I have now officially graduated from the Bible Core Course! It really hasn’t sunk in yet and I almost can’t believe that it is over. During this final week I read Philippians, Colossians, 1,2, & 3 John, Jude, and Job, I inductively studied Revelation, and I preached on 1 Peter 3:1-7. The base graduation was so much fun! The staff spoiled us with gifts and praise, we ate great food, and us students even rapped a creative little thank you for the staff. It felt really good to receive my certificate of completion, and an A grade for the whole course. Even though I didn’t do the BCC for the certificate or the grade, it is always nice to get that kind of encouragement and have the months of hard work validated. I am so grateful for every single person who made this wonderful opportunity possible and so special, and of course I am so, so grateful for God and all the amazing things He does in my life, and in the lives of all those I love, every single day!
Our week of studying Revelation was inspiring on so many levels! We had yet another guest speaker for this week, and he encouraged and prepared us so well to continue on with our studies even after being done with BCC. Our teaching and preaching assignment was also an opportunity that I learned so much from in so many different ways. I preached on 1 Peter 3:1-7 and it was sort of a message to my younger self who had read that passage many years ago and been completely turned off of Christianity because of it. I used the inductive study method to reveal the context and true meaning behind this passage in order to disprove the misconceptions I had developed when I first read these verses at age sixteen.
Ultimately though, the major point of my sermon was that as long as we are more concerned with the little relative ‘we should do this and not this’ things, and our focus is on arguing about interpretations rather than learning from them, then we are most certainly going to miss the application part of these timeless, Holy words. Interpretation is important, yes. Knowing what the text originally meant to the first readers and hearers is completely necessary. But, it is also so important that we do not let our desire for debate override our calling to let the scriptures bring us to a place of taking action in our own lives today too. Regardless of whether or not the commands Peter gave were simply meant for the culture and society he originally wrote to, or they are commands that people should religiously still follow today, the major purpose behind them is something that should be followed by everyone, everywhere regardless of the time they live in. The major purpose behind 1 Peter 3:1-7 is love. Peter is truly calling his readers to love one another and share the love of Jesus with others.
A FINAL SUMMARY
Overall, I think I can sum up my BCC experience with two words: Unconditional Love. In some of my earlier Hong Kong posts I wrote about how much this base is like a family. That got me thinking, why? What is it that makes me look at this group and immediately think FAMILY? Everyone here is kind to one another. True. They take care of one another well. True. They encourage one another to grow, be themselves, and fulfill the dreams God has put on their heart. True. They live with one another, do ministry with one another, and celebrate with one another. True. All of these things are good, and all of these things are definitely a part of being family, but without one vital ingredient they would be nothing. I know plenty of people who will display similar attributes to friends or co-workers or even actual blood family members, but as soon as the going gets tough or they no longer get anything out of the other person, they turn around and leave. To me, what makes a strong family a strong family is unconditional love, and that is most certainly something I have seen here.
A few weeks into my time here in Hong Kong, I really messed up. I did something super dumb, and quite honestly I thought that I might be asked to leave the course. But instead I received a forgiveness that was incredibly inspiring and humbling. During my time here I have been stressed out, grumpy, home sick, reclusive, and generally just a moody mess for the vast majority of the time. And yet the team here has still welcomed me into their family with open, loving arms. At first, this made me really suspicious. I find it very hard to trust people because I have been so hurt by so many people in the past. Anytime someone who is not one of my blood relatives or close friends is really nice to me I immediately assume that they expect something in return. When I prayed about these feelings and asked God “why am I so skeptical of people who are just randomly kind to me?” God told me “it is because you don’t understand grace Rachelle, and you don’t understand unconditional love.’
Throughout the last three months as I have read through the entire Bible and studied in depth books from both the Old and the New Testament I have been blown away again, and again by God’s unconditional love. The Bible truly is a love letter from God to all people everywhere, and it is a letter that continuously highlights how unconditional, true, deep, and unshakeable His love for us really is. Of course the ultimate act of unconditional love is the fact that God sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. Because of His death we are able to receive total forgiveness and a restored relationship with God. All we have to do is believe God when He says that this is what He has done for us. We simply say: “Yes! I want that forgiveness!” It doesn’t matter how many mistakes we have made in the past. We don’t have to get our lives together or do a certain number of good deeds or be smarter or prettier or more talented than anyone else to receive this salvation.
We. Don’t. Have. To. Do. Anything. God just gives it to us.
After studying more about God’s unconditional love, I understand that this is what I see being reflected within this community on a daily basis and this is why when I look at them I see a family. As each member of the base here chases after God and is transformed to be more and more like Jesus, they shine that unconditional love onto all the other base members and everyone they meet. It has been beyond words so incredibly moving learning more and more about God’s unconditional love and witnessing the unconditional love of this YWAM base family during this time. I have learned more than I ever could have imagined, and I will cherish these lessons for the rest of my life. Now, I am just so excited to share with others as well! Wherever God calls me next, I want to share His word and share His unconditional love with everyone I meet!
I have a few more days left here in Hong Kong before I head to Shanghai for two days, and then back home to San Diego for Christmas. Before I leave we will do a deep clean of the whole base, but for the most part I will simply be enjoying time with all the amazing friends and family I have here now. Tonight alone I was so blessed by an incredible dinner filled with insightful conversation, trying new foods, and growing friendships further. Again, words just cannot express the joy and thankfulness I am filled with right now.
Thank you so, so much to every single person who is reading this right now. Even if you just read my blog and followed along with my story, I feel so grateful for the time you invested in listening to little old me tell you about this awesome adventure with God! For everyone who has sent a kind word my way or prayed for me or just supported me in any kind of way, your actions mean more than you could possibly ever imagine.
Glory to God for this amazing opportunity! May He bless each one of you on each of your own journeys too. Thank you so much for reading, for praying, and for supporting me during this season.