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Why do a Discipleship Training School?

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By Sam Gallagher

Why Do a Discipleship Training School?

A Discipleship Training School (DTS) is arguably the bread and butter of who we are as Youth With A Mission. That is to say, it’s what we do best. Before I tell you why you should do a DTS let me first tell you what it is. To put it plainly, DTS is six months of living out of the ordinary.  You leave your friends, family, your normal everyday life, and you put all that aside to learn what being a Christian is really all about. Some people have said that DTS is like a pressure cooker for Jesus, you go in the oven, and then six months later you come out completely changed. Let me explain why. First you come to Pismo Beach, a beautiful sleepy beach town on the Central Coast of California for what is called “Lecture Phase”. Lecture phase is 3 months long and it is where we fly speakers from all over the world to come and teach you about the love and goodness of Jesus Christ. We cover topics like spiritual disciplines, grace, the nature and character of God, and many more. But that is only the tip of the iceberg.

After lecture phase you will go overseas for 2-3 months with your fellow students to put into action the love and grace that has been displayed to you by our heavenly Father. I won’t lie to you, this experience can be really challenging. You will be working with your hands, your voice, and your heart. The goal is to experience all kinds of missionary work, from preaching and evangelism, all the way to digging irrigation ditches. Although difficult, outreach is life changing and inspiring.

So now that you know the general idea of what a DTS looks like let me try to explain why you should come and do one. First I must admit that I cannot really do it justice to tell of the friends you will make, the lives you will impact, and the life changing love of Jesus you will experience. So instead of telling you about all the amazing reasons to come and do a DTS let me explain to you that life doesn’t stop with a Discipleship Training School with Youth With a Mission. The whole goal of a DTS is not to take you out of normal life and show you how great six months with Jesus can be, but instead it is to reinvent what normal life looks like for you. At YWAM Pismo we believe that your best chance of living life to the full is alongside of Jesus Christ. That’s why we want you to come do a DTS, but also go home and make an impact in your community, your family, your own “normal”. We want you to do a DTS because we want you to tell your town about the love of Jesus, and maybe coming to our base will help show you how.

How DTS still impacts me, a year later.

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Hi, my name is Joel, I am from Switzerland and I was a student in the Fall DTS 2016. I heard about YWAM through my older brother who did his DTS first. I originally had no interest in discipleship training and I already had the next years of my life planned out. However I guess Proverbs 16:1 was written for a reason and somehow I found myself in Pismo Beach. It ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me. Oftentimes I think back to what I learned in DTS, not only about God and the Bible, but also about life in general. I get into situations daily where I can use the knowledge I gained from lectures or an advice I got from a leader on a one on one.

Growing up in a wealthy family, I was used to privacy and having a room of my own. DTS taught me to live differently. Sharing a room, or sometimes not even having one, was surely challenging but an important lesson for life. It taught me to interact with people no matter how I feel and to figure out ways to live well with them. That might sound like I didn't enjoy the community at all but there are many upsides of always having someone around, i.e. the possibility to pray together or worship God with songs. All of this brought us closer and I look at these people as family now.

Living with young people of different ages and from 9 Nations all around the world was surely an eye opening living situation that awoke in me an interest in the world and how people live differently in different places.

Through that and through outreach to Greece and Italy I caught a glimpse of the beauty of stepping out, talking to people and socializing with strangers. I had to learn that without stepping out there is no growth in my life. Even though my steps are small, it was in DTS where I started to challenge myself to come out of my comfort zone.

Although it was important to grow as a person, the spiritual growth I experienced in DTS was more important. Of course I'm not some kind of holy person now and sadly I'm not a daily bible reader either. But I’ve become a better friend to Jesus and the Holy Spirit found a home in me. I understand a little more of who God is and what it means to be His child, what it means to be a disciple. I knew how to talk to God, but now I know how to listen to Him.

It is hard for me to see how DTS changed me and how it affects me today because it was such a radical change of lifestyle that I forgot how I used to be before. What I learnt is now a part of me and so are the people that I got to know. I am writing this from halfway around the world from where I live and I am here because of a friendship I made in DTS. God is so much bigger than anything I could ever imagine or plan myself, and fortunately that is something you and I can always depend on.

God bless !

Serving in YWAM as a family

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At 18 years old I remember boarding my plane to San Jose, Costa Rica. I had just applied to my DTS in Heredia less than a month prior and little did I know that the next six months would change my life. I met my husband, Aaron on the school and as newlyweds we went on to work with YWAM in South America. We eventually moved back to California, started our family and two kids later we were pastoring a church in San Bernardino. I looked back on our YWAM years with fondness and we were always excited when the young people from our congregation felt called to do their DTS.

When our daughter was two and our son was just four months I remember Aaron telling me that he felt that God was calling us back to YWAM. I thought he was ten kinds of crazy and even though I knew of families serving in missions, surely it wasn’t for us. As a 20-something I was happy to live out of a backpack in South America but with two small children it was a different story. In the months that followed God changed my heart and gave me a peace that could only have been from Him.

In July 2013 we packed whatever belongings would fit on our cars and made our way to Pismo Beach. Since then we have staffed and led DTS’s, pioneered a secondary school, and added another baby to our family. I can't tell you what a blessing it has been for our children to grow up in this environment. They are surrounded by different cultures, languages and food and also have countless honorary aunts and uncles from around the world. Last year we took our eight month old daughter to Greece to work with refugees and at the end of this year all five us will travel to Nicaragua to lead a three month outreach.

Serving as a missionary family has taught me to have more dependance and trust in God than I ever have before. I have had to lay down my rights and walk in obedience at times when I was scared and full of doubt. We have made sacrifices and have had to say no to our own agendas.

Being a family in missions has also been the most fulfilling, rewarding and valuable experience for us and our children. I wouldn't trade these years for anything and I look forward to what God has in store for our family in the coming years here at YWAM Pismo Beach.

-Sarah Ortega