Here is the story of how I made my way to the land “Down Under”; going from a college student studying Engineering at ACU to doing mission work across the world. I have made many decisions that have been what the Lord suggested, and others that came from me thinking that I knew what was based. The four years that I loosely outline here have grown me in so many ways. I would not change any of those decisions or anything I had to go through.
The Start of a Quest
It all started towards the beginning of my college career. I had just graduated from high school and gone on an event through Fellowship of the Sword in Fort Worth, Texas. That event shifted my understanding of God and His role in my life. You see, up until then I saw God and church as a part of my life that was necessary, but I did not known exactly why. I was in the “natural” mindset of wanting to go through college to get a degree in engineering, a career in the same field, a house with room for a family, and a wife that I could share the rest of my life with. I had no intentions of diving deeper into my relationship with God more than getting to know more of how He could help me achieve my dreams; my plan was to succeed without the help of anyone, including God. After that event, I decided I would take another look into my relationship with God and see what He might have to offer since I had encountered Him in a way that opened my eyes to the reality of my life with Him really DID dictate the rest of my life. I began to actually see Him as my Father.
College – Abilene
Over the course of the two years, He began showing me more of how I can walk in step with Him while putting off the things I was drawn to. (Gal. 5:14) This consisted of searching for a church home in my college’s town of Abilene, Texas, realizing I was finding my identity in my grades, and craving the approval of others. I was walking out new spiritual gifts I had heard of, but had not seen in my own life until getting connected to a life group. We were all on fire for God and wanting to see the Kingdom come through intentional community. This was the first time I had thoughts about pursuing ministry in my life, even if it wasn’t where I was expecting to go for a career. It was this small group that started forming my understanding for small bodies of Christ that reflected the early church. We were in NO way perfect in mirroring that model, but it became more and more similar as we figured out how living life in community worked.
I started doing more to make my faith come alive during my second year; studying the Bible for myself, investing in a small group, and recognizing how the Lord speaks to me (Scripture I read, songs I heard, and pictures/scenes that came to mind). I also realized that I had been dealing with anxiety and depression, something God would help me with in the time I spent at home. I went on another event that was focused more on finding the dream God has placed in your heart and pursuing it with all you have. Over the course of the event I met some mentors that have changed my life for the better; mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. I also received a “download” of some ideas to devote my 20’s to the Lord. Some ideas including learning about people in the Bible, reading the Bible many times, memorizing scripture, learning psalms/poetry, writing psalms/poetry, and pursuing anything that God has for me. It has been an undertaking that has taken me to places, people, and ideas I thought I would never see or know of. That being said, I am not anywhere near finished, I still have a LONG way to go with lots of work to do. I anticipate that even when I become 30 I will still have much to learn and work towards.
Moving Home/New Direction
After two years of college and wrestling out aspects of my faith, I made the decision to move home. I had the opportunity to pursue an internship in camp ministry or return to studying engineering. Praying, I told God I would be at home for a year before leaping into ALL He has for me, holding nothing back. That was the first instance that I ran into YWAM. I read an article about giving God everything through missions and submitting all you have and are to God. The opportunity was interesting, but I had no support financially or through prayer from a home church. I told God that upon bringing it up again, I would pursue a DTS before continuing a degree. Also, I had no missions experience, but found France and Israel near to my heart and a constant point of prayer.
I started working at the local Starbucks to pursue coffee ministry in the best way that I knew. Soon after, I became eligible for the online college achievement program through Starbucks, so I began working towards a business degree in hope that I could open a coffee shop with a ministry background/orientation. I had saved up most of the paychecks I had received in anticipation of putting myself through the program with no help from outside sources. On top of that, the tuition reimbursement program would allow me to come out with a lot of money after I received my degree. I was also able to walk through more freedom from anxiety and depression; not all at once, but gradual freedom through relationship with Him.
Over the summer of 2018 I stepped into a role at another summer camp in the panhandle of Texas where I was in more of a manager role at the camp. I had the opportunity to work with two of the people I admire most in this world, so I quickly said yes. Due to a lack of awareness on my part, I overworked myself multiple times. This let to me coming down with mononucleosis and pneumonia a few weeks after returning to work at Starbucks. By November I had fully recovered from the two sicknesses, completed an online course, and worked out a few things with God. I took that time as a sign that I needed to learn how to rest.
This is when a few YWAMers came into my life talking about how DTS had changed their life and helped them dive deeper into their relationship with God. It wasn’t late November that I realized that this was God bringing confirmation to the thought about doing a DTS (Discipleship Training School). So I did what most 22 year olds in college do upon getting confirmation or direction from God, I told Him “No” and kept working at my degree. I had committed so much time to my degree and work that it seemed to be wasteful to do mission work for 6 months. When January 2019 came around, I was about to start another semester when a friend from the church I joined invited me into an opportunity in Waco, Texas. An opportunity that would allow me to step into ministry, finish my degree, grow my spiritual gifts, and further develop my ear for hearing God. It sounded great, but I did not think I was ready. I was still learning to rest in the midst of work and school. The decision was soon made clear to me to dive into all He had for me through confirmations from those around me.
It was February 2019 when I decided to apply for a DTS in Newcastle, Australia. The staff helped me figure out if I was supposed to be there since the school was starting in about 2 months. They had other opportunities for schools in July and October, but I was set on April. I applied after a week or two of prayer from both staff at YWAM Newcastle and myself. As of finances, I still had all of the money I saved for putting myself through college. Early on in the time at home I decided to let Him have control of ALL of my finances, not just a 10%. I knew that regardless of what I was going to do, every aspect of my life needed to be surrendered to Him. I would give Him everything, so He could get me where He needed m
After two months of figuring out the necessary info, I was ready to go. I had budgeted so that after my last day of work, I would break even for all of the costs; school fees, airfare, and anything else I would need.
And the journey He brought me on over the course of those 6 months was incredible. I do not doubt that there were many reasons I was supposed to be there.
Thank you so much for reading this far! It was a long journey to get to Australia, but every bit was worth it. Keep checking my blog on for more info about DTS, outreach, and what is next. I will also be posting more about some things that came up in this post such as; the plan for my 20’s, the pictures and scriptures that led me to this, and some of the other lessons I learned while at home.