The jump going to Kona was largely pushed out of pain. In large I was going through an unexpected life transition and I was desperately looking for something to cling onto. YWAM Kona was a promise I made to the Lord a few years ago that I thought I would never get to fulfill. But, when I was thrown into the depths of grief and confusion, I landed on the Homepage of YWAM Kona's website.
Looking back now, I know none of it was an accident. It was as if I had carved out this rocky and unreliable path for myself, only to find myself back on the marbled paths to heaven. And Kona could best be described as my slice of heaven on this Earth.
It was my answered prayer in every way, I woke up to the sounds of ocean, I basked beneath tall palm trees in green grass, I worshiped and prayed without ceasing, I met the most amazing people from all over the world who changed my life forever, and in each moment I touched heaven over and over.
A big part of myself, deep down, felt like I came to Kona a foreigner - someone who was pretending to have lived faithfully for the Lord her whole life and waltzed her way to a discipleship training school because she knew she belonged here. But the truth was I was walking in afraid; afraid of myself, afraid of God’s wrath towards me, and afraid that I was wasting all my time and money to go on a glorified spiritual vacation. But fear lies.
Ministry wasn't a foreign concept but it took me about 2 classes to realize this is nothing like I had ever done before. I quickly took note of all these thoughts, doubts, & constant fears that nothing about this place was real. Why is everyone so excited? Are we all just pretending? Are we all just trying to blend in with the hype? Until it hit me.
The presence of God hit me in ways I didn’t know were even possible. I would lean in and find the same loving and tender peace that could only be experienced to truly understand. I had felt it maybe once or twice before, and for this reason I knew the Holy Spirit was real, but now there were real transformations happening in my heart. His undeniable presence was the birth of radical transformation.
Encountering God’s love first happened during Father Heart Week. I realized I had a false idea about who God was. I feared his wrath for me because I thought He constantly thought I was doing something wrong. I thought He only wanted to talk to me to correct me and if I was doing everything right it was only then that He would enjoy my presence. I was under this huge weight of feeling the need to “prove” myself to God - to prove I was a good daughter. But the truth is I am a terrible daughter and the
bigger truth is He still loves me! That’s crazy. In this ministry time, I just remember His chest and His arms around me, it was like a hug from my own dad but I knew it was my Heavenly Father. I felt protected and safe after experiencing this and it allowed me to open up all the wounds I still hadn’t given to Him. These wounds were what took me on the journey of exploring His promises over my life.
The Pain of my Past
We all have pain. We all have a past. Nothing about my past is extremely significant but it was the building blocks for who I am. And I quickly learned the devil only needs the smallest of opportunities to gain access to our minds to begin to lie to us about who we are and who God is.
For the most part I considered myself a healthy person. I had struggled the most mentally in high school and anxiety was a familiar battle I engaged in on and off. But I always knew I was loved by my parents which gave me a deep sense of value over my life and identity. However, those would never be able to mask the deep underlying roots of pain I had deep within me. Because of past experiences, I was deeply scarred by a root of rejection. I had this deep desire to belong somewhere and to be accepted. I became a textbook people pleaser and used success and achievement as a way to prove my value.
The real tragedy came when I figured out it was a lot easier, and maybe even a bit more fun, to use my body to feel wanted and desired. In the end that’s what all of us want, but especially women. We women want to know that someone sees us, desires us, and would be willing to put themselves out there in pursuit of us. It is from God that we desire the pursuit of man’s heart, because he too is jealous for our attention. But this led me down a dark path of confusing the pursuit of love with the pursuit of lust.
I knew what it was like to be lusted after and it quickly became the bandaid over the unloved parts of myself. However, I saw the real destruction of this in my first relationship. When the love of my partner felt like it was falling away, I turned to lust instead. It was what I knew how to do but it left both of us broken and battered, and further from The True Love that our hearts needed.
When that ended I told myself I would never turn to meaningless sex, at least with my ex it mattered and it was sacred. But out of anger, spite and lots of traumatic, painful, rejection, meaningless sex became the fleeting solution to my bleeding heart. This was the stuff I knew I would have to answer for, the things I knew were wrong but continued with anyway, the sin that God called me out of over and over that I couldn't, no, wouldn't stop running to.
The Effect on my Identity
It helped to know the source but I still needed to earnestly repent. Repentance is something I think the church takes for granted. It sounds like some religious punishment but it’s a gift given to us to set our hearts free. Repentance changed my life.
I first started by telling trusted leaders and friends but I still needed to really come before God and have my heart changed. One day in the tent, we are calling on the Holy Spirit to enter us, to convict us and impart spiritual gifts. It was on this day that I felt the Holy Spirit enter me and for the first time I felt this OVERWHELMING sense of power, my hands started to tremble and I began to weep, nearly wailing. This followed a DEEP sense of regret, sorrow and anger.
I was feeling what it truly meant to have repentance. I fell to my knees, begging God to forgive me. I understood now my purpose and the authority I have in the spirit realm and I was full of righteous anger at the things my hands had done when they were designed for healing, nurturing, and building other people up. I’m not sure if everyone experiences repentance this way but it marked me.
The new Identity God Gave Me
I began to experience more encounters and counseling sessions that contributed to my healing. I learned to let go of my past and allow God to free me from the chains that were still holding me back. But I needed to replace it with a new identity. I traded my past for purity. I knew I was being washed clean, purified and getting ready for something. But I knew this purity wasn’t just for me. I knew that there was a reason for all of this. It was like I was being washed in the rivers of His glory and as I’m watching myself, He tilted my head towards the path before me.
The Gift For Colombia
Women’s ministry had completely wrecked my heart like no other. I didn't expect it to mark me the way it did, I only did it because it was the closest thing to kids ministry. But my heart began to move for women and especially mothers. The women are the backbone of my family, each of them with their own tales of heartbreak, of pain, of grief, and yet all with an undeniable grace that can warm the hearts of anyone who meets them. That is what true femininity is.
One day we learned about the women of Somalia, who were being genitally mutilated, raped, and impregnated by various men and forced to give birth under the most horrific conditions imaginable. My heart broke into a thousand pieces that day. It became my mission to become equipped to go somewhere like that one day, to speak to the girls, to whisper words of love and adoration from their Creator, to fight for them with the righteous anger of a God who loves justice. All of this was stirring inside me when I met Sara from Cartagena...
I already knew I was going to Colombia at this point and I was eager to meet the couple that ran the Cartagena base. After pacing around the crowded space I shared with them, I finally got the nerve to approach the couple before they started to head toward the exit. His wife spoke very little until she asked if she could pray for me since they knew I was going to their country. She ended the prayer with a prophetic image. She said I was holding in my hands a white flower and she saw the petals were opening up to the world around me and as the petals opened, it revealed a gift inside - my gift, from God, to Colombia. I wanted to weep.
Since about 2019, white flowers have been the thing God would show me to remind me He was with me; He was close and He cherished me. His gift to me. White flowers were pure, untouched and seemed to reflect the glory of God. This is what I wanted to give to Colombia. And I did. Wherever we went I would always seem to find a woman, at times a little girl, and they would open up to me and I to them, I would pray with them, I would speak identity over them, and I would watched them get physical and emotional healing. But the even greater blessing seemed to be the fact that I could grieve with them.
At times I would cry with them because I too knew the pain of rejection, or the grief of heartbreak, or the sadness of loneliness. It was as if everything I experienced had these women in mind. Because as these women were having their hearts healed, I too was receiving healing in my heart. Under the shared space of the presence of the Holy Spirit, we healed each other.
That is the legacy of a God who uses all things for good. There is nothing evil can torment me with, because I count all my suffering as light and temporary for it is producing for us an eternal glory that is greater than anything I can imagine. (2 Corinthians 4:17) All the pain, all the suffering, I would do it 1000 times over just to be part of that eternal glory again and again. Here, the promise is birthed. The promise of the gospel, that though we were once sinners and deserved death, there lives a God who saved us so that we may have everlasting life. His suffering birthed the promise, just as ours can. What a blessing.