Every missionary’s story is unique, just like we are unique, as children of God! Here’s how God led me into a lifestyle of missions.
Inspired by stories
As a child, I heard missionary stories from speakers who visited my church, with their fantastic photos and amazing adventures. I always loved seeing pictures and films from or about missionaries, they seemed like real-life heroes to me!
Learning to serve
As a teen, I served my church. Setting up chairs, singing in the youth choir, teaching Children’s church and washing dishes. it didn’t matter what it was, I was learning to serve God, rather than men. My youth pastor took time to encourage me in my giftings and help me get some training to serve in the wider church setting. The choir director helped pioneer new ways of involving the youth in church services – making me understand that I did not have to work to become part of the church, I was the church, and had a vital role in serving the world!
My first missions trip
At the end of high school, my parents asked what I would like for a graduation gift. The one thing I wanted was to go on a mission trip that our regional church was sponsoring. It was a big step for my parents to let me go, but I found I enjoyed being out of my comfort zone, encountering new cultures. I learned to be grateful for my life and family (not always easy for a teenager) and I gained a new perspective on what it meant to be a Christian, on God’s faithfulness in the midst of difficulties, and even on the suffering I witnessed. I found creative ways to use my gifts for God’s glory. And finally, I learned that when a team works together well, people would see Jesus in us!
Learning to make work my mission field
When I became a teacher, my work was my mission field. Praying for my public school students and their families, seeking God for the best way to teach each one, and keeping a servant’s heart when my work was not appreciated – those were my challenges. Later, when my husband-to-be and I started getting to know each other, we spent time encouraging my students at their sports games, piano and ballet recitals, and even yard sales! I was always looking for ways to share the love of God in word and deed! I often got to speak with parents about big life issues and many accepted my offers of prayer and help. Because I had summers off as a teacher, I continued to go on short-term trips within my country and beyond.
Letting go of “stuff”
A few years after I got married, we realised that we wanted to make full-time Christian ministry our full-time work. I had always been a full-time Christian, but now my work was, too. My husband and I had made a choice, when we were first together, to stay out of debt and minimise our accumulation of “stuff”. We served God in the local church as youth pastors, and when it came time to move into Youth With A Mission (YWAM), where everyone lives on relationship-based support, it was a simpler transition because we had no debt and had chosen to live a simple lifestyle.
Choosing the tribe we wanted to belong to
We chose to join YWAM because we loved their values and the way young people are championed. We loved the vision of how it started and the willingness to follow God’s direction into the future. Learning from others who have walked the path helped us avoid common pitfalls. Our initial six-month Discipleship Training School (DTS) course turned into 25 years of service with YWAM!
Those years are filled with amazing experiences: Teaching in DTS courses at various locations in the US, Mexico, Australia, Sierra Leone, and South Africa; moving to Mississippi and Louisiana to lead YWAM’s youth response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita: teaching English to young girls and government officials in Afghanistan, and seeing the young people we have discipled leading ministries of their own around the world!
There are many missions training organisations, and even college courses that will prepare you for missions. Find a small group where you can do life together and a mentor who will help guide you. Always stay close to the One who is your Guide! Learn to pray, listen to God’s direction, and obey! And let the adventure begin!
Donna is one of the trainers on our Discipleship Training School. Originally from the US, Donna and her husband, Mark, have been serving with YWAM for over 25 years! Donna has a background in teaching and is deeply passionate about championing young people to be all that God has created them to be. She also loves dogs…before going to bed at night, she winds down with YouTube videos of golden retrievers!