“I knowingly said yes to going to Denmark, yet unknowingly said yes to having my whole life changed in the process.” – Shaylah Mahoney
Rediscovering Our Need For The Gospel
Earlier this year year, I accepted a challenge and said yes to missions.
After praying, singing, and speaking so much about faith, works, and the Great Commission (a concept that was very new to me despite being a Christian my whole life), a seed was planted in my heart for missions during Summit (P2C Fall Retreat), in early October. By the end of that weekend I had already started my application to go to Denmark.
In that moment, I knowingly said yes to going to Denmark, yet unknowingly said yes to having my whole life changed in the process. I recently returned from my time in Denmark and wanted to share my experiences with you.
Firstly, thank you. On behalf of Power to Change, thank you to all of you who had the faith to donate your time and money into this mission. Thank you for your generosity and commitment to prayer. Together you mobilized almost 40 students to Denmark for ten days in the month of February in 2017.
What Happened In Denmark?
Thank you for allowing me to be one of those 40 students. I was able to meet over 25 students personally; and as a team across two cities, we met over 300 students. Of these 300+ conversations, 290 of them had a spiritual element, allowing Danish students to engage in a conversation about the deeper things in life.
During our travels we discovered that although the Danes are said to be the happiest people on earth, this title is only skin deep. When confronted with more existential questions, many students were intrigued and explained that these kinds of conversations were not explored in their culture. Since we were not from Denmark, they felt more open to talking with us about these topics.
“Where Does Love Come From?”, She Asked
One person in particular felt relieved to have this sort of conversation.
This is Claire. She studies Spanish at Aarhus University and is in her second year. We met her on Tuesday afternoon as she was waiting for her friend.
Within the first few minutes we could see that Claire was a very happy person; her smile was kind and she was quite soft-spoken. We asked her to share her thoughts on love. She spoke about her connection with the word “love”, and how she believed that if one had love, that all other things would follow (truth, meaning, happiness, freedom). She admitted that she was extremely close to her family, and this is where she felt love, but she didn’t know where love came from.
It was at this point in the conversation that we shared with her the gospel; the story of how God loves us and wants to be with us. So much that he sent Jesus to die, just so that we could experience that uninterrupted, perfect love.
Like many of the students who we told this too, Claire was surprised. She admitted that she had heard of Jesus and God, and was religious at one point; however she had never heard it in such a fluid and relatable way.
Accepting Salvation Can Be Difficult When Things Look Good
Claire’s story is so similar to the hundreds of students we met with in Denmark; but what is even more powerful is that it is so similar to hundreds of thousands of stories here in Canada.
One striking similarity between Aarhus and Montréal is not the young, youthful vibe of the cities, but rather their apathy towards God and a spiritual relationship.
Personally, I know when I am happy, healthy, and surrounded by love, it can be hard to accept a gift of salvation. After all, what do we need to be saved from? Why would I want to submit my freedom to a distant God?
But, friends, this is where the truth of the gospel rings: this world is temporary. We all know too well the unsteadiness of happiness and prosperity; what can feel like being at the top can all change within a split second. Personally, I have found that when I pour my riches, whether that be time, money, or knowledge, into things that are temporary, my hope and light become temporary too.
Happiness Is Temporary Without Jesus
This is why we need the gospel, why Danes, Canadians, Americans, the One Percent, need the gospel. Because happiness is temporary, but salvation is eternal. Joy can be eternal.
But ultimately the decision is ours.
This was the hardest part of this mission. Danes told us they were satisfied with life, and that they didn’t need God because they were prosperous. Even some of the Christians we met didn’t feel a strong connection to God because they were happy.
All we could do was challenge the students and scholars that we met with an ultimate question: are you truly satisfied with life or if you were given the opportunity to start again and experience true happiness and satisfaction, would you take it?
Challenged And Encouraged To My Core
Yes, this experience did challenge my beliefs and practices; but it also introduced me to a community of Christians that will take my hand and join me down this narrow path. Growing in fellowship made me realize how crucial the church is to the Christian faith.
If I had to wrestle by myself with some of the fears, doubts, and challenges that I face in my journey, then I would have given up long ago. It’s amazing that we have such a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe, and that this relationship can bring us around the world to find others who share this relationship and invite those in who have yet to experience it.
Like I have said a few times now, this experience was heart-opening and perspective-shifting. I could not have dreamt of the experiences which God has used to opened my eyes to and lead my heart towards.
Short Trips Are No Small Thing
Leaving on this mission, many people asked me why I felt called to a mission that was just one short week. And to be honest, at times I wondered myself. But within this small time, God was training our hearts for something so much greater. We may have been in Denmark for only seven days, but our mission didn’t last a week, it will last a lifetime.
The message of God’s love is eternal; and the seeds that we planted in the hearts of the students do not have to grow in seven days. These seeds could blossom in a month, a year, or even over several years. Our timeline is not God’s timeline.
There is so much more I wish I could find the words to express in this short testimony of how God is working in my heart and in Denmark. I hope overall that my gratitude is being heard. Even though it was a mission to reach Denmark with the gospel, somehow God found a new way into my heart as well. I can already tell that this will not be my final mission; that journey is just beginning.
A Gift For You From Shaylah
One thing I always turn to when I no longer have the words to express myself is song. So if you would like to hear my testimony through songs which I listened and worshiped to throughout this journey, please check out the playlist which I have made on Spotify, (find me @shayzillah), called Denmark.
This list includes songs which relate to my initial days after saying yes to God, the journey of fundraising, and (of course) the actual time I spent in Denmark. Enjoy! And thank you for reading.
By Shaylah Mahoney
Outside of studies you can typically find Shaylah surrounded by art. She enjoys theatre and visual arts (She is studying for a Bachelor in Fine Arts, with a specialization in Theatre and Development), but music holds a special place in her life. She writes, “If I’m not in the library, I’m either sitting a cafe, or catching up with a friend or at home on my couch, or playing my guitar and singing out for God.” A nature lover, you can also find Shaylah wandering around Mont Royal on quiet days to see the beauty of God in the stillness of nature.
Shaylah first got connected with P2C the summer before her first year because she knew she needed a Christian community around her as she stepped into this new chapter. “Throughout my first year, Power to Change provided me with a secure and encouraging community to share my faith in, and a supportive community that wasn’t afraid to challenge me.”
Photography provided by Shaylah Mahoney