How My Life Changed In a Year

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I first visited Papua New Guinea (PNG) in March 2017 to volunteer on the YWAM Medical Ship, as a nurse and midwife. I was keen to have a good “short term mission trip,” and never imagined how the next 12 months of my life would unfold. If somebody had told me that PNG would change the whole course of my life, I would have laughed and said “Oh no, I’m just going for 2 weeks to volunteer.” Sure enough, my time in PNG did change my life.


While volunteering in PNG, I was deeply challenged by the question “Am I living life to the full?” In John 10:10 we read, ‘”The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you may have life and have it to the full” says that LORD.” I pondered this question most days and realised pretty quickly that I was very settled in my life back at home in Melbourne. I wasn’t completely happy, nor was I satisfied that I was living out my faith actively or living my best life.

I absolutely loved my time volunteering in PNG. While there were challenges, both personally and professionally, I wouldn’t trade the opportunity for anything. I can’t even accurately describe in words how amazing it was and more so, how incredible it was to encounter God in such a unique and wonderful way.


The journey since then has been quite surreal. While returning home from PNG, I had such a strong desire to go back. I wanted to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and to ensure I wasn’t just going through the motions of life and working for the fortnightly pay check. I absolutely loved my job as a nurse/midwife but I couldn’t help think that maybe there was a better way I could use my skills to serve people.

I soon decided to apply to do a Discipleship Training School (DTS) at YWAM Townsville. I spent the remainder of 2017 working to save money, fundraising, and sharing with others at my work, church, etc. about my experiences in PNG and what I was going to be stepping in to in 2018. The bible verse that really stood out to me during this season was Matthew 10:39 “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” I again felt deeply challenged by how I was living my life and knew God was stirring me on to something bigger and better.


The lead up to starting DTS was an incredible time where I saw God’s provision time and time again in various ways. I decided early on that I didn’t have to wait until DTS to start seeking out more of God’s plan for my life, so I was intentional in spending more time with Him and in His word in preparation for DTS. I had no doubt at all that it was the Holy Spirit leading me on this journey and while it hasn’t always been easy, I’m so blessed to have a loving Father who walks every step of the way with me!


DTS has been a crazy adventure from the start. We’ve covered topics including Hearing God’s Voice, The Nature and Character of God, Identity, and now we are learning about Lordship. I have had so many new and fresh revelations of who God is and who I am. I’m  learning to trust in Him more and more. As we dig into the Bible and explore what it says about how we are designed and the purpose of our lives, I’m feeling more and more willing and able to let go of my own selfish desires and fully surrender my life to God for his plans and purposes. There’s been many great conversations with many of my wonderful new friends (our school has 58 people from 16 different countries!), many hours spent in tears, in prayer, in worship and of course lots of fun and laughter as well. I find myself constantly reminded of my key scriptures from each of my outreaches in PNG, John 10:10 and Matthew 10:39, and am learning to have genuine peace about laying down my own desires and walking into the calling God has placed on my life. I don’t know exactly what the future holds, but I know that I’m willing to say “yes” to God.


So twelve months ago, I would have never thought I’d be sitting here at YWAM Townsville doing a DTS, preparing to go back to PNG for outreach, and considering long term missions, but God works in mysterious ways!

Rachel Bakker

Rachel is a current January Discipleship Training School student and is loving it! she enjoys hanging out with friends, singing, and drinking good coffee. A fun fact about her is that her dad and grandparents actually spent time living and working in Papua New Guinea, and she says that could have something to do with her love for the nation.

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