Holiday Club begins

So one part of Living Hope’s ministry is to do “holiday club” while the kids are out of school. We start tomorrow! I would appreciate specific prayers for this week. Prayer for health, energy and safety for me and our team. Prayer for good communication. Prayer for good weather since we will be outside for the most part. Pray that tons of kids and teenagers show up. Pray that the community sees, hear and understands what we are doing and saying. Our theme this week is Agency D3. Discover, Decide and Defend. Our bible verse this week is 1 Peter 3:15 …”In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have…” If you are like me then that verse may mess with you some. It messes with me because as I have prepared for this week I have come to realize that I haven’t had that question asked to me that much at all. And then the question is, why is that? This is a question I am wrestling with and it’s not because I don’t know the answer. I know the answer. For the majority of my life I have been around people who know me and know the Lord. Why would they ask me about the hope I have in Christ when they share the same hope? Jesus said to “Go”. In short, He said go to others. There are “others” in all of our lives. Others at the store, others next door, others at church, others at work, others at school… Other people other than the people you know. They are the ones who will probably ask you to give a reason for the hope you have.

I have my answers to that question. I just need someone to ask me. I’m pretty sure the question will be asked to me. I have a lot of “others” around me now.

The Lord will provide

Quick update…

Here are some words of wisdom or most would say common sense for those moving on the other side of the world. Don’t wait until 2 days before to begin packing. I was eating these words 5 days ago. Then this verse came to mind when Jesus sent out the twelve disciples. Jesus said…“Take nothing for the journey except a staff-no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic.”

Jesus was reminding me that I just need to continue following Him. Don’t sweat the small stuff. This gave me peace. I praise God for His word. This allowed me to be in the moment and share a special time with my family and friends. I had thought I was over the saying goodbye part. Not true! Again, another reminder of how blessed I am to have a loving family and friends who truly love me unconditionally. It was hard saying goodbye but praise God for technology as I have been able to talk to them already!

Now, back to that scripture reference. I think Jesus was just saying… Follow me and I’ll do the rest. Go and see what happens. Take a leap of faith and watch what I do. I will provide. Well, I am and His word has been true so far. Go figure! I had the easiest flight I have ever had. I arrived at my place with the coolest landlords ever. They even turned on the Ryder Cup for me! Woke up and got my cell phone switched over. To date, this is the first time in my entire life I have done something with technology and it actually worked. Since being picked up from the airport I have been embraced with some of the awesome community from Living Hope I will be doing life with. They have already made this transition seem easy (knock on wood). To top it off, I was able to rent a car today. I drove on the other side of the car and road and didn’t wreck (knocked on wood again).

This morning I went to King of Kings Baptist Church. This is Pastor John Thomas’ church who is the founder of Living Hope. Was amazing to see all of this come full circle. Please check out my first blog to understand and stand amazed yourself. http://ddsouthafrica.com/2014/03/19/my-journey/

How good it is to be right where God wants you to be. I am looking forward to getting oriented this week and meet up with the people I will be serving alongside at Living Hope. I appreciate everyone’s prayers and ask to please continue praying. They are not only being heard by God but they are also being felt by me. Yes, the Holy Spirit is that powerful.

Please feel free to send me an email if you have any questions thus far or if you’re curious about anything. Or just to say what’s up. I love hearing from folks. Dustin.denning@gmail.com

I should have much more to say the next few weeks once the jet lag goes away and I get settled in. And I’ll share some pics soon! Stay tuned…

God seën jou!

Training Update

For the last few weeks I have been attempting to update my blog. Honestly, I have had so much to say it has been overwhelming trying try to figure out what to say and how to say it. Today I received some letters from my Sunday School class. Madison asked me to respond on my website…madison

Yes Ma’am Madison I will respond! I miss these kids already. Hoping to Skype in with them soon.

I guess I’ll start by giving you a brief description of what a day may look like here at the farm (International Learning Center). I’ll use today as an example. Got up for some quiet time. Made it to breakfast at 7:00am. Went to large group to discuss Acts 9 (fyi probably one of my favorite passages- I’ll explain later). From 9:00 to noon we had a session on language and culture (it was awesome and learned a lot). Broke for lunch and then wrapped up session on language and culture. Then met with my small group and some others from my Sub-Saharan Affinity group to strategize on our upcoming Washington D.C. trip. Then played some bball followed by dinner followed by my first ever 18 holes of frisbee golf. Shot +7. My goal is even par before I leave training. It only took about 45 mins to play 18 holes (I hope my golf buddy’s wives don’t get any ideas from this).

That is a very brief description. I think I could write a book on everything else in between we are doing and everything I am learning. My brain is on overload and haven’t read this much in my entire life. All good stuff though! My favorite session was one on prayer last week. Made me look at prayer in a whole new way. Blew my mind! Also learning a lot about God’s word I never knew before which is really cool and interesting.

Back to Acts 9… About a month before my calling last year I volunteered at Set Free Church doing VBS. I did a monologue on first part of Acts 9…Paul’s conversion on road to Damascus. A month later with this fresh on my mind, I’m pretty sure this is why I asked God for him to be crystal clear on me moving to Africa. “As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him” Acts 9:3

calling

Most have seen this pic I was able to take the night of my calling when I asked God for a sign. My own lightning storm. Like Paul, I saw and heard Jesus loud and clear! Hard to believe this was almost a year ago. Since that night I have battled with staying in that surrendered mindset. Though I told God… “yes, I will surrender and go” it hasn’t been easy. I think it’s all the unknowns. How long is this going to be? What exactly am I going to be doing there? Where am I going to live? What happens when I am done? What is this 2 month training deal on a farm in Virginia?

Then it hit me again this morning meditating on this passage. Jesus told Paul “…Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”  He didn’t tell Paul what he was going to be doing and how everything was going to work. He just commanded him to go! And he went. Blinded by the way. I’m finally at training and feel like it’s one step closer to me being ready. I’ll never forget a quote I heard my first mission trip to SA five years ago. “It’s like jumping stones in a river. You don’t really know your next stone until you jump and then there’s always another stone there” I loved that visual of living in the present and totally dependent on God showing me my next jump!

So for the next 6 weeks I will be soaking up all that God wants me to be learning. I’m doing this with some incredible people. Out of about 40 quads here at the farm, we by far have the best “family”. Two really cool couples, 2 baby boys and one 2-year-old girl who is hysterical and 2 other single guys. We are all going to different parts of Sub-Saharan Africa (yeah, I don’t really know what that consists of either). There is about 200 of us here. We are all learning from each other. Praying for each other. Eating with each other. Laughing with each other. Reading God’s word with each other. Worshiping with each other. We are all from different backgrounds but we all have one thing in common.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possession and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” Acts 2: 42-47

 

Is life a wash?

I’ve been known to jokingly use the phrase “Life’s a wash”. When I give a dollar, it will come back to me somehow. “Life’s a wash”. When something bad happens, something good follows “Life’s a wash”. When I birdie a hole, a bogey surely will follow. “Life’s a wash”! Well… all jokes aside I can’t say this is the case in my life. We are never close to “even” when we live in Christ. I am so thankful for the support and encouragement I have received. For those who have heard me share anything about this journey, you have probably heard me talk about community. As I have reflected back on my life it is so cool to see how people have impacted me and made huge influence on my life. If you are reading this blog I can assure you that you have made influence on my life and therefore are a part of this journey. Words cannot express how thankful I am to everyone who has already supported my calling. I do want to share something that happened a few weeks ago and recognize my fraternity brothers. Unbeknownst to me, an email from a buddy went out to all of my fraternity brothers explaining my recent calling. Within a week’s time my fraternity brothers donated half of my budget goal! Of course the financial security is a blessing. However, it is even more assuring knowing my boys are confirming this calling. That’s what true community is all about. Brothers seeing Christ working in each other’s life, confirming and encouraging and giving each other the confidence to follow Christ and surrender. Life will never be a wash when you have true community with Christ and others. You will always have more than you deserve. More encouragement, more blessings, more grace, more confirmation, more confidence, more joy, more peace, more love, etc…

Though I have no clue exactly how God will use me in South Africa, I hope and pray I can instill in these children the importance of true community. If these young men and women can experience community amongst themselves in Christ then life will not be a wash for them either. They too can experience a life of never ending grace and blessings.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father,from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21

In hoc signo vinces

My Journey

Well, this is a first. I am blogging. Bare with me! As you have probably heard, I’m leaving Nashville for a bit. Here’s my first attempt to inform you about what’s going on…

Looking back on my walk with Christ the last 8 years has been amazing. To see how God has put the pieces together for His plan for me is a modern day miracle. Five years ago I was in worship service at Brentwood Baptist Church. Some South African man named John Thomas was preaching. He was the founder of an organization in South Africa called Living Hope which I had never heard of. In his closing remarks he challenged us to do something in service to advance God’s Kingdom. The next week I started teaching in the Children’s ministry. I found a passion that had been in me my entire life working with children. During this time, me and some college buddies were in bible study together. I had talked with them about wanting to do something “bigger” relating to service. Amy Carter (Brentwood’s Children Minister) came to me one Sunday morning to say God had laid it on her heart to ask me to go on VBS mission journey to South Africa. I politely blew her off! I shared this with my buddies in bible study that week. To my surprise, they were quick to remind me of my desire to do something more and this invitation didn’t sound coincidental. I emailed Amy that night to say I was in. Since then I have been on five short term mission journeys to South Africa ministering in the same township. I have developed a passion for these children and the work that Living Hope is doing. In August of 2013, God called me to go serve long-term in South Africa. This calling was everything short of an audible voice and would love to share this with you if you’re interested. A blog wouldn’t give it justice! This was the first time in my life I understood what surrendering to the Lord felt like. The peace of being obedient to God’s call is refreshing and gives me confidence and hope. I am so thankful for the clarity I received that night. Unfortunately, God had to be that clear for me to be obedient because this decision has lead to sacrifice. The peace and joy of knowing God is control is making this a lot easier. I am so fired up and excited about what God has planned. I will move to South Africa in September to volunteer as a Life Skill Educator for Living Hope. I’ll be working with kids and teenagers. I’m looking forward to building on relationships already made and starting many more. What’s my mission? Simply put, allow God to communicate and work through me to give kids and teenagers the hope they can have through Jesus Christ. Stay tuned, more to come!