Where to go from here? Life after YWAM

October 5, 2008

Whether you are leaving YWAM because of a painful experience and seeking a place of refuge on the ‘outside’, or leaving to join the world again, it is a painful transition.

Many of my friends who have left YWAM over the years found the journey back into regular society harder than expected, fraught with false starts and unfinished plans. The sheer culture shock can be overwhelming to the point that many, including myself, find it difficult to find a place in the world sans YWAM.

Discipleship Training school (DTS) is often called a “honeymoon with God” and that YWAMers who complete the DTS are “ruined for the ordinary”. Being ruined for the so-called ordinary can truly ruin what one can and cannot accomplish outside of YWAM. –Over the years, I have kept in contact with my YWAM friends and have been able to see how their YWAM experience affected how they viewed the world and how they made their way into non-communal life. My closest friends in YWAM were so negatively affected by their time in the organization that to this day- nearly 10 years after DTS- they do not know who they are or what they are ‘meant’ to do. College was not attended, plans were not followed through, floundering around was the mainstay. I found this to be true for myself as well.

My time in YWAM permanently burned an image in my mind of who I should be; I was told that the only reason for being was to know God and to make Him known. If I were not involved in missions, my life was worthless, because being a missionary –especially a destitute one- was a holy calling. Leaving YWAM was the most painful emotional time in my life. Although my time in YWAM was filled with tremendous spiritual abuse, I was utterly lost, no direction, no idea of what to do next.

Most YWAM bases have a debriefing at the end of DTS for those going back to their lives, and I went through this debriefing after my DTS as well. When I returned home, I found that I had changes, whereas my friends, church and pastor had remained the same. It was difficult for my friends to adjust to the ‘new’ me and I was on such a spiritual high after DTS, I had problems relating to them. I thought, “Why aren’t they winning souls? Reaching out to the lost?” Remember, my whole reason for being was to be a missionary, so I could not understand why everyone else didn’t drop everything to go.

I did what many after DTS do. I applied to yet another YWAM school, because that was what I was encouraged to do. I applied for a School of Frontier Missions (SOFM) and I was accepted, however, the financial support never came through. People promised money for my career as a destitute, un-college educated missionary, but they never came through. I was absolutely devastated. What was I to do? All my self-worth was in missions.

Eventually I found a job, but I floundered for years, not knowing what to do with my time in YWAM. I worked off and on with short term YWAM projects, but always felt that something was lacking. I attempted college, but failed at that. All I could think of was going back to YWAM – being a missionary.

My friends from YWAM had a similar path over the last 9 years. I’ve talked to many others who served with YWAM who felt lost as well. What does one do after YWAM?

Thankfully, 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 can separate myself from what I learned in YWAM and find myself, reconnect with family and friends and belong in the ‘real’ world. It took time and a lot of painful growth, relearning of who I am and what I am truly meant to do.

69 Responses to “Where to go from here? Life after YWAM”

  1. rantsampersandmore said

    Thanks Jen for another insightfull blog.

    I too struggled / struggle with ‘what to do after YWAM’, as do many others, I know who were also involved with YWAM.

    Your blog helps us realise, our journey is not unique when it comes to having the ‘ywam blues’.

  2. 2yearsfromdts said

    Hi Jen,
    thank you for this blog.. it’s been 2 years since I did my dts and only now I realize what harm it did to me. And yes, what a culture shock it was to come back to reality. Funny how it took long time to understand that, yes, studying and working are good – my purpose for living can be something else than being a missionary, in YWAM. All my roommates stayed in the base and joined as staff. I felt I was not good enough to stay … not brainwashed enough, I guess.

  3. Charles R Cardamone said

    This is the most honest and truthful website about how it really is and what really happens in this subculture. There is tremendous value in what is contained in this sight, it is very very important what is said here. Truth will set us free. Thank you all so much!

  4. Ruthkiwi said

    I did my DTS 10 years ago and found it hard to get back in with society afterwards because I was so radically changed from my 3 years in YWAM and it took about 2 years to find a balance of what I’d learnt and how I could apply it to mainstream life without being superspiritual and seeing things in reality. As DTS was so intense it had extreme positives and extreme negatives but the positives definately outwayed the negatives in my life and I saw in so many others lives. It gave me a good foundation to my christian walk and the main problem I find now is finding a church or christians that are like-minded in their passion for God. We were spoilt by great speakers and amazing worship that all the churches around now just dont do it for me the pastors are boring and I want more. It is certain that the devil tries to rob every person who has experienced God through YWAM when they return to the ‘realworld’ but we choose to reflect on the bad or on the good. Life does return to normal and for the better.

  5. Corry (pseudonym) said

    Hi Jen,

    YWAM, and YWAM schools only prepare you for YWAM. When you leave the organisation you must start over; a YWAM education is truly worthless.
    YWAM is a weird and exclusive world, where people forge a common identity around being God’s little storm-troopers. The over-inflated sense of importance that everyone within YWAM gets from the project is bolstered by constant reminders of what wonderful things God is doing through this cutting edge movement.
    When I left, 24 years ago now, I had to reconcile the enormous sense of failure I felt for leaving. Whenever anybody would leave the mood within YYWAM was plain enough, ‘they couldn’t cut it on the front lines’. I met a leader from my time with them about 10 years ago, and they smugly reminded me that I couldn’t cut it. This subtely is powerful, and I am so gratefull that I was young enough when I left (27) to make a new start by God’s grace, get an education and stabalise my Christianity. Many of my contemporaries who stayed in for a few more years have spent their lives doing jobe way below their potential, because they wasted their formative years in YWAM.
    The first thing that an ex-YWAMer needs is re-educating, in order to learn about the God of the Bible, and not the God of YWAM’s imagination, and learn how to be normal again in society without ‘big brother’.

    Thanks for your site,

    • oh my said

      I want to say to all of you that my life after YWAM many years ago was devastated.
      I struggled after leaving for years and what so many have said in the blogs is true.
      My identity was deeply affected in my formative years , though it seemed those days – “back in the day” were mostly good ones with some great learning times. 35 years later there is still residual ,.as I left the mission to marry a man who abused me emotionally and I was devastated by the loss of the mission family and this all compounded things. I can say the Lord has brought me through and there has been some deep suffering.
      I went through a divorce as this man was controlling and punishing behind the scenes and had no compassion for the deep loss I felt after those years in YWAM. No systems were in place for reentry then. I would tell all people to flee from the camp of YWAM and be in a good sound doctrinally based church fellowship.
      It is my mission now to be there as a coach/friend for anyone who needs help and support as a result of hard experiences with the culture of YWAM.

    • Nick Winslow said

      You couldn’t be far more wrong about what you think of YWAM. I’ve met many people who have staffed DTS’s for many years and are doing great, actually phenomenal. I’ve learned so much from YWAM about Christianity, the bible, and God’s word. While at YWAM, I learned public speaking, how to communicate better, baking/cooking, drawing, how to study more efficient, time management, create really good presentations, physical education, guitar, etc. I don’t know where you get, “meaningless” education. I came out of DTS more prepared than ever. College was much easier. I just don’t think you wanted to be there and that was made clear by you. Smh.

  6. Corry (pseudonym) said

    One last comment. Loren Cunningham used to go round the world encouraging people to go into YWAM missions – they recruited Keith Green’s memorial tours for this also. There was something that was Loren’s trademark cliche concerning the Great Commission in Matt 28:
    “if you don’t go, there is no lo”

    By this he implied that you were not a Christian unless you were on the front lines as a missionary (with YWAM no doubt). Kids were encouraged to jettison education because God needed them now!!

    Is it any wonder that people left YWAM believing they were leaving God. What a cruel hoax Loren perpetrated on some many vulnerable young people.

  7. Jen said


    I completely agree with what you have said. -I was told during my YWAM years that college was not necessary for ministry, in fact Keith Green said that on his tour. Keith Green was a big influence on me, even many years after his death.

    There is a lot of regret for my time wasted in YWAM, but that is a reason for writing on this blog. A therapy for my soul that may help others out there.

    On a happier note, I am returning to college to finish my degree and I see a college education as a completion of my recovery from YWAM. My hope is that others may recover as well.

  8. Corry (pseudonym) said

    Well done Jen! It will bring healing. It takes a long time to recover from feeling duped. Education, I think, is a great way to restore normality.

    After YWAM, I started University when I was 28 and I am about to finish a Ph.D. in NT studies. So even though YWAM is a waste of the most useful years, I think we can get back on track. Thankfully, I live in Australia, where education is almost free.

    I am well and truly over YWAM; I do have a burden however, for those going in. If a person goes in with a proper theological education, I am quite sure they will not be too damaged – but they won’t be allowed to stay too long.

    I had one North American principal of a post grad theological seminary (one of the best on the continent) tell me of his crossroads experience at Hawaii 10 years ago. It is interesting because it sums up the diversity of the bloggers on your site. His wife had a great time, felt she grew in the Lord, and still raves about it. He, on the other hand, said that he almost failed (this guy, unbeknownst to YWAM, was one of America’s finest theologians). He summed up the teaching he received with this short sentence: “every first century heresy revisited’. Something YWAM and YWAMers don’t get is that you can’t be theologically neutral, it is a nonsense. If you don’t work hard at good exegesis and biblical theology you will just get flawed intuition – or the devil’s theology. He wants people to think he is in charge and that God needs help to rescue the world from him – sound familiar??

    The senior YWAM leaders know what their theology is, they will just never put it down on paper. They don’t won’t ‘narrow minded’ Christians on to them again. They have had too many bad experiences with orthodox Christians and they have now learnt the art of discretion. 17 year olds will not be able to discern their errors, so they are YWAM’s prime target group. Many will get out unscathed, but, as they used to say, ‘they will be spoilt for the ordinary’ (life without demons around every corner and magical ten dollar note appearances)

    I have a lot of background on YWAM, things that most of the current batch of well meaning YWAMers will never hear or probably believe.

    Thanks again Jen, if you ever get to Australia, ket me know.

    God bless

    • Can you share your background info as I have kids of my own in it as we speak?

    • Diane s said

      I am so sorry to hear of all the hard times you all have had. There were a couple of bumpy patches for me as well but what God did in my life I do not regret one bit. Hurt people hurt people. Unfortunately I believe that is not the norm. It depends on what country you take your DTS/CDTS. Mine was in Kona Hawaii. I pray you are able to forgive and move on. May Holy Spirit heal all the wounds and heal those that have hurt you. Much love

      • R said

        We’re still here in the place where the author of this blog was writing about…still dealing with the same people. Yes, I think it does depend on exactly where you go to DTS…but…having said that…the problem is that there are a lot of weaknesses within the organization of YWAM that allow people to be victimized. The active shunning of members happens day-in and day-out here. It’s such a weird, weird base. We’ve seen them basically chew up and spit out numbers and numbers of people and the people leave here thinking there was ‘something wrong with’ them when the opposite is true. The problem is that there is no international oversight within this organization or place to really have grievances heard–part of the ‘loose organization’ that YWAM was founded on which is supposed to make it more ‘flexible’–in the end it leaves people to become victims. The disgraceful thing is that it really dishonors the Lord because the favoritism that goes on that bars the most humble and truly ‘spiritually qualified’ from doing any real ministry is a stench in His nostrils. I will never again recommend YWAM as an organization to young people. Instead I will point them toward organizations like Operation Mobilization (OM) which I can attest do a far better job.

    • Nick Winslow said

      You couldn’t be far more wrong about what you think of YWAM. I’ve met many people who have staffed DTS’s for many years and are doing great, actually phenomenal. I’ve learned so much from YWAM about Christianity, the bible, and God’s word. While at YWAM, I learned public speaking, how to communicate better, baking/cooking, drawing, how to study more efficient, time management, create really good presentations, physical education, guitar, etc. I don’t know where you get, “meaningless” education. I came out of DTS more prepared than ever. College was much easier. I just don’t think you wanted to be there and that was made clear by you. Smh.

      • Miryam said

        Nick what base did you go? I’m curious because you seem to have had a positive experience

  9. marion said

    I remember coming to the end of DTS’ and the options being presented to people: join DTS staff, join another upcoming school, serve in the kitchen or in admin, etc.

    I started to wonder where the “join in long term community development work in Africa or Asia, or serve in your local community and teach English to refugees” was in these presentations?… Where was the “actually get out there and do something beyond the walls of the ‘base?”

    It was like we were trained up to serve the big machine that was the ‘base’, or the ‘base’s vision’ – rather than the place serving the people. No one sat down and asked DTS students’ ‘Who are you? What do you love to do? What are your skills? What new skills or things do you want to learn or develop? How could you best use these to serve God in the world? How can we help you in this process?’

    I remember this strange, subtle often unspoken belief that existed, that if you hadn’t done a DTS, you probably weren’t really a Christian (or not a very good or serious one at least). And then I realised one day, Jesus never actually did a DTS…. and neither did many amazing Christians throughout history.

    Lo and behold, God lives outside of YWAM! It is a beautiful and freeing and expanding thing to discover ….

  10. Oscar said

    Far out! I thought it was just me. But how did we all have such an obviously good time during DTS and then suffer so much afterward? I am still having negative thoughts about it nearly 6 months later. One thing I do understand is that I stuffed my guts ( supressed ) several things that I never had time to process or talk about. There was never any debate, never any real dialogue and I ended up so frustrated. Yet, I had fun on adventure with some cool kids and enjoyed the lectures even though I couldnt take them seriously.

  11. Jon said

    > And then I realised one day, Jesus never actually did a DTS….

    …. but all of his 12 disciples did (not with YWAM 🙂 ).

    My wife and I did our DTS together. For us it was a positive experience, athough I can certainly see the potential for abuse there. We aren’t interested in YWAM (or any other religious institution) for its own sake. There are some things about the organization that we find attractive and some that we don’t.

    Five years after our DTS, we are joining another base as CDTS staff. In the in-between time we have come to our own conclusions, many of which don’t fit with YWAM or the institutional church. We are excited about this move, and we believe that our Heavenly Father has brought us here.

    Our biggest challenge will be in dealing with the expectation that will be placed on us to relinquish our family privelege. This isn’t new, we deal with it in everywhere we go, and if there is anything that we will not budge on, it is our children’s well-being.

    Recently I have come across a few blogs like this one, and they have given me reason for concern. We will be going in with our eyes wide open this time. If the mentality described here is universal, then there will be some rough sailing ahead.

  12. Angie said

    I have often felt quite alone in my recovery from walking away from YWAM and Evangelical Christianity. Over the years, I have tried many times to connect with past YWAM leaders to process how hard it has been leaving YWAM, but to no avail. I have felt rejected completely from a community I gave 4 years of my life to. It is a grief I carry heavily to this day.

    I can really relate to what you have wrote Jen about feeling directionless for years and having this sense of your worth gone since you are no longer living for this huge calling. I’m not quite sure how to recover from that. I have become a nurse since YWAM and plan to continue my education further, but nothing seems to quite fill that gap YWAM left. I do feel worthless at times in light of what my old fellow YWAMers are doing. Infact, I recently had to just delete all of my old YWAM friends off of my facebook page because I could no longer handle reading their updates.

    I have to hope and believe those years were not a complete waste, and that in time, I will be able to recover and find peace and direction for my new life.

    Thank you for this website.

    • Charles R Cardamone said

      Y outh W ith A bsent M inds …………shuns those that leave the group ………like the Amish do. I am detested by YWAM for leaving………. discarded like garbage.

  13. Susan said

    Jen, I just visited my daughter (24) for her “graduation” from YWAM in Herrnhut Germany. It was one of the most troubling weeks of my life. Within the first 5 min’s of seeing her I KNEW something wasn’t right. She had changed and become detached from me. We were best of friends and she was filled with love. Now she’s hard and cold and detached. No emotion at all.

    I came home in tears and began to research. Many of the things that were said to me while there sent up red flags. So, I began my search and realize how much trouble my dd is in.

    How can we get her out? She’s on a “prayer retreat” as I write and plans to stay for the DNA conference. BUT she is out of money with no one supporting her except us. We are not going to give her anymore money. Her plans were to come home for the summer, but I fear that after this retreat she will change her mind.

    If you have any suggestions how we can lure her away without disclosing our knowledge of the mind control that is going on, I’d truly be grateful. My heart is broken. I fear that we may never see her again and I just can’t live with that.

    Thank you for your disclosure of the truth. Jesus said, we shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free.

    • Diane s said

      YWAM is not a cult i assure you. The things that they cover in discipleship training school are enmeshment with other people breaking free from strongholds. Breaking free from things that keep you from knowing God. And if all of these things your daughter went through if she went through it properly and perhaps you were just dancing a new boundaries that she has. It’s been several years since you had written this so I hope everything has worked out between you and your daughter blessings.

  14. Jen said


    My heart goes out to you. I’m not a counselor or a cult expert, so I am not quite sure how to help you. I can tell you what my thoughts would have been while I was still “under the influence” in my YWAM days.
    If someone (especially my parents) would have told me that YWAM was a cult or a dangerous group, I would have been so brainwashed at that point and unwilling to listen. If I had told my leaders, they would have told me Satan was trying to keep me from my calling by using my family to confuse me. Most of the time, YWAM leaders will put their ‘authority’ as the same as G-d’s, and will overrule a student’s personal feelings as being ‘doubt from satan’.
    The best thing is to have former YWAMers talk with her or a cult expert like Steven Hassan. He is a former Moonie (I personally think YWAM is very similar to the Moonies) and has helped many people escape cults. YWAM is listed on his site as a possible cult. http://www.freedomofmind.com/
    You are in my prayers,


  15. Robere said

    ‘Where do we go from here?’ is a fair question put to us by Jen. I left YWAM 32 years ago after 6 years involved in some of the oft talk-about early developmental stages of the Mission. I was the typical product of what might be called one of the older ‘Jesus Camp’ (see movie of same name – it is a must!) indoctrination processes and was easy pickings for the promises made by YWAM. I revelled in the challenges of the outreaches and deprivation of basic needs when they arose. I saw myself as a modern day disciple of the Master who had to face is ‘cross’ like the original 12. At the same time I witnessed some pretty shoddy leadership by under-educated young men and women, who themselves had mostly come from fundamentalist religious backgrounds. Yes, I became disillusioned with a number of issues in the Mission and decided to leave and go my own way. I guess I was lucky enough to have the emotional strength and common sense to pursue professional training in a country that offered free university education to its citizens at the time. I’ll admit that during the first couple of years at university I struggled with withdrawal from all the hype of the Mission. I can still remember sitting in the university library one particular day, writing one of those seemingly endless compulsory undergraduate essays, hanging out for another Summer of Service ‘fix’. However, I battled on and eventually made it into a worthwhile career as a health professional where I remain til this day as a senior member of staff. Yes, there is a life after YWAM and all I can suggest is that my ‘fellow leavers’ avoid the trap of pursing some type of ‘YWAM-alternative’ after leaving YWAM itself, such as a dead-end career in some other misguided religious organisation, or the like. My opinion might sound harsh and somewhat irreligious, but it is based not only on my own experience as an ‘escapee’, but also based on meeting many others who left YWAM like me, but failed to escape the hum-drum of additional involvement in missions to nowhere. Develop a definite exit plan, exercise flexibility to modify it as needs be, but press on and attain a sensible and rational goal. Shalom

  16. Recovering said

    Wow, Jen, thanks for sharing your story. It sounds very similar to what I experienced at another Tyler area ministry – Teen Mania. I’ve been out several years and just started blogging…Its really stunning how much spiritual abuse is going on, especially with young people.

  17. Hauci said

    When you guys started did you feel like you wanted to be missionaries? Couldn’t some of the feeling bad stuff come from feeling all connected to God via being with so many others who have a passion for God and then going back to a normal society with some messed up morals, etc. Or is it all like YWAM is really a bad thing?

  18. Bill said

    I never realized that the thoughts and feelings I’ve grappled with for 8 years after leaving YWAM (I was in it for 9 years) were so common.

    I especially have had to work hard to get balance and true biblical perspective on guidance/discernment. Both in my own life and in others’ lives, I’ve seen more mistakes (as well as questionable “words from God” ) than I ever saw of the amazing incidents of supernatural guidance so common in YWAM books (not to say I never witnessed it).

    What did I really accomplish in those 9 years? It doesn’t seem like very much in retrospect. I just have the hope that the Lord redemeed the time in ways I’m as yet unaware.

    I had a college degree before entering YWAM and have since attained a master’s, but it took a long time to shake the idea planted in my psyche that 5-month “schools” led and taught by inexperienced and/or narrowly trained YWAMers somehow had more validity than the far more academically rigorous classes I took in a higher education setting.

    But the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle. YWAM isn’t all bad and not all YWAMers deal with the spiritual malaise and confusion I walked through as I got re-grounded in “normal” life. YWAMers have stepped out where others were afraid to tread. The lack of structure has allowed them to fly under the radar in places other organizations can’t, and I’m sure there are many believers in the world who found Christ as a result of contact with YWAM efforts.

    Not all post-YWAM directionlessness can be blamed on YWAM: personal responsibility is a key element too. And remember, churches of every stripe have been known at times for killing initiative and squandering talent.

    One important issue is that YWAM is a big, nebulous organization–the location(s) where a person was involved can make all the difference in whether YWAM meant an experience of true spiritual abuse, a well-intentioned but sloppy “outreach”, or an exciting, fruitful season in Christ.

    • Bill said

      Having ended on a positive note in my previous post, there is one other negative YWAM issue I feel like venting on–finances. In retrospect I can’t believe how financially irresponsible YWAM can be at times. I totally believe God can provide in amazing ways and sometimes asks us to step out and take risks financially, physically, etc. God always took care of me and I never got in any trouble but I shudder at how foolish I was at times. And I saw some other people do things that were downright irresponsible–living without health insurance for years, having no reliable support for taking care of their families, digging holes for themselves by being behind on “staff fees,” being encouraged by leadership to do crazy things like purchase a home “on faith” without enough support to maintain it, and some vaguely attached, semi-active “staff” members who received support from supporters whom I’m sure had no idea just how little actual “ministry” the people they were supporting were doing.

      And the issue I became more resentful over the longer I was in YWAM: not only was I not paid for what I did (which, though sometimes of dubious value, could involve long hours and hard work), I was expected to pay the base for the privilege being there, ostensibly because I was being provided food and shelter (even though the food was often donated by local ministries or paid for by tuition from schools). I believe I understand the spirit in which self-support became the foundation for YWAM, but I knew I didn’t belong when I found myself frequently meditating on the idea that “the worker is worth his wages.”

      • Aimers said

        Wow, Bill! 8 years, huh? I spent years with them and that was a enough for me! can’t imagine 8 years. My “leaving ywam” story is a little long, but can be summed up with this – i thought “God” was telling me something that wasn’t any bit close to His idea and am now not even sure what’s really Biblical. I was so into hearing God’s voice before but since I left (my parents got me out of there because they were concerned for my mental health) i have a hard time reading my Bible and going to church because I’m always reminded of my experiences with God in YWAM? were they real?

  19. Ted Hurley said

    Wow! My experience in YWAM was very different from those of you who wrote here. Reading this made me realize that not all YWAM centers are the same. I guess some are better than others. I was apparently at a good one. I feel really sorry for those of you who had bad experiences. I guess I lucked out!

    In my YWAM years I was taught to stay connected to my family and my home church. The leaders at the Base I was at went out of their way to meet my home church Pastor and to develop relationship with him. They even encouraged me to always include him in all my decision making so that I could have confidence that I was hearing God correctly and following Him in a wholistic way. I was also constantly taught that there is no separation or difference between the secular and the sacred. I was taught that fulltime missions and working in a profession in the marketplace are of equal value to God and that both are equally Kingdom work with no difference in value to God. They encouraged me to believe God for and raise support for health insurance and my latter years. I was always encouraged to get more education both inside and outside YWAM, and in fact, after a couple of years in YWAM I was encouraged by my leader to leave for 4 years to go to university. I really missed YWAM during those years, but I never felt like I was missing out on life or that I was out of God’s plan while I was in university. After graduating, I chose to use my education and skills on the mission field for a few years with YWAM again before re-entering the marketplace here in America.

    My experience overall was positive, encouraging, and life-changing. I didn’t experience anything even close to brainwashing or mind control, and I was always encouraged to include my Pastor and seriously weigh his advice and spiritual authority over my life in all the major decisions I made. I’m really sad the rest of you didn’t share my same experience. It shaped me for life in a good way. I pray God’s healing touch on all of you!

    • kt smith said

      where did you go to ywam!?

      • Andrew said

        I did join YWAM in 1996 but left it in 2001 after a painful experience, I have no words to disribe the prejudice i received being an african in ywam and even in my own coutry were the people who had vision were seen of know value I Had a hard time in Colorado springs with ywam were I faced a hard time Things went bad as i was not financial stable and an african I had a passion for God and as in Kenya I would wake up earlyy to pray but here I was being put down in many ways I was under so much presser that i had a sever mental break down and Ywam was quick to kick me out and had nothing to do with me I did not know what to do when i camev back home lost I had to rethink about my life and purpse but it has taken 9 years to be back on my feet due to the trauma i received in ywam

  20. Just a thought or two about my experience as an ‘onlooker’.

    There was a group of YWMAers renting a house nearby. I became acquainted with them and was invited to supper and to meet them on a personal basis. I was upset for them when I saw their skimpy meal provision; plus no milk or dairy products for group’s children or the expectant mother. As a mother/grandmother, I questioned them about their diet. They were all polite and dare I say pitiful??

    I was able to contact someone who had ‘connections’ and provided the group with a 50 lb. sac of powdered milk. Also I went to a local supermarket and begged for vegetables and any commodities they could spare to help my YWAMer friends. This proved providential for them, and they went frequently to pickup supplies afterwards from the supermarket. I felt the ‘provision’ of the YWAM establishment for their members was nonexistent!!

    Now I have a friend who is getting ready to join a local YWAM, along with one or two of her teenage children, while leaving her husband alone at home much of the time. She has to “raise support” (a large amount) for the two or three potential members of the group. I will have to direct her to the blogs I have just read, and do my best to discourage her NOT to leave her husband alone (he is ‘not on the same spiritual level as she is’). Having lived for 30 years with an unsaved husband and raising our 5 children the best way I possible, I could write a book about how to live (and survive) with an unsaved husband!! Certainly a challenge. I did type my testimony a while back, “How it all began.” Perhaps I should have added “And how it ended!” For end it did, suddenly. Anyway my heart goes out to those who get taken in by ambitious but well-meaning people.

  21. shanna gallina said

    Please someone contact me, My daughter is in a leadership progam that i beleive is connected withYWAM. We need help understanding this, Is it a cult? I beleive we are losing her.

  22. TJ said

    My son went to a YWAM group several years ago. I thought initially it was a great thing for him to do, right after graduating high school. Being what I thought was a “Godly” organization. Thankfully, my son had a relationship with God prior to going, and had a good foundation of God’s word. He was only there maybe a few weeks or so, when he called me one day, and said he felt they were not teaching the word correctly, and then when he questioned them, he was told he was wrong and should not believe that way, and that he shouldn’t question the teachings or the leaders. He also told me they weren’t aloud to have food that often, more like on a schedule, and it wasn’t very much food at that. He did enjoy the other “new” members, as they were just as new to the group as he. One day he called me while I was at work, and whispered to me, in the phone, and said “mom I think they even listen to our phone conversations”, he had a very nervous sound, almost afraid. I immediately left work, without his knowledge and drove about a 14 hour drive straight to get him. I got there probably about 11:30 at night, and made him leave with me. He didn’t want to come, initially, and kind of balked. The administrative “members” of the group, he told me later, said to him while I was there trying to get him to leave, “you don’t have to go with her”, and “you are not pleasing God” if you leave. Thankfully, he did come with me, and we had a few rounds. And I must say, even after we got back, he still wanted to either go back, or go to another YWAM location. Eventually, he came to his senses, thankfully, by Godly intervention, I believe, and went to a community college to get an associates, then on to get is Bachelors, and now is working on his Masters. After finishing he intends on pursuing a PhD. I am so thankful to God, that he lead him out of that place.
    One other thing I am going to add, while driving him to YWAM, it is a really strange thing, the feelings I got when I got into that town, were like nothing I have ever experienced. I felt a “wickedness” just in the area, the town, and the people. It was a relief to drive away from that town with my child. As well as I can remember, I don’t think we received a refund for the monies that we paid to get him there, not even partial.

  23. LMT said

    Hi Jen, it was good to find this article from your blog. Enough my DTS experience with YWAM Berlin was so little -because at beginning of my DTS this year I realized that I am in wrong place with wrong people and that it is not enough the price to see my close friends in same city and being in their church and at same time try to do that ywam stuff I feel right now after two days ago coming back to my home country after week ago cancelling my DTS (because of that realization and because I didn´t like that idea that my new ywam family suppose to be my new church and that I suppose to love them except how they are and build that “strange” community) like I am failed somehow because yes i am the person who ends things and accomplish that. But yes I will work myself out of that bad stuff 🙂

  24. calebyates said

    I have a few things to say.
    One I love you all and I am assuming that pretty much everyone here is christian if not all.
    Two I hope I do not come off in anyway that would be super offensive or hypocritical and if I do just call me out and I will respond to it.
    Three please pray before anyone posts after this.

    Okay so,
    It seems people have been scarred from YWAM and the location doesn’t really matter. I am going to call some things out (this is the offensive part kind of): if you have been hurt by them do not go around revealing their sins and coming in agreement against YWAM. Because it was not YWAM but maybe it was a leader or specific group of people. The thing is Loren what he has done from what I have seen is only obedient and no I am not a Loren worshiper (so please). In fact the thing we really need to stop doing is blaming this or that for your circumstance, for your wounds, for your feelings. Yes we do get hurt, yes some leaders did not handle a situation right. I have been to YWAM and it is hard readjusting because you’re so caught up in this I have to be perfect like He was and make sure that no one catch’s me off guard and that I pray and fast and only say scriptures and rebuke and prophecy and be spiritual and etc. I UNDERSTAND. I will say YWAM is a great and fantastic experience but it isn’t for everyone. BUT what goes on i YWAM the so called “honeymoon with God” is something we should be feeling not then but everyday.

    The mission field is not just foreign countries nor streets but our work, our school, our commute, every second. When you say I felt like I should only do YWAM you were limiting yourself. You were putting yourself in a box that you didn’t even know. And when you didn’t fit you wanted to blame the box for not being the right size. YWAM isn’t trying to keep people there and I believe that a lot of people have that misconception. Loren is saying GO not stay. I believe that God does not want us to become comfortable in places that may be wonderful and peace and calm and encouraging. Because we have an eternity of that and we have told Him in prayer I bet a lot of times before or in or after YWAM saying send me to the lost. He does. But our flesh says this isn’t the lost I was talking about and God says well this is the one I know you can handle or you can help.

    Just because some people stay longer to help may be because they feel led to. You cannot call a place a cult because they feel like they should stay. Then you would have to call many corporations cults. GOD wants you so much to be with Him that when you fall into a place of love that He becomes jealous for you. He is happy you are happy but He sees what you need and what you can handle. For those that did not find the joy in their time at YWAM and see it as a curse I ask that you would reflect on the good instead of the bad. Think back to the place you went and think to the prayers before YWAM and during YWAM and even after and see if they were answered. Look back to your testimony. In a few places in Psalms (i believe) it says in the like “when I lost hope I looked back on my testimony/answered prayers/You and what You did for me”.

    If you did not like YWAM I would say do not go around spreading the horror stories. I understand there was wrong done or what ever may be the case. But did Jesus ever go around saying “Judas is such a betrayer, always just for the money, doesn’t really believe in Me.” No. In fact Jesus broke bread with Him. Washed hist feet. I bet Jesus even kept encouraging and telling him the greatest things about him. He loved Him. JESUS LOVED HIS BETRAYER and DIED for him. I am not saying die for YWAM. But do not curse it. Do not speak of Loren saying he is corrupt when he has led those hurt to the Healer and done what God asked him to do. I am saying just love. It doesn’t mean you have to support or you have to go and encourage others to go. But just show love and if it is corrupt it will fall. No kingdom shall prosper against the Lord.

    All I am trying to say is if YWAM was bad or if you left and felt very uneasy. Do not go straight back to YWAM. Move forward. Love. Keep walking in FAITH that He will lead you. He never said it would be easy but it is worth it. I now work at Starbucks. I am in the midst of heavy drama, depression, satanists, and much more, BUT I have found that when I just look at Him and just live for Him that He shines out of me and my mission for the current time is to share His love with them. Sure I have the money to travel. Yes I can go to foreign countries or YWAM bases and help and all this and such and I would love to. But I know for certain that it is not the time nor place for that. God is good and his loving kindness endures forever even now. He didn’t say “now that you are leaving YWAM you are sinning” nor did He say “okay be perfect now because you know right and wrong”. No. He probably said “You are beautiful and I am so joyful the time we spent together even if it was a few seconds in prayer.” or “I am so proud of you for fighting the good fight and enduring persecution even among other believers.” In fact even now He is looking upon you probably saying a million things that is summed in I.Love.You.

    If you leave YWAM it isn’t about being perfect. It is about loving God. The rest will come afterwards.

  25. Anonymous said

    I just wanted to share some of my experiences from YWAM. I do want to stay anonymous, because I do know people that are still in YWAM, but I will say that this happened at the Nashville base sometime within the last 7 years and I am in my 20’s now. I would compare YWAM to a relationship between a 16 year old girl and a 22 year old man. It is fun while being in the middle of it and you know that something isn’t right, but you are so “in love” that you can’t see the obvious danger signs especially until your older! YWAM captures people’s lives, because it CAN fun especially if you are 18 and just leaving your parents house. Its kind of like someones college dorm years.
    I will start my story by saying that I was verbally abused numerous times by the leader, but I always told myself that it was “just him” and not YWAM. I personally think that he just didn’t like me and had it out for me the whole time. He would call me to the side and scream at me “for something that I did”, but would always have to apologize, because he was wrong the entire time. I later found out that this was something that always did at each DTS to 2 or 3 people. He and his wife had problems at home and he would take it out on who ever. I have no idea how anyone thought that he was a qualified leader. He was definitely not a Biblically qualified leader, but he has lead NUMEROUS schools at YWAM. I didn’t know how emotionally abused I was until after I left. My family and friends though I was CRAZY for going in the first place, so I kept quiet and didn’t tell anyone what was really going on. I always looked to the future thinking about the next school and a new location.
    Before YWAM I didn’t know anything about healings, miracles, etc. I went to a Baptist Church and never heard anything good or bad about Charismatic teaching. The first week of my DTS I started hearing these crazy stories and at first I didn’t believe them, but I constantly heard new stories from new people and slowly started to believe more and more. I thought these people wouldn’t lie to me and they are “missionaries”. God has done amazing things in my life and I do believe that God CAN do those things, but I no longer believe in their name it claim it teachings. In YWAM you are so immersed in these teachings that it is brainwashing.
    Our “outreach” was the biggest joke. We were having a meeting one day before we left and I mentioned that I wanted to do friendship evangelism. I was told that we would only see a few people saved that way and that God had told them that we were going to see thousands saved, so we needed to do street evangelism. We ended up not seeing anyone saved. No one was discipled and I don’t think that we really helped anyone.
    I didn’t connect some of the dots until after I left. I didn’t go to another school because of finances and the longer I was away from everything the more I realized how wrong they were in SOOOO many ways. I have numerous stories that I could tell, but I don’t want to give away my identity. I have now healed, but I am constantly reminded of YWAM, because of a church that is in my city doing the same harm. My husband and I are now real missionaries doing real and amazing things.
    YWAM usually has horrible and unqualified leadership. You only have to attend a school to be a leader of a school. They are normally run low on staff, so they will sometimes take almost anyone to fill a position no education required and with little experience.

    If you are thinking about going to YWAM and have not yet gone RUN! Go to a more qualified missions organization like Campus Crusade. It is harder to get in with other organizations, but there is a good reason for that. My school was filled with immature people that were in no way ready for missions. It is possible to do more harm than good overseas! My whole city is scarred with bad teachings and people are burned out from Christianity.

    If you are new to Christianity and want to be a missionary wait! People new in faith are the easiest ones to manipulate. Go to college! There is a good reason that most YWAM missionaries are under funded.

    Thank you Jen for creating awareness and helping others heal! Email me and we can be facebook friends 😉

  26. Chris said

    Well this is an interesting read.

    I’m 6 weeks from leaving NZ and going to do my DTS in Herrnhut.
    I’m still looking forward to it and I believe that this is going to be a pretty influencial time in my life.
    Thanks for this blog. I will go into DTS with open eyes

    • harmony said

      I did my DTS in Herrnhut as well and absolutely loved it! Hope your experience with Jesus was just as enlightening as mine!

  27. Sam said

    Lets just call me Sam. I have been following these conversations and posts for years now. I dont know why I am finally posting or weighing in. I dont even know if I will post again. Alas here I am and here are my thoughts.

    Many good and valuable things have been said from many people. From those who see YWAM in a favorable light and those who do not see it quite the same way. Let me just tell you a bit about me so that you will at least know where I am coming from. (Please note that you will find some of my thoughts and ramblings somewhat vague at times) No doubt the reason for this will become clear with time. I hope you will not think that because I dont offer lots of details that I dont have them. I do. However I still have friends that are a part of YWAM and I wish to protect them.

    I was a YWAMer for more than 20 years. I served with at least 4 different YWAM bases in that time for various lengths of duration at each location. I served within the US as well as internationally. I also know what its like to be in mid level/senior YWAM leadership. I have led mobile teams as well as being a teacher in DTS and on a couple of occasions SOE. I have worn many hats as a YWAMer. I have been privileged to be around some of the greatest and best people in the world who have a genuine desire to love and serve God. I have also been privy to some very dark conversations. How to “discipline” (translation/control people who did not conform). Unfortunate when these situations may have ended in abuse and/or persons being isolated. These conversations did not seem dark at the time but upon painful reflection could not be viewed in any other way.

    More disturbingly than even that was numerous conversations about how to gift/stipend/tithe certain senior leaders by pressuring everyday YWAM Staff members into giving to more senior leaders. There were of course bible verses readily at hand to justify this activity. ( Please note that no one in YWAM makes a “salary”.) However there are ways around this of course. I wont go into great detail however if the IRS ever did an in depth audit on certain YWAM bases oh man I dont even want to imagine what they might discover. (I wont say more on this right now but perhaps at a later time if I decide to post again.

    All this being said I will say this…..

    YWAMers, as do all of us need grace and prayer. Wherever we come down on these issues I hope that we can at least make strides to pray for each other. This is a sign that we are connected to God’s Spirit.

    I personally agree that some of YWAM’s teaching is in need of serious reflection and (re)consideration and in some cases a complete “reboot” maybe necessary. And trust me I saw some serious red flags in my time. However we should ALL note that ALL of our theology is in a state of flux (somewhat) and none of us has it nailed. Including me. I personally call that “flux” openness and willingness to grow and change. We are never more wrong than when we think we have it all right. Also if we looked at much of what the early church taught and believed I think if they could have seen what we would think and believe today as “orthodox” they would call us “heretics”. I am not saying they would be right. I am just saying it depends greatly upon where you are looking from.

    There are some really remarkable and gifted people in YWAM. Its truly a blessing to many when they find their way into leadership. Pray for them.

    There are also some truly immature, irresponsible and lacking in integrity and honesty persons too. Its unfortunate and painful for many when they find their way into leadership. Pray for them.

    Having spent 20 years in YWAM I was helped in ways to fall deeper in love with Jesus. This has been a gift.

    Having left YWAM now has freed me to love Jesus in ways I could not when I was a part of that organization. This also has been a gift.

    I am thankful for both.

    There is much more to be said. I will stop for now though.

    PS. Jen thank you for sharing your story and heart with us. You have created the room for others to share, heal and be honest. You are a gift.

  28. Billy Potter said

    Thank you for this post. I am coming at from a different angle again. I am a Christian but have never been to YWAM. However my sister is just coming to the end of 9 months at YWAM here in the UK including a couple of months in a country I won’t name in case she can work out this is me typing. Saying that Billy Potter is not my real name. I have always been keen to do something like YWAM so when she said she was I was really pleased for her but she seems to have changed a fair bit, she missed a good friends wedding as she said she had to do street preaching (very unlike her), she also having just got back from another country has got me a little worried. She has been told someone from the YWAM place she stayed in this country really likes her, apparently he is really popular with the ladies but has never found ‘the one’. Apparently he thinks she might be ‘the one’ so she has been told to pray and see what the Holy Spirit says, if she gets a sign she should be with him. The more sceptical part of me thinks that perhaps this bloke just wants a UK VISA. Not to say my sister in law isn’t lovely, she is a wonderful person but I’m starting to worry about YWAM and the changes in her and how she is going to cope in the real world again. She is due to finish in a couple of weeks and has been offered her old job back and thinks perhaps it is a waste to go back there spiritually, that is fair enough but do YWAM (and I hate to use the term) ‘brainwash’ you in to having to continually pay them to stay there because life outside in the real world doesn’t seem to compute as an option any more? I am worried about her. Especially after reading up a lot on YWAM online. She was quite an ‘enthusiastic’ Christian before this which is fine, I’m good with that but fear for her and want to be able to support if and when needed. Any tips, help, advice is welcome.

  29. Chrish said

    Im curious because you said you finally know now who you are and what you are supposed to do, who are you? what are you supposed to do?

  30. Rose F. said

    My heart breaks for every single person who has had a bad experience with ywam. It is so hard for me to understand because I found nothing but love and truth in my time there. My dts wasn’t perfect but nothing is: Marriages have imperfections, churches have imperfections etc. But despite these imperfections I knew that at the end of the day if my dts and its leaders truly kept jesus at the centre it would work and it did. My leaders and staff weren’t perfect but they loved god and that reflected on how they led us. It is true: in places that are meant to do good, you will find corruption and I think in that corruption you will find where most of you were hurt. My dts sounds completely different from many of yours. I was constantly encouraged to not make dts the best time of my life or my “honey moon with god” but to strive for an awesome relationship with him after I have left ywam. They wanted us to live life in the present so that we can see what god has for as us every single day and to not stay stuck in that short 6 months of our entire life. I would honestly encourage everyone to do a dts cause it’s life changing. It was like a launch pad for my relationhsip with jesus! If anyone is planning to do one I encourage you to also heavily research the base you want to got to. See how they respond to emails and how they communicate with you because it is a good indicator to how the rest of the base operates.Also if you are experiencing any sort of problems durin gdts make sure to talk to a leader you can trust and that you know will help you. They’re are great bases out there and there are 1000s of people out there who have had great experiences. I not going to lie going back home wasn’t the easiest thing but it did get better. As long as you continue to seek Jesus in life then you can and will be able to get back to “reality” or the “real world” also we were taught that we are a missionary everywhere we go whether that’s to the “front lines”or to university or to your career as a lawyer, it doesn’t matter! I think we often forget that jesus wants to see all of his children in heaven not just us. Ywam helped me see that I can help lead people to christ ANYWHERE. That doesn’t mean I have to straight up tell them about jesus but to just love them as christ has loved us by building frienships, doing random acts of kindness, offering to baby sit your neighbours child idk etc. All I’m saying is there are great ywam leaders out there and great bases but there may also be corruption like there is on every single corner of the earth.

  31. Caity said

    Dear Fellow believers,

    I can sense a lot of bitterness and resentment from many of you but I can’t help but feel that you’re not understanding the whole ‘balance’ side of things. Life after DTS can be touch but that doesn’t mean that it’s YWAM’s fault as an organization- It usually means that you’re focusing too much on what brings you contentment for yourself rather then on God. YWAM is a good tool but it’s not the REASON why we live! It should always point back to HIM! It’s a gradual process but if you can learn to keep some disciplines in your life ( quiet time, worship time etc ) that you did learn much about in YWAM and at the same time, strive to be a light within your ‘normality’ maybe it wont be so hard. YWAM certaintly doesn’t have all the answers- don’t think for a moment that it will ever be your life line- but it does have a lot of good training tools and the original heart behind it all was a good one as well. Try and see the good in all of this. God is always moving, everywhere! Church, YWAM, your house, the park etc… It doesn’t matter where it is. As long as you have a pure heart and listen to him, he can speak through you to the world.

    • You sense a lot of bitterness and resentment? So what? You think that is wrong after being lied to and told that this group has all the answers. You talk about “balance” when this is an extremist group with extremist unbalanced theology and political views? This group teaches it is a lifeline and when you leave you have backslidden and are shunned. How dare you lecture us about having bitterness and resentment. Who the hell are you to judge us?

      • Larry said

        Well, someone is a little extreme in their over reacting. *hint* it’s not Caity.

        I just have to laugh when the whole world screams for us not to judge each other. Maybe your judging them when you’re screaming not to be judged lol
        Loosen up a bit, dude. The world isn’t out to get ya, so take a deep breath.

        and stop being bitter. haha

  32. Markus said


    I am a YWAM leader so I am biased.

    Some abuses and over controlling tendencies do occur in YWAM of course. I am sorry for those.

    I think that some of the testimonies and arguments are a bit of the straw man fallacy–misrepresenting YWAM ethos and exaggerated because people are hurt. Like: “If someone (especially my parents) would have told me that YWAM was a cult or a dangerous group, I would have been so brainwashed at that point and unwilling to listen. If I had told my leaders, they would have told me Satan was trying to keep me from my calling by using my family to confuse me. Most of the time, YWAM leaders will put their ‘authority’ as the same as G-d’s, and will overrule a student’s personal feelings as being ‘doubt from satan’”

    I can say for us, if any YWAM staff said or even alluded to anything so absurd, they would be ostracized.

    For a relatively objective look at YWAM teachings check out YWAM podcasts on http://ywampodcast.net/category/shows/teaching/

    At my base we have: a) relationships in the community outside the Y bubble b) people to getting degrees at the local university c) great relationships with alumni etc.

    Sorry for those who have experienced the abuses of power

    • gudmondsdottir said

      This is a bold faced lie and you know it.

    • gladIdidn'tgo said

      ha, just the fact that you say staff would ostracized for improper belief shows the ugly underbelly of the organization right there! So blind you can’t see how blind you are.

      • Diane Soucie said

        Hurt people hurt people it’s our responsibility to reach out to others and know that youth with a mission house a lot of people from different nations different backgrounds and different emotional stuff. If we don’t take care of our inner stuff before we get into leadership it’s going to hurt somebody I happened to come from the counseling part of why why am so’s a lot of internal work and in the process there were is rounding but I was able to sit down with the person and talk to them and knowing my issues I reacted to an issue that God had healed yet we were able to pray together and get it resolved. It’s too bad that all students and leaders can’t do that we are called to be light and darkness lives in us then where is that light. God knows your heart he knows you’re hurting remember to forgive and give it to God and ask him to fill you with his love and MoveOn. God bless you my sister I hope things work out for you b

  33. What the heck are all of you talking about? YWAM doesn’t brain wash people nor are they saying that you had to be “on the frontlines” to please God. Life after YWAM can be hard, but in your time with YWAM, we had the privilege to help people around the world. Never think your time in YWAM was a waste of time.
    I think it is very ignorant to say such harsh things about YWAM because you personally felt it hard to get plugged back into “real life”.

  34. Alberto said

    Hi dear ex ywamers YWAM is good only for the Directors who make a very good profitable income. When I left I feel worst the the Devil, and I did not have a pleace to go., so Ibecame nearly homless,. After a few years I went to school and became a Chef very successful chef and I lo be more then welcome to share what I know and how to survive whit out bagging for money to pay staffing,. I don’t say YWAM is bad, but I’ ll say is not the best choice in life they Run the schools or ministries like a Mafia heritance the power to there love ones and if you bring the truth to the light according to the bible then ” you are the most rebellious person in the earth”

    My God bless you all and restore your life according to he’s grace.

  35. hgbk said


    I understand the difficulty in re-entering the world after YWAM, having returned myself just a week ago. And I understand the pressure the organization seems to put on their students and staff; to live for the great commission only. Sometimes that feels like they belittle you into confusion about what our calling really is, and where we really want to be. It’s something I still struggle with and I see where these thoughts are coming from. However, some of the comments here compel me to defend the idea that the ‘real world’ as people have called it, doesn’t have to be the ‘real world’. We do not have to conform to typical Christian stereotypes and follow what society tells us is normal. That being said, some of us have the calling to be missionaries in third world countries and some are called to simply help out at the local Sunday service. Neither is wrong. Neither is more important than the other. We can be lights for Christ anywhere in the world. Jesus wants us to enjoy the time we have on earth. We can serve him in the tribes of Africa or we can serve him in our workplace and schools.

    Even as I write this, I have no clue what my next step in life will be. But I know what is true and what is real: However back and forth my opinions and decisions may be, GODs love remains consistent. And I refuse to let the ‘real world’ tell me how to live my life. I don’t want to be ‘normal’. If I live for Christ then my life shouldn’t be ‘normal’. The bible is full of accounts that I’m sure this ‘real world’ we live in would not call normal. That’s because God has greater plans for us than this world could ever imagine. I hope that, with all sincerity, that even through everything you’ve been through you can at least remember that. Normal doesn’t have to be normal. Gods way bigger than that.

  36. Tom said

    Thank you for doing this blog, Jen. Very important. Difficult to throw it all out there. But necessary, and hopefully a healing thing for yourself and your family.

    There are splinter groups forming. Second- and third-generation “New Religious Groups,” house churches with young leadership and new belief systems, derived from and modeled on YWAM. This is a long-term consequence. This is where it goes from here…

    Keep up the good work.

  37. KGX said

    YWAM was started by and is still influenced by the CIA.
    Keith Green was murdered because of changes he wanted to bring to the leadership and the organization. He was a powerful threat and the youth listened to him. He believed in repentance and Godly living from the top down. YWAM does not work like this. It is about control from the top down.

    Yes it is brainwashing. They operated much like Scientology collecting cash and punishing those who question their established “authority”. There is a reason life after YWAM is hard. They create a weak, pliable mind to be used for their means.

    Do some research into people who got out and call it a cult (they were abuse or abandoned in strange countries for not obeying). Look in the public shootings from former YWAM members or their churches that have security forces working in them.

    This is not an organization that serves God. It serves man.

    • me112233 said

      I think YWAM is a messed up organization as much as anyone; but seriously, you need to get some maintenance done on your tin hat.

  38. st.mark said


    my credentials DTS burtigny 2004/2005, SBS denver 2005 … what happened after that is history.
    do not mix up YWAM staff with YWAM leadership. the two are completely different people. who are in the club for different reasons. i do think ywam has been used by g-d and still is, but you have to understand the context. all big church movements are corrupt from the beginning. its just some run longer some run shorter. but satan hates the church so much he won´t allow any new church movement thats not started by his clown troupe of actors. but that still gives god ample opportunities. i had some of the best time of my life during my DTS and later on. our loyalty is to the dude, not to his club or selfimportant people. theres always tares with the wheat you just have to harvest both an sort through later.

    BTW loren has more alters than just this one, i just havent found them yet. but they all have.

  39. Holly said

    This blog totally throws me off and I just don’t understand it. I know so many people who have gone to YWAM and I am leaving for my DTS in the fall and I have heard nothing but great things from those who have gone. I have heard that there are good bases and bases that need more mature leaders, and or more solid leaders.

    Its just so sad reading all of your posts. I had one friend who went to DTS and his life was transformed and he came back and turned his life around and is just serving in his church but he is a changed man.

    My best friend went to DTS and she definitely had culture shock when she came back and it took her 6 months to adjust but it truly changed her life and its the reason I signed up.

    I also work for a family, and they have sent almost all their grandchildren and close family friends. These people are the real deal, they inspire me, and they too have nothing but amazing things to say about YWAM. They have spent thousands of dollars in supporting people who want to go.

    This blog and these postings just don’t make any sense to me.

    • Joey said

      I pray for your protection Holly! Read your bible. YWAM is a cult.

    • Jordan said

      I graduated from my DTS in 2012 and it was one of the greatest experiences in my life. Sure I was immature in certain areas but I have always continued to learn and walk with God. Do I believe there are leaders and staff out there who aren’t walking with God? Sure! There are always going to be wolves dressed as sheep and sheep that are just being sheep and mess up. Does that mean that we should forsake YWAM? I don’t think so. If only those who realized and saw the problems with certain leaders/staff and actually lived out God’s word by taking Matthew 18 and applying those principles we would be harping on the restoration and healing that has come to bases/leaders/staff. It’s amazing to see how the enemy has used conflict/sin and how many of you who have listened to those lies and instead of doing something redemptive about it instead just gossip and slander. We are in a battle and if we just sit back and don’t act then why expect anything to get better?

      Please understand my heart. I know that hurt, abuse, lies, pain and sin are harmful and do leave marks. Are we guaranteed perfection, peace here on this earth? No! Don’t assume just because one base/staff/leader messed up that they, or worse yet, YWAM is unfit for God’s kingdom. God desires to walk with each of us individually in a personal relationship full of conversational intimacy.

      Keep fighting the good fight and don’t let the enemy blind you.

  40. Sarah said

    I just finished my DTS and graduated a few weeks ago. I really enjoyed YWAM and I learned a lot that I know I won’t forget. DTS is like being in a bubble and you’re learning and growing daily while in the DTS. But they say that when you graduate, the real DTS begins–life. It is a culture shock no matter if you go overseas to a YWAM base or even stay in the U.S. because during those 5-6 months you change. Also, our leaders told us that even after DTS it’s good to continue discipleship. They told us each to find someone who will disciple or mentor us; someone who is mature in their relationship with Jesus and who will walk with us through good stuff and crap. So, I have heard many stories from YWAMers of how God changed their lives during that 5-6 month period of time of giving up that time to Him. Now no base is perfect and my base director had been to a few YWAM bases where there needed to be better leadership but other than that, it’s not YWAM that changes you but God. In YWAM we seek God but it doesn’t stop there because once you get out to the real world, that’s when the real DTS begins.

  41. Carrie said

    Hello, my name is Carrie. I quite my first semester of college in 1995 to attend YWAM. I was young, naìeve and scarred forever. Looking back on that time it’s possible that I’ve got the physical conditions I live with now because of all the physical and mental pressures we were put in at YWAM. I was barely 18. I’ve moved on and have been married for 15 years and I am a mother. But I’ve always wondered if this is why I live with a chronic illness which came about ten years after attending YWAM. We were put in conditions I wasn’t familiar with as a teenager! Carrie

  42. Dorothy said

    I am very glad I got my bachelor’s degree and worked a year in my profession before I went into YWAM. I was 25 and in YWAM for 5 years. I left when I met my future husband of 25+ years at Kona. The teaching in YWAM and experiences trusting God and seeing Him move has marked my life. But I was leading teams for 2 years out in nowhere and had to get my own teaching from the Bible as I went for months with no outside source of teaching. That was a good school. When I left I felt called out and there was even a public word of the Lord that I was being called out. Did not change the rumors that said I left the call of God for a man. Oh well! My reentry was not into my own culture and language since I moved to Europe so that was more of a challenge than my lack of fellowship and teaching although I can imagine it is difficult for some. If my kids or anyone I loved wanted to go into YWAM, I would highly recommend getting a college degree or some training so one can earn a living when/if one leaves. Those years from 18-24 are really important to learn a way to earn a living and cannot be easily recovered. If one spent those years on what is for many a months to years long retreat and cannot earn a decent living, then a principle of not teaching a young man a skill is making him a thief. A bit of a stretch, I guess, but I think the idea of older believers NOT encouraging young people to learn marketable skill is not loving them but bordering on using them. Frankly speaking, if my kids wanted to do a DTS I would be more willing to send them to L’Abri. I did not get the impression they try to keep them.

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