Author - Tonya Stanfield

Soul-ish Travel: Recognizing Invitations to Push Beyond Your Borders
So… How’d It Go? Sound of the Nations: Battambang, Cambodia
Which Kid From Charlie and The Chocolate Factory Are You? The Value of Stuggle
LIFE as a Worship Experience
You’re in a Spiritual Crisis? Find Out Why That’s Fantastic News!

Soul-ish Travel: Recognizing Invitations to Push Beyond Your Borders

I’m sorry to say it, but his beard was far more homeless than hipster. I remember sitting there as he scratched at a two-foot long monstrosity of human hair sprouting all over his face, thinking a nest of rats could make a very nice home in it. He tossed long locks over his shoulder and put his arm around his well-styled, Christian girlfriend.

Then, he said God told him to take the Nazirite vow. You know, like Samson, who got Superman-like powers in exchange for perpetually flowing locks. I’d never heard of the modern version before, but apparently this vow was all the rage amongst the super-spiritual where he came from. A bunch of hairy, young men had promised God neither scissors nor razor would come near their bodies for an entire year.

I asked him the deeper meaning behind it all. I can’t recall his specific words, but my ears heard a string of Holy Spirit jargon, making me wonder if HE didn’t even know why he was doing it.

If it’s not obvious already… I’ll admit it now: I judged him.
And, I was wrong.

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So… How’d It Go? Sound of the Nations: Battambang, Cambodia

Photo Credit: Kenia Godard

It was a sort of divine, grand experiment: Could we bring a distinctly African worship seminar, in both sound and staff, to Cambodia? What would happen when drums and Township Gospel met chimes and Temple Karaoke? Would it all be lost in translation? Would the catch phrase, “From the Nations to the Nations,” survive being put to the test? We had five weeks in the hot season (and let me tell you it was REALLY hot) to find out.

Average Temperature: “Frying Pan”

Tastiest Treat: “Fried Spider”

School Catch Phrase: “A ‘notha Level!”

(There’s something spectacular about Cambodian’s declaring: “It’s A ’notha Level!” complete with a South African accent.)

YWAM Muizenberg, South Africa staff, Kevin and Tonya Stanfield (USA), Billy Edwards, MJ Abrahams (South Africa), Kenia Godard (Columbia), and Fy Rasolofoniaina (Madagascar), joined forces with the incredible YWAM Battambang base to pull off the second Sound of the Nations School in Cambodia (and discover a whole new appreciation for air conditioning). Let me quote a student’s blog to tell you more:

“The purpose of this course is to dig deeper into worship, raise up local worship leaders, and encourage authentic ethnic song writing! There is a distinctive lack of contemporary ethnic Cambodian songs… God made this country’s sound exquisite and totally unique. It would be so sad to miss out on their expressions of worship!” – Caroline Clymer

Writing a song may seem easy to some, but creating unique music requires a freedom of soul and a confidence that goes beyond the skill of one’s voice: An assurance is needed, one that runs deep and quiet, whispering of the unique song that resides within each one of us… and that this song, my song, is worth hearing. It is, in fact, God’s song too.

So did the divine experiment succeed?

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Which Kid From Charlie and The Chocolate Factory Are You? The Value of Stuggle

Photo Credit: Leeroy from Life of Pix

5 Weird Kids…

5 Unique Struggles…

You May Identify With All of Them.

(I do.)

“Struggle carves out the space within us for deep desire…”

– Father Richard Rohr

“Struggle shows us what our true desires are.”

– Me (after reflecting on Rohr)

I’m just going to apologize for how my brain works up front. As I write, I have a friend who just lost his dad, another going through a divorce, and yet another betrayed by a disciple she poured her life into. At this moment a tornado of deep struggle swirls all around me, and I started thinking about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! (Oompa Loompas? Golden Tickets? You know the one. I already said sorry.) The author, Ronald Dahl, wrote some brilliantly, dark children’s books, full of quirky, sometimes disturbing characters. (Real life Willie Wonka would have restraining orders against him. Am I right?) Dahl was not afraid of the shadowy side of the plot, and that’s what makes his tales so fascinating, so full. In that way, he’s a bit like the Author of Life. Yep, I’m now talking about God. While our Heavenly Father may have no darkness in Him, He’s sure not afraid of ours. Even more surprising, He doesn’t overcome our struggle by solving or expelling it; rather, he enters into it with us and writes the shadows into the plot of our lives, using all of it to call us toward Life.

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LIFE as a Worship Experience

Photo Credit: Photosightfaces via Compfight cc

I couldn’t bring myself to sing a certain line in a worship song. The worship band settled on it, hovered over it – a melodic mantra. Hands were raised; eyes closed; voices intensified all around, and yet my mouth clamped shut.

“Nothing in this world can satisfy.”

Lately, I’ve noticed this particular phrase is popular in many worship songs. Israel Houghton likes it. Maranatha Music likes it… and we YWAMers seem to like it. So, I searched for it in the Bible. I couldn’t find it.

Now, I know the singer’s true intent of this lyric, and it’s good: Money, fame, ambition, etc. are not enough to satisfy. There is no replacement for or equivalent to Jesus. However, I found myself thinking how sad it is that nothing in this world can satisfy us, after all God created the entire world just to satisfy us, delight us, marvel us, and ultimately point us to Him.

So, there I was at worship… not even able to force a hum. What was wrong with me?

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You’re in a Spiritual Crisis? Find Out Why That’s Fantastic News!

Photo Credit: *Louise** via Compfight cc

Recently I was told, “You have a real gift for facilitating spiritual crisis.” To which I responded, “Uh… errr… thank you?” Luckily my source of flattery was a clinical psychologist, and we were talking about the Six Stages of Faith every human being (including you and I) are currently traversing.

Fun Fact: Spiritual crisis is the marker you may be shifting up a faith level. This is why I don’t flinch at these types of hushed missionary confessions anymore:

“I’ve never doubted my faith before, but now I doubt everything I used to know.”

“I’m critical of everything! I just can’t go to church anymore.”


“Lately, I’m not sure I even believe in God.”

Once upon a time, I’d dig out my apologetics Bible college text book and frantically try to find the answers to fix these troubled folks, to ease their doubts, assure them of what they already know to be true. Today, I just smile and say, “You’re a missionary who doesn’t believe in God? Awesome. God is so excited!”

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