It's funny how little I know about YWAM considering how I've committed to spend my next 5 months intensively with them.
But when the Lord speaks, you gotta say yes.
I didn't have time to do much research in the midst of finishing up my junior year at Seton Hall. The day after my last final, I was saying goodbye to my dear friends and non-related "families" who've taken me under their wing. Two Fridays ago I was fully prepared to chomp the bit and pay for myself to go to YWAM Denver. A week later, however, thanks to all of the support of Stonecrest Community Church and other families and loved ones, I found myself nearly fully supported for the entire 5 months! Because of all that, plus all of the blessings I received that week, I have been overcome by how undeservedly loved I am by God and his people.
I drove myself out to Colorado, taking advantage of the kind hospitality at each of the SPO "Men's Houses" in OSU and KCU.
It's been roughly a week since arriving at YWAM Denver, one of the many bases that hosts a Discipleship Training School (DTS), of which I am now enrolled in. Now that I know a little bit more of what's going on, I can fill you in too!
First off, it's awesome! I know that the Lord has me here for a reason.
YWAM started with the vision of one man - Loren Cunningham - who saw waves of young people moving out across the continents to spread the love and redemption of Jesus Christ. Now, YWAM is the largest interdenominational missions movement across the world. Their mission is to know God and make God known.
Each DTS is slightly different, what with the students attending, the location of the YWAM base (there are many YWAM bases all over the world), as well as the location of the outreach. In my outreach at YWAM Denver, we will be spending 2 months in the Philippines and Indonesia.
"This August we will join with other YWAMers and local churches in the Philipines. We will be taking part in "Megacities," an ongoing united outreach in Manila. Since January about 5,500 people have come to the Lord through multiple teams' concentrated effort in this one city. We have the privilege of being a part of this initiative, partnering with different ministries!
"In September, we will fly to Indonesia to partner with the newly re-established YWAM Jakarta. Indonesia is the 4th largest country by population and largest Muslim nation in the world. We will be able to help with teaching English, slum ministry, youth ministry, red-light ministry, church ministry, evangelism and hopefully spending time with an unreached people group outside the city. I am so excited to see what God has in store for us and the people we will meet this summer!"
~ Elissa Teichrib, YWAM Outreach Leader
At first I thought we were only going to Indonesia - which I thought was really neat since, as a child, I had been inspired a missionary from there who gave me a necklace from that country. I've been wearing it for the past few years unknowing that one day I would go there.
None of us knew about the Philippines until we arrived, but I am excited to go, as I have some great friends from there and know some people who've already gone there on mission. One of the students in our DTS actually said that his friend had told him of a dream his friend had that he would go to the Philippines on mission - he had signed up for this DTS not knowing that he was going to fulfill that dream!
My Experiences So Far
Here in Denver all of the 11 guys are sleeping in bunks in one room. 8 of them are in the DTS, and they are all rock-solid men! At 21, I thought I was going to be one of the older guys, as most new YWAMers are between 18 and 19. But as it is, I am one of the youngest! I consider myself privileged to be surrounded by so many mature and manly men. Some of these guys left everything behind just to follow God's call and enter more deeply into a relationship with him. Everyone here is all in. I am confident that some of these brothers are going to become deep friends of mine, and that God put us all together for a specific reason.
In addition to our age, our DTS has some pretty neat demographics! We're split 50-50 between Americans and non-Americans, including Australians, New Zealanders, Swiss, and someone from Chile! But the love of Christ unites us all. We're roughly 50-50 on men and women too, which I appreciate, considering how oftentimes there are more women than men in DTS's. I also appreciate that we are required not to pursue nor enter into any relationships with other staff or students, so that we can fully focus on hearing from the Lord.
We are all getting along swimmingly. Everyone on staff seems to glow with joy and kindness. Already God has been speaking powerfully to us.
Speaking of which, I had some kind of 'vision' during our first worship session yesterday.
A light that illuminated the stage was bouncing off of the glossy guitar of the worship leader. While my eyes were closed, I could see flashes of light as the reflection struck my eyelids.
It was quite representative of a thunderstorm.
I was immediately reminded of the power of God, and how it had thunderstormed right as I had arrived in Denver and a second time after registration.
If I was going to experience the Lord's power during this time, then I wanted to be out there in the rain, embracing the hardships and yet the blessings of the Lord - wholly surrendered to him, caught up in the power of his immeasurable love.
But I also had my doubts. I knew that I had received so much affirmation, but once again, I told the Lord that I was feeble and that I needed to be reminded again that he was real and so was his power. Moments after I prayed this in my head, another student came over, said that he felt called to pray over me about how God was going to work powerfully during the school - so he did. Once again, I am overcome by how immediate God's responses are to my weak cries for his attention and love.
While I was at first hesitant, I eventually shared this 'vision' with everyone during our second worship session this morning, and declared that it was not a matter of pride, but out of trust that we can say that the Lord will work powerfully in each of us during this summer, and that that power is to know more deeply the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:14-19).
To my surprise, the worship leader (the director of the entire campus) took the worship on a whole different path after I had shared, as we sang songs about the rain and surrendering to God. The flow of worship continued to enter deeper as more people shared about what Jesus was doing in their lives. Invisible walls were torn down today.
I am emboldened now, both to pursue the Lord more deeply but also to be a servant leader to my new friends around me. I am eager to see what lies in store!
From the bottom of my heart, thank you all again for your encouragement and prayers.