As we serve alongside AOF, we see the day in and day out victories, surrenders, and battles that are internal and external to the children, staff, students and the foundation itself. Notice, though, I did not say ‘losses’.
Our battles have long since been won on the cross – though we may not have the privilege of seeing the outcome in the flesh, we can feel it in the spirit and will have the reward of it in the eternal. How we fight these battles and gird our loins may not always be the way we or others imagine.
Our hearts are so incredibly filled with His joy – even more so since our brief time between furlough and now as we are in Singapore for an amazing time of study and growing deeper/going deeper in Him.
Over 2 years ago we joined in a partnership with Akha Outreach Foundation with the direction and authority that only God could truly give. We have seen and experienced so much transformation since.
The example of drawing others out into leadership, into new places, into new possibilities was set by Dr. Aje & Mae Nancy – and we pursued that growth and desired to model it with passion. Not only do they pour into the Akha students, staff and children, but they poured into us and encouraged us in our place of servant leaders.
Their heart of hearts is to raise up leaders, following the command of the Great Commission. Mentor and disciple others, equipping and encouraging them in their skills, talents, giftings and anointings – not simply encouraging what they can achieve in the natural, but purely empowering them with the knowledge of their identity in Christ and the power of Holy Spirit.
We’ve been privileged to witness passive pastors become passionate for their marriage, family & congregation by the conviction and power of the Holy Spirit. We’ve seen students marked as lazy and unable to study traditionally come to us and freed from oppressive spirits, generational curses and addictions. Our children additionally have multiple testimonies of reconciliation with lost family members, entire villages coming to know the Lord because of an outcast child’s testimony, healings in the physical, emotional and spiritual occur all around us.
There is no work among the Akha Outreach Foundation that we believe is without God’s anointing. From market trips to feed over 300 meals a day to the driving between 9 different schools for our children, to teaching Bible classes in ABS (Akha Bible Seminary), to playing or spending ‘quiet’ time with the children. We believe that the Lord desires every moment to be an encounter with Him.
We as leaders have the tremendous honor of bearing witness in those moments to the promptings of the Spirit. We don’t have to orchestrate anything. We just need to listen and obey.
Just one of my most impactful moments, where I had experienced a beautiful realization of what my seemingly ‘routine’ interaction with the kids really meant, was after a practice for the ABS graduation performance.
To tell you that I was proud – that I am proud of my kids- would be a gross understatement. My heart is filled, completely, with the Joy of the Lord and the love of the Lord for them! What a gift God has given me!
I was amazed at how these kids, these teenagers, took ownership in a very difficult task that I turned over to them. They were so used to, in the past as well as in their general culture, having things laid out for them and doing exactly as told. Taking creative lead and fulfilling the task of choreographing a nearly 5 minute dance performance was a huge leap for them.
It was also step of faith for me and an act of obedience to the prompting of the Spirit that required me to empower them to do it. Now, I didn’t just dump it on them, I encouraged and instructed and supported them as needed. I saw the potential in them to do this (and so much more) and called it out of them.
Dr. Aje & Mom Nancy do such amazing things all of the time, constantly building the children, staff & students up- but this was a first for me. And it was a risky assignment to try it out on… If you’ve never seen AOF’s graduation celebration, it’s bigger than any I’ve experienced in the States – is a really big event here!
I could go on and on and on about these kids! Not only did they step up and take ownership in the dance, there was a shift in the spiritual atmosphere as they recognized that they were empowered to do it. Their confidence grew and their countenance turned upward in excitement instead of downward in drudgery of the task. The girls diligently practicing the part that was choreographed by a team, only needing encouragement and refinement. The boys, however, created their own place and style for the dance – to my amazement. See – the boys are often overlooked in dance & performance and so were eager to be idle in this one as well. But as one boy stepped up, then another, and another – soon ALL of my boys were eagerly practicing and creating.
This amazing shift took place in these kids! I would find myself prompting them to examine their routine themselves, then step back and watch. They would watch and critique it themselves – and kids that normally would be soft-spoken or silent were becoming more and more eager to share their ideas and refinement. They were speculating, daydreaming, visualizing & just getting excited about what it all was going to turn out to be. Their excitement grew and buzz started & spread to others on campus who join in the production of the performance!
It wasn’t their perfection of the performance or their outfits choices or their timing & diligence that made me proud or filled me with Joy – it was witnessing their spiritual growth and affirming them in these ‘simple’ and ‘normal’ moments that had my well overflowing. All of those things are wonderful, but really only a blessing when they are a result of true growth.
Well, after many long practices, we arrived at the last week and one of our final practices where we pulled all areas together – boys, girls, children, ‘Jesus’, and practiced in unison. And they did AMAZING! I spoke with them at the end, sandwiching my refining between encouragement & edification. I closed with a nearly inexpressible amount of pride and joy. I literally couldn’t remember the word for ‘proud’ but expressed it as my heart being so entirely full of joy and peace and love for them. Scanning the faces of my 40+ kids, their eyes were full of tears and brimmed with confidence and fulfilment.
Graduation day came with all the festivities and excitement flowing and my kids performed without a hitch. A tremendous spirit of accomplishment & joy was in the air and it wasn’t held by the graduates alone!
If I would have chosen to choreograph it all, lead all practices, select all the costume colors, direct every sound and movement… If I would have chosen not to take a risk and empower them to complete this task, I would have stolen that moment from them. I would have stifled the Spirit and the growth that He wanted to accomplish in us all.
Divine moments and preparation for our spiritual warfare can happen in the most ‘routine’ moments as well as the most ‘ordained’ ways. That was a transition point in my perspective of recognition, as a spiritual breakthrough for each of us.
When we returned from furlough, about 3 months later, and invested our time relationally with the children before we departed again, I witnessed a continuation of that growth.
We partnered in revivals and prayer meetings with a team from the States, and were wonderfully overwhelmed with the response with those arriving and calling out for the freedom of Christ and the power of Holy Spirit! Our children and teens not only recognized the need for prayer partners and translators, but recognized the power within themselves, to serve! They were standing with others in prayer, laying hands on those in need, translating for us and embracing each other in encouragement and love! It was so exciting and again my heart was bursting with His love and joy!!
From the moment they arrive on our campus or come under our church, they are fed the Truth, the Word. Their old rickety foundation is replaced with one built on the Solid Rock of Christ. The examples of those around them day in and day out are those submitted to a life in Christ led by the power of Holy Spirit, bent to the Father’s will!
What a confirmation in my spirit that this is the work of the Lord. This is the work that Dr. Aje & Mom Nancy have poured out their lives into and blessed us, the Hennen family, to partner with them in. Wow. Thank you, Lord.
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.