Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in the case of success.

This is the perfect summation of how to describe the Discipleship Training School. Most specifically the part about a safe return being doubtful.

My life is anything but safe now, but that’s also part of the Big Adventure God has for my life.

While on paper the DTS can be described as a 6 month course; 3 months of lectures, followed by 2 months of overseas missions work. It’s much more than this in real life. It’s like the difference between watching The Lord of the Rings and living The Lord of the Rings.

My DTS changed my life because it forced me to stay in the adventure even when the road got dark.

Yes, there were lectures. Lots of them, but they were terrifying and hazardous. They changed the way I saw God.

My eyes were opened to a loving father, a glorious and mind-boggling Lord who was worthy of all my time and attention, and a confidant who wanted to experience everything with me - the good and the bad. I learned how to hear His voice and how to find direction for my life. I stepped out of my comfort zone and performed dances in front of thousands of strangers. I told my life story in front of a room full of prisoners. I helped build an orphanage and I travelled through lands I never dreamed of seeing, experiencing so many different cultures along the way.

In all of it, God wanted to share His adventure in the small and the big areas of my life. This was most evident in the area of finances.

I didn’t have all the funds I needed to take even the lecture part of my DTS, so when I had to then believe in faith that the fees I needed for the overseas bit would come in too, I was worried I’d made a big mistake.

There were many phone calls to my mom where I broke down in tears wondering where the funds were going to come from. We would pray and together believe in faith that God would be my provider. I knew my faith was going through a testing season. It was learning to grow, but never before did I realise how painful growth can be, especially when the doubts began… Did I believe that God really was faithful? Even when I couldn’t afford a cup of coffee from Starbucks. Did I really believe He was working out a plan to see my needs met?

Was it really safe to trust him?

That’s when I was reminded of The Chronicles of Narnia. Specifically, the scene where the Pevensie children are hearing about Aslan for the first time from Mr. and Mrs. Beaver:

“Is he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man!” said Mr Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is King of the wood and the son of the great emperor-beyond-the-sea. Don’t you know who is the King of the Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the Great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver, “Don’t you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

I’ve always been a great fan of C.S. Lewis and his Narnia, so when I read this it filled me with a renewed sense of hope. It bolstered my faith, because it reminded me I was on a grand adventure in trusting God.

God, who was most certainly not safe, but most definitely good.

As the date of departure drew closer, I filled my mind with stories from the Bible and ones I’d heard growing up of God’s faithfulness. I also looked for it in my own life and began to think of all the times God provided for me as a kid.

The more I focused on these things, the more I was filled with peace and a surety that God WOULD provide for me.

And then, miracle of miracles! Not only did I get all the funds I needed for my DTS and the overseas part, but many others gave me money to spend on trinkets to take home too, so that I’d have something more to remember the journey. God provided for me in the big and the small.

That was almost fifteen years ago and I’m still living proof of this faithfulness. I’ve taken over ten courses with YWAM, I’ve lived all over the world and am now leading the School of Acting for the Screen.

Most of my adult life I’ve lived as a full-time volunteer with YWAM. So to be able say, “I am debt free.” is an incredible testament to the faithfulness of God.

Yes, there have been times of doubt and worry because this kind of life is not safe.

But!

Far out, it’s soooooo good.

-Charis Jackson

 

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