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How My DTS Impacts My Work Today

By Nicki Smith on April 8, 2021 11:12:03 AM NZST


I’ve served as a YWAM missionary for over 10 years now. I work with the traveling community: young adults on a gap year, traveling the world, looking for adventure and hoping to ‘find themselves.’ This is a relational ministry. It’s about knowing how to connect with people from different backgrounds of culture, religion and experiences. I need to know how to effectively share the Gospel, meet their needs, pray with them and teach scripture. I encounter many different world views, new age beliefs and atheism as I work with backpackers. My passion for this work, my training and experience all came from my time as a student and staff on the DTS in Oxford.

I was fresh out of University and looking into different options for my next step. I was also a new follower of Jesus; I came to faith during my first year at uni. A friend mentioned YWAM and at first I wasn’t interested. Perhaps because I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, my idea of a missionary was limited. I thought missionaries were people who went to Africa and held babies and helped orphans. And as much as I loved kids, that did not interest me. I decided to check out the website anyway and found the Backpackers DTS in New Zealand. This combined my love for the outdoors & desire to travel with an opportunity to learn about missions. 


I came to DTS excited about the 3 months of lecture phase and apprehensive about the outreach, I had never done evangelism before. But I was hungry to know more about God. During the DTS, I was challenged to dive into scripture and started reading through the Bible for the first time. I had previously been afraid and confused of the Old Testament but learned to understand God’s heart and plans through the whole of scripture. I learned about the beauty of repentance & grace. I encountered the power of the Holy Spirit. The teaching, the mentorship, and the community living built a foundation for the work I am involved with now. 


I think the most surprising part was the outreach. I was new to evangelism and I watched others model how to talk and pray with someone. I learned to step out and share my testimony and teach scripture. On one outreach, our team travelled to India & Nepal. I had concerns about being immersed in Hindu culture. Would I have doubts about my faith in Jesus when faced with such vibrant and ancient beliefs all around me? Did I truly believe that Jesus was the only truth and if so, how would I articulate this among a nation that claims to have many truths and many gods? 


Jesus says in the Bible, 

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6


What I discovered in India was different than expected. In the West, we cling to the material world around us and believe in what we can see & touch. In India there is no doubt of a spiritual world all around us. They interact with the spiritual world through worship of idols, animals, and gods. They wear talismans to ward off evil spirits because they have seen them. I was impacted the night I met a Nepali man. He grew up in a normal Hindu believing home. And yet, the first time he heard of Jesus, he knew it was true. When he made the decision to believe & follow Jesus he says he went from being in darkness to light. Literally! His family couldn’t persuade him to go back, he would not return to darkness. I was learning that Jesus really is The Truth and Light of the world.
My experience with other cultures and beliefs did not shake my faith. It made my assurance in God that much deeper and richer. And now as I reach out to backpackers from all over the world, I can understand their searching and journey toward God. I am not afraid to share Jesus and answer their questions. I have learned to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit as I minister with travelers. My DTS was an invaluable and life changing time that impacts my work today. 


Nicki Smith

Written by Nicki Smith