Meet Dayna Esau: Canadian, Homeschooled, and on a Mission for the Nations
Ask Dayna Esau where she’s from, and you’ll need a minute—and maybe a map—to take in her answer. Originally from Canada, Dayna was already on the mission field as a baby, along with her parents, in Cameroon in Africa. The family spent nearly a year there before returning to Canada for three years. Their next stop was Perth, Australia, for four years, followed by Chiang Mai, Thailand, for six years. Then Dayna and her family settled back to Canada and called British Columbia “home” for seven years.
Ask Dayna where she went to school, and that answer is also unique. She attended public school from kindergarten to grade 2. Then, Dayna was homeschooled from grade 3 until grade 9. From grades 10 through 12, she attended public school.
In addition to the many foreign locations Dayna has lived with her family, she’s collected a few other temporary addresses as she entered missions’ work herself as a young adult. Dayna shared, “I started to reconsider missions when I lost sight of where God was leading me in life. After not doing well in my first year of university, I had to take a step back. He showed me that I could incorporate my dancing ability into missions through YWAM.”
YWAM stands for “Youth With A Mission,” and it’s a global organization that Dayna has known her entire life since her parents have been involved in it. Dayna was already familiar with a YWAM base in Kona, Hawaii. Joining was an easy “yes” for her, especially when she found out that the base offered a Performing Arts DTS (Discipleship Training School). Completing a DTS is the first school everyone takes in order to take a secondary YWAM school.
“Through YWAM I have been able to dance, sing, act, and do many other hobbies while incorporating God and ministry,” said Dayna. “During my DTS, we worked on a big production of the prodigal son story found in Luke. That is what we took to the nations on outreach,” Dayna explained. “There is something so special about using gifts God has given for ministry to glorify Him. YWAM mixes theology and application with gifts very well.”
Normally, DTS students go to one foreign location for outreach, but Dayna’s DTS traveled to two locations: Cameroon in Africa and South Korea. “My visa got denied so I actually only went to Cameroon while the rest of my team continued in South Korea,” shared Dayna. “Cameroon alone was so special because it was the place I lived when I was a baby. I have prayed for years that I would get to go to Africa, and of all the places, God brought me to the same country I lived in as a baby! The people were so genuine in Cameroon—very hospitable. I could not have asked for anything different. There were challenges, but I grew so close to the LORD while being there.”
During her DTS outreach, Dayna and her team experienced “a really cool God moment.” During one of their performances, the electricity completely went out. Without electricity for lights and music, the show could not continue. The team prayed. That’s when another DTS team came to the front and started singing a kids’ worship song since the audience was still there.
“We all joined in,” remembered Dayna. “It was so beautiful. It was a moment when our teams really united and came together through the Holy Spirit. At the very end of the song—the moment we stopped singing—all the lights came back on, and we were able to continue the show! It brought so much more glory to God. We all recentered our focus on why we were performing in the first place. It was a very special time that I'll always keep in my heart.”
When asked if she has a favorite Bible verse, Dayna shared Psalm 56:3: "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” Dayna explained that she often lived in fear growing up. Reciting this verse completely calmed her and reminded her that God was in control.
Currently, Dayna is in the States, studying the Bible. She’s in Montana for YWAM’s nine-month School of Biblical Studies (SBS). “Through SBS, God has given me such a heart for the nations and a heart for people knowing God’s Word and His character. I would be more than willing to continue serving in missions if He does not direct me elsewhere.”
Homeschoolers considering missions can take courage from Dayna’s advice: “Many times I was scared to make the wrong decision. I grew to realize that if my eyes were focused on Him and if it was a path honouring to Him, it was not the wrong decision. (Or, He would ultimately not allow it to happen.)” Dayna added, “Being ready is just being willing to step out in faith and obedience when God calls. I do not think I was fully ready for everything I have experienced, but God has been my Rock through it all.”
What can homeschoolers do to prepare for missions? “I recommend praying that God gives you a nation to pray for and praying that He softens your heart for His people,” said Dayna. “Keep your eyes focused on Him. Something I did was pray for a word for the year and allow God to grow me in that area or prune me and shape me. Be in communication with God. If that is something you are still working on and building a relationship with Him, I highly recommend a DTS. It helps equip you for hearing God's voice and learning His character, which is so foundational!”
“I would love to share just how amazing God is. I know He desires so much for you guys to know Him even more,” said Dayna, when asked what other encouragement she has to offer homeschoolers. “Whether he is calling you to missions in your hometown or to the nations, I encourage you to dive deeper and be curious in His Word because it really is so alive!
There are so many people that do not know Him but who are searching for the freedom and love that He has. He needs people to say ‘yes’ to going out and sharing this Good News. If that is a call on your heart, run to God with that desire and allow Him to show you where that will be. Sometimes He allows us to choose, and so, be aware of that too.” Dayna added, “God loves you guys. I hope that this was encouraging and gave some peace for anyone considering missions. I pray for direction and boldness over your futures. God bless!”
And may God continue to bless you all of your days, Dayna, wherever you call “home.”
Written by Heidi Mosher
Heidi Mosher writes from just across the border in Michigan where she homeschools three of her children and strives to point them to the Lord. She is also the mother of a recent homeschool graduate. Educated at Dordt College in Iowa (with a Canadian roommate), Heidi currently serves The Old Schoolhouse® as Press Release Manager and Marketing Writer. She loves hiking, studying God’s word, children’s literature, making things look pretty, and all things Dutch.