Many people ask me, “When did you know God was calling you to be a missionary?” Or, “why did you come to YWAM?” Maybe you have wondered the same thing. This is the story I want to share with you today.
Let’s go back – way back.
I feel like elementary school is a good place to start. Elementary school is where you get exposed to all those fun, idealistic careers – like being a veterinarian, a teacher, an astronaut or a scientist (all valid careers, might I add). People start asking you, the cute 8 year old, what you want to be when you grow up. Aside from the momentary desire to save puppies and kitties all day long, or possibly go swim with dolphins, I never had a strong desire or aspiration to a career when I was young.
Another way to ask this same question (what do you want to be when you grow up), is to ask “where do you feel you belong in this world?” I think this might be more helpful for children as they discover who they are; their gifts and passions, and as they interact with the world. Well, I knew that I didn’t belong at school where the social life was a little too chaotic and aggressive, and my math skills weren’t up to par. I did feel a sense of curiosity and draw towards church, but didn’t find the acceptance or validation I was looking for.
Where did I belong?
Well, as High School drew to a close I had to make a decision, so I applied to a Christian college up in MN. I visited the campus twice before graduation, and this is where I feel the Lord began guiding me towards the missionary lifestyle.
It was on the second trip, as we were touring campus after the scholarship day that I experienced my first direction from Holy Spirit (although I didn’t recognize it as His voice until months later). I had this very odd sense and knowledge – I wasn’t going to attend this college. For some reason, although I was accepted and it seemed like the right thing to do, I knew deep down inside that I would never set foot on that campus as a student. Wow, what an odd experience that was. I don’t think I mentioned it to anyone because how weird is that?
Life went on, I graduated and even decorated my party in my ‘future school’s’ colors. What else should I do? I knew I had that feeling, but had no other plan!
It was a month later and I was a camp counselor at Hidden Acres Christian Center when one of my friends mentioned her plans to go do this thing called a Discipleship Training School with Youth With A Mission. Sorry, what? She explained to me that it is a 5 month school where you dedicate your time to learning about God and going to a different country for two months with your team to do an outreach and apply what you had learned.
As a staff that summer, we were studying Francis Chan’s “Remembering the Forgotten God”, which is about the Holy Spirit. Growing up, I never remember my church mentioning the Holy Spirit outside of the ending of your prayer “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. I was completely amazed and thoroughly excited about what this living and active Holy Spirit might want to do with my life.
In my quiet time before my campers woke up, I invited Holy Spirit to speak to me. To this day, my life has never been the same! A few moments after my invitation, my eyes were closed and I immediately saw myself walking around that college campus and felt again that odd sense of knowledge as if I was there once more. Then, my mind quickly went back to the conversation with my friend only a few days earlier about her Discipleship Training School. Yes, I was to dedicate 5 months of my life to learning more about God!
I shared this experience with my family and began researching more about this Youth With A Mission movement. The Lord met me in an intense way in my DTS and the months following, as I learned to apply the truths I had learned.
Through Youth With A Mission, I have been exposed to the hurting world, the ‘least of these’, and discovered my true identity as a child of God. I have been exposed to other Christians hungry to learn how to be an active role in missions and be discipled, and I have been exposed to the alarming truth that “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”
Yes, the Lord has a place for me in His Church – the Body of Christ. This is where I belong! This is who I am, and this is what I want to do as I continue to grow up the rest of my life 🙂
Stay tuned – in a bit I will share about how the Lord led me to my position now.