#myYMT: ‘I would never have realised my purpose’

Richie Dantas (left) with fellow YMT members. Photo: Supplied
Richie Dantas (left) with fellow YMT members. Photo: Supplied

One of my first encounters with the Youth Mission Team (YMT) was one of amazement; I immediately thought: ‘I want to do this!’ Two years later, after completing my maths degree, that became a reality.

I was able to spend the next two years spreading the Gospel message to young people around the country; from Wollongong to Adelaide, Perth and even Kalgoorlie.

It’s something that I would love to re-live; the joy of community and formation, the fire of evangelising, the strain of growth and learning, the forging of lasting relationships, the centrality of prayer. These are traits that I personally would never have experienced to such a degree without my time on YMT.

I also would never have realised my purpose, where I find fulfilment and where I can really make a difference: teaching.

My time on YMT has been invaluable to me. But I know that it left a lasting impact on others as well.

Each team runs retreats, seminars and reflection days for about 4000 students every year.

There’s an interesting dynamic where students treat the youth ministers with the respect of teachers, but the approachability of peers. In this way, students can encounter Christ in a tangible way, while being confronted by the radical lifestyle of people not much older than they are.

It was touching to hear how vulnerably the students shared of their lives, fears and hurts, and how open they were to listening how we had been transformed by a personal encounter with God.

Living as part of a household of volunteers was both challenging and freeing. We worked on Mondays and Tuesdays in paid employment to support our households.

Though I was fortunate to continue my job at Coles, I was also given the opportunity to utilise my maths degree at a tutor at uni.

However, this money goes towards the households. The general operations of YMT ministry, from printing to petrol, are largely covered by donations.

As a result, without the generous support of donations, the incredible work of YMT would be reduced to just two households of young people which, while still a witness, would mean that thousands of young Australians may never realise the tangibility and relevance of their faith.

Movements within the Church arise in times when a particular need is great.

As a teacher I see so many students who are lacking hope, direction and purpose. Youth Mission Team has been pivotal in the lives of so many young Australians, and its time is not up yet.

Related: #myYMT: ‘To say I saw lives change seems so clichéd, but it was true’