5 Reasons to Take a Missions Gap Year

YWAM Orlando Missionary Looking Out At Water

The term gap year is a phrase we use to talk about a period of time in young adults' lives when they take a break from the fast-track of academia or before diving into the workforce. Recent high school graduates or college students use this time to learn about themselves, the world God created around them, or what they want out of their lives going forward.


But like any year, the time can be wasted, spending money on a maximalist lifestyle or pursuing activities that don't honor God and His plan for our lives. If you're interested in taking a gap year, and you want to make sure your time off isn't time spent checked out, a Christian gap year program is the choice for you.


Christian gap year programs, such as Discipleship Training School (DTS) here at YWAM Orlando, often include international mission trips as a highlight. Having a cross-cultural experience during your gap year can be the difference between a successful year off or time wasted.


Not sure if a mission trip is for you? Want to know more about our gap year team and gap year programs? Read on for first-hand testimony as to why spending your gap year in a Christ-centered community is beneficial. If you're ready to start your gap year off with leadership training and a trip around the world, apply for YWAM Orlando's DTS online today.


The Road to DTS: How I Answered the Question, Should You Take a Gap Year?


Before DTS, I had a good job, I was on track for an amazing college degree, and I had a great boyfriend - I was on a seemingly good path in life. I tried my best to be a "good Christian girl," but I constantly felt like I wasn't cutting it. Nothing in my life was good enough. I felt empty as if I was wandering aimlessly through life.


One day, I was in Starbucks studying for an exam when a stranger suddenly approached me. She was a YWAMer and she asked, unprompted, if she could pray for me. As she did, I began to bawl my eyes out as I encountered the love of God in a powerful, palpable way.


That was it. That was my spark. That was the moment I knew I was ready for something extraordinary. So, I dove into my gap year with YWAM. It was a year I will never regret, and if you choose to step up and answer God's call by doing a DTS, I don't think you will regret it either.


What Does A Gap Year Mean to High School Graduates?


People say life is short. But really, life is the longest thing you’ll ever do.


So, in the midst of life, what is a year?


The simple answer is not much, but a year can still hold a lot or a little, and it’s totally up to you. We can be so afraid of the future and the unknown that it cripples us into stagnant repetition as the years march on. But, who wants to just let the years pass when there’s so much joy that can come from them?


Coming out of high school, I had no idea where to even start. Did I want to teach or become an engineer? I tried both. I didn’t know! I had so many questions about life and what I was meant to do that I couldn’t figure it out while in school.


Now I know that’s what a gap year is: it's time spent traveling, working, volunteering, or getting to know yourself better before continuing your studies. Universities like Harvard and Princeton now recommend that students take a year off between high school and college to gain independence and a sense of direction.


After 12 years behind a school desk, a gap year provides a unique opportunity to try new things, meet new people, and discover more about yourself. A gap year well spent can even help you determine what you should prepare to do with the rest of your life.


I did my gap year at YWAM Orlando and don’t regret it.


a group of college age volunteer workers


Why is it Good to Do a Christian Gap Year Program?


Here are five reasons to take a gap year with YWAM Orlando, and how to make it your most unforgettable and impactful year yet!


1. Get to Know God


Whenever I get time to chill out and breathe for a second, I can never seem to remember the thousands of things I thought throughout the day or things I wanted to do or research. I usually end up watching Netflix or just sitting around with friends wasting time.


If I forget to Google “how to make the most amazing pour-over coffee," it won’t have much effect on my life. But forgetting to take time to find out what God is like and how He relates with me could have an eternal impact.


My gap year with YWAM gave me time to pause and dive into my relationship with and understanding of God. For so long, I had put off getting answers to the many questions I had about God. I didn't explore how to live for Him because I didn’t have time, didn’t know who to talk to, or thought my questions were dumb.


When I did DTS as part of my gap year, the excuses and other responsibilities were stripped away. I was able to run after God and discover who He is. I had opportunities to ask the hard questions and get answers from people who cared and teachers willing to wrestle with the tough subjects week after week.


This intentional time with God changed the way I think about and live life. Now, I get to experience life with God, instead of just for God.


2. Travel and Experience Life and a True Christian Community


Doing life with Jesus is way more fun than doing it any other way. I never thought I would get the opportunity to live a life worthy of passing stories down to my future grandchildren. But I did, and I still get to thanks to DTS.


No one regrets taking the time to go on wild adventures and travel the world. I don’t know of a better or more noble reason to pursue these adventures than to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. I have more crazy God stories from a year of being in YWAM than the rest of my life combined.


I went to three new countries and met and prayed for hundreds of people. I learned new words in other languages, ate foods I’d never heard of, and laughed and cried with people with whom I never imagined I would have anything in common. My view of life changed from a narrow view to a whole new world of possibilities at my fingertips.


3. Gain a Clear Vision of the Future


As my perspective of the world and the people around me changed, so did my perspective of myself.


I started my college career with a fear of failure so palpable I could taste it. After my gap year, I was a new person. This fear was replaced by an unyielding confidence in who I am and what God made me to do. I don't know a better way to prepare to start a career, a family, or any new phase in life than this amazing period of self-discovery.


Before YWAM Orlando came into the picture, I didn’t know my gifts, how to overcome my perceived limits, or what my vision for the future was. In truth, it was blurry and unclear. Now, I have a clear picture of the world and my place in it.


4. Embrace Cultural Differences to Foster Personal Growth


One of the most enriching aspects of a missions gap year is the opportunity to immerse yourself in diverse cultural environments. Whether you're serving in local communities or embarking on international outreach trips, you'll encounter people from different backgrounds, languages, and traditions.


Embracing these cultural differences helped me develop a greater understanding of the world around me and how I could interact with others in a deeper, more empathetic way. Fostering better relationships with others led me to even more personal growth as I learned to navigate and appreciate our interconnected world.


We are all God's children, and He calls us to love each other as He loves us.


5. Earn College Credit During Our Gap Year Programs


Many gap year programs offer opportunities to earn college credit even while you're taking a break from school.


DTS is a 5.5-month-long program, meaning you still have another half of your gap year to fill. With our secondary courses for DTS graduates, you can complete an entire gap year and earn college credit through the University of the Nations.


By participating in accredited courses during your gap year, you can further your education while immersing yourself in cross-cultural ministry. This not only enhances your academic transcript but also provides valuable practical skills and insights that can benefit your future academic and professional endeavors.



Written By:

Molly E | YWAM Orlando Staff