I had wanted to join an adventure with YWAM for about two years by the time I finally felt the ‘go-ahead’ from God. In a way, I knew what DTS would probably be like, and I wasn’t far wrong. But of course, if you do anything with God you quickly learn to adapt to surprises.
I arrived in California, late evening. After dragging my suitcases into the house I would be sharing with eight other girls, I had my first moment of panic. Namely, I stood stone still in my room for a few minutes thinking… What on earth have I gotten myself into? I tried to remember why exactly I had thought this would be a good idea. I wondered how hard I had actually prayed about it- if God was in fact endorsing this thing at all. But there was nothing for it, so I took a breath (always a good thing to do in these circumstances) and went out to meet the team members whom I would eventually call my family. This type of decision became a theme throughout my DTS. I would long to run home, my heart would groan and I would wish fervently to do anything BUT the very thing I had to do. But after all the inward resistance, I tried to do it anyway.
An example of this would be street preaching in Calcutta. Admittedly, It was not my favorite type of ministry. But there we were, and though I wanted to run the other way, I did find my tongue, and that day became a pasta dinner I still draw from.
Another example would be when I was supposed to lead a discussion group among English-learning students in Myanmar. Almost no one spoke enough English for me to communicate effectively, and I was terrified to offend the respectful, sweet-natured culture. If I remember correctly, I was also exhausted and sweaty. Yet again, scared that I was going to inadvertently destroy Christianity in their eyes forever, barely lifting my eyes, barely feeling connected to Christ at all, I explained to them why I was even in Myanmar in the first place and why they might want to know this Jesus. For some reason, it was one of my scariest moments on outreach. I thank God that He helped me dare it.
Without practicing obedience in the day to day things, I doubt I would have chosen to obey when I actually was scared out of my mind. Unless I had first taken a breath and gone to meet the teammates in my home, unless I had forced myself to do the dishes when they were dirty, serve the homeless when I was sleepy, and submit to leadership when I was angry- I doubt I would have obeyed in Calcutta and Myanmar. I am grateful now for every opportunity I did follow through on, and I sorely regret the times when I did not. Who knows what may come of all the seemingly small decisions we make?
I can’t say that any of these ‘disciplined moments’ of mine had any impact whatsoever. To my knowledge, no one fell weeping during our street-preaching time, and no one in my discussion group converted away from Buddhism. But it doesn’t feel hollow. Obedience itself is the reward. To say- I didn’t want to, but I went there all the same- this to me, is what following Jesus is really about. In fighting to obey God, I strive to do what I know I should, regardless of my own feelings/abilities, and especially- regardless of the results.
Here, I wish I could communicate all the ways in which God has turned my story into a fairy tale. I could talk about dreams and visions, the passions- so long carried- that finally found an outlet, the new passions that grew and blended with the old, the people I met in all our locations, and of course my dear teammates, my family of such diverse backgrounds and giftings. I would talk about the moments we gave our very hearts away- to the people we were serving and to the Love that never stops hurting, giving and celebrating. I would talk about how we, in turn, practiced how to hurt, give and celebrate as He does. There are so many things I could say, and they are the treasures that I found thus far on my adventure. But, likelier than not, you are on an adventure of your own. So, to you reader, I pray that you give- in all the little ways you can- and I pray that every day your story becomes more of an adventure and a pasta dinner that will nourish you even as you move to future chapters.
Isaiah 61 Justice DTS 2009
I spent the first three months in California living in a community house with a bunch of amazing young people, learning about the bible and other topics such as Grace, Identity, Purpose, Justice and Procphecy (and many others). This was an amazing time of growth and with everything we learnt, we were given the opportunity to practically apply the principles. We then spent the next two months in the Phillipines and Cambodia working with orphanages, churches, AIDS victims, abused children in a variety of contexts and settings. We saw God moving in and through our group as well as the people we were ministering to in amazing ways.
The staff at YWAM were amazing, completely servant hearted, humble, young and fun, yet great leaders. Overall, I had an amazing time and would recommend it to anyone who has the desire to know God more and love others more.
-Serene, Melbourne Australia.
Justice & Arts DTS 2008
Several years later I felt a strong urge to do missionary work. I have always thought the lifestyle of trust, and living with minimal resources, would bring me closer to God. To serve others overseas while growing in my faith. I remembered those who impacted my life in Las Vegas. With some quick research, I found a website for YWAM Pismo Beach. Jeremy had followed Gods call in his life at the time. I knew that I must also. I didn’t really know what to expect for a DTS. I knew that I would be taking classes daily. I would have focal classes in the arts. But most of all, I would be helping others. This, is the true definition of a Disciple.
My DTS couldn’t have started better. Getting to know the great people who felt called just as I did was amazing. From locals in NO CAL, to Canadians, and a Swede, I truly was blessed to meet a whole bunch of fun loving, CRAZY, wonderful people. Oh, yeah, a british girl came also! Crossing paths with people from around the world was something that was truly meant to be. They all became true friends. Ones that would pray with you, for you, and ones that you can count on. I know that if I ever need someone to listen, I still have a list of DTS students that would pick up that phone anytime.
Each week in DTS we had a guest speaker come. This speaker would hold classes on the specific topic that was appointed for that week. “Hearing Gods Voice” , “Discipleship” and “Grace” are just a few of examples. The classes and topics were rich in knowledge. I often have times were I recall a lesson learned, and even 4 years later, still helps me make the right decision. This schooling lasts for 3 months. Along with the classes, we spent time in outreach programs. A family night, where we would have dinner at a house and invite locals over, or evangelism, where we would pray for strangers, and sometimes talk to them. All of this school, ministry, and growing with each other was for a reason: OUTREACH.
The outreach locations for my DTS were the countries Rwanda, and Kenya. We spent one month in each country, where doing street ministry, Skits and dramas, preaching, and going to a lot of church changed our lives, and the lives of those we met. I would love to talk to you more about outreach, but I will leave it short for two reasons. 1. I would talk for days. Go ahead, ask staffers who know me, I would talk your ear off about the wonderful things God has done in my life through YWAM. But number two is the important reason. YOU need to experience it for yourself. My personal stories are heartfelt, and I hold them close to me, but your own stories will always be with you.
So I encourage you, whatever your gifts are. Whether you know them, or you are still discovering them. DTS is a place where finding yourself, God, Friends and mentors all takes place. Its only 6 months. For some of us, that time passes, and we do nothing. Stepping away from comforts, and serving for 6 months will change your life forever.
Creative Arts DTS 2007