Note: I recently sent this email letter to the staff and students of the Ski + Snowboard DTS from 2008. It’s been 3 years since I led that school at the YWAM Oxford NZ base. It was a very special school, and God did miraculous transformation in all of us. One of the students had the brilliant idea of starting an email chain between all the staff and students of that school asking each of us to share what has happened in our lives over the past 3 years since the school ended, so that we can all hear detailed accounts of what we’ve been up to and what God’s done in our lives. I’ve been amazed how almost every single person has written and shared very openly. I just finished writing my email letter and thought I might as well post it on my website, for those of you who want to hear an account of the past 3 years of my life. ~Ali
This isn’t short, but it’s my heart laid open for all of you. So here we go : )
Time has flown! Has it really been 3 years since SDTS ’08? It’s so hard to believe! But life, as we know it, ticks on and keeps moving. I’m 32 now! Wowee! But I can tell you that my 30’s have held more dignity, grace and flow than my 20’s and 10’s and 0’s. So you all have something to look forward to, truly. Don’t freak out about the big 3-0. Trust me, it’s good.
After SDTS ’08 wrapped up, I had a Kiwi summer Christmas with Gretchen, Olivia, Rosie, myself and the lovely Inch family! We made fancy schmancy designer Christmas trees and desserts. So fun but still haven’t gotten used to a hot Christmas. Santa in stubbies and jandals lounging on the beach? No, that’s just odd.
Immediately after, I flew out to Canada and trudged through piles of snow for 3 months! I bought all new snowboard gear (finally!) and after just 2 weeks, my board and bindings were stolen at the local ski resort! That was a huge bummer, but I was miraculously given a snowboard and bindings here in NZ so I had gear for the ’09 school! God is good! I learned a lot about not holding tightly to earthly goods. I can’t grip to anything on earth. It slips away, (or gets stolen or breaks!!)
While I was at home in Canada, I had a really rough time with some health issues, religious work visa immigration complications, and just family difficulties going on at home. My parents ended up divorcing a 2nd time (from each other twice) and it was just up and down for me emotionally. Things blew up with my Dad whom I had a confusing relationship with most of my life and we parted ways because I was just so stumped and defeated. I ended up going to a lot of Al-Anon meetings (meetings like AA for people who have alcoholics and dysfunctional behaviour in their family). It was quite encouraging, actually. It kept me sane. I also ended up getting a positive diagnosis for my health issue (not full healing, but medicine to help, so please pray for full healing!) and I got my visa for NZ approved, so after the 3 month rollercoaster ride at home, I headed back to NZ for another couple years!
Got back to the Oxford base in April ‘09 and had a lot of prep time to get ready for the SDTS ’09 school which I led. I was so encouraged to see so many of the staff or students from the ’08 school come back and staff with me. It was an epic staff crew in ’09, with a wide variety of personalities, strengths and giftings. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing each staff grow and work through the normal conflicts and challenges of a DTS.
Let’s just say that the ’09 school was definitely full of energy!!! Lectures were a fun adventure to keep us all focused!!! : ) We as staff learned a lot about how to channel their energy for the Lord and His Kingdom! A lot of awesome evangelism was done on the mountain and we had a fruitful week in Queenstown with Kawika Drummond, our speaker from Bethel Church in Redding, California. He had us out doing treasure hunts and evangelism on the hill. My key memory from that time was when some of the crew who went to Remarks for the day riding, got up on top of a table in the middle of the chalet in the ski lodge and announced that they were there to see people set free and healed, and invited anyone to come over to them to get prayer for healing! It was really a blessing to see the boldness and faith of the school.
Really, I’ve been so encouraged by the bold and radical faith of both the SDTS ’08 and ’09 schools! God has certainly poured out the gift of faith on all of you, in a very unique way. I have learned so much from all of you. God really gave me a good gift those 2 years to be able to walk alongside you!
In a sudden turn of events on the SDTS ’09 school, after planning to just do pastoral visits, Lauren ended up breaking her ankle. She was leading the middle east traveling outreach team. And so, 3 weeks before leaving on outreach, I stepped in to lead the team. God divinely set it up, I reckon. I had a total peace and excitement for it, and had a great team and a great outreach for 2 months in a country in the middle east. One of my favourite outreaches. The Bible definitely came alive even more for me as we walked in many places that the Apostle Paul and other apostles walked and lived in, as well as being able to see many sites the early church believers dwelled in. Through this trip, God has brought me much vision for some of the possible things I may do in ministry in the future, so it was truly a divine appointment for me.
After graduating the SDTS ’09 school and wrapping up staff debrief, I had completed my assignment with the Lord that He’d spoken to me for my time with YWAM Oxford from 2006 to 2009. I took some time off and went for 3 weeks traveling the North and South island with my cousins from Canada. We had a blast! I got to horseback ride on cliff-side terrain and along the beach and into the ocean on the eastern-most tip of NZ, the first place to see the sun in the world!
It was in this time (January 2010) that God radically re-directed me and gave me direction for the next couple years. Oxford sent me out with their blessing. I ended up attending the Awaken Internship at the Tauranga House of Prayer that Aaron Walsh and Dalton Lifsey direct. It was one of the most special 3 months of my life in the Lord. God definitely re-calibrated a lot of the inner workings of my heart, restored and refreshed me after 4 wonderful (yet full-on) years of ministry in YWAM. It was like God allowed me to step down from all public leadership, hide myself in Him alone, and just love Him and be loved by Him, with no expectations on me. Just being His beloved daughter, His beloved bride.
God also did a huge transformation and miracle in my heart towards my dad, my parents, my family, and all the shame I had in my heart with my confusing family life. I thought it was one of those impossible, never-able-to-be-changed things that I’d just have to be hardened by for the rest of my life. All I can say is that through many tears, many prayers, much time in the healing presence of the Lord in the House of Prayer, and a willingness for God to do ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING WITH MY HEART (no matter what it was), God softened and broke my heart (in the most beautiful way) for my family, and especially for my Dad.
In May 2010, I went home for 3 months to Canada. I hadn’t spoken to my Dad in over a year, and God orchestrated a beautiful reconciliation. Of course, it had its bumps and hiccups, but the difference this time than any other time in my life, was that God had so radically changed my heart and given me true forgiveness from the heart (“felt” forgiveness, not just “rigid-chosen” forgiveness) for my Dad, and God used this change of heart in me, to soften my Dad’s heart towards me, in return. It was like I became a little girl again with my Dad, and he was able to respond to me in a whole new way because I had come to him like a little child, not as a demanding woman. It was like God had pushed Reset on our whole relationship and I could start afresh from the perspective of a young little girl. What a relief. I still shake my head in amazement and awe at this miracle in my heart. I’ve learned a lot through this about the mighty importance of crying out to the Holy Spirit to do His work in changing my heart, rather than disciplining myself into changing my behaviour and attitudes by my own strength. It’s revolutionized everything!
Now, life still has it’s ups and downs with family, and my family is still fractured in some ways, but there have been little miracles happening in the hearts of my whole family, even if it still looks broken on the outside. God is doing a good heart-work. It’s been a year since I was last home with my family, and I can tell you that I have fallen in love with my family. I believe we are a blessing to the earth and not a family that should hide its face in shame.
I’ve been on full-time staff with Tauranga House of Prayer for the past year now. I’m here another year. I sing about 4 days a week in the prayer room on worship teams for about 2 hr prayer room worship sets. So I’m in a prayer room with about 20-30 others, 4-6 hours a day, 5 days a week. It’s a true marriage between missions and prayer, through intimacy with God. Profoundly effective and fruitful and has transformed how I do ministry. They even have an Intimacy to Impact DTS here that gets in the prayer room about 4 times a week and shares the values of the House of Prayer. Epic blend of 2 organizations!!
To any of you wanting to take 3 months aside with the Lord, I highly recommend the Awaken Internship. Josiah Rosie just finished doing it! Will Rosenberg just finished it! (He led the Around the World DTS’s the past few years in Oxford.) We’ve had a few others from the Oxford base do the internship as well. We’ve also had many Oxford crew move to Tauranga so I get to see many familiar faces! Fleur and her new husband Luke live in the area! The Rosie family live up here too! We’ve had numerous Oxford outreach teams come for a few days at a time on their NZ outreaches to the House of Prayer to get filled up, refreshed and re-focused. So, God has been good to me, in keeping me connected to my YWAM Oxford family.
I’ve had the opportunity to teach on a few of the DTS’s as one of the guest speakers. The Around the World DTS, Ski + Snowboard DTS, and the Father’s Love Crossroads DTS. It’s been a blast, so I get down a few times a year to Oxford and see my Oxford family. And I am really hoping to get to Olivia’s wedding in October!!!!!!! And I’m hoping that many of you can get back to NZ, come spend a season in the prayer room, or just come to Tauranga to check out the beach and surf! And who knows, maybe some of you will get back to YWAM Oxford to serve the base or the schools in some capacity. Keep close to the still small voice of the Lord. Maybe this is confirmation for one (or more) of you to return.
I’m so grateful to God that He gave me this opportunity to walk a part of this life journey with all of you, and I’m blessed beyond measure to hear all of your stories over the past 3 years. These emails have done my soul good. You truly inspire me in the Lord, each and every one of you. Keep leaning on the Man Jesus Christ. If you don’t have your own strength, just LEAN on Him and take His. He’s so very near and He delights in mercy and loves to forgive. It’s His favourite thing to do. Good thing we give Him plenty of opportunity to do what He loves to do! He is so merciful and gracious with us kiddies as we fumble along, eh?
My heart overflows to the Lord for all the good He has poured out on each of you. I commend each of you for your loyalty to the Lord, and for taking hold of the power of the Holy Spirit given to you by God, and having gone forward to use the passions and gifts He planted in you for this lifetime. Step back and just thank Him for His faithfulness to each one of us. We’ve had our bumps, but we are all still alive and His grace has kept us in His reach. He has chosen us and set us apart for His good purposes, til we breathe our last. It’s so evident that He’s got His hand on us and He has no plans on letting us go! I have great faith that the Lord will complete His good work in each and every one of us, to the end.
Truly, the Lord has been good to us. Seriously, He has done goOoOd.
There are new and greater works He has prepared for each of us, so let us go on to take hold of them. Yesterday’s gold was awesome, but there is new and greater treasure ahead of us. Press on!
1 Thessalonians 1:2-8:
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction…. Not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you… but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere!”
With a full heart of gratitude, and renewed zeal for the future,