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A Stepping Stone

It is “just another missions trip” or “just another bible study.” Sound familiar? Sometimes we become blinded to this simple truth from the Bible: “It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” (Isaiah 55:11 NLT)

“I send it out and it always produces fruit”

When we proclaim God’s word, he brings in fruit. Regardless of repetition or frequency of occurrence, there will always be power in proclaiming the Word of the Lord! I am a living example of this. For me it was more than “just another missions trip.”

A Simple Invitation

In 2012, the summer before my senior year, a simple invitation changed my life forever! My youth group was going to Louisville for a missions trip, and one of my buddies invited me to go along. I went to Kentucky, where we participated in one of YWAM Louisville’s short term outreaches.

One thing that stood out to me upon arrival were the people. Honestly, I thought they were weird. They talked about “hearing the voice of the Lord.” Those words were so unfamiliar to me.  It was as if they were speaking a foreign language.

Words Followed by Actions

At the beginning of the week, I heard a teaching on the gospel. My thought was, “yeah, I know that.” I believed I already knew the gospel, but I didn’t know it; I had merely just heard it.

“The truth became real to me.”

As the week progressed, that changed; “the truth became real to me.” One of the ways this happened was through the people around me. The “YWAMers”, as they called themselves, not only talked about Jesus, but they lived like him. To me, their actions spoke louder than their words. The fact that they really cared about me, and that I wasn’t just another “check” off their list, was a powerful example of God’s love.

The Defining Moment

Near the end of the week, one of my friends that was on the trip with me, excitedly shared how he had heard “the voice of the Lord.” Great, I thought, now even my friends were speaking in a language I didn’t understand. Defensive, I told him that was ridiculous; he couldn’t have heard God speak.

Thankfully, one of the YWAMers found out about our conversation and came and talked with me. He told me, I too could hear God speak. Then we prayed and listened. As we listened, the unbelievable happened: God spoke to me! God is personal and he loves me. I experienced his personal love for the first time.

A Stepping Stone

What was only a week-long trip, started me on this path of having a personal relationship with Jesus. Now, three years later, I have realized this is only the beginning of my life in missions. And to think I started on this journey by accepting the simple invitation of a friend. Then a missionary took the time to help me hear from Jesus.

Ultimately, God deserves all the credit for transforming my life, but he chose to use a week-long missions trip, run by people who are committed to seeing the whole world reached for the gospel. That week was a stepping stone in my journey with the Lord and I will always be grateful for how God used this trip and the people involved to transform my life.


Gabe Smith is on staff here at YWAM Louisville. After he graduated from high school in 2013, he attended our Discipleship Training School followed by the School of Ministry Development. During his DTS, God called him into full time missions.


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