This morning I woke up to an article in my newsfeed from a YWAM team serving the refugees in Greece, seeing it made me both nostalgic but also reflective on my time spent with YWAM now seven years ago. I had no idea my time doing international missions would be interrupted in the beautiful way it has been and often I forget the impact made on me until I am thrusted into someone else’s story and I remember my own. My time there was not easy, I honestly have a lot of sorrow mixed in with my experience but the lessons I walked away with are some of the most precious treasures I have.
When praying about my outreach location I strongly felt a call to the Middle East, which didn’t surprise me but it also didn’t line up with my lifelong obsession for the heart of Africa. I am grateful I listened and was exposed to an area that required a more covert form of spreading the Gospel. In many areas we visited you weren’t surrounded by in your face poverty and need, the most effective way to bring the Kingdom was to pray and love those brought into your path. This is where some of the sorrow is interjected for me, unity on our team was greatly lacking which makes pressing in and calling forth the Kingdom difficult. I am confident that the Father still used our time there and I walked away knowing, I am called to a life of boldness.
Ephesus was one of our two “leisure” times on outreach, where we took a break from service and soaked in history. My time in Ephesus was incredible. We stayed at an awesome hostel, Atilla’s Getaway, where they had great food and you could see the ruins of the ancient city. To walk and sit in a place where Timothy had once preached was humbling. Leading up to YWAM the scripture given to me over and over was 1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” Seeing where it was this man, who was told to be an example, from his youth, taught and lead from was inspiring. This was no small church or minuscule task, he had fears like me but chose to overcome them. The boldness planted in me in that place is still germinating and growing all these years later. Sadly, I have not been diligent in the cultivation of what was planted but I am grateful it took root and hasn’t fully died.
There were two experiences I loved most though on our holiday in Ephesus and they took place in the tourist town of Selçuk with different shop keepers as I explored alone, enjoying my introvert time. One shop was ran by a woman which was unheard of in that area. She told my teammate Jemma and I how she often received threats from men in the community for being there. She invited us to pray for her and both the protection and prosperity of her business in the name of Jesus which was an honor.
The other highlight was when I bought a beautiful orange scarf. I had gone shopping in town and picked out something I loved only to realize I had left my turkish lira in the pocket of my other pants. I was so disappointed but when I went to put the scarf back and the owner told me to take it and to bring the money tomorrow. I told them not to worry about it but he was insistent so I did just that. When I came back the next day with means to pay they invited me to stay and eat with them. They could see my hesitation but they showed me the outdoor table that was by the street so people walking by would know I was there. I decided to go for it. We sat there and enjoyed a traditional turkish meal of aged cheese, cucumber and tomato salad, olives and fresh flat bread. They finished the meal by going and buying a tub of ice-cream that we all ate straight out of. We sat there navigating conversation with their broken english and my finite knowledge of Turkish. I was able to some capacity share why I was there and how all I wanted to do was share the love of Jesus with those around me.
I won’t fully know the impact I made during the time I spent in Selçuk and Ephesus on this side of eternity but I will forever impacted by the encounters I had there.