2 weeks ago we had the honor of going back to our satellite base in Sarasota, Fl to speak in the MOTA, DTS for the second time. As you can see in the video bellow... we had a BLAST. Thank God this base is in this state.... cruisin baby.
(I'm A Video, Click me... mehhhrp)
So here's the story....
Josh (the base leader/ one of our partners in crime these past 7 years) has been pretty admit about getting us to come back to teach for about a year. But we didn’t think it was going to happen. There was the normal excuses of travel plans not lining up and our finances, but honestly, deep down, we felt we had nothing to share and pass onto these students this year and so we didn’t want to come. (oops… DTS students reading… keep reading! )
Everyone (who’s been following this blog) knows that last year was a, um, well… a Scheiße Festival. It stripped us bear of everything. Our ministry, our band, our belief in what we are doing, our faith, our home, our community, our creativity and what we thought at the time, our future. And through all of that, we had to face the biggest and hardest question of it all:
“DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU ARE DOING?”
Cus if not… get out now!
But...through all this self contemplation, deep digging into things... Josh kept asking us if we wanted to come to Florida and speak. You know…. to a group of 20 year olds about "following God’s calling for them to pursue arts and missions"…HA! Well, our fake smily voices said “oh you betcha, we’ll try and make it!” and our hearts said “oh hellllll no.” But see, the thing about Josh is… he’s a persistent little schnitzel. He knew we were insecure. He knew we were broken. He knew we had lost our fight. But he knew us. And He knew God. And He knew God was calling us to come teach and He knew we needed to make it there. Both physically and mentally. So Josh kept asking.
We continued putting it off because we also continued putting off whether or not we really believed in this whole thing in general and whether or not we still wanted to fight for it. See, itt’s one thing to be going through a season on the mission field where you are “figuring things out” and asking some tough questions. This is a very hard but good thing, and honestly, necessary for growth and transition into whatever God has for you next (so stop beating yourself up if you’re in a bit of a limbo, chill, it will... defrost.) However, in the middle of a season like this, from what I would think, you probably shouldn't get up and teach others to do the thing you just don’t know if you’re so sure about…but maybe I was wrong because…. Josh kept asking. Can we make that like a sing-a-long? I write a paragraph and then you finish it by singing “Josh kept asking?” Would be great thanks! or better yet... #joshkeptasking
Side notes....Let me say, through a season of purified chaos. We did survived. But most didn’t. A lot left. A lot couldn’t handle it. A lot got hurt. Gave up. Couldn’t. And for all of them, I truly pray God heals you, protects, you, rejuvenates you and brings you along to another path that is better for you. But for us who stayed. Who stuck it out. Who pushed through the pain. The hurt. The confusion. All in the pursuit of believing God had something more, something better for us then this crazy season: Thank you for being in this together. I think we’re about to see some pretty amazing blessings. For...
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10
Something in all of us changed these past months. Not only in us. In our whole Pick a Pocket team and in our whole Nürnberg team. Our whole demeanors shifted. Suddenly all the hurt and all the pain that came with 2014 turned our bruised little selves into tough, stronger, more dedicated people. The losses we went through made us gain more respect and love for those of us who stuck around. And the fruit that we’d all been waiting for started rises up out of the death that seemed to be all around us... God was bringing new life.
I remember watching the Nürnberg MOTA graduation in Herrnhut. (What a victory. YWAM Nürnberg ran a 6 month DTS with around 100 students, in the middle of pioneering a base. Holy Moly.) When I was sitting there watching these students graduate, I was actually more fixated on the MOTA leaders. Some of my good friends, Josiah, Kristen, and Mona (who are rolling their eyes right now if their reading this because I put them in my blog!) While up there, they were standing there basically looking like war veterans (sorry guys, you’ve looked better) and the only things coming out of their mouths were words of championing and encouraging their students to keep going and keep fighting. Keep building this kingdom through the talents and gifting God has given you. These 3 are super heroes. They sacrificed so much, fought so much, and suffered so much because they believed so much in this school, in this vision, and their calling. Because of that they were able to give everything they had in order to push through and not give up. They believed in championing young people. No matter the cost. No matter the sacrifice. No matter pain we personally must go through….And while sitting there, I was inspired by them to rethink Josh’s request.
Because… (sing it everybody) Josh kept asking. In fact, get this, he actually came to our home, disguising his visit as a “friendly hang out”…(never again will we be fooled), sat us down out OUR dinning table (in the middle of dinner… the nerve!), gave us the stern Josh Elke look and said “Mannchens, you’re coming. Stop fighting it. Lets set a date now!” … Gulp. How could we resist. Valor was also there with his big eyes. Oh. So. Weak. The Mannchens caved. We set a date. We knew we were ready. Our hearts were more passionate, more believing and more committed to the vision of arts and missions then it ever had been before. And we thought that if we could find just a few students in that school who had even half the passion, creativity and spunk that the courages people we work with have, then it was worth going there and championing those people into missions with whatever we had to offer. No matter the cost. No matter the insecurities and doubts… we knew we were going.... oh, and spoiler: We found some!
On the drive down to Florida from Atlanta (oh yeah, we used the trip to finish our album in ATL… more on that later)… yeah on the drive down, guess what… we drove through a freakin mini tornado. I mean, seriously what is it with God, me and storms. (read here.) GETTING OLD JESUS, GETTING OLD. And of course Uli was passed out with a tummy ache in the back seat and I couldn’t let my little British Ruthie drive in such exotic weather… so I pulled through and drove 11 hrs straight through it. In my daddy's jeep (hell yeah!) On the way down I started thinking about this season. About the future. And how to be faithful and honest to our testimony through the teaching we were about to give. And as the water swamped my windshield like a gator in the everglades I remembered a line the Lord gave me to proclaim a few months back:
"Whether sinking. Or swimming. Or floating through the sea. You are the ocean. I will not drown."
No matter what happens. No matter if we are thriving in one season or sinking in another, if we are enthralled and absorbed in Him… He will not let us drown.
The school was great. We were asked to speak on arts and missions. I was really looking forward to speaking on slaying in the spirit but Josh thought we should stick to what we were best at. FINE. We figured out what we were going to talk about, about 5 mins before we got up there. HA. I spoke on identity leading into calling leading into missions and what to do with your art. Uli lead on what you do with your arts and your calling once you figured it out (pretty dynamite Mannchen tag team if I do say so myself!) Then we spun it a bit into the idea of: cool, so what do you do when there is no guarantee that the thing God has called you into will actually work out? This was the big moment for us because this is where we finally had to teach on a lesson we had been battling through this whole last season.
So we explained. To move forward from last season a large part of what we had to do was personally recognize where things went wrong, and where we in fact failed. And that was something for so long we didn’t want to face. But here is what we learned: As painful as it might be, we have to reflect on what went wrong, and what we did wrong. The only way to get through the failure of a "broken dream" is recognizing that even though we or others we depended on personally might have failed, the dream itself is never over, until God says it’s over. He birthed it. He decides when it’s over. And if He doesn’t kill it… it’s not over. Once we can recognize our own failures, we then are free to let God come in do what He does best: redeem them. When it came to the questions we had of “should we give up” we realized that we wanted to give up not because we were released but because we thought we failed. However,
God does not release you from thing out of failure. He releases you from things once the task is done.
Failing ≠ it’s over.
Failing = try again.
.......And again. And again. And again until it’s finished.
When we enter into a calling, a dream, a plan with God, we enter into a partnership with Him. And in order for a true partnership to work, both parties must give 100%. Our 100% means giving all we have. Fighting until the end. Investing all we have: time, energy, resources, finances, talents, life into it. Giving everything so that God too can give everything. God is a God who plays by the rules in which He sets into place. If He says "it’s a partnership", He splits it down the middle 50/50. If you give 10% to your vision, you’re going to see Him giving 10% to the vision…. and then you’re gonna wine and cry and say “why isn’t this working out!? God must not be in this anymore!” But when you give 100%, you’re gonna allow God to give his 100%”. And why? God wants to partner with us not because He needs us, but because He wants a relationship with us and He wants to do things with us. The minute He gives 90% and you give 10%, God is stripping you from the potential He knows you are capable of... He created you for the 100%. And trust me. When you give 100 so He can give 100… that 100 of God is pretty mind blowing.... which is what the Nürnberg team is now seeing the fruit of : )
We championed these incredible MOTA students to figure out their identity and then understand that God has a calling on their life and that He is more committed to that calling then we ever could be. We challenged them to keep fighting even if they fail. Even if everyone around them abandons them. Because your calling is part of who you are. It’s part of your identity. It’s part of you. And if you were to give up on it… you are giving up on a big part of you. You don't just walk away from a part of you.
This season the one thing I could say when asked again the question “do you really believe in what you’re doing?” was… “yes… and I’d rather spend the rest of my life failing at it in hopes of one day getting it right (because I believe in it that much) then quitting now and going to do something I know for sure would succeed. Because that… that my friend is when the good stuff comes.”
Or as the lions put it
"we all want to be lions... but most days we are chickens... but we still need to strive to be lions"
Oh did I mention we did part of our teaching through a Liz and the Lions concert? And yees, those are lions in chicken masks...
So clearly, this week was a deeper week of redeeming, understand and processing our season for Uli and I then just about teaching. The MOTA students reading this right now are probably saying "wow, hmmm had no idea that was going on!" And let me just say, these students are FAN-TAS-TIC. They are incredible artist who love the Lord and want to see His kingdom built all over the world. Through their art, stories and conversations they inspired us. They championed us in our ministry. Challenged us in our beliefs. And empowered us to keep fighting for this vision. Thank you friends. May you all be courageous and dangerous out on the field these next months. AND DO YOUR ART.
Here is a video Ruth made about here time with the students! She stayed a few days later to work with the art tracks!!!
Thank you YWAM Sarasota for inviting us to come. It was a blast. keep fightinf for this base, God clearly is up to something crazy there. You're all dynamite! I mean, you have Ruth Elke on your team, how could you not be dynamite?
And Josh… Thanks for continuing to ask. You won again Josh Elke… you always do…goulet!
Here are a few more fun pics from our time there. Thanks Thomas for tagging along and making the trip a lot more fun. And for Ruth for championing those students! NAILED IT!