My name is Luke Smith, and I am one of the three interns with the Outdoor Ministry Program here in Lakeside, MT. Last weekend we had the opportunity to receive avalanche training in Hamilton, MT. I was going into the weekend with expectations that there was not very many other people and that the people that were there might not be too receptive to the Gospel. When everybody got up to the lodge, we had orientation and ice breakers for the group. Of course, one of the first things that I was asked was “what is YWAM?” So I explained that Youth with a Mission is a Global Christian Missions Organization that trains, equips and sends people out to proclaim the Gospel. I have seen in the past that once I say that it is a Christian Missions Organization, it closes some doors to different people, but when I said this at the training, I could see that the instructor George was still trying to figure out what we did. So back to the ice breakers. One of the questions asked was, “What is your spirit animal?” The other members of our group answered this question pretty quickly, but when it came to Ryan, another intern, he said that he was a Christian and didn’t really know what a spirit animal was. So he said, “In the Bible it talks about the Lion of Judah so I guess I will be that.” When it came to Benji, another one of the Outdoor Interns, he said, “In the Bible, it says that Benjamin is the ravenous wolf, so that’s what I am.” So pretty much right off the bat, the whole group knew that we were Christians.
The rest of the day was spent studying the snow pack, causes of avalanches, and how to use Personal Locater Beacons, in case you get buried, we can find you. Around 5:00pm we headed back to the lodge for dinner and to relax for a little bit. While we were relaxing, we had the opportunity to mingle around with the some of the other members of the course. I was challenged earlier in the week by my Internship Leader to listen more to the Holy Spirit and step out in faith to what the Spirit says. After dinner, I went to one of the hot tubs with most of the group. While I was listening to anything that the Spirit might be telling me, I got nothing. So after being in the hot tub for about 20 or 30 minutes, I decided to head to the sauna. When I was about to step into it, Ryan was coming out. He stopped and told me that he felt like I needed to be in there and that he needed to leave. I found out later that while Ryan was in there, George, the instructor, was asking questions about YWAM. Ryan told him some stories about Loren Cunningham and how YWAM got started. I went into the sauna with expectations that something was going to happen. I could only take the heat for a few minutes, so I went outside with George for a couple of minutes. While outside, I kept on praying in my head for the Holy Spirit to give me a way to share my faith and the Gospel with him and a girl sitting in the sauna, Jenny.
When I went back in, it was pitch black and silent for the first few minutes. Then George started to ask more questions about YWAM and what we train for. The conversation quickly turned into a questions and answers conversation, with them asking me questions like, “How can you believe in something so much, even though it is intangible and you are so young?”, “Why do Christians get hung up with how important Jesus is?”, “Is the Bible really true and how can you be so sure of it?”, and finally, “Do the people that have never heard of Jesus and the Gospel go to heaven or hell?”. These questions were only a few that they asked me. Most of these I have tried to answer in the past, but have never been able to give a good answer. This time, I felt the Holy Spirit guiding me. I told them answers that I truly believed and told my view on the questions. I found out that if I explained why I believed certain views and spoke about my past, they would in turn open up to me and talk about personal things. There was even times when I said something and in my head I was trying to figure why I said it because it really didn’t even make sense to me, but after, there was a quick pause, and someone would say that I had made a good point and more questions would follow. God was really with me as I was answering questions and sharing the Gospel with them. I could feel His presence. We talked about George as a youth, when he was growing up in a Southern Baptist church in Pennsylvania. He was telling me problems that he had with the church growing up and how, when it came to high school, he decided that he didn’t need the church anymore. He tried to think of all the questions he had a kid, so that he could ask them and I answered as many as I could.
Through the rest of the weekend there was only one more conversation ,which happened on Sunday morning as we were snowshoeing. Ryan and I were in the rear with George and we started to talk to him about his childhood again. What kept on getting my attention the whole time as I was talking with him was that he was so receptive to anything that we were sharing with him! He never asked us to pray for him, how he could accept Jesus, or anything like that, but he was hungry for more!
THIS is the very reason that I am doing the Outdoor Ministry Program! I love going to trainings, meetings, or just doing what I love, being outdoors and having the chance to share my faith with other outdoor enthusiasts. We are called to be the instruments that God uses, to share who He is, but it is up to Him to make the person believe the truth.
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”(2 Corinthians 5:20-21) I felt like I was the ambassador for God to spread His word through and at that moment it was awesome!