My experience with YWAM (pt 2)

May 12, 2008

It’s taken me a long time to bring myself to write about my latest experience with YWAM. As I mentioned in earlier posts, I was basically raised in YWAM, as I had been involved with YWAM since from the age of eleven.

I also was raised in a very spiritually abusive church, where the pastor was the authority on all things spiritual and theological questioning was discouraged. My transition from spiritually-abusive-church to spiritually-abusive-ministry was very smooth, in fact, in the first 10 years or so of YWAM involvement, I saw YWAM as ‘saving’ me from an abusive church.

In the January of 1999, at the age of 18, I headed to Hong Kong to attend a Discipleship Training School with YWAM. Immediately, I felt much more accepted than I had at my home church; my fellow DTS students and I bonded quickly and formed long-lasting friendships.

The first week of DTS was about “breaking down strongholds” and we had a session of “repentance” with all YWAM staff and DTS students present. We were told to list all of the big sins in our lives, no matter how personal. To be honest, I had no ‘big’ sins to confess, so the leaders prodded my insecurity to find the hidden sins I harbored. They finally decided that I was guilty of the sin of pride because I had insecurity issues with my physical appearance. (What teenage girl doesn’t?) A male leader went on to tell me that I was not pretty, but God thought I was….gee, that helped my self-esteem.

Within a few weeks, it became apparent that the leaders of my DTS were hyper-vigilant against sexual sins of every kind. It was a very bizarre situation, they were practically gnostic in their beliefs on marriage and sex. The base directors constantly told us not to ‘be distracted’ from our calling by entering into marriage; according to them, marriage was evil and unholy.

Another issue was a prevalent teaching throughout YWAM on spiritual warfare. There was a teaching that satan was everywhere and had his hands in everything not deemed holy; any bad occurance was due to satan attacking the saints. Or there was another popular thought that there was ‘sin in the camp’ if some bad times came upon the base. At times, it seemed like there was a medieval witch hunt searching for the one who brought demonic attacks.

By the end of the DTS, the base directors approached me about joining their staff, but I declined. They warned me again about being distracted from a calling. I left my DTS with mixed feelings. God had worked in my life, but the ywam leaders had a strange brand of theology. -I second-guessed myself, believing that maybe I just misunderstood their teachings. I could not truly bring myself to believe that ywam was flawed. I felt maybe I just needed to study more.

Fast-forward to 2007.

My husband (DH) was laid off from his job, my mother committed suicide, and my family felt we needed to get out of our hometown to re-evaluate our lives. My husband had been wanting to attend a DTS, and the timing seemed perfect. In January of 2007, our family, including our 2 young children, traveled to Hong Kong for him to attend the DTS.

I was expecting to be welcomed back to the base with open arms, but I found a very cold and callous reception. I was treated very badly by one leader in particular who had been a leader during my DTS. Eventually it became clear as to why I was being treated badly. -Marriage was not holy and I was a ‘sinner’ for being distracted from my call.

My husband is highly educated (MBA) and an intellectual and he had an especially hard time during the DTS.

The lecture phase of my husband’s DTS went fairly smoothly, except when he voiced concern over teachings that were in direct contradiction to the Bible. My husband was tactful, be he was quickly marked a “trouble-maker” and was chastised by the DTS leader. In fact, the leader was perfectly ok with incorrect theology being taught. From then on, it was downhill for our family, including my two children, ages 2 & 5. Our family was shunned and gossip was rampant. We were unliked because we wanted the base to teach sound doctrine.

The time came for outreach and it was decided that our family would only travel with the team for 2 weeks, then we were to go to another city on our own. Simply, the leadership didn’t want us near the younger team members because we believed in questioning troublesome theology.

We flew to a large southwestern city in China where we were met by our missionary sponsor. For his security, I will call him “Mark”. I knew Mark from my DTS, as he and his wife were leaders at the Hong Kong base. My husband and I felt that we would have a productive and positive experience during our outreach, but unfortunately, that was not the case.

Mark thought of himself as a bold evangelist living in China, and he thought nothing of teaching Christianity in his college English classes. My husband was mortified when Mark told the students that he was the same as Mark. Spouting religion is a good way of a one-way ticket out of China, so we felt Mark was very foolish. The only “ministry” DH took part in was grading and teaching for Mark’s English class, along with the occasional visit to a Bible study.

Unfortunately, DH felt at one time comfortable in sharing with Mark some issues he had with his DTS lecture phase, such as the screwy theology and the gossip. This came back to haunt us later.

DH and our family arrived back in Hong Kong at the conclusion of our outreach and found that the mood was even more hostile towards us. Our DTS ended with a ‘love feast’ in which we report back, give testimonies, awards are given, etc. Our family was segregated to the back of the room & none of the fellow DTSers or staff would even talk to us. I tried not to be too sensitive, but it was a very humiliating experience.

After the ‘love feast’, it was time for the debriefing with the base directors and the DTS leader. DH thought everything would go well because he had learned and grown and had improved himself during the time in Asia. Wham! The female base director screamed at DH and told him he had no value, and no personal character. She continued on a hateful tirade for 30 mins. and would not allow DH to even defend himself. It takes a lot for DH to cry and this woman had reduced him to hysterics. As it turned out, Mark had told all that DH had told him in confidence to the base directors.

Basically, we were “evil” because we believed in questioning the leadership who acted inappropriately. The base leaders said we were in rebellion because we did not obey their every command and did not revere them.

After the completion of the DTS, we asked if we could stay for a week or two while we searched for an apartment in Hong Kong. We paid the rent and fees completely and DH was required to do heavy, physical labor at the base during the day. DH had a gout attack and asked to do less physical work, but he was not allowed any break from the physical work. He worked on in terrible pain and eventually the leaders came to him saying that they did not want him near the base anymore because he was too “negative”. We were also told we had just a few days to vacate the apartment we were renting from the base. We had no where to go. It was Hong Kong’s 10 year anniversary of the return to China, so all hotels were full. In effect, we were going to be homeless and on the streets of Hong Kong with our children.

Thankfully, we had met two other couples who had also left the YWAM base (under similar circumstances) and these wonderful people were able to help us find a translator to find us an apartment. We found an apartment in the very same village that the YWAM base was in & the landlady allowed us to move in right away, 3 days for free, so that we would not be homeless. During the negotiations with our translator and our new landlady, the landlady asked if we were “with the other foreigners” – meaning the YWAM base. We came to find that the YWAM base had a very bad reputation in the village.

The people of Hong Kong, particularly in the rural New Territories where we lived, speak Cantonese; however, the base leadership would never be bothered to learn any Cantonese. They always would speak in Mandarin to the villagers. There was absolutely no outreach to the village the base inhabited. The base is locked away behind a big, black gate and the villagers do not trust those who work with YWAM there.

Our landlady would not have rented to us if we had been with YWAM…we see now how well God took care of us when the situation was “impossible”. Despite the base leaders’ best efforts to discredit and harm us, the Lord gave us a home and a good reputation in the village.

139 Responses to “My experience with YWAM (pt 2)”

  1. geoffus said

    Hi Jen,

    Thank you for sharing with others, your experience with YWAM. Some might read what you have written and just ‘blow it off’ as too incredible to be true. Where as for me, the account that you have written is amazingly similar to my experience in YWAM.

    I know it would have taken a lot of prayer, second guessing and even a few re-writes to tell your story. The main reason for this, is that to write these awlful things is to re-live the awlful experience, and endure all those tears and the hurt all over again.

    Jen, my hope and prayer is that ‘chasing the truth’ will eventually bring you great comfort, with the knowledge that sharing your story will encourage others that have been YWAM abused, it will ‘warn’ others, it will shed light on a ‘real problem’ that YWAM leadership will not acknowledge.

    I am not sure when, what event, where, things began to deteriorate in YWAM, but anyone who knew the YWAM of old, would not recognise the YWAM of today. Even Loren Cunningham (the founder) is probably oblivious to the false doctrine and heretical stuff that goes on in todays YWAM.

    If I could locate a copy of the ‘original’ 21 Foundational Values of YWAM and compare them to the ‘newer’ 17 Foundational Values (how could the revised ‘values’ be referred to as ‘foundational’?). I believe such a comparison of the two lists would prove to be very insightful.

    I threw out all my stuff even remotely associated with YWAM (it felt good), but one original foundational value in my recollection that is now NOT a foundational value, is “Working in partnership with the local church”. No accountability, No pastoring, No relationship, No… A very telling ‘deletion’ that speaks a lot of where YWAM is now at.

    Well, Jen. Thank you for sharing your heart. “Well done, good and faithful servant”.


    • rose said

      I am a believer in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I had family members attend ywam. This is not of God. God does’nt control us. He gives us a choice. I feel that this is a manipulative mind control system. It is very colonialistic and very similar to the distructive manner by which first nations people were brutalized in the mission schools. The pretty much tell you what where when who why to do things. Its there way or the highway. This is not spirit led. Marriage is a sacred journey, no man can control our hearts. I pray for the people that get brainwashed into this controlling manner.

    • Sonja said

      I am really sorry that you had a bad experience in your DTS. I however, completely disagree with what you are saying about what is taught in a DTS. I did my DTS in 2007 and can honestly say it was one of my best life experiences. Life long friendships were made and my relationship with God strengthened. In the bible it says we are to go out and fulfill the great commission. YWAM supports this fully. They don’t say marriage is a bad thing they just state to keep yourself pure and holy until you are married. Because, naturally you can become distracted from God when you fall in love with your significant other. Perhaps, there are some things you took the wrong way. Or someone was not loving and caring like they should be to any brother or sister in Christ. But there is no reason to go and slander anyones ministry when it is lead by the Holy Spirit.

      • Miss Roo said

        Sonjya, I’m sure your intentions here are just and caring and I respect that. But I have experienced an abusive thing similar to YWAM but in the UK. I understand completely what is written in this blog. I pray that God will open your eyes too so that you can see what we do. I say this respectfully. In Ezekiel chapter 34 it talks about the ways in which spiritual leaders can abuse or neglect those that are under their care and that God will search for these people himself and heal their wounds. Maybe some of the YWAM teams were not as “bad” as others, but still, questioning leadership if you feel it is incorrect and unbliblical is encouraged in the Bible…Personally i was crushed by my experience in an “evangelical organisation” so i can relate to thi account given on here.
        On another note, I read a book by Loren C (the founder) and it was about women in ministry etc. I found the book to be a great help in releasing me from false teachings that women are to be “under” men’s leading and headship, the book revealed how the Bible is misinterpreted and misunderstood by many, and that women CAN be leaders, pastors, etc. I found this very liberating. But I guess I don’t know the other side of the story with Loren C if there is some dodgy teachings there as well…?

      • dtscomment said

        Sorry but DTS is kind of brainwash!! I did a DTS .. the goal of ywam is good, but the organisation is unstructured, bad and they trade you..
        They know to everythink an awnser, criticism is in their eyes a you have not the chance to add your opinion, if you have questions you just can ask if you have understand them right. if you have an other opinion they want to change your opinion.
        I had different opinions, they told me that is a problem with outreach.. and for me change, or leave…mabye..also other people go to you and want to talk with you about your problem
        They wanna brainwash you.. a lot of people had at first dirrefent opinions, or are dissapointed about a 20 squaremeter bed room with 12 guys and no windows for thousands of dollars.. a lot of people beend frustrated.. but rebellion is forbidden, so everyone accept his situation.. some just been not brave enough to say somethink, but the most change.. change their old life and accept a lot of thinks, party thinks that are not okay! it is not okay that you are not allowed to discuss ..just aslong you are not touching
        their authority..if you do you feel consequences

        My result: negativ: its not a learing its kind of adaptation, much to expensive, group pressure, they talk a lot about very important topic, work a lot and hard for free.. bad accomodation, they teach you your opinion, nearly no freetime although they promised it, teaching is more listening than everythink else

        positiv: the goal to make God known, the students are mostly nice, the most views about God I agree, but the Problem is still how they react with different opinions

  2. geoffus said

    Hi again,

    I have succeeded in tracking down a copy of the ‘original’ YWAM Foundational Values, and have subsequently made a comparison of the two lists of ‘values’.

    Check out: YWAM Foundational Values – The Three Notable Exceptions at…

    I found it to be quite enlightening, and fits with YWAMs woes.


  3. Sun said

    Hi i just came across your blog, and found it full of criticism based on your personal issues and experience. And top of that it is only one side story. I still wonder how everyone in that DTS would have mistreated you. I know a ywam DTS where people walk in love and humility. Not your experience is everyones experience. Please forgive and free yourself from bitterness and hatred.

    • Charles R Cardamone said

      Sun i bet u are one of those abusers………….

      • Miss Roo said

        Yes, some people just can’t see the reality of what actually goes on in some of these places. If you conform and don’t question anything, you’re “OK” but then don’t get to see the abusive system for what it is….(It happened to me in a similar type of scheme in the UK, a much smaller one with only one team of 24 people, but I suffered and was crushed under that organisation).

      • What a nasty comment — making an accusation without a hint of evidence to back it up.

    • tashile said

      It’s not just simply a matter of one story. I know many people in YWAM who have had that experience. Sun, perhaps you haven’t thought for yourself yet. That is the biggest affront to the cult that is YWAM. As soon as you think for yourself and you question them about why things are run they way they are, you will have problems.

      It is completely possible to forgive people, but to make others aware of what those people have done, especially when a group like this is destroying lives and deliberately emotionally and spiritually abusing people.

      Stop being sheeple and think for yourself, rather than following the corrupt doctrine of this harmful cult.

  4. Jen said


    I have stated many times that there are YWAM bases that are good, but in my many, many years of experience, I have found profound abuse runs rampant. I am not bitter, I have moved on & that is the reason for this blog. I could not write about the mistreatment my entire family faced had I not moved on. If you read the rest of my blog, you wil find my posts are there to help others, not to “criticize”. People need to see other opinions and experiences of YWAM before they enter service with YWAM.

    • Miss Roo said

      Jen, you were wrongly accused of being bitter. Trying to warn people, and sharing your experiences with others does not mean you are unforgiving or bitter. I felt guilty for “telling” others of my difficulties in a spiritually abusive place, but it can be therapeutic to share your stories. The Bible itself has MANY stories and accounts of how believers let down other believers and acted wrongly. Sun, would you accuse writers in the Bible of being “bitter and unforgiving” as well….?

  5. Mellie said

    I’m sorry you had such a horrible experience in YWAM. And I’m glad you know that not all YWAMers and YWAM bases are like that. I am a YWAMer myself, and I know that not all the YWAMers are “perfect”.

    I don’t understand why you would choose to go back to Hong Kong though, if you had such a bad time with the leaders and others. Unless, of course, God said that was where he wanted you to go.

    If you want a good experience with YWAM, you can come here to my base. We are all a loving “family”, but some of us do make mistakes at times. And we have had a few crazy students and staff that have been “expelled” from our base. But for very good reasons. 🙂
    We encourage questions too. But not disrespect towards the leadership. I’m not saying you disrespeced your leaders, I don’t know if you did or did not.
    And I know for sure, that unless you really are troublesome, we would not treat you the way you were treated in HK.

    I truly am sorry you had to go through that stuff though. YWAM really is great, I personally think, BUT we aren’t all perfect.

    Our base really is great too, and so is our leader. You would love everyone here. Brazilians are really nice, funny people.

    [YWAM Fortaleza]

  6. Mellie said

    actually, I am sorry, if you are troublesome we still would not treat you the way you were treated in HK.
    We might have to ask you to leave though (that sounds better and more accurate to the way our leaders are, instead of expelled.)


    God Bless!

  7. Dave said

    Hi Jen –

    I am a YWAMer – and I want to say there is nothing wrong with you sharing your story – every organisation, church (and person) can have different sides, that need to be expressed.
    I am deeply saddened at what happened to you – I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive these people – but I understand that can be hard.
    I hope you and your family find peace in God

  8. Allison.Asia said

    Jen, I’m sorry if these things happened to you. But during the many years I have been in YWAM, I have witnessed similar stories like yours. There are almost always two sides to the story. And sometimes there are people who seem to have “problems” with everyone wherever they go. I know nothing about you really. I don’t know you. I don’t know if what you wrote was completely true or partly false. I don’t know. I don’t know if everything was really some big misunderstanding. I don’t know the people in the HK base either.
    But I do know people that have been to the Hong Kong base, and they had no problems. “The people there were great,” they said. They had a marvelous time.
    There is only one thing I can’t seem to understand here. Why in the world would you choose to go back to Hong Kong when you had such a terrible experience there the first time?

  9. Jen said


    Yes, there are always 2 sides to a story & the YWAM leadership have theirs and they are entitled to their opinions. I am NOT the only person to receive this kind of treatment at YWAM HK. I am hoping to post some of my friend’s stories here in the future (they are currently typing them up for me).

    As for my reasons for returning to HK after my first bad experience, I mentioned in previous posts & this post about being raised in a spiritually abusive church. -After being “indoctrinated” that spiritual leadership could do no wrong, I thought things were normal at YWAM HK. I have only in the last year realized my childhood church was abusive and unbiblical.

    I know you do not know me or my husband, but I will attest to us being truthful people, in fact at times “too” truthful and that is why we got in “trouble” at YWAM HK.
    I don’t have problems with leadership, but I do have a problem with authoritarian, abusive leadership.

    I hope that explains my post better.


    • benjamin said

      Yes it does Jen, and I left my account and brush with YWAM !977-82 on part 1…cheers.
      Erm…..where or how do I link your blog on fb ? Benjamin (Ben)

  10. Christian said

    Hello Jen,
    What kind of “screwy theology” was being preached at the YWAM base? One thing that I have processed through is the idea of being unequally yoked. Most people associate that with a Christian and non-Christian getting married, but I also connect that with people who have similar beliefs. Unity in a team is hard to have if there is a difference in the way the world works or their governing theology. If the base taught Open Theism and your husband believed in Calvinism, then that could cause some huge conflicts in the way that ministry is happening and in that case they might want to split him up from the rest of the group so that dissension might not exist.


  11. Jen said


    “Screwy theology” at the base I was speaking of was not a matter of hermeneutics, it was flat out non-Biblical teaching. Specifically, there was a teacher who taught his opinion as gospel and he contradicted Scripture. This is what my husband took issue with and was promptly hushed. My husband was not a ‘trouble maker’ and went to the leadership with his concerns, but that did not bode well for us with the authoritarian leadership of the base.

    I hope that answers your question.


  12. Steve said

    I felt I was living in a commune, in My DTS.
    There was one houseleader who was a real jerk.
    he was obnoxious and scolded me like a child even though I was 25 years old for coming in late with My DTS friends from a movie.
    Most everyone else treated Me fine.
    I didnt care for sharing a bedroom with 4 or 5 other Guys

    • Charles R Cardamone said

      U felt like u were living in a commune? U were living in a commune. Y outh W ith A bsent M inds live the communist totalitarian lifestyle, but are anti-communist in idealogy. Quite a contradiction to live like communists, think like communists, but yet say they are anti-communists.

    • Joe said

      Hi Steve,

      I agree that 5 single guys to a bedroom is over the top! I am a old guy (51) that has been working with young men like yourself (and younger) for over 27 years…. I am not a YWAMER… the fact is that your generation is extremely immature… Back in 1988, a 25 year old christian male was more mature than one today. Now, the brother that rebuked you may have been out of line… yet, please understand the condition of your generation, especially among men… Do some research, read some great christian books for men on this issue, don’t whine… and above all, pray that the mature Christ be formed in you daily.

      • Steve said

        I am not whining.
        I am just being honest about My experience.
        Must of it was good.My DTS was in 1994, I am 40 now

      • tashile said

        How dare you make a sweeping statement like all men of our generation are immature. There are immature people of all generations. My boss is 61 and I am 32. My boss acts worse than my 8-year-old. Your statement about maturity shows your lack of maturity. Maturity means judging a person by his/her own actions, not attributing a behavior to an entire group.

      • Miss Roo said

        5 in a room OTT?? I had to share one bedroom with 11 other girls, and there was a boys room with 12 boys in it. We had bunkbeds. I absolutely hated it completely but tried my best to live with it as I felt “called” by God to where I was…. (UK, and it wasn’t YWAM, something similar).

      • Miss Roo said

        Sorry, I wasn’t meaning to say you should put up with sharing. I was talking of how I viewed the situation then (putting up with it in order to serve God. Now I see it all differently however. I just wanted to explain my comment there as it sounded like I was saying the sharing with 5 guys wasn’t so bad. I hear you – its not an easy thing to do!)

  13. Tasman said

    Hey, I often wonder why there is not more published critiques of the views of some of YWAM’s elite. For example, so many people within YWAM and charismatic churches blindly accept the teachings of Dean Sherman about Spiritual Warfare. I think he causes a lot of unnecessary worry in the minds of young people by talking incessantly about how the devil and his workers are always after us and trying to spoil our attempts to serve God. I thought this stuff went out with Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf after we passed 10 years of age at the max, but Dean Sherman continues such fairy tales in more adult language and in the guise of religious truth. Sure, these days I might interpret the Bible as a document written within the culture of its time (they didn’t have modern science to explain things back then), rather than as the literal word of God, but then I was sent to school to learn critical thinking wasn’t I? Aren’t people allowed to engage in scientific analysis and openly criticise various theories when part of YWAM? I for one wish that I had the opportunity all over again to stand up in his seminars and throw him a few curly questions, but alas I was just an under-educated youngster back then and dutifully followed the leader.

    • Miss Roo said

      Tasman, I suffered with some sort of paranoia that the devil was “out there and after me” after I completed a year in avengelism with a similar sort of group here in the UK. I completely accepted at the time all sorts of teachings on “warfare” which I now see as out-of-balance, unbliblical, fear-based, and some of it just plain “silly”. Not saying there isn’t an enemy, for those who may criticise my words here. there is of cours a devil and spiritual warfare does exist, butt it our view becomes unbalanced, we become more fearful of the devil than we feel confident in God. That’s NOT healthy or blblical.

    • Naomi said

      There is a section of YWAM that goes online and removes anything that calls YWAM a cult etc. as it supposedly isn’t. My friend told me about this when we were discussing it all BEFORE she left YWAM. We actually fell out because I told her of all it’s flaws. Now that she’s out she is the nicest person I have ever met! When she was in YWAM she was very cinical and judgemental, that was in the UK

  14. konastephen said

    It takes a lot of courage to write a story like this, knowing that it might offend some and also display your own faults and weakness in the process. I, for one, am grateful for your sharing. It also takes a great deal of strength to not devolve into mere mudsling or resign to labeling the whole of YWAM as abusive and pure evil—again, I’m thankful for your honesty and maturity.
    It is beyond dispute that there has been and still are instances of bad theology, immature/oppressive leadership, and corrupted worldviews at play within YWAM—and no matter how rare this is the case, it is worth talking about and working through. The hardest part of issues like this is the lack of good and healthy communication. Either people do not understand you, and what you say seems irrelevant or extreme, or they side with the group at large in an instinctive defensive reaction, refusing to see things, even for a moment, through your eyes. I hope that people will have the courage to hear stories like this and try with all they have to empathize with those who feel run-over by the system that often misses the mark in its claim to know ‘God and to make him known’—that is, to love God and to love others.
    The mark of a healthy group is its ability to hear and respond in love to even the rarest instance of infidelities (even if these are merely misunderstandings)—a healthy group cares enough to stop the mission and help the individual hurt along side the road. To have the courage to do such will only highlight the many many good deeds done by the many many good people at YWAM!
    Thanks Jen for sharing!

    • the real konastephen said

      Not sure who this guy is but I just want to make clear that I, the real “konastephen”, do not agree with everything this man says. YWAM, particularly YWAM Kona is not a theologically healthy environment or a safe nurturing community. There is no real repentance for infidelity, which is more common than one would wish and leadership has given in to a spirit of fear and control for some time. I would not recommend it to anyone at this stage unless they are already very clear in their convictions and strong in their faith and in their identity as a person. Going into YWAM these days is going into a very complex and dangerous mission field. It is not a safe place to grow and mature as a young believer.

      • I, Psuedo-konastephen, agree with the “real” Konastephen: YWAM is a dangerous place for those not experienced in sorting through the jungle of ideas that differentiate YWAM’s overarching worldview from a more traditionally orthodox understanding of God, the church, man, sin, and missions. While YWAM has done a lot to give missions a more pneumatic populist feel, it has done so at the expense of so much sound doctrine. I pray that the leadership of YWAM will turn back from their myopic narratives and instead pursue the ‘beautiful hope’ of a robust and whole biblical worldview—showing-off, through word and deed, the Truth to the world, even when it cuts against the grain of our postmodern ethos…

      • Naomi said

        I fully agree with you, the same infidelity problem exists in Brisbane also. Believe it or not a leader who was already in a committed relationship flirted with and hit on myself a dts student at the time. After I was kicked off my DTS (Praise God!) I was given all of the blame for is flirting and coming on to me.

        I also fully agree that you have to be strong in faith and identity to handle YWAM. I got kicked out for that very reason I put my foot down and refused to shift from what I know to be true

  15. tim forster said

    healing may intensify for you jen when you identify completely with Jesus. We get involved in abusive situations
    when we want to be with “the cutting edge” people.
    few of the cutting edgers seem to realise it takes a whole blade , blunt edge included , to do a work. Some good healing books here, Crucified by christians, climb the highest mountain, A tale of three kings. (by G. Edwards)

    It helps to realise we can all be abusers. In fact we all participated (somehow) in killing Jesus. Every person with the smallest amount of authority to use can misuse it.

    When christians organise they become abusive. it is simple : read history.

    Taking A name other than Jesus, (ywamer, Catholic, whatever) makes us adulterous spiritually. How would your husband feel if you wanted to take some other man’s name besides his? The carnals want a name for themselves. The name funtions to make them part of the world system. Thus abusiveness comes in just as the rulers of the gentiles Lord it over those in their charge.

    What if we wanted no other name than our Lord’s? Then we would not be manipulatable. Most big glitzy slickly promoted things in the world are bad news.

    Face it, slick liars are very hard to confront. People who have much of satan still in them function with lawyer like zeal when they abuse. Unless we are strong in grace and secure in Ya’s love, we LET THEM draw us into exchanges which are always destructive. See hoe Jesus never lost with the lawyers—find out why.

    Bless you sister

    • billcnz said

      Tim, I strongly disagree recommending the book “Crucified by Christians” by Gene Edwards.

      I found it grossly misrepresented God’s character and portrayed him as evil and unjust.

      P. 78 “Jesus was in conflict with his father”.
      p. 83 The father wanted his son crucified.
      p. 88 ….”agree with lies and rumours…..”

      Gene Edwards has given wicked blasphemy against God’s character stated in his the Bible.

      Deut 32:3-4 I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

      Rev 15:3 Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.

      Ezekiel 18:29-32 Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Are my ways unjust, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust?
      “Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!

      God is perfect and just, because the Bible says he is, whereas the devil and people that are imperfect through sin.

      Gene Edwards has assigned the intentions and character of the devil on to God, as a way of explaining evil in the world.

      In recent times Gene Edwards appears to have gone into occult mysticism, which is to be expected if he follows a god who has the character of the devil:

      2 Cor 4:4 THE GOD OF THIS AGE has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

      It seems “the god of this age” has blinded the mind of Gene Edwards.



      Tim, you are recommending an author who is straying away from sound doctrine, just like the YWAM organisation is.

      Out of the frying pan and into the fire!

  16. tim forster said

    Just want to add, abuse is everywhere rampant in religion.
    Ywam is just one place. It’s like when some complain that a house is being built on a burial ground. The whole earth is a burial ground.

    The prime error in ywam is that little word leader. If you read Jesus in Matthew 23 it is obvious that he says to never call anyone leader, teacher, pastor rabbi etc etc.

    Cult “leaders” avoid and explain away these plain words of jesus all the time. People like evil. They like to have power over others–until they are totally broken.

    Having been abused is sometimes a sign that we wanted to have power too. And mercifully God allows us to become the abused in order to see how it feels—in hope we will be broken of the trait and learn love as he is.

    Leaving the worldly churches and organisations is absolutely the way to freedom. Some may stay , it is true. And God uses those in the system. BUT , it is also a call from God for some to leave and not go back. We should obey that call if it comes to us.

    Diotrophes in 3 john is said to have loved being first.
    Diotrophes is with us still.
    Accepting that posers and other abusers exist takes some time. God has given man the freedom to be a jerk if he chooses. Our work is to be free of such evil and even let others crucify us if that’s what it takes to expose the evil.

    Having left the system is only one side of the coin. The other is staying out of it and paying the same price jesus did. BUTTTTTTTT !!!!!! THE GREAT CONSOLATION AND COMPENSATION IS THAT you are free now. You no longer have a sick need to be part of something that is a poser fest. If we knew the security of spirit jesus gives, we would never allow ourselves to be abused. We do have to learn though. Having heard of how your husband just sat there and let the abusers in hong kong cut him to pieces reminds me of a similiar situation in my life jen.

    Having been through it, i know i let others abuse me due to faults in me –as well as them–. It really is a two way thing. A secure person now, if such a situation arises again, i ask jesus first if he wants me to take abuse for his purposes—if so fine. if not. you rise , excuse yourself and leave the room, explaining you are under higher government and obeying that government ahead of all others.

    “Healing spiritual abuse ” by ken blue is a good book too.
    I hope to read more here. God has blessed you with much. keep going sis. it’s great what God is doing in freeing us all and helping us see He can be our security and our purpose. The organised christians need healing and release for they are captives. It is no small thing –but freeing others is Jesus work—not ours—let’s let him do more!!!!!

  17. Hmmm..Ywam? said

    Well, this was definatley refreshing to read! Thank you very much for putting it up here. I’m always vaguely suspicious when any organization doesn’t have any critiscisms whatsoever! I’ve only ever observed YWAM + YWAMers, but i’ve come into frequent contact with them ,and even got to spend about 3 months on one of their largest bases.

    I would say that I have to apply the “fifty-percent rule” to YWAM, it’s theology, it’s doctrines, even the people it turns out. As long as they are 51% for God, they are still more for God than not. However I’m the more, “Did you HEAR what HE said!? THAT’S SACRILIGEOUS! How can one listen to all this incorrect spiritual rambling!?” I tend to get up on my high horse about these things. During my stint on one of the bases, just as an observer, I was put off YWAM for life (or so i thought at the time..) the YWAM culture was SO american, so scruffy, so “pacsun” mixes with a virgin/backpacker “abercrombie & fitch” and I found the people SCARILY Godly. “God has done this…and it was so cool..God wrote me a love letter”, and they would proceed to thoroughly freak me out with this very ooey-gooey-over-the-top “love-letter” that was apparently “written” by God. I agree that God can speak to us,…but a “love-letter”…eaugh, the girl who read it out had everyone squirming in their seats!

    Another thing that put me off and that I’ve always disliked about YWAM, is how generic the culture is. Like I travel alot, and you can ALWAYS spot the YWAM kids coming through. An unkempt, scruffy group, looking sleep-deprived, with a few guitars strapped on their backs. Surpisingly anti-social, or rather, quite “glue-ey”. And singing songs that only switchfoot or audio adrenaline can really carry off. Tats of Jesus, and those barbed wire bracelets, paired with numerous piercings make them a very noticeable yet to look at.

    Applying the 50% rule to a group of teenager DTSers that were passing through our town, about 50% of them were totally on fire for God, they were the outgoing, outspoken people that DTS really deals so well with, the other 50% were the type who would do much better with a seminary somewhere in scotland with lots and lots of solitary walks and maybe a thick journal or something. Really, everyone was so unimpressed with the group that came through I was really sorry for them. I got to know all of them well, and truly I found that the majority of them that got the most out of the experience were all the outgoing sort…I think YWAM was tailor-made for expressive and energetic people.

    I’m actually applying for a DTS at the moment, and I wanted …”the other side of the story”. Believe me I’ve heard many…such as the lesbian-in-denial-who-continues-to-be-allowed-on-staff-for YEARS…and the-in-love-staff-leaders-who-couldn’t-be-bothered-to-do-a-thing! And the list goes on…But I’m attending DTS for the 51%, I’m outgoing, vivacious, and yet know when to keep my mouth shut, I’m going for the 51% passion which would lack in other-organizations/other set-ups.

    Thanks Jen!

  18. […] after my latest brush with YWAM, I was able to make a clean break and remove the doctrine I learned in DTS from my mind. Finally, I […]

  19. Sara M said

    What do you know about YWAM in Tyler, Texas?

    • This is probably completely irrelevant now as you posed this question four years ago, but I have a cousin who did a YWAM school in Tyler. She did not do her DTS there, but did their writing school. She was thoroughly impressed with it and I trust her opinions on these things. She grew up mainly in Africa and Guatamala (not as a missionary kid) and has a very strong personality type and will, with no exception, speak out if she feels that things are not being taught from a biblical foundation. She also knows the bible incredibly well and is not easily influenced by other’s opinions.

  20. L.H.S. said

    Hey Jen,
    I’m pretty glad I found your page since I left my DTS two weeks ago (without having finished it). I got really sick and had similar experiences like you.
    So thank you verrrry much for publishing them; that makes me feel way better since I now know that I’m not alone with them!
    Nevertheless I also got to know really cool YWAM people from other places, therefore I don’t wanna say “YWAM is bad” or something like that.
    Thanks and be blessed!

  21. sylvia said

    A question for you and others that have been through ywam:

    if you know a person currently in a dts that is being pushed to return for another 18mos, how would you recommend handling it? would you point out the issues with ywam now while they are still immersed in the ywam environment, or wait until they return home and get grounded in reality a bit? i’m seeking God’s direction in this, of course, but would like replies from those who have ‘been there’. thanks and God bless.

    • Rayne said

      If you are close with this person then I would suggest sitting down with them when they get back, getting to know what their experience has been during the DTS. In your opinion has it changed them in a negative way? When you have answered that for yourself you will know much better how to pray for them. (Keep in mind that with very few exceptions, everyone who has gone through an intense period of Biblical study will be quite readily judgmental and arrogant with their new found theology and mostly unable to process the way God works and uses the collective faith, this is something that I caution you not to make your decision on because while negative it is unavoidable and will get better as they grow more in faith.) So does the door need to close, is they base they are on allowing them to grow in truth or is it hindering that. Just as with all organizations there are positives and there are negatives. Where does your friend need to be. I have never served with YWAM, however quite a few people very special to me have and they are each their own case. For some it is where they are needed to be a part of the solution, however one of them tried very hard to make YWAM work and in the end has realized that it is not the place for them as it was hindering their relationship with God.
      I hope this is of some help.

  22. Corry said

    Hi Jen,

    Sara M. asked about YWAM Texas. I have no recent experiences of it, but some knowledge of its history.

    In the early Eighties it was run by Leland Paris and it was the second largest base to Hawaii. I attended a North America YWAM get together there, and heard Winkie Pratney descibe, with great mocking humor, that Augustine was the biggest theological problem that the church had encountered. The reason for this was that he believed in original sin, and human inability without God. Tyler Texas was the bastion of YWAM’s moral government theology.

    In the early eighties Loren was feeling the yjeological heat from a number of quarters, including Walter Martin. He put out an open letter which asked bases to stop teaching Moral Government/Pelagian theology, and to stop denying original sin. The Tyler base flatly rejected the request. They, along with Teen challenge and Last Days ministries and a few others in that pocket of Texas were united in their apostacy. Loren couldn’t touch them. There were other bases that took the same stand, including Australia.

    To their credit, at that time, YWAM California did stop ‘overtly’ teaching Moral Government theology, though it will always be implicit in YWAM’s theology. There was a MG teacher at the Sunland base, Mike Saia, who was not permitted to teach his systematic MG stuff any longer. He was however, a very welcome speaker in Australia for a number of years after Loren’s unsuccessful ‘edict’.

    YWAM cannot purge this theology; it is the basis for every YWAM doctrine. All it can do is deny or conceal it. MG theology shapes and flavours every YWAM thought. But it will rarely be taught overtly. MG theology makes a great deal of sense, as it is effectively systematic. It presupposes a world where humans are in control of their own destinies, and where God is the hapless loving creator waiting for one of his junior partners to tag Him so that he can try to do something to sort out the world’s problems. He is the ‘dependant God of YWAM’s distortions. That is why YWAMers have to ‘release God’ through intercessory prayer. YWAMers believe that God needs our prayers to act.

    Best to give YWAM a WIDE berth

    • the real konastephen said

      Yes, good additional details to what I know of this issue as well (see my post in “About Me”. However, the more I read in this blog, Jen’s wholesale rejection of Christianity espcially, the more I’m concerned of lack of balance and lack of knowledge. There was a small segment of YWAM that sincerely rejected moral government and many good things have come out of it. Particularly the School of the Biblical Worldview in Wiler, Switzerland and all of their network within YWAM. To say that all YWAM is cultish or dangerous is sadly, not true (I say sadly, thinking sadly of my friends who have been fighting a losing battle within YWAM for so long). To reject Christianity altogether is “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. I think of what John the Baptist and his doubts towards the end and the response he received… To those who are doubting here I say, hold the faith. Trust in God.

      • Jen said

        Just an FYI- I did NOT leave Christianity because of YWAM, not in the least did my experience with YWAM have an influence on my family’s decision. And I have not given up on G-d in the least.

  23. Christy said

    I had such a similar experience in a YWAM base in North Carolina. “The base leaders said we were in rebellion because we did not obey their every command and did not revere them.” This sounds exactly like my experience in DTS. If I ever questioned anything the base leaders said they blamed it on my “pride” and claimed that God had placed them in authority over me so I shouldn’t question them.

  24. elbuho said


    I appreciate that you are still a Christian after your experiences, but there are some people who leave YWAM and lose their faith (before or after leaving). I’ve set up a Facebook group for these people, so I invite anyone reading this who falls into this category to join the group:

  25. SS said

    This posting disgusted me. It is clear that you and very likely your husband are in fact very immature. YWAM is a huge global organization and when you say things like “these teachings are prevalent throughout YWAM” it reveals much of the spirit behind your whining here on the internet. You were 18 and then later returned at 26-27 apparently. What do you really know about YWAM bases throughout the world? And then you use the internet to blast YWAM!!!??

    Much of the church in America is powerless, sick and divided and one of the root causes is because people demand entitlement to express their “opinions” just as you have.

    I and my family have been devastated by churches and ministries and so called “ministers” both here in the US and overseas as we served as missions pastors for 5 years and missionaries for 7 years in Islam. I remember the days of my bitterness…I would have posted a blog just like this. But those days, my deeply anchored attitudes, my judgment and my responses cost me dearly.

    May you and your husband/family be granted grace and mercy and understanding so that you can avoid ever using the internet to criticize your own family in the public/world’s eyes. This was inappropriate regardless of the rights and wrongs involved.

    • Charles R Cardamone said

      S S your post gave us a great insight into what a spiritually abusive person is.You are quite the Pharisee! Thank you for giving us an example by abusing Jen and her family with your post.

    • konastephen said

      S.S. glad you were disgusted—perhaps that means that this conversation is pushing you to the limits of your understanding—encouraging you to clarify for yourself the boundaries between criticism (usually meant in a pejorative sense) and discernment (1 Corinthians 5:12-13).
      Regarding the internet being the wrong place to have a discussion like this, let me offer a few thoughts. (1) No one will ever stumble upon this site by accident—that is, there is too much information on the internet to have the negative effect you imply. (2) if someone searches the internet to see if YWAM is abusive and uses this site to verify their fears, then they have used the internet inappropriately—you can prove ANYTHING by searching for sites that back that view!
      Anyway, thanks for the interesting thoughts—self-referentially incoherent—but nonetheless interesting.

      • Charles R Cardamone said

        u need to publish how ywamers are to use the internet appropriately and monitor all the sites they go to, I advise u to contact the Chinese government they should be able to help you!

      • Naomi said

        I love how you say that this is an inappropriate use of the internet. YWAM has been spiritually and emotionally abusing people for years! Yes some people do DTS and come out the other end with a much stronger faith in God etc. That is because they had good, godly leaders. The majority of YWAM is abusive. I have experienced that in the UK and in Australia. This is a very appropriate way of using the internet, otherwise people walk blindly into something the have no clue about.

  26. Oscar said

    The other thing that affected me was that leaders on Outreach had no idea about what was going on with the team. They threw in the Joshua’s camp thing which is so far off the mark that we might as well slay the Philistines rather than preach the gospel of peace out there. You know what I mean? I say this because I notice in other blogs about YWAM. Maybe its a common thread of Biblical ignorance. We live in the New Testament people! Wake up YWAM.

    • Rayne said

      We live in the reality of Christ’s sacrifice however God is the same today as He has always been and He will remain the same forever more. You cannot have the New Testament without the Old Testament, You have to take them both for they both belong to God.

  27. Ruitje said

    Jen, thanks for your story. I have a question about a method YWAM uses, it’s called NIKO. It looks like a ‘breakthrough’ training from Momentus/ACCD and I have the feeling that it’s a kind of brainwashing-method. Have you had any experience with this?
    (I have no experiences with YWAM, but I know some people who are into YWAM and one is very enthousiastic about NIKO, but I think there is something very wrong with that training. They also use it for Kings Kids.

  28. Jen said


    I have heard of NIKO before and some other techniques YWAM uses as ‘training’. I am doing research on this right now & will post what I find. I do remember reading an article from a former YWAM leader about brainwashing techniques, so I will find that article & include it in my next post.

  29. Don said

    Hi Jen,

    Thank you for sharing about your abusive experiences. May Jesus, your healer, heal you of your wounds from abusive people. These people are under the devils deception, and to keep your experiences to yourself and not bring them into the light would only serve what Satan wants most. To keep things in secret. That’s how he is the most effective.

    Gods Word says:

    John 3:20
    Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.


    John 3:21
    But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

    So I encourage you to let the comment about keeping this to yourself roll off your back like water off a duck.

    My Son has recently come back from a YWAM DTS in Europe and the leadership was/is displaying some similar attitudes as what you have talked about.

    I have just emailed the party in question with my concerns about how they are handling these issues as well as financial issues that are of grave concern.

    I want to handle this as the Bible tells me to,

    A Brother Who Sins Against You
    15″If your brother sins against you,[a] go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'[b]

    So I have gone to him first, and if he doesn’t listen then I will take a brother as a witness. If he still doesn’t listen, then I will approach Head office.

    If Head Office doesn’t recognize the issues then I will post the
    base here and anywhere else I can to bring the devils work into the light. The world is going to hear of these issues. I will NOT keep quiet about the secrets of the Devils work!


  30. Katie said

    I just want to thank you for your post Jen. I have recently returned from the lecture portion of my DTS. I praise the Lord that he lead me out when he did, but I have a lot to work through. I have been so hurt and wounded but your testimony is so refreshing for me! It is a reminder that I am not alone in a search for the truth of the Lord.

  31. Gene Ryde said

    I am a former YWAM er and can attest to much of what your letter said. My experience at the time (1984/5) was mostly positive, yet years later I see some major problems. Ecumenism for one. Every once and awhile I come accross some of my former Ywam friends and almost without exception they are very badly fallen away. I do know some who are still faithful but I think they are by far the minority. We do need love for everyone as Christ commands, but we also must stand for truth. I believe we can do both. I now attend a very conservative Mennonite Church where they have strong (Male)leadership, yet you would hardly know you are speaking to a leader as they are very humble people. We have learned a great deal from these people. What you are describing in HK doesn’t surprise me, and I am saddened to hear that such could come from people who are otherwise so zealous.
    Salmon Arm
    B.C Canada

  32. Jen said


    If you read through my blog, you will find I am no longer a Christian. My choice to leave Christianity has nothing to do with YWAM, however. I will check out your FB group.

    • the real konastephen said

      it is sad that you say this. This puts the whole blog into a different perspective. I’ve posted here not realizing that you had abandoned Christ on account of the severity of your negative experience in YWAM. I challenge you to explain how you took that turn. Personally, I have the benefit of a very broad experience of the church, much broader than YWAM. I’ve found most of it to be tainted with apostasy or heresy, error and selfish ambition and yet here and there in the most surprising places, YWAM included, there are pockets of amazing sincerity and genuineness. God has always preserved a remnant, throughout history. There is a remnant in YWAM who “have not bowed their knee to Baal” as God said to Elijah about the remnant in Israel at the time of Jezebel… Come on Jen, explain yourself.

      • Jen said

        As I just wrote above, my leaving of Christianity has nothing at all to do with my experience with YWAM. I also had a long experience in the church, good & bad and I know how to deal with the ‘bad’ very well. My leaving of Christianity came after studying for ordination & a theology degree. After years of study & prayer, I am now returning to the faith of my ancestors: Judaism.
        Please read again my previous posts. I am very clear YWAM had no part in my decision to leave Christianity.

      • Jen,
        I’m a little confused; you say that you are going back to your ancestral roots–Judaism–what does this mean? The roots of Christianity is Judaism, so why must one leave the church to drink from the waters of Judaism? What was lacking such that you felt to leave Christianity?
        Why speak of ‘faith of my ancestors’; should every race and ethnicity have their own religion and path???
        Is it that you do not believe that Jesus was the promised messiah of the Jews, or is it just that Christians and the church have muddled, through word and deed, what Jesus clearly taught about himself?
        Without the promise of a messiah, I wonder (quite seriously), what does Judaism offer that you found lacking in Christianity? What story does Judaism tell that you have found yourself longing to engage in? I sincerely would like to know.

    • Rosie said

      Please don’t leave Jesus because of what people do. He died for us because we are flawed. Read His word talk to Him, and ask Him to lead you to a bible based church. Life especially the Christian will have challenges, but be of good cheer He has overcome the world.

  33. James R.C.H. said

    “Satan’s forces are everywhere, the top echelons of YWAM connect to the Mafia, Sex Trade, Central Intelligence Agency, Emporer’s club, Disney, the Entertainment Industry etc..

    I was involved in a coordinated molestation conpsiracy through YWAM, the basis of it being their adherence to Kingdom ‘Theology.’ This theology claims they are to take ‘Dominion’ over the ‘Realm of Satan.’

    What this essentially means, is that this organization controls both ‘virtue’ and vice – I have reason to believe they snapped my ex-girlfriend’s back for being rebellious on a DTS in Australia, and I am going to be murdered by them very soon.

    • the real konastephen said

      this I highly doubt. there’s truth, which has the ring of truth to it. there is also distortion, which doesn’t. this has the dull ring of distortion. perhaps there is a kernel of sad truth somewhere but the overall picture is wrong.

      • Henry said

        WOW you probably read his next post where he tells of being repeatedly molested by ten and twelve year old boys while being at the Chico Base. HE is probably a pedofile or a disorganized schizophrenic.

      • Rayne said

        I believe you have read his later post wrong. He clearly stated that he was himself between the ages of 10-12.

  34. James R.C.H. said

    If you take a look at the Teachings of Bill Gothard, you will realize what I am talking about – these people are given a green light internationally to assault those psychologically who don’t follow their other wish, and if you cause too much of a stir, they will kill you for it.

    I was repeatedly molested by multiple old men between the ages of 10-12 at the YWAM base here in Chico.

  35. emily B said

    It’s funny. I have a bunch of friends who were in YWAM Hong Kong last year and they had such a wonderful time. They said the leaders were such great people and everyone there was so kind.

    I agree with what SS said. It does seem that you are (or at least were then) immature.

    Sara M: I have been a part of YWAM Tyler and it is such an awesome place to be. I highly suggest going to this base. The people are such awesome Men & Women of God. I also have many friends all over the world in YWAM, and none of them have had such experiences in YWAM as you people have. …Odd…

    • the real konastephen said

      it’s true enough that many people (including myself) have had wonderful experiences in YWAM. it’s also true that doing a DTS is one thing, staffing or leading another, taking, staffing and leading other schools is another again and attempting to launch a brand new vision of your own within YWAM is another thing altogether. I’ve done all of that and my overall experiences have been very mixed. I’ve also taught in many schools at all levels and my concern for the current direction of the majority of leaders around the world is based on very thorough personal observation at all levels of staff and leadership. I would be wary of accusing Jen of immaturity. I am more inclined to believe her, also knowing some of the people in HK very well and knowing something of the story from different perspectives.

    • Korgoth 82 said

      It’s like the kettle calling the tea pot black? But, I wonder if it is fair to say that, because maybe if you saw the same thing you might be more upset than the rest of us. Nonetheless all you guys do is justify arbitrarily things you don’t know about. So what if I was immature or if some other kid listens to hate breed or P Ditty does it matter? If you really expect so much maturity from other people why don’t you just become a mature Christian and quit trying to prove that you’re so much better than everybody else. You know the sick and not the righteous. And what does that mean, that he came to call those who know they are sinners to repentance. But, who are you to judge who is repentant in their heart and who isn’t. And if you go and let someone else know how worthless they are like a few (and I mean a few staffers do) then you are turning them away from God because such a person is one who is also in sin. And a big point of the Bible is that you guys need to realize that your not perfect, and that with out Christ you were also going to go to Hell. And therefore as much as reasonably possible show the same mercy and kindness to others that Christ showed to you. And if you see your fellow Christian taken in a fault try to restore such a one in a spirit of meekness and kindness taking heed lest ye also be tempted. Right. (of course that doesn’t mean you have to date them)
      And don’t trust someone just because they say they are a Christian. You know the Copts practice Female Circumcision, and the popes of the Roman Catholic Church killed more Christians than Nero Markus and Titus combined. Besides where else can you find a heretic. They will always be in a religious institution and also Emily the only way you can know you are better than anyone else is if you don’t think your better than everyone else. Besides sometimes good people go bad, bad people become good and some go back and forth. And just because I should forgive reverend right for saying GD America does not mean that I should vote for Obama who went to his church. And you guys love to play forgiveness but you forgive someone for something that is wrong and just because you forgive them or just because someone should forgive a YWAM staff member does not mean that what the staff member did was right. But, you guys are so proud of yourselves sometimes that all you want to do is justify yourselves believing what you want to think makes sense and at the same time if when you have some guilt you get worried that you have to do what you’re afraid you have to do a and then it all gets twisted up.

  36. emily B said

    I’m not sure which post it was, but I saw a comment from someone whose girlfriend was going to YWAM Perth.
    Someone replied saying they would probably try to “make her single”. I think it was Jen.
    What in the world would make you think that? For the 7 years I have been in YWAM I have witnessed so many YWAMer marriages. For all the YWAMers I know, marriage is such a wonderful BLESSING from God. I mean, come on, even the Bible tells of how wonderful and precious marriage is.
    Maybe certain CHRISTIANS (not Just YWAMers) look down on Christians.

    • the real konastephen said

      yeah and in the many many years I’ve been in and around YWAM, I’ve witnessed a lot of leaders freak out about relationships and marriage. I’ve witnessed leaders attempt to have staff shunned because they were about to be married. I’ve witnessed young married couples passed over for staff and leadership because the married against the advice of one leader. I’ve also witnessed such couples prosper outside of YWAM in spite of the dire predictions of their leader at the time they got together. There’s not just a double standard in YWAM when it comes to relationships. There’s a triple or quadruple standard at least.

    • Korgoth 82 said

      Emily there is something I would aks you to consider. YWAM is a good organization in principle. It should in my opinion exist. But, If you worked for a company and that company’s mission was important to you and you saw someone doing something that damaged the efectiveness of the organization, you should want to do something about it. Now YWAM’s mission is to share the love of God with Young People, I think most of the time it is reasonably effective at this. But here is what I would want you to consider:
      In order for someone to get into staff at one of those bases that person hast to act a certain way, they have to fit in and that means that they have got to fit some kind of LCD. Therefore if there are abuses present (and I have seen it personally) then it hast to come from people who know how to act like YWAMers. Now think about people that just go to church or get involved with there church. At some churches some of these people will be there for alternative reasons while other will be there for the right reasons. But, now people aren’t perfect. So think about it some people that went there for the right reasons and joined a church, will partially do their job there so that they can have social benifits. Now the same type of thing can happen at YWAM and for the most part that is a good thing, right it is a really good thing to be able to socialize and make freinds with people who are pursuing holiness. The result is that you get a good social environment, now some staff members (and I belive that this is human psycology) will seek to control that social environment, and may not really be there for the reason that you would expect. The more important it is to them to be in control of that environment and the more the environment takes precedence over the mission the more likely you are to have someone who becomes abusive. However, I understand that this doesn’t completely explain it. generally it is different from case to case.
      Now you could accuse me of having been immature when I went to Tyler, but who do you expect more from the student or the staff. The staff have a responsibilty to share the love of God with the students and therefore people that work there need to be careful to ensure that the programs mission isn’t being damaged by certain more authoritarian individuals. People can be bizzare sometimes, and usually it is the devil. Sometimes, some how or another he gets into to decent people, and sometimes he becomes succesful enough to make the person into a type of trojan horse who only attacks the students who god is trying to use and do something in. He has done damage in this. So please rememeber Christ came for the sick Emily not the Rightreouse who have already decided that they are good enough. But, we are all sinners who have fallen short of the golry of god and we all are to give others the same grace that we have been given. But, I think that sometimes this argument gets used in the wrong way; so that those who have been attacked are not given grace because they are now angry with someone. Grace doesn’t mean being kind to the Bully and mean to the victim.

      Things you should watch out for

      Know waht staff members teach in small group; do not tolerate bizzare theologies in any body that is in staff. Always report it when you see it.

      People who are too obsessed with haveing control over others, they may need to be dicsipled better in how to have humility, faith, and better ministry. You know how does God see the students. The greatest is the least and the least is the greatest.

      Students who are continually dragged to the office and seem to struggle.

      Secondly; You have to pray read your bible seek god to help you understand that stuff. And don’t be cold to people just because they have had a bad experience.

      the bible says that if you see your brother taken in a fault try to restore such a one in a spirit of meekness and kindness; taking heed lest ye also be tempted. There is an issue with what I was talking about earlier: Abuse does need to eb dealt with, but there is a difference bettween somebody having bad day and getting driven nutts by a bunch of loud kids and snapping, and the type of stuff that Jen is upset about. It can really get Bizzare. I saw people just change all of a sudden express venerable hatred. I forgive them for it. I think one guys wife was driving him nuts and he took it out on me. But, the other had strange theology.

      That kind of stuff needs to be dealt with. the senior authority should be made aware of it, and that person should be taught or reminded of their mission, but then if they won’t be taught then they should be Kicked out.

      Also; one more thing for Jen:
      I can’t find the Scripture right now but there is one in the New testament that says that: In the time of the end their will come teachers who forbid to mary. It also very harshly critizises them, they are false teachers. I believe it was peter, james or John, but I don’t really have any idea. But it is there. And it has been their with Catholics and others it is not knew, but in the end it will become more prevalent. This is part of the devils attempt to make Christianity un appealing to people.

      And Jen I give you the advice to forgive them for what they did, that does not mean that you have to agree with it; you never agree with someone doing something that you have to forgive them for doing. You only forgive people for doing something that is wrong. So you should still stick to your convictions. And seriously pray about switching religions and don’t just listen to any spirit particularly that might be responsible for exploiting your anger at those people or any spirit that would try to accuse you of having bad convictions and therefor play the role of those people. Secondly, look back in your life at the time you did believe in God. I think you just were attacked.

    • Robyn said

      I spent time at YWAM Perth and I tend to agree with Jen sorry Emily. One of the paradigm questions asked there when a family member or pastor for example suggests that maybe it’s time to come home is “Yes but what is the Lord saying?” This question is designed to sow doubt in the heart of the new DTS student in their own ability to hear God especially if what is being asked by the “outsiders” runs contrary to what they think. Not only does one begin to doubt their own ability to hear God but also begins to doubt the outsiders. These people often have been the very same ones who have provided the means for that student to attend the DTS.

      Don’t get me wrong I had a some great and awesome experiences in YWAM also but there are a number of bases who’s name you will hear pop up time and again and we should be aware of them.

      Jen as I read your story it felt just like I was watching a movie about a book I may have read. It was so familiar to me.

      Sun, I understand where you are coming from too and please don’t feel as if everyone wants to come down on you but as another writer mentioned, unless you decide in your heart that something is not right and you decide to say something about it, at least in those more controlled locations then you are very unlikely to have experienced anything like what Jen has described.

      Everyone, I have a painful memory but I don’t think I’m bitter. A great deal of people get through thier DTS pretty much unscathed and even return to the “normal lives” without too much fuss but I’d just like to prevent even 1 person going through what I had to endure.

      It was for freedom that Christ has set us free………DON’T BE CONTROLLED!!!

      • dc said

        I am a parent and am currently concerned about my daughter who is involved in DTS. My husband and I have become more and more concerned about her as we have seen her torment. We feel that the leaders have been controlling and they have tried to limit our contact with her. The leaders refer to themselves as her “authorities” and are encouraging her to continue her discipleship with them. She feels very guilty when she does not please them and is no longer our bright and sparkling daughter. In fact she has been depressed and continuously tells us that the Christian walk is very difficult and she must die to self. We were hoping that she would be able to make the decision to leave at the end of her DTS, however, she feels very conflicted and confused. After reading all of these posts I am thinking that it would be unhealthy for her to stay. I am hoping that this experience will not result in long term damage.

      • Naomi said

        I considered leaving my DTS not long after getting there too. My flights were cancelled and my ywammer boyfriend and his family pressured me into borrowing money from his parents for new flights as this was “The Lord’s leading” and “The enemy attacking.” Every time I thought about it or talked to my one on one leader about it, she would say but is that what God wants? It made me question my ability to hear God, thankfully I only questioned momentarily.

        I stuck it out, primarily because my boyfriend was telling me I need to learn to be under my leaders authority, submit to them, and trust that they knew what God wanted for me. Eventually a few weeks before outreach I was asked to leave if I didn’t stop questioning them, submit to their authority, and be open about everything. Two days later I chose to leave. The base leader then had a full blown go at me and tore me to shreds. He told me if I didn’t learn to submit to their authority that I would go through life unsubmissive, that if I ever got lucky enough to marry that he would leave me because I would not be able to submit to his authority. It takes a lot to reduce me to tears but he managed it.

        The other issue I had was letting down the people who had given me money to go, that was the toughest part. The knowledge that people who had been friends for many years had given me money in good faith to go and preach the Gospel and to have to tell them I had left because of abuse, and that there was only the possibility of one girl having gotten saved. Granted £2,500 for one girl getting saved doesn’t compare but at the same time they gave that money in the faith that entire peoples would hear the Gospel.

        When they dropped me off back at the base an ex ywammer friend who still hung around the base came up to the base that night and we got m&ms and talked for hours. I can honestly say that was the first time I was truly happy since I had gone off for my DTS.

        I have been in abusive churches, and organisations but nothing compared to the hell I endured in Ywam Brisbane.

      • Suzi said

        Could we make contact somehow? My daughter is in her 5th week in Perth-

    • Naomi said

      When I did my DTS in Brisbane, Australia they told me that myself and my boyfriend (a ywammer and a God fearing man) should take a break and that he was abusive because we had arguments. They messed with my head so much on this that I ended up cheating on him with a base leader. Yes it was 50% my fault, but he was a leader! and they had no business in my relationship.

      This isn’t a first, a fellow student was given a lot of stick for entering into a relationship with someone back home that she knew God was leading her into. A couple on DTS were criticized for getting engaged during DTS. And I’ve just remembered while thinking about all of this, that in the rules for my DTS we were banned from entering into any relationships whatsoever during our DTS

  37. Jen said

    Emily B,

    About YWAM HK: the people are great if you are happy-go-lucky and submissive at all times, but if you have a mind of your own, you will have problems. They are abusive if you do not follow their word as if they are the only ones who hear from G-d.

    There are a lot of awesome YWAMers, but there are a lot of abusive, power-hungry leaders out there.

  38. Ed said

    Hi, am sad to hear of all the exchange going on, yet, am glad at the same time.

    Am sad, for people, real people with emotions, people created and beloved by our Father in heaven even though fallen, people from our Lord paid the ultimate price to save and free, were hurt.

    Am glad, for these are the same people who still desire and are growing stronger in their desire to seek the truth. All who seek truth from our Lord with an earnest heart will surely find it.

    Now, I wish to say that all organisations of any sort will fail us, and more so when we look to it as infailable, for that status is reserved for the Lord alone. On saying that, I would like to add too that our Father can work through any, I mean ANY, people, means, method, organisations, theories etc. It is never about all these, it is about our Father in heaven who is sovereign over all, whose plans are higher than our plans, whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts, who is infinitely able to bring glory unto himself.

    And so, while it is good to be aware of things that happened, all should take a moment to step away from their emotions and bring the matter before the Lord in personal prayer and reflection. If the Lord do not convict you, no one else can. IF He do, no point denying. As for those considering YWAM or DTS or are currently involved (as I am actually), do remember that each of us stand and fall before the Lord and it is to Him alone we are ultimately answerable to. So, do the tough job of actually take the time to seek His face. If He says get involved, don’t shrink back, He knows where He wants you there (Not that He NEEDS you there for sure). If He says steer clear, don’t go ahead just because you like it. In either case, to not follow His leading is disobedience, to not even seek His instructions (using the word instructions as opposed to ‘will’ or ‘guidance’ due to the abuse or sense of optional associated) is presumptuous. Either way it is sin.

    What if what I perceived Father is saying is not in line with what the leaders say? Respectfully bring it up. You may suffer for doing it, but “let all who suffer according to God’s will entrust their soul to a faithful Creator while doing good”. This is St Peter’s counsel to the early christians who are suffering the initial wave of persecution, and I think it serves us well too, to realise that we must stand for what we know is from Father, for that stands on faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God.

    So, brothers and sisters, I pray that no matter which path you choose to take, let it be an informed choice, not so much information from man, but rather what you perceived to be from God. And I am sure, He is able to mold you into greater likeness to Him for His glory, for that is His purpose. For those who might be thinking about the schemes of the enemy, don’t be too absorbed in it, focus on Father.

    May God’s glory be shown in your life because of obedience and fellowship with Him in the spirit. Amen

  39. Ed said

    For those who seriously want to go into YWAM though, I would recommend going to bases where they have a strong SBS going on for year. SBS is the school in YWAM that gives the solid time of grounding in the Word which sadly many people lacks, especially YWAMers since it is within their reach. Reason for this recommendation is simple, no serious student of the word can come away unchanged and if a base has this school going on for years, there is a good chance of finding good, passionate, biblically sound and strong brothers and sisters in the base who should in no way not make godly response to false teachings if found in their midst.


    • the real konastephen said

      if only it were that simple. unfortunately SBS is mostly tainted by questionable procedure and theology. I would recommend reading the Bible through on your own at least twice and memorizing key passages first before going to YWAM and if you do the SBS, do the shortened version, not the nine month course. the results of the nine month course are very mixed. many find themselves unable to look at a bible for years after.

      • Lola said

        That’s exactly what happened to me. The base I was at had a ‘strong SBS’ and was one of the most spiritually abusive manipulative environments I have ever been in. The funny thing is, taking the SBS after years on staff is what lead me to the conclusion that most of their doctrine and procedures are unBiblical.

  40. Ed said

    Hi, am sad to hear of all the exchange going on, yet, am glad at the same time.

    Am sad, for people, real people with emotions, people created and beloved by our Father in heaven even though fallen, people from our Lord paid the ultimate price to save and free, were hurt.

    Am glad, for these are the same people who still desire and are growing stronger in their desire to seek the truth. All who seek truth from our Lord with an earnest heart will surely find it.

    Now, I wish to say that all organisations of any sort will fail us, and more so when we look to it as infailable, for that status is reserved for the Lord alone. On saying that, I would like to add too that our Father can work through any, I mean ANY, people, means, method, organisations, theories etc. It is never about all these, it is about our Father in heaven who is sovereign over all, whose plans are higher than our plans, whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts, who is infinitely able to bring glory unto himself.

    And so, while it is good to be aware of things that happened, all should take a moment to step away from their emotions and bring the matter before the Lord in personal prayer and reflection. If the Lord do not convict you, no one else can. IF He do, no point denying. As for those considering YWAM or DTS or are currently involved (as I am actually), do remember that each of us stand and fall before the Lord and it is to Him alone we are ultimately answerable to. So, do the tough job of actually take the time to seek His face. If He says get involved, don’t shrink back, He knows where He wants you there (Not that He NEEDS you there for sure). If He says steer clear, don’t go ahead just because you like it. In either case, to not follow His leading is disobedience, to not even seek His instructions (using the word instructions as opposed to ‘will’ or ‘guidance’ due to the abuse or sense of optional associated) is presumptuous. Either way it is sin.

    What if what I perceived Father is saying is not in line with what the leaders say? Respectfully bring it up. You may suffer for doing it, but “let all who suffer according to G-d’s will entrust their soul to a faithful Creator while doing good”. This is St Peter’s counsel to the early christians who are suffering the initial wave of persecution, and I think it serves us well too, to realise that we must stand for what we know is from Father, for that stands on faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him.

    So, brothers and sisters, I pray that no matter which path you choose to take, let it be an informed choice, not so much information from man, but rather what you perceived to be from Him. And I am sure, He is able to mold you into greater likeness to Him for His glory, for that is His purpose. For those who might be thinking about the schemes of the enemy, don’t be too absorbed in it, focus on Father.

    May His glory be shown in your life because of obedience and fellowship with Him in the spirit. Amen

    • the real konastephen said

      yeah. I personally don’t dig the lingo but the message here isn’t bad. sometimes though, you find yourself in the time and place for just calling a spade a spade.

  41. Dawn said

    Wow , so sorry to hear You had a bad experience,
    I have been in YWAM most of my adult life.I have been to many bases all over the world and no 2 are the same. Some are ALOT better than others.I also wonder WHY you went back to HK if you did’t like it the first time.Word of mouth is the best when checking out a base….

  42. Charles R Cardamone said

    I would definitely take ” word of mouth gossip ” Jen over prayer

  43. Robere said

    Just read the comment from ‘Hmmm YWAM” (September 2008). I wonder if her self-description as ‘vivacious’ means the same thing as, ‘stimulus seeking and lacking an education in critical thinking”. She talked about being guided by the 51% rule. I personally would like better odds than that before I put my time, money and emotional well being on the line. It sounds like taking a job knowing that up to 49% of your fellow staff are going to cause you problems on a daily basis. Can you imagine what an unpleasant workplace that would represent? Sometimes I wonder if people who stumble into YWAM are a bit ‘hard up’ and have few better choices in their lives. Or on the other hand, as was the case with me, were raised in fundamentalism and scripted to join such organisations after leaving high school in order to play their role in the ‘Great Commission’ – I mean, what else is there in life? It reminds me of a documentary I saw about Liberty University; I noted that so many of the freshmen were from home-schooling backgrounds and their choice of university education was basically predetermined for them (I presume by their education in narrow-mindedness, as well as pushy, fundamentalist and under-educated parents). From my point of view we all need to consider the type of scripting that we were exposed to in our formative years and if the script is found wanting, we should make an effort to be open-minded enough to make changes to it before it is too late. Otherwise, we just end up living out the same script all our lives, in organisations with different names, but nonetheless tarred with the same fundamentalist and narrow-minded brush. Ask the question, where do you want to be when you are 60? Still plugging away in some dead-end mission, or having a sense of fulfilment that you have grown during your life and made a worthwhile contribution to the world that was determined by yourself, rather than the indoctrination process of your childhood. The choice is ours!

    • the real Konastephen said

      Sad that many come to this sort of conclusion, doubting truth altogether because of confusion about the heresy that passes for it in a place like YWAM.

    • love is patient said

      Hey Robere,

      What do you mean by dead-end mission? If you had witnessed people being changed by the love of God as I have (also in and through YWAM), when they start to love themselves and others, when they start to realize their own potential and really beginn to LIVE… I hope you would stop seeing it like that.
      There is far more to contribute to this world if you seek God and go with what Jesus said and did than by JUST doing your own thing.
      Could you give me YOUR definition of fundamentalism and narrow-mindedness? I think that some of the best educated people (who probably refer to themselves as “open minded”) are the worst and – to put it more precicely – selfish people on earth. Not that education is bad in itself, but if it makes you deny any sort of absolute truth, it just prepares you for anarchy. If that’s the case with you, congratulations: You’re free to do whatever you want!!! You’re not accountable to anyone anymore 🙂 I hope you’re deeper than that

      I choose to get to know God better because it has changed me in a good way so far. He gave me some very good (but hard!!!) lessons in being humble and honest with myself. Being with Him has taught me to enjoy the things around me in a much deeper sense, to show more love in relationships, to see what gifts He put in me to use and contribute to those around me….There is so much I could add.

      If you call all of that narrow-minded, it doesn’t really bother me. I have life to the fullest! I can enjoy and share the power of grace. Not saying that everything is sunshine and flowers. I do have my struggles and issues, but overall I wouldn’t trade being God’s kid for nothing

    • Janey Jay said


      Yet again, your words are good advice.

      Thanks for your post.

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

  45. A Lady said

    Thank you for this.

    I think that spiritual abuse is so hard to see because it is clouded by our desire to serve and please God. And we assume that an organization with as many “miracles” as this one would proclaim Christ.

    But I agree. Christ is not controlling. That is the FURTHEST thing from what he is. Thank you for your courage, Jen.

  46. the real konastephen said

    I encourage those of you who’ve posted here to continue to do battle for YWAM in prayer and in posting truth. I believe the mission will fragment further as Loren wanes. There are factions and factions and factions, so clearly evident at this week’s 50th celebration in Kona. I’ve already washed my hands pretty much but I pray for those in YWAM who are sincere and true of spirit. They must suffer. The original vision of the mission “To know God and make him known” is not a proprietary concept. It still burns in the hearts of many who knew the passion to reach the world that was so beautiful and fervent in the early days and has been so besmirched and corrupted of late. I believe that where YWAM lost its way in the last few decades is on the matter of the Biblical worldview. Today it is commonly taught in YWAM that there are as many biblical worldviews as there are believers. This notion flows directly from the theological heresy that God only exists because man exists. In other words, your truth in your head is what makes God. This is not the gospel of Christ, the Truth. This is the un-Gospel of the Enemy. Don’t be deceived!

    Let’s those who have the courage and the conviction, stand together in prayer if nothing else and wait for the Lord’s salvation. Maybe one chunk of this mission will come spinning our way. In any case, there is a call of God on each of our lives. We must not doubt the genuineness of this reality because of the apostasy of so much of today’s YWAM leadership. God used YWAM greatly in the past. We most of us witnessed it. (We bear witness to the truth. Don’t forget Truth!!!) And to a small extent, in pockets here and there, he still does. If the Holy Spirit wants to unite the remnant somewhere someday, I say “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!” 🙂

  47. love is patient said

    Dear Jen,

    It was really sad to read your story with YWAM.
    Even after having finished a great DTS (in Lausanne), I don’t
    doubt that your story is real and true. Both inside and outside of YWAM I’ve heard stories like yours, specifically dealing with bad leadership. It’s hard to understand why we Christians, who believe more than any others in a kind, merciful and loving God, struggle to accept and love those around us who don’t agree to our doctrine.

    I agree to almost everything “the real konastephen” said in this blog. For those who consider YWAM I also recommend to read Ed’s post AND to check out (as far as it’s possible) the base of your choice beforehand.
    And if you feel like God want’s you in YWAM, do it! Test everything, be alert and don’t let anyone shut you down without a good reason. But please also try to understand other perspectives and look at issues from different angles to prevent misunderstandings. Stay in contact with wise people outside of YWAM and ask for their advice, if necessary.

    As I said before, my DTS was perhaps the best time of my life!
    Life changing, mind blowing. I grew so much closer to God and feel like it gave me some great tools to deal with this thing called “life” in the best way possible.
    Not that I completely took over all the teaching. Even during my DTS there was no broad consens on the “YWAM beliefs” 🙂
    I still don’t know what to think about specific doctrines (spiritual warfare), but on most of the important ones I agree.

    I can definitly recommend Lausanne (is expensive though), also Denver and Harpenden, England (both by the experiences of good friends)
    I pray that the Lord will give you wisdom in your decision and that you will both, able to hear Him and to obey….not always easy!

    • kt smith said

      thanks sooo much for suggesting specific bases! denver and lausanne are in my top choices and thank goodness they dont have a bad rep!

  48. WEZ said

    “The base directors constantly told us not to ‘be distracted’ from our calling by entering into marriage; according to them, marriage was evil and unholy.”

    Hmm, that explains why some beautiful men and women within Ywam are still single. That is one thing what I kinda discovered. That a lot of staff people within Ywam are still unmarried. And some of them were very handsome and I just couldn’t understand why they never dated someone. Hmm, now I know maybe.

    • b. tee said

      Uh huh. I was 19-20, rather good-looking if may say so, but quite shy, thus yet a virgin, but constantly super horny. There I was at the Salem base, and there were these fine fine FINE sweeties. I look back on that now, and regret not getting some of that. I think I coulda. I admit they succeeded in instilling large measures of basic fear, more than I realized at the time. That’s the thing: it persisted, but in the background, and was a shaper of the subsequent years, to this day; and though in fairness I can’t say YWAM was the SOLE CAUSE, but I’ll also pinpoint it as not a minor influence.

    • Korgoth 82 said

      What base was that?

      And there are scriptures that warn about these people here is an example: Timothy Chapter 4 versus 1 through 5

      They are bassically in serious trouble.

      Although honestly I know most bases like to pick and choose marriages, in a way.
      They have to feel ok about them. They also kind of want to Father the relationship. Of course, if you always tell them wha they want to hear and reinforce all of the rules. You know talk about how feel obligated to be accountable and play the game and whatever, then you can get married at most bases.

      I personally have deep issues with them.

      Mostly because they could have been a really great ministry, but the naivety of the younger staff memebrs and the need to feel like they are in control of their situation is overlooked. You can have people with leadership skills end up listening to the devil.

      These people will believe (becaseu they really want to) that after SIT training they are given a discerning spirit. They also look for these leadership and discernment gifts to be from God so badly that they make stuff up and end up listning to the devil. And they are pressured to excersice this stuff.

      If you catch abuse you need to report it to the base directors. And make sure that the base directors talk to the staff member. In my expereince these two guys would just locate me sitting on base somewhere and they would just venerate hatred towards me like I was just stupid weak pathetic scum. But, when they would talk to the school leader they would act nice. They knew what they were doing was wrong. I could have told the school leader, and I am not sure why i didn’t. I should have. The whole thing is complicated. Aside from those two guys (one of which apolgized to me and the other has probably long since matured past that point) the rest of them were descent people. You have to try to point out the problems.

      Also I reccomend bringing a video camera and a tape recorder. So if you see it you can document it on You Tube.

      If that happens they might wake up out and realize why expecting 20 – 22 year olds with out colege degrees to care of discipling young people is not a safe move.

      If they train them right it can be. But, that would take a huge amount of work.

  49. Lora said

    I did a DTS in YWAMperth back in 2005. Coming from an abusive church I can understand why I thought YWAM would fix me. Yes the leaders at YWAM were very friendly and kind to me at first…In fact they were very good at making me rely on them more than God. But I just felt something wasn’t right. Everyone seemed to be high and almighty and I felt that I was supposed to feel the same. In fact during the worship services I felt a heavyness around me and sometimes dizzy. At first I thought maybe I’m just feeling the spirit of God move with so many spiritual people in the place. And yet I was so excited to be among Chrisitans I was blinded by the fact that I was in a bad place. My first warning should have registered when one of the leaders made me feel that I wasn’t spiritual enough like them and told me in order to come back I needed to do more “schools” and than see how I do. I could understand this I wanted to grow and become closer to God but why did they make it seem that I had to come to this place in order to get close to God? Yes I had traveled half way around the world just to get closer to God? They really had me convinced that I was broken and only they could fix me. Sad to say I went home confused about why they wouldn’t let me work as staff instead and be the missionary I wanted to be. I prayed but God was silent I even left my suitcases there hoping to come back! I waited two years and worked hard saving money to go back because my church would not support me. I wanted so bad to become a missionary and all they did was never let me feel like I was good enough. But convinced that I would please them I went back in 2008 and this time they were a little more strict. I did a media school and loved it but my leader he did not have much patience with me and seemed to place favorites with the other students. But this is how they manipulate you they make you feel weak so you’ll come back. I barely passed and that made me mad I was a straight A student in college! So they sent me home after 6 months again saying I need to “grow more” before I could join them as staff. I went home more convinced that something wasn’t right. These leaders made me cry and I began to feel very afraid around them. On applying for staff the leader in charge wrote me a horrifying letter saying I was too quiet ect…and anything she could think of to reel me in.. If I came back I would be under probation and I was not allowed to be around anyone I had to work in the kitchen. I would be watched and see how I do in 3 months. But you have to understand I loved Australia and I had friends there. I lived a sheltered life at home, the company I worked for went out of business, I had no other friends, my church expected me to continue with this organization even though they knew nothing about it. So I thought God was showing me like I had been taught at YWAM to give up everything to follow God’s call…The third time I went back they were brutal..I was on staff and had to do everything my leader told me. I worked 10 hours straight everyday. My leader there did not speak english well and with the loud radio on I can understand why we did not get along. My first day in that kitchen was sad no one got along. A student came in to fix his “special dinner” and he was yelled at for taking up our space and told to find another time. It wasn’t the fact of what this person said but how they said it. My leader was a woman and she was nice to me at first then she seemed to throw eveything on me. I had to use these sharp butcher knifes and cut carrots for 6 hours! I felt like I was her servant. I had to get her water or stuff out of the refrigerator to heavy for me to lift. She told me I was to slow and had to work faster. I seriously felt like I was being taken advantage of. No one was helping me set tables for 500 students! If I didn’t get it done in time I was yelled at. So I exhausted myself and had no energy left but to complain. This is what they used against me when they told me to leave. I had planned on staying two years! I was willing to try and work under them but I they seemed blind to how they were treating me. I saw it everyday the leader treated new students in the kitchen with disrespect. Yelling to a poor Chinese girl who misunderstood, warning a young man only to take a ten min break, forcing someone to apologize for being late ect… It was the same thing everyday it was all focused on YWAM! Prayer times all focused on YWAM! for more money to come, for more students to be brainwashed. But once my leader found out that I had gone to other students crying in frustration and asking why I was being treated this way she became very angry with me. Never in my life had someone been so angry at me this way. She told me I was rebellious and she told me I was making her look bad. So for the sake of her reputation she wanted me to go. I didn’t understand then and thought it was my fault maybe I should have kept quiet. But no one should treat people like that not even YWAM! Today after lots of reflection I realize that I should have never went back. Sadly my dream of being a missionary has been broken and I no longer can trust any organization. YWAM has given me a broken heart. I had a will and desire and they took advantage of that. They have put a fear in me that will handicapped me for life. (Yes my leader even made me beg on my knees and apologize to her for not being “good” before I left!!!!)

  50. kim said

    Jen, thanks for sharing your experience!

    The Foundational Values of Youth With A Mission
    YWAM affirms the ministry of hospitality as an expression of God’s character and the value of people.
    We believe it is important to open our hearts, homes and campuses to serve and honor one another, our guests and the poor and needy, not as acts of social protocol, but as expressions of generosity.

    I truly believe that YWAM is a good organization for all their work they do around the world. I volunteered at their base because I have couple of friends that are YWAMers. Also I was thinking about doing their DTS. My experience was ok, but I am glad I went to volunteer because I got an idea of who they were and decided not to attend DTS.
    1. I paid for room and board as volunteer and they will not refund me for the unused portion, they pro-rated me for 3 days, but I cannot pro-rate them for the 2 weeks that I was not there
    2. I went to the store and bought stuff for the base with my money thinking they will refund me, nope! no money back even if they said they would
    3. I had zero balance with them and they still kept sending me a bill?
    4. One of leaders came up to me and said: “we are watching you!” I felt uncomfortable!
    5. A YWAM staff put me on the corner and asked me why I got divorced and how I got my Green Card
    6. Another staff asked me on facebook chat room why I didn’t go back to YWAM and they just hanged up, no byes, thanks, nothing!
    7. Only 2 YWAM bases in the U.S. are accountable with (evanglical council for financial accountability)
    8. I contacted some bases around the world to visit and most of them never returned my emails and few that returned, was 1-2 months later.
    Rude staff, no refunds (as of today), too much control, etc was the reason for me not to go back to YWAM!

  51. open minded YWAMmer said

    I’ve been in YWAM for 23 years. I’ve traveled to 55 countries. As I read the blogs, I felt like I was reading about an organization I’ve never met. I’m sure abuse takes place within YWAM. I’m deeply saddened to hear of some of those situations. My experience in YWAM has been where people are invited to disagree, to question what they are taught, to wrestle with scripture. We encourage our students to be Bereans, to seek the scriptures to see what things are true.

    I have to wonder how many of those opining, have any idea of what YWAM is. I remain in YWAM, in spite of its imperfections, because it allows open doors to care for the poor, to preach Jesus, and to grow in Christ. I have found its leaders to be humble servants, willing to repent when necessary, not receiving salaries, nor fame, nor power.

    I’m so sorry that this has not been your experience.

    Jen, as a YWAM leader, please forgive us where we have failed you.

    • Henry said

      You have to understand that any staff who are abusive were also succesful in being accepted by base leadership. If they are going to be abusive then obviously they have to present themselves well to the leadership.

      A lot of times it can be petty, such as a personal issue with a student and that depends from person to person. But as allways if they do have a problem with a student that they think they can bring up with you (assuming that they know you well) then they know how to make the student fit the right criteria so that they can get them kicked out.

      What happened to me was exactly what I am trying to describe. The first time it happened I had been late for class in the morning. And they came up to me later on (three of them) and started screaming at me like was the most sick weak disgusting peice of filth they had ever seen in their enitre life, later they would go talk to the school leader about it. When they did they went in there like they were afraid that they just needed to come clean to him about how this student unfortunatly had such a bad attitude.

      Now ultra embarrasing stuff at the bon fire and was really there because I wanted God in my life. And just because I had trouble waking up in the morning they verbally flogged the crap out of me. It wasn’t even that tough love sort of thing it was demonic.

      And think about it how many people have you met in YWAM who would take it to offense that soem kid would have that much trouble getting up so that he would be late to class. You know how immature and weak is that.

      It isn’t the majority it is only two percent if not less. But these people are assets that are very carefully used. They were massivly effective in messing me up. And any body else I tried to go to about it didn’t beleive me.

      Whether you beleive me or not is irrelevant if you will believe one thing: that accomplishing such a thing in a small percentage of the staff is an ideal tactic for the devil to use. You have to know what theology and what lesson plans your staff teach and you have to use your spirit to try and determine who is emulating what you want and who is being honest.

      They do a good job of this.

      But here is the trippy thing people grow and these two did eventually grow out of there pettiness. It is a very complicated issue and it starts with human psychology but this is where the devil gains a foot hold. So he picks people there who have the right psychological loop holes and uses them to develop a prejudice and once he can get hatred into them he gains legal access. I think. But this of course would sound like a bunch of schizophrenia to most people. But at any rate the human mind is full of surprises.

  52. MommaJ said

    To All:

    Please know that we understand some of the issues that YWAM has. I especially understand the control and the “beautiful people” statements. Know that we are here and we are working against those things from within the organization. My family is hit with much resistance but we continue to try to speak to the ones the the back of the room, take under our wing the ones who are called to the carpet for things that they didn’t do, and above all trying to make our loving Creator known to all. We are being met with GREAT resistance and we are barely hanging on, financially, spiritually and emotionally. But I do believe in making a difference and we will fight for those who need us for as long as we are able. Pray for us that we will be strengthened for this fight against the darkness.


  53. Korgoth 82 said

    Dear Jen:

    As concerning the marriage issue:

    Biblically they are heretics:

    Timothy Chapter 4 versus 1 through 5

    Say that they are false teachers.

  54. Marcus said


    I must admit I am most saddened that I did not read this closer to when I was trying to deal with the abuse my family received. I thought I was the only one trying to say something. I thought I was the only one trying to come out front the “covering” of YWAM.

    There are so many feelings stirred up right now from reading all this dialog.

    I am 32 now, received most of the abuse between ages 23-26.

    I know you mentioned that your experience with YWAM is not the reason you are no longer a “Christian.” But just so you know, I wouldn’t fault you if that was the case. I know at least 5 previous staff members that I worked with that are no longer Christians and countless dTSers… For most of them it was their experience in YWAM. Most people who hear my story with YWAM ask “why are you still a Christian?”

    The crazy thing is if I read this when I was 25 and a staff leader in YWAM. I would have judged the %$@& out of you! I would of pointed out your selfishness, rebelliousness and how you have given way to Satan and allowed him to use you to destroy God’s amazing work through those who love Him.

    When I finally brought up the hurts and abuse that I had received to the leadership, it was received as hatred! I was told over and over that I was angry, and needed to forgive. The things is, I was never angry… I could barely get myself to realize that something wrong had happened. I just wanted to try to say something…

    It is so sad to me that many YWAMers still cannot allow someone to share that something wrong has happened. This is why YWAM is dangerous. Yes there are great bases, but if anyone said anything negative about a “great base,” just look at what kind of treatment they would receive! There is no room in YWAM to bring up or share abuse or mistreatment.

    Because I said something to my base, I was refused to be given job references. The only person who did gave me one with a “warning.” The warning was there because I would question orders that came from the board members that had negative effects on our family. The crazy thing is, I still followed them!

    I know at the base I was at, the teaching of John Bevere called “Undercover” describes what I see as a key component to the control, manipulation and abuse. I was ordered to teach this curriculum, observe the staff, and then share my observations. I was stunned that all staff had a hard time with the teaching. I shared with my supervisor. They said “well we have a strong rebellious spirit amongst our staff.” The teaching of Undercover is basically that God placed all people into leadership so you must obey leadership like you obey God. If you question leadership then you question God. When my family left, a new rule was placed into the 24 page staff manual rule book: “When sharing with leadership you should not say “God said or God is showing me.” They explained that by doing that, everyone under leadership takes away the voice from the leadership or their ability to see what God says. The base I was at believed that if God spoke to someone under leadership, He would speak to the same to those in leadership. So if I believed God spoke something to me but a leader felt otherwise, I had to be the one wrong.

    DTS changed my life and I recruited tons of people into YWAM! I was great as getting students to stay on staff! I loved YWAM. When I entered YWAM I was close to God. I could hear his voice clearly and witnessed many miracles. But over time on staff the need and ability to hear God disappeared. You see, I was under the covering of YWAM. I no longer had the need to hear God and if I thought I did and shared but it was outside of anything a leader liked… Then I was punished! So though we sat every morning for intercession, we no longer heard direction, unless it was inspired by leadership.

    By the time I was done with YWAM, the only clear thing I could hear from God was “Leave Now!” Since then, I have struggled to get back under God’s covering… I am still recovering from what happened in YWAM.

    We left one base that was abusive and controlling to a base that had no structure and seemed like an open loving community. It was a hard switch. In some ways good, but also, I didn’t know how to function without being told what to do or at least have approval. It went so far that it was really unhealthy. I couldn’t make a schedule with my team or make any expectations… Our base director would not allow me to pray with him because he believed I only wanted to pray with him out of obligation or tradition. He believed our conversation was prayer.
    I tried having times where we would listen to god for direction but I was shut down. Largely because many of the veteran YWAM staff had been manipulated with this. Where their leaders would make them do things against their will with saying “God said.”
    In the end, the base director gave no leadership or support. However, when you did screw up, he went after you full force. He would tell all the staff and affiliates how horrible you are and kick you out. Currently, the second base we are at, does not exist anymore and the previous base director is no longer a Christian.

  55. Sheena said

    Does YWAM make you not talk to your family anymore? My sister has been involved with them for years now, and has never really been allowed to call or visit us, her emails were always vauge and now she hasn’t written anyone in the family in over a year (not even grandma). Do you think she’s been held agaisnt her will, or that she’s so brainwashed that she doesn’t see us as her family anymore? I’m just now finding out that YWAM is a cult, even tho I’ve always thought that since I was little, but it was more of a joke, now it’s real. I have no idea what to do, or how to find her. We have a missing persons report out on her currently. I just don’t know how worried I should be. All the bad testimonies I’ve read over the last few days, makes it seem that most of the ywamers come to their senses and get out ok. But is there a chance that something bad has happened to her? There is no good reason for her to cut ties with her WHOLE family. Thats not what God wants, even if we don’t live a perfect life or go spread the word of God, God doesn’t want you to turn your back on your family. I’m so confused. Why would they want you to disconnect from your home, family, and friends. That certainly doesn’t sound like a good place to be, whether a cult or not.

  56. Guenther said

    Hello there, I too am a YWAM’er, and I experienced nothing but God, and Great Fellowship!, We did our outreach in Hong Kong. What I see being done here is that you may have had a bad experience, but I think that there are people, who could write about their experiences in different church’s or different Christian organizations, so does that make them a cult? I think not. But what i see is that God places different people in our paths, that maybe we have to learn how to forgive, and just because they don’t agree with You, or agree with the way you interpret the Bible, does that make them a cult. There are many different interpretations of the Bible, that’s why we have Baptists, Pentecostals, etc, so as long as we forgive and move forward, knowing that we might have some issues in our own lives that still need some work because we are a work in progress, so are others. I know there are things, as a young Christian, i thought were the only way, but as i matured and grew i realized that i was wrong.
    So my Blessings to you All!

  57. Laura said

    I have been reading this blog for the past hour or so. Seriously, I have no idea how I even came upon it as I was looking for “long-term parking” for a trip my family has not even yet decided to take.

    My heart aches for what I have read. It not only aches for what has been experienced, but also for all those who have posted and the ones who may want to post and can’t bring themselves to.

    Here is a reality of life… we are all broken people. (whether or not we know it or admit it) 🙂

    There is no such thing as a perfect person or perfect organization. NOWHERE!

    and newsflash… if we DID perchance find that “perfect place”, we would mess it up. 🙂 haha!

    So here we are a bunch of broken people, casting stones at other broken people, What is so noble about that? What is so honorable about us when we do that to feel somehow exhonerated or vindicated for how we have been wronged?

    NOTE TO SELF: God WILL right ALL wrongs. You can put your money on that!

    In the meantime…

    “Let him who has no sin, throw the first stone…”

    “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28

    “…and you will return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves
    God, and those who do not.” Malachi 3:18

    Ask God what He wants from you. If you belong to Him, you will hear HIS voice. Follow Him. 🙂

    I Love you!

    • lt said

      BUT… this place called “ywam” should not be running a business to train young people if they themselves are not spiritually strong! They need to improve some things like better communication and less control. The “devil” is in this and it will become worse. I would not let anyone treat me like this in a “job” manipulating me in this way or in an unfamiliar environment with a bunch of strangers so why say it’s okay when so many have been taken advantage of ?

    • Edward said

      GIVE ME A BREAK!! All you poor abused people. Scarred for life, I’m sure. Do you really have the scars and mocking of Jesus himself? of Peter? of Paul, who stood there alone in Rome when Caesar gave him the sentence? No one stood with him then just as all of Jesus friends fled the day that he was taken to be crucified. Do you know that there’s Christians in Muslim countries being cut to pieces? Oh, you poor, broken, psychologically abused people! How sad. What horrors you’ve suffered! And only more abuse from another abuser writing this reply! Could it be that Christian groups HAVE to be strong in a world that is strong and very strong against them? No, but Christians have to be democratic, too? Can you imagine an army being a democracy? How strong and effective would that be? Do you realize that when Jesus comes he is going to rule the world with an iron rod? Do you think, do you really think that you are going to have a say in his doctrine, in how things are going to be? Disagree with Jesus, what good would it do? I guess Jesus is going to be just another abuser, too. It sounds to me that many who wrote here have a major problem with humility and submission to authority. And I can understand that, being an American myself but I’m not going to blame someone or make them out to be evil because of my own deficiencies. Sometimes love has to be tough, and that’s very true when you’re talking about a spoiled generation such as our own. Sometimes you have to accept things that feel humiliating in order to truly grow. You could call it abuse. But it could be, it could be God’s love. ‘Abuse’ is pretty strong when you’re talking about people who have sacrificed much for a cause. The original poster here really does seem to have a problem with pride. She could have just walked away without this blog and that would have been humility. The fact that she had to draw all this attention to her supposed mistreatment does have the odor of pride.

  58. mrspodge said

    Jen, I’m so sorry you went through that. What a nightmare. I’m a former YWAMer (the Tyler base, off and on from ’96 through 2002) and my experience was kind of a mixed bag. God used that time, good people involved, etc., but there were some screwy things as well. I am curious if you shared your experience with those further up the chain of command than your DTS leader, and if so, what was their response. Was that crazy base leader still allowed to lead? Bases like that should just be closed down, period. I’m really impressed that you’re still even a Christian after all that crazyness. God bless you.

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  63. Marlene Hornstein said

    Hi Jen,
    I was in YWAM from 1984 to 1992 and then part-time for an additional 4 years. I did my CDTS in Kailua-Kona with an outreach to Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, China and The Philippines. Afterwards I worked on staff for YWAM in British Columbia, Kailua-Kona, Hong Kong and Colorado. I am telling you these things so that you will understand that I have an honest understanding of Youth With A Mission.
    I always tell people that YWAM was one of the best and worst experiences of my life. Great because it gave me a venue to serve the Lord with all of my heart and meet people from around the world who had the same love for Jesus. Great because serving the Lord is a privilege and an adventure. The teachers who taught in my CDTS were fabulous. They helped me to become strong in the Lord and to understand spiritual warfare. They helped me to learn to walk in humility and forgiveness towards people that had hurt me in my life. I also saw servant leadership modeled. Leaders who made an effort to release me and assist me in doing the things I felt I was called to do. As staff in YWAM, I was very fortunate most of the time to work with people who I continue to look up to.
    YWAM was the worst for me as I was a single parent and our housing situation was rarely a good one. The best housing was given to married couples – but understandably because they needed their privacy. However, I was moved around a lot in YWAM and had to adjust to every situation I was given without complaint. Though it was difficult, it made me a better person. I learned to live in noisy, cramped quarters; adjust to the lack of privacy. I learned to share a few bathrooms with hundreds of people and to shower in 3 minutes. I learned it was not all about me.
    YWAM’s doctrine has always been middle of the road. We were taught that the most important thing to focus on was Jesus Christ, crucified, resurrected, offering salvation to all who would come to Him. We were asked not to get involved in doctrinal discussions that would divide the body of Christ. The best way was for YWAM to focus on “Knowing God and making Him Known”. It had to be that way because there were Christian’s coming from many different denominations. Even when we had a teacher who focused on Spiritual Gifts, students were told the day before and many did not attend those classes. It was their choice.
    YWAM is also autonomous; meaning that every base stands on its’ own and is run according to the design and beliefs of the leadership running that particular base. So, if you go to some bases you will find them very organized and impressive, while others are small and flailing, due to lack of staff and finances . There are a lot of visionaries in YWAM, but not always people with Administrative gifts.
    So I suggest that everyone go where they fit within the system; eat the meat and spit out the bones.

  64. David said

    Not all YWAM bases are created equal.

    I need to say I only read your post and have not read any replies (very time consuming). But I wanted to say a few things.

    First, as a fellow YWAMer, it pains me greatly to read of the way they treated you in Hong Kong.

    I completed my DTS in Tyler, Texas (Lindale, Garden Valley area). I would not trade my experience there for anything in the world. The people I befriended there, when I see them today are still as friendly and we connect well. Given I was single, but I would like to comfort you with the fact that not all YWAM bases are anti-marriage. The only reservation is that those who are not already dating are encouraged to hold off on finding a significant other until after DTS. A popular saying goes like this. “DTS no no no SOE (School of Evangelism) maybe so, Staff (logistical duties) go go go.” I dated a girl there just after I finished my DTS. It was known during my DTS that I was attracted to her, but we held of on actually acting like it. Then during SOE it was official. The only problem was when I came back for staff, we were not on good terms with each other and it ended in a sour way. But that is not anything really to do with the teachings of the leaders at the base rather it was her decision to desert me. It was during this time that I made some other friends that I maybe would not have otherwise. I share those lines to say that the base at YWAM Tyler has a major support for marriage and other doctrines are equally sound. I have been to other YWAM bases who have as quality doctrine. I will say that with YWAM as diverse and widespread as they are, if you come across one who does not treat you well or teach you well, find another one who does.

  65. M YWAM-er said

    HI Jen.
    I too, am a YWAM-er. I just finished my DTS in Ireland and am about to embark as a staff member in Africa.
    I am so sorry for your experience with YWAM. The way you were treated, from what you have said, is without a doubt wrong. But I want to say that the issues within a base stem from the leadership. YWAM is fundamentally about knowing God and making Him known. The leaders at each base may have a different interpretation about how that needs to happen.
    You are not wrong to express how you feel and I believe you are being absolutely truthful. However, I would encourage you to not slander YWAM as a whole…there are over one thousand bases in our beautiful world and they are each run differently. My experience with YWAM was the best thing of my life. No one shoved God into my life, or made me do anything. It was a safe place to learn about God and for Him to work in my heart.
    I have heard of other experiences like yours and it breaks my heart. This is not how it should be!
    I really just wanted to say firstly, I am sorry. And secondly, I hope there is a chance in your life for reconciliation with this organisation which has hurt you so deeply.
    With all my love as a sister in Christ- M

  66. beth said

    It is so sad to hear all this bad experiences. I can relate in some way, but I have been able to experience other organizations training as well and that allowed me to compare and see what could be the reason what causes this kind of situations in YWAM bases, I believe in YWAM people is put in a leadership position way too fast, without not much or deep preparations or training, or even experience, so once this people gets to lead others they could make a huge mess with their wrong theology, believes, etc. So thinking in this we should evaluate this experiences thinking than most of this mistakes may it be done buy specific people and not by the values or principals that YWAM International has as goals.
    I have lived, and get training in various YWAM bases around the world as well, and done few of their various schools and my experience has change accordingly of the leadership I had, even after been staff I totally could see how the main leadership influence in the base atmosphere and in the running of the schools and obviously in people’s experiences. One more time, just to refocus, we should focus in what God wanted to do in our lives, keep our eyes in Him, if for some reason this was allow in our lives for sure was a growing experience and says a lot that even a bad situation like that did not move you from the Rock that is Christ, then good for you! 🙂 we all are so no perfect and not have everything together, none of us sleeps in heaven with the angles and Jesus every night, so what didn’t kill you may just make you strong 🙂

    Thank you for share 🙂

    PD: And would it be nice to pray for this ministry specially in close countries, that God may work even through sinner like us and all our junk. that is the main goal, expand the Kingdom.

    • Sandra said

      Hi Jen,
      Thank you for sharing. I thought about doing a DTS with YWAM, but after hearing the testimony of a sister in church on breaking down strongholds, listing your sins in the past and confess them in public etc. , I changed my mind.

      I’ve read more testimonies of YWAM’ers about these sessions …

      These sessions are absolutely UNBIBLICAL and a blow in the Father’s face. ‘Cause if you are a borne again Christian and have accepted Yeshua/Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, God Almighty has forgiven ALL your sins.
      There is no Biblical basis or whatsoever to list all your sins committed in the past and have a repentance session in front of everybody, for YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN DOESN’T EVEN THINK ABOUT THEM ANYMORE!!! So why would mere men force you to do so? That is what I would call pride! It even puts people into bondage! And Yeshua/Jesus paid a very, very high price to free you from teachings from men! Boy oh boy!

      Furthermore, this sister said that during this “repentance session”, the leaders prayed for her and they – literally quoting her – threw out all the hare Krishna demons etc. from her. How can that be, because she accepted Yeshua/Jesus as her Saviour long before doing DTS at YWAM? How can a borne again Christian, having the Holy Spirit living inside her, even believe that the Holy Spirit would want to share his temple, her body with unclean hare Krishna spirits? When the Holy Spirit comes to live inside a believer, all those demons are “kicked out”. Either Yeshua paid the price or He didn’t. Either He set you free or He didn’t. There are so many ignorant Christians walking around, unbelievable!

      Sound doctrine is so important. Refute teachings of men at any cost! If it ain’t in the Bible, it’s not from God and if it’s not from God…

      Chazak! Be strong! Do not be terrified or dismayed, for Adonai your God is with you wherever you go.” Jos. 1:9

  67. Well. heeello there, children. 🙂
    I couldn’t help but notice the unfortunate circumstances that most of the content on this current web page was written in. Meaning to say: hi. 🙂
    Hum dee dum…I thought I should mention a bit of my own personal life experiences, particularly because I refuse to debate, accuse, or absolve, simply share.

    I am 17 years old.
    At the age of 14 I was sent to a Teen Challenge program in which God changed my life. I don’t go on about all of the mistakes made and lived by certain staff members, because that doesn’t matter. God sent me there, and he saved me from my living death; it was worth it.

    This past summer I served as a summer of service intern with YWAM Orlando Mission Adventures. During this time, I received a large degree of love, compassion, and affirmation. A boy attending a DTS there, I can best friends with because we have everything in common, but were different in all the right ways. (He’s an introverted thinker, and i’m an extroverted feeler) So…we got very close, and honestly toward the end of my stay we were behaving as more than friends in *cough* cuddling. A staff member happened to pop in on us my second to last day there, (also, sidenote: i’ve never been in a relationship, have not been looking for one, and have obviously never kissed anyone or anything of the sort…hadn’t met the right person, until, well…now. XD) and reprimanded us, not too harshely, but reasonable enough for the situation. Later that night I had an awesome discussion with the same staff member, because i was beating myself up, and she reaffirmed me that i was a strong woman of God and etc. , said i needed to set boundaries with my friend for my last day, and let him focus on God, which i agreed with. There are many many many pro-relationship ywamers. An organization this widespread and diverse is bound to have issues in keeping a general consensus of everything that ywam is definitely about at every base. and religious problem makers are bound to slip in, to any christian organization or church. it’s called wolves in sheepclothing, my friends, as well as simply deceived and confused believers. If I have been wronged, i am wrong. Because here’s my life: it’s now about me. I made my whole life about me, manipulating and lieing. Now I am only living for one thing: Jesus. Everyone else, is everyone else, but my presence in their life is DESIGNATED by God to be a BLESSING. I could wimp out and throw a self-pity party and rant about the other person, but that fact is i’ve been just as idiotic and selfish. The key mistakes we’re making here, guys, is that we’re not the judge, God is. He knows people through and through. I was an overreligious condemning idiot, because I was dying on the inside. Please, please, please…let’s get the focus on where it belongs: Jesus. He counsels and consoles your woes, and guides you in how to handle a situation that benefits everyone in the situation long term….rather than immaturely venting slander onto the worldwide web to discourage people from a blessing God may have intended because of your distorted, embittered, and perverted worldview. Jesus brings clarity, he’s the truth, after all. We can rationalize, justify, and debate, but i just don’t care because that’s not productive, it’s destructive. If you want healing, joy, peace, and fulfillment of purpose in your life through what you’ve been through…the “good” and the “bad”….get involved with jesus, let everyone else go. trust me, he’ll guide you back into investing in relationships and such, but you’ve got to start with you and HIm, holding nothing back. it took a crazy amount of brokeness and hardship to get me to that point, but let me tell you: it was more than worth it. I wish the best for all of you, and hope my “sharing” may have brought at least a speck of insight to dispell the cloud of confusion I’m seeing here.

  68. First, I want to introduce myself. My name is Scott, and I’ve been working full-time with YWAM

    since 2002. I was at the Diriamba, Nicaragua, base, I did my DTS at the Guatemala base, and

    since 2008 with my family we’ve been staff at the Ahuas, Honduras base. Since 2012 we’ve been

    the base directors.

    I want to apologize for the bad leadership and unbiblical doctrines taught in some bases. I know

    I’m not responsible, but as part of the YWAM family, I feel bad for the people who have shared

    their negative experiences, and hope that these problems are being corrected. YWAM is an

    organization of people, and therefore, is not perfect. I say this, not as an excuse, but as a

    humble confession of our need for dialog from all viewpoints, from short-term volunteers and DTS

    students, to leaders with decades of experience.

    When criticizing or praising an organization (or church denomination), it’s easy to make

    sweeping generalizations without knowing virtually anything about certain locations or people. I

    can’t say that all of YWAM is “great”, or that I’d recommend doing a DTS in any base. Sometimes

    we feel we should “protect” people when making criticisms, but often those criticisms are

    transferred to anyone involved in the organization, which isn’t fair.

    Also, all criticism and praise is subjective to one’s own experiences. Two people can share the

    same place, time, and interactions, and come away with very different experiences. Often, we

    think or feel one thing, but unintentionally use words that are understood differently by the

    other person. Communications is never perfect.

    If you’ve read this far, thank you, and I’d like to share a few positive experiences and

    observations in YWAM. In my DTS, we had something called a “Think Tank” every once in a while to

    talk about relevant topics suggested by our leaders and by us, the students. We weren’t always

    civilized or respectful, but we were free to express ourselves, ask questions, and learn from

    each other. One of my classmates often sought out the visiting teacher to ask more questions and

    speak his mind, and although he didn’t always agree with them, he wasn’t “brainwashed” to

    believe only what the teachers or leaders taught. Personally, I always felt supported and cared

    for by the staff to grow and be molded by God.

    Don and Barbara Johnson, the founders of YWAM Nicaragua, have been promoting and multiplyng two

    Bible schools in YWAM for years. They have always said that the schools are not to teach

    systematical doctrines, but to challenge the students to discover what God speaks in His Word. I

    have heard overwhelmingly positive testimonies from students in those schools, and can say with

    conviction that the Bible is being read, studied, and distributed (given away freely) with great

    success in Nicaragua.

    Finally, I want to share about my experiences as base director with my wife in Ahuas, Honduras. If anything, serving in YWAM has gotten harder, not easier. We live in a geographically isolated region of the country, we have more responsibility, and we have always lacked staff. We could voice all kind of complaints and blame YWAM, but we’ve learned that we are YWAM in Honduras, and that our commitment is to God, not just to an organization or to the people we serve. We’ve developed lots of friendships with other YWAM workers, and we have good relationships with other directors in Central America. Edgar and Carol Chavez have given us lots of advice in terms of YWAM as a legal entity in Honduras. Sometimes it’s very hard, but we are committed to developing the ministry until God calls us to something or somewhere else. We welcome anyone who shares our vision for Honduras.

    I think it’s important for you to share your own experiences with YWAM, good or bad, whether online or person-to-person. However, I don’t understand why some see it necessary to start blogs to criticize YWAM or document their “recovery” process. May God help you in your healing, with whatever expression of the body of Christ you choose to join. I’m not calling you immature, just that you reevaluate the motives of this blog.

    Scott Broughton

  69. Tivve said

    Hi Jen,

    Just one question… Did you ever hear of satanic ritual abuse within YWAM?
    I’m asking because I heard about it and I wonder whether there are more witnesses to that.


  70. Rach said

    Can someone who attended the Perth, Australia YWAM geared specifically at young people tell me about their experience there?

  71. watcherings said

    Yes YWAM is a cult, it was started by a cult leader Loren Cunningham, paid off by the Illuminati to help bring in a religious paragram shift, a laodicean new way of viewing God based on mysticism. Targeted towards the young and naive who are vulnerable and easily lead astray. There are true born again Christians in YWAM but unless they conform to the cult and its teachings, they will be excommunicated. Those who decide to stay will have to compromise their beliefs every day until their conscience has been seared enough where they don’t object anymore and start to believe what they are living, is true religion, when in fact its not, its a deception based on false doctrine.

    YWAM is the perfect setting for false doctrine to breed as the newly initiated into the doctrine are isolated from society for three months while the indoctrination takes place. Old biblical truths are thrown out while new ones are implemented within a setting of spiritual enlightenment, meditation and contemplation similar to any buddhist or catholic monastery. Lives are changed as people experience a sense of euphoria and connection to god, in which they have never felt before, hungry to serve this new addiction they give their whole life to be its service, asking for nothing in return other than to serve this god, they call YWAM, their whole purpose in life now is their new idol and its worshipers.

    The cult is open to anyone from any religion or background, not dedicated to one church or one religious teaching, they are a church within themselves holding their own doctrines and religious beliefs. Easily infiltrated by satanists as long you are seen to conform to the cults norms satanists make their way up the ranks of leadership, until they are at the heads of these religious cults. The system runs by itself and what these satanic cult leaders do in private you would never know. Perhaps your YWAM base was once an abortion clinic or a place for child sacrifice. Your base leader could a witch or a warlock, how would you know, they arent going to tell you thats for sure.

    You have entrusted you life your families life and your spiritual walk into the hands of deceivers, liers, men and women who will lead you astray, false doctrine and your religion is based on good feelings and good works. Come out of her my people and be separated and don’t be caught up in her lies leading other young people away from biblical truths. Blinded by YWAM deception, ask the Lord to get you out if you feel trapped, he will show you the way out.

    • Johane said

      halo, can anyone please help me. My boyfriend went to Ywam a month ago. Its been only a month and he has change completely. We had plans to get engaged at the end of the year and suddenly he says that not the path of God. I am trying my best to understand him, but he says if I don’t join Ywam and join him it’s going to be my dissension and my choice to break up. I’m losing my mind I love him so much, is there something I can do.

  72. […] Rejection, shunning, isolation, etc. If you are not obeying every command given to you or you question too much, you will be cut off from the group and thrown out. […]

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