It's been 30 months since I graduated Shiloh Ministries, and boy what a ride it has been. Never could I have possibly imagined, dreamt, or let-alone orchestrated the past 30 months. Thank God He did! I remember the graduating day at Shiloh. I was positive that I wanted to pursue God, but totally clueless about where or what that even looked like. All I knew was that my next step was taking me to Youth With A Mission (YWAM).
For many reasons I decided to do a Discipleship Training School (DTS) at YWAM Tyler, but looking back on it, I realize how much priority I placed on my sobriety. It’s not a convicting or disappointing feeling associated with that memory, it is just where I was at.
In hindsight, having been sober since the day I entered Shiloh, I am grateful for God’s wisdom and grace during those pivotal decision-making months after Shiloh. That’s not to say there haven’t been moments where familiar emotions and urges have re-emerged since graduating Shiloh, but my perspective of substance abuse and even the height of those volatile situations has completely been redeemed.
It was a liberating truth God showed me when I realized my “sobriety” was actually a by-product of my relationship with God and not just an “attending church on Wednesdays and Sundays” type of relationship. I mean a relationship that says, “I am going to chase after you, wherever, however, and now.”
God spoke to me through Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].”
This verse sparked a shift in my perspective of life. I realized my focus shouldn’t be on the end result: sobriety, family, and success. Instead it should be on Jesus and relationship with Him. I have learned that true believers, Jesus followers, Christians, are only as strong as their present relationship with God, and depending on where you are in that process, it can be moment to moment.
I have been a missionary 29 of the 30 months since Shiloh, and I wouldn’t change a day. Coming to YWAM Tyler and choosing to do a DTS was done with what it now seems to be silly and trivial motivations, but God worked through it anyway. Being a missionary has taken me around the world and allowed me to meet thousands of people that have shaped my life, and I am grateful for each lesson along the steps of my journey.
I am not naive to disregard the environment I have chosen to live in as a major component to my life. I am fortunate for the accountability and atmosphere I am surrounded by at YWAM Tyler. It has allowed me to grow, learn, and receive from God on a consistent, daily basis.
Seeing hundreds of missionaries that currently represent 30 different nations, has painted a mosaic of our Father that only these contrasting cultures could. It has set an example of how to properly relate and interact with my brothers and sisters according to God’s design. And it started on a blind decision, with a genuine desire to know God when graduating Shiloh back in May 2016. YWAM Tyler has given me that opportunity in ways I never imagined I'd be part of.
I am eternally grateful for support and encouragement from my spiritual family at Shiloh and YWAM Tyler. They have pushed me into God and the things HE lines up, which are not always on par with social norms. I also have an awesome biological family at home in Lubbock, TX that are supportive of my “counter-culture” career path. But my story since graduating Shiloh has been built in my “quiet times” alone with Him, forging a relationship, getting to know Him, and getting to know myself in return. These are the things I attribute as keys to success. This is my story.