The last time I went on a DTS outreach I was a staff for the first time which was from
February – April 2015 when I went to Albania and this time I was the leader of the team which was a huge stretch and jump for me from being just a support role staff last time. There were three students on the team who were: Matt (he is from New Jersey, USA), Eli (he is from Texas, USA) and Betty (she is from Romania but she is Hungarian). This was our original “core” team and then there were different DTS staff from the YWAM base that joined us throughout the outreach time.
On Sunday December 6, 2015 we arrived at the Prague airport at 4:15pm after a short flight and a long 6 hour bus ride from Târgu Mureş to the Bucharest airport. After we got our luggage we were very grateful Dada (it’s her shorter name for Daniela) who is one of the YWAM Prague staff was there to greet us at the airport. We took a bus and then the subway to Roger and Robin’s house (they are also missionaries with YWAM Prague and we stayed with them for our first week). For our first evening in Prague we ate dinner, had a short time of orientation with three of the women on the staff team (Arie, Dada and Robin) and relaxed a bit. Betty and I shared a room together and Matt and Eli slept in their living room.
For our first week of the outreach we were in Prague (December 6th – 12th) which was
quite a busy and intensive week of ministry. It was a real blessing to be able to stay with a family during our first week (Roger and Robin and their two children Elizabeth and Josiah). There was another DTS outreach team that was in Prague the same time we were there too which was a real blessing from God to have met them and do ministry with them.
They were from the YWAM Las Vegas base and their focus for their DTS was Abolitionist which was amazing to meet a team who are passionate about fighting human trafficking! There were ten people on their team and it such a blessing to have met them, have a couple of times of worship and intercession with them, do ministry with them and just hang out together.
During our time in Prague we did a number of different things which included giving gifts and coffee to the homeless, worship and intercession times with the base staff and the other team, street evangelism, prayer walks, ministry to the kids at Teen Challenge and outreach to the girls in the Red Light District. We also watched the movie Nefarious: Merchant of Souls which is a human trafficking awareness movie done by the Exodus Cry. After we watched the movie we had a time of debriefing and prayer with some of the girls from the other team that come over to watch it with us.
I really enjoyed our time in Prague especially being able to visit such a beautiful and tourist
city that is so rich in the history, culture and the arts. It was a real blessing to come alongside the YWAM Prague base staff to support them in the ministries they are doing like the homeless ministry, reaching out to the girls on the Red Light District and just spending time worshiping and praying with them.
We also experienced some real challenging times as well especially with learning how to function as a team, our base leader was supposed to come but he had to cancel his trip and I was personally challenged how I can lead an outreach team for the very first time which was overwhelming at times and I also experienced a spiritual attack one night too which was quite shocking when I heard about it the next morning so I was definitely grateful for the two students who prayed over me that night.
After our first week of the outreach we took a 3 hour bus ride to Cheb which was our next location of the outreach phase on Sunday December 13th. We took a bus from the Prague airport at 10:45am and arrived in Cheb at 1:45pm. It was definitely a surprise for me when I found out that we could watch movies and get drinks on the bus which was a great blessing from God! Hannah (she is one of the YWAM Cheb staff) met us at the train station when we arrived in Cheb and then we walked together to the YWAM Cheb staff apartment where we stayed.
When we arrived at the YWAM Cheb staff apartment it was so good to see Ira again (I first met her when she led a DTS outreach team to our base in Târgu Mureş, Romania in May 2013 and then I saw her again at the DTS staff training week in Cluj, Romania in November 2014) and I met Pushpa for the first time (she’s from India) who is also on staff there. It was a really nice apartment where we stayed. Betty and I got our own room (we ended up staying in the living room when the Stoian family came) and the guys (Matt and Eli) also shared a room as well.
For our second week of the outreach in Cheb (December 13th – 19th) it was another busy
and intensive week with many different ministries we did which included going on prayer walks, street evangelism (we did a specific Christmas questionnaire with people which led into faith questions), worship in the town, English club Christmas party (I especially looked forward to this event because one of my close friends from Canada used to live in Cheb and be a part of this ministry) and we also did street ministry to girls who are in prostitution which was my first time to do this ministry because when we were in Prague I wasn’t able to do ministry to the girls since there were too many of us in the group.
Other than the ministries during the second week we also did a couple of times of worship
and intercession with the YWAM Cheb base staff, went to another town called Karlovy Vary on Monday to register with the immigration there where we also enjoyed the tourist town as well, we did a team scavenger hunt which was an activity to discover more of the town of Cheb and we decided to also fast and pray together as a team one of the days too.
At the end of the week on Saturday morning the Stoian family (Gică, Crenguta and their children Rebeca and Timotei) arrived in Cheb. Gică and Crenguta are also DTS staff from our YWAM base too and they came with their children to help with the outreach for a couple of weeks.
For our third week of the outreach in Cheb (December 20th – 26th) it was another busy and intensive week with many different ministries we did which included street ministry to girls who are in prostitution with Jana (she is a part of the YWAM base staff there), giving out soup we made to homeless people, went on a prayer walk in the town, street evangelism (we did the Christmas survey questionnaire again), we made homemade Christmas cards and handed them out and sang Christmas carols, we had a games evening with the English students that we met from the E-club the previous week and we had a worship and intercession time with the YWAM Cheb base staff one time. Throughout the week we had lots of team time where we had times of worship, intercession and each person led a devotional.
On Christmas Day we had the day off to celebrate Christmas together with the team. We
celebrated by having a nice big brunch late in the morning and we ate a delicious Romanian Christmas dinner that Crenguta made. During the afternoon many of us took walks and relaxed. In the evening we watched one of my favorite Christmas movies which was The Nativity Story. I also called my relatives on both sides of the family to wish them a Merry Christmas which was really great to be able to talk to my family on the phone through Skype, to hear their voices and catch up a bit.
For our fourth week of the outreach in Cheb (December 27th – January 2nd) it was a very different week for all of us because there were a lot of changes that took place that were much unexpected for all of us. The first couple of days of the week everything was “normal” with our team and the ministries and then things all changed on Wednesday of that week.
On Sunday we had a full non-stop ministry day. In the morning we went to one of the local
churches where the students had an opportunity to do some ministry there with singing a couple of worship songs and one of them shared his testimony. In the afternoon we went to a Catholic church, there we had an opportunity to join in with their local soup kitchen ministry to the homeless people. A couple of us shared our testimonies including myself and the students did a couple of worship songs. In the evening we went a local church to join in with their youth group where we were able to share testimonies, sing worship songs and play some games with them.
On Monday we had a brunch with some of the English students and the youth from the church we were at the previous evening. The brunch event went really great! It turned out to be like a 4 hour event because everyone was having such a great time. We ate some really delicious food, we had some great conversations, and we sang some worship songs, shared a couple of testimonies and played some games. We even did a couple of “trust”
building activities which was a lot of fun to see everyone work well together as a team. I think there were a couple of people who came who were not Christians so it was encouraging that they came and heard the gospel.
On Monday evening (December 28th) we had a team meeting. I had originally planned it to be not more than an hour because I knew everyone was tired from the busy day that we had but it turned out to be a long and emotional evening that was much unexpected. I had wanted to do the first half of the meeting to do a short devotional on our identity of how God has adopted us as His sons and daughters and how we are no longer orphans and then to do the second half to re-evaluate our team responsibilities of what is working and what is not working.
Unfortunately the team meeting didn’t go the way I had originally planned the meeting to go and maybe that was my fault because I had shared too many vulnerable things with the team of how I still struggle at times with the orphan spirit especially when I shared a comparative list of the orphan spirit and the sonship spirit. I learned a key lesson which is in the future I should be extremely careful of how much I make myself vulnerable with certain people and to use wisdom to only share certain things with certain people who are spiritually mature and who know me well.
We never did get to the team responsibilities in that meeting but it just turned out to be an intensive and emotional meeting I think where there was some misunderstanding that had happened along our communication with each other so it had to be ended. The next day I asked for a day off because I felt like I needed time to rest and I needed some time with God so I asked Gică and Crenguta to lead the day which I was thankful for. Tuesday evening there were some unexpected Skype calls that had gone back and forth between Florin who is our base leader and different people on the team there in Cheb.
In the end when I had my Skype call with my base leader he told me that because of the circumstances that were happening within the team and because of my lack of experience of being a leader he felt it was much too overwhelming for me to continue to lead at this time but instead to return home to Romania earlier and to take some time with God to work on things in my personal life at this time. Florin, my leader than told me that he had made the decision to release me from my leadership position of being the outreach leader and Crenguta would be the new leader of the team for the rest of their time in the Czech Republic.
When I heard the news of being released from my leadership position and having to go home earlier I honestly was shocked and at a loss for words because I had never expected to hear that news at all during the outreach. I have to admit I did struggle with being an outreach leader for the first time especially with my lack of experience and lack of training and I had also made many mistakes as a leader but I did learn from them however I guess it was just too much for me to handle on my own and I just was not ready for it. Before I left for the outreach I definitely did feel that I was not ready yet to be a leader but I really wanted to make myself available for God and I had a real heart to be able to be there for the students for their outreach as well.
The team was originally supposed to leave Cheb on Sunday January 3rd and go to Prague for the last two weeks in the Czech Republic so I asked my base leader if I could stay in Cheb until the end of the week to finish the week off with them there even if I could just take some time to rest. My base leader told me that would be fine, though a couple of days later I found out that the team decided not to return to Prague which I was surprised so I had to make other plans to return there on my own.
The next morning (Wednesday December 30th) my base leader made the official announcement to the team on Skype of the decision that was made the previous evening of the leadership change for the team. After the Skype call I expressed to the students that I wanted to share something with them. I told them through tears coming down my face that I was very sorry for the mistakes that I had done as a leader and it was truly an honor for me to be their leader during the first three weeks of the outreach.
The rest of the day I had time to rest, spend time with God and I was very thankful I was able to speak to my counselors Doug and Diane on Skype in the afternoon. I think that day I felt extremely low, broken and my mind was filled with all kinds of questions of why this was happening.
I just love how David was so honest before God in the Psalms especially when he wrote this in Psalm 42:11 “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” That day I felt like David felt with my soul and my heart so broken and I had to literally keep reminding myself to keep my eyes on God and to praise Him even if I didn’t feel like doing it.
On Friday December 31st God gave me a special opportunity to visit friends of mine in
Cheb with Ira in the morning until just after lunch. In May 2013, Ira led a DTS outreach team to the YWAM base where I am serving at in Târgu Mureş, Romania which is when I met her the first time and on this day we got together with two of the students who were on her team (Radek and Petra).
At the time when they came to Romania they were not married but now they are and they have a baby too. It was definitely a blessing from God to see them again and also hear their story of how God had brought them together as well. In the evening I celebrated New Year’s Eve with the team, some of the YWAM Cheb staff and also some youth. We played some games and watched the fireworks in the centre when it was midnight.
On Saturday January 1st, I had a pretty up and down emotional day so what a way it was to begin the first day of the New Year. I had contacted my base leader to see if it would even be a possibility to see if I could be a co-leader of the team instead of the leader but unfortunately the answer was no so when I heard the news I knew than that God had made it clear to me that the door was closed to continue to stay with the team at least for the rest of the time in the Czech Republic (I had still hoped that it might be possible to join them for the last two weeks in Romania at the YWAM Craiova base). At that point I knew I had to lose my returning portion of my plane ticket for Romania and I had to find another option to return to Romania earlier which I did find the Eurolines bus company goes directly from Prague to different cities in Romania.
On Saturday January 2nd it was my last official day to stay with the team. I was so very grateful I was able to meet with Luke and Magdalena who are the YWAM Cheb base leaders the previous evening. It really touched my heart to see how genuinely concerned they were for me especially how they encouraged and prayed for me. Then on Saturday morning Luke gave me a personal challenge that was huge but I knew in my heart that it was the right thing that God wanted me to do.
I had been praying that God would bring a true authentic reconciliation and restoration in the team but I didn’t realize that it had to start with me first. Luke explained to me that I was the spiritual leader for the team for a period of the time so the reconciliation had to start with me first so he gave me a challenge to meet one on one with each person on the team before lunch. Luke told me to express to each person that I was sorry for any wrong that I had done and then to ask for their forgiveness. Luke also encouraged me how important it is to walk in the opposite spirit and he told me about the spiritual atmosphere that is over the town of Cheb which I wish I would have known about that earlier.
I had this conversation with Luke at the other YWAM Cheb staff apartment which is in the same building but just two floors down. After I spoke to him I went back to the other apartment where the team stayed. The first thing I did was pray and ask God for courage to be take these steps of reconciliation and for His presence to be in every one of the conversations that were about to take place. Then I approached each student one by one and met with each of them separately. I expressed to them that I was very sorry for the wrong that I had done, I told each of them very specific things that I felt God wanted me to apologize for and then I asked for their forgiveness.
I was amazed and literally blown away how I saw God had worked in those conversations of how He not only worked in my heart but also the other people’s hearts too. The students not only accepted my apology, forgiven me but they too did the same thing as well. Another thing that was amazing and so very encouraging was the heaviness and the weight that was on my heart God had lifted it off and my heart was filled with peace again. It is hard to explain but I literally felt lighter in my heart and I even started to smile and laugh again.
Wow, God is so good and I really want to praise Him for how He brought a true reconciliation before I left the team and what an incredible lesson God had taught me of the importance to take the initiative to take steps of reconciliation with people for there to not only be forgiveness but also restoration in the relationships as well.