In the fall of 2014 God began a brand new journey in my life which is when He put on my heart the nation of Cambodia and started to break my heart for the injustice issue of human trafficking. Last year in April 2015, I went to my very first event on this topic which is when I went to Shine conference in Buzau, Romania. It was a great weekend to be able to start to get to know people who have a heart for this issue, to network with people and to also receive some teaching as well.
In February of last year one of my friends told me about the Shine Seminar which is a 6 week training course on human trafficking that they have at the YWAM Amsterdam base every year in the spring. It was not possible for me to go last year because it didn’t work out with the timing so I prayed about it and I gave it to God.
I knew in my heart that if God wanted me to go to the Shine Seminar the following year that He would be the one to open up the doors for me to go and He did! I applied last year in December and I got my acceptance on January 11th which is so exciting of how God opened up the doors for me to be able to go this year!
Before I went to Amsterdam I met with my friend Cristina on April 2nd to spend some time together and pray together. When she prayed for me God gave her a picture and she told me what she saw after she prayed for me. The picture that she saw was of me on the frontline battle field with other soldiers. We all had our shields up as we battled together. She told me that she felt there were people behind me who were supporting me in their prayers as I was fighting in the battle field. When I heard that I knew in my heart that I was going into the enemy territory because he doesn’t want people fighting the injustice issue of human trafficking so I was reminded of the spiritual warfare I would be in during my time in Amsterdam but I was also very thankful to be reminded that people will be praying for me when I will be there as well.
On Tuesday April 5th I took an overnight bus ride from Târgu Mureş, Romania to Budapest,
Hungary. I left with my bus at 6:00pm and I arrived at the Budapest airport at 4:00am the next day (April 6th). My bus ride was extremely exhausting but I was very thankful that everything well went with the trip and I was very happy when I arrived at the airport.
I checked in for my flight at 9:00am, my departure was at 11:20am and I arrived in Amsterdam at 1:15pm. I flew with the KLM airline. It was a nice short flight. When I arrived at the airport Samantha who is one of the Shine Seminar staff was there to meet me and take me to the YWAM base. It was so nice to have a Canadian meet me at the airport because she is from Canada! We took a train and a bus to the YWAM base.
I was so excited to finally arrive at the YWAM Amsterdam base and to start to meet people!
I stayed in a dorm room with seven other girls who are also Shine Seminar students. We had five different nationalities in my bedroom (Canadian, American, Norwegian, British and South African). I was so very thankful to be able to share a room with the girls from my class because it was such a blessing to be able to connect with them and build relationships with them during the time that we spent together in our room.
The first couple of days in Amsterdam (April 6th – 10th) we had a time of orientation, introduction, a tour of the city, the gathering which is the base’s weekly worship and intercession time with everyone at the base, time to relax and I also joined the evangelism team to minister to the homeless people which was really great to be able to speak Romanian with a couple of the men that came out.
My first weekend I went to Starbucks on Saturday with three of my classmates which was
really great to spend some time with them and on Sunday I went to the Hillsong church with a couple who are staying at the base. The couple (Acacia and Szilvia) that I went to church with and also had lunch with I actually met them in Romania and I used to serve together with Acacia at the YWAM Târgu Mureş base so it was really great to be able to see them again and spend some time with them.
Sarah was the leader of the Shine Seminar (she is from Nigeria) and then there were two full-time Shine Seminar staff (Samantha who is from Canada and Clara who is from Denmark) and then we had one part-time staff who joined us for a few weeks of the Seminar (Christina who is from the States). We had 20 students in my class who are from different nationalities including: Canada, Norway, The United States, The Netherlands, France, Germany, South Africa, England and Brazil. There were 18 girls in my class and 2 guys. I felt so blessed to be a part of such an incredible class! Everyone came with their hearts so passionate for God and God has given each of them a vision to reach out to the hurting and broken people in this world especially in the area to bring hope and love where people have been affected by the injustice issue of human trafficking.
During the six weeks of the Shine Seminar (April 6th – May 21st) it was extremely busy and intense. Our weeks had a very full and packed schedule but I wouldn’t have traded any of it because I loved every bit of it. We had classes in the mornings and afternoons with different teachers from a range of different topics (I’ll write a bit more on that in the following paragraphs), everyone was assigned a work duty to help at the YWAM base during the week (I was a part of one of the dinner clean up teams) and almost every evening we also had a program as well (I’ll write a bit more on that later). On the weekends we had time off to rest and connect a bit with each other which was really great and on Sundays I also went to different churches too (Hillsong, Vineyard and God’s Embassy).
For our classes we had a different theme every week of the Shine Seminar.
Week #1 (April 11th – 17th) – the theme was on Justice from a Biblical perspective.
We had teachings on breaking off shame in our lives and how to bring this teaching into ministry, we learned how to have healthy boundaries in our lives, prophetic justice from the Bible and we did a couple of prophetic exercises too and we also learned about sexual
brokenness and the roots of homosexuality. On the weekend I went to an art store and to the Hillsong church with some of my classmates. It was a great first week of the teaching!
Week #2 (April 18th – 24nd) – the theme was on supply and demand, perspectives: networking, politics, law enforcement and practitioners. We had teachings on the Christian response to the global sex trade, human trafficking 101, the situation that’s happening in Amsterdam in the Red Light District, addictions, and trauma and about spiritual health. On the weekend I had some time to relax, I finally upgraded my computer to windows 10 and I checked out a new church (God’s Embassy) which was really great.
Week #3 (April 25th – May 1st) – the theme was on investigation, case studies and on the Father Heart of God.
We had teachings on justice, human trafficking, investigation, supply & demand, personal security, after care to girls who have been trafficked and on the Father Heart of God. We actually had the day off on Wednesday because it was a national holiday in the Netherlands called “Kings Day” which was basically a day that I observed everyone went out partying outside in the streets in Amsterdam from what I saw. On Friday night the YWAM Amsterdam base had a night’s prayer time at the Tabernacle which is a house of prayer that is located in the Red Light District. It was an amazing time to seek God in
worship and prayer for the city, the country and for each other. On Saturday I slept in and relaxed and on Sunday I checked out the Vineyard church and I also went Dignita which is to the café/ restaurant that Not for Sale foundation runs. I ate lunch there with some of my classmates and we celebrated our halfway mark in the course.
Week #4 (May 2nd – 8th) – the theme was on sexual exploitation of boys and transgender, the demand, pornography and focus on Africa.
We had teachings on how to do research, what’s happening in South East Asia specifically in Cambodia, Biblical teaching on God who is just, co-dependency, debriefing, media campaign against human trafficking specifically on the situation in Africa and we also heard a beautiful testimony from a girl who used to be in prostitution and how God has transformed her life. On the weekend I relaxed, processed in my journal and went to the God’s Embassy church with a girl who’s a volunteer at the base. It was a nice relaxing weekend.
Week #5 (May 9th – 15th) – the theme was on identity, skill development and more.
We had teachings on stepping into our roles of who God created us to be, the foundations of resilience, to be spirit centered, the adversary (who is the devil our enemy), the miracle of regeneration – the regenerate spirit, the power of sin, the human soul, the road to transformation and liberation. We also heard a testimony from a man who used to be a pimp and how God transformed his life and some more teaching on human trafficking.
On Friday God gave me a very special treat when an opportunity opened up for me to go on a boat ride in the canals with 8 other Shine students! One of the base staff has a boat and it was such a blessing to be able to go out with him and enjoy a boat ride. On Saturday I went to another town with two other girls from my class to visit the Corrie Ten Boom house/ museum which was a real blessing to see it, I bought some souvenirs and on Sunday I went to the God’s Embassy church with a couple of girls from my class.
Week #6 (May 16th – 21st) – the theme was on case studies; focus on victims, self-care and graduation.
We had teachings on human trafficking, focusing on the victims, the importance of reaching out to the men who are the “clients” (people who buy sex), grief, anger, steps to healing from anger, self-care and on Friday we had a morning for debriefing from our time
at the Shine Seminar. On Friday evening it was our graduation which was such a wonderful time of celebration with all of the students and the staff including staff who were involved part-time in some way with our school. On Saturday I flew out from Amsterdam at 2:20pm and I arrived in Budapest at 4:15pm.
This is an overview of the kind of teaching that I had when I was at the YWAM Amsterdam base for the Shine Seminar. I did not write the speakers names because I did that on purpose to protect their identity since many of them are working in very sensitive areas. The things that I learned during the seminar are of course not limited to these topics God taught me so much more than this and I really grew in my relationship with Him during this time especially in the areas of my faith, trusting in Him more, depending on Him more and especially discovering more of His heart that breaks for this injustice issue of human trafficking.
During my time at the Shine Seminar all of the students were split into research project groups. The different groups were: Pacific Islands, Texas USA, Uganda, South Africa and South Korea/ Japan. I signed up for the Uganda group because I was curious what the situation on human trafficking is like there since I had been there when I did my DTS outreach as a student in 2014. We had to write a research paper and at the end of the seminar we also did a presentation. It was a lot of work but I really feel like I learned a lot from this opportunity to do a research paper and presentation with my group.
I really enjoyed all of my classes and the teaching that we had. I also really enjoyed all of the other activities and events that we had during my time in Amsterdam as well. Every Monday evening we had our outreach time which was really great. I was a part of the strategic prayer group at the Light House which is in the Red Light District. The first week we did a prayer walk in the Red Light District which was really eye opening and overwhelming at the same time because my heart was so broken to see the situation first hand as it was. The other weeks we split into small groups to pray specifically for different girls that we got names for and the last week a woman came and we prayed for her.
On Tuesday evenings it was our small group time which was definitely one of my favorite
times during the week. I absolutely loved my small group! Chinomso led my small group and there were four other girls beside myself that was in my group. I felt incredibility blessed by God of how He put us together and I loved that Chinomso took us “deep” in our discussions and it was so great that we often took time to pray and prophesy over each other as well.
I will never forget the prophetic picture that God gave one of the girls in my group the second week when we met. God showed her a picture of an eagle, I was on it but I wasn’t alone because Minnie my cat was with me too and the eagle took us to the different nations in the world. The eagle represented God. I just love how God is such a personal God and how He truly does see all the desires of our heart! My heart is filled with so much gratitude of how God gave me such an amazing and encouraging small group during my time in Amsterdam.
On Wednesday evenings we usually had time off but sometimes we met for a class debrief/ discussion time. On Thursday evenings at the YWAM base there was a weekly evening event called “The Gathering” which was for everyone at the base. I really enjoyed Thursday evenings especially that it was a time for everyone at the base to come together to seek God together. Every week looked different but it usually consisted of worship, intercession and/or teaching. On Friday evenings we usually had off but sometimes we went out to cafes to fellowship and hang out.
One of my favorite Thursday evenings for the gathering was on Thursday April 21st which
was an evening that we just had worship and it was incredible! God really came so beautifully and filled the room with His glorious presence as everyone worshiped Him with so much hunger. I am incredibility grateful for how God encountered my heart that evening, how He spoke to the deep core of my heart and brought some healing to some deep wounds that I had as well.
The previous week I had a bad dream so I felt to share that with the four staff that stayed a bit later. They prayed for me and I was amazed afterwards when one of the girls told me that she saw two angels that were with me (one was standing in front of me and one was standing behind me). She told me that they are always with me and God’s protection is always over me. Wow, God is so good!
I am so very grateful for how God revealed Himself to me during my time in Amsterdam and how He spoke to me so clearly at different times as well. I went into the Shine Seminar with anticipation of what God will do during that time and what He will do in the future. The Lord definitely blew me away many times and He brought a lot of confirmation to my heart of what He is calling me to do in the next season in my life as a missionary. I am so thankful for the many prophetic words I received as well especially for how God spoke to me a second time about the Esther anointing that He has on my life (the first time was in February 2015 and the second time was the first week in April). God spoke to me a couple of different times of how He is calling me to the nations and He brought a confirmation to my heart of how He is calling me to serve with the Justice focus DTS with YWAM especially when He spoke to me this through one of the speaker’s “The work of bringing justice is all about discipleship.” The Lord also spoke to me again of how He is calling me to minister to girls who are at risk, vulnerable and are trafficked and to bring hope, love and freedom to them.
My heart is filled to the overflowing with so much gratitude for everything that God did during my time at the Shine Seminar. I could definitely write a whole lot more but I think
I’ll bring it to an end with rejoicing for everything that God did and for who He is. I am incredibility grateful for God opening up the doors for me to visit such a beautiful city, I am so thankful for God giving me training on the area of human trafficking, I am so thankful for the new friends that God gave me who were such an encouragement to me and it was such a blessing to share life together with them for 6 weeks and for all of the experiences that God gave me especially the private boat ride in the canal that was so much fun to enjoy it with my classmates! God is just so good!
I also would like to thank everyone who prayed for me during my time at the Shine Seminar when I was in Amsterdam. I am so very grateful that you took time to pray for me and sent me encouraging words during that time because it meant so much to me. My heart is filled with so much excitement and anticipation for what God has for me next in the upcoming season of ministry that He is calling me into! I’ll share more on that in another blog called “I’m in a huge transition”. Thanks so much for taking time to read my blog and for all of your prayers. It really means so much to me. Many blessings to you!