As YWAM celebrates its 50th year, Andrew wanted to catch up with people who’ve experienced the global organization’s flagship training program, the Discipleship Training School, and see what life and faith has been like since. View other interviews in the on-going series here.
Andrew Kooman: Why did you pack your bags, get on a plane, and head to Malaysia for your DTS?
Robert Reid: The call to missions was so real to me I had to go. A third of the worlds population still waiting to hear the gospel! I had to be a part of it! I had just flown back into Belfast from Italy in 2001, and as I was driving out of the airport I felt that God spoke to me, to quit my job and go to missions. Initially I told God no. Six months later, I was in Denver, Colorado when God started speaking to me again, this time I was listening, and knew that I had to go. I felt that I needed to go to Malaysia, so after a short trip to Seattle, flew back to Belfast and quit my job. Best decision I ever made.
AK: What was the most significant lesson that you learned during your time in the school?
RR: God doesn’t want me to eat grass.
I know. Thats sounds strange, but that was one of the most liberating statements I heard during my time. For some reason I held this mindset that to be involved in missions I had to live in poverty. During one prayer time my Malaysian Chinese friend Justin turned to me and said ” God doesn’t want you to eat grass”. That set me free.
And its true, even though I have eaten everything from dog meat to cockroaches, I still haven’t had to eat grass.
AK: When you look back, how do you place or view your DTS in the context of your life? Why was it significant? What expectations did it meet or fall short of?
RR: DTS was Act 2 scene 1, of my life. It was very significant. It helped me to get perspective on my life and understand what was important and what I wanted to do. I had a very good job before I came to DTS, but after DTS I realized life was not about money. It was this, Know God make him know. I love that. And by God’s grace I’m trying to live that out. Act 3 will be commencing soon.
AK: Did you do any further training or work with YWAM or complete any other post-secondary education?
RR: Yes. Later I completed SOFM (school of frontier missions) and SBS (school of biblical studies), and qualified to teach english as a second langauge. And I have been studying Mandarin Chinese full time for two and a half years.
AK: What do you do now?
RR: I now train indigenous church planters in south western China. We are now on the verge of sending out 50+ indigenous church planters a year, into unreached areas of southern China, and Burma.
AK: What specific vision or purpose do you have in your life? How did you discover it and how do you mean to achieve it?
RR: My purpose is this, and am I’m not kidding here. I want to see the gospel go into every unreached people group, in southern China and beyond, into Burma, Laos and North Thailand. For me this is the commision of Jesus to us. Being a Chrisitian for twenty years now I have heard so many ideas of what the church should be doing in the world. For me, and I believe this is biblically correct (something that doesn’t seem that important these days in a post modern, relative society) the call of the church is the proclamation of the gospel to every corner of the world.
How did I discover it? Let me quote William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army:
“‘Not called!’ did you say? ‘Not heard the call,’ I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters and servants and masters not to come there. Then look Christ in the face — whose mercy you have professed to obey — and tell Him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world”
AK: What do you hope your personal legacy will be?
RR: Personally I don’t care. I have seen so many people concerned and preoccupied with what their legacy might be or how they may be remembered, and I find that unsettling. I’m quite sure the people who left great legacys never gave a thought for how they would be remembered, they just did what they knew needed to be done.
Let me tell this story. About four years ago, a friend and I had spent a week hiking through the back mountains of western china. We went from village to village preaching and sharing the gospel to people. We praised God as we saw families come to Christ.
On our way back we decided to hire a small van to drive us the five hour trip back to the city we were basing ourselves out off. On the way, the driver stopped at a remote village, so that we could eat lunch and he could get gas. We entered the house of an old local lady. She fed us rice noodles, and chatted with us as we ate. As we waited for the driver we started to have a look around her house, and ventured out into the back, where we found gravestones. Nothing unusal in that, except that these grave stones were written in English as well as Chinese. Here in front of us were the graves of two young men, 30 years old and 29 (the ages of my friend and I at the time) They were missionaries with Hudson Taylors’ China Inland Mission. And had been martyred for their faith in that spot one hundred years earlier.
If you want to talk in terms of testimony, for me, their could be no greater testimony than that. No books were ever written about those guys, but I tell you, there legacy will be in eternity. I don’t want to sound too super spiritual here, but in a hundred years time, two young men accidently fall upon the gravestone of an irish man that died preaching the gospel on a mountian somewhere, then I’ll be pleased.
AK: What, at this point in your life, is your view of God?
RR: Good question. Its funny how our view of God changes the older we get. The more you go through in life the more you see Gods character and faithfullness in your life. God is there, he cares. Hes still sovereign, and Lord.
AK: What inspires you?
RR: People. Everyone I know I suppose. I have been very very blessed to have meet the most amazing people over the years. People in Penang, Malaysia. People in Ireland and definitely people here where I live. I see people who I want to be more like. People who have counted the cost, and said I am going to give up my whole life that the gospel may be preached, where Christ has not already been named. They inspire me, and help me to keep going.
Books. You can live a thousand life times through books. You can see new perspectives, be challenged and have your world view torn apart. You can read the thoughts and opinions of those who have already walked the road before you. Right now I’m reading “Missionary methods : St. Paul’s or ours” by Roland Allen. If you’re interested in Missions. You should read it.
My wife. She’s just incredible.
AK: What most challenges you?
RR: There are many things, but challenges are good. Thoughts of friends and family back home. Thoughts of Ireland, plagues me at time with homesickness. Looking at my finances and seeing the bank balance of a missionary, challenges me every single day. The clock. Why did God only put 24hrs in the day?
My biggest challenge is usually myself.