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.