My experience with YWAM (Pt. 1)

December 25, 2007

My earliest memories of YWAM were from the age of six. Our church hosted a special presentation, a drama, called Toymaker and Son. I was in awe of the dancing and drama and the beautiful costumes and make-up. I have always been drawn to the “artsy” side of life. I spoke with one of the YWAMers in the troupe and told her I wanted to do the same thing when I grew up.

The church I was raised in regularly accommodated YWAM teams over the years, so I was was very accustomed to the way and teachings of YWAM. Afterall, YWAM’s teachings mirrored what my home church taught.

I began to go on mission trips with YWAM at the age of eleven. In the beginning, everything was a wonderful experience and I truly felt that I was making a difference. When I was 15, I attended a Summer of Service and Training (SST) with the YWAM Tyler base. This was the base I was most familiar with and many young people from my church had attended a DTS at Tyler.

The SST took place in Atlanta, GA during the 1996 Summer Olympic games. I went with two friends from my church youth group. We were picked up from the airport and taken to the “church” we would be living at for the next month while we ministered. The church, however, was really a burned-out, rodent-infested, rainsoaked (roof was caving in) warehouse. Really, it was shocking, and I had worked in the cardboard villages in Mexico, but this was worse. There were definite safety concerns and my female teammate called home immediately and begged her parents to fly her back home. Within a day, she was gone and her parents were enraged by the conditions YWAM was allowing 12-21 year olds to live in for a month.

I toughed it out, but I was scared to death, as I had to tread through ankle deep water (full of who knows what with hundreds of people tracking through it all day) just to get to the bathroom. Within a couple of days, out SST leaders called a meeting and said that Satan was attacking our ministry in Atlanta. Apparently, the media found that about 500 teenagers were living in a burned-out, condemned warehouse and the media swarmed the YWAM encampment. Our leaders told us we had to be relocated to another church, but in order to leave, we had to sneak out the back so the media wouldn’t see us. In fact, our leaders said that they didn’t want city officials to know 500 youth were staying in the warehouse….definitely something illegal was going on. I wanted to leave, but I felt I had to ‘prove’ my worthiness of being a missionary, and I was convinced all of the media hype was a demonic attack on YWAM. I couldn’t bring myself to thing YWAM might do something underhanded or illegal.

All 500 of us were relocated to a church gymnasium in a suburb of Atlanta. We began to have intense teaching and small group sessions. SST was considered a mini-DTS and this was the first time I was introduced to the popular Third Wave teachings of C. Peter Wagner, Winkie Pratney, George Otis Jr., and the Moral Government Theology. Our worship times many times lasted hours, while there were many “manifestations” of charismatic/pentecostal “gifts”. Speaking in tongues, dancing wildly, screaming, etc. were common-place and at times, scary. Although I came from a charismatic/pentecostal church, disorder was not encouraged, however at YWAM, disorder was the mainstay.

When it came time for the 500 of us to be put into ministry teams, I went forward to volunteer for the music ministry since I had a lot of experience in music and drama ministry. The leaders in charge refused to allow me to be in music ministry, even though I had the ability and gifting to do so. I was confused. Later, I realized why I hadn’t been picked. The leaders paraded the chosen musical youth on stage and the reason was so obvious. The girls chosen were tall, slender, model-esque and well, sexy. I was short, a bit chubby, nonetheless cute, but not sexy as the girls chosen. This was one side of YWAM that I have found throughout. -The “beautiful people” are preferred and chosen for key leadership, although the talent may not back the looks.

The culmination of my SST in Atlanta was a YWAM-wide meeting in a rented out ballroom. Thousands of YWAMers crowded into the ballroom and we awaited out speaker. We had already heard from Winkie Pratney, Leland Paris, and many other big names. This time, we were to hear from Loren Cunningham himself. The crowd was in a frenzy. When Loren Cunningham took the stage, the awe from the group was palatable. I personally was in shock. I took over 30 pictures of him. Now, looking back as an adult, I see that I had placed Loren Cunningham on a pedestal, but also most of the YWAMers in the ballroom did as well.

For years I was in denial that YWAM could possibly be a cult. I just couldn’t bring myself to think that YWAM could in any way be corrupt, but after opening my mind, using the reasoning abilities God gave me, and doing a lot of research, I see that there is so much wrong.

I know many sincere people in YWAM, many kind people in the organization, but there is definitely something wrong with the organization as a whole.

I write this not to bash YWAM, but I write this as a beacon of hope to those who may stuck in an abusive group, whether it’s YWAM or another group. There is a way out, but thinking outside the box of what you were taught is extremely painful. It can be disillusioning. Thankfully, God has brought me and my family out of our recent experience with YWAM (I will write on that in a future post), and I hope others will find their way out of spiritually abusive organizations.

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35 Responses to “My experience with YWAM (Pt. 1)”

  1. Amanda Clare said

    Hello,
    I just wanted to say that I was with the SST group in Atlanta 1996. I was 13 years old and went by myself. The warehouse was a horrifying sight. I was just telling my husband a bit about the experience. I told him that there’s really no way that I can verbally recreate the experience for him, but thought that perhaps if I googled it, I could find something about the event. I found this. This was a perfect recollection of the “warehouse” part of the experience. There’s still obviously a lot more that went on, but it was exciting for me to read of someone else that was there with me and shared the same experience. I also remember the “moment” that Loren Cunningham walked on stage. Kinda unnerving that he was so elevated, yeah?

  2. Jen said

    Amanda,
    I bet we knew each other. I have tons of pics of the warehouse that I took the first day I got there. -The leaders saw me & told me to stop. The pics are in storage right now (back in New Mexico), but when I am able to, I plan on putting them into my blog.

  3. Mary said

    I appreciate your writing this. I laughed when I read how the leaders selected performers, because I observed that very dynamic, too. I was in YWAM for ten years at the Kona base. I left around 15 years ago and have been trying to figure it all out ever since.

    I have since read up on some topics that have shed light on what’s going on with YWAM. This does not apply to everyone in YWAM. Most people who go there are sincere Christians who are giving their all to serve Jesus, but most end up sidelined in the YWAM infrastructure.

    Christian Reconstructionism is the base of YWAM’s University of the Nations. It is an occult financed heresy that has overtaken the Republican party at this time.

    Communitarianism describes YWAM’s lifestyle. Along with that is the Consensus Process, or transformational thinking, which is informally inculcated into every participant of a DTS or other YWAM/U of N school. Transformational thinking is probably the most subtle yet effective form of brainwashing there is, having been fine-tuned by social engineers for the better part of a century.

    Google those three: “Christian Reconstructionism” “Transformational Thinking” and “Communitarianism”. It’s taken me years to process the information, and I am only now assimilating it.

    I call YWAM “cultogenic”… it creates cults. The infrastructure is cult. Most of its members are wonderful people who are being sidelined from any true, sustained ministry because YWAM is actually quite oppressive and controlling. Not all YWAM leaders are that way. I remember Howard Malmstadt, and he was just fantastic and I could never fault him with anything ever. He was, however, the exception.

    I want to encourage you in your work here. Very little is written about YWAM. I remember what happened to the author of Saturated with Abuse at YWAM Maui. The events he recorded were true, yet he was mercilessly hounded.

    Aloha nui loa.

    • Richard said

      It is interesting, having been around 100’s of people from YWAM I find stories of hurt like these but many more of people who have felt they had a very good experience with them.

      I could go to any christian organization in America and find stories like these.

      YWAM is made up of people and people are imperfect.

    • Alena Belleque said

      Thank you for commenting, Mary. I don’t know if you’ll read this, since it’s nine years after your own comment, but I wanted you to know it means a lot to me that you took the time to so thoroughly and gently list your concerns, and for mentioning that you worked with YWAM at Kona. My husband, our children, and I are preparing to move to the Big Island in roughly two years, to live there and serve and build community as God leads and allows. We’re considering applying to a mission, but we’re not sure yet what course to take. Someone reminded me of the YWAM presence in Kona, so we’ve been looking into that, and strongly considering it. But some of their promotional videos were beginning to bother me, focusing a lot on experiential spiritualism (and on the fun, but almost nothing at all on the actual ministry), so I thought I’d look up bad experiences, which is how I ended up here. I grew up in and out of an Assembly of God church, and experienced a lot of troubling things and teachings there, and in other charismatic traditions and churches. I think we will avoid becoming involved with YWAM, after reading several posts and comments like these. I’m very curious, now, how residents of Kona view their YWAM presence.

  4. robere said

    Jen

    Your statement concerning your discovery of how ‘beauty supercedes talent’ during your first outreach with ywam was almost identical to the reflections made by author and social worker Tanya Levin concerning the culture in Australia’s largest Pentecostalist church, Hillsong. Tanya is obviously intelligent, but describes herself as a bit on the short and stubby side.

    “The leader in charge refused to allow me to be in music ministry, even though I had the ability and gifting to do so. I was confused. Later, I realized why I hadn’t been picked. The leaders paraded the chosen musical youth on stage and the reason was so obvious. The girls chosen were tall, slender, model-esque and well, sexy. I was short, a bit chubby, nonetheless cute, but not sexy as the girls chosen.”

    Oh, how true of the culture and values of so many charismatic churches and evangelicalism as a whole, as well as the commercial world, I hasten to add!

    I note that Amazon lists Tanya’s book, “People in Glass Houses”. It is worth a read for we children from charismaniac backgrounds. I do not know Tanya personally and have had nothing to do with Hillsong, but I recommend her book after recently finding it a most interesting read.

  5. Alma said

    As a current YWAMer I have seen that this is true in some cases. Not all YWAM leaders are bad, but unfortunately there are a lot that are. I think that living in community lends itself to such things happening, as in “brainwashing”.

    During my DTS I was told to have an open mind to what was being taught, I didn’t have to agree with everything, just listen. Well there was one speaker that was way off base and some of the students refused to listen to his teaching, even some of the staff didn’t agree with it. We were told to pray for them as they were spiritually immature, the fact of the matter was that thye were more mature spiritually than the leaders of the scool.

    I’m saddened by this story, but I think it’s more common than people want to admit. (By the way I’m doing this at YWAM)

  6. e2c said

    Jen, I can’t help wondering if we attended the same church!

  7. […] YWAM on the subject of shunning. (If you have not read my previous posts, I suggest you read them here and here to catch […]

  8. kennith said

    thank you so much for sharing your story. I feel called to ministry And a few people told me about YWAM. now that I’ve read this I think I might be careful about where I get planted. im glad we get to hang out in eternity.

  9. the real konastephen said

    Very interesting. I compare my own early childhood experiences of YWAM in rough accommodations in places all over Europe and North America. I suppose one would have had to have been there to appreciate the perspective and intentions of people like Loren who were a part of it all along. I can see how in the context of the changed culture in the 90s your experience must have seemed very strange. To me 1996 seems so recent… I know that by that point, theological problems in YWAM had become quite pronounced. How tragic that they’ve had such devastating effects on so many young people. This explains so much I didn’t realize and confirms much I only suspected or conjectured. I’m a bit at a loss for words actually… my own life experience tells me that your story with God is far from over and someday I trust you will look back on all this and thank him for his gracious love towards you through it all.

  10. I was involved with YWAM from about 1986 to 91. To me the movement was beginning its downward decline then. They had just had there 25 year anniversary. I think Dean Sherman had given a talk that stated that YWAM had gotten so big that it could actually be functional and grow without God. It was a warning. I think this movement or organization is very sick. It’s to bad.

  11. Holly said

    Jen,

    I am saddened by your story! I also feel for you and I want to apologize for the “less than” what GOD had in store for you. I was on the same trip with you and many others for the 96 Olympics! I remember when we first arrived at the warehouse and seeing what we would be living in… we were freaking out too, but when I called home my mom said “stick it out for a week and then if you still want to come home, you can”. I am so glad that my Mom made me stick it out because that trip changed my life! Were the conditions the best…NO! Was it the comforts of home…NO! But at the same time, when you sign up for a “Missions trip” or outreach trip, we are not promised perfection. When I look back, I only see GOD and the work that he was doing with us being the “hands and feet” of Jesus! I wouldn’t change a thing.
    We all have different opinions and we take something different from our experiences. I remember when we were able to pick what we wanted to do as an outreach and I can sing but I ended up as a clown! Was it my first option…NO, but I had to dig deep and use what gifts GOD had given me besides signing.
    I am sorry that you left the trip with such negative feelings, and don’t remember all of the good that was done through us during the trip. I remember feeding the hungry, bringing joy to people’s faces, loving on people that hadn’t been loved, seeing what true desperation is and realizing all that GOD has truly blessed me with.
    I hope that this message does not make you angry but maybe remind you of a good moment from our trip.

  12. Marcus said

    Thank you for sharing this and everyone for their comments! I was a YWAMer for 7 years, at two different locations. I learned more about God and ministry through my WYAM experiences than anything else, but also hurt both emotionally and spiritualy by YWAM than anything else.

    I would love to share more later and and read more about your experience.

    Holly, I hope saying something over a year later isn’t too late… What I believe makes what happened on your trip wrong and injust is the spiritual pressure to “suffer.” Not only did I experience this in YWAM but also lead others and created pressure for them to “suffer.” The problem is that YWAM isn’t just a job that if it is doing something wrong you can walk away… It is an enity that evaluates your spirituality. If you “suffer” you are more faithfull and you get forms of promotions such as leadership responsabilities. If you don’t want to “suffer” then most of the time you are either weak in your faith or rebelious. YWAM often takes away spriritual freedom. Leaders are human and make bad decisions that cause one to suffer… YWAM views it as God wanting you to suffer so you can become more Christ like. Where I was in YWAM, to question leadership meant to question God. And to question God is just unthinkable. How could someone question God??? The hero’s of YWAM are people who often “suffered” not because they were brave and faithful, but honestly unprepared and dumb!

    I have witnessed and lead having youth sleep on a floor than has not been properly cleaned for 5+ years with many floodings of sewage on the carpet. Have them use mats that are not cleaned properly. We need more YWAMers to step and and say something!

    At the base I was at, my wife and I were the only ones who said something. Everyone else was too afraid! That is not an assumption either. We asked each previous staff member if there were things that happened at the base that one could consider abuse and wrong. Everyone said yes but that they were afraid to say something. WE did, and recieved and nice threat from John Bills on what would happen if we didn’t “FORGIVE & FORGET.” Everything that happened was treated as a miscomunitcation and we were demonized for sharing our hurts and concerns and acused of attacking YWAM. John Bills threatened that they would go through each and every one of the situations we were concerned about and said that it would be a painful process and that he did not wish that for me.

    In general, YWAM believes to question leadership is to question God. That all leadership is placed by God, therefore above reproach.

    Ironically, I am still a Christian, I am a youth leader at a church and taking a youth group through Mission Adventures. Yes, there are still and have been amazing people in YWAM. But it is a crazy breeding ground for cults. I warn every person to look into the base’s philosophy. If at any point they believe that leadership is above aproach and if they have a big list of rules, run away and try another. There are some bases that rock. But beware. YWAM has yet to give any oversight to the bases to make sure they are healthy. The only oversight they give is talking to people in charge, they do not listen to those lower on the spiritual foodchange so to speak…

    oops, I said way way more than I meant. Sorry!

  13. benjamin said

    Hi Jen and everyone….. and yet it would be someone like Mike saia (Heidlebeek I think) ,/Paul n Mary Miller (London). I’d like to confront and challenge. for whom as elders and preachers on the pulpit who abused their positions.
    They have left a lot of people inc me with psychological damage for which has taken a long time for me to overcome. For one of them to make a prophetic prayer with me alone saying ” one day I may contemplate suicide or murder ” is wicked beyond believe and my memories of that doesn’t just go away. Like as if I’d been given a curse. As it happens I dont feel that way,(maybe bop Mike S on his conker might cross my mind if I were to bump into him again.Not likely to though).
    Miraculeously I’m still Christrian and I still have a daily battle between forgiving abusive elders and being thankful and blessed having met someone like Peter Fitzgerald on the Ark A’dam 1977 to 1980.
    The Ark was a genteel evangelical environment,but I also put that down to Peter being such a down to earth and lovely guy. Apart from Jesus who actually saves,Peter knew how to be with me and people. Altruism is the word I’m looking for here. Jesus knew how to be with people,he was never forceful/controlling nor gave into instutionalized preaching in the way that the Pharisees did.And in parts YWAM.
    I went to dts in Hawick ,Scotland headed by William (Billy) Scobie. The staff and elders there were ridiculouly dreadful with the students.As soon as Billy walked into the room everyone would stand up apart from me and some else I think, I remember thinking” I have to be giving God praise not you Billy to whom everyone seems to fear” !
    That was in 1980…..,when I got back to the Ark the report was I was uncooperative. I remember saying to Peter if it’s my word against a Director of YWAM,what chance does that give me ?…………”Good point” He may had said in his mind. As we know not too long after Peter and Kate and their children left for Australia and is still working with Ywam.
    I am now 32 years away from YWAM, I have managed to find 8 ex-Arkies on fb…..,that too is a miracle and yet all our lives have changed so much one way or another. I become more forgiving as I get older as I understand that it is the fundimental basis to be forgiven for our own sins by via Jesus who bore our sins on the Cross.
    I am now an astro artist (On welfare…another bind tut !), residing in York UK preparing for an exhibition for a couple of artshop/galleries coming up in April…..

    • Hi Benjamin,

      I was with YWAM Scotland for 4 1/2 years during the time you were at Balcary in Hawick, although I do not remember you specifically. I worked as the booker in the office alongside Bill Scobie. I can attest to everything you have written as being accurate. Bill Scobie was indeed an ego maniac and a profound bully. I believe that the leaders working under him were too afraid to speak out against him and thus they just followed his lead. I went back to Hawick 7 years after I left and met with a couple of the leaders who were no longer with YWAM. They made the comment , “Where ever Billy went he left a string of hurt, disillusioned and destroyed people. Not only students, but also staff members and even his friends.” A very sad legacy to leave of one’s life work and efforts.

      After 30 years I have come to understand that oppressive bullying is often done by people who have no higher education and are then put in positions of power. As humans we all have the ability to think and ask questions, it is how we make sense of the world we live in. However, when you questioned the leaders in YWAM, often they were unable to answer the questions the students had especially if there was logic involved.
      Therefore Billy tried to use power over to try and control what he did not know.

      This includes:
      1. unable to admit that they don’t know
      2. unwilling to attempt to reason it out with the person asking the question until they come to
      a point were you both agree, or agree to disagree (which is the adult way of settling
      argument.
      3. so the leader would attempt to turn the situation back on you and tell you you are the
      problem, your rebellious, not trusting, and so on.

      One thing I have learned is God is not nearly as hung up as are many YWAM leaders and now I have peace.

  14. Marie said

    My church wants to take their youth group to Peru with ywam. My son is only 13 and we’re not allowing it. I don’t know how to express to our church leadership about my reservations. I would love to go with my sons and a different orginazation but this just scares me. I’m not sure that 1/2 of the youth group is even close to spiritual maturity needed to be on field the mission.

    • Vicki said

      Copy the web pages on WYAM abuse and show them to your church leaders.

    • Richard said

      We have six adult children and many children.

      We have had them go with YWAM on multiple trips as well as church groups and Teen Mania.

      Overall our kids experiences from 1993 to 2010 have been positive.

      I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to others, that said there can always be some bad apples in any church or organization.

  15. benjamin said

    So ok, I try again Jen,
    In a nut shell, YWAM has ruined a lot of lives as well as helped. And it all seems to depend on the nature of the Elders in each particular group.
    I mentioned Ywam Hawick in Scotland as a prime example and the leadership in the house in Brockley,London se4. And individuals who visited The Ark ,usually from Heidlebeek,Holland.
    The Ark when left alone,was a life safer for many a souls who have been and gone and a much more genteel approach to evangilism was practised.Headed by Peter n Kate Fitzgerald.
    I survived YWAM for 6 years 1976 to 1982.
    I slipped up a few years after and then as I got older having licked my own wounds I was then able to re-new my faith in God and move on. And yes I still feel those hurts.,but not as much as I used to.
    Shunning and the rejection/isolation it causes does give people (Me inc) a different view-point as to how God and the Church is. Sometimes a wrong analysis as to how God is with us.
    These days I’m not ashamed to say “I love Jesus to some of my friends who aren’t Christians”.
    Nor to stand up to Christians with a bee n the bonnet of what it means to be perfect.
    Once I made a committment to God,through Jesus……,it didn’t matter what some elder said to me if he/she found faults in me and on a regular basis. Normally it was because they have something to hide themselves.
    God knows every strand of hair we have and He looks into my heart and checks for the attitude of heart. Even with my flaws, your flaws.I find that I have that peace o mind.
    Proving spirtual abuse in the court of law,where peoples lives have been affected in such a negative way,esp under the banner of YWAM (A recognised Christian Organisation on a global scale) ,would be very difficult to prove…it would take years and years and evidence gathering to get the Cps going on it. Cps wouldn’t want to bother with it anyway.
    Because,there a good groups and bad ones under the same wing, Ywam should continue as long as the basic message of God’s word is passed on to the ends of the Earth……,In my mind YWAM just got too big for her own boots…and like most empires that expand,have a tendancy to collapse from within and for that I see YWAM going the same way in the long term.
    Cheers……, Ben

  16. Thank you Jen… I liked this … so much of it is immaturity and it exists in every brand of christianity.

    • Richard said

      Well said Terrance,

      I would say in virtually any organization immaturity exists, hence things get done and said that unnecessarily hurt others.

      But those who are able to not stumble over these offensives will find a real blessing and ability to help others who have themselves been hurt.

  17. Ulrike said

    I attended an SST2 in 1995. We did live in the Blood-N-Fire warehouse, though one of the staff members was injured by the elevator. I do remember one of the staff members shushing me when I exclaimed over the rats in the rafters on the first night. She was afraid the other girls would notice (how could they not?).

    I came back in 1996 as “student staff” and was actually surprised that people had such a problem with the location. After all, it was “good enough” for us the year before. Ahh, perspective.

  18. Vicki said

    I was with YWAM a few weeks in 1992. This is the first I even thought of what I went through as abuse. I was asked to leave and they thought that I had a mental problem. I was on the Cyprus base–we were shipped to Lebanon during a war. That is not where I was supposed to be. I am reading the web pages on YWAM’s abuse by past members and it is the same as my experience. I will process this to get it clear in my head about exactly what I went through.

  19. mortifi1 said

    First I want to apologize for my english, I’m brazilian, so my first language is portuguese (not spanish =)

    I just left YWAM after 5 years. I had good experiences there, but the theology was really shallow.

    Besides, the teaching about leadership, suffering and listening to God are dangerous. The way YWAM teaches about theses subjects make the people who learn, sincerely, naive and unprepared for life. I mean, you leave YWAM and what do you do?

    Brazil is changing, developing to a higher technology society, its getting really hard to find a job without a higher education (I’m 24 years old and I’m going to start college only now, which will be languages-english literatute and linguistics). Most of the Ywam staff I know here, and I know a lot of people, do not have any kind of special skill for the job market. If they leave YWAM they will hardly get a good job, and if they cannot, or do not, want to become pastors or ministers in their churches, so they will have to face a really dificult time to organize their lives.

    So my critic about YWAM is not only about doctrine, but also about the structure that stuck people in a low education and narrow view of the real world with all its dificults and realities.

    • We have worked with and stayed at many ywam bases over the years for summer camps and missions trips when we were youth pastors as well as individual trips for our own teenagers later in life. We have also worked with Adventures in Missions, Wonder Voyage, Global Expeditions, AOG, and Foursquare Missions. With YWAM, we were at the Chico, CA summer camps, Mexico Missions trips, NYC YWAM, Philippines YWAM mult. Bases, and prob. More. All of our experiences with ywam have been great just like the other orgs we have served alongside. Great people, great ministry, life transformation, fun. With 20 years of partnering with ywam on and off we have yet to have a bad experience. I suspect that with over a thousand missions bases worldwide with countless activities, some are bound to suck when unseasoned missionaries are running the show and you have to endure as they “learn from their mistakes” alongside or under their leadership. It’s a “given” that prob. 10 perecent will not be happy. I suspect though that the 90 percent that are happy and the multitudes that are coming to Jesus in the process make ywam a worthwile organization that is not perfect like you and I. Sorry for your pain, I hope you are able to find a great counselor to walk through your healing journey with you. Thanks for posting and take care.

  20. It’s really not about YWAM at all. It’s about the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) theology that has permeated many charismatic-inclined church organizations. I believe people like Todd Bentley would be the poster boy for that movement. He is a humiliating shame and disgrace to the name of Jesus. He had an affair with his secretary, divorced his wife, left his children, then married the secretary. Big name leaders in the NAR movement like Rick Joyner and Bill Johnson (“pastor” of Bethel Church, the home church of Jesus Culture) have said Bentley is “restored” although Bentley never repented. Does not the Scripture have a thing or two to say about the qualifications for leadership in the ministry? And yet no one in this movement takes what the Bible says seriously! And if you try to point out the Scripture, they say you have “a religious spirit.” Excuse me, but obedience is not a religious spirit.

    As I read about this type of nonsense, it never ceases to amaze me how people in this movement almost never research the Bible and take seriously anything that God has instructed us in His Word. How can you sing “God, I want to know you” and “I want your presence” over and over, and yet spend more time listening to that music than reading the Word of God? They don’t really want to know God. Instead, all they are really seeking is good feelings and emotional experiences. So, God gives them over to their sensual desires.

    Read Galatians 5, then compare that to what you are seeing at YWAM. Is that the fruit of the Spirit causing people to dance wildly, get “drunk in the spirit” and lose control?

    Read James 3:16-17 about the wisdom from above. Is that the attitude and demeanor you are seeing in the leaders at YWAM?

    Concerning all this hearsay about signs and wonders and miracles, Read Luke 5:17-26. Jesus healed the paralyzed man right in front of the notoriously unbelieving Pharisees. Real miracles are visually verifiable and can be seen by wicked, unbelieving people with no faith whatsoever. These NAR people talk like miracles are happening all the time, but they lie! Have you noticed how they have no problems getting plenty of video footage of their worship performances and their “preachers” but not even once can they get video footage of a fully paralyzed man or an amputee getting healed? Lies, lies, lies. This is not Christianity at all. It is a cult preaching the doctrine of demons. Please people. Start reading your Bible and get into a Bible-believing and Bible-obedient church.

  21. jbkool17@hotmail.com said

    I was married to someone who was with YWAM for 25 years. In our 3 1/2 year marriage, I was slapped around, screamed at (have perm. hearing damage as a result), pushed, controlled. This person is not back with YWAM, University of the Nations, as a teacher and core coordinator in various bases. I cannot speak much of the leadership qualifications or how a person with these issues can serve in a high place of leadership in YWAM.

  22. Roland Frank said

    YWAM SUCKS !!!! STAY AWAY !!!WARNING !!! Brain-washing leaving you without the ability to form rational thought can lead to mental illness.

  23. jenny B. said

    I stayed at the warehouse “Blood n Fire Ministries” in Atlanta prior to the outreach a year before the Olympics. It was a work in progress at the time and still was when you were there. It was being turned into a Church and a homeless ministry for the Atlanta area. Yes , there were some large rats. Yes, there were issues with the bathrooms. We had a team with 9 people, so it wasn’t such a dramatic issue. I agree that it was a tough place to sleep but not undoable. My only thought is that it wasn’t properly set up for 500 people, especially kids under 18. Outreaches are not always comfortable. Poor organization isn’t evil, just bad organization. Sounds like some of the leadership paniced when everyone needed to leave quickly. This wouldn’t make YWAM a cult. Though some leaders in YWAM history like one in the New England area became but that’s just a checks and balance issue that leadership needs to be watchful of. A pastor in a church can become prideful and create a cult mentality if he’s not checked by an eldership that has wisdom and discernment and NO FEAR OF MAN. It can happen anywhere where people gather together to do something for God. If Christian’s are reading their Bible, which is greatly neglected in the U.S., they would be able to identify false teachings. Then we are not so easly deceived. Thanks for sharing your experiences, but claiming cult like behavior for all of YWAM, one should be cautious, but if you see something that your brothers and sisters in Christ may be following that may not be right you should be praying about contacting them with the issue out of love to prevent them from walking down a wrong path rather then venting. If you see their errors, what are you doing to tell them about it so they can get right with God and be free from the snares that have entangled them?

    • jenny B. said

      One more thought. It is human nature to follow the “pretty” or attractive people. Again, if Christians are looking at the carnal person rather then praying and listening to the Lord, they are going to make poor choices for leadership roles. Remember when Samual was looking over David’s brothers? He thought for sure that God had chosen the biggest one, but as it turned out HE chose the smallest. Even Samual was looking with human eyes for God’s chosen. Thankfully, he was obedient to God’s voice. People are people and we all have to learn how to NOT think in the flesh but in truth and spirit.

  24. gail redpath said

    I did a summer of service with YWAM, Scotland in the late 70’s, under the leadership of BIllie Scobie. I stayed on for a few months on an outreach team in MacDuff and then a few months as hostess for Balcary. I was (and am) so in love with Jesus and just wanted to be used by Him. YWAM gave me a wonderful opportunity to do that with other international youth. (I was a Canadian recruited by David Brett) Were conditions cozy and comfortable – no. Did I feel bullied or abused – NO. Did I grow in the Lord there – YES. The joy that we had leading a young mother to the Lord during door-to-door ministry or the fear turned to joy doing some street ministry work were and are some of my favourite spiritual memories.I am amazed and chagrinned to hear of all the negative experiences listed here. I am truly sorry for you. I hope and pray God gives you the grace that you need to heal.

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