When I first met Maggie, it was at Lassen Pines Bible Camp near Redding, CA. I was representing YMI at the camp all week. My coworker and I had taken over the top floor of an old building as a space where high school campers could come during their free time and sign up for a mission trip. Maggie slowly walked up the stairs and cautiously shuffled into the doorway, with the slightly apprehensive posture of a teenager who hasn’t fully committed themselves to their current course of action.
We talked for a while about what were things she like to do, what trips interested her the most, and if she could think of anything that would keep her from going on a mission trip. It was at that moment that our conversation took a turn.
We spent the next hour wandering the dusty roads that encircled the camp while Maggie talked about the numerous difficulties that life had thrown her way in the past year. Eventually, she asked me: “Do you think I’d still be capable of going on a mission trip now that you know all of this?”
The question that Maggie asked then is one that we hear from many students. They worry that the hard things they encounter in life will prevent them from serving Christ.
I said, “If going through difficulties in life means that you can’t serve Christ, then no one could ever serve Him.”
Unfortunately, most students allow life’s hardships to derail them from following hard after Jesus. Our hope is that the students would take opportunities like the ones we offer, and grow even while dealing with difficult things. The unfortunate reality is that few students do.
Maggie however, was different.
While processing through tough life situations, she continued to make growing in her faith a priority, and ended up going on a mission trip to South Korea through YMI that would change the course of her life.
Two years later, Maggie and I were both at the same camp again. Each year, YMI works alongside this camp to train their high school students to share their faith, and gives them the opportunity to do so with a one-day evangelism opportunity at various locations in Redding mid-way through the camp week.
After the outreaches finish, the campers get together to share stories of what they saw God do. During the sharing time, Maggie stood up and said, "Today I realized that sharing the Gospel doesn’t have to be this big rehearsed speech that you give. It doesn’t have to follow a formula to be successful. All it really is, is just having a normal conversation with someone else. Through the training I’ve received, I learned that sharing the Gospel is sometimes best when you’re just talking to someone else like you normally would. I had the opportunity today to share the Gospel with a child, and they accepted Christ.”
The lesson that Maggie learned through her training and experience with YMI is one that we hope all who come in contact with our ministry grasp. Sharing the Gospel isn’t a formula, speech, gimmick, etc… One of the best ways to share the Gospel with someone is to just share your life with them.
The significance of going on a mission trip isn’t limited to just that two week long experience. The training that students receive before, during, and after the mission trip itself is extremely valuable, as seen through Maggie’s experience. She was able to practically use her YMI training and experience to not only reach a child with the Gospel of Christ, but also encourage hundreds of other students in doing the same.