I throw off all restraints. I may not start screaming and crying, but believe me, you know when I'm upset. It's funny how I talk about my anger around some and they're so surprised, I guess I hide it well, but those closest to me tell a different story. I've recently heard that someone said "well, she'll be mad at me about something anyways, so who cares" (or something like that). Talk about a bit of a blow, it's yet another thing to add to the long list of things God has been showing me this week. I hate that I'm known for always getting upset, angry, etc... and really it all centers around ME... if I'm not happy, if I feel mistreated, if I get offended... Blech! I've gotta get my eyes off of myself, and look to God first and then others, and then seriously remember that "I'm crucified", I'm no more, or at least my flesh is no more.

Whenever I'm talking to the little boy I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I tell him, "Do you see the big boys behaving like this" and "Ok, now stop crying like that and be a big kid". I guess I should take my own advice. I look around at those who are grown up in their faith, and they don't throw a hissy fit when they don't get their way. They're actually really good at rolling with it, and letting stuff just go. Oh if I could only learn this lesson.


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