This week we had a lecturer from South Africa speaking on the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is awesome, and so are South Africans! In the Old Testament, when someone received the Holy Spirit it was only to do a job (example-to be a prophet, perform miracles, etc.). Not everyone received it in the Old Testament, which makes me grateful I didn’t live in those times (combined with a lotttttt of other reasons). After Jesus died, rose again, and ascended to Heaven, he sent his Holy Spirit to us. It’s critical to remember that the Holy Spirit is a person. A person who is freely given to us as believers. The Holy Spirit enables us to do a lot of things, but basically he allows us to be Jesus to other people. He gives us gifts – gifts which are freely given to anyone who is available, whether they are good or bad. The primary gifts of the Spirit include wisdom, knowledge, prophecy, faith, healing, miracles, discernment of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues (1 Cor 12:8-10). These are separate from the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are only attained through spending time with God and listening to Him. These fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23).
Another critical thing we learned this week is that you cannot be saved without the Holy Spirit working within you. A person cannot believe Jesus is Lord and confess it without the Holy Spirit. So, every believer does have the Spirit within them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the fullness or immersion of the Holy Spirit. There is more. You receive immersion in the Spirit by those who already have it laying hands on you and praying for you. We learn about this from Acts 8:12-17.
I came into this week being absolutely terrified and skeptical. I’ve seen videos of charismatic churches where people are passing out and speaking in tongues, and it makes me cringe. But after learning about what the Holy Spirit does for us and what we can do through him, I get really excited about him. This week I learned more about the gifts I already have, namely wisdom and discernment, but was also able to practice the ones that don’t come as natural to me. Since being on DTS, I’ve really struggled with comparing my gifts with other believers’ gifts. Wisdom and discernment can sometimes feel more intellectual and less spiritual to me (which is a lie), so I find myself comparing to people with gifts such as healing, which is a very in-your-face Holy Spirit party gift. Every single day I have to remind myself that my gifts are God-given and essential to the world, and that they are just as valuable as ones like healing and miracles.
For me, the Holy Spirit is like an untapped spring of God-given gifts. If I’ve had him within me since I became a believer years ago, I haven’t made us of him until now. Our lecturer has taught me how to be more in tune with the Spirit; to ask and hear from him. When I’ve been asked to intercede (pray on behalf of others) or ask God about decisions, I’ve had such a hard time determining if my thoughts were my own or the Spirit speaking God’s thoughts into me. This week was very confirming that many visions, thoughts, and words of knowledge that I’ve given and received are from the Holy Spirit. For example, we practised giving each other prophetic words in groups of 2. I asked the Holy Spirit to give me a word or a vision for my partner, and I immediately envisioned what looked like a butterfly. As I looked closer, it was actually a dragonfly. I told my partner what I saw, and asked whether or not it had any significance to her. She told me her next tattoo was going to be a butterfly, but she had changed her decision to get a dragonfly instead. Pretty weird, huh? This vision didn’t have a super deep meaning behind it or anything, but prophecies are meant to encourage, comfort, or strengthen. In this case, it strengthened her decision to get the dragonfly tattoo.
After this ‘warm up round,’ we were told that we would ask the Holy Spirit if he wants us to give up a possession to someone else during the last day of this week’s lectures. In my quiet time, I timidly asked God what I should give up, and who I should give it to. I received 2 people’s names, but no items. I asked Alix what she heard, and she got 2 items but no names! God loves to work through holy matrimony.
I asked again later, and immediately got a strong feeling to give someone in particular my running shoes as well. I really love my running shoes, and I need them on outreach as well. I wrestled with God until midnight, not wanting to give up this item I so idolized. But how silly is it to wrestle with God, right? He always wins – so the next morning, I gave my shoes away to my classmate Jonathan. Immediately after I gave them, another classmate Gordie called my name and handed me an item out of his backpack. I could hardly breathe when I realized it was his MacBook Pro! God had put it on his mind to give me his laptop a few weeks ago, and he confirmed it again before this giving day. Gordie didn’t know that both Alix and my laptops are totally broken at home, but God did! One day later, all of Gordie’s outreach fees came in within 30 minutes. But there’s even more to this crazy morning of giving. Jonathan was also told to give away a pair of shoes, but he wasn’t sure. He jokingly told God he would give his away if he received a pair, so after I gave him my shoes, he gave me his! It’s unbelievable how the Holy Spirit weaves everyone’s stories seamlessly, but the main point is that you have to be open to hearing him AND following what he tells you to do.
Outreach prep and fundraising update
The full amount of our outreach fees are due next Tuesday, the 22nd! Thanks to all of our family, friends, readers, and supporters, we have already raised enough to pay for our flights, but we still need $2500 by this deadline to cover the rest of the outreach costs. A donation of any amount helps us get closer to our goal, so we are doing a special fundraiser on December 20th: Donate $20 on the 20th, and we will send a handwritten letter from Australia on some awesome donut stationary. Donuts for donations! (While supplies last). If you know anyone who you think might want to support a team going to help the Syrian refugees in Europe, please share our fundraising link with them. https://www.youcaring.com/connor-and-alix-bruson-391046
Our outreach team has been hard at work this week praying, interceding, and planning for the best ways to join in on God’s plan for the people we will encounter. Since our team still needs some funds before we leave, much of this week has focused on fundraising. We put on an extremely successful donut fundraiser (the edible kind), we are selling milkshakes tonight, planning a ‘day at the spa’ for students just before outreach, and we are making a fundraising video so supporters can hear from our voices firsthand what we will be doing, and what their money is supporting. Connor contacted a local bike shop who was willing to give him some basic tools to take on outreach. He wants to tune up peoples’ bikes whenever he can as a way of practically serving people and as a gateway into sharing the Gospel.
Some other happenings this week include a little Australian town’s big Christmas event that a team from our base went to. Some fellow students put on a skit, one of our leaders spoke, and the rest of us were just there to interact with the local crowd. We both ended up finding an older gentleman sitting alone at the back of the crowd. We talked the entire time and learned he was a coal miner his entire life, and, even more shockingly, has fostered over 50 children. Who would have thought! Going to this sort of an event with the mindset to form relationships and listen to people as a way of evangelism (aka ‘encouraging love‘) provides an experience that we’ve never had before. If you’ve read this far, we commend you! The only other awesome part about this week is we are going to watch Star Wars VII! May the Holy Spirit be with you. We hope you all have a blessedly awesome weekend.