My first experience with YWAM happened one summer in Harpenden, England. I had signed up as a volunteer for the London Olympic outreaches that were being hosted at this particular YWAM location. To be honest, I realize now that my intentions for going were a bit selfish. I was focused more on seeing a new country and experiencing the Olympics than on finding God or serving others. But God has a funny way of teaching us about ourselves, and what my time in Harpenden taught me was that finding God and serving others was what I really desired out of my life.
What was it that I found in Harpenden that so changed my life? I’m not really sure, to be honest. Part of it was the community that after just a few hours felt like home; a community that made me feel loved. Part of it was the people I saw around me, people who were excited and hopeful and full of desire to live a life of meaning. I had occasionally seen people like that before, but their passion was usually passing and short-lived, like a firecracker at dusk. This passion was different. It didn’t come and go with their emotional state or with how much coffee they’d had that morning. It was steady and bright and had sustained many of them through decades of faithful service.
Part of what changed my life was also the people I met in London, the broken, the homeless, the hopeless. I spent several days walking the streets of East London, from Victoria Park to Islington. At one point I talked to two teenagers who wanted to do nothing but skateboard their entire lives. I asked one what he would do when he got too old to skate, and he told me that’s when he would kill himself. He then told me about his friend standing next to him who had been mugged and had his shoes stolen by a drunk the weekend before. Where’s the meaning in that?” he asked me.
I wasn’t able to answer him then, but I can still remember their faces. I wish I could go back and tell them that, though I can’t logically explain it, I know in my heart there is meaning in everything and that everything can be redeemed. I know there was a reason I was supposed to see these things and talk to these people. I also know that these events motivated me to take time off from school and further develop my faith, my convictions, and my calling to help others.
Since returning from London, my perspective on life has changed. I see the world as sharper and harder than I previously remembered. I better understand the yearning that is in every person’s heart. Instead of being pushed away, I felt more drawn in toward the pain and the need. What I see now are opportunities for God: opportunities for Him to move in us and create beauty through, and despite, our faults.
Half a year ago I had no idea what a Discipleship Training School (DTS) was. Now I’m beginning mine in the Czech Republic. I think it’s funny how God works these things out. I’ve had a very blessed life, and now I have been blessed with the opportunity to attend a DTS and to understand more of God’s plan for my life.