God spoke one word clearly during the lecture phase; “Montana.”
When I was 19 I left England and eagerly boarded a plane for The Netherlands to do a Discipleship Training School (DTS) at YWAM Heidebeek. As the oldest of four, I couldn’t wait to finally leave home and do something that was just mine. God spoke one word clearly during the lecture phase; “Montana.” I heard it once again on outreach in India and then in random ways over the next few years. At the time I had no idea YWAM was even in Montana, this was obviously before the Internet ruled all. Having never been to the USA but being of prime American-movie-watching age, “Montana” conjured up 3 thoughts: rural, cowboys, and borders Canada. I’ve since discovered the other 49 states pretty much feel the same way. Like most young Brits, the USA was the cool aunt you always wanted to live with and I couldn’t wait for my turn. Montana would be as good a place as any to start.
Fast forward four years and the now 23-year-old-me left London again to start the first leg of my journey for what would become three YWAM schools. Fun fact: in July 2005 a one-way train ticket from NYC to Whitefish, Montana was $72. Guess who spent 3 full days riding coach with Amtrack?!
As it turns out, that single word God spoke to me at age 19 in a tiny Dutch village, in a multi-purpose classroom filled with Dutch and international missionaries-in-training, with bi-lingual everything and a lot of stroopwaffels, was a glimpse into over a decade of life I was going to spend in another tiny (but similar) place on the other side of the world. I didn’t fixate on it much, I just knew that one day God would bring me to Montana for some reason and that it was an important part of His plan for me.
That’s what lead me to DTS and then ultimately to Montana, where I still am…
I spent my later teenage years in the church trying to wrap my head around how to live a Christian life that was worth something: trying to be a world-changer and earth-adventurer while I’m here, and trying to please God and have purpose beyond what my culture was funneling me into (university at the time). That’s what lead me to DTS and then ultimately to Montana, where I still am 12 years after getting off of that train in Whitefish with 2 suitcases, complete confidence God was going to rock the next year, and needing a shower ASAP.
There are only a few times I remember when I knew I heard God absolutely, and for some reason they have usually been just one word. If you have ever heard a clear word from God about anything, you know that He exists. And just like working on your health is key to having a body capable of carrying out what you are doing in life, working on your ‘Christian skills’ is also paramount to finding success in your walk with Jesus through everything the world is going to throw at you.
I know that I know that I heard His voice…
DTS changed my life in many ways – those ‘skills’ included learning how to be quiet before the Lord, listening to Him, thinking outside the box through a biblical lens, being part of something greater than myself, seeing God in cultures and people different from me, and that’s just scratching the surface. Mainly DTS changed my life because it was the place I got clear direction from God, which has since silenced any doubts I’ve had about His goodness and grace. I know that I know that I heard His voice then and, although He could have said it any time, He chose to do it in a place He knew I would hear Him and have the faith to wait for that word to be fulfilled. That one word has since transformed into another that will forever mark my life: “Home”.
If you need direction, if you struggle to hear God or even doubt that He’s real, if you long to see miracles, to find people who understand your fears, to somehow have your faith grow and your heart set on a path of healing, I encourage you to pursue DTS. No matter your age or current situation – if all it took was 5 months to bring life-long change, wouldn’t you drop everything and go? It’s worth it all to find out.