Hey there! Hard to believe it is back to school season for most of you! I realized this is the first August in about 16 years that I am not going back to school! That is pretty crazy. I also just realized that I have less than a month left of living here in Newcastle. Then outreach to New Zealand and Fiji! I can’t wait to update you all about outreach here in a couple weeks when we get some things set in stone!
This past week was really great! A friend here taught me how to play chords on the piano, and I actually picked up quickly, so that was very exciting for me! We celebrated my roommate Ali’s birthday. (Not to be confused with Alee, who I miss a lot!) We had a fun time decorating her dinner table with party hats and blow horns! That night we went out for ice cream and had a really nice time! Sunday I went to the beach with a friend, Esther. We laid out for awhile and then got into the ocean. It was my first time ever being in the Pacific Ocean! It was pretty amazing! Then we walked down to the break wall, which is like a little path with a light house and a bunch of rocks overlooking the ocean. We crawled up on one and had a great talk. While we were chatting, we saw a seal catch a fish! It was so, so cool to see a seal actually in the wild! It was a great day J
Last week our lecture topic was Evangelism. Before the week even started I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I was expecting to get drilled on how if we really loved Jesus we would want to go up to every random person we see and preach to them. However, that is not at all what our week consisted of! In fact, last week was my favorite week so far! Our speaker was awesome! His name is Rod Thorpe and he lives in the Middle East (Jordan, to be exact) and is the director of the YWAM bases there. He is a very humble man who is a great teacher. He taught evangelism from a perspective of getting to know people and exploring faith together. Don’t always preach to that person and tell them why what they believe is wrong because that most likely will not turn anybody to Christ. It was very interesting hearing about his experiences evangelizing to the Islamic people in and around Jordan. We took some time to explore the Muslim faith. In an exercise we did, we looked at the 99 names that they have for God. Shockingly enough, only about maybe 5 of the names did not describe the God of the Bible! They use names such as Al Malik (sovereign Lord), Al Majeed (glorious), Al Muhyi (the giver of life). We couldn’t believe that they described God almost exactly as we would. So then, we looked at how we differ. Muslims pray five times a day and do things to please God. There is no personal relationship or emotion with the god they worship. We realized this is like a lot of Christians. Sometimes we think we have to win our way to God, we have to act a certain way, pray so many times a day, live the perfect life, not swear, go to church, and then we should be good. This is pretty much a Muslim way of religion! I’ve been reading through the first 5 books of the Old Testament over the past few weeks and am stunned at the law the Israelites were given to live by. I was thinking like “how did they even have any living animals with all of the sacrifices they had to make!” The book of Leviticus if filled with things to do to make sure you are kept pure and holy. The instructions God gave to them were so detailed. It is hard to imagine having to live that way. But…..now we have JESUS!!!! The Perfect Sacrifice for all our sin. He makes all the difference! We no longer have to live as slaves to sin or under the law. Jesus took care of all of that, for us! We don’t have to win our way to God. In fact, we can’t win our way to God no matter how hard we try. We NEED Jesus. He gave us everything we need. He deserves everything we have.