Posts by maxtustin

MAX TUSTIN: Final Update!

August 22nd, 2017 Posted by Immersion Internship - 2017 0 comments on “MAX TUSTIN: Final Update!”

From the moment I submitted my application to this final week, the word that best characterizes my internship experience is faith. This is a word that has taken on a new meaning in my own life through the various challenges and triumphs of the last eight months.

Before even stepping foot in Zambia, God called me to step out with a level of faith I had not walked in before. I quickly discovered that this internship was out of my control- that I had to fully rely on God to provide the means for this trip to happen. While I would love to write that I was able to fully rest in His provision and promise, I can’t. Through this process I became angry and bitter, desperately grasping at the reins of control that I never held. Even in my faithlessness, however, God was faithful- meeting every one of my needs fully and proving once again that He never fails. Looking back on this summer, it seems fitting that the prelude to this experience revolved around this theme of faith.

Reaching Zambia, I felt a tidal wave of new callings to step outside of my comfort zone in faith. While simply being in this new environment was a call outside of my comfort zone, I also found myself being called to step into deeper areas of my own faith. At first, this was simply in walking through local communities, sitting with those that would invite us in and talking about Jesus with them. As the summer went on, however, I felt myself being stretched further and further, praying with greater expectancy, and stepping into places that would make me look like a fool unless God showed up (which He did, time and time again). Through these experiences, I felt myself leaning more and more into God’s promise and power. This was a new motion for me, as my previous acts of “faith” were always underscored by a safety net of my own perceived understanding and control. Through these experiences, I also found myself becoming much more open to radical new ways that God can move through faith- ways that before seemed weird and, quite frankly, unlikely. By God’s continual offering of opportunity and his gentle nudging, I found that stepping into these new places became easier and even exciting.

While stepping out in faith externally was challenging, the greatest challenge I faced during this internship was stepping out in faith internally. Coming into the internship, I knew that everything was not solid in the deepest part of myself. First revealed through my preliminary bitterness, I knew that there were parts of myself I hadn’t fully confronted, parts that I hadn’t fully submitted to God. Upon further meditations and promptings through the summer, He revealed that I was not living my life out of a secure place. The actions that I took, though good, came from a place of seeking approval, affirmation, and ultimately my own glory. I didn’t believe that I was actually good, and so I needed to prove it to myself and to God that I was. By living out of this place, I couldn’t fully experience Christ’s freedom, or share in his abounding joy, putting myself in chains of my own design. And so, I reached a crossroads in my life: I could either continue living from a place of trying to please God and others, or I could live from a place of trusting God in who He says I am. While choosing the latter has been a daunting and seemingly hopeless process, I have already started to see the fruits of living out of this foundation of faith; my anxiety has been replaced with peace, fear with hope, insecurity with confidence, bitterness with love. In this place, my manufactured “good works” have become genuine and full, proceeding from a place of love rather than a place of need. There is an inexplainable peace I feel when I can simply sit in the presence of God, knowing in the deepest part of myself that I am, always have been, and always will be enough. For me, it is in this place that faith has taken its fullest form, providing the rock, the foundation by which I can truly live from, and continue to live from in the future.

Max Tustin • 2017 International Immersion Intern

MAX TUSTIN: Second Update!

July 24th, 2017 Posted by Immersion Internship - 2017 0 comments on “MAX TUSTIN: Second Update!”

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). During these past few weeks, I have been reminded of how truly beautiful the Lord’s freedom is. In this time, His liberating power has been revealed to me in a variety of new, impactful, and surprising ways. While God has displayed this power through many avenues, it was made the most evident in our team’s outreach to Malawi, where we prayed, served, and learned alongside the people of Mongochi.

At first, I was hesitant of this outreach. I came in with many negative images of how evangelism has been used and abused throughout history, and was unsure of how it might look in a way that truly embodies Christ’s love. I was also weary in the fact that we were likely to encounter some sort of spiritual warfare, an area that I held little knowledge and a whole lot of doubt in. Being faced with these uncertainties and doubts, I knew that I had two options: I could either allow myself to become consumed with bitterness or I could choose faith, jumping head first into the unknown. By the grace of God, I am pleased to say I chose the latter.

When we got to Malawi, I was blown away by the ministry that was already in place. The Christians there weren’t forceful or condemning, but spoke in love and hope. The message they shared was truly “good news”, celebrating the joy, healing, and freedom that is in Christ. Witnessing this ministry, I realized that sharing the gospel was not a burden but a gift- an opportunity to learn more about God through mutual discovery. Through this loving approach, God worked in miraculous ways- bringing about liberation in both the physical and spiritual spheres of Mongochi.

These experiences in Malawi have opened my eyes to the rich variety of ways that God sets us free. In the same way that God has set me free from my bitterness and doubt, he has set others free from physical debilitation, self-deprecating practices, and even spiritual oppression. By trusting in the Spirit of the Lord, I found that I can be an instrument in His liberation, proclaiming His victory over any darkness, and walking boldly in the freedom He has already placed within me.

Max Tustin • 2017 International Immersion Intern

Questions and Restoration

July 5th, 2017 Posted by Immersion Internship - 2017 0 comments on “Questions and Restoration”

Hello! My name is Max Tustin, and I am one of the 2017 Poetice Interns. Originally from Plainwell, MI, I recently graduated from Hope College with a BM in Vocal Music Education. I enjoy working with students, exploring the outdoors, and playing, performing, and writing music.

These last four weeks have been full of new experiences, challenges, and a whole lot of joy. With this being my first time leaving the country, I have felt myself continually stretched outside of my comfort zone. This was especially evident on our first Monday, when we paired off and went out into the nearby communities, sitting down with any families that invited us in. It was the first time I had witnessed such extreme poverty, and it left me overwhelmed with immense sorrow, guilt, and a ton of questions. This experience, along with other community outreach experiences, has pushed me to wrestle with my role here in Zambia, and contemplate how I can tangibly be a part of the restorative work that is being done here. It has also pushed me to consider the different types of poverty that are present in these communities, and how social, psychological, emotional, and spiritual poverty often match, and can even supersede, physical poverty. Though I still hold many questions in this area, I have already begun to see how God is bringing restoration in Zambia. This restoration for me was the most evident at the Music Academy’s Music Camp last weekend in Livingstone, where I had the opportunity to co-lead a guitar class of seven students. Through this experience, I was reminded of the joy and hope that lies in playing music, and how something that seems so small can have a massive impact. I have high hopes for the seeds that were planted at this camp.

Within my own faith, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what my identity truly is. In the past, I placed my identity in what I could do or what others thought of me, attaching my interior worth to my exterior success. This caused my self-concept to rise and fall with each success and failure, eventually leading to the belief that I in my myself am a failure. These past four weeks have challenged this notion, showing me that my worth is immovable- planted firmly in who I am created to be. When I am able to claim this truth, I am free to enjoy who I am, and not be consumed with what I think I “should be”. Throughout this process, the notion of being “created in the image of God” kept coming up. This was something I had always glanced over in the past, but upon further unpacking, have found it to be a statement of unthinkable weight. Being created in the image of God means that I am created in the likeness of God- that I am, at my core, good, just, and loving. It means that I carry a unique characteristic of who God is- a characteristic that no one else has ever or will ever carry. It means that when I truly accept myself for who I am, I am accepting Him who made me. With all of this said, I feel as though I have just scraped the surface of what this statement entails, and that its implications span deeper than my imagination will ever go. I look forward to further exploring my identity as an image-bearer throughout the rest of this summer, and learning the tools to help others see their own immeasurable worth in Christ.

Max Tustin • 2017 International Immersion Intern