We hope this update finds you well! Summer is on its way here on the West Coast and we are for sure enjoying those well-needed sun rays that remind us that after the cold, seemingly inert winter, life breaks forth and reenergizes us to move forward with renewed hope and vision.
OK, pardon the cheesiness, but that's actually a good metaphor to describe where we’re at as a community: after a long period of ''hibernation'', we are now seeing small sprouts of life popping all around, filling us with awe as we reflect on God's goodness and faithfulness, and the way He honors the hard work, time, and energy we are putting in getting the Restenäs giant back on its feet... so it may become once again the blessing our Heavenly Father intends it to be for Sweden and the nations!
We hope you enjoy this read. It's a long one, but it feels like there is so much joy and passion going on around here, that it makes it hard to cut this short! We hope that this update will be an encouragement for you and all that you are doing, wherever you may be in the world right now!
THE STORY OF
One week ago, as I was listening to a podcast, there was a book mentioned that retold a story that totally inspired me and filled me with hope and vision for the kind of communities God is wanting His people to create, here on Earth.
The following excerpt is taken from the book
BONHOEFFER: PASTOR, MARTYR, PROPHET, SPY by Eric Metaxas
''Germany. 1867. Friedrich Von Bodelschwingh (The Eldler) founded Bethel, a Christian community whose mission was to care for people with epilepsy. Already by 1900, their work had grown exponentially and now included several facilities that cared for 1 600 physically and mentally disabled persons. Friedrich Jr. took the work over at his father's death in 1910, and by the 1930s it had grown into a whole town with schools, churches, farms, factories, shops, and housing for patients, nurses and caregivers. At the centre were numerous hospitals and care facilities, including orphanages.
One day during the early 1940s, pastor Friedrich Bonhoeffer came for a visit at Bethel. He later described his impression as seeing this community as the antithesis of the Nazi worldview that exalted power and strength. It was the gospel made visible, a fairy-tale landscape of grace, where the physically and mentally disabled were cared for in a palpably Christian atmosphere.''
Those last lines sort of became engraved in my mind. ''Fairy-tale landscape of grace?'' Why in the world would such a renowned pastor as Bonhoeffer use a term like that? It sounded so... unserious, unspiritual, so childish. Or perhaps, could that be what it's actually all about? A God who is calling His children to dare to dream up such visions, such communities - pockets of hope and grace where heaven and Earth meet in an unmistakable way. Like a city on a hill, shining so bright it simply cannot be ignored.
But the cool thing is that God is not only calling us to envision such things: He has also, by His indwelling presence inside each one of us, given us the power to build such pockets of hope and grace, here on Earth! Being filled by the very same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, our lives are meant to boldly proclaim, despite the brokenness and injustice of our world, that we are a people of hope. A hopeful, vibrant people, who in the midst of pain and suffering, can still boldly declare that love wins, both here and now, and one day, fully, completely, and perfectly expressed, when God will make all things new.
Friends, may the story of Friedrich Von Bodelschwingh be an encouragement for you as it was for us. It's stories like this that fuel our Sparkbox Playground and enable us to keep looking towards the future, knowing by faith that others have gone before - sons and daughters of God who dared to be crazy enough to dream up AND build fairy-tale landscapes of this scale, communities who deeply changed the course of nations, and stood in absolute contrast to the broken mindsets and cultures that surrounded them. May we all direct our aim towards becoming such a people. Because our world is desperately crying for it.
SPARKBOX - YWAM RESTENÄS
'' For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.''
PAUL'S PRAYER FOR THE EPHESIANS
OUR PLAYGROUND IS BUZZING WITH SMALL SPROUTS OF LIFE
All over the property, our different teams are busy at work, figuring out various ways to harness the potential of this massive playground we live on, in a manner that can both create connections locally to help serve needs around us, and at the same time, invite young people to come and journey with us, and be inspired to go all-in with God!
Blóm is working a lot with the preparation of our upcoming 101 Spark DTS, this September, for which already 8 students have been accepted. They have spent a lot of time rethinking the way we will run our DTS, and their aim has been to create a narrative that invites people to explore three stories: The God Story, (Y)Our Story, and the Potential Stories of the Future. As a team, they want to help the students to grasp the depth and beauty of those stories, so that it may become the fuel for their lives, providing them with the wisdom, aim, and power to be the Church Jesus called us to be: salt & light of the Earth. Excitement is also rising at the prospect of all the collaborations that will happen during the fall with our different teams, and they are also already looking forward to a potential outreach road trip in Europe, where they’re eager to go and light some fires, getting young people launched into a life of purpose and meaning with God! Would you pray for continued strength and vision, and for 4-5 more students to answer the call to come and join us this fall? If you’d like to read more about 101 Spark DTS, or if you know someone who’s looking for a new challenge in life, read more here.
Terra Firma is expanding its experimental garden, fascinating our community with the richness and complexity of the soil and how it can provide us with delicious, nutritious food. We’ve already enjoyed some early Pakchoi harvest as a community - MIAM MIAM! - and we are eagerly looking forward to more healthy veggies and fruits in the coming months! What a subject of thanksgiving and praise to our God, and what a testimony of His great power and wisdom, all displayed on both the macro and micro levels! Terra Firma is also helping out every week on a small local farm, building some beautiful relationships there, as they serve the owners, all the while learning from their rich experience in the area of regenerative agriculture and permaculture. They are also playing with diverse ideas to receive ''woofers'' here at Restenäs, to come and share life with them. Through this, their aim is to be powerful witnesses of God's love, with the hope of eternally impacting the lives of those who will spend time here with them. Would you pray for health and renewed energy for the entire team, as many of Terra Firma’s members have been struggling with various sicknesses lately?
Altitude is also moving forward with energy, expanding their obstacle courses and now installing amazing & colorful climbing grips on trees around our property... which puts big smiles on many of our neighbors’ faces as they walk around our property and notice all those playful changes. Altitude is actively working to create diverse opportunities for our local community to come and taste their team building packages: they've been able to welcome 8 families these past 2 months, and are planning to use the coming summer months to welcome many more. They are also eagerly looking into finding new ways to connect with local schools, churches, and businesses, to bring them out in the forest and give them the full Altitude treatment. Would you pray for a few new key members to come and join their team, so that they may have the capacity to bless more people through their work?
Otium has been patiently renovating some of our apartments around the property. Covid has made it difficult for them to be able to receive guests and host retreats this past year, but they've put the time to good use, continuing to move towards their vision of creating a space of rest and restoration at Restenäs. Today's society is running at a hectic pace, and the last year has brought in the light the rough reality that for many people, big life changes are needed. In that sense, Otium is hoping to connect with those who are seeking a new way of life or people who need to slow down, pause, breathe, and realign their aim. As the world will hopefully slowly start to open up again soon, they are eager to welcome guests in our community for diverse silent retreats and personal retreats. Would you pray for wisdom and creativity for them to know how to best serve people in this time and season?
Our Backbone crew has also been really busy lately with the seemingly never-ending maintenance needs of this big property we are stewarding. They are faithfully serving us so that the things most people don’t think about on a daily basis, actually work properly. These guys have a big mission, and we are so thankful for all their hard work, day in, day out. During the last few months, they also organized the replanting of trees in our big forest, after we had cut down parts of it last year. It was hard work, but also such an exciting opportunity for our community, as we envisioned how this effort would be a blessing for the generations who will follow after us. Would you pray for more passionate and skilled workers to join their team? People with a vision to use their hands, hearts, and minds to create a rock-solid infrastructure for our property and the vision we carry?
Again this year, the summer will not look the way it usually does… but we’ve decided to look at the glass half full and basically rethink what we could offer people for the coming months! That’s why we are currently shaping Sommarbox: an invitation for families and smaller groups of friends to come to Restenäs this summer. We are putting together fun and relax one-week vacation packages that are available for booking during all of July! We want to offer people the opportunity to come to recharge their batteries and deepen their relationships with each other, as they enjoy the beautiful setting of the West Coast. We are also prepping to fill these weeks with amazing teaching, inspiration, prayer, good food, and fellowship - the perfect ingredients for a meaningful vacation this summer. Our hope is that Sommarbox would be like a boost of energy and fresh air for our guests, encouraging them for the next leg of their journey! If you or someone you know are interested to come for a Sommarbox stay this July, you can book your week here.
A New Floor
For Our Beloved Aula
As much as we are seeing our different teams building and expanding in different ways, we've also started to renovate one of the main arteries, here on the property, namely the Aula! We began this project back in January and since then, we've embarked on a journey to totally reimagine this space into a powerhouse of creativity: worship, concerts, courses & workshops, co-working space, events & conferences - you name it, this multi-room will handle it! But most of all, we’re excited to see this space filled up again in the coming years! We are going through the trouble and hard work of reimagining this room because we believe that it will become a hub and a catalyst for young people to get totally fired up by the love and wisdom of God, and launched with power into the lives they were created for!
We’re now at the stage of putting in a new floor, so the room can have a good foundation for the next 20-30 years!
Our plan is to purchase 240 m² of flooring for a total cost of 60 000kr.
As a way to help fund this initiative, Blóm has designed a fun summer collection of t-shirts and hoodies that we will offer as a gift to those who want to contribute towards this crowdfunding project, where each garment will be customizable in size, color, and print design. To help contribute to this project, you can visit our Crowdfunding Corner.
That's All Folks!
Well, that's all from us for now. May God bless you beyond all your expectations and may you keep us in your prayers! We need all the power, wisdom, energy, and resources we can get in order to continue navigating this re-pioneering phase we are in as a community. The Sparkbox Playground is more and more taking shape and we are super excited for all the visions and ideas God is helping us to perceive as we continue to move forward in faith.
And perhaps you may feel drawn to what is happening here and would like to join some of our existing team; or again you may be sitting on an idea, a vision that has been on your heart for some time now - whichever the case, we want you to know that there is space for everyone at our Playground! We are so keen to connect and envision the future with other brave souls who want to reimagine what our world could look like if we all rose up together, as one body, as Jesus' Church, and step forth in the full power that was granted to us by our Heavenly Father! So don't hesitate to get in touch with us!
And more than anything else, we want you to know how thankful we are for your willingness to journey with us and continue to believe that there is a bright future to be built in and from this place!
YOU ARE AWESOME!! 🙌🏻