Friday, March 1, 2013

GYC Portugal 2013 - Until the End

The more I travel and meet wonderful people, the more I see the pieces of the big puzzle coming together. And I simply love it! Knowing that not even one person God places in my life is there by chance and seeing how God uses each one of them to teach me more about Him, His love and His grace is enough to make me feel blessed beyond measure.

I eagerly waited for the moment to board the plane and be back in the country with warm and wonderful people (read about it here), to meet old friends and make new ones, to see the divine appointments He had for me there, to see how He changes lives and brings hope. Portugal is not a strange place for me. Their hospitality and warmth made me feel at home right away. Actually, I somehow feel part of GYC Portugal. I was there from the beginning, from their first conference and we share many memories. 

Honored to be singing with some wonderful people
I knew God has special plans for Portugal because I have seen Him at work even before I went there. I decided to try and get together a prayer team. So I prayed and approached a couple of ladies I met last year who left a deep impression on my heart and who were really committed to the Lord. Debora's answer really warmed my heart and made me see more clearly that God is in control and has a plan:

Dear Raluca,
My heart is so filled with joy and gratefulness today, I can't even explain it, words are not enough to describe what God has done for me and in me today. Praise the Lord! God chose this day to answer my prayers, and your proposition to be part of the prayer room is one of them :') I can't even hold back my tears dear Raluca. God is so good! My answer is: yes, yes and yes! I need God to work me in me and my character and I want to serve Him in anyway He asks me too. I think He just asked me through you to be part of this, so He can transform me as I serve Him. Your invitation was an incredible answer to my prayers of this last weeks.

What is Debora's story? A few days before I sent her the invitation to help in the prayer room, she had asked God to use her to reach out to others. First God placed her in a group of Christian young people from her university to study the Bible and pray with them. Than He sent her my invitation. Her answer to my invitation left me speechless and flooded my heart with joy. Needless to say, God put together a wonderful prayer team and I was blessed to have each one of them help with leading united prayer.
Last appeal made by pastor Jay Rosario
GYC Portugal was blessed with powerful speakers who challenged the young people to give their life to the Lord and serve Him. We were thrilled when 35 people decided for baptism after Jan Cabungcal's appeal. And almost everybody went upfront at the dedication service when Jay Rosario challenged us to be like the four lepers who could not be quiet, but had to share the good news with others. I know that many young people made some life changing decisions for Christ at this GYC. The many emails and FB messages I get are only confirming this. I happen to know just some of these people, but I know many more lives were changed. Just to give you an example, I heard that a young man decided to break off his engagement to a non-Adventist lady because God spoke to his heart. I am convinced more than ever that this is what we need: speakers to challenge the young people to make decisions for Him.

The morning united prayer sessions were a huge blessing for the many attendees who decided to join us every morning for prayer. Seeing (actually hearing) people pour out their hearts to God and seeking Him with all their hearts will always be one of my favorite things to do. 

United prayer session in the morning
Seeing people hungry and thirsty for God is what floods my heart with joy. Here are only some examples. 

GYC started on Friday evening. Since the next day was Sabbath, the united meeting prayer room was not open until after lunch. So I was very puzzled when I received a note Sabbath morning during Sabbath School and was asked to go to the prayer room. I did not want to leave the Sabbath School, but I decided to go and see what is going on only to find people in tears in need of prayer. 

Than there was this couple who pulled me out of a meeting because they wanted to start praying together and wanted some practical advice. 

I was thrilled when, upon coming back home I got a FB message from a stranger. An evangelist from Brazil who listened to the radio transmission of GYC Portugal and heard me promoting the united prayer sessions. Since the workshop was not streamed, He wanted to know how to pray with His church. 

GYC Portugal made me see again that there are so many people in need of Him, so many looking for healing. I remember that, as I was standing and talking in my workshop I spotted a young lady and I felt impressed to go and talk to her after the workshop. I did not know why. I did not know what to talk to her about. I just knew that the Holy Spirit is prompting me to go and talk to her. At the end, by the time I finished talking to other people who came to see me, she was gone. What to do now? Well, this is His work and He was the one who impressed on my heart to go and talk to her, so I asked the Lord to bring her in my way. Not long after that, as I was in the hallway going to a workshop, I met her. So I stopped and talked to her. At the end of our long conversation I had no doubt that it was the Holy Spirit who prompted me to talk to her. It was just one of the many divine appointments He had for me there. Who cared that I missed the workshop (btw, I missed all the other workshops because God kept bringing to me people who wanted to talk to me) when I knew God used me to bring hope to someone?

It is such a blessing to know that God uses united prayer and the workshop to bring answers to people. One of the young ladies I talked to after my workshop told me that a few weeks ago she had asked the Lord to teach her to pray. The following week she was asked by the leaders of a interdenominational group of students from her university to be the prayer leader. Now she was confused. She asked the Lord to teach her to pray and He is sending her an invitation to lead prayer? How could that be His answer? But His answer came a couple of weeks later. She came to GYC and attended the United Prayer workshop. And this is exactly what she needed.

Another divine appointment God had for me there was with a young lady that has been emotionally and physically abused by her father for more than 30 years. Sandra* has been hoping and praying for many years that God will place in her life people to help her start a new and normal life. She wanted to leave the home many times, but her salary did not allow her to have a decent life. She sought for help to some pastors, but it seems that no one dared to pull her out of the lion's mouth.  After a while, she gave up hope. She was drained emotionally, sick and exhausted. She stopped fighting. I have to admit that I was wondering how in the world was she still sane. My heart was so heavy as I listened to her telling me some of the horrible abuses she had to endure. Listening to her it was like listening to horror stories from another world. We talked and prayed together. As I was praying and begging God to do something for her the next morning, the name of a pastor came to my mind. Later on God just confirmed that this was from Him when my translator and another speaker told me that we need to talk to this pastor. And when I talked to Sandra, she confessed that she had been wondering if she should talk to him, as well. God is still working to set her free from this abusive home, but it seems that someone found a job for her and the pastor is determined to do anything he can to help her have a fresh new start. Praise God for pastors who care for people more than for their own life and safety!
Last prayer after the dedication service
You see, all these divine appointments make worth all the struggle of the endless hours spent in front of the computer trying to finish my workload for Hope Channel. This is what keeps me going. This is what makes me feel that I am alive, that my life is worth living for Him. It is Him shining through me that makes the difference. 
Speakers of GYC Portugal 2013 
We had a full house on Sabbath
I left Portugal so thankful for all the wonderful people God brought me in contact with, for all those who went home determined to start a new life, for those who expressed their desire to start a prayer group back home. This is what makes me determined to pour my life into His service more than ever. There is one thing that I desire more than anything else: that He will continue to shine through me and that people will see Him in me. I have to admit that I have never done so much one-to-one counseling before, but I immensely enjoyed it. Even though the pain of the people seems to crush me at times, I am thankful because it drives me to my knees. My prayer list gets bigger and bigger with each place I go to, but I can't complain. It is an honor to intercede on behalf of my brothers and sisters. I may never know the answer to my prayers in this life, but I a looking forward to seeing them in the life to come. What a day that will be! 

*Sandra's name has been changed in order to protect the identity of the individual. 

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