Tuesday, November 25, 2008

November 25, 2008

Dear Family and Friends,

            Six years ago I set out for Cyprus for the very first time. I was 19 years old and in my first year after high school. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I was excited. It did not take long for me to realize that it is possible to feel so at home and have such love for two places. I love my home and family and church and feel so alive and fulfilled here; nevertheless, I felt the same feelings almost immediately in Cyprus with the Gateways Beyond ministry. It is not so surprising really because what draws me to both places is the Spirit of the Living God and the love in the people and community. The Gateways Training School in 2003 was a pivotal step in my journey as God established so many things in my heart concerning my destiny, His love, and the passions He has placed inside of me. I went back to Cyprus in 2004 in order to do the second year internship. This was truly a special time in my life. I grew closer to my friends, more deeply connected to the ministry, and more certain of my calling to the nations.

            After the internship, I went through a bit of a struggle over what to do next. I felt strongly that I was supposed to have a season of serving alongside the staff of Gateways Beyond and joining in the vision of the ministry; however, I also knew that college was something very important to me and for equipping me further for God’s Kingdom. So, I decided not to go back immediately but to come home and focus my energy on finishing school. This was also a pivotal decision in my life. I was able to be back home with my family, be involved with Shady Grove Church, and immerse myself in studies. My time at Dallas Baptist University was more than I had hoped for. I was very involved on campus with the University Honors Program and Sigma Tau Delta (the English Honor Society). I was challenged in so many ways and know I will always cherish the friendships I made with my fellow students and my professors. I even made my mark at DBU by being the first graduate of the new University Honors Program and you can find my senior thesis, “Transforming Tales: C.S. Lewis, Imaginative Literature, and Character Formation,” in the school library, although I think it is probably very dusty right now.

            As graduation approached, I thought the time was coming for me to go back to Cyprus, but my timing was a little off. The Lord opened the door for me to help lead Life Walk, the discipleship school at Shady Grove. Most of you receiving this letter already have read about Life Walk and our amazing trip to China this summer. So, I will just say that, once again, the Lord showed me that His plan is even greater than what I can dream up for myself. Life Walk was such a training ground for me, and I feel so enriched by the year I was blessed to spend with each student and the director. Just writing this brings back so many memories and makes me miss each of them.

            Life Walk ended for the year in May and I have been working ever since. The Lord is so faithful and in this time of global economic hardship I am blessed not only just to have a job, but also to have a job that I greatly enjoy. I am working at the Four Seasons Resort Dallas in Los Colinas and get to meet so many other staff from around the world. Many would not want to let go of such a job in these times, but I know I can trust in God; and now, once again, my path is shifting. After much prayer and submitting myself to the counsel and covering of my parents and other godly leaders in my life, I feel that the time has come for me to return to Cyprus and work with the Gateways Beyond ministry. I will be going in January and will be on staff. I will be returning after 4 ½ years and I know things will be different. Both I and the community in Cyprus have grown and changed in so many ways. I feel like I am both returning home and going to a new place entirely. I am so excited and humbled to have this opportunity!

            So here I am, just a month and a half left to go, and so much to do. I do not yet know what my exact responsibilities will be this year in Cyprus, but I can offer a glimpse of what I will be involved in. GBI has both a first year discipleship school and a second year school. It also has an internship program for students returning a third year. In whatever capacity I serve, be it hands on with one of these programs or administratively, I will daily be active in helping disciple the students and interns. I will also likely be living with some of the girls and leading a small group. For 2009, I will be in Cyprus from January to June. Sometime around March we will spend a month in Israel, and at the end of the school we will go to another country for a month-long outreach. These trips are always so powerful and transforming in our lives and in the lives we touch.

            Your friendship means so much to me and I am so grateful for the many people who have touched my life. As I go forth to the nations, I believe that the way so many of you have blessed me, God will bless many others. I would love to keep in touch as I travel. I started a blog online where I will post regular updates and other things I want to write about. It is at http://www.hiddenroyalty.blogspot.com. You can also keep up with me through email. If you would pray for me and this ministry whenever we come to mind, I know there will be many times that your prayers will change the very circumstances we are facing. You can also help me by spreading word to anyone you know that may need an online English tutor or need some proofreading or editing done. These are things that I can do via the internet and earn a little money here and there, as I will be volunteering and not receiving a salary for six months. Also, if the Lord would lead you to sow financially, I would be so blessed by your gift. Anything you give will go to help cover my monthly base fees and our trip to Israel and the outreach. You can give easily online by going to the website www.gatewaysbeyond.org and following the link “Donate,” or you can send a check made payable to Gateways Beyond to Gateways Beyond PO Box 155101 Ft. Worth, TX 76155 with a separate note attached saying it is for me. Both options are tax-deductable. If you would like to make a monthly commitment for these six months please let me know to help me keep track of everything. My monthly fees will be 350 Euros and it would be so wonderful if this was covered through monthly commitments.

            Once again, thank you for being who you are and for investing into my life. And thank you for reading this letter. Please write to me what is going on in your life and how I can pray for you. May you be blessed in all you do, and may you endeavor to honor the Lord in word and in deed.

Your friend and sister in Messiah,

Hannah Briscoe


(682)559-9351 (until I leave)

2414 Axminster Drive

Grand Prairie, TX 75050


bullets said...

this is awesome hannah. what is the vision inside serving the school? i mean what do you get out of it? i need to be educated. i see it as beneficial for young one's who want to get away and experience the education of a brilliant team in cyrpus, but then what happens after that is what i am thinking about. i struggle with thinking the romantic idea of an experience on an island in the mediterranean overpowers the reality of the next step. i love the gts team, i love the idea and the fruit of the labor. however, i lack the ability to see the possibilities of a mature christian in this model. it seems as though there is created a greater dependency on an unrealistic lifestyle instead of creating a vessel designed to penetrate a hostile world. again, i am not attacking i am just basing this on my observations, and really comparing it with the model i have seen first hand, i.e. lifewalk. if it sounds like harsh words, then i am sorry, but i wanted to ask someone whom i know will respond in a loving, respectful way, such as yourself.

Hannah B. said...

No worries, I totally understand where you are coming from. This is exactly the reason I went through such a difficult time making my decision to return. I wanted to make sure that it was not this romantic, idealistic environment I was pursuing. And I agree that there is a real danger of that and getting caught up, or addicted, to such an environment to the point where you are not able to be a thriving Christian elsewhere. So, I really had to search my heart. What it comes down to is as follows. When I was in Cyprus, one of the things I observed that really resonated as true and good to me was covenental relationships and people partnering together in ministry for life--not the same ministry, but a committment to see each other's ministry and calling achieved. I witnessed this in David Rudolph, Asher Intrader, Dan Juster, and Eitan Shishkoff. They had a season in their life where they lived in the same area and were involved in the same ministry or congregation, but then the Lord had further plans for each of them. During my second-year internship in Cyprus, I felt the Lord knitting my heart together with different people and with the ministry in general. So, and this is just a personal thing for me, I feel that there needs to be another season of actually ministering together and being knitted together in a deeper way because I believe these are relationships that will be a very important support for me and where the Lord brings me in the future. I think being on staff will deepen this in a greater way than the time I already had as a student and intern. I also feel that through my time in Cyprus and with our travels there will be divine appointments that the Lord will use to help lead me to the next place He has for me. I truly believe I am called for a large portion of my life to be on foreign soil as a missionary and I believe that during this next season there will be a narrowing of focus and direction because right now I have such a love for every age group among every people group that I could go anywhere. I also, and I say this humbly, believe that because I went when I was so young then came back for a substantial time period and watched people come and go, that I have a unique perspective. I would like to help the young people coming and going to examine their own hearts and really see what the Lord may be speaking for them to do. And if He is speaking for them to return to their home congregations (which I think is usually the case) I want to help prepare them for how they will handle the transition between environments and encourage them to give their all and be an encourager wherever they go. One of the saddest things in the world to me is to watch a young person, or an old person, go through a time of blazing passion for the Lord and then step back into "reality" and fall to pieces. Which is another reason I am excited to serve the school and really invest into these students lives. So, that is my long response. I appreciate your honest question and welcome the dialogue.