Part 2 | School of Ministry March - July 2012 Testimonies
More amazing true stories of the Father's love changing people's lives.
This March a group of young adults from all over the world came to Toronto for the five month School of Ministry (SoM). This semester, students took classes in the Heart Module, the Worship Module and the Revelation Module. At the end of four months of teaching, they put everything they learned in to practice on a three week outreach in various international locations. The school officially finished at the end of July 2012, here are just some of the testimonies the students are going to carrry with them for the rest of their lives (for part one go here). If you are interested in attending the next school, starting in September, there is plenty of time to apply, check out the School of Ministry website for more information.
Ariel Bortles - USA
I have wanted to go to France ever since I was about nine years old, so it’s been 17 years in the making. I was ecstatic that I would have the opportunity to fulfill this dream when I found out one of the outreach teams was France and that I was chosen to be on the team.
However, before I went on outreach I had a very cynical viewpoint of short term mission trips. I felt that most times the people going on the missions were the ones receiving the most benefit as opposed to those they were sent to minister to. I felt short term missions were for the most part very shallow, resulting in short-lived emotional and spiritual highs.
Not only that, but I had heard that France was an evangelical and missionary graveyard. The last thing I wanted to do was to offend and insult a culture I had dreamed to experience for so long.
But France exceeded my expectations beyond what I had hoped and dreamed! When we prophesied and preached we got to see hearts move and change in front of us! People’s lives were changed. We knew, not just because we saw their tears, but we heard their stories and they told us how God changed their lives through us! Having gone on that outreach and experiencing and sharing God’s heart, my preconceived notions and hesitations were completely transformed. I found a greater love for the French culture, I saw God truly move in people’s hearts and I discovered a country hungry for God’s love and his Father heart.
Shante Brown - USA
Before I came to the School of Ministry I had issues with perfectionism and striving. I wanted to be perfect all the time. I knew that there was something wrong with this and that is what led me to the school.
I began my process in September of last year in the Heart Module. God brought restoration and healing to my heart. He let me know that he is the father that I never had. Much of my striving was a response to fatherlessness. For the first time I felt a hug from Father God and I believed that he is indeed my father.
The journey continued when I came back for the Revelation Module this March. The Bible came alive as I received more revelation of who God is. God went deeper into my heart in letting me know that he is my parent. I learned that I do not need anyone else to parent me but him. In God’s presence I received more of Daddy’s love and affection for me. This gave me the confidence to move forward knowing that I can always receive encouragement and love from Papa. In fact, there is no one that could give it to me better than my Father.
I feel empowered to go back home and impact my inner city neighborhood with this revelation because of the love that I received from my Father during this school. My prayer is that I could give away all that Daddy has deposited in my heart and touch others with his love.
Talia D’Orazio - Canada
Before coming onto the school of ministry I was someone who thought I knew everything. I grew up in a pastor’s family and I had so much head knowledge. It wasn’t until I came to the school of ministry that I realized I don’t have the heart knowledge or the heart experiences to match my head knowledge. It has been a process of swallowing my pride, starting at the beginning again with God, and letting God love me. God was always pursuing a relationship with me, it was only when I got here that I learned how to open up to him and to pursue him back. This has been a journey of experiencing the love of God that has completely changed me. Where before my reactions were based on frustration and misunderstanding, my reactions are now more based on love and grace. People around me have noticed a change, and I can barely recognize myself. I am excited about my new relationship with God, and about my new approach to life and to people. God has loved me back to life, and I can’t help but be excited everyday about waking up and having new chances and opportunities to experience him and letting myself be open.
Jenny Falkus - England
Before coming to the School of Ministry, I was living in Bath, England. I met many people at church who had previously done the school. I was drawn to them more than other people, I could see that they carried something special, they had a sense of peace and love in their hearts which I couldn’t put into words. I wanted whatever values they had received and wanted the encounters they had had with God.
They talked to me about the school of ministry and I knew I wanted to do it. So before I came here, I can safely say my expectations of the School of Ministry were extremely high! I did question whether it would live up to my expectations but I can safely say that it went above all I could have imagined.
Before I came to the school I struggled massively with who I was. I was constantly comparing myself to other girls and didn’t feel good enough all the time. I had stopped many of my passions due to this constant comparison to others and feeling inadequate. I had stopped singing and dancing because I felt like I would never be as good as other people, so there was no point in carrying on.
On the school I had a revelation of my identity as a daughter and knowing God as my Daddy. I realised that I am loved no matter what, and that when we compare ourselves to others and try to change ourselves, we are going against what God desires. He created us to each be unique and ourselves. If I’m constantly comparing and trying to be someone else then its going to be harder for me to be me and to step into the destiny God has for me and the amazing plans he has for my future.
I also realized how sad I was because I had stopped doing the things I enjoyed. God told me how much he loves it when I sing and dance for him. It’s not about anyone else, it’s about a father daughter relationship. Being better or worse than anyone else is irrelevant, for God sees our hearts and loves all his children. This revelation broke my heart so much. I knew I had to start singing again, so I made myself sign up for singing on the school and have had a few opportunities to sing in worship bands. I also was in a dance for boys honouring day and have felt so much freedom in worship to dance, jump and be free.
The school enabled me space and time to seek God on what he really thought about me and to conquer fears about ‘not being good enough’. Since the school I feel more confident in who I am and knowing I am loved and accepted.
Tuulia Hamalainen - Finland
Before I came to School of Ministry for the second time I had this idea that this school was going to be all about me helping others, not about me. On the first day I was here I even spoke to some of my friends and told them: "I am here for you anytime, I don’t think this school is about me it is about helping others, its about you." But God had other plans.
In the first month of the school I was just trying to engage with God, but not really succeeding, wondering at the same time what had happened to me. I was also trying to be as social as possible and I tried so hard to do the right thing, but not really knowing what that was. The problem was exactly that, I tried to do something, instead of just being and letting God do the work. Soon I felt burned out and emotionally tired, and I felt I had failed what God brought me here to do, I was so confused. So I tried to seek love and affection in any where else but God, but that just made me feel even more worse. I even thought I fell in love with someone, and when that ended, I felt like I had nothing. I had no one else but God.
That was when God really came in, he started to show me that I am his lily white and he is my prince, and all he wants to do is be with me and love on me. So I started to spend more and more time with my Heavenly Daddy, I would pour out my heart to him, even if it was small or seemed silly. I had to, he was the only one I had left. Soon I realized how everything had to start from him and all else would flow from that. Beforehand I had tried to fit God into my life, instead of trying to fit my life around God. Fitting God into my life never worked out, I would always end up not satisfied and even more disappointed. He was the only one who could put out this crave I had inside of me, I just had a few mistakes on the way. I realized that all my life I had depended on getting acceptance from other people, instead of God.
I took my first step, I chose God over going out with people. It payed off; when I gave just a bit of my time to God, he gave a lot back. He gave me amazing true friends here, ones that speak truth and life into me. All I had to do was sacrifice something and trust. When I look back now I can’t believe I chose over and over again people who didn't really even care about me instead of God. I learned that if I am willing to give him something, like my time when I dont feel like it, he will give me so much more back. And other people will see the change in you and that will also change their opinions of you. I know because that is exactly what happened to me. Now I feel so loved, but its not based on people, it is based on God. The funny thing is I also feel loved by other people and that is all because of God!
Terese Hideblad - Sweden
Coming to School of Ministry is the best thing I’ve done so far in my life! When I came to School of Ministry I had a hard time trusting people and opening up to others. I had previously opened up to people that I thought were my friends, but I they left me out or hurt me. I did not think I was important and I did not think that people would notice me. As a result of my rejection issues I did not have many friends and I hadn’t had a best friend in about 10 years, just because I was afraid of being vulnerable. If I was vulnerable and trusted others I would be hurt.
But during this school, God has shown me what real friends are. He has shown me that I can trust him. If I have a firm foundation in him, know that I can trust him and know that he loves me no matter what, it doesn’t matter if others hurt me, because I know where I have my identity; I know that he will never let me down. One of the ways God taught me how to trust again is through my small group. He knew that if I was going to be able to open up and trust others I had to be in a group that struggled with the same issues: rejection and problems with trusting others. When I got the courage to open up to my small group it also gave me courage and strength to open up to my other friends (now my best friends) at the school. It’s mainly through my friends on the school I that have experienced God love for me. They have spoken God’s truth into my life and shown me my worth, how God looks at me and how much he loves me.
Lars Hofstetter - Switzerland
Before the school I didn't really feel close to God. I struggled with having God time on a daily basis and living my life 100% for God. I didn’t know how much God loves me. I had a lot of shame and never really told people about God because I feared it and I didn't know Him enough to talk about Him. So I went to the school to get to know God better and to learn how to live a life for God as my number one.
That's what the school did for me! I feel so much closer to God now. The teaching transformed my thinking and my lifestyle is changed. I have God time everyday now and I love it, I want to take God with me everywhere I go. I learned to not care about what people think and that I can do anything with God. I'm so much more confident and I want to go home and tell my friends how much God loves them. I know that I'm not a "Super-Christian" and that I'm still going to struggle, but God gave me a hunger to go for so much more. It's a journey and the School of Ministry really launched me into that. It also showed me how important relationship with God and people is.
Duane Loewen - Canada
I grew up in a Christian home on a farm. I had awesome parents that believed in Jesus. But when I got to my teen years things started to get a little rough between me and my dad. He had very good intentions but didn’t know exactly how to handle my character. I got rebellious because I felt like my dad didn’t understand me.
When I was 17 my dad got diagnosed with a cancer that affected his emotions so the condition of our relationship got worse. We loved each other but we just didn’t understand each other so
it was hard to express the love.
He passed away soon after and some of my friends betrayed me which left me fatherless, alone and hopeless. I hated my life and for quite sometime just didn’t want to wake up in the morning. I wanted to die.
But the prayers of my mom and some family members I believe is what kept me going. God started bring emotional healing my way and after a few years of pursuing inner healing the door to the School of Ministry was opened. Me and my wife went together and it’s been amazing!! God has been inviting me to be his son through our time here at the school and he’s been showing me how much he loves me and how I can be totally honest with him no matter how I feel. I learned that healing comes to the level to which I’m willing to be honest with him. It’s been a crazy journey of a lost son finding his home and being invited in by the Father himself.
Sylvain Maurel - France
Before the school, I was quite lost. As a 29 year old man without any goal, I was carried by the flow of my environment. I was unsuccessfully looking for jobs, knowing one of my biggest problems was self confidence. I had a friend who had done the school and I could see the difference in her, so I decide to come here. During the school, we tackled a lot of things about the inner self. I had breakthrough about managing anger properly, and not stuffing it down but learning to confront people in a godly and honouring way while forgiving them. I had breakthrough about shame, and not always filtering my thoughts, knowing my opinion is worthy to be heard. I had breakthrough about my identity as a new creature born from God, as his son, under his Lordship, now understanding that I am what he says I am. I had breakthrough about being in touch with my emotions, knowing why I was feeling what I was feeling, and being able to dig into that and pinpoint what the real issue is. I learnt how to deal with theses issues, which is something I am looking forward to practicing now that the school has come to an end. On top of this I feel more love for my dad now, who I always had trouble loving in a deep way. I feel more confidence in myself, and I’m way more in love with God, and more able to express it. So I highly recommend this school. It’s load of fun, challenges and friendship building. You won’t regret it.
Perla Palestino - Mexico
My experience in the School of Ministry has been challenging but it has been worth it. Before I came to the school my relationship with my parents wasn’t that good, I felt invisible around them, and I tried to do everything perfect to get their attention. I wouldn’t allow myself to make mistakes or to show my emotions in front of them. I felt like I had to always be good and didn’t want to cause tension at home. Because of that my relationship with my parents was “good” on the outside but not real, because I didn’t say what I really felt.
In the School of Ministry I realized that I reacted in the same way to God. I felt that he would be there and listen to me when I was ok, when I did my best. I wouldn’t show my emotions to God, if I had a bad day I would hide from him and wait until another day when I felt better. What I didn’t know is that God is always waiting for me and willing to help me on the way. He is not expecting that I resolve everything, or that I feel great all the time. He told me that he wanted to encounter me in right where I was, and that it is ok to show my emotions.
During this time God has been doing that in my heart, He is helping me to be real with me, with him, even with my parents. One day I was talking by Skype with my parents, and my mom asked me “how do you feel?”, that day I was having a rough day, usually I would say “I’m ok!”, but that day I told her that I felt desperate and started to cry. She cried with me too. I accepted how I felt and God showed me his love through my mother. I learned that we can choose to be vulnerable and real and that God is going to be there.
Lisa Reimer - Canada
When I came to this School, I was extremely disappointed with life. It felt like every time I finally believed life could be meaningful and satisfying, my hopes got crushed. I had a really tough time accepting what was being taught. It was so frustrating learning about healing because my sister-in-law died of cancer several years ago. I believed so many lies about myself and the way a relationship with God works. Thankfully, even though I tried to shut God out, he still had a way of working on me. He found ways to get to my heart and reveal to me who he is and who he made me to be. While being at this school, I've had my heart broken for the world so many times! I've discovered there's a part of me that needs to go rescue people and bring hope and healing. God has shown me that he made me the way I am for a purpose. It's okay to be me. In fact, he really wants me to be me! I have become more comfortable with the fact that God's love inside a person is extravagant and not meant to be controlled or contained. On outreach, God worked on our relationship but he also showed me how I can spread his love to others. I am blown away by the grace God has for me! I love that he never has and never will give up on me.
Connie Schauer - Austria
In April my outreach team was designated to minister at a new age fair. To be honest, it was one of the last places I wanted to go ever! But I had to – so I started to prepare – reading the gospels and studying about Jesus and His disciples. Jesus says that the job description for a disciple is to “Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons.” (Matthew 10:7-8 NLT)
So I went to this fair, freaking out a bit, with worship music, the Holy Spirit and my Bible verse in my pocket. Then reality hit me. These people were “seekers”, non Christians, people far away from God, living in sin and darkness (I hope you can hear my religious mindset). But God said so many nice things to these people. He talked about loving them, being with them, wanting to be close to them. God spoke through prophetic words into hearts of people.
There was this one lady who was clothed in white. When she looked at me, she said “You can see my aura right.” I smiled and started to do spiritual warfare - binding, losing, proclaiming, getting the fence really high, but then God gave me was a picture. I saw the lady surrounded with a glass wall and then a hand just went through this wall and grabbed her heart. After the first lady finished prophesying this lady summarized “so it’s about coming back to the Christian faith”. I got an overwhelming feeling and I said “No, its not about the Christian faith. It’s that God is interested in your heart”. There was a pause, then tears streamed down her face. I could feel a shift had happened. The wall broke and God’s love was invading this lady’s life. I felt so convicted. I had never before experienced God’s wild love for non-Christians. I never before felt the love of a Father waiting for his children to come home. I never before saw God’s love in action, and it hit me. God loves his children. The gospel, the good news, is simply about a Father who lost his kids and wants them back.
Anna Schmidt - UK
A year before I came to the School of Ministry, I felt that God was drawing me into a season where he wanted to give me a revelation of who he is as Father. I also sensed that I needed healing in my heart and wanted to encounter him in a deeper way. My mother had committed suicide eight years ago and I was still carrying a lot of hurt and pain, rejection and shame from her death. I also felt that I always had to perform and do in order to be loved by God and others which stemmed from a very performance orientated background, so I struggled with the idea that God would love me just because I am His child. I was quite shy and introverted and found it hard to open up to people and trust them.
During the school, God began to change the way I saw him, myself and others and I began to receive his love and acceptance of me as his child. Gradually, performance started to lift off me and now I am able to enjoy letting God love me and be with me, and to love myself and others with his love. Through teaching times, soaking and the weekly small group, I learnt to open up and trust people again and be real with my emotions. I now feel a lot more stable and secure in who I am as his daughter: loved, accepted, and valued for who I am in Him and not what I do but because of what Jesus did for me on the cross.
I also dealt with a lot of issues of unforgiveness towards my mother and father and am coming into more freedom in relationships and learning the importance of honour. I now feel more free to be myself and accept others for how they are too. I have learnt to rest in God´s presence and to trust him for his guidance and leading in my life. Not only did I receive a lot during school, but I think the most transformation came in the 3 week outreach where I was challenged to really trust God to be my protector and my provider. Our team went to Albany, New York and my eyes were opened to the difficult situations people live in: the poverty and the lack of opportunities for kids and teenagers. We helped out in various ministries: feeding kids lunches in the parks, ministering to men and women at the jail, praying for people, doing prophetic evangelism on the streets. We met many people who were ex-offenders or ex-drug addicts who had been transformed by the power and the love of God and are now serving him wholeheartedly in these ministries. It was a life changing experience and I definitely learnt to come out of my box and be bold for Jesus and to reach out to people in a tangible way with His love.
I would recommend the School Of Ministry for anyone who desires to get real with God and themselves and desires a deeper intimacy with him. The time here at the school and on outreach really has changed me and I am now able to stand more confidently in my identity and walk out into all that God has planned for my destiny.
Dave Taylor - England
I came to the school with massive issues trusting God to provide for me in my finances, but more importantly in all the hopes I have for my destiny and the dreams I ponder over. My failures and disappointments were in control over my expectations for my future.
Over my time at the school God has shown me how to value myself because of my inheritance in his kingdom as a son. This has been the seed to bring so many fears and ungodly expectations crumbling down. I have had the opportunity to risk and he has shown me the power of his Love for me and the person that he has created me to be.
I feel so blessed to have been able to be in an environment with my wife and kids which is safe and encouraging. It has enabled me to step out and explore all the facets of who I am as a son, a husband and a father. I now leave ready to risk again and to follow the dreams and desires I have with a full heart and strength to trust that God will see me through.
Eelco van Houwelingen - Netherlands
One of the things I learned during this five months is to come and listen to God again. Before I came to the school I felt a load of shame over myself. I was ashamed of all the things I did not do for God, I felt that I had failed and was not good enough. This reflected on my personal relationship with God. In some ways I was afraid to come to God. This was because I had low value and false expectations over myself. During the school God started to show me that the only thing I need is his love, over and over again he said, “come to me”. My reaction on that was that I’m not good enough, I could not accept God’s love because I didn’t find myself good enough. During the school I became more able to love myself, accept myself and forgive myself. I feel like I have a new beginning; I can simply be with God and accept him as my father.
Joost Voorbraak - Netherlands
Before I came to the school of ministry I was in a difficult season in my life. I wasn't sure about what my calling is, who I am and what I like to do. In my life I suffered some rejection from friends and family around and I also suffered some traumatic experiences as a teacher in high school. Through these experiences I became very closed and it was difficult to be completely myself. I was a people-pleaser who became a different person every time I was with different people.
In the beginning of the school I still felt closed and I couldn't be myself. I felt insecure and I found it difficult to connect with most of the people (I connected good with a small group of people).
Through the Father-heart revelation, prophetic words, prayer and encouragements from many people at the school of ministry I began to open up. I began to see who God made me to be: a shepherd of people, a father for many, a teacher, a fire starter, a minister to kids. The time here at the school gave me the opportunity to step out in these things and gave me a confidence in my heart of who God called me to be. For example, before the school I was never surrounded by kids (except when I myself was a kid). Here I discovered my talent and heart for kids.
Through loving friendships with several students here, I learned to open up my heart and share my emotions. It helped me so much to be myself and live more from my heart. God spoke to me clearly that I'm valued and that the things I feel, say and am is important. I spoke these Godly beliefs over my life and it helped me so much!
Now I can be myself, I can share my heart so much more with people and can love and care for people around me. I now dare to initiate love to people around me.
Claire Whyte - Ireland
When I arrived at school, I was the ultimate people pleaser. Desperate to fit in and be loved and approved by others. If I wasn’t approved by others I would often feel lonely and rejected. I would even go as far to say, I had no idea who Claire actually was. Many times during school, I have found myself in situations where I was alone or feeling outside of what was happening and the feelings of loneliness and rejection would become so real to me. In response to these feelings I often withdrew from people and situations, which just added to those already difficult feelings of loneliness and rejection. It was like a vicious circle. Through the identity teaching I had such revelation of who I belong to. This revelation, coupled with my ability to deal for the first time in my life with years of pent up anger has brought me such freedom. Identity, anger and an understanding of boundaries and what I am actually responsible for has completely changed who I am.
I feel like I have found the real Claire, who is totally accepted and loved. I realised on outreach as I was faced with situations where in the past I would have withdrawn myself and entertained those feelings of rejection and loneliness, instead I would put myself right in the centre of the situation and I would share with others how I was feeling.
I know that the Claire who leaves the school is someone who is secure in who she is, loved and accepted. My new Godly Belief that I am still proclaiming is that I am perfectly acceptable to Papa, not by works but by faith. I have seen that through my time at SoM, I have changed so much and become more secure in my identity that my attitude towards my family has done a complete turn and I am so excited to go home and see my parents.