Two days before I joined Youth Mission Team (YMT), I did not even know that it existed.
I was at Bathurst, for the Disciples of Jesus Summer School, and was invited to attend YMT’s information session.
Listening to all the alarming facts and statistics about the serious challenges that face young people, I could recognise that YMT’s work, to bring hope to young Australians, was important.
However, what really called me was watching the promotional video and seeing the faces of the school students react and respond to the team.
I felt compelled to join, and even though training started on Wednesday, in Wollongong, and there were a million obstacles in the way, like university, jobs and the fact that I was from Queensland and hadn’t even suggested the possibility of joining team to my family, I applied.
My year on YMT was incredible. I was part of a team of six people, based in Baulkham Hills. We visited more than 44 high schools throughout NSW, and ran a weekly youth group at St Michael’s, as well as four Anchor camps for teenagers. To say I saw lives change seems so clichéd, but it was true.
Years after I had finished team, I was surprised by one of the girls from our youth group, who told me that it was our team that had helped her to find God and reconnect with the Church. Additionally, through her conversion, her entire family came back to Church.
Previously, they had felt isolated, and had not experienced being sought after or invited by any Church community.
But, when we reached out to her, and invited her into our lives and our house to share meals and time together, she was able to experience Jesus’ personal love for her, which she then spread to her family and others she has since met.
At the time, I did not realise we were doing anything sensational, but our simple outreach truly changed the course of her life.
It was all about Jesus. He was the one who was working through us, and through our ‘yes’, His voice could be heard more clearly by the young people we met.
My own life was changed also. I became more fully aware of my need for Jesus, and how much I can depend upon Him.
In addition, I came to personally realise that many of the things that society tells us about the perfect body image, plus what kind of person you need to be to achieve success and popularity, are not true.
I came to understand that the hope Jesus gives is real, and not based on external factors like worldly happiness.