As many of you will know, YWAM Perth is looking to build a new accommodation block just down the road from our main base in order to provide more rooms and beds for all the staff and students that we are home for in our community. This building is going to cost around $4 million dollars – which is roughly £2 million given the current exchange rate. This is of course a lot of money, especially as we are a non profit organisation with none of it’s members getting paid a salary. But we are trusting God for the finances, and we have already seen a great deal of money come through. The other Wednesday in staff meeting it was announced that God had given us a new prayer strategy in order to see the rest of these finances come in. Every morning, for the next 4 weeks, the base leadership team and anybody else who wants to join in will be meeting from 7am for a time of specific prayer and intercession., Great!
And then we got hit by lightening. Or at least, the lighting struck VERY close to our base, causing the building to light up and giving off a very loud bang. That was Thursday night, when Perth was hit by a big thunder storm. Unaware of how much of a problem this would prove to be, everybody turned up on Friday morning ready to work. And that was where the problems began. None of the computers were working. Nobody could log in in order to access their accounts. A very lengthy process began. It was soon realised that the problem was because the server was down, something that happens from time to time and so nobody thought much of it. usually what this means is that everybody gets half an hour off to have a morning or afternoon tea break whilst out very clever IT people work hard to get it all back up and running. Except this time, the server was’t up and running after an hour, and there were rumours that it wasn’t going to be working for the rest of the day.
To cut a very long and confusing story short (all sorts of information was being passed round the base continually as information was discovered and more pieces of the puzzle put together) this is basically what we now know and what has been happening this past week.
It turns out the thunder caused a massive surge of electricity to run through our system, causing various degrees of damage. Now everything we have is guarded with surge protectors, but this surge of lightening was just too strong. Our servers were damaged, and it was going to be a long and lengthy process to fix. The biggest problem with this is that nobody can do any work whilst the servers are down! All of our files are on the server, all of our emails, and the majority of our computers only run through it, so we don’t even have access to the internet! Our first biggest concern was that we would lose of all of our data, 10 years worth of work and information, because both our server and back up server had gone down. Something which isn’t meant to happen.
Now I don’t know all the technical ins and outs of this, so I wont bother to try and explain. But this is what I do know. When they called the IBM guy out to come and look at the problem, he didn’t know what the problem was. Because in his 17 years of experience, he had never seen anything like it. And when they did finally figure out what the problem was, he didn’t know how to fix it because this never should have happened, and so of course, it had never happened before and he had never needed to fix it. Now him just being there was costing us a lot of money. We are talking a figure in the thousands. Which is typical when you are already trusting God for the provision of 4 million! But then this guy goes and tells us that we need to buy several new parts, which are going to cost us another 8 thousand dollars or so.
But this is when it all gets pretty incredible. Now it turns out, that our neighbours, the building that I walk past every single day to get onto base but had no idea who they were – it turns out that they are IT consultants specialising in data recovery in terms of crisis and external back up those wanting extra assurance that they wont loose all their data in said crisis. Basically, exactly what we needed. And it also turns out that we have a good relationship with them. So when we went over and shared our problem – something miraculous happened. It turns out they have exactly the same server/hard drives as us, and they had some spare parts lying around including the ones that we were told we were going to need. The EXACT same parts. So they loaned them out to us – and it was all still broken. They weren’t the parts that we needed after all.
Still not knowing if we had lost all of our data, or what the actual problem was, we handed our hard drives over to these lovely people next door to see if they would bed able to solve the mystery. This was on Tuesday. On Wednesday we were told that we haven’t lost our data, it is all still there, we just don’t have any way of accessing it because it turns out the bit that is broken is that part that allows us to access stuff. But Praise Jesus all our files are now safe and backed up. We just need to find the right parts in order to get it all fixed.
4 days on and that is still where we are. We have all sorts of people across the country looking to try and find these parts (I don’t really understand this part, but again, its something to do with the fact that this shouldn’t have happened that seems to be causing the problem in fixing it!) and we have people literally all over the world praying for our server to come back online. Once the parts are sourced and we get a hold of them. its still going to take at least a couple of days to get things back up and running. So we still have a long way to go.
In the mean time, the majority of people on base are unable to do the work that needs to be done. Without access to the internet or necessary files, we are falling VERY far behind. And of course, people are no longer able to get in contact with us through the usual channels. We have had to go into battle stations, with staff phoning as many people as possible around the world who might be trying to get in contact with us, using all different types of communication to try and get the message out that we are still operational as a base, even if only at half the usual capacity. Half of our website is down, so nobody can currently use our pay online service or fill out student or staff applications – which is a massive blow to us. This has caused all of us a lot of problems. Including all the money that we are having to spend in order to get it all fixed. It has been a massive blow to us all.
On a personal level, that has meant that in order to do any work at all, a few of my team have been rotating around different staff houses in order to gain access to the internet to do research. We even went to the library one morning to do book research! It’s been a lot of coming and going here there and everywhere, and we obviously haven’t got anywhere near as much work as we would usually get, but we have definitely been affected less than a lot of other people. The open office at work has been pretty much deserted.
As a base, we recognise that there is a lot of warfare going on through this. It isn’t a coincidence that a few days after a new prayer strategy was announced in trusting God for $4 million, we were hit by lightening and a problem that never should have happened, suddenly became possible, knocking down all of our communication, nearly losing us all of our work from the past 10 years, preventing us from being able to do any more work and costing us thousands of dollars. Unable to do much else, a lot of us this week have spent much time in prayer, interceding on behalf of the base and the server, and we continue to do so. The fact that all of our data is safe is a MASSIVE answer to prayer, and we are so incredibly grateful for both this, and God’s provision through our neighbours who happened to be experts in our exact area of need, with equipment to help and the willingness to go out of their way to help us. If anything, this crisis has actually strengthened our relationship with our neighbours – a testament that God really can bring good out of any situation.
But there is still a long way to go. There is still a lot of work that needs doing, and until then, we continue to pray and trust God that this will all come together. It’s not just about the money that we are losing through this, but also the potential students we might lose, who might have been trying to send in their application to be trained as missionaries with us when they couldn’t get through to us because our website was down. The people who had enquires but decided to look elsewhere or do something else instead. There are long term implications for all that has been happening here these past 2 weeks. Hopefully soon we will be back and fully operational, although getting the sever up and running is only part of the recovery. There will be a lot of work that we will need to catch up on. But we will get there.
There is a sense that we are entering into a new season here. We are fighting for this building to increase our presence in this community. We are fighting for more students to come here and be trained in missions. We are fighting to see both this city and the nations transformed in the name of Jesus. And in doing so, we are meeting opposition. But we will not be moved. We will stand our ground and keep fighting for what God has promised us. We will continue to fight until we see breakthrough…and then we will fight some more to see it all through to completion!