“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners.” 
                                                                                                                                                                                                   – Isaiah 51:1

In 2007, I was on the brink of ending my life.

I experienced sexual abuse and I was suffering from depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, and sex addiction. But God called me for a mission. He showed me a vision where I was standing in front of hundreds of young people sharing my testimony of God’s faithfulness and how He took me out of my dire situation. The culmination of this vision happened in 2017 – a decade after my suicide attempt.

It was a year of breakthroughs as I started giving talks in different schools around Metro Manila in the Philippines. It was also the same year that God led me to Worldwide Discipleship Association. After one event, I met Rich Smith, a WDA missionary to the Philippines. We talked about our ministries and he introduced me to Restoring Your Heart. That was when the Lord gave me another vision – reaching the brokenhearted, lost, and captive women in society, not only in the Philippines but around the world. 

Then came 2020: Pandemic Year. After going through Restoring Your Heart lessons, Lee asked me to be part of WDA as their Associate Staff in the Philippines. When I said yes to WDA, I said yes to God’s calling. In February 2020, I became a part of WDA, then in March 2020, the pandemic spread all over the world. At the moment when we thought our ministries would fail, the Lord surfaced above us. WDA Leadership Institute started its online classes and I participated both as a student and a facilitator. The opportunity to lead RYH online brought me delight. At first, people were hesitant since everyone was adjusting to the situation, but eventually, we were able to form groups online and finish Processing Pain and Understanding Emotions during the pandemic.

Currently, I have four groups and three of them are online. Two groups are currently waiting for their leadership training, while the other two are in Understanding Emotions. God appointed me to lead groups for the women leaders of Open Door Baptist Church, the staff of Fresh Hope for Families, WDA women leaders in India, and college students supported by St. Mark Foundation. The Lord turned this pandemic around for me because of these women.

I ended up choosing Understanding Emotions: Lesson 4 – Feeling, Thinking, and Acting. I have a soft spot for this lesson because I can relate so much to it. We all want to process old pain so that we can have better actions. 

While we were going through Lesson 4, one member shared:

“When I was a child, I let my brothers and their friends sexually abuse me even if I didn’t like it. Now that I have a boyfriend, I easily give in to sexual pleasure because my body is seeking it. I know that it’s wrong to have sexual relationships before marriage, but I justify it by saying that at least I am experiencing from someone that I trust and not from someone who is abusing me. I feel loved when I have sexual contact with my boyfriend. I know it’s wrong, I confessed it to God and I’m ready to face the consequences of my actions. Because of this lesson, I now understand where my actions are coming from, and I will do my best to reframe my thoughts and feelings. I want to be fully committed to God and be busy with the ministries in the church so that I won’t be tempted. I might have been abused by my brothers, but I don’t want my behavior pattern to be based on my childhood pains.”

As I recall this recording, I shed tears for these ladies. The Lord knows where my foot is treading, He is leading me to these women – women with the same experiences as mine. The Lord has orchestrated these ladies to be part of the groups that He appointed me. Exactly as He cast in His vision for me, “reaching the brokenhearted, lost and captive women in the society, not only in the Philippines but around the world.” Every time we have RYH, I know that the room (even online) is filled with the Holy Spirit. I cannot speak and encourage without Him. The Lord has reassured these ladies, that no matter how sinful, dirty or unworthy they think they are, the Lord still sees them as His precious daughters. 

Dear reader, as you browse through this RYH Moment, I want you to hear God’s message for you right now. You are who you are for a reason. No matter what pains, losses, or mistakes you have gone through in this life, God has a purpose for you. You may not like what happened to you, but please know that the Lord is with you all the way. Even during times that you feel so far from Him, never once did he leave you nor forsake you. Now, let Him reign in your life. 

 

 

About The Author

Mabuhay! My name is Reign Astorga Bucsit, a Filipina, residing in Bulacan, the Philippines with my daughter and mother. I am a licensed Social Worker, public speaker, and children’s rights advocate. My scope of work is in Metro Manila and provinces in the northern part of the Philippines. 

 

 

 

I graduated from the University of Georgia almost exactly a month ago, and in doing so, I left home for the second time. Growing up in Dalton, GA, I spent the first 18 years of my life in the same house. I never knew any other home than my hometown, but Athens, GA, quickly became not just a second home but my true home. And one of the biggest reasons was Dave Johnson, the lessons he taught me, and the good times spent with him and my fraternity brothers studying God’s word.

My faith has always been an important part of my life, but never more so than now, and I owe much of that renewed commitment to Christ to the Bible study that Dave led at Lambda Chi Alpha. I went to church regularly growing up, but I struggled to find time for faith while at UGA for various reasons, but I always made time and looked forward to those afternoons with Dave on the front porch.

I admire and respect his commitment to his faith and his ability to reach college-aged guys like myself who could think of a million other ways to spend a sunny afternoon rather than reading and talking about the Bible. The sense of brotherhood and community fostered in these meetings was truly special, and it made me feel closer to the men in that room than anyone else on campus.

I also had the great privilege to meet with Dave regularly one-on-one in my last couple of years of school, and those meetings have truly helped me explore my faith and further commit myself to the example of Christ. Through this special counseling, I’ve planned and led my own Bible study and begun a deeper understanding of the word of God and how it can be used to my benefit in life.

 

About The Author

Nathan Moore is a graduate of the University of Georgia. His past positions include serving as a sports beat writer for the Red & Black Newspaper and as an MMJ for Grady Newsource. Nathan thinks that storytelling is one of the greatest gifts God ever gave man, and the desire to meet people, change lives, and have fun through a life of storytelling is what has guided him throughout his career.

 

 

 

 

In 2020, WDA implemented a weekly global staff prayer call that connected and unified our staff beyond what we could have anticipated.  We stop everything, and we pray. We pray in our heart languages; we sing songs as we feel the leading of the Holy Spirit.  We pray for the world, for our ministry work, for each other – nothing is off-limits. We praise the Lord together. So in a new, fresh way, we came into this year’s staff conference with a tangible love for each other beyond just our mutual love and service for Christ. We’re in this thing together, all around the world – we have staff members in 15 countries and 6 U.S. states, to be exact. And we know each other’s names and faces and hearts and voices. You might even say we know each other relationally. And where relationships exist, safety exists. Love and affection, and compassion exist.  The ability to grow exists. WDA’s 2021 Staff Conference completely shifted my ideas about being strong & courageous. If someone had told me before Staff Conference started that I would be ugly-crying during my breakout group session about Generous Giving, I would have been pretty skeptical (although I do love a good cry!).  As always, WDA hosts an annual staff conference for its employees and disciple builders.  Typically, this is a time for department heads to provide updates and show the new materials or training resources that have been developed in the year prior. And I typically go away feeling informed, happy to have seen my colleagues a bit, but exhausted too and in deep need of several long naps. This year was different for a few reasons. 

This is the impact relationships have on discipleship too, and even we – WDA’s disciple builders – are never done being discipled.  Never done growing.  

I grew during this staff conference. And it felt so good, and at times painful as I felt my heart stretching beyond the previous boundaries I had set up around it. But it was the good kind of painful. The ugly crying because I know God is doing a work in me painful. I heard Pastor Ayo Ajiboye address us and acknowledge that this past year has been really hard and that even when we might not understand all that is happening, we can wholeheartedly trust Him.  Why?  Because “God is not ready to relinquish His title as our Father.”  I heard Pastor Ken Adams encourage us to fight the battles in front of us and around us no matter how outnumbered we feel like we are, like Shamgar in the Old Testament, who defeated an entire army with one weapon.  Why? Because God is standing at the ready to deliver – we just need to show up and fight for the things worth fighting for. We united in worship together, aiming our praises at our King and fighting our battles in the heavenly places! 

Our beloved CEO, Bob Dukes, challenged us in areas of embracing Gospel Unity. What does that look like?  What does it mean? What did unity mean to Jesus, and what should it mean for us? What are the areas in my own life that I need to die to in order to chase after unity?  Unity was the very thing that Jesus appealed to God for before He went to the cross.  The reason He died.  He died so that we all might be brought into His Kingdom, as one Body, allegiant to Him alone and full of love for each other. 

I heard about the power of telling our stories wholeheartedly – and courageously – because THIS is how we bring more people into the Kingdom. THIS is how we tell of God’s faithfulness. THIS is how we overcome the evil one (“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the Word of their testimonies, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Revelation 12:11, ESV).  I heard stories of some of my colleagues, my friends, that I have never heard before, and my eyes welled up with tears in praise to God.  And over two days, gracious friends from the National Christian Foundation walked us through a Journey of Generosity.  Most of us thought this would be something about financial giving.  It was so much more than that. It was a discipleship experience.  This is where the ugly cry happened, and where I bared my soul to my co-workers (even some in Indonesia, Kenya, and Brazil), about an area of control that I was struggling to let go of because I was scared.  

God doesn’t ask us to do easy things.  He asks us to do hard, scary things.  But He asks us, knowing that in Him, trusting Him, we have nothing to fear. We just need to let go of it and listen to His voice and submit.  It’s that simple.  We need to say yes to whatever it is He is asking us to do.  And our hearts will explode with strength and joy!  And our faces will shine with His countenance!

When Joshua was installed as a leader of God’s people, God met with him personally to encourage him and to remind him to not be afraid.  “Do not be afraid or discouraged!” He encouraged. “Get ready!” He instructed. “I will give you every place where you set your foot!” He promised.  God wasn’t about to lose His title as their Father, their Leader, their Deliverer. He would help them fight their battles and take them all the way to the promised land.  He would stay true to His Word, and He did. And He is.

Sometimes being strong and courageous isn’t crossing lands and fighting flesh and blood battles. Sometimes it’s relinquishing an area of control to the Lord – something that you really wanted to hold onto because it made you feel secure.  What do you need to yield to Him?  Is it money? Is it a relationship?  Is it your time?  What is keeping you from growing and experiencing the fullness of His life for you and in you?

Since the staff conference, I feel this fresh wind that seems like it is carrying me.  I feel a new flame for Scripture.  Trusting God and following Christ isn’t a duty. It’s a delight.  Pray for this WDA family, as we trust the Lord together and press into what the Holy Spirit is doing in us personally and corporately.  There is a fresh wind here, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the ways that our leadership continues to invest in us and disciple us and care about our growth just as much as the brand-new disciple we might be ministering to.  Thank you, Jesus. Protect us Lord, and make us brave – for you and for each other. 

If you would like to watch any of the staff conference sessions, click on the links below.

 

Tuesday (June 8)

Wednesday (June 9)

 

Thursday (June 10

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About The Author

Jennifer is a warm and joyful soul who loves Jesus, worship music, and chocolate. She has been on WDA Staff for over four years and serves at the WDA HQ in Georgia. She is regarded by her peers as inspired – a leader! – and as one who is committed to excellence.

 

 

 

“God is always at work around us, and He desires that we join Him in what He is doing.”
-Henry Blackaby
 
My wife and I were part of the first group of folks that went through Restoring Your Heart way back in the day.  Jack Larson and some of his team from Stone Mountain led it and did an awesome job of laying the groundwork for the ministry.
 
I am a part of RYH because I have found few things in ministry that are fulfilling and give such purpose to my life. Most of the groups I have led have been with people from my church. In the last few years, I have been leading RYH groups at a ministry called “A Better Way.” It is an 18-month discipleship program for men who struggle with life-controlling issues such as drugs and alcohol. They can join the program voluntarily, be mandated to join by the legal system, or come after being released from prison.
 
Most of these men come from very dysfunctional backgrounds. In the group I am now finishing, only one has not come from a broken family. Six have had family, cousins, or close friends who were murdered or overdosed on drugs. All but one have done jail or prison time. So much pain and suffering has come into their lives that they all have a long way to go to find healing. But God is faithful, and I am seeing their hearts change week by week. 
 

Lesson 7 of the new RYH Processing Pain Workbook has to do with participants giving a blessing to each other. I believed that they would be unable to give something they had never received. I felt led to do the lesson in a different way. I proceeded to research the origin and meaning of each man’s name. The night of the class I asked the men to be in an attitude of prayer. I then went to each man and sat in front of him. I put my hand on his knee and I looked him in the eyes. A blessing comes with a touch, a word, and needs to be face-to-face.

As I spoke to each man, I called him by his name and assured him God found no fault with him. As I explained the origin and meaning of his name, I called him into that identity in Christ. Several men were in tears. Most had probably never heard such things said about them. I could see their hearts open up like flowers as they allowed these deposits to be made into them.

At the end of the session, no one was talking. God had shown up that night and it was undeniable that He had done a great work in the lives of these men. This blessing has made a noticeable difference in how they see themselves today.

 

My name is Gordon MacFarlane, and I live in Fayetteville, GA, with Waynette, my wife of 49 years. We have two grown sons. Blake lives in Cedar Park, TX with his wife Elizabeth and their two children Ella and Will. Our other son Hunter lives in Newnan, GA. He is a full-time fireman in Dekalb and a part-time fireman in Roswell.

 

 

“It is for freedom that Christ has made you free.” (Galatians 5:1)

This scripture runs through my head at least once per day. Paul wrote it in his letter to the Galatians. The church was dealing with the pressure to add to the grace given by Christ. He accused them of turning to a different gospel, “which is really no gospel at all.” (1:7) The people were like many of us being thrown into confusion by the opinions of this world, the rituals, and the traditions that tell us how we should think, feel and act in order to be acceptable or even “normal.” 

When I think about the things our world is broadcasting these days, it’s not all bad. I’ve enjoyed learning the science behind calories, simple carbs and complex carbs. I love getting into a deep conversation about classical education vs traditional. Even a light political discussion can be invigorating, as I pretend to know the ins and outs of the constitution; but, when I am not careful, these things begin to suffocate me. Condemnation creeps up and condemns me for not measuring up to the standard, and pride creeps up as I judge others for not reaching my standard. Then, I begin to see gluten-free eating as the standard for all and classical education as God’s best. Even political leanings can begin to look like a leg of the Gospel.  

 

These thoughts and feelings hold me captive; I become a slave to them. I rise, and in order to satisfy my conscience, I strive to eat that gluten-free muffin. When it comes to politics, I begin to ignore an obvious wrong in efforts to stay aligned with the “right” political party. I continue classically educating my kids even though I may find myself overwhelmed with the process, while there is a great traditional school right down the road. And just like the Galatians, I enter again into a system of works, trying to earn my righteousness, being a slave to the law. While reminding the Galatians that their salvation came through faith in Christ alone, Paul also admonished them not to add again the works of the law (namely circumcision) in efforts to maintain their salvation.

There was a time in my life that it was all about maximum effort in hopes of maximum results. If you are like me, it’s exhausting maintaining a standard imposed on me by popular culture. Paul reminds us of the freedom we have in the finished work of Christ. Breathe easy, my sisters and brothers, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Doesn’t that feel good to read this scripture releasing us from our works and inviting us to rest in Christ? I can just hear Christ’s invitation to “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and lowly at heart and you will find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)

 

Martina is a wife and mother of four wonderful children. She began as a participant of RYH groups and is now an RYH Ambassador. The Griffins live in Orlando, FL.