MOBILE, Ala. (BP) — International travel often changes who we are. It often challenges us to consider new perspectives, helps us interact with those who are different from us, and leaves us with special memories of missed trains, delayed flights and new foods.
That — and much more — happened to John Matheou, a senior majoring in worship leadership at the University of Mobile, during a Youth Hostel Missions trip. Youth Hostel Missions is the university’s overseas annual mission trip designed to give students opportunities to share the Gospel with other travelers while experiencing Christian community and intense discipleship.
Students stay in hostels (low-cost travel housing) and establish relationships with travelers from all over the world. They also get to tour some amazing places and blog about their experiences along the way.
Matheou’s journal entry below shows how international travel during the summer of his senior year challenged and changed him. Check out the rest of the YHM blogs at umobile.edu/yhm:
I’ve spent the last three weeks on a Youth Hostel Missions trip with four other people from the University of Mobile. Traveling the United Kingdom and Ireland has genuinely been a life-altering experience. These past three weeks have shown me so many things about the Lord, His kingdom and His faithfulness.
Ultimately though, I think I learned the most about control.
This past semester I’ve really struggled with trying to control every outcome of every circumstance. However, during this trip, I was faced with a desperate notion to faithfully surrender to the will of Christ for every little thing that happened.
There were times when I genuinely wanted to be left alone or didn’t think that I had anything important to say to anyone, but the Lord urged me tremendously to rely on His wisdom in every conversation I had.
The beginning of the trip left me a little discouraged, as I was still trying to control the interactions that I had with people…. I wanted every conversation to immediately change someone’s life, but obviously that just doesn’t happen. I think the beauty about this kind of ministry is, honestly, how rare it is to see the fruit of it.
We can get so caught up in church with our numbers of baptisms and salvations, that when we have conversations with others, we expect people to put their faith in Christ after one conversation. It just doesn’t always happen that way.
I was discouraged at first, but then I started to realize the effect I can have as a person who is just willing to listen to someone’s story for a brief moment on a bus or by giving small, but biblically based, advice to someone who has opened up to me at a bus stop. Those conversations mattered. I’ll probably never see them again, but I’m so thankful that the Lord put me in those positions.
Then there were conversations that left me speechless. There were times that I left conversations knowing that the Holy Spirit had ahold of someone’s heart. I’m so thankful for those moments, and I’m also thankful that I’ll be able to continue those friendships long distance.
In all, my perspective of the world has changed completely.
I have a new sense of courage and boldness for the gospel, and I’m excited to take it back home. I have four new best friends from my University of Mobile Youth Hostel Missions team that I honestly never thought I would love as much as I do.
I’m thankful, but exhausted. I’m ready to come home, but I know that I’m coming home more like Christ.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The University of Mobile is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist Convention.