Right after high school, I started working in sales for my parents’ business. I enjoyed my job and was just living life, trying to be successful, playing sports, and amusing myself by buying lots of “toys” to add to my stash of stuff. I thought had everything together, but I could tell something was missing – whether it was somebody, something, or the next step, I didn’t know. But I went to church every Sunday, so I figured I was ok with God.
I had friends in YWAM who kept inviting me to do a DTS, and I kept telling them, “Maybe next time.” Finally, I agreed to go on a mission trip to Louisville; I figured a week-long trip would take care of my Christian deed for the year and get my parents off my back. It didn’t hurt that my dad was giving me paid vacation for the week.
I had no idea what to expect, but the first morning they sent us off to have “quiet time” with Jesus. I hadn’t done that very often and didn’t really know how, so I sat and opened my Bible to wherever it fell. And for the first time, I encountered Jesus personally and realized that he wanted a relationship with me. From then on, he broke down my walls, and I was more open to learning, worshiping, serving, and getting to know God more.
One of the first things that clung to my heart was seeing the contentment and happiness of the YWAM staff. They’d given up way more than I ever had – living on financial support, sharing space, doing hard work without pay – and they weren’t just content, they were overjoyed. I had never experienced the satisfaction they had, and I wanted it.
On that mission trip I discovered that God isn’t boring. He’s exciting and alive, and he’s able to work through me for his glory. Honestly, it wasn’t a “feel-good” mission trip; it was tough and stretching, but it introduced me to a whole new way of living. It’s also when God called me to attend a Discipleship Training School.
So a few months later I headed back to Louisville for DTS – five months that changed my life. I discovered that the more you get to know God, the more it changes your heart, shapes your desires, and renews your mind. My identity had always been tied up in my job, my athletic ability, being well-liked, and looking successful. I was always striving for more, because none of that was ever enough. But God showed me that none of that is what matters to him. I am first and foremost his son. Everything changes when you know God’s love for you! I’d been consumed with lining up a successful life plan. In DTS, I discovered the joy of sharing Jesus with others, especially on our mission trip to South Africa.
My life goals have been completely transformed. Instead of accumulating material things and worrying about the future, I can simply ask, “God, how can I bring you glory today?” Now my ultimate dream is to live overseas; bringing hope to people who have none and discipling young men who are trying to figure out who they are – like I was.