“So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” Luke 17:10
The sky is bright blue, there isn’t a direction you can look without seeing the mountain sides, the palm trees surround us, and the traffic is….. well, bad. And boom, it hits us… WE’RE BACK IN CALIFORNIA.
For most of us, home is some thousands of miles away, but almost immediately, California has become a new “home away from home,” and it has been so incredible to be back.
It is said that as the first California Regional Team we have one of the busiest travel team schedules, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true. We’ve been here for around 6 months now and have traveled up and down the coast of California at least 4 times, going as high north as Red Bluff and as far south as the very end tip of San Diego.
At this point, we’ve done over 75 retreats. That averages around 5 to 6 retreats a week. Despite our busy schedule, it is such a blessing to see how good we are getting at doing ministry together.
When we started in September, we had to learn how to gel together to make the retreats as smooth and successful as possible, but now that we’ve gotten into a groove, we have been able to see so much of the ways the Lord has truly carried us these past few months.
We believe there’s a reason for this.
Sure, we’re good at scheduling, giving talks, mingling, investing in the people we meet, engaging the youth on retreats, dramas, testimonies, and AMEs, but there are two things that we truly believe are the core reasons we have seen so much fruit in the state of California, and here are our reasons.
- Our desire to lead souls to the Lord is greater than our desire to do retreats efficiently & effectively.Despite the theme of the retreats that we do, it is most important to us that we give the youth the opportunity to meet the Lord, maybe for the 1st time, maybe for the 101st time. The way we do ministry is straight from the core of our desire to lead the Lord’s children back to His heart.Our teammate, Thais, who is from Spain, experienced the gratitude the Lord has for us in leading His children back to Him. On NET retreats, there is a time called Prayer Ministry, during which we take the youth to the chapel and give them a time to pray. They hear a testimony and watch a more serious drama geared towards whatever the message is that day, and then we give them time to be with the Lord. In this time of prayer, the teammates who are small group leaders that day get the opportunity to place a hand on their small group members shoulders and pray silently over them.During a retreat we did in South Lake Tahoe, Thais experienced something truly amazing during this time of prayer ministry. “While I was praying over my small group, one by one, I just felt the Lord speaking deeply into their hearts, through mine.” She explains, “It wasn’t even that my small group was that talkative or into it the whole retreat, but during this time of prayer ministry, as I placed my hand on each shoulder one by one, I couldn’t hold back tears, and neither could they. In these moments, Jesus was showing me just how much He loves them, and simply saying to me ‘Thank you. Thank you for bringing to me my child.’”It’s stories like these that remind us how appreciative the Lord is of our work, this year, and how willing HE is to carry us, and the reason we grow in passion for souls, but we are then humbled by the reality that we don’t have to do much, because Jesus shows up every time.
- We don’t have to do much, Jesus always shows up.We all know the saying “you can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink.” In some ways this is true for our ministry; we can practically give opportunities for the youth to encounter the Lord, but only Jesus can change hearts. And as a team we talk about this a lot, because in a way, this is a load off of our shoulders. The simple reality that all we have to do is lead them to Jesus and He does the rest, is a beautiful gift.The last reason we’ve noticed is the sheer fact that we as individuals and as a team have given our “yes” to the Lord this year. In doing this, we have allowed the Lord the flexibility to use us as His vessels wherever He desires. Whether this means in writing talks, giving testimonies or exhortations, leading small groups, opportunities of prayer, wherever it may be – we have truly given the Holy Spirit the opportunity to work in the ways He desires through us. And we are growing in this gift every day.
It has been such a gift to allow the Lord our time, to see the ways that the Lord is using us, and sometimes not seeing fruit but knowing the Lord has worked, and especially to grow as a family together leading each other closer to Him.
At the end of the day, we know that we are unprofitable servants and we have only done what was asked of us.
Until next time,
California Regional Team