Western Youth Institute ‘Lite,’ tune into week 3 virtually

Each Friday in August, youth from across the West can gather, whether online or in small local groups, to attend WYI Lite in community.

Part three of four, see part two here.

The third week of Western Youth Institute Lite (WYI Lite)—the Territorial Youth Department’s online retreat for young adults—focused on sharing God’s word while spreading positivity and Salvation Army news. 

In this week’s episode Lt. Colonel Lisa Smith shares God’s word, Centennial Corps of the Intermountain Division leads us in worship, some Salvation Army news, and the church word of the week is “transformed.”

WYI Lite meetings are happening every Friday in August via the Saynetwork Facebook page and Youtube, and are available for groups to download. 

Week 3’s opening Scripture was from John 8:12: When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

Here is Lt. Colonel Lisa Smith’s message along with follow-up study questions and a prayer exercise.

WYI Lite Week 3: Message

One of the most remarkable things Jesus said came during his Sermon on the Mount. From Matthew 5 we know that there were large crowds that followed Jesus and when he saw these large crowds one time he went up on a mountainside and he sat down. His disciples came to him and he began to teach them and in the middle of that sermon he said these remarkable words

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” 

“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” 

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16).

Jesus said you, you disciple of Christ you are the light of the world, but the Scriptures up until that point always said that it was God or Christ that was the light. You look at the Psalms and it talks about God being our light. You look at the prophecies about the messiah and the prophecies say, “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light.”  Even speaking of himself in John’s gospel Jesus himself said “I am the light of the world,”

So what does he mean when he says you are the light?

You know, I have here a replica of a lantern from Bible times. This is very similar to what they would have

used in the homes in Jesus’ day. Just a clay pot is not impressive, just a vessel made out of pottery. It has a hole so that you can fill it with oil, but right now, we would call this a lantern, a lamp, a light—but it’s not giving off any light at all. The ancient lamps of the Bible times needed oil and fire added to it to make it give light. Fuel and fire gives us a light that will last and will be helpful so that we can see when it’s dark. 

The key here is that we need some oil, we need to get some oil in that lamp and light that lamp and that oil is representing the Spirit of God that comes into us when we are those vessels that are filled with the treasure of the living Christ. It’s like the oil that fills the lamp. We ask to be filled with that Spirit and the oil fuels the flame of God his power his healing his anointing upon our lives for powerful ministry. Of course, we don’t trust in ourselves in this clay pot that we are. We trust in the presence of Christ in our lives. We have no light of our own. We need God to fill us and the fire of the Holy Spirit to come upon us in power. 

John the Baptist understood that when he told his followers when they asked him, he said, “I’m not the light. I am here to bear witness to the one who is the light,” and he was talking about Jesus. 

“He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light” (John 6:8).

That’s why Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers when he prayed for them, he said:

“I pray that … Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith … and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:16-19).

That’s what we need to do as carriers, as lamps and lights, for God. 

So, how does this light of Christ shine in us for the world to see? How do we break into the darkness of this world with that light of Christ and what does it look like? To be the light of the world as Christ invites us to.  I mean this world is a dark place. There’s so much darkness when you look at the poverty and the hatred and the division and the anger and just so many things that can cause us to despair. How do we bring the light to that place?  I think it’s so important to know that darkness is not the opposite of light, actually darkness is the absence of light, they’re not two equal opposing forces. Darkness is the absence of light and when the light comes in it dispels the darkness the light, demolishes the darkness.

I want to tell you the story of Mariah Morris. She is a woman from New Zealand. She lived in the late 1800s and she was half European and half Maori. Half of her was from the indigenous people of New Zealand. She lived in a village of Maori people and married a young chief of that village. She had the horrible experience of a terrible loss when a Maori dissident named Tekuti came to their village and killed her husband in front of her. She was devastated he was going to kill her and her son as well but they somehow escaped but as she wiped her hands in her husband’s blood, Maria vowed that she would not rest until she had taken the life of that man who had killed her husband. For 17 years vengeance consumed her. She searched everywhere for this man vowing to take his life. She eventually returned to the town of Gisburn and found herself in that city when The Salvation Army showed up and opened fire and began their work there. 

Now she, as a child had learned the Bible and had learned to pray, but all that had but disappeared as she was consumed with vengeance and with the desire to find Tikuti to kill him. She heard Captain Ernest hold away there in the streets reading the Scriptures and it reminded her of what she had learned as a child and that glimmer of light started to break through to her heart she kept running into salvationists throughout the town someone handed her a war cry she saw the Captain again at her neighbor’s house he asked her, “do you love God? Are you a Christian?” and she said, “No, I’m a heathen.” 

Eventually it led her to go to The Salvation Army meeting 26 days after they had started, after they opened fire. She came forward in that altar call and she knelt at the front and she said, “everyone prayed for me, but my heart was stubborn” and she went home and she prayed and she had a miserable week because she couldn’t get rid of of that that vengeance and the turmoil in her heart the darkness in her heart. 

The Captain came around to talk to her and she told the Captain the story of her husband’s death and he saw that she was angry he asked me, Mariah says, “if i could forgive Takuti for Jesus sake?” and I said, “No. Then the Captain prayed for me to have the power to forgive my enemies and that all at once a light broke in upon me and I cried for forgiveness. I pardoned Takuti in my heart and I felt my own sins were forgiven from that moment on and I knew I was saved. After this I was so happy I began to understand my Bible.” 

She said “I read the hymns and I prayed constantly.”

You know we become the light of the world when we allow the light of God to dispel the darkness in our own lives. She had vengeance and hatred and bitterness in her life, but the light of Christ broke through to deliver her from the stronghold of that desire for revenge. There’s a lot of things that can hold us back these days are the stronghold of addictions that would bind us up or maybe our own hatred or or or anger at something.

I don’t know what it is in your life, maybe there’s something that feels like darkness in your life, maybe you need delivery from your own wounds that need healing. The light of Christ can transform you like he transformed Mariah Morris. She was a miracle in that town of Gisburn. She became highly respected and joined The Salvation Army in radiated light. You could see her distinctive moku on her chin, which is the tattoo that the Maori women always wore and there she would be in her Salvation Army uniform that moku on her chin and her Bible in her hand telling her story over and over again about how the light of Christ broke through into her heart and helped her to forgive an enemy. She was used mightily in New Zealand to help the Maori people come to Jesus and she was truly a light in her world.

We become a light in our world when we allow the light of God to dispel the darkness within us but also when we allow the light of Christ to dispel the darkness around us in our communities. This happens when we give our gifts and our God-given talents to God and allow him to use what he’s given us to help the world to drive out the world’s darkness of injustice,anger, and war and division. The injustice of trafficking in poverty and we replace that darkness with the light of God’s love, justice, salvation and abundance.

You know another story I love is the story of Elizabeth Cottrell. Her story happens maybe just a few years after Mariah Morris’s. She was not in New Zealand, she was in London in the early days of the Army ministering in that rough part of east London. Poverty all around, people caught in addiction to alcohol, women prostituting themselves in order to survive. These were the people that the Army was ministering to and Elizabeth Cottrell was a soldier that was part of that ministry.

She would go to the Army meetings and when women caught in prostitution would come forward to pray and receive forgiveness and salvation, Elizabeth would pray with them and counsel them and and they would say “I don’t want to be a prostitute anymore. I don’t want to go back to that life. I don’t want to go back to that brothel,” and so what would she do? What could she do? She was a housewife herself. She had kids and a husband at home but these women needed her help and so she brought them to her home. Her own home became a shelter where they slept, these prostituted women slept on her kitchen floor. After a while when her husband had to tiptoe over the bodies of sleeping women because they covered the floor of the kitchen on his way to work in the morning, she went to the Army leadership and said, “we need some funds here, we need a building, we need a place to have a shelter for trafficked women.”  

I believe that Elizabeth Cottrell’s work was the first anti-trafficking work done by the Army; it wasn’t a mandate from THQ or DHQ. It wasn’t a corps officer telling everybody what to do. No, this was a soldier who ministered out of the light that was in her own life to bring light into the darkness of someone else, the light that came to these women who were transformed and changed because of her mystery. We become the light of the world when we allow the light of God to dispel the darkness around us, the darkness in our neighborhoods, in our communities. 

I wonder when you think about your own world where would God want you to bring the light of God? Our Scripture reading earlier, from 2 Corinthians 4:5-7, it said this:

“For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” 

You see we don’t go around preaching about ourselves, we preach that Jesus Christ is lord and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus sake. 

“For God, who said, ‘let light shine out of  darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 

Those are Paul’s words saying that we are like these clay pots, full of the treasure that is the Spirit of God Jesus told another parable in Matthew 25 and this parable was a parable he used to try and remind people that they need to be ready for when he comes back and returns, but it also is an interesting parable because it also talks about lamps I don’t know if you remember this parable, the parable of the 10 virgins. 

In Bible times the weddings were done a little differently than we do them today. The groom would come to the bride’s house and bring the bride back to his house for the wedding feast and the bride would be waiting at her house with all of her attendants. And so these 10 virgins would be the attendants of the bride waiting at the house for the groom. Now in this parable, Jesus said the groom was late and so they were waiting now their responsibility as the attendants was to have lamps that would last for the journey back to the groom’s house for the wedding feast. 

So, the Bible says there were five wise attendants and five unwise attendants, foolish attendants. The wise ones had their lamps and they burned their own lamps but they also had some extra oil. They were ready for a long journey over to the groom’s house for the wedding feast, but the foolish attendants had their lamps but they noticed the oil was getting low and they started to worry because the groom was coming and they had not enough oil to get them back to his home. 

So, they asked the wise attendants “please give us some of your oil” and they said “we can’t give you our oil, we won’t have any oil left, we won’t have enough to get through our journey. You need to go buy your own oil,” and so they left to buy oil and sure enough while they were gone buying oil the groom came and took the five wise attendants with him and they went back for the wedding feast and the foolish attendants missed out. They weren’t ready.

T.D. Jakes preached on this parable and he brought it to this point he said, “there’s nothing worse than the regret that comes from getting serious too late.” The foolish attendants weren’t prepared they hadn’t prioritized what they needed to do to make sure they would be with the bridegroom at that wedding feast and I think when it comes to us when we’re talking about ourselves and being filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit.There’s nothing worse than the regret that comes from getting serious about your relationship with God too late. No one can be serious about your relationship with God for you, that’s your job, that’s my job. We each have to take our relationship with God seriously and prioritize him. 

You can’t borrow someone else’s relationship with God or someone else’s intimacy with the savior. That only happens when we take the time to prioritize Christ and eternal things in our own lives there’s a lot that will distract you binge watching Netflix or video games or or doing the things that are important to you getting that education all these things good things neutral things, but the most important thing is Christ and his kingdom. God has called us to be a light and to do that we have to fill ourselves with him and get our own oil. So my challenge to you and my prayer for you right now is that, as we finish, I want to ask you to go and get your own oil.

If you want to indicate to me that you want to make this commitment today to get your own oil to prioritize Christ

and his kingdom of foremost importance in your life then I want you to email me at and I will send you a little bottle of oil that you can place on your shelf and you can use it to remind you to go get your oil and to make sure you are full of Christ.

Jesus said you are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven. That’s my prayer for you and for me that we would shine brightly for him. God bless you.

WYI Lite Week 3: Study questions and activity

Lt. Colonel Lisa said that “I can become the light of the world when I allow the light of Christ to dispel the darkness in my own life” (like Maraea Morris did) and “to dispel the darkness in the world around me” (like Elizabeth Cotterill did).

  •  Which one of these two options do you think you most need the Lord’s help with right now?
  • The story of Maraea Morris told about how God delivered Maraea from the darkness of vengeance, bitterness and unforgiveness in her own life. Think about what darkness there might be in your own life, and how might that seems to be succeeding at holding you back from being a strong light in this dark world?
  • Do you have the courage to pray and ask the Lord for deliverance from all that would keep you stuck in the dark, so that you can so you can shine brightly in this world?
  • Consider things like unforgiveness, bad habits, attitudes of anger, bitterness, critical Spirits, mean words, unkindness towards your family, or others around you, etc.

Church word of the week: ‘transformed’

  • How was Saul transformed and what led to that transformation
  • Have you been transformed? Tell us about it
  • How did the Gospel reach Antioch? What can we learn from that? 

WYI Lite Week 3: Prayer exercise

The story of Elizabeth Cotterill showed how a Salvation Army soldier took her own personal resources and gifts and helped bring the light of God into the darkness of human trafficking, making a real difference in the lives of many trafficked women in the East end of London. 

  • How do you think you best shine for Christ in the darkness of this world right now?  What is it about you that displays the light of Christ to the world around you?
  • What personality traits, passions, skills, or talents do you possess that you think Jesus might be able to use to bless the world around you?  How can you plan to start to use them today (or tomorrow) to shine for God in your everyday life?
  • When you think about your own world, where do you think God wants to use you to bring light into the dark places that you see around you?

Lt. Colonel Lisa paraphrased the T.D. Jakes quote:  “There’s nothing worse than the regret that comes from getting serious too late.”  

  • What do you think it looks like when someone gets serious about their relationship with God, when they prioritize their relationship with God?  Do you know anyone like that?  Describe that person and share what makes you convinced that they take their relationship with God seriously. 
  • Can you think of ways we sometimes try and have others do the work for us when it comes to our own relationship with God?
  • What is one thing you could change in your life that would prove or show that you were taking your relationship with God more seriously? 
  • What is one thing you would add to your life to show this?
  • What is one thing you would subtract from your life to show this?  

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