Senior Josie Shope is no stranger to the bittersweet nature of her last high school year in 2020-2021. However, instead of packing and planning for college like many other seniors, Shope has been preparing for a gap year. Shope plans to go on a mission trip with Youth with a Mission (YWAM), a program that both trains and sends students to influence people in a different country.
“I am choosing a gap year because all of high school has been crazy busy for me,” said Shope. “Also, college has never really been on my radar, so I felt led to take a gap year and spend it with the Lord away from every distraction… What appeals to me about taking a gap year is going somewhere completely out of my comfort zone and being away from everything I’ve known for a season.”
Shope first heard about the YWAM program from her parents, who went on a trip after getting married. In addition, a close family friend decided on taking a gap year for the opportunity to influence others in a different country as well. This first-hand account has prepared Shope but is not the only factor in her decision.
“My friends have also really helped me realize that I’m not ready to settle for college,” said Shope. “I want to be able to embrace my younger years and take as many adventures as I can… I think taking time away from all the normal distractions and busyness of life will help me decide what I want to do and where I want to place my morals.”
After her gap year, Shope plans to go to cosmetology school and work as a hair or makeup artist for the movie and music industry. Though this might be Shope’s plan now, she is willing to wait for God’s plan.
“The Lord has been so ever-present in my life,” said Shope. “Throughout high school, I have experienced so many different emotions through friendships, stress, heartbreaks and even losing my grandmother, but God always guided me back to His foundation and reminded me that my emotions are not truth. His Word is truth. Looking back to when I started at King's, I can see how the Lord was preparing me for what He has in store for me now.”
YWAM is only one of the few organizations that support students wanting to serve for a year. There are multiple possibilities out there for students considering a year off including LEAD Venture, One Life Institute and World Race Gap Year.