Hello! My name is Sophie Swann and I am 22 years old. I was born in Thailand and grew up in Switzerland, South Africa and a little bit in England. We moved around a bit because my parents are missionaries, working with an organisation called Youth With A Mission (YWAM). I grew up surrounded by people of all nations and cultures; diversity was a way of life. So, when God asked me to go to Hong Kong for a year and work with a YWAM base out there it didn’t seem as strange to me as it might to you. But now I’m getting ahead of myself.
Nearly three years ago my sister was living and working in China, so I decided I would go and visit her and do some travelling in Southeast Asia at the same time. My sister suggested I visit Hong Kong because she had really enjoyed going there herself. I then found out that my parents knew a Malagasy woman who was a ‘YWAMer’ in Hong Kong and suggested I asked to stay there during my visit.
Three months later, I was back in Hong Kong to start my Discipleship Training School (DTS), which is the entry-level school of YWAM, where you are discipled and learn to disciple others. It is an intense six months, with three months spent in lectures on various topics, such as fear of the Lord, the Holy Spirit and evangelism, to name just a few. It was during this time that I started to see the difference between how I see myself and how God sees me. The second half of the school is an outreach, which can look very different depending on the school. Mine had a performing arts focus, which meant we used dance, drama and music as tools for evangelism and teaching in Hong Kong, Thailand and Cambodia. I left having loved my time there, but with no thought to ever going back.
A year later, one of my DTS mates was getting married and I decided I would go to Hong Kong for that. I stayed on the base for two weeks just helping out and seeing what it was like to be staff there. I hadn’t really found anything meaningful to do at home and was questioning what it was that God wanted me to do. But, even though it felt great to be a part of a team that is so loving and supportive and humble, I didn’t want to commit to being there longer term.
I felt very uneasy and unsure about this, which usually happens if I’m trying to ignore what God is saying. Then on the drive to the airport, my DTS leader (and very good friend) told me out of the blue that she had prayed and God told her to support me financially if I went into missions, not even in Hong Kong, just in general. So I prayed about it and I said to God that two things needed to happen in order for me to know that I should commit to going for one year; one other person needed to offer to support me financially without me actually having to ask and my sister needed to be OK with the fact that I would be gone for a year.
Well, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, both of those things happened, within a couple of weeks of me being in England. I shared with a friend that I was asking God if I should go and how I wasn’t really sure what He was saying. A few days later she came up to me and said she would support me if I went to Hong Kong. After that I knew I had to speak to Michal (my sister). I mumbled something about wanting to go to Hong Kong for a year and she had absolutely no problems with it, she was delighted for me. At that point there was no way for me to say ‘no’, so I booked a flight, sent an email asking people to support me and got ready to leave.