It has been fifty days since I completed my six-month discipleship training school with youth organisation, ‘Youth With A Mission.’ My six months included spending three months in Papua New Guinea, sharing the light and love of Jesus and strengthening the nation to live accordingly. Upon my return, I quickly discovered the daunting task of transitioning from base-camp to battlefield. In the process of avoiding isolation, it is a challenge to fit the ‘new you’ into the template that the old you, left behind. It takes time, patience and determination as you transition across, and my hope is that I am able to encourage readers as I process with these words. Fifty days later, I find myself in a position to speak, to share and to inspire others with the same transition.
Base-camp. Defined simply as a place of preparation and a place, which equips one for the task ahead, my time with YWAM became just that. As I became ready for the life that waited and the task that was ahead of me, I went back to the foundations of why I believe what I believe. It was a place that took me back to the basics of faith and as I shortly discovered, going back requires time, attention and an environment, in which certain variables that often lead to distraction are removed. They are laid rest for a certain season of time to intensify without hindrance the growth and development in preparation for a life out on the ‘battle-field’.
Yet, no matter how much you prepare for it mentally, physically, or spiritually, the shock of the battlefield still hits you severely as you leave the boundaries of safety within the camp. You go out, entering the cold air, knowing and accepting that you may not return to the place you have called home. As your fellow brothers are sent on to different missions, you walk out not knowing if you will see the people you have called family again. It is a time that you can only do your best to prepare for. They tell you about the shock that hits you, and though you see it coming, it still hits you by surprise.
Then you reach the battlefield. Still, alone, it tests everything that you have prepared for in the previous season. Frozen and motionless, you are unaware of the danger you are in by standing still.
It was like this for me upon returning back from school. Immediately I had forgotten all the things I learnt and saw in Papua New Guinea and I stood frozen in fear of the battle that was ahead. In PNG I had learnt so much about who I was, not defined by any person, place or thing. I was confident, I was wise, I was strong, and yet in one moment I stood still, allowing the fear of what was ahead to steal that freedom away from me.
So you keep moving. I learnt quickly that you couldn’t stand still, because it is then that you become an easy target for the enemy to attack.
To simply, trust your training.
When I snapped out of the fear, I was quickly reminded that I know that I know what I know! Pick up your sword. We forget so quickly to pick up the one thing that will protect us physically but also mentally and spiritually. The bible says the Word is your sword. The very direction, breath and guidance from The Lord are enough insights to get a grip on your surrounds and stand strong. Putting yourself in a position that is not as vulnerable.
I discovered this by watching my close friends fall under the suffocation of isolation. They let the fear of the unknown strip them of their armor and wisdom. In their vulnerability, they gave up much more before the battle had even begun. I learnt quickly from the mistakes of those around me. It is really hard, watching the people who have come so far in preparation, fall around you like flies. It is hard to watch your courageous brother buckle under the heat and drop in exhaustion. It is frustrating to continue to choose ‘advance’ when those around you are left behind. But if I do not keep moving, I will lose more ground than what I gained during base-camp.
I fight to put myself in a position that strategically places me in a position of safety but also a place that is accessible to others who have the determination to keep moving. Being home, it means putting myself in a position where isolation is not an option. It means looking for opportunities to share the stories of my experience in ‘base-camp’ and to seek opportunities in which I can encourage others to do the same. As I look behind me and see some of my friends falling, I have to trust that the Lord will not give up on them as they have given up on themselves. Once standing in the safety of the heights, I am in a position to help others reach safety, by calling upon what I know and whom I know – the never-ending, constant, unconditional partnership I share with my Lord and Saviour.
Although this battle is just beginning, I stand strong. In the safety of the heights I have the advantage to look back over the land and seeing just how far I have come. As I lead others to also reach the place of safety, there is hope that arises in my heart. I can do this, the enemy will not take what the Lord has given me, and we will overcome. My mission is to continue fighting for the Lords kingdom. To continue to gain ground and to simply, despite how wounded, weak or weary I am, to never give up.
For those struggling to find a reason to go on, remember the lessons you learnt during base-camp. Remember the partnerships you developed and the weapons you obtained. We ARE equipped for battle even if the enemy tries to convince us otherwise. When we put ourselves strategically into a place that allows freedom, we discover something about our relationship with the Lord:
Together, we are strong enough to overcome.