Living at Teen Mania gives a wide range of unique experiences because it is like it's own little self-sufficient community a lot of the time. Because we can be so far from the rest of the world, we are able to mix things up for weekends at a time and experience role-plays of situations. This is something that can only be done in such an environment.
This past weekend, I was given a unique opportunity to experience one of these experiences. This was a perspective changing LTE which was created to let us experience on a minor scale what the global church experiences in the way of persecution on a minor scale. We spent a weekend (from thursday night til saturday afternoon)living out this crazy alternate reality.
As the internship was finishing up a movie on Thursday night(Hotel Rwanda), we were interrupted by an ambush of "government facilitators" led by their president. They invaded our campus because they thought that christianity was full of hypocrites and people that were careless of others & only loved themselves. The government wanted to try to reform us.
As soon as Mr. Hasz, the director of the Honor Academy was captured by the government, we all took off and ran to our refugee camp, at this point it was around 2AM. Suddenly, it felt as if we were in the middle of some alternate reality. We had to search around in the woods for some fire wood to build camp fires for our family cores. If we needed to retrieve anything from the dorms, we had to organize runs to get the stuff so we could orchestrate how not to get caught. If we got hungry, we had several different food drop times at different locations that were all being monitored by the government as ambush points. These couple of days were definitely great perspective changing days. One of the most exciting points of this LTE, was when the government decided to ambush our refugee camp. We received some intel telling us that they were coming about 3 minutes before it happened, so we had enough time to grab our water bottles and run. As soon as the government vehicles started showing up, it was like an incredible stampeed of people just running for their lives through the fields of the back 400 acres of campus. At first, we all tried to stay together and establish a new kind of refugee camp, but before long, we realized that this would have to change. My family core knew that this was the time to split off from the group. As we split, a few other people decided to join us as well. So here we are, in the middle of the woods, crouched low so no one from the government would find us, just listening. Listening to the sounds of people getting arrested all around us. Listening to the sound of the distant work camp. Listening for any movement so that we could take off if it happened to be the government. After about 45 minutes, a few of us decided to take off and split off from the group, so the left, leaving the majority of my family core. After a short time, we decided it was time for us to get going too, when all of a sudden someone decked out in camo came walking out of the woods toward us, letting us know that there's been a safe place set up for us, all we have to do is get there. As we were walking, trying not to be heard amongst the crackling leaves, our group got split up as an ambush started happening. My part of the group dropped & waited until the ambush was over since we hadn't been seen, then we booked it back deep into the woods in an effort to stay safe and unseen. This provoked a huge sweep of the area by the government, which luckily for us, stopped right below the ridge that we were looking down on them from.
To help give the situation a new perspective and provoke some empathy within us, we were all called back out of the woods at certain times to watch movies that dealt with persecution and things along those lines. Just a couple of the movies we watched were: Hotel Rwanda, The Invisible Children documentary, and others. These definitely helped us build more of a reality of what people go through daily all over the world.
This has probably been one of my favorite LTE's yet. It was a huge perspective changer, and allowed us to really experience (on a minor and more safe scale) a little bit of what it would be like to be in this situation 24/7. Even though it was only from Thursday night - Saturday, the sense of time definitely blurred & made it hard to keep the time straight. I know that I probably wouldn't have the same empathy and desire to keep the persecuted church covered in prayer as I do now, had I not experienced this weekend. The biggest take away points were probably definitely learning how to have the joy of the Lord in all situations, even in persecution. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, learning how to have the LOVE of the Lord, even in the midst of persecution. In all reality, the reason that these people were overtaking us in the first place, was because they were all hurt by the christian population in general, and we, in an effort to change their minds, had to minister to them in the midst of our persecution. After all, look at Paul. Before he was Paul, when he was Saul, he persecuted and killed christians. Now we have the majority of the New Testament as his letters encouraging the churches.
What kind of impact are we making on the hearts of those around us daily? Are we real with them and showing the love and the joy of the Lord in ALL situations?