Publishing God's stories among the nations.

I drove the bus all through the night to Chicago for a week of city outreach with one of YWAM Tyler’s training schools. I thought I was just a bus driver, but God had some things to teach me about Urban America.


The Basketball Court

Approaching the basketball court in Chicago’s Westside, I could tell I might be out of my element. I was going to be playing basketball. Everyone knows, I’m a soccer fan, not a baller. However, I quickly realized the most important aspect of this game was not how well I could put the moves on my 14-year-old opponents, but rather would I and could I show them value. After borrowing a basketball from a mother and her son, who I later learned was from Senegal, the game against my new Iraqi friends began.

I can’t shoot. Let’s just put that on the table right now. Chunking the ball toward the hoop time and time again, very few points were scored for my team. But after a ton of laughs and ridiculous looking layups by yours truly, our game halted, and our friendship began. I looked around the park where nearly every tribe on the planet was represented, and I thought, “Is this still America?”

Tamem, Moon, and George spoke decent English and shared about their plight from Iraq to the USA as refugees. Leaving their aunts, uncles, and cousins behind to defend for themselves, these three young men with their immediate families began a new journey in a new place. Their eyes lit up when talking about their homeland and the hope they have for their future return to Baghdad.

I loved these kids. My expectations were blown away by their sincere hearts to share a tiny bit of their lives with me. They won’t easily be forgotten. We prayed together for safety, provision, and peace for their time here in America and for their extended family they will not get to see for many years to come.

After my exchange with those at the park, I now thought I had a grip on how to start conversations with folks from other nations, as I went strolling down diverse Devon Street. Over 160 different nations are represented in this neighborhood. Gazing at storefronts, traffic patterns, and people’s dress, it was hard to believe I was still on American soil.

I met people from India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Iraq, who all held different and very distinct faith preferences. I struck up conversations with young and old to get a sense of what I see on the news everyday is really true. I got a mixed bag of answers, but for the most part, I started to realize people of all backgrounds have the same intrinsic need. They want to be heard, and they want to be loved.


ONe Conversation Gone Bad

Not all my conversation starters went so well. One thing you can’t say when desiring to learn about someone’s obvious non-western heritage is, “So what ethnicity is your background?”

I learned real quick that was the wrong thing to say, when an older Philippino-American lady scolded me in front of others for my ignorance. I took it like a man, and gently apologized and asked some different questions to my disciplinarian.

With a grey-green quaker parrot nibbling crumbs from the handle basket of her rusted bicycle, she explained her disdain for not being accepted as a “true American.” I listened.

My take away may not be as she had wished however. I really longed to share with her how our cultures can be beautiful stepping stones for seeing the creativity of the Creator. There is a loving God who sees backgrounds and history as pillars for others to stand on. Should we not remember with strong conviction the love of those who have gone before us and paved a path easily walkable for us now?

I am what I am by God’s grace and by those who saw far enough into the future to believe there is freedom for everyone. Our cultures are redeemable. I believe that.



Is Jesus really Enough? 

America may not look the same in our cities as it did 100 years ago, but one thing hasn’t changed a bit. People are people and they need to know they are loved. Jesus loves and wants all to trust in Him alone. It's really a gift we've been given. A gift of real life. 

I’m beginning to think people seem more apt to want to “work or earn” the right to be loved, rather than to receive love unconditionally. Yet unconditional love is exactly what Jesus does. 

Following Jesus isn’t about me doing good stuff and hoping he won’t be to hard on me for not doing better. The gift of grace compels me to listen, obey, experience, fail, love, and at the end of every day know I’m accepted as his child because I believe Jesus is enough.


So now it's your turn. Please consider joining the Urban Discipleship Training School. It's just 5 months of your life, which will radically transform your perspective on people and missions. God wants to use you to make a difference in the world. Learn more about this training school. 

Learn More

Richard Fish

Written by Richard Fish

Richard blogs with the YWAM Tyler writing team and currently serves in Media Communications at the Twin Oaks campus in Garden Valley, Texas. His water bottle is anywhere but in his hands and walking and texting is in his wheelhouse skill set. You may find him directing a play at CHS or trying to get his life sized John Wayne cutout to stay standing in the office.

2 min read

Discipleship is the Key to Missions

This is me with one of only 800 copies of the Bible in the Sakari language. Honestly, it was a holy movement grasping...

3 min read

Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving

The tradition of celebrating a Thanksgiving holiday is a wonderful part of American life. Although this holiday is...

3 min read

God Is Moving in Ukraine

We receive urgent requests for prayer almost daily from Ukraine. It is incredible how God can orchestrate ministry even...

4 min read

What You Need to Know Before Taking a Gap Year

What if you could graduate high school, and you and your friends could travel the world with purpose? Would you...

2 min read

How You Can Champion Generation Z

There was a holy stillness in the classroom of 23 students. Some had hands in the air and eyes closed, others knelt,...

3 min read

Ministry to Displaced Ukrainians

A team of 25 missionaries from East Texas-based Youth With A Mission, or YWAM, are on a two-month outreach trip to...

4 min read

How You Know You're A Missionary

No one says it quite like Darlene Cunningham, co-founder of the largest mission organization on the planet — Youth With...

2 min read

God's Smuggler | A Real Life Hero

I believe in heroes, and I have had many in my lifetime. Brother Andrew, known as God's Smuggler, is undoubtedly one of...

2 min read

Dealing With Fear

I know a lot of people who no longer watch the news. Not just because they are overwhelmed, but they question the...

2 min read

The Spirit of Jesus

In an upcoming social media post that you'll see in the coming days, we are posting the caption: "The spirit of Christ...

2 min read

I Found God's Will and Escaped a Major Disaster

No relationship or career is worth more than being at the center of God’s will!

I had just finished law school in...

2 min read

The Day I Turned Around

We are so proud of our students here at YWAM Tyler. Please read Rose's story of how God set her free from self-harm and...