Last month, my husband, Ben Youtz, joined Pastor Bobby and some other members of CFC on a mission trip to Austria. To share a bit about the trip with everyone, I recently sat down and asked him some questions about it. Here are his answers:
What was the purpose of the trip to Austria?
It was two-pronged. Part of it was outreach. We talked to people on the streets of Graz and invited them to the church to hear Pastor Bobby speak that evening.
I remember this one guy named Marco. He said that he thought that God put us there in front of him that day.
Did he say why he thought that?
He had been having a lot of troubles. He’s from Romania and he needed direction for his life. He needed a new job so that he could help his family. People go to Graz to seek a better opportunity than they had at home. A lot of the homeless people we talked to there were from Romania.
What was the other reason for the trip?
The other reason we were there was to help Hans at “Peace and Hope,” which is a Christian association aimed at helping refugees integrate. We were helping to renovate his building. They wanted to expand their ability to house refugees.
I think we did a lot of work. I don’t think Hans expected us to get as much done as we did. He seemed just so grateful that we were there.
The most touching thing was how they viewed us being there. They brought us up on stage at one point and said, “How many people would use their vacation time to go do work in another country for refugees?” They talked about it with tears in their eyes.
That was profound to me because I hadn’t considered it. I felt blessed to be there. And they felt blessed that we were there.
What affected you the most?
I was personally affected by the history of everything I was seeing. We also visited the Dachstein, which is the highest peak of the Styrian Alps. It made you feel close to God. It made you feel small. You could see so far— you could see other countries from up there. A lot of Austria is driving next to huge mountains. It makes you feel tiny.
Was there anything else that affected you deeply?
Well, I’ve always lived around here. When you go to another place that’s foreign, you can really see how Christian fellowship looks. Like here, I have family and friends that I can have fellowship with but it’s not centered around God. And then you go to this other place and see people who love each other and it’s all centered around God.
I can go to Austria— to this completely foreign place— and feel like these people are family and friends. They were warm and welcoming. It would take you years to feel that comfortable with someone here. You drop into a foreign place and instead of feeling foreign, you feel like you’re part of the family.
I feel like it was good for me to experience that kind of Christan community in an isolated place. I could separate it and I could feel its energy. I could focus on it. But it’s hard to put into words.
It made me want to be more like the people there, especially Hans. Hans was so grateful and he always says, “Jesus is with me wherever I go.” He was so generous and so grateful. His spirit inspired me. He gives all the glory to God.
Mandy Youtz | Guest Contributor