I was always the girl with a plan. My dad worked at a university, so I always knew where I wanted to study and what I wanted to do. Everything changed my last year of high school, when my dad accepted a job at a different university. Suddenly, we were packing up and moving across the state to help out with a school I knew nothing about.
I had to make a choice. Should I go to the university I’d wanted to attend my whole life, or should I chose somewhere closer to my family?
This decision was such a struggle for me. In junior high and high school I chased other things; I hadn’t spent time with my family, and I never figured out who I was and what I believed.
I decided I was going to take a year off to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do next. I knew I loved travel and mission work, so after a lot of thought, I decided it would be best for me to take a gap year with YWAM.
I put my contact info on a learn-more form, and after just a few hours, someone called me on the phone and explained to me about the application process. I thought that it wouldn’t hurt to see where it went, and after 4 months of visa applications, saving money, and collecting references, I found myself on a plane headed to Newcastle, Australia.
I didn’t know anyone, and I didn’t know what to expect. I thought it was just going to be like a 6 month church camp experience, but I was so wrong…
Here are three ways that God changed my life on my gap year with YWAM:
1. My relationship with God became real.
I grew up in a Christian home, so I knew about God, but I never God personally. I had so many questions, but never felt like “church kids” were allowed to ask questions.
I struggled with things like, “If God is good, why is there evil in the world?” and “If God loves me and has the best for me, why did He make my family move?”
During Lecture Phase, DTS students meet with a staff member one-on-one once a week, and after a few meetings, I admitted that I was struggling to follow a God that I couldn’t trust. I’m the type of person that can’t move on to the second concept, if I haven’t grasped the first, so my staff member encouraged me to write down all my questions and approach the speaker after class and ask away.
The next day, the first thing the speaker said was, “I feel like we have some things that we haven’t addressed. Here are some common questions that you may have that we’re going to talk about today.”
I was shocked! It was as if he was reading off of my paper!
2. I heard God’s voice for the first time.
One evening I was journaling about how I always felt like a second choice. The cute boys would always pick another girl instead of me, my friends would always ask another girl to hang out, and my parents would always pay attention to my siblings when they interrupted me.
I asked God, “Why am I always a second choice?”
As I was writing, I heard a small voice in my head say, “Kai, you’re always a second choice because you always make ME a second choice. I want you to know how I feel when you put boys, friends, and family over me. Those aren’t bad things, but I should always be your first choice.”
When I heard that, I began to cry knowing that what He had said was true. I had been putting everything before God and it was time to stop.
3. God transformed my character.
I went to New Zealand on outreach, and because it is a first world country, it was a struggle for me not to compare the ministry that my team was doing to ministry in developing nations. I kept thinking that I could have done the same types of ministry at home. I thought that God didn’t think I was strong enough to work in an orphanage in South Africa, or hike the mountains of Papua New Guinea, and that made me upset.
I realized that one of the biggest struggles in my life has been pride, and it made me discontent with everything God had given me, to the point where I became unhappy with God.
During this time, God taught me that He loves me and that He loves me a lot! I am His daughter, and that’s where my identity is found. When I realized that I’m a child of the King, I wasn’t scared to go out and talk to people about my Father, because I wanted them to have the same love and freedom I had received!
Taking a Gap Year changed my life. Who knows where I would be if I had gone to university without knowing my identity and my purpose are found in God?
If you are passionate about knowing God and making Him known in the nations, I encourage you to pray about doing a Gap Year with YWAM. I’m so glad I chose this adventure with God, and I think it could change your life too!
YWAM Newcastle Staff