Written by Mike Verkaik
An amazing team from Haven church in Zeeland and Holland Christian just returned from Oceans Retreat Center. Working through jet lag, my heart is still overjoyed for such an amazing time, and I praise Abba for assembling a group with such a hunger to hear from Him during Oceans’ Kingdom Encounter in South Africa.
Beforehand this simple question was asked, “What is your greatest fear concerning this trip?” I was astonished by the deep honesty as they responded with words like, “ I am longing to encounter God in such a new and special way, and am afraid that I will be disappointed.”
Be blessed as you hear from the deep souls of teenagers which have encountered our Father’s Kingdom exploding in their hearts. Today’s entry is from Sabrina as she spent 2 hours in Groot Constantia, the oldest vineyard in South Africa, followed by a prayer time at Fullies church.
Monday was a busy but yet such a peaceful day. Mondays are always hard days at Oceanview Care Center because these children have rough family lives and can experience lots of hard things over the weekend. We stayed at the Care Center for a couple of hours and then went to a vineyard for some quiet time and alone time with God.
Anyone who knows me knows that I hate being alone and am always talking to or with people, so this felt like a challenge for me. Once we got to this massive vineyard we all grabbed our lunch, and were told to let the Holy Spirit lead us wherever He wanted us to dwell. I was led down a path near an old pool and sat in the warm sun by some beautiful flowers of all different colors. I began my time by eating my lunch and reading God’s word. I got distracted so easily so during this time every time I heard or thought of something not related to God I would verbally speak “No more distractions” or “It’s all about God right now”.
As I read I saw some stickers on my sisters water bottle. One said, The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me. (Psalm 138:8) I really started to think about my identity and what God thinks about me. So I continued to read some passages from Ephesians, Philippians, and John. I kinda just let the words sink in and hoped God would put all the pieces together. After that I started to pray and looked at the sky. I could start to feel what God wanted me to write in His letter to me from Him. I started to realize that a lot of times I go to other people, my phone, etc. for attention, which is something I crave. I heard God telling me that I am enough and that he will give me all the attention I need. I heard him saying that he has chosen me to travel the world and to enjoy His creation and that he will fulfill me more than anything else.
Another thing I’ve always struggled with is anxiety and I could tell He was starting to free me of my fear of what others think. I felt a sense of peace that I had security in the Lord for all these things. This time in the vineyard was so cool for me, I prayed and watched the clouds and reflected on all of these things, and then went for a walk around and through some of the vineyard. It was a very relaxing and good thing for me.
After we finished our time in the vineyard, we went into town for dinner and then later headed to a prayer night. I tell you these prayer and worship nights are like nothing you’ve ever experienced in the past. They’re the coolest place where you feel free and just get to talk to God. People are impacted in all kinds of ways at these meetings.
Personally what I experienced kinda tied in with the vineyard. These nights begin with worship, and normally I’m the nervous one who doesn’t like to sing because I don’t want others to hear me. But boy did I feel so free from that anxiety. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and I felt so so free. During the prayer time I just felt God blocking out the distractions and again telling me that I am enough, he’ll fulfill me, and he’ll give me the attention I need. After that time I was so happy and had the true Joy of the Lord. This isn’t the kind of happiness you feel at Disney, or with your friends, or even after winning a big sports game. This is happiness that can only come from God. True Joy.
I am finally learning where my true joy and my identity comes from and that’s from God.