Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Update: End of 2nd Term

Hey everyone, it’s been a while since my last update, so sorry for that!

Spring has sprung!

This term has been a whirlwind of work and growth. In my last update, I mentioned we had begun studying the Old Testament. Now, we’ve studied: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. So many books! I will try to give some highlights:

- The Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) is the ‘core’ of the Old Testament, upon which many Jews base their beliefs. (PS. I learned that “Jews” are descended from the tribe of Judah, whereas the term “Israelites” are representative of all the 12 tribes of Israel. So, in light of that, in the Old Testament it would be correct to address the people involved as Israelites if they are the descendants of Israel, or Jacob as he was formerly known, and in the New Testament, you would call them Jews because all the other tribes besides Judah’s had essentially been wiped out and scattered amongst the nations).

- Leviticus Week was both challenging and eye-opening. Anyone who has opened Leviticus knows that it’s not an easy read! Essentially Leviticus is a collection of the Levitical laws that the Levites and the Israelites had to keep so that they could have close relationship with God. I think I really gained a better understanding for why the Israelites had so many laws. When humans were originally created by God, they were pure, sinless, blameless. However, when sin was introduced to the world, the worst outcome from that was the separation between humans and God. This was what Leviticus was all about; providing a way that God and humans could begin to come together in relationship again. One way we tried to understand this was to try living by Levitical Law the whole week. It was more challenging for the women than the men, but still a challenge! We wore signs all week saying whether we were clean or unclean that day, and had to follow through with the purification ritual dependant on what caused us to be unclean (ie. if I touched a certain unclean object, I might just need to shower and be ‘unclean’ until evening, however other things required sacrifice, so people who needed to ‘sacrifice’ something had to give up something of significant value for the time).

- Throughout the journey through the Old Testament, it’s actually been quite frustrating and humbling at times just how faithful God was to His chosen people. He gave them so many chances, opportunity after opportunity. He was faithful and He was gracious. His people rejected Him over and over again, but when they did turn back to Him, He had open arms for them, ready to receive His children back home.

- The book of Judges is both easy and hard to read. It’s very difficult to see how quickly things can spin out of control when God isn’t a part of people’s lives!

- I really loved reading Samuel and Kings because they are like the “Acts” of the Old Testament! What I mean by this is that in the New Testament, the book of Acts covers about a 30 year period after Christ’s death and resurrection, and many of the letters of the New Testament can be aligned with events in the book of Acts. So is the book of Kings. Many of the Prophets (which we will be studying this next term) can be found, or can be matched with events found in the book. It’s really cool to see how things come together like this! Our assignment for the week was to make a timeline with all the different people and events that occurred, not only explicitly stated, but also important events that happened during the time. It was quite the extensive timeline, but I enjoyed seeing how people overlapped and how things fit together. We had to map out the Pharaohs of Egypt, the kings of Assyria, Aram (Syria), and Babylon. We also mapped out the kings of Israel and Judah, as well as all the prophets (those who wrote books, but also those mentioned in the narrative that didn’t have books written). We also made note of important wars, collapses of nations, etc. At the end of the week, we celebrated with a king's banquet, where we all had to dress up as a character from the book of Kings, and act as if we were such a person.

Our speaker (and school leader) used a massive map to help illustrate where different people groups were during the reign of the kings - it really helped us to understand how different groups grew or shrank, and how they moved about.

Kings buffet!

- One last book I want to make note of is Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon, depending on the translation) - I really enjoyed the teaching of the book, and finally have a better understanding of how God designed a marital relationship between a man and a woman. The New Testament speaks to the culture of the time, and there are many (wrong) interpretations to the text. Genesis also touches on the relationship between a man and a woman, but it wasn’t wholly clear until we studied Song of Songs!

A frosty morning at The Kings Lodge

Not only has it been a term of studying, I was able to travel a bit too! Myself, 3 others from my program, and 1 guy from the DTS (Discipleship Training School) rented a car and travelled to Wales for our long weekend. It was a blast exploring the Welsh “mountains” and castles, as well as just spending time with each other!

Some of us had a testimony-sharing time to get to know each other better!

The weather warmed up quite a bit so we could do homework outside!

I had the opportunity to help lead worship at a British Sign Language Church I’ve been attending in Birmingham! (

One week, our small group went to the zoo, as they have a cafe where you don’t have to pay to enter the zoo proper, but you can still see snow leopards through the glass! Anyone knowing me growing up knows I had a great fascination for all animals, and that still holds true to a certain extent these days haha

I also got the chance to visit a good friend of mine in Germany, and to meet his fiance! It was a crazy trip; with a 65 km bike ride in Germany and France, driving through the Swiss Alps to Italy for 1 night (then back the next day), as well as meeting up with some friends that just finished their DTS at The Kings Lodge a few weeks ago! Crazy, but I had an amazing time! (Not to mention, but the food was superb as well: German sausages, pretzels and Black Forest Cake in Germany, Swiss chocolates and Swiss Cheese fondue from Switzerland, Crepes in France, and loads of Italian pastas, pizzas, bread, and other baked goods in Italy). It’s a good thing I don’t live in those regions of Europe!

We cycled along the River Rhine one day

At the Milan Cathedral

Driving through the Swiss Alps

In Luzerne, Switzerland with my friend and his fiance

Met up with some YWAM friends and explored Freiburg and the nearby mountains!

Prayer Requests:
- Some of my classmates still need funds for next term, please pray that God provides all they need! He has already provided so much that everyone was able to complete this past term!
- Continual renewed excitement and vigor to study each book, it can feel like the same thing, and I don’t want it to turn into that! Each book holds so many new things!

Thank you for reading, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Update: Endings & Beginnings

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to send you all an update of where I’m at!

I had a fantastic (albeit short) 11 days at home over the Christmas break catching up with family and some friends. I arrived back on the 2nd of the month, and on the 3rd, we jumped right into the swing of things!

The English Countryside on a rare sunny day

We finished off the New Testament by studying 1-3 John, the Gospel of John and Hebrews (we haven’t studied Revelation yet, that will be at the very end of the school in June). Our speaker for John was incredibly challenging; he did his SBS (School of Biblical Studies) a few years ago and is now a youth pastor in the States. He challenged me on a lot of areas in my life, but one of the most important was my attitude to the work I have here. I had started to slip into a ‘university mindset’, working with the intent of getting good grades based on who the grader was. I hadn’t been letting God’s Word examine me and point out the areas of my life where i needed to grow or recheck myself. This was really a humbling moment for me. Since then I have been putting much more of myself into my studies to really understand more of the book, who it was written to, etc.

We knew it was going to be a good week when we walked into the classroom to see that the speaker for John had written this on the board.

Then on the 18th, we had our Oral Exam for the New Testament. That was intense! We needed to memorize a key verse from each of the 26 books we studied, as well as the main idea of the book, the major reason it was written, when it was written, who it was written by, who it was written to, where it was written from, some key background information, and the overall structure of the book. That was hard!

But… we’re done the New Testament now! (Mostly)

And onto the Old Testament.

This past week has been focused on an introduction to the Old Testament, as well as studying Genesis. Genesis has always been my favourite book of the Bible, and it has been quite the ride studying it this week! I grew up in a Christian culture where most people tended to believe that the Genesis creation account was literal and there was no deviation from that. However, I have learned that there are 5 different approaches Christians take when they try to explain our origins. Interesting stuff. I gained a better understanding of the people and the patriarchs of the book. One thing I think really changed in how I read Genesis was that I tended to read my modern 21st culture self into the book. But when you actually take a look at Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s family, God hasn’t given them any ‘rules’ or ordinances for how to govern themselves. Abraham was given the promise that his offspring would inherit the land of Canaan, and this promise was reaffirmed in various ways throughout the generations up until Joseph. God hasn’t told them to worship him alone. God hasn’t given them guidelines for how they should live. God just gave them an unconditional promise. There was no “I’ll do this if you do that”. Which explains a lot of their behaviours. We often think of Abraham bearing Sarah a son through Sarah’s servant Hagar as a ‘fault’ on Abraham’s part; but God only promised that Abraham’s offspring would inherit the land, not that it would be through Sarah (yet). This was a very common ancient cultural practice, Sarah ‘bore a son’ through Hagar, and for 13 years, God didn’t say anything! Only after 13 years did he reaffirm his promise and tell Abraham that the promise would be carried on through Sarah. This was probably to show the incredible power of who God was, as Sarah was barren. People in their culture saw barrenness as a ‘curse’ of the divine, but for her to become pregnant in her old age would have been seen as truly a work of God.

There is so much more I could say about the book, but I think I’ll keep it at this for now!

We didn’t have to do any homework on the weekend after our Oral Exam, so I headed up north to Grimsby to visit a good friend of mine from DTS. It was a fantastic weekend catching up with her and exploring York.

Exploring the York Minster Cathedral in York

Exploring the wall the Vikings built around York when they settled it

My friend and I exploring old Viking buildings

Prayer Requests:
- Continued focus on my studies, it is easy to lose sight of why I’m here and what I’m doing, pray that I would continually be renewed in my excitement to dig into the Bible and learn more about God’s character and nature, and his plan for his people.
- Rest: as always, I am exhausted! Pray that I would be wise in resting and having energy for the school
- Funds for classmates: Some of my classmates still need to pay fees for the school, so please pray that the funds would come in for them! They are awesome people!
- My future: I am naturally a planner, and the back of my mind is nagging me about next steps, which is a bit distracting to what I’m doing now. Please pray that that wouldn’t be something that deters me from what I’m doing now! Also, there is a chance that the Titus Project, which is the outreach school I am planning to do after SBS, will not be running here as I previously thought. Please pray that I can figure out where God wants me to be for that season.

Thanks everyone! Please get in contact with me if you want to learn more!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Update: End of Term 1

Hey everyone,

I realize it’s been 2 months since I have updated my blog, and just wanted to bring you all up to speed to where I am now!

I am currently at my parent’s house, they were very kind to fly me home for the Christmas holidays! And seeing as I won’t be home again until October, it’ll be a good time catching up with family and friends.

The first term of the School of Biblical Studies (SBS) is now over, and has sped by quite quickly! At this point, we are almost done the entire New Testament; in January we’ll be finishing off the brunt of it with 1-3 John, the Gospel of John and Hebrews.

It’s been an interesting journey as I’ve started to gain a better understanding of the challenges the early church faced, and the reasons the epistles (letters in the New Testament) were written. As I read and study these books, it’s been very humbling to recognize the humanity of the early church. I find that in the Western Church, we often ‘glorify’ the people of the Bible and like to think of the early church as the perfect standard we should hold. Not so! The church in Corinth was divided, they still practiced immoral things from their past, they were sexually immoral, they were greedy, and didn’t look out for one another. The entire letter to the Galatians reprimands them from turning away so quickly from the things they had learned and binding themselves to the things of the earth. There were divisions between the rich and the poor, between the Jews and the Gentiles. There were many false teachers moving through the churches, teaching people that they had to be Jewish in order to be a Christian, or teaching other things contrary to what the Old Testament taught (and what Jesus clarified).

At the beginning of December, the base hosted “Winter Wonderland”, which is a Christmas “Open House” that is run yearly, and has many events, such as a Narnia experience, school choirs coming in to sing, multi-ethnic foods, games and crafts for children, amongst many other things. Myself and a group of others performed a signed song in British Sign Language (BSL). That was a unique challenge because my knowledge of BSL was very limited!

Performing the signed song

A few weekends ago, I was able to return back to the base I did my Discipleship Training School (DTS) at, and was able to reconnect with some good friends!

One of the girls from my DTS!

One of the guys from my DTS and one of my staff!

Some of us at the base-wide Christmas dinner

The whole SBS group at our Christmas party

9:30 pm on the last night of the term, some of us were still working hard to finish our assignments!

A nice picnic spot I found on one of my weekend bike rides!

Prayer Points:
- Wellness: I came home with a really bad cold, and would like to be able to enjoy Christmas!
- Finances: A few people in my class still need to raise money for the next 2 terms, pray that all financial requirements are covered!
- Rest: The school is very intense and we are all very drained right now - pray that we would be able to rest and relax, and be fully refreshed upon our return in January!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Update: October

Hey friends, just an update on what I’ve been doing this past month!

This place is very awake at night!

In my last update, I mentioned that we had studied the book of Philemon. Now, we have also studied Ephesians, Mark, Luke and Acts (in that order)! The staff were gradually increasing the amount of work we were required to do for each book as the weeks went by - so for Philemon, Ephesians and Mark, we weren’t officially graded, and we were given chunks of information that we otherwise would have to do. But for Luke, it was all on us to do all the work! Luke also happens to be the longest book in the New Testament!

Up to this point, we’ve been doing one book each week as we have been learning how to do the work we need to do, but now, we’ll be doing multiple books each week based on book length!

So - what am I actually doing?

I mentioned in my last blog post that we do 5 steps:
1. Pray
2. Read
3. Observe
4. Interpret
5. Apply

I’ll expand a bit more on the last 3 steps as that is where the bulk of the work comes in!  After we do an “out-loud” reading of the book, we go over it again and are looking for observations. How we mark our observations is by using a method of colour coding - using a different colour for different things. Some of the things we look for are ‘who’, ‘when’, ‘where’, contrast, correlation, figures of speech, etc.

Excerpt of what my colour-coding looks like for Luke

By colour-coding, we can easily see what’s in the text, and visualize relationships between people, places, things, etc more easily.

After we’ve observed the text, we need to make paragraph titles for every paragraph in the book using only words from that paragraph! We then group the paragraphs into segments (~ the same number as there are chapters, but could be more or less). Segments are groups of paragraphs that are similar in content (for example, in the Gospels it could be while Jesus is in one place). Then, segments are grouped into sections, which are groups of segments with a similar theme. After that, if the book is big enough, we might group sections into divisions, where there is a clear divide between two halves of the book! Each of these groupings gets its own title, and we generate a horizontal chart (as seen below):

After the Horizontal Chart is completed, we have to do Vertical Charts. What these are is that each segment turns into a vertical chart with the paragraphs listed, we put observations into it that we found during the observation stage, then we do builds. A build is an Observation, Interpretation and Wisdom from a certain number of the observations we found in the paragraphs. Depending on how large the segment is, the number of builds we have to do varies. At the end of the Vertical Chart, we have to write a segment summary based on the content of the segment, and the information gleaned from the builds. Below is an example of a Vertical Chart for Luke:

After the Vertical Charts are done, we move into the application phase, where we write both a personal application about the book (how has our worldview been challenged, what did we learn, etc) and and external application (how can the church body improve, etc).

And that’s it! It’s a lot of work, very time-consuming, but worth it all. I’ve been learning so much in this school, and my worldview has been slowly reshaped. We don’t necessarily do all the steps for every book, or we sometimes have different assignments instead. For example, for Acts, we didn’t have to do any Vertical Charts. However, we had to make a timeline for the entire New Testament (~10 BC - 100 AD), and draw maps for Paul’s 3 missionary journeys and his journey to Rome. For the maps, we also had to write a brief summary of his 4 journeys.

This timeline is on the classroom wall, it’s similar to what we had to do, but we needed to add a lot more detail!

This past weekend has been a long weekend for us, 3 days of not having to do homework! A typical week for us has us starting Monday morning, and finishing homework Saturday night. So having 3 days not to do homework was much needed!

Also, our class size has grown from 16 to 20, we had 4 more people from India all receive their visas, and they were all able to arrive without missing too much of the school!

Prayer Requests:
- For sleep and energy! Oftentimes during the week, I’m up until about midnight doing homework, then waking up just after 7 for breakfast. Prayer for more efficient time management is appreciated!
- Health - we’ve had a few of the trainees get sick, so prayers that everyone is well and healthy are also appreciated!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Week 1: I've Arrived!

Hey all,

Its been a week and a bit since my last update, so I thought I’d let you all know that I’ve arrived!

YWAM The King’s Lodge

I arrived on Thursday of last week, and both Thursday and Friday were full of orientation, training and information about the base. There are 16 of us in the SBS (School of Biblical Studies); 6 boys and 10 girls. There is also a Discipleship Training School (DTS) happening at the same time, they have 2 boys and 9 girls; 11 in all.

My SBS comprises of people from India, Samoa, Italy, Northern Ireland, England, the US, Canada, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and South Korea. We also have 7 staff members, and they’re from South Korea, Wales, Ukraine, the US, Canada and Tanzania. Truly an international school!

Our SBS staff team

On Saturday, both the DTS and the SBS went into Stratford-Upon-Avon for the day to explore and get to know each other a bit better. It was neat to see the places where Shakespeare lived and where he is currently buried!

Fun fact: Shakespeare’s body is in the church across the river

Lots of swans in Stratford!

We have spent the majority of this past week in the classroom learning the foundations of the school, walking through the book of Philemon together, and practicing what we’ve been learning.

Our classroom

Teaching time!

There are 3 main approaches when we study the Bible:

1. Subjective - Using the Bible’s content devotionally (individually or for others)
2. Deductive - Using the Bible’s content to prove/present an idea/theology
3. Inductive - Uses the Bible’s content to form an idea/theology

Throughout this school, we will be using the Inductive approach to see what the Bible ‘actually says’, but all 3 approaches are valuable in their own way!

The main “method” of inductive approach that we will be taking over the next 9 months has 5 steps:

1. Pray - by praying first, we recognize that we do our part, but that we need God to be present, and to do the rest
2. Read - each book will be read out loud to start, then a total of 5 times as we go through all the steps. We read differently depending on the various genres etc.
3. Observe - this is the stage where we are looking at the text, and trying to see what it actually says. This can be difficult because most of us tend to read and instantly jump to how this applies in our lives.
4. Interpret - we ask the question “what did this mean?” (not “what does this mean?”) We are a very different and removed culture than the people the Bible was originally written to! We need to interpret the text in relation to these ancient cultures, not in relation to our modern-day culture
5. Apply - Once we have gone through all the steps, we can then think about ourselves

I will explain more about what we’re doing in a later post, but for those of you that have made it this far, thanks for reading about what I’m up to!

Prayer Requests:
- There is one more trainee arriving for the SBS this week, their family just had their visas approved. Pray that they would settle in quickly, and be able to catch up on the material they’ve missed
- Rest: It’s very easy for me to stay up late and not get enough sleep. We also have had mounds of information heaped on us this week, which has been quite overwhelming. My class tends to shut down and go to our rooms after classes.
- Peace: my SBS experience has been vastly different than my DTS, and I’m realizing I came with a lot of expectations from DTS that haven’t been met. I thought because I was “going back to YWAM”, that things would be similar, but they aren’t!

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for rebuking, for correction, and for training in righteousness”

2 Timothy 3:16

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Update 4: Congrats and Goodbye

As I’m typing up this update, I am waiting to board my plane at the Toronto Pearson Airport. This has been a rollercoaster of a month!

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that during the summer, I broke a finger, and earlier in September, I had my wisdom teeth out. I’ve been slowly recovering from both over the course of the month. The past few week have been trying for me as I’ve been dealing with roadblock after roadblock! I had to get both of my cochlear implants sent back for repair before I left as they weren’t working too optimally from a summer at camp! I was sent the replacements about a week ago, however, I quickly realized that the replacements weren’t working the way they should be, and I needed replacements for the replacements! Thankfully they came just a few days ago. I also needed to send my FM systems back to the manufacturer to be cleaned and checked (they also weren’t working well this past summer). They bounced around a bit, and finally were delivered yesterday… to London! There was a tight timeline to get them from London to Cookstown, but thankfully they arrived last night! In the end of it all, God worked through these situations to teach patience and to rely on Him for things to work out. (Check out the song “Tremble” by Mosaic MSC - definitely helped me get through this week!)

While there’s been some crazy stuff going on, there’s also been a lot of good too. I was able to go down to London 2 weekends ago and visit with some of my friends from Western and from my church down there! It was great to see them, as I haven’t been back to London since the end of April when I moved out.

Lunch in London with some of my classmates and friends

This past weekend, my Mom organized a “Congrats & Goodbye” party to celebrate the completion of my Master’s, and to see me off for England. It was a great time, and I’m so thankful for all my friends and family that were able to come see me off. I seem to move so often, and haven’t felt “at home” in a long time, so it was great to be reminded of the amazing support group I have behind me as I head off to England.

The aftermath of the party.. Realized I didn’t get pictures with anyone during the party!

Saying goodbye to home for the next few months

On Sunday, I was able to share with my home church a bit of what I’ve been up to and what I’ll be doing with YWAM these upcoming months. My interview was filmed, and is posted on YouTube if you want to watch:

My family is all over the place right now, as my Dad travels a bit for work, and both of my brothers are in university (one is on co-op and is living at home). However, I was able to see them all in the last 24 hours, which was great!

My brothers and I last night - Austin came home for a short time (and to eat my Mom’s “Thanksgiving dinner”!)

Brooke saying goodbye

My parents and I at the airport. My Dad drove out from Kingston to see me off!

Prayer Requests:
- Safety: It’s so weird when people say “Have a safe flight”, it’s not like we have any control over what happens! Thanks Austin for putting that thought in my mind haha. But I would appreciate prayers for safety as I make my journey back to England
- Finances: Thank you so much to everyone who has been helping support me up to this point! I still need to raise about another $2000 to cover the remainder of my fees.
- Rest: Jetlag isn’t fun, and listening is very auditorily fatiguing, prayers for rest and energy to be able to listen, understand and communicate with those around me are also appreciated.