Intentionality and Hospitality: They Go Together

It was January 12, 2016, and I was having a rotten day. I’d just gotten an email from my best friend in the world and she was having a hard time. Back home, friends were getting sick, breaking up, moving away, and everything seemed hard. As for me, I’d been in Taiwan for about a month and I’d just gotten over 4 days of an awful fever. I was discouraged, my heart felt heavy, and the last thing I wanted to do was ministry.

As a team we split into two groups to do ministry at The Rock, a cafe ministry we were working with. We alternated days and it was my teams day to go help people practice English and talk to them about the Gospel. It was a slow evening and as people trickled in, one of our local friends started teaching us some Chinese explaining how confusing Chinese characters are and how to combine them to make numbers and some of the origins of the numbers. It was interesting and made me forget that I didn’t really want to be there.

As the evening progressed, this friend had to leave and we were left talking amongst ourselves. That is when James came in the door, walked straight to our table, and pulled up a chair. He was holding slips of paper, which he handed out to those of us who were at the table. On the papers were simple sentences, teaching us how to say and pronounce sentences like “I like to eat bread.” or “I don’t like eggs.” James spent at least a half hour with us, teaching us how to pronounce the words, which tone we should use, and how our mouths should be positioned to get the right sound. As he explained, we learned a little more about James. James is a retired elementary teacher (which explains his patience with us westerners and our horrible pronunciation!) and has two daughters who are 23 and 30. He’s been retired for 10 years, and he wants to learn more English, but he’s worried he’s too old to learn. After spending a while practicing my Chinese and his English, we parted ways. I left the Rock encouraged and uplifted.

I never saw James at the Rock again, but the life lesson he taught me has stuck (The Chinese lesson, not so much).  James taught me about hospitality and intentionality. James, we realized, had been sitting in the Rock as we learned about Chinese characters and asked questions about how to order food and use numbers. He went home, typed and printed out sentences, and came back to give them to us, knowing that he was about to invest a chunk of time teaching us pronunciation.

This night was a turning point for me in my outreach. This was the start of a week where I really listened as God spoke into my identity and took me deeper into who He is and who I am in Him. This was the point where God said to me, “Ya know, kid, I love you and I love them. You need to love them like I do. Put down all the things and just follow my heart.” I think, going into my outreach I expected all good days. I don’t know why, because I’ve been on other trips and they’re not all good days, just life in general isn’t all good days. God is showing me that what matters is my heart attitude on those days that aren’t so good and we grow in that as we continue on our walk with Him. Some days, though, He’ll send a James along to help.

When the Unthinkable Becomes Real

In the Gospels we read stories of Jesus and the Apostles in Acts performing miracles of healing, the unthinkable. Ironically, when we read the Gospels, most people in the world, Christians included, believe that miraculous healing does not happen anymore. They think it is something of the past.  I used to discredit any thought of the miraculous until God changed my life with the power of healing and made the unthinkable become real.

In June 2013, a little over three years ago, I started a school at YWAM Montana called Endurance Discipleship Training School (EDTS). It is a Discipleship Training School that utilizes outdoor activities like hiking, rock climbing, and backpacking to grow in discipleship and minister to others.  In my first week of EDTS, I heard people talking about the power of God healing people and I was shocked to hear this.  My understanding was that God did not heal people in miraculous ways anymore and that was something of the past.  My honest reaction being new to YWAM was that these people are crazy to even think of this.  Little did I know that God had a plan to change my perspective.  A couple of weeks after the school started I was invited to go cliff jumping in Flathead Lake with some friends.  At first, I watched others jump in and it looked safe to me, so I jumped in. It was then that I realized that the water was too shallow and my foot hit the bottom.  I told my friends that I hit the bottom but I thought I was fine. When I got to the shore and stood up it was then that I felt a sharp pain in my foot.  The next day, in great pain, I went to urgent care.

They took an X-ray and told me that I had broken four bones in my foot and would be walking on crutches for the next three to four months.  I was thinking, “How could I go on with EDTS, which requires so much use of my feet?”  The doctor told me to come back in five days to see him after the swelling went down and to get an update.  As my school was camping those five days, they were the longest five days of my life.

At this point, I questioned God on why he would send me to YWAM, then in just a couple of weeks send me home because of my foot?  My friends and staff at YWAM were dedicated in prayer for my foot to be healed.  I kept on telling them that God does not miraculously heal anyone anymore, that was a thing of the past. I told them to stop wasting their time praying for something that was not going to happen.  Five days later I went back to the doctor to get an update on my foot.  I walked into the doctor’s office with crutches and in pain.  The doctor was pleasant to talk to and questioned me on what I am doing in Montana and at YWAM.  I tell the doctor about EDTS and that we do strenuous outdoor activities.  The doctor told me plainly that I would have to use crutches and there is no way that I could do any type of physical activities like hiking and climbing.  The doctor ordered another X-ray of my foot now that the swelling had calmed down.  As I was waiting for my X-ray results in the doctor’s office, I was frustrated with God and questioned him again, “Why would I be here only to be sent back home with a broken foot?” I was upset and said to God, “If you can really heal like people at YWAM said, then why don’t you just heal my foot?!” This is when the UNTHINKABLE happened! The doctor walked in with the old X-ray and the new X-ray in his hands.  He looked at me and said, “I have never seen this before in my life, the new X-rays are showing that your foot is no longer broken.”  I was shocked. Was I hearing the doctor correctly?  I asked him to say it again because I could not believe what I had just heard.  Amazed by what I heard the doctor tell me, I tried to stand up and see if  I could walk. Then the truth hit me.  I stood up and the pain that was in my foot was gone!  I started walking without any pain or discomfort.  Emotions overwhelmed me and I started crying because the unthinkable became real and the power of healing happened.

I went back to the YWAM base and told everyone I knew what had happened to me.  Most people looked at me and said, “Did you not believe in the healing power of God?”  I got on my knees in prayer to God to thank him for what He had done.  I proclaimed to Him that I would not doubt His miraculous works in the present and that I truly believe in the power of healing.  I am now a living testimony to that.  I try to share my story to people that need healing so that they might have faith and know that healing does happen.

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:20)

God’s Provision

In December of 2009 the news was given that the current Studio 501 was going to be moving to a new location on base for the new Studio 501. I wasn’t working in Studio 501 at that point but that was where God was leading me and my family for our future ministry. This was great news because we not only acquired newer and bigger space, but we were given the chance to design and build it the way a studio should be built. After a year and a half of plans being made for the building of the new studio demolition began in June of 2011. The move in date was announced for the 1 things didn’t turn out the way we thought. So began the journey of God walking us through patience, trust and faith that he would provide. As with any new project we ran into some budget issues, finding out things would cost more than they were along the way and so on. We were going through our budget quicker than expected and were left in the place of waiting for God to provide.

January 1st 2012 came and went and we didn’t even have our floating floors poured for each room. I’m not going to lie we were definitely worried about how this floor was going to get paid for. But since that point we have seen God’s faithfulness like normal! On February 24 were finally poured with the help of a professional concrete pourer from Spokane who donated his labor to get this done. The company that engineered our floor gave us a huge discount on the design and plans of the floor. So a floor that should have cost us 50,000 dollars to build cost us 20,000 dollars. It’s funny how easily we get caught up in the stress and doubt and wonder how God is going to provide the money for our needs. Not only did the money come through but he provided a professional to come and help us pour the floor and gave us a huge discount through our floor engineer. And this is the story of the new Studio 501.

Our walls and ceilings have ¾” double layered MDF on them. This was donated to us by a local lumber yard Plumb Creek Lumber; this was a 30,000 dollar donation. We were going to use sheetrock and would have had to pay for it, but God provided above and beyond. MDF is what we have chosen to build with if we had an unlimited budget but that wasn’t an option. It was only an option because this is God’s studio not ours. If we tried to do this on our own we would have had to cut corners and the studio would have been fine, but because of God’s perfect timing and provision we got the materials we wanted for free.

Our HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) system for the new studio needed to be very specific for our air tight rooms and it needed to run very quietly because we can’t have a machine making any noise while are recording. Through some connections with 100 Fold Studio we found a guy in Alabama who designed our HVAC system for free so we only had to pay for parts. We had a church from Michigan send a team to our base to help us build all over our campus. A few of the guys on the team helped us install the HVAC in the attic so in the end labor was free thanks to a group of people who took their vacation time to come out here and work for a week when they could have been relaxing on a beach for a week.

Early on in the construction process, before we knew what hit us we had spent all of our budgeted money for our electrical on an electrician. We had no clue how we were going to make the budget work to get the rest of the electrical finished in the studio. Lo and behold God provided for us again. On another VWAP (Vacation With a Purpose) team from Stanwood Washington there was an electrician who was able to get signed off by our electrical inspector to work on our building. In one week we went from 5% of our electrical done to 90% done. We saved 10,000 dollars in one week because of the donated time of the electrician and the guys that helped him pull wire and hang boxes.What a blessing!

So this is the story of the new Studio 501. As of today August 7th 2013 we are 70% done with the new Studio 501. Throughout the past 2 years we have seen God’s hand throughout the construction of the new Studio 501. This is God’s studio not ours. With his provision he has only made the studio better; better than we could have ever done on our own. What in the normal world would have cost us around 1 million dollars to build, this studio when finished will have cost us 70,000 dollars. God is a good God and even when we doubt and fear he chooses to provide for us even when we think what is ahead is impossible. Thank you God for your provision!

The First SBS & SOW – 1991

Pete and Fran Sifuentes started the first SOW here at YWAM Montana-Lakeside. Along with SOW, we had our very first SBS. Ted Darnell was the first SBS director for YWAM Montana-Lakeside; he had originally come to speak in the DTS and was then invited to bring SBS to the base and become the SBS director. Ted had no staff at that point, but God was already working on that! God spoke to Ron and Judy Smith to come be a part of the SBS, and after amazing confirmation they came to Montana and have been here ever since! For them, it was the greatest move they ever made! SBS and SOW prospered because of the heart of the leadership; they made a space for these schools, recognizing the importance of running programs like this and how it would impact the base as well as the future students who would take part in it. And ever since then, the base has never been the same!

New Field Was Landscaped – June 1987

Jim Polk had this idea of doing a summer football camp, but the field was not ideal – it was a rolling area filled with rocks. We decided to have an all base work day where EVERYONE was involved and came to work on it, which was around 30 staff and 30 kids. We had no heavy equipment to work with – just picks, shovels, rakes, and wheelbarrows. It took the entire day – we were able to smooth it down, get it weeded, and then seeded. About a month later, we had our first football camp!

First snack bar – 1986-87

The snack bar started back in 1986, in the bowling alley in dorm 3, where the nursery is now (yes, we used to have a bowling alley!).  We first started by serving drinks and snacks for the DTS, then in 1987 a couple by the name of Dave and Jean Cowan came back to the base to start a book store snack bar; they had the vision for it and really wanted to run it. The snack bar was moved to where the dance studio is now and was there until Dave and Jean left YWAM Montana.

Fran Sifuentes had a vision of the snack bar becoming more of a place where fellowship could take place and where we could have room to open it for Friday night community nights.  So Fran took it over and moved it to where the Library is now. It was much larger, and we had tables and chairs for people to visit during the day and on Friday nights for the community.

A few years later it was moved to where it is now, only without the room for the student center.  We had booths for people to sit and we sold books, snacks, and music of some of  the YWAM Montana staff.  It was a great place to get to visit with staff and get to know each other.

Fran ran the snack bar for 4 more years and then turned it over to Jeanette Brewster, who carried it on from there. Since then there have been improvements to the snack bar with the expansion of the student center; it has become a great meeting place, where both students and staff come to study and hang out!

First Base Director & First DTS (September 1985)

In 1984, David Graham went to a conference in Bolivia as a guest of Loren Cunningham’s, and little did David know that Loren would introduce him as the next base director of YWAM Montana-Lakeside. This came as a complete surprise to David, but in the end it turned out to be prophetic! David became the first base director of YWAM Montana-Lakeside, and then in the fall of 1984, David, Bob Fitz, and (Mr.) Gustafson traveled throughout Asia to do some recruiting for their first DTS, which then started in September of 1985. We had 47 students and 33 kids!

Auction for the base – June 1985

Up to this point, we had been talking to churches and many people were praying, but there was still no money coming in except for the oil well money. But we continued on in faith! The auction took place in the cafeteria; at least 20 people were there to watch, most of them being YWAMers. Several of them were there just to intercede and we had to keep trusting that God would give us that property. Several parties were involved in the bidding war, and the starting bid of $50,000 was quickly raised to over $400,000 in a matter of minutes. This was disheartening because we already knew we had no money and the price kept increasing! But again, we trusted that God would provide. Every other bidder dropped out until it was us and one other bidder; the bidding stopped at $425,000 and it went to us! This was incredible news, but now we had to continue trusting God that He would provide all of the money. We were only given 30 days to come up with the balance, but in an amazing turn of events, that timeline was extended to a year which gave us enough time to acquire the funds that were needed!