Grace Prep prides itself in preparing students for college, however, not all students choose to take that path, at least not immediately.
Senior, Aaron Shipley will be taking a Gap year with a mission organization called PAIS. Aaron will be staying at a host home overseas while serving at a local church and school.
“I am currently applying for PAIS New Zealand,” said Shipley, “if accepted, I will be in the mission field for a full 12 months.”
While many individuals may want to take a gap year, familial pressure does not always allow them. For Aaron however, this is not the case.
“My parents have always given me space after high school”, says Shipley, “They’ve said, you’ve got a year here to do what you want with, but we would like you to do it somewhere service oriented. I knew people from the organization, my parents have been pretty involved in it, and we’ve had missionaries from other countries stay in our home through PAIS. I grew up around it, so, that’s what I felt called to go do.”
Despite the obvious connection to PAIS, there was more that prompted Shipley to set aside a year of his life.
“I was familiar with it” said Shipley, “but actually, up until a year from when I applied for it, it wasn’t something I wanted to do”, Aaron continued saying, “all of a sudden I realized that I wanted to get into a mission space, somewhere that I could act purely selflessly, that I couldn’t do any of it for myself, cause I guess, senior year just did that to me, it made me sick of being selfish.”
Aaron explained the root of this sentiment, “It (senior year) is a lot of focusing on your future and only your future. Everything senior year, and junior year as well, especially at Grace, is working to make your future better, and make your future what you want.”
“That’s not a bad thing per say,” said Shipley, “I guess it just didn’t work well for me. I’ve got a lot of people around me going to their dream schools and knowing their future and, their future is right in front of them, it just feels strange in contrast, to take this year and serve, it’s not bad, it just feels odd.”
To anyone looking to take a gap year, possibly unsure, Shipley encourages, “Ask the Lord if he’s looking for you to give him something that drastic, cause I know I’ll go and he’ll change something about my heart that I don’t expect him to. And you just have to be okay with the uncertainty of it.” Aaron laughs, “If you are someone who likes to have your life planned two years ahead, it’s probably not for you.”
Ultimately says Shipley, “It’s a very gut-feeling type-of-thing, which I know is awful advice to give, but just prayer and talking it out with your friends and family is the best advice I have.”
With more and more students across the world, taking a year before college, questions have come to rise over why this trend has not set off in the States. Shipley adds to this conversation saying, “I think they (gap years) are becoming more accepted, but, I still don’t see as many people taking them, which isn’t a bad thing, the four year, four year school structure works well, it will give you a job that can support a family, but I think it’s valuable, especially for someone like me that’s a year younger in school to go out and grow some and mature some before I go to college.”
Of course, each student has their own path. Shipley acknowledges this, “I’d say it [gap years] wouldn’t be for everyone, man, I wish I could be perfectly okay with going to a normal college and getting a business degree and then working a nine to five, but, something about that deeply just irks me, and I don’t know…”
Shipley does say he intends to go to college. “I’ll attend school for either fashion design or music. Right now I’m leaning towards music.” says Shipley, “If you had of asked me six months ago though, I would have said fashion design.”
As of now, Shipley says he’s thinking mainly of UNT.
On the subject of full-time missions, Aaron was unsure, “I don’t exactly plan on full-time missions. Who knows, maybe I’ll go and the Lord will change my heart drastically.”
Back to his immediate plans, Shipley adds, that while on his gap year he will be, “most likely helping with photo and video, and, probably leading worship.” Shipley laughs, “I know I’ll end up doing that, in some way ”.
Shipley isn’t the only Grace Prep senior embarking on a gap year this fall, Jayci Campbell will be taking a 12-month gap-year as well, and with what organization? PAIS!
The two seniors realized only weeks ago they were both going with the same organization. Jayci and Aaron will see each other during the organization’s, “training time”. Other than that, the two will be in separate countries as Jayci has applied to PAIS Australia, not New Zealand.
“Neither of us are detailed people” said Aaron.
Jayci laughs saying, “No, we’re spontaneous. You’re spontaneous right?”
“Nope,” says Aaron, “not detail-oriented though.”
While Aaron discovered PAIS through his family’s connection, Jayci’s story was a bit different.
“I had previously looked into YWAM Byron Bay, but for some reason, I didn’t have a peace about it. I knew I wasn’t supposed to go there (YWAM Byron Bay),” Jayci explains, “but Australia was still really heavy on my heart.”
Jayci saw it as a closed door, however, the Lord had other plans.
“A PAIS apprentice, slid in my dms (Instagram messages). She said, ‘hey girl, here’s the opportunity (a PAIS gap year), I just felt like I should talk to you’” Jayci continued saying. “There was an overwhelming peace about it, just an insane amount, and peace has not been in my vocabulary, my whole life. I identified it quickly. It was so foreign and so fresh, I was like, “HOLY FIRE, I’m okay with this, and more importantly, I can do this, the Lord can do this“I had so many doubts, that I’m not good enough, not qualified enough, not wealthy enough or whatever society says, but the Sunday before I applied, my church talked about generosity, how it’s more than just money, it’s your time and heart. My pastor talked about giving your life away to generosity that, there are people waiting for you to, so and immediately, I thought of Australia”.