We just returned from a weekend retreat, leadership conference for Youth With a Mission for of all Eastern Europe. We were invited to attend as volunteers for YWAM. Held in a beautiful setting in the woods, the facility had plenty of room for the 200 plus participants. Typical camp food served in large quantity was provided three times daily. The beds were really hard, but I’m getting used to this at the camps. The building which housed us was very large and we had our own bathroom. That was a treat.

But fellowship, worship, and encouragement were the highlights of the weekend. In my last posting, I admitted my vulnerability. I had thought of removing the post, yet it is part and parcel of who I am and where I am at in my walk with God. I believe this weekend was a gift from a loving Father who wanted to encourage not only us but the many young leaders who have been serving for a long time throughout the former Soviet Union. There were many young families, single adults and several people our age and even older. Armenia, Moldova, Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, and Belarus were well represented. These leaders had sacrificed their time and resources to attend. (I believe these conferences are held every two years.) The leaders from Perm, Russia traveled by train for 38 hours to attend. There were others from Siberia. One of the base leaders had sold his car in order to come. I’m sure there were many other stories of sacrifice that I did not hear.

What touched my heart was the dedication of these young people, dedication to their work of spreading the gospel to unreached people. Mega-talented individuals and teams led worship, presented their ministries, played and prayed at the meetings. And so many of them, if not all, showed signs of discouragement and stress from the many challenges they face daily. (One young lady talked to me about the frustrations of trying to start a ministry and how she saw her dream disappearing.) These issues were very real and were addressed by Kelly H. and the older YWAM leaders, Jerry and Al, who were present.

The different ministries and approaches to them were amazing to see. (The young man in the picture is a rapper from Belarus and he is always smiling. I don’t understand Russian but it was very cool to hear him doing rap and hearing the name of Jesus throughout it.) The stories of lives touched and changed, the pictures of those helped and encouraged, and the shared visions of future work were beautiful. It was a time to network and see where we could help. There were invitations for us to visit many different bases. It was fun.

God gave us so much encouragement through Jerry P. who took time to talk to us and pray for us. Also, his message on Sunday morning was a big highlight in the weekend. My friend, Tanya, told me that she could not stop crying as she listened to it. I saw many others who were affected the same way. Jerry’s message essentially was one of encouragement. He talked about different stages that our faith goes through and he encouraged us not to let the enemy rob us of our faith. He prayed that each person present would be blessed and that the Father would restore to them what the enemy had stolen from them—faith, joy, truth, etc.. (The picture is of Jerry.)

These are the best of times. These are the times when we can see God at work and know with a certainly that He is in control, that He loves us and that He has called us to be here. I am willing to say, “Yes, Lord” and to keep saying, “Yes”—even through the times of vulnerability and when I can’t see what is ahead.