2013 LV/SF – Diana S

The Kingdom Advances Through Relationships

“Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.” – Hosea 10:12 (NKJV)

Las Vegas
Las Vegas is known to be a dry, barren place. Our team knew we would be breaking up the fallow ground while we ministered at Full Gospel Las Vegas (FGLV). Right after we landed in LV, we met some of the church leaders. These leaders are mostly college students and young adults who attend the English ministry and serve the youth group. The leader of the youth group is a brother, Sunny, who used to attend New Philly Hillside for a bit. He really grew to love New Philly’s ministry and asked Pastors Christian and Erin to come to FGLV to minister.

As soon as our team landed, we met up with the leaders of FGLV. They were so hungry to hear our testimonies, learn about how New Philly operates, and just spend time with us. Pastor Sunny and I arranged many times for the team to meet with the leaders of FGLV. What I thought would be just a time of ministry really turned out to be a mutual edification. We shared stories, prayed for each other, and spoke into each other’s lives. I believe the relationships that formed during these times really opened hearts to receive more of what God had to offer during the revival services. We got to see physical healing as well as spiritual healing. The services were for both the youth and young adults. Every person was getting ministered to. It was so encouraging to see the Lord fill these hungry hearts. I believe God is starting to set structure in this ministry. He is setting up strong leaders as pillars who are not intimidated by the youth, but instead are walking strong in their identity as sons. I think the leaders were able to see that the fire, love, and wisdom that our New Philly team members carry are traits that they can possess as well. No matter the age, the Lord is able to use those who are willing.

On Sunday, after the young adult service and youth service, four of the New Philly team members (including myself) had to present seminars. My seminar was on forgiveness. After the teaching, I had some New Philly leaders meet with small groups of youth students to have a time of healing and deliverance. It was so powerful! The Lord was releasing freedom and empowerment on a whole other level for His children! After all our services, the team continued to spend more and more time with many of the FGLV leaders and members. We ate tons of amazing food, walked the Las Vegas strip to see the Bellagio water fountains, and basically spent a lot of quality time together. Through these relationships, we were able to see fallow ground broken up and living water flow through hearts. As a physical sign, we even witnessed rain pouring out during our services causing floods in the city. This is very interesting fact, as it rarely rains in Vegas. Not only was it pouring outside, but the sanctuary was flooding as well! There was a huge leak in the ceiling. Praise God for watering the physical land and the hearts of His people!

San Francisco
In San Francisco, the New Philly team got to meet up with Living Hope Christian Center, a church led by Pastors Benjamin and Sunhee. When we arrived in SF, we met up with the leaders for dinner. It was a good time because many Living Hope and New Philly members have met on multiple occasions. For the first few days our team went to the church to help clean, paint, and fix up a few rooms. We also started to prepare for the Rite of Passage young adult’s retreat. The focus of the retreat was to talk about the five stages of maturity that each person should go through- infancy, childhood, adult, parent, and elder stages. Pastor Sunhee’s vision was to see people become established in the adult stage in every part of their life.

After the retreat preparations, we participated in Thursday Thunder, which is a weekly prayer meeting similar to New Philly’s Friday Fire. The praise team keyboardist was randomly not able to attend so I was asked to play the keyboard during worship. I was a bit nervous, no, actually VERY nervous because I had not played the piano for about 1.5 years. As I practiced with the team (for the 15 minutes we had) I just prayed and prayed that the Lord would take over my fingers and play. Surprisingly, I was able to do a decent job. Even though I was not Mozart on the piano, this experience helped me to meet the brothers on the worship team and to start opening up towards members of the Living Hope family. Thursday Thunder itself was also a powerful time of ministry. Pastor Christian spoke about fourth generation blessings, and the team then had time to pray for the members of Living Hope.

The next day we all left for the retreat center. I got to ride in a car with an older gentleman and his son. Hearing their stories of how God was working in their lives brought tears and so much encouragement. The people in our van ride quickly became like a family. We were each able to share, encourage, and love each other without holding back. This was just a sign of things to come.

On the first night of the Rite of Passage Retreat, Pastor Christian spoke about the fire of God and had a time of altar call ministry. Afterwards I had the opportunity to meet my retreat small group, which had 13 members including myself. I was really nervous after the first night we met together. The group was so big and many of the people who attended the retreat were not Living Hope members. There were other ministries represented from all over California. Our first meeting mostly consisted of me asking questions and no one responding at all. If there was a response, it was just a one-word reply.

However, the next day was a huge change. Pastor Erin preached a great word about community and being committed. I got to play with the worship team once again. And our small group meeting was amazing. People started sharing about how they really felt and asked questions. Because everyone was sharing, we even went into part of our designated lunchtime. I only had about 15 minutes before I had to meet the New Philly team for a meeting so I had one of my small group girls bring me lunch. During this time, one of the guys in my group was hanging around for a bit. I asked him what was up and then he started sharing everything about his life. I could see he was really wanting the Lord, but was holding onto past guilt and shame. We were able to having an inner healing session and I saw his countenance completely change.

Over the course of the retreat everyone in my small group started to come together as one and work together. Because there was such unity, we literally dominated in every event. I felt like a proud mamma! Through the times we got to spend together, we were able to build relationships, speak life and encouragement. The Lord really used this retreat to soften hearts. I think this caused people to experience Him in a new way. Saturday night, the last night, Pastor Sunhee had us do a fire tunnel where each person goes through a literal “tunnel” of people, receiving prayer from each side as they pass. In the end, Pastors Benjamin and Sunhee prayed over each person and established them as a mature adult. We got to see people experience crazy manifestations of the Holy Spirit, from crying to laughing to “crunches.” It was so good to see people become established in their identity and see them powerfully encounter God.

Through the relationships built, people were able to open up and be vulnerable. One of my small group members shared how initially it was so hard for him to be transparent. He believed that a person was stronger when they kept their emotions to themselves. However, as everyone at the retreat shared about the importance of community, fellowship, relationships, and letting people in, this man became transformed. And he was not the only one. So many others were also touched by the Holy Spirit, getting breakthrough in their identity and relationships. By the end of this trip, everyone was able to tangibly understand the power of relationships and how it is through relationships that God advances His kingdom. Final Thoughts Overall, this was an amazing ministry trip. This was my first time serving as the team leader. The team really encouraged and blessed me in this role. They constantly would claim that I was the “BTLE”- Best Team Leader Ever. Though this was my ninth missions trip with New Philly, I struggled with believing that I could lead a team well. And indeed there were so many factors that made this trip non-standard, like the fact that Pastors Christian and Erin were on the team, the fact that our ministry schedule was constantly shifting both before and throughout the trip, and having Sons from Afar (those living away from Korea but in covenant with our church). However, it was all so good, and I think it is because of the relationships that were built. Whether we were Seoul team members, Sons from Afar, or local American ministers, it was love that covered over all of us. Thus as God poured out His love, we were able to come together, relate to each other, and minister together in a powerful way.

Prior to the trip, I had the team read through Ephesians. Ephesians 4:2-3 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” I feel like our team was able to supernaturally love one another, which empowered us to minister. And indeed we saw lives transformed, minds renewed, and joy spread throughout the land!

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