GRANGEVILLE “If someone strikes you on the cheek…” – This became more than a Bible verse for Michael Stevens of Grangeville while on mission last year.
Walking down a street in Australia one day, Stevens recounted, he turned to look when he heard a guy yelling into his phone; he walked on and seconds later he heard “What are you looking at?” Stevens didn’t think that comment was aimed at him until he received a sucker punch from behind into his jaw.
“Then the guy looks me up and down, and just runs off,” Stevens said. This was his first week in Australia, and he recalled – with a smile — thinking, “What is this? Is this what evangelism is going to be?”
Watch the presentation
A video of the presentation is on You Tube:
A serious yet funny anecdote among many eye-opening experiences of an overall journey Stevens called, “absolutely foundationally shifting for me.”
Stevens spoke to more than 50 people at a Sunday evening presentation Jan. 28 at Real Life Grangeville on a six-month mission trip he took with YWAM (Youth With A Mission), comprised of 12 weeks of training in Perth, followed by about another 10 serving in Manila, Philippines.
YWAM started in 1960 and is a global movement of Christians from many cultures, age groups, and Christian traditions, dedicated to serving Jesus throughout the world. Its focus is on youth, and YWAM volunteers work in more than 1,100 locations and 180-plus countries.
Stevens’ journey here started, he said, with a promise he made God that if he ever dropped out of college he would go on mission, which he added he wasn’t planning on dropping, so that was never a serious option. A 2015 graduate of Heritage Home School, he was attending Corban University in Salem, Ore. An injury took him out of play in college sports that left him with options to watch from the bench or drop out. It was here he felt God was directing him elsewhere.
“And, well, I made this dumb promise,” he laughed on the recollection, “so I guess I should figure out what to do here.”
YWAM offers a wide range of missionary programs to reach out to people through offerings as diverse as public service, education and drama to street ministry to those involved in sex trafficking. With Stevens’ background and interests, he chose the Sports DTS (Discipleship Training School) as a way to build relationships with youth and people, and open doors to share the Gospel.
In Manila, “The people were so amazing, so open to evangelism, but they didn’t know how to get started,” he said. In the area they served, the Parañaque district, there were stark contrasts of “extreme wealth next to extreme poverty,” he said. Kids as young as four and five, unattended and running through the streets. Hospitals for people were for life-threatening illnesses, so many sicknesses were left unattended. And this human need was being ignored by the community. “It was difficult to see these people starving to death on the streets, and a beautiful church right next to it,” he said.
Stevens’ worked with other YWAM volunteers in running basketball tournaments – the sport is extremely popular here, he said – and in open air preaching and singing – “Whatever God was speaking to our hearts” – and Bible story dramas.
“We were a bunch of 20-year-olds running around, trying to figure out what Jesus wanted us to do,” he laughed, stepping out in faith and letting God lead them in these situations.
In some of this there was a fear factor, he said, of “What if I get rejected?” And he said he was reminded that the Bible says in Matt. 10:14 this will happen and to “shake the dust off and move on.”
They taught in middle schools, visited patients in hospitals and prayed for healing – “We would see people healed from diseases,” he said, adding they saw many miracles – a woman confined to a wheelchair for three years get up and walk, demons cast out of people. They prayed with people on the streets, and ministered to prisoners who in some cases were crammed 180 men to a cell: “They couldn’t lay down to sleep,” and in one instance brought 80 men and 12 women to the Lord.
“They were so excited to be cared about, that we would come to their country and invest in them,” Stevens said.
Much of the outreach was person-to-person, being the hands and feet of Jesus to people in their immediate needs, according to Stevens, but as much was also spent in time of group prayer for the people, their communities and their country. Through this last they saw miracles, and many come to Jesus that way, he said.
“Prayer did more than we could ever do by just evangelizing,” he said.
Following this mission experience, Stevens said it has him looking to set up outreach opportunities in this community. Meanwhile, he plans to finish his degree in secondary education, and become a teacher “and, hopefully a pastor.” He currently leads a church youth group and helps lead worship at Real Life Grangeville.
“It focused me on what I want to do with my life,” he said. “It really directed me to what I want to do in the future.”