On the day I showed up in Louisville for DTS, I considered myself an agnostic. I thought that if there was a God, he was impersonal, unknowable, and unconcerned with my daily life. I thought I needed evidence in abundance to be able to believe in Christ. I was like “doubting Thomas” in all his arrogance.
I wasn’t even planning to come to DTS in the first place. My plan after graduating from high school in the Philippines, where I’m from, was to take a year off to travel before going to medical school. But as my “gap year” approached, my arrangements in Europe suddenly fell through. I was really discouraged.
Then someone told me about YWAM. It seemed like a good substitute, so I applied and was accepted just five days before DTS began. The next thing I knew, I was flying to Louisville.
Because of my last-minute decision, I arrived a couple of days late and went almost straight to class from the airport. I was jetlagging so badly that I could hardly stay awake, but the Holy Spirit still got my attention. Andy, YWAM Louisville’s director, challenged us to let go of everything we were holding back and allow Jesus to be in charge of our lives. I knew that the surrender he was talking about was exactly what I’d been missing.
In DTS I learned how to love like Jesus loves, serving others and putting them above myself. I also learned to depend on others, and I made a lot of close friends. But more than anything, I learned what it means to have a deeply personal relationship with the God who loves me and deserves my whole heart.
My favorite part was going to South Africa for the outreach portion of DTS. There I got to share with kids in the township about the God I was learning more and more about. One of those kids, Mano, had a really rough life. His dad was in jail for horrible crimes, and his mother beat him. They had very little to eat, and everyone bullied him because of what his father had done. Mano had some issues that made him difficult to relate to, but as my team and I reached out to him to show him Jesus’ love, we saw him change. By the end of our mission trip, Mano had gone from saying “God is mean” to saying “God is good” and even joining us in prayer for other families in the township.
Before my DTS, I wasn’t even sure God existed. He has since shown me that he is real, that he loves me, and that he’s so much better than I had ever imagined. I’m so glad God reached out and shook me out of my confusion, and that I’ve been able to share who he really is with kids like Mano.