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Alumni Stories

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Making Disciples in All Nations – A Global Gap Year

For seven months, Evan Williams ‘19 did everything from evangelism in the red-light districts of the Philippines to work in tribal communities that have an ISIS presence during his Gap Year with Youth With A Mission — a missions-sending organization focused on equipping the next generation of leaders to go and make disciples in other nations.

The soul-shattering experiences in Tauranga, New Zealand and Nepal changed Evan’s life. “I cannot put into words how those months forever changed my life in the deepest of ways,” says Evan. “I was there until COVID forced me to come home at the end of March. It was an unbelievable time to see and be a part of all that was going on in Nepal and so cool to see the ways God is moving under the radar there.” 

By not taking the traditional college-to-career route, Evan got a clearer picture of his Christian journey and discovered what really fed his heart for impacting the world for Christ. “I think it is so hard to actually know what you love when just coming out of high school, says Evan. “My gap year allowed me the time to find my passion.”

Prior to his gap year, Evan planned to study pre-med because he had “good grades in school and it made sense to just put those two things together,” he explains.  With encouragement from his Valor instructors, Evan sought to find his real passion and what he wanted to do in his life. 

Mr. Rick Whitfield, Valor Bible instructor, participated in the same YWAM training school in New Zealand years ago and was able to answer questions and tell stories of his time there as he helped Evan explore his options. “I was ecstatic to hear that Evan was seriously considering doing a YWAM Discipleship Training school at the same base in Tauranga, New Zealand that my family and I had been blessed to be part of back in 2010,” explains Mr. Whitfield.  “My time in YWAM was truly transformative and served to foster a deep passion within me for intercession and world missions. I knew that Evan would be blessed immensely by this opportunity and I was so proud of him when he took the leap of faith to go out to the Nations.” 

Back in the United States after an incredible year of growth and self-reflection, Evan is planning to study international studies at Baylor University in 2021 and then possibly go onto law school to study international law with the hope of bringing the gospel to some of the most closed-off nations on the planet. “I don’t want just a 9-5, I want to be on the front lines of what God is doing in the world and by going onto further my studies at Baylor it will allow me amazing opportunities to get into those very closed off countries and get sustainable visas!” 

Evan is excited about the opportunities God has for him and wants to encourage Valor students who may be feeling the pressure of what they will do after high school and need someone to talk with about their options.   

“There is a whole world of deep pain and real people with real lives that we will never know about until we go to them to have a worldview that is shaped by something more than a news article or history class in an affluent suburb,” says Evan. “My gap year changed and marked me forever and I am so thankful and would more than advocate for others to be a part of a similar experience!”

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