I am a former missionary/ music minister in Pentecostal churches and YWAM. My former husband and I left YWAM after being mistreated and kicked out onto the streets of Hong Kong with our 2 young children. God has been faithful and I now seek to help others who have experienced spiritual abuse from YWAM or any other church or para-church organizations.

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20 Responses to “About Me”

  1. Megs said

    I stumbled upon this blog while googling about YWAM being a cult… Tiffany Johnson, the woman who was shot and killed at YWAM in Arvada CO last December was one of my best friends. After her death, her YWAM “friends” left a really bad taste in my mouth for anything YWAM. They belittled the relationships that Tiff had at home and one of them even went so far as to tell one of my friends that all Tiff cared about was YWAM and the people at YWAM. This all proved how little they knew about who Tiffany was, but it still hurt a lot. I struggled so much in my grief over wondering how much Tiff really cared for me because these people were so possessive of her. I did find the proof I needed in a book that she gave to me and wrote on the inside “to my best friend forever and sister in Christ” I thank God that I found that because I was being so destroyed over being led to believe that I wasn’t important. I am so glad that I am not alone in thinking that YWAM is maybe not such a great thing. I am very interested in reading more about your experience (I haven’t really had time to read deeply yet). Thank you for sharing your experience.

  2. konastephen said

    Megs,
    From my experience, any notion of YWAMers belittling a friendship with those outside of the group is done strictly subconsciously, or unknowingly and unintentionally.
    YWAM has a vague understanding of itself—it is not held together by doctrines, contracts, or ancient traditions—so it requires the telling, and retelling, of particular stories to reinforce its sense of self. The tragic shooting in Arvada will invariably be something which YWAMers will cast, and recast, in a particular way to help grieve, understand, and again, to reinforce their sense of self.
    Because of this constant retelling of stories, it becomes difficult for a group like YWAM to transcend their own subculture (bubble) and to see those outside—even those just across the street. So, if you feel as though YWAMers have belittled you and your friendship with Tiffany, it is most likely due to insecurity—that is, issues of their identity—as opposed to a personal attack upon you.
    I hope this helps.

    • the real konastephen said

      who the heck is this guy going around using my moniker. Dude, I own Konastephen@prettymucheverydomainthere is. Stop it!! You’re giving Stephen’s a bad name. If you’re the campus undertaker Stephen, you missed out Foth. I started using this before you got your blue light even. YWAM’s misbehaviour is clear and undeniable. Stop trying to defend it!

  3. Charles R Cardamone said

    Robertson Gregory wrote:
    Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2006 15:10:08 -0700 (PDT)
    From: Robertson Gregory
    Subject: MGT still taught in YWAM!

    Dear Dr. ########

    I have known for quite some time that YWAM leaders are still actively and purposely deceiving the public into believing that MGT is a thing of the past. But after coming from that worldview and knowing how deceptive we were with the false teaching we believed; and knowing how deep in the soul of the person such a worldview reaches, I knew that it was still being taught, although more secretly for the last 25 years.

    From time to time I come across evidence showing MGT’s presence, but today I found this website by checking on the name Wedge Alman. I knew Alman in 1973-75 when I was at the Sunland base and know that he is now the highest leader in all YWAM for ministry in Spanish speaking countries.

    This 2006 information is conclusive evidence that Moral Government Theology is not only alive and well, but is being aggressively distributed and taught in YWAM.

    I think the reason the organization is publishing YWAM purchases of their materials is because they are not real proud of YWAM’s purposeful deception in relation to MGT, believing that YWAM should stand up and be counted for what its primary worldview is, instead of shrinking back in cowardice and deception.

    The main YWAM website has approximately 4 pages of Boyd’s stuff, much of it promoting the idea that God doesn’t know the future (the Openness View). But when people see that, almost none of them know that it is simply the old teaching of Moral Government Theology that has been taught in YWAM since the 60s.

    The following is the information I found at http://www.revivaltheologypromotion.org/rtpvarious.htm Sorry for the length, but this is valuable information if you want to “know the truth and make it known” about YWAM:
    Revised, August 4, 2006
    High Distribution Continues This Summer
    The summer continues busy with distribution of books at no charge to the requesters. In the last three weeks we sent Peter Smith 110 copies of a Gordon Olson book for West Africa . LeRoy and Heidi Whitman and kids with Wycliffe are up from Mexico for a several months, and we sent them about 30 books by Olson and Finney for use in their United States ministry. We sent Latin America YWAM director Wedge Alman copies of Greg Boyd’s primer on the openness of God, 100 copies Spanish and 12 copies English. — August 4, 2006
    410 Books Sent to India Today for Dr. Kali
    320 of the Charles Finney chapter booklets were sent to India today. These are gifts to RTP from Men for Missions: 160 Growth in Grace, 80 Conversion True and False, 40 Three Kinds of Professing Christians, 40 Justification by Faith. Additionally, 90 copies of Gordon Olson’s were sent. These may arrive in India before Bhaskar’s August arrival but more likely while he is there for two months. — July 11, 2006
    50 Copies of Rare Charles Finney Book to India Today
    Destiny Ministries in Kentucky sent us 50 copies of Crystal Christianity published by Whitaker House many years ago. These were sent to India today to arrive by mid August when the main teacher will arrive from New York to distribute them for two months. — June 20, 2006
    64 Spanish Copies of Gordon Olson’s Main Book for YWAMers
    On June 5, we sent 64 copies of La Verdad Te Hara Libre to a YWAM leader in Tyler , Texas . Thanks to RTP supporters who funded this earlier this year. We also sent 13 English copies to a pastor in Illinois who teaches at YWAM occasionally.– June 7, 2006
    40 Books Sent to YWAM in Puerto Rico
    On April 22, we sent 40 copies of Dr. J. W. Jepson’s El Amore: La Base De Todo to YWAM in Puerto Rico for their school for late May. This is Pastor Jepson’s re-write of the most important part of Charles Finney’s systematic theology.– April 29, 2006
    150 Books Sent to India
    Yesterday we sent 150 books for Dr. BK, who expects to be in India this summer again. We sent 12 copies of Finney’s Systematic Theology, 4 copies of Finney’s Pastoral Theology, 12 copies of Gordon Olson’s major work, 124 copies of his Holiness and Sin, and 7 copies of Heman Lincoln’s work on the history of doctrine. We still want to send a few hundred of Finney’s smaller books available from Whitaker House for about a dollar each when we have the money. Our mode of mail takes 8-10 weeks to get to India.– April 9, 2006
    Dr. BK Returns from India Trip
    Early this week Dr. BK returned home to New York after an eleven week ministry trip to his native India . We chatted on the phone a bit on Monday night. The many Olson and Finney books that RTP had earlier sent by mail bag arrived and were placed with pastors and training school libraries. BK taught at three institutions from Gordon Olson’s manual. He distributed more CD’s with the entire Telegue translation of Gordon Olson’s works. Thanks to those who contributed toward this. His left arm is still useless after a stroke a few years ago, yet he wants to return again to India in August. He is preparing a list of titles that he would like us to mail there by June 1. (It takes about two months to get books there at $1 a pound). We would need approximately several hundred dollars towards this; perhaps a publishing project will be completed there again too. — March 22, 2006
    Providing Books for YWAM Director’s Teaching
    Yesterday we received notice that YWAM director Wedge Alman received 110 copies of Greg Boyd’s God of the Possible (30 English and 80 Spanish) from us. Thanks to those who contributed toward this gift that Mr. Alman requested for students he plans to teach in the coming months. — March 18, 2006
    20th Anniversary Offers
    RTP sent out its first items in January 1986. How do we celebrate? We continue to promote truth. Our friends at Gospel Truth Ministries offer five CD’s covering the doctrines of American revival. This is good! Also, Gordon Olson’s 30 hour DVD series (1978) has been produced by Procla Media. See our “Present Special Offer” page. — March 5, 2006
    Spanish Truth Manual — Second Printing.
    Today the printing and delivery of 362 copies of the Spanish edition of Gordon Olson’s The Truth Shall Make You Free are completed. These are primarily intended for YWAM schools. Thanks to all who made this possible. — February 15, 2006
    Translation with YWAM in Forteleza , Brazil
    The year started with the completion of the translation of Gordon Olson’s The Truth Shall Make You Free into Portuguese for the YWAM school in Forteleza , Brazil . Thanks to those who gave generously to this project last summer.– February 15, 2006
    Three Sets of Finney’s Major Works Sent for West Africa
    On Tuesday RTP sent three copies each of Finney’s Systematic Theology, Autobiography, and Revival Lectures to Two Witnesses Ministry in Michigan . They will be flown to Ghana first quarter to be placed in pastor training schools.– December 1, 2005
    Gospel Truth’s Gifts for India
    During the last week in October we sent 153 books to our training contact in Andhra Pradesh , India . 135 of these were Finney books sent as a gift from Gospel Truth Ministries in California . Most notably were 64 copies of Principles of Sanctification.– October 31, 2005
    123 Books Sent to India
    Yesterday RTP exhausted its supply of small Finney books. We sent over $400 worth of books to our contact in India . 74 were authored by Finney; 43 were by Gordon Olson. The last of our Roland Allen books and a rare copy of John Driver’s major work were also sent.– October 8, 2005
    Gordon Olson’s Works Preserved for Telegu Speaking India .
    We are pleased to say that in September the six books by Gordon Olson that had been previously translated and printed in the Telegu language are now available on CDROM for distribution and preservation.– October 3, 2005
    YWAM Teacher in England Requests Materials
    Last week a teacher with YWAM in the United Kingdom requested works by Harry Conn, Gordon Olson, and L. D. McCabe. We sent the books and videos on Thursday.– September 19, 2005
    Frequently Asked Question on Gordon Olson’s Writings
    Gordon Olson had planned to publish ten booklets. We know that The Moral Government of God, Holiness and Sin, and The Entrance of Sin Into the World were published originally by Men for Missions and later the first two by RTP. What happened to the other seven booklets?
    We answer: The fourth and fifth were posthumously published by RTP in 1993 as one book, The Kindness of God Our Saviour. After the first three booklets were published by Men for Missions, Mr. Olson made a decision to focus on one volume titled Sharing Your Faith, somewhat incorporating all 10 booklets, those published and those not. Then in 1980, he revised and published as The Truth Shall Make You Free. RTP now publishes this volume in English and Spanish. — 08/16/04
    ########################

    “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” Hebrews 1:1-2 (ESV)

    • the real konastephen said

      Ha. You nailed it. MGT or moral government teaching ala Gordon Olson is a rehash of an old Christian heresy first rejected by the early Church in the 4th century. Loren was confronted about it in the early 80s by several of YWAM’s other regular teachers including first and foremost Dr. Glenn Martin. He all but requested (failing to provide critical leadership) only that school leaders no longer invite Gordon Olson but did not make it clear that the reason was because of this erroneous theology. As a result the teaching continued to circulate in YWAM, thanks in no small part to Winkie Pratney and, as you say, the leadership of YWAM’s Texas bases.

      The gist of the teaching is that God is limited in knowledge and in power, being subject to the constraints of time. In other words, God has no real knowledge of the future, because, as Winkie says, it hasn’t happened yet. The orthodox view of the matter is that God is outside of time and is both omniscient and omnipotent. The further implications of MGT is that God changes in response to experiences and of course to our choices. This is a subtle but substantial difference from the orthodox view which is that God is eternally unchanging and sets out propositions for us and that so long as we are headed in one direction, his response is one thing, but that when we change, his response is another. The MGT view is directly contradictory to God’s revelation of himself in Scripture, that he is the same yesterday, today and forever.

      While all this might seem like angels dancing on the head of a pin to some people, where it really begins to impact our lives is in the belief that there is no one definitive “Biblical worldview” but instead that there are as many biblical worldviews as there are believers. This is a mirror image of the idea in society at large that everyone’s “truth” is as good as anyone else’s. In fact, the mental health industry considers it a symptom of psychosis to believe in an objectively real God whose perspective is definitive for all reality. This may be part of the reason YWAM has backed away from teaching real Truth. The battle for truth in YWAM in regards to counselling was largely lost in the 80s and 90s, thanks in no small measure to the heretical influence of Donna Livingston in Kona and the complicity of the David Boyd Kona leadership.

      In recent years, MGT has resurfaced in YWAM in the form of Open God theology. Relativism has accompanied it like a shroud, revealing itself in such things as Lynn Green’s signature in his capacity as “International Chairman” of YWAM in 2008 of a relativistic ecumenical document authored by the Yale Divinity School, calling for Christianity and Islam to engage in “dialogue” without condemnation or judgment. It is also evident in his “Common Word” project, and in such teachings as those given in DTS by various Harpenden teachers that for instance, the Creation account in Genesis is no more than an allegorical mythical story, devised by the Jews to counteract the more popular Gilgamesh account at the time. This is the full weight of 20th century theological heresy come to roost in YWAM.

      So long as there is no regard for truth that is true and not also untrue in YWAM, Jesus, the Truth, stands more completely ignored in the shadows than he ever did in Loren’s dream about the first ship. The Holy Spirit cannot truly operate in such an environment, hence the “need” for control because of the lack of anointing or miraculous moment-by-moment leading. Instead of genuinely hearing from God and responding in the way that early YWAM outreach and school leaders did, today’s YWAM leaders are arbitrary and capricious, following their own often-mistaken gut feelings, subject to the whims of their egos. Jen’s family’s experience is very common. I’ve seen it all too often.

      The key to recovering the lost anointing in YWAM is to fully repent of the erroneous teaching. Unfortunately, YWAM is now replete with people in leadership (like the Kona SBS folks) who have spent the better part of the last few decades creating their own little authoritarian fiefdoms, entrenching themselves into areas of “expertise” in which they rule the roost, jealously guarding against all comers and protecting their “careers” as viciously as any mid-level manager/bureaucrats in any other organization or corporation. To see repentance take root and bring back the anointing, these people must go.

      But who will lead? Loren is like the old king David, incapable of directing his lieutenants, unsure of their true loyalties, bunkered away in his Kona mansion and at the mercy of his wife and son and their wounded, limited, uninspired views of what needs to be done. There is no Solomon waiting in the wings to take the reigns. There is no Nathan or Bathsheba, loyal to the original call of God on David’s kingship. There are only Adonijahs and Absaloms. God help us.

      Pray for YWAM. The Enemy is inside the gates.

      • anonymous said

        I spent some years in YWAM and confirm that people should flee and not send young people there. It is hard to leave once involved. I know older folks who have spent 30 years there and feel they wasted a lot of valuable time in their lives.
        There is a lack of sound doctrine in general, though the early years held much blessing in the training and fellowship in Hawaii and other places.
        It deeply saddens me that so much heresy, deception and control has invaded what was a good thing in the beginning….

      • jeff said

        C’mon man… Maybe there are no Nathans or Bathshebas, but there are thousands of ywam foot soldiers who are every bit as committed to Loren’s vision as Loren ever was. Maybe the end of ywam as an organization is near, but the unique anointing that God placed on it will bear untold fruit for years to come as we live out the values that God entrusted to Loren and other early leaders. Don’t be discouraged. The true spirit of ywam will live on much longer than any organization.

      • Yun said

        Just watch and see for yourself guys,if Ywam is not from God, then it will vanish but if its from Him, then it will prosper and will continue..If its from God you are passing judgment on what God has establish. Beware..Before you lift your finger and point at other to make judgment, see if that attitude comes from Christ. You will be accountable for every word and judgment you made.

      • I agree with Yun! If YWAM is not from GOD, then it will vanish, although it has been holistically reaching the world for GOD for more than fifty years now. If YWAM is from GOD, then it shall flourish even more! Shalom everyone! 😀

      • Naomi said

        “By their actions shall you know them”

        The actions of ywammers are not that of God. Compare the heart of God and what you read about God in the Bible with what YWAM teaches. They do not match up at all. YWAM has been good for a few people, but in general they use a lot of ungodly methods to control.

        As for the statement if it’s of God then it will continue to grow. Hmm… Partially true. Remember that the enemy has dominion on the earth. Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Joseph Prince, Rick Warren, they all have huge churches, but they practice these same ungodly methods of control and teach false teaching.

        “Be on the look out for no one knows the day nor the hour when Christ will return.”

  4. ivin said

    Hi, im 25 years old now, and i just finished my dts from chaing mai, thailand.and to this day it still hunts me of what happened to me and to me friends.
    after reading you blog, and stories, i think i will write to Loren Cunningham, about what,’actually happned in my school’.
    Yes most of what you stated is true and happened during my lecture phrase.
    like the confession sin,’i had no recent sins to confess and felt that whatever happened to me in my past , has being forgive and washed by the blood of Jesus.(isaiahi18)
    no i didnt feel nor felt any to confess , esp to people whom it does not concern.my lecturer was a philippino YWAmmer.
    and for my small church week, since i was raised up in a big baptist church, it was totally shunned.
    now i am a lady of opinions and would be open in my arguments as a result of which my leaders called me a ,’big head’ some even wrote it on my journal!
    another senior leader american would use cuss words like F.
    and none of the staff were regular sunday church goers, in fact my base director and his family never go to church nor is involved in any local church in thailand!his kids have never stepped inside a sunday school room.
    eventually i found a non denomination international church,(after much praying) and was a regular there every sunday.i was laughed for doing so.
    but what really affected me, was how they kicked out a senior leader and our worship leader for being close to me.
    we were well aware of the,’rules’ about relationships between a boy and a girl.and i even shared my feeling regarding him to my base directors wife.(which i thought was the rught thing to do)and besides exchanging sms, and snacks to each other there was never any unappriorate behaviour (no kisisng no holding hands, no standing alone in dark corners, no sitting together in close proximity)on our part, but after ONE discussion with him,on a one on one setting, he was kicked out the next week.it was a shock to me as well as to him.what surprise me was although other students were so touchy , and going out together alone, for even 3 months every weekend.nothing was done to them.
    its being almost 8 months now, and i still have hurts.
    my friend, he has grown up in a ywam setting, all his life and takes it much harder.
    there was gossip, slander, and lots of backstabbing.and when i questioned my leaders, i never got a straight reply.to this day i wonder , what if i was a thai, would things be different.
    most of the ywam ministries are run by americans and other foreigners , and when i converse with the local people, there is not talk of encouraging the local people in leadership positions at all.
    and my friend shared with me, how he has being involved in this dts school for 7 years, and every suggestion, comment, or question was put down by the leader, and ,’common sense ‘outside ywam was nonsense.
    they even told him, and me, that we dont know God!!!how can any christian leader ever say that to another christian.
    i am glad to be out now..and yes my list can go on and on.i recently got accepted in one of their ministries, but after sending an e mail enquiring about their,’church’habits, i was rejected again…i even started to think what if this was a cult?cz there will be wolves among the sheep.
    i will be applying to a bible seminary and grounding myself more in Gods word.despite my ywam leaders wishes.
    truth and love.in Jesus.alone.

    • Yo said

      Suggest research schools (and people’s experiences) and find one with sound doctrine that also allows the Holy Spirit to move. I went to Christ For the Nations after my experience with YWAM legalism and “shepherding”. It was great to hear speakers from all different backgrounds and views (Christianity is diverse) with how we believe and where we attended church left up to us. The worship and fellowship were the best parts in letting the wrong teachings and hurts be washed away.

    • Aimers said

      Ivin,

      I am so sorry to hear that a dts staffer actually wrote stuff like that in your journal! that is REALLY uncool… I am SO happy to be out of YWAM! i actually staffed two dts and did some other things with them… It’s sad I might actually know some of the ppl who staffed yours…
      i have a lot of hurts from YWAM that I am trying to get other… It’s really tough. But God must of some reason for letting it happen to us, right?

      • Naomi said

        I really hope He does have a reason. Maybe it is to open our eyes? Or gives us an even stronger passion to be missionaries and take the true Gospel to the nations. I had similar things happen with my DTS. I have always been very outspoken, and often questioned my leaders on various things they taught. I would listen to what they taught but would then pick up my Bible and read a verse that came to mind and what they taught was completely opposite.

  5. Hi Jen,

    I am deeply sad and sorry about your YWAM experiences at how you have been kicked out and mistreated. I hope and pray that whatever needs to be resolved may be done in a Biblical way. I just wonder how Jesus is feeling right now towards all the entries that are here. Shalom to you!

  6. Naomi said

    I went to do a DTS in August, 2010 in Brisbane, Australia.

    My boyfriend and his family were long-time ywammers. I had always wanted to do a DTS as my parents had both been in YWAM and I had always wanted to be a missionary. I went to Australia excited, but nervous. I got there and the first few days were great, the first week of teaching was ok, but it was full of rules and regulations. I looked forward to exploring Australia and thought that we would do stuff in the local communities during our lecture phase. Jesus taught both verbally and by example, so I expected something similar. Nope. I most enjoyed the lectures from people OUTSIDE of YWAM. The ywammers seemed to have this warped view, and much of what they taught was out of context. Most of the manipulation I found went on during small groups or in individual meetings with leaders. I trusted my small group leader for the first few weeks and opened up to her about everything. BIG MISTAKE. I shared with her about my relationship with my boyfriend. They ultimately broke my relationship with the man I loved because he was “abusive” and I was “obsessed” even though they had never met him and knew nothing about us, they managed to convince me of this. It was like she flipped a switch. Suddenly I was being told that my boyfriend was abusive because he said no to me about certain things, or because we were struggling in certain areas (something very common when you’re in love and together for a year.) They took the things I had opened up about and used them to emotionally and mentally abuse me.

    I had been there for almost three months, after about 2 months there one of the female leaders boyfriend arrived on the base. He had obviously been staff there and knew all of the other staff. Fair enough, I wasn’t bothered by him. I saw him while passing through the main area (every base seems to have a focal point) to send my boyfriend and supporters an update. I logged onto Facebook and had a friend request from this guy. We had a number of mutual friends (as is very common for YWAM) so I thought umm yeah ok. Now I have always been a night owl and this worked perfectly for borrowing a fellow students laptop and skyping England. I was skyping at about 2a.m with my boyfriend when this guy David started talking to me on facebook. Then he started flirting with me!! I was very insecure at this stage as typical for YWAM my leaders were treating me as an outcast for questioning them, not having all my school fees, and skyping my boyfriend every night (he was planning to propose when I got back). My boyfriend being a ywammer though told me almost the exact same things as my leaders said, which made me even more upset and insecure. I stupidly flirted back, and we flirted every evening when I was in Brisbane (we went up and down the coast).

    After I got kicked off my DTS and they had left to go on to their next location I went to a quiet room with signal and rang my boyfriend, in complete tears. He had a go at me!!! A full blown go! Telling me I had failed him, etc! One of the main reasons I stuck it out for so long was to NOT disappoint him. In turn this other guy (David) was there for me. He asked me if I was ok, hugged me (a real secure hug) and we talked all night, literally. We talked to the point that he had to sneak out the window otherwise we’d be in trouble for being alone in the prayer room. I decided I had had enough of his flirting with me while he had a girlfriend (I had begun to like him, and ironically his gf was best mates with my bf’s sister). I decided not to talk to him anymore. Then he messaged me just after someone else had had a full blown go at me asking if I wanted to go for a walk. We went for a walk and ended up making out. He was meant to be a leader. It eventually leaked to everyone what had happened. I was blamed completely for the entire thing. Everyone treated me like I was entirely to blame. He was never kicked off the base, despite my emails to the leadership a long with copies of his flirting and very s*xual emails to me.

    A few days later in a row I told my boyfriend and we broke up. He is now happily married (I don’t envy them she’s a lovely girl and better for him anyway). The other bloke David, eventually married the same girl he cheated on (I don’t know to this day if she knows what happened). And me, well I fell in love with another man, didn’t feel worthy of him, broke his heart, slept together, and now I’m a single mum.

    Before YWAM I had a strong faith in God, yes I made mistakes, but I wasn’t scared to follow as soon as He led. I haven’t been overseas properly since I got back from Australia in November, 2010. Ywam is a very dangerous place. It is a godless organisation where the gods are the leadership. Obey them or be verbally reduced to nothing.

    In a few weeks my son and I are going on “holiday” to a nation where there is very little mission involvement. He is only 10 months old, but God has big plans for us and I’m clinging to that with everything I am.

  7. Lily said

    I’m sorry for those here who had a negative experience, but this thread is extremely misleading. And I think it’s unfortunate that people feel the need to bash YWAM as a whole, because of their negative experience. YWAM is a huge organization, in almost every single country in the world. With that many locations and people, there are bound to be some people who didn’t like it, or felt mistreated… it doesn’t mean that your experience is the norm. Human beings are fallible, and in any religious organization or church, there’s always a chance that someone is going to have a negative personal experience.

    I’ve taken 5 YWAM classes, including DTS, and I served for 2 years as a full-time staffer. In all that time, I never had an experience with YWAM as an organization that was abusive or alarming in any way. In fact, I have grown and matured so much, as a result of my time with YWAM. And I’ve seen firsthand the awesome work they do – building homes for poor families, tutoring underprivileged kids, feeding and loving the hungry and the lost, visiting the orphan and prisoners, sharing the Good News of the Gospel, etc.

    There’s always 2 sides (at least) to every story, so if someone got kicked out of DTS, or had some other type of negative experience, I would want to hear the other side of the story. So to anyone reading this – take everything you read here with a grain of salt.

  8. Elizabeth said

    I didn’t know much about YWAM when I went to do my DTS in South Carolina Janurary 2013. I knew the base was new and that I was attending its first DTS but I chose that base thinking that they might not be so set in their ways because it was new. The school was very small; seven students and seven staff. Lecure phase was alright, but I began to question my purpose and dreaded the thought of being a full-time missionary, which was every YWAMer and I wanted to be a YWAMer. I thought it was inevitable that I would staff a school after my DTS. After all, what else would I do? No one else had the answers except YWAM.

    Eventually I began to realize that YWAM “discipled” these students but didn’t teach them to feed themselves. How can they survive in the world without YWAM? I noticed how little the staff really cared about us. They only “discipled” us during the allotted time our schedule permitted and sometimes not even then.

    When I arrived, I had the assumption that as a team we would pray about where we would all go on outreach. This was not the case, our leaders picked two countries for us to choose from. We were supposed to pray and get an answer as to where we feel God was calling us. The school split pretty evenly, half of us to Venezuela, the other half to Jamaica. I was excited about going to Jamaica and I liked the team I was in. A couple weeks later our leaders told us that we were no longer going to Jamaica. Instead we were all going to Venezuela as one team and halfway through outreach splitting up and one team going to Colombia. I never felt a peace about going to Venezuela but did for Colombia. I was put on the team that would split.

    During all of Lecture phase, one of the other students was aware from the beginning about the dangers of YWAM. He was unofficially labeled “rebellious” and we could always feel the tension between him and the staff. Him and I became friends and I could tell they felt as though he was leading me to rebellion. We all got along pretty well, but from the staffs’ actions, I could tell what they really thought.
    A few times throughout Lecture phase, I broke out in uncontrollable sobbing, not knowing really why but looking back I think my spirit was very aware of the religious crap going on even though my mind wasn’t.

    The night before we left on outreach, I felt very uneasy. As I talked to my parents on skype, they noticed it and my mom even told me that I didn’t have to go. I considered not going, but felt as though I had to. I procrastinated packing so I was doing it that night and one of our leaders came into the room. She watched me for a while and then proceeded to tell me that I was being rebellious. When I asked how, the only example she could give was that I had not packed my stuff by the time I was supposed to. The conversation went on and made me very upset, but I didn’t dare say so. She told me it was going to be very important on outreach to listen to my leaders. “Ok,” I said.

    We never ended up making it to Venezuela; they wouldn’t let us across the border. Our plans were changed and we ended upstaying at a base in Colombia for a couple weeks. There was a lot of arguing and disunity amongst our team the first week there. The base is very controlling and a few of the students could sense that in the spiritual atmosphere of the base. We wanted to leave. Our leaders didn’t want to do anything that would go against YWAM’s system or structure. They sent the “rebellious” guy home after one week. I begged God to send me home too but He told me to stay unless YWAM decided to send me home. Most of the students liked the guy they sent home so it caused even more division among our team.

    Some of the Colombia leaders sat us all down, told us we had to submit or go home and used Romans 13 to prove their point. We all stayed even though I told the leaders I would not submit to them but I would submit to the situation. Told them I did not trust them but I trusted God. I don’t believe that was the right thing to say but I was doing everything in my power to get sent home. They wouldn’t send me home though, only because how would it look if they couldn’t control two of their students. One leader even told me that they COULD NOT have another send home.

    We all stayed but we still all wanted to leave the base. We began to make plans to leave but one night our leaders sat us down and said that the director of the base told all the other bases in Colombia to not host us because we would bring disunity. We had to prove ourselves worthy at this base before we were allowed to go anywhere else. This infuriated me as well as a couple other students but we had to do what we were told. We eventually left the base.

    Things were smoother when we left but they still weren’t what they could have been. Half way through, our team split and my mind-set became, “Only four more weeks left.” The countdown began.

    Not long after we split, I had an awful experience concerning our one male leader. We were staying in a young family’s house for a week. I went to shower one night and I could have sworn I saw a black Iphone in the single tall window of the bathroom. I asked myself outloud what it was before I comprehended it, it disappeared and I heard quick movements of someone walking away. Our leader had a black Iphone and the family didn’t; they could have never afforded it. I didn’t tell our female leader or anyone. I was too scared and I didn’t want to accuse him if it wasn’t true. The next morning he gave his testimony in church and I convinced myself he wasn’t capable of such a thing. I’m still not sure if not telling anyone was right or not. The only thing I could think of at the time was how messed up outreach was already and I didn’t want to mess it up anymore.

    The rest of outreach uneventfully went on until it was finally time to leave. The last week in SC of debrief was pretty bad; I was sad to say good-bye but I was so ready to get away from YWAM.

    I’ve been back for about 5 months now, and I think a lot about my time there. I get mad when I think about what YWAM did to the students and how they abused their authority. But God is teaching me to not be bitter. These people are just as lost as the people caught up in the crap of the world.

    I wanted to share my story only because reading other peoples stories really encouraged me and made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I’m not sharing because I want to bash YWAM or because I have some type of vendetta against them. I’m just sharing the truth. And yes, some bases are worse than others but what does it mean when you have so many negative stories from so many bases? Was Loren Cunningham’s vision originally a God-honoring one? Yes I believe it was but this is what happens when you institutionalize visions meant to be held together by Jesus.

    • Amen. Thank you for sharing. I’m sorry you had such a miserable time =(. You were brave to stand up to them. How can you do God’s work among arguing and disunity and controlling “leadership” and people wanting to leave?? And the part about the iPhone is so creepy! I have not been involved with YWAM but I can definitely relate to being labelled “rebellious” and sobbing uncontrollably at various religious settings. It’s good to read stories like yours so I can avoid future pitfalls.

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