Who is Justin?
My name is Justin Smith. I am currently 24 years old. I was born in Texas, grew up in Florida, and I have lived in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, and Massachusetts. However, I currently live in Saint Hippolyte du Fort in the south of France where I serve as a missionary with YWAM Bridges of Life.
I grew up in a Christian home. We knew the Lord, but we had gotten busy with life. When I was about 11, however, we had an encounter with a demon. Someone I knew was staying over at our house, and in the middle of the night they began to speak and cry out with a voice that was not their own and eyes were not their own. I remember it well. This encounter awakened my family to the reality of the spiritual world and to the truth that there was more then we knew before about being Christian.
Over the next 10 years or so, my whole family began to search for the Lord and for His truth. The story of those 10 or so years is too long to share here. If you would like to hear it, just ask me and I would be more than happy to share because it ends with an amazing testimony of God’s redemption.
When I was 21 and living in Colorado, I was in a very broken place in my life. I cried out to God twice, for hours each time, asking Him to end my life. I had tried everything I could think of and I did not know how to go forward. Shortly after, He led me to an organisation called Youth With A Mission (YWAM) that teaches discipleship training schools. Though this school, I realised that the god that I thought I knew was very different than the God of the Bible. I discovered God loves me far more than He judges me. I saw what His love can do; how it really can break every chain. During this time, God totally changed my view of Him. It was the beginning of a new life for me.
It was also during this time that I discovered missions. Being a missionary was literally the last this I ever wanted to do, but here I found that it was actually the only thing that truly fulfilled me. And so it was also here that I said yes when the Lord asked if I would be willing to go to hard and dark places to take His love and light. This started me on the path that I am still walking.
Six months after my school ended, God led me to join the YWAM location in the south of France called Bridges of Life. I joined here in March 2015 and made a two year commitment to this location. In my heart however, I made a life long commitment to serve the Lord wherever He calls me.
What is YWAM?
Youth With A Mission, or YWAM, is an international and interdenominational missions organisation that is located in almost every country of the world. As a whole, YWAM focuses on three main areas: evangelism, mercy ministry, and training. It is an organisation based on values and we endeavor to life out those values in our daily life. Most locations run discipleship training schools, or DTS’s, that broadly focus on training people in how to hear the voice of God and being a disciple of Jesus. You can find out more about YWAM at http://www.ywam.org/about-us/ or by watching this short 75 second video https://youtu.be/9NFiDpFT7yc.
What is YWAM Bridges of Life?
YWAM Bridges of Life is the name of the specific location I work with. We are located in the small town of Saint Hippolyte du Fort in southern France. We are also a place of values. We are first a place of worship and intercession. That is our primary ministry here. We are then a place committed to revival that comes through community. Both of those things are very important to us. We are also a place of training, sending, multiplying. Much of the discipleship that we do here comes through how we intentionally live our lives. Lastly, we are a place of hospitality and refuge, both of which are important things to the Father. You can find out more at www.ywambridges.com.
What does missions look here?
Missions looks different wherever you go. The most important thing, however, is that we are doing whatever it is that the Father has asked us to do. That is what Jesus modeled for us; He said He only does what the Father shows Him.
For us here at YWAM Bridges of Life, that means living out our values. Other ministries have come from that, but living these out remains our priority.
We are committed to worshiping each weekday. Most days we spend an hour worshiping God as a community before anything else in the morning. We then come together again each Thursday evening for what we call Open Heavens. We have created a community called Sounds of Revival that focuses on bringing worship to the streets and teaching others to do the same. We have a prayer room that is open all day and our heart is to one day have prayer and worship going 24/7.
We host teams, volunteers, and individuals for any length of time. During their stay, God always works something in their lives. We do our part to cultivate the atmosphere and God brings the change. We have seen amazing and miraculous things happen in the people God brings to us.
We are a community and we pursue maintain that community with each other though a number of things through the week. We have what we call family dinners and men and women lunches.
We do these things in order to prepare ourselves as a community and individually for revival. We believe that God has spoken that revival will come to France and to Europe and we want to be a part of it when it does. We pursue living naturally the supernatural. We are a prophetic community. We believe God speaks to all His children and we help teach others to hear from God for themselves. We pray for healing, deliverance, prophetic words, salvation, and more. We want those things to become normal here. We truly believe Jesus when He said that we will do greater things than He.
We also run schools. We have two DTS’s that we do here. One is called the Life Around the Table DTS which focuses on creating God entered community through hospitality. Our other school is called the One Thing DTS. It’s focus comes from Psalm 27: intimacy with the Father. These schools both have two parts: a lecture phase and an outreach phase. During the lecture phase, students stay here and France and learn from different speakers. During outreach phase, students generally travel to another country and put into practice what they learned in the context of being missionaries.
YWAM Bridges of Life has many other ministry that have come out of these values. You can find out about them on our website at www.ywambridges.com.
What do I do here?
I have been on staff here for two years. In addition to living out the values of this place and being involved in all that that entails, I have had many different roles, and they continue to change based on our needs. I worked on the maintenance of our 400 year old chateau, I was a part of leading the 2015 One Thing DTS lecture phase, I co-lead the outreach team to Kosovo for three months as part of the 2015 One Things DTS, I have been the IT guy for the base for a long time, I have been developing a new website, and I have been a part of leading the lecture phase of the 2016 One Thing DTS.
Currently, however, I am a part of the leadership team of YWAM Bridges of Life. I am a part of facilitating and communicating with any teams that are interested in being a part of Bridges of Life. I am also involved in discipling and shaping the culture of our entire community.
As I pray about my time here and the future, I believe that God is leading me here to train me. This is the training that I will be using for the rest of my life. This is my “degree” in missions. Right now, I believe God is calling me to assemble a team of people with whom we can pioneer and establish God’s Kingdom among unreached and dangerous to reach people groups.
Sincerely, Justin Smith
02 April 2017
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