By Kadie Hooley
Hiya! My name is Kadie Hooley and I have been in YWAM 6 years now. I realise this blog is meant for people who are no longer with YWAM, but I have had some experience outside YWAM and would like to share what I have learned.
Growing up, one of my deepest desires was to travel and share the Gospel. So in 2011 when I began my DTS, I knew I would never be the same. God started transforming my heart and, like many of us, I was forever changed— “ruined for the ordinary”— as my leader put it. This made it extremely difficult when in just 6 short months, I was again lying in my teenage bed living with my family in the middle of rural Indiana.
I had felt strongly that God had asked me to go home, and I knew from all my experiences with Him He was faithful to lead me into what was next. So, I began to put into practice what I learned on the school. I tell graduating students all the time— real discipleship begins when you go home— when nobody is telling you to get up and worship or intercede for your coworkers or city or nation. And it was rough, which I am sure you’ve experienced. Even though most days I felt like a fish out of water, there were a few key tools that helped keep me on track and dive deeper with the Lord.
In Daniel 1v8, it says, “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” This word resolved is huge to me. It means to make a decision with determination. To put this scripture into context, Jerusalem is besieged by King Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel (and a bunch of young noble, handsome, intelligent men - the cream of the crop) were brought to enter His service. They were meant to be well-fed with food from the King’s table, learn the language and ways of the Babylonians, and after 3 years of this enter Nebuchadnezzar’s service. Why am I explaining all this? Daniel made a determined decision to do something different in his circumstance. Although I wasn’t a prisoner of war training to enter a King’s service, in the same way as Daniel, I knew that I needed to resolve some things in my life.
So, my first resolution was to not neglect spending time with God every morning. And, I cannot stress this enough, I need more and more and more time with Him daily. Life gets busy and I quickly learned that. Even if it was just the half hour drive to work in the morning, I really fought to protect that time. I resolved to read my Bible and pray and worship on a daily and semi-weekly basis. It’s basic -- bread and butter -- and yet, it is the one thing that matters the most. We have to meet with Him to have a relationship.
The second thing I decided to implement was meeting with a mentor (one-on-one) weekly. I had a really good community built around me, so it was fairly easy to find someone I could meet with once a week who would hear my heart for the Lord, missions, and help me sort through my crazy life. I didn’t wait for her to offer, but went to her and shared what I was needing and looking for. We both prayed about the timing and commitment and it worked out well! We continue to meet to this day and she is one person that I can honestly say gets everything about me!
Out of those first couple of one-on-one times, I quickly realised I needed more community. So, I found it. And where I didn’t find it, I made it. I began to attend a young adults’ small group, help lead a youth group girl’s retreat, and helped staff a weekly Youth For Christ meeting for the teenagers in my hometown. All of these things are easy to type, but there were months of struggle between each one. I started to work and take some classes at a local college during those months and it was some of the hardest of my life. Even though I was surrounded by a good Christian community and family, I would often cry myself to sleep.
Something had been awakened in me and then all of a sudden, it was like there was no space for it back in the “real world”. I hate that there is such a divide between YWAM and the “real world”. Some of that is just natural because we can’t set aside our whole lives to have our only job be to wake up and love God and others, but… wait… isn’t that how it should be? One of the most important lessons I learned during that time home in limbo waiting for where God was calling next was that it doesn’t matter what you are doing; we all have a witness to this world.
And, let me reiterate, that revelation and growth only came by wrestling through frustrations with God in my car or in my quiet times. The whole point of this story is to answer the question, “How do we continue to develop and deepen our relationship with God outside of the YWAM environment?” And my response to that is to actively and determinedly put into practice all the tools we were given during DTS. Those foundational values aren’t just nice things we should like, but ways in which we should live our daily lives. Knowing God, making Him known, hearing His voice, practicing worship and prayer, being visionary, championing young people, embracing diversity and creating unity throughout our denominations and nations, carrying a biblical worldview, functioning in teams, exhibiting servant leadership, doing first and then teaching, focussing on relationships, valuing individuals and families, depending on God for absolutely everything, practicing hospitality, and communicating with integrity are KINGDOM values and they transcend any one organization or group. The world desperately needs us to live this way whether we are a new mum, a business executive, a nurse, janitor, or unemployed.
Towards the end of my time home, I started to finally get why I was there for that time. My heart was, is, and always will be missions. There is no getting around that now. But, I learned I didn’t have to be flying to a new nation to spread the Good News to someone who hadn’t heard it. There was poverty in my town. There was hurt and need there too. And all it took was me dying to myself and loving God and those around me.
I realize this is long, but I just wanted to share my heart with you. I moved to YWAM Rostrevor in 2013 and have been there since. But, having recently returned from being home for 3 months, I still find these lessons to hold steady. I pray my story and revelations help you in some way go deeper with the Lord and find what you need to grow with Him. May you resolve some things of your own today.
By Molly Deatherage
I was with YWAM Germany for 8 years. They were eventful years, of course -- full of teaching and serving and outreach, full of intercession and worship, full of rich friendship with people from all over the world.
I left to return to my hometown, a small city of 10,000 far from any medium- or large-sized city. I had always attended two churches, one the traditional mainline church I grew up in, and one a charismatic independent church. And I kept that up when I returned.
But I wasn’t “going back” or “going home” in one sense of the word, and that made the transition a lot easier. I had a clear vision for the next chapter of my life, beginning at home. That chapter? To re-train to prepare for another mission field. My life has always been fueled by vision, by a sense of God’s call for the future, and so I didn’t go back – I went forward towards the next thing that was going to lead to the next thing. I got a degree in English and another in English Education to qualify me to go to the developing world as an English teacher in a university.
But the vision for the future didn’t stop me from investing my heart and soul into the students and professors there on in the University, or falling in love with English Literature. And I found ways of exploring literature that opened up the discussion into world view issues, a tool I used when I went overseas again.
So, for me, one of the keys for transitioning out of YWAM is not to be thinking of “going back” but of going forward.
By Annmarie Asiimwe
Many times, Jesus said, “For him, who has ears let him hear.” God makes it very clear in the Bible that He loves it so much when we seek Him. In Matthew chapter 13, He compares the kingdom of God to a buried treasure that’s worth selling everything we have for. Our relationship with a God who is in so many ways, hidden, means we need to cultivate a heart that is continually crying out to Him and seeking Him as the greatest treasure we will ever possess.
Though I’m in YWAM and have been for quite a few years, I haven’t always worked in a team or been part of a local YWAM community. For many years, my fellowship was church on Sundays and an occasional bible study I’d get to with some other mums in our town. There were times I was overwhelmed with ministry, felt like I could barely cope with a sick husband and kids, and days we were both so shattered by life that when we did sit down to pray together we felt we had no strength or passion for it. We prayed as simply as, “Thank you God for the roof over our heads, for our breath, our sight…”
Loneliness can be a hard one when you leave YWAM. For several tough years, I kept a little note by my sink which read, “You are not alone.” It took all the faith I could muster to hold on to that truth. Loneliness hurts, sometimes like a physical pain. Things that helped me were asking God who I could show love or hospitality to; I love going for walks, and pouring my heart out to God, or journaling. Consider asking God for divine appointments. He is a God of relationship and it’s also His priority for me and you. Without any doubt though, those periods of loneliness that I’ve gone through have drawn me closer to God.
As I’ve reflected on the question of how we can develop and deepen our relationship with God, listing to myself all the things that have helped me in my faith, I realised it comes back to what Jesus said…surprise! surprise! … “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself.”
How do we engage all our hearts, minds and strength? I recently watched a program on getting fit where the guy explained that we’ll most likely give up if we use pure will power. “We have to enjoy it”, he explained.
It makes sense to pursue what gives us joy in our relationship with God. This kind of joy is the deep satisfaction I get when I connect with my Creator. For me, the kinds of things that I love are spending time soaking in His presence, worshipping, dancing, discussion groups, doing ministry with Him, going for a walk outdoors, bible study, chatting and praying with a friend about what God is up to in our lives.
Nowadays, we have the bonus of listening to podcasts, teachings or worship songs on Youtube, for example. I am inspired, encouraged, ministered to by one or more of these almost daily. And oh how I love, these days, listening to the Psalms read from the Message on my Bible app!
Ask God to show you ways in your life right now that will help you connect with Him and make your journey with Him more enjoyable. If there’s nothing ask God to remind you of ways that have stirred up passion, joy, hunger for Him in your life in the past. More often than not I find these things rarely find me but I need to pursue them with all my heart, mind and strength.
What about the hard times? Everyone goes through struggles, pain and hard times. When I look back at such times in my life, I see surprisingly that God has given me the most precious and hard won gifts such as endurance, patience, faith and if my attitude is right, more understanding of Him and his ways. Those are the times when I’ve felt little joy and leaned more into the ‘all’ part of “all your heart, mind and strength”. I remember one time crying out to God and saying, “I can’t go on. I can’t do this anymore.” He reminded me of Jesus when he had been so cruelly whipped and beaten, carried the cross up to Golgotha. Each step must have been so much agony, yet He persevered out of love for me. This gave me strength to keep going step by step though my challenges though so hard for me at the time, were nothing in comparison.
I don’t feel this article is complete unless I mention a toughy... fasting. I never find fasting easy, not by a long shot, but invariably as I pray, it clears my spiritual vision and draws me closer to Him. It can be as simple as a meal, one thing, ie. sugary foods, alcohol, or something that takes your time, ie. social media. I really love how it draws me closer to Him, more like a slow-release than a quick fix though!
I think the most important thing is to try to have a heart posture of continually pursuing more of God, to get to know Him more each day and how He sees the world.
What does that mean? Seek his voice, pursue time with him, reading the Bible, trust, thank Him in everything – this has been key for me through the hardest of times, cultivate a humble heart that lifts others up, seeks to bless others, forgive and holiness and wisdom, to love what He loves and let my heart break over what breaks His heart. And when He speaks follow humbly with all my heart. And we all make mistakes. It’s ok!
I continue to pray,
“God give me the grace to keep seeking you, to be more and more thirsty for you, and to love you with all my heart, mind and strength.”
By Kathy Nichols
After reading Amanda’s blog, it challenged me to think a bit more about the valuable lessons I have learned and obviously continue to learn having been in YWAM for twenty years and now out of YWAM for the same amount of time.
Upon returning home from my school, I remember rewriting all my notes (to make them neater, but also to review what I had heard). It helped keep the material I had received fresh in my mind, so more ready to apply. I also found remembering the miracles that God did during my time in YWAM, which have frequently inspired faith and perseverance in my heart. (It's easier perhaps to remember our challenges, failures, etc., but I wouldn’t advise going there except to get them healed and forgiven!)
However, as time went by while outside YWAM, two key areas for me to grow in my personal relationship with the Lord in an ongoing way, are doing personal Bible studies on various topics and also having personal worship times. In these two things I have found and continue to find times of immense fellowship and closeness to the Lord, joy, clarity of direction or a boost of faith. I think the Lord knows each of us well enough to know what we need, I think it’s a matter of finding a few specific things that work for you in terms of recognising in which particular things you find a good connection to the Lord.
As Amanda said good friends are a true gift at any time, but particularly when one is seemingly living out on a limb. My best friend here where I live has a husband who prayed for a woman friend for her and I am glad he did!
By Amanda Nolan
In 1997 I left YWAM after six years in full-time ministry. I had arrived back in Ireland in September 1991 to do a DTS. After six years living in community and involved in ministry my husband, I and our one-year old daughter, felt called to leave.
Some of my biggest worries at the time were: How deep was my relationship with God and would it survive without the support and nurturing of community living? Would I have enough self-discipline to spend time in prayer and worship or intercession without the structure of community and time tabled events in my day? Would I grow deeper in my faith and mature or would I perish spiritually?
It’s now 2019 and we have been living in the west of Ireland for the past 22 years. We have four children, moved home several times, my husband works full-time and I work part-time. In all the comings and goings of family life, the ups and downs, good times and hard times, times of little and times of plenty, loneliness and isolation as well as friendship and love, there has been one constant. My relationship with God.
I can answer yes to my own questions. My faith, my relationship with God is deeper, it has developed along with me, it has not only survived, but it has grown. The bigger question is how, how has this happened?
The honest part of me will admit that I am sometimes lazy, sometimes I just don’t feel like praying or reading my bible. There are countless things that often feel far more important or even enjoyable instead. In fact, many of my encounters with God are fuelled by emotions which can be fickle, rather than by discipline. Recognising this helps me to engage my will and get with God because I recognise it is good and know it is good. Paul reminds us of this in Philippians, "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14).
There is little in our area that comes close to the kind of community support we had in YWAM. We have church on Sundays, we attend a prayer meeting once a fortnight and over the years have dipped in and out prayer groups, events, retreats and Christian gatherings when we could. These events helped quench our thirst and keep us anchored to a wider Christian community. However, it has been the support of our close friends, friendships formed in YWAM many years ago that have really nurtured us, comforted us and given us courage to keep on going. Making times to visit or host these wonderful people are the great highlights of our year and we would be truly untethered without them.
Second to that, the opportunity our current home has offered us to hospitality has allowed us the amazing privilege of having so many former YWAMers stay with us and that has been a rich and joyous blessing, giving us the experience of a community that exists long after its members move on. "I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith" (Romans 1:11-12).
My DTS and YWAM years educated me about many things: Hearing God’s Voice, The Nature and Character of God, Fear of the Lord, The Father Heart of God as well as Intercession, Worship, Evangelism and Missions. It was a hot house of encountering God and responding to Him. Application of what I learnt led to growth and fulfilment. I had a different perspective on the world after that. I discovered there that I have a capacity for more.
Once out of that hot house, the opportunities to encounter and respond to God didn’t seem as intense or frequent. I learned that it wasn’t because God wasn’t the same it was because the world didn’t expect the same of me as YWAM living did. In other words, many of the people I encountered every day didn’t seek to grow deeper in their relationship with God, most of them didn’t know Him at all. Most importantly, I learnt the only thing standing between God and me is myself. I am the only one that is capable of putting up barriers between myself and a deeper relationship with God; not my husband, or my children, not money, not work, not my colleagues, not where I live or my church. Just me. I can put them up and I can let God help me tear them down.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul talks about love, what it is and what it isn’t. He tells us that love never fails. He names the three things that are the central values to the body of Christ: faith, hope and love. It is through faith that what we see now only dimly in the mirror we will see one day face to face. Hope that is now imperfect will one day be perfect; and love, the greatest of all these will remain and will not fail (1 Corinthians 13: 4-13).
In order to continue to develop and deepen our relationship with God we, therefore, must engage our will to choose to connect with God, even when we don’t feel like it. We need to surround ourselves with members of the body whenever we can in order to stay connected and be mutually encouraged by one another. Finally, hold on to what you know, God is truth, God is love, unfailing and He will always remain.
Stay tuned for our new blog coming in the new year!
Our themes will change with time, but we're going to start with a question we recurrently hear from YWAM Associates in various forms:
How do we continue to develop and deepen our relationship with God outside the YWAM environment?
Would you like to share a little of your story in response to this question? Drop us an email and we'll be in touch!