My favourite thing about spring here at YWAM Harpenden is that it’s when the September quarter schools graduate. There is something about the energy these schools have, it brings a whole new level of life to the campus. Two weeks ago in our weekly community meeting we had the privilege of graduating the September DTS, FCD (Foundations of Community Development) and Bluewater Next Wave DTS (A YWAM Ship that YWAM Harpenden partners with). During their debrief I sat down with two of the trainees from the September DTS and chatted with them about their outreach and the process of their DTS experience.
From the Spain outreach team I interviewed Niels P, who hails from Denmark. Pure joy was written all over his features as he shared with me about the things God did during this time. DTS was a foreign idea to him until a friend who had done a DTS at YWAM Harpenden suggested it to him. “I felt like God had given me a lot of opportunities and I felt this was a time to pay back,” he said to me about his original thoughts in doing a DTS. [In the outreach] “I have gotten the chances to, in some ways, to pay back, give something from God to people…but for me it has mostly been the other way around, God giving to me. I got what I came for and so much more.”
The outreach began with three weeks in Luton, UK, where the team partnered with a YWAM team there, and had the chance to bond as a smaller team before heading out to Spain for their six-weeks international portion.
Once in Spain they began in Tordera, a small town in the northern part of Catalonia. In Tordera they worked primarily with a local church. “I was in ministry mode all day long, almost every night we were in the church…we did a lot of teachings.” It seemed that their time in Luton, bonding as a unit, was an absolute necessity for what was to come in Tordera. “If we didn’t have that time in Luton before, it would have been so different, but because we had gotten the chance to be connected, it just flowed across the team. [It was] so full speed, lots of ministry, lots of teachings, fantastic, it was a good time.”
Their final location was Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, where they worked with a diversity of different ministry: teachings, praying over the city, evangelism. I asked Niels if there was a time that stuck out to him where God really showed up and surprised him. He shared with me about a testimony he shared to a youth group while in Barcelona. Two other members of the team had shared teachings on the topic of fear and then it was Niels turn to share his ongoing testimony in the area of the fear of being alone in life. “I was not really comfortable, because [although] I had been teaching a lot during outreach, and felt really good about it…this was a challenge because it was really personal. But I trusted that God had a plan.” Niels shared his story and then in the end felt that God was telling him to open it up for the youth to ask him questions. Although, he felt he wouldn’t have the answers to give them, he was obedient to God anyway. “[I] thought maybe no one is going to take the chance but there were a lot of questions, and I didn’t have all the answers but I asked God and just prayed and every time there was a question, like I got an answer, every time. And I was like, wow this isn’t me, I haven’t figured it out yet, I should not have the answers for people, but God had them.”
As it turned out, Niels’ time of sharing was only meant to be 5-10 minutes, but ended up lasting half an hour, and he then stayed behind after the service for an hour just talking with the youth. I love stories like this, the ones where we think we don’t have anything to offer and God reminds us to just give what we have, and it turns out that’s exactly what the people around us need. What better description of missions is there, really? Offering what you have with both hands open, because regardless of how small it seems, with God it never falls short. Niels stories inspire hope, hope that whatever you have to give, God wants to use you to speak of His greatness, to speak of His love.
In the culmination of this experience Niels reflected on the days to come, and how his view on outreach has changed from simply ‘paying God back.’ “I would say, don’t think that outreach is about you giving because it is about it, but you’re going to be surprised by how God keeps, keeps, keeps giving all the time.”
So what is next for Niels? He is returning home to Denmark to await the next big adventure with God and to learn about patience in that waiting. [In returning home] “I would be able to step back again and say, ‘I’m not a missionary,’ but that would be a lie…because I know I am a missionary now, I can’t change that.”