Muslim Refugees Meet Jesus

In this last year, we’ve mobilized two teams to respond to the greatest humanitarian crisis of our generation. As millions of refugees flee war torn countries, our hope is that the first faces they see upon arrival will be those filled with the love of Christ. One of our DTS teams worked in Lesvos, Greece where refugee boats first hit European shores. The second DTS team worked in refugee camps in Germany & Sweden. This is their story…

YWAM DTS Madison Youth With A Mission Europe Germany Sweden Outreach Team Refugees Arts Music

Meet our Germany & Sweden DTS Outreach Team

In just a few minutes, 40 Afghani & Syrian refugees would arrive. We couldn’t wait. For several weeks, we’d worked with them in their refugee camp in Sweden. We’d played music with them, shared food, enjoyed each other’s cultures and done our best to help teach Swedish (which is totally crazy because we don’t even know Swedish!) But today would take our friendships with these precious people to a whole new level.

The halal burgers sizzled on the grills at the park. John climbed a light pole to hang the piñata we had made for the event. And then dark clouds rolled in just as our new friends arrived.

Despite the threat of rain, we spread our blankets on the ground and ate with our guests. Our friend who organized the event began to share a story. Everyone listened as he talked about a son who shamed his father by squandering his inheritance. At the end of the story, the laughter we had all shared together died down. A woman couldn’t wipe away her tears fast enough. Our friend shocked our guests when he told them how the father welcomed his son back into his arms.

Muslim Refugees Encounter Jesus YWAM DTS Madison Outreach Story from Sweden

“Jesus is like this father,” our friend said. “He can’t wait to welcome us all into His family.”

That day, 10 Muslim Afghanis and Syrians joined Christ’s family!

YWAM DTS Madison Youth With A Mission Europe Germany Sweden Outreach Team Refugees Arts Music

Our hearts were full as we spent the rest of the afternoon playing games. The darkening sky finally released its downpour just as the money strike hit the piñata. Candy and rain fell to the ground. Everyone rushed to snatch the candy before seeking shelter from the rain. But by then, it was too late and we were too wet! We returned to the rain and danced and played in the rain for hours. In that moment, we were no longer Americans or Swedes, Afghanis or Syrians, Muslims or Christians. We were just children of God enjoying the rain together!

 

YWAM DTS Madison Youth With A Mission Europe Germany Sweden Outreach Team Refugees Arts Music

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War on Drugs Leads to Transformation in the Philippines

No country is too hard, too poor, too filled with crime, too divided by war, or too spiritually dark to be changed. God has given us basic principles that are keys to every problem we face in the twenty-first century. The answers lie between the covers of one book — the Bible. [The Book that Transforms Nations, Loren Cunningham & Janice Rogers]

YWAM Bible School for the Nations Youth With A Mission Philippines OR 2016

Our Bible School for the Nations team left for the Philippines fully convinced that the Bible could transform lives and even an entire nation! Young pastors and passionate youth gathered for our first seminar in Tacloban. While the teaching sessions were powerful, great fruit also came from unexpected events.

The president of the Philippines declared an all out war on drugs. As part of this war, he gave drug dealers and addicts an opportunity to surrender and seek help before facing harsh prosecution. The Christian mayor of Toclaban asked YWAM and the pastors in the city to provide the training for these surrenderees. As a result, our seminar in Tacloban was not only filled with the pastors and passionate youth who usually come, but also, drug dealers, drug addicts and government officials! What a powerful opportunity to disciple this nation!

YWAM Bible School for the Nations Youth With A Mission Philippines OR 2016

One night, things did NOT go as planned. And that was a good thing! Our contact was delayed by over an hour. So while we waited for him to arrive with the key to let us into the church, Tim [BSN leader] sat with two young Filipino men and had a deep conversation. They’d heard about the seminar from a friend and decided to give it a try. But they still didn’t know Jesus. Tim poured out his heart to them. He told them his testimony. Then he told them how much God loved each of them and longed to know them.

With hearts full of conviction, both of these young men gave their lives to Jesus that night! “I feel so light now,” one said afterwards.

Although our team had no intention of going to Tacloban originally, God closed the doors to another city. We are so thankful we ended up in Tacloban. So is the mayor! She invited our team to join her weekly prayer times for the city. We are convinced that as God’s people take God’s truths and apply them to society, cities like Tacloban will become a beacon of light to the world!

Someone to Die For

As a teenager I really wanted to give my life for something. I wanted to be really passionate about something and change the world. But I didn’t really see God as someone to live and die for because I didn’t understand who He really is.

The Salvation message I heard as a kid was that Jesus died to save me from my sins and from Hell. What I didn’t understand then was that I was missing the point of Jesus’ death on the cross!

Now, I see that the death of Jesus was all about bringing us back into relationship with God [reconciliation]. The message of the cross is a relational message that points out God’s character. He is a loving and just God who sent His son to die in my place.

YWAM Madison Bible School for the Nations Jesus on a cross atonement

I see clearly how great my sin is and how great His sacrifice to atone for my sin. This brings my heart to a place of overwhelming gratitude and worship. How can I ever say thank you enough to Jesus? Now, I long to give my life to God because I understand how much He loves me and longs to be close to me.

I see now that I did not just receive freedom from death and hell. I received the great gift of relationship with Jesus! I am not receiving something FROM Jesus. I am receiving HIM.

 

YWAM Madison Bible School for the nations Nicette Atonement

Nicette is attending Bible School for the Nations at our YWAM Madison campus. After serving as a YWAM missionary for 6 years, she saw the BSN as an integral part of helping her dive deeper into God’s word, His character and His ways so she could more effectively disciple others and change the world.

YWAM Bible School Youth With a Mission Madison

Shresh’s Lesson

YWAM Madison DTS Youth With A Mission Discipleship Training School Indian Street Kid

I was sitting on the floor of a home for children at risk in India helping six-year-old Shresh do his homework. He had a little book of folded paper we gave him – he kept it as a prized treasure in his backpack with all his other homework. He would draw pictures, ask me for the English spelling of that word, and write it under the picture. It was crinkled and well worn, but to him, it might as well have been gold.

At one point, he handed the book and pencil to me. “Auntie, write down what I am saying.” I thought the point of doing homework was to have him practice writing and spelling, so I didn’t want to write for him, but soon after he started talking it didn’t take me long to comply. Like an excited journalist tripping upon the perfect quotes, I scribbled as fast as I could, careful not to miss a thing.

“Auntie, write, ‘God everybody loves.’”

I said, “God loves everyone?”

“Yes, write it down, Auntie. Right there.”

“Write, ‘on Christmas, God everybody loves. Always, God everybody loves. And God everybody sees. God… God is watching. He is looking down and He is watching.

“God everybody gives nice new shoes, nice new bag, nice new clothes, nice new house, nice money… nice shoes, nice new bags…”

I’m writing all of this down as he repeats things he has said three times already.

“And God… His angels come down behind us when we’re worshipping, and they sing. God… God is listening. In this room with fourteen people and all are talking and we are talking, as friends, just us, and God hears us and He is listening. When I pray to him, he is listening. At night, when I go to sleep, God isn’t sleeping. He’s staying up praying for me. He is watching. He is listening.

“‘God gives us nice shoes.’ Write this down, Auntie. ‘God gives us nice shoes, and nice bags… nice school, and church, and nice safety walking back’… Are you getting this, Auntie? Right there.”

It may seem like these are superficial things, but to a six-year-old boy who spent much of his young life wandering the streets, you realize the importance of having shoes. Of having a backpack to keep your homework in – that you even have homework and school. How “safety walking back from church and school” is not something he was used to, not something to take for granted. He’s not saying that God is out to make us rich. He is saying that God has provided everything he needs. And he is grateful. These things are wonderful to him.

He starts talking about how God hears the prayers for the mommies in the brothel. How in Heaven, mommies aren’t in brothels. And I realize, what he’s saying is true. Yes, there are people on the street. There are people without shoes. But God is in the process of giving everybody shoes. There are people without food. But God is in the process of giving people food. Clothes, money, a home. If anyone else said that, I wouldn’t listen. I’ve seen my fair share of people without shoes, or clothes, or food. But when Shresh said it, all of a sudden I understood. Shresh has shoes. Sara has a home. Sahil has a bag. Riya has school. They’re all kept safe. And based on their circumstances, these things ought not to have been.

Street people were given food. Their bellies aren’t always full, but I’ve seen God give them food. Not everyone has shoes, but God isn’t done moving, yet. He’s just waiting on the edge of his seat for the next servant of his to step up and keep his redemptive work moving forward.

He is in the process of making All Things New. (Rev 21:4-6)

God, everybody loves. And God, everybody sees. He is listening to their prayers and answering. And one at a time, God gives everybody nice new shoes, new bag, new home. Safety, money to live. He restores their lives and gives back what was taken. Through us, on earth, and in Heaven, all at once.

*******************
YWAM Madison DTS Youth With a Mission Discipleship Training School Megan on outreach in Moldova

Megan attended our Fall DTS in the 2013 and went on outreach to India and Nepal. After completing DTS, Megan joined staff at YWAM Madison and works with missions training and mobilization.

Photo Credits: First~Caryn Werner. Second~Brad Gardner. Third~Keisha Bruce.

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Powerful Words of Hope from an Indian Street Kid

YWAM Madison DTS Youth With A Mission Discipleship Training School Indian Street Kid

I was reading through my journal from my DTS last night, processing some of the things from my outreach to Nepal and India that I have long left unprocessed. After my team got back from outreach, we broke up into new teams with people from all of the different outreach groups – Moldova, Turkey, Thailand, East Asia, Uganda. We went on a “Stateside” outreach across the Midwest and to southern and eastern United States. We were asked to prepare creative pieces, group pieces, and testimonies to share. Although I never got to share my testimonies, I danced and sang almost every place we went, depicting a scene from a brothel, telling the true story of one of our friends we met who is no longer in slavery, and singing about how God makes beautiful things out of dust.

I came home feeling accomplished and like, although it was hard, I had processed outreach. I had a good handle on it: the good, the bad, and the ugly. And then I heard that the orphanage in India had shut down, and some of my new favorite people in the world were in a nasty prison being treated unfairly with no idea if or when they would be released – back onto the streets. I broke.

I walked a lot. And I prayed a lot. And I cried a lot. And sometimes I sobbed. Audibly. Gut-wrenchingly. How could this have happened?

Everything that we had done felt suddenly undone. The joy of my testimonies left my voice and for a while life felt heavy and it was hard to laugh. We had just gone around to all these churches and schools telling them how wonderful God was and how much redemption we saw in the lives of the people we were working with, and now what I thought I knew I guess I wasn’t so sure of anymore. Yes, God was still good. But was He able to protect? To take care of? To provide? And what about us? Does anything we do matter? Why did I just spend the last two months of my life falling in love with something that would so soon be taken from me? Did any of this matter? Was any of it good?

YWAM Madison DTS Youth With a Mission Discipleship Training School Megan in India

It’s been a long process since then, and I’ve definitely seen God’s redemptive hand. All but five of the kids are out of the prison and back in homes, and their lives are being restored again. One of the women we met in the brothels and prayed over has since turned to Jesus, moved out of the brothels, and got a job as a teacher in the same pre-school we ministered to her in, her two children now safe from prostitution as their future. God is redeeming lives. And, being stuck on the day when the children were taken has robbed me of the chance to see God’s glory and redemption in their lives today.

I decided it was time to start processing these things again, to allow God to heal, to make new, to let the old grief pass, and make way for God’s miracles in the present. To allow myself to recognize the good that he has done, in spite of a fallen world where innocent people suffer because of other people’s sins. I learned that the sad things don’t undo the good. I’ve learned a lot of things since then. I read through my journal from after I got home to America, and found my testimonies I had written for our Stateside outreach. I wrote them before I knew the children were taken. I was still freshly optimistic about what we had seen and been a part of on outreach. But I was realizing tonight how those testimonies aren’t any less true. They were true when I wrote them, and true two weeks later when I found out the horrible things that had happened, and true now, two and a half years later, and true to the end of time. I want to share with you the testimony I wrote about a boy named Shresh, who stole my heart, and taught me about God’s. I never got to share it on Stateside. Afterward, I kept it to myself I guess because it was hard to believe, and I’m still in process, but now I know that it is still the truth: that God is making All Things New.

************
Shresh’s Lesson
February 22, 2014

I was sitting on the floor of a home for children at risk in India helping six-year-old Shresh do his homework. He had a little book of folded paper we gave him – he kept it as a prized treasure in his backpack with all his other homework. He would draw pictures, ask me for the English spelling of that word, and write it under the picture. It was crinkled and well worn, but to him, it might as well have been gold.

At one point, he handed the book and pencil to me. “Auntie, write down what I am saying.” I thought the point of doing homework was to have him practice writing and spelling, so I didn’t want to write for him, but soon after he started talking it didn’t take me long to comply. Like an excited journalist tripping upon the perfect quotes, I scribbled as fast as I could, careful not to miss a thing.

“Auntie, write, ‘God everybody loves.’”

I said, “God loves everyone?”

“Yes, write it down, Auntie. Right there.”

“Write, ‘on Christmas, God everybody loves. Always, God everybody loves. And God everybody sees. God… God is watching. He is looking down and He is watching.

“God everybody gives nice new shoes, nice new bag, nice new clothes, nice new house, nice money… nice shoes, nice new bags…”

I’m writing all of this down as he repeats things he has said three times already.

“And God… His angels come down behind us when we’re worshipping, and they sing. God… God is listening. In this room with fourteen people and all are talking and we are talking, as friends, just us, and God hears us and He is listening. When I pray to him, he is listening. At night, when I go to sleep, God isn’t sleeping. He’s staying up praying for me. He is watching. He is listening.

“‘God gives us nice shoes.’ Write this down, Auntie. ‘God gives us nice shoes, and nice bags… nice school, and church, and nice safety walking back’… Are you getting this, Auntie? Right there.”

It may seem like these are superficial things, but to a six-year-old boy who spent much of his young life wandering the streets, you realize the importance of having shoes. Of having a backpack to keep your homework in – that you even have homework and school. How “safety walking back from church and school” is not something he was used to, not something to take for granted. He’s not saying that God is out to make us rich. He is saying that God has provided everything he needs. And he is grateful. These things are wonderful to him.

He starts talking about how God hears the prayers for the mommies in the brothel. How in Heaven, mommies aren’t in brothels. And I realize, what he’s saying is true. Yes, there are people on the street. There are people without shoes. But God is in the process of giving everybody shoes. There are people without food. But God is in the process of giving people food. Clothes, money, a home. If anyone else said that, I wouldn’t listen. I’ve seen my fair share of people without shoes, or clothes, or food. But when Shresh said it, all of a sudden I understood. Shresh has shoes. Sara has a home. Sahil has a bag. Riya has school. They’re all kept safe. And based on their circumstances, these things ought not to have been.

Street people were given food. Their bellies aren’t always full, but I’ve seen God give them food. Not everyone has shoes, but God isn’t done moving, yet. He’s just waiting on the edge of his seat for the next servant of his to step up and keep his redemptive work moving forward.

He is in the process of making All Things New. (Rev 21:4-6)

God, everybody loves. And God, everybody sees. He is listening to their prayers and answering. And one at a time, God gives everybody nice new shoes, new bag, new home. Safety, money to live. He restores their lives and gives back what was taken. Through us, on earth, and in Heaven, all at once.

*******************
YWAM Madison DTS Youth With a Mission Discipleship Training School Megan on outreach in Moldova

Megan attended our Fall DTS in the 2013 and went on outreach to India and Nepal. After completing DTS, Megan joined staff at YWAM Madison and works with missions training and mobilization.

Photo Credits: First~Caryn Werner. Second~Brad Gardner. Third~Keisha Bruce.

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Hold Onto This

It has been three months since my return from the Land of Smiles, I have forgotten a lot I have to admit. I have lost track of many things that I repeatedly told my brain “hold onto this.” I wanted to pack every sight and feeling that I experienced into a box and live in it even when I was state side. But I think if you’re human, you understand that forgetting things is inevitable and this moment is soon-to-be history.

I think that we so often think about the past and we can live in a constant state of nostalgia. We miss the things in our life that are no more and the people who we will never see again. I fall prey to this so often and I am constantly wishing I could relive moments.

Just like when I sat at a childs feet as my teammate cleaned the swarm of bugs and infection from his ankle. As he let out a shout, grappled my hand with all his might and felt the tears falling from his face I couldn’t help but wonder why I was even there. To hold his hand? To just sit there and watch him?

YWAM Madison DTS Youth With A Mission Discipleship Training School Street kids refugees Thailand Burma Myanmar

When I recently recalled it, I remembered the culture in Thailand and its very clear standards when it comes to respect and disrespect in relation to the body. You must refrain from touching the top of anyones head because it’s considered holy as it is the highest place on their body. While the dirtiest, most disgraceful part is your foot. To point your foot at someone is to be highly offensive and disrespectful. With this said, for an adult to sit at and touch his feet simply because they care could make a young boy wonder his worth.

Oswald Chambers once said “The great hindrance in spiritual life is that we will look for big things to do. Jesus took a towel and began to wash the disciples feet.”

This story has no ridiculous outcome that reveals the glory of our King or the heart of our savior. Its simply a moment when I said yes and found myself sitting in the dirt, helpless, as my friend who happens to be a nurse made a kid cry while trying to save his foot. But recently I have come to know that God is looking for people who will say yes to partnering with Him in restoring value to people who believe the lie that they have little to offer this world.

But no worries, I also recall often a time where I miserably failed in this area.

It was our day off and we were in charge of finding our own food so myself and three of my friends walked to a nearby restaurant and on our way there we spotted a woman walking on the empty road. She walked slowly in her 3 inch heels, fidgeting with her mini skirt and small white tank top every few moments. She was completely stumbling into the way of cars, mopeds and any other traffic driving by. They honked her out of the way and continued on. As we neared her and began to pass, she grabbed Hannahs arm quickly and when we all turned to look at her; in her eyes we saw absolutely nothing. Strung out, she was far away from reality as we found her in a world where worth is found in her body and help is nowhere to be found. We spent very little time trying to connect on any level, I asked a few times in english if she was ok only to realize that she didn’t comprehend what I said. Then we looked away and kept walking.

I couldn’t help but feel like I had looked Jesus dead in the eye and walked on. Even now I can’t tell you what I would have done differently but I know I regret doing nothing. I regret not doing what my heart kept screaming: “Stop for the one, Juliet”

So this is all about the little things; the things that seem like they have come to nothing but stay etched in my mind as if I were still there. All while the memories I asked myself to remember float somewhere in my head unable to be recalled. I believe we need to stop looking to make an enormous difference in such a lost and dying world and live a life with the intention of restoring people’s value one by one.

Their value exceeds their body, their achievements and their monetary value but instead resides in the throne room of God where He created the innermost parts of us. He has put a price on us that cannot be bought by what this world can bid. If you want to know the immensity by which He loves you, you must ask Him; but remember that some things are so great that He cannot simply tell you but instead He must show you.

With Great Love,

Juliet

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Juliet attended our Fall Children at Risk DTS in 2015 and completed her outreach in Thailand. She is currently home fundraising and preparing to continue her missions journey. To read more from Juliet, subscribe to her blog https://julietlocker.wordpress.com.

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Where was God when I got hurt?

DTS student Kahli is asked tough questions while on outreach in Germany.

Felix, a homeless man in Germany, asks DTS student Kahli some tough questions.

His question echoed what I had asked God so many times. And it’s a question that seems to be the heart question of so many others.

“Why do bad things happen to me if I haven’t done anything wrong?”

I met Felix while we were in Germany, on a day when we were reaching out to the homeless. Felix lived under a train bridge with a friend. We brought coffee, and as soon as he knew what we were doing, he asked questions.

“If I’ve done okay in my life, why am I here? Why have all these things happened to me?”

And here’s the thing: I couldn’t answer him. I asked God, I prayed for this man, I wracked my brain for all the answers I’ve been conditioned to give. I came up empty.

I’ve sat through hours of classes, hours of church services, and all my answers seemed insufficient. I couldn’t look his pain in the eye and tell him that it was all okay, that we live in a fallen world, or it’s not God’s fault.

Obdachlose unter einer BrŸcke und Werbung mit dem Slogan "TOP Leistunsgwerte".Eventually, he waved us off, saying that he wanted to drink with his friend. I swear there were tears in his eyes as we walked away.

I realized deep in my core that this question matters to the world, too. It isn’t just me. The answer matters to more than just me.

I asked God the question again on our walk through the plaza.

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

And God didn’t give me a trite answer anymore than I could give Felix one.

I don’t think God does trite answers.

At that moment, I remembered the day in class when I finally became brave enough to ask this question to God himself, in a more personal way. What was I really asking?

“God, where were you when I was hurt?”

We’re human. Not one of us can claim faultlessness. But there are plenty of big hurts that had nothing to do with our own actions.

The teacher that week encouraged us to ask God where he was when we were hurt. And when we ask that question? He is so faithful to answer. God is not absent, He is emmanuel. God with us. God with me. God with Felix.

If I could go back, and have five more minutes with Felix, this is what I would tell him.

I don’t know why these things happened. I don’t know what put you under this bridge. I do know God, and I know he loves you. People make choices, whether it’s to love or cause pain. And God feels that from us every day. Everyday we make choices to love God or hurt Him. But to take away the choice to hurt would be to take away the choice to love. He can’t always stop the hurt from happening. But He has been with you, every single second. He has so much love for you. Ask him where He was, Felix. He’d love to answer.


photo credits: top: Borja Isa  bottom: Sascha Kohlmann

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Experiencing Jesus’ compassion

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Berlin street at night

(story from Dan, a YWAM-DTS student who is on outreach in Germany and Sweden.)

When I stepped out of the café Wednesday night, I wasn’t prepared for what I saw.

Like a typical late night in the city, people were still out on the sidewalks. Most of them were women. What I wasn’t prepared for was the looks of the men who drove slowly by – leering, appraising, as if the women in front of them were nothing more than something to rent for an hour or two. And that’s what they were to them – merely a body to use for their own pleasure. A transaction.

It was a common scene in that part of Berlin, Germany, where prostitution is legal. In fact, prostitution is considered normal, just another industry.

Berlin at nightEarlier that night, my team and I met some of those women. We wanted to get to know them and let them know they are worth so much more than their bodies. One woman shared how much it hurt when the men kept on driving. “Am I so ugly?” she asked. “I haven’t had any customers for a while.”

Sadness filled my heart. I looked at these women with a depth of compassion I hadn’t known before. I felt sad because I know God didn’t intend for any of this to happen. It breaks his heart that the girls’ view of love was so distorted.

Some of the girls were persuaded by their boyfriends to sell their bodies. Others were sold outright by the men who claimed to love them. For some, prostitution is the only way they see they can earn money to support their families. Still others are trafficked and held captive in brothels where their services often go for less than 30€ and working conditions are dangerous.

We partnered with an organization called Alabastar Jar while we were in Berlin. The people at Alabastar Jar walk and pray through the red light district and others strike up conversations with the prostitutes. They give the women coffee, tea, and other small items (like toiletries). They invite them to the café the following night to give the girls a break and a healthy meal. As they make friends with the women, they hope to persuade them to give up their line of work. Some are invited to move to a transitional home where they can get clean and find a different way to provide for themselves.

Will you join us in praying for the women and for their customers? Will you pray for the politicians who are working to create laws that will protect the women?

photo credits: Feet on the Street via photopin (license) and Im nächtlichen Schein via photopin (license)

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DNA Americas Report: Infusing YWAMers with Faith to Fulfill Our Mission

YWAM Madison DNA Loren and Darlene Cunningham  David Hamilton Americas Gathering

More than 300 people from 32 nations from North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Pacific islands converged in Missouri, USA for the YWAM DNA Infusion leadership development event, led by Darlene Cunningham. For the first time, a one-week DNA Lite was also offered alongside the DNA Infusion in which YWAM DTSes and second level schools joined the gathering.

Leaders from North and Central America worked together to host the event.* The DNA was held at a Windermere Conference Center nestled in the Ozark Mountains on the Lake of the Ozarks. Outside, spring was emerging with beautiful dogwood, oak and fir trees. The conference center offered a wealth of opportunities for networking and relationship- building from hiking trails, sand volleyball courts, extensive decks with rocking chairs, and caves to explore.

Staff from YWAM Madison, Wisconsin ran a children’s program alongside the DNA that taught YWAM kids how to hear from God and intercede for the nations. The children created a 200-foot timeline full of their stories, crafts and intercession notes of all God had taught them in their Kids DNA.

YWAM Madison DNA Americas Gathering Loren Cunningham Darlene Cunningham David Hamilton  youth with a mission dts

Teaching from Loren & Darlene Cunningham and David Hamilton

The purpose of the DNA was for the founding leaders to pass on to this younger generation the history, values and DNA of Youth With A Mission. The primary speakers in addition to Darlene Cunningham were Loren Cunningham and David Hamilton.

Darlene, the leader of the DNA and co-founder of YWAM, shared lessons from our history that have shaped us, including God’s loving correction to keep us on course. She also gave us an illustration and teaching about the “Belief Tree” to help us make sure that there is alignment and “integrity” between our worldview, beliefs, values, decisions and actions. She exhorted us to pursue alignment so that we could be “Mission True” for generations to come and release many more into God’s missions movement.

David is University of the Nations’ Vice President for Strategic Innovation. He underlined YWAM’s apostolic anointing and God’s covenants to us, calling young people from everywhere to everywhere. He also gave us understanding of societal spheres and God- given domains and encouraged us to think deeply about our decisions and actions so that we can understand both why we do what we do and what the effect of our actions will be for generations to come.

Loren Cunningham, YWAM’s founder, encouraged us to “catch the wave” of what the Holy Spirit is doing in the earth today. The theme that ran throughout his teaching was his passion to “engage with vision for the Bible to be available to everyone on earth in their own language by 2020.” He believes that “eradicating Bible poverty” and getting the Word to the World will create the foundation for the greatest global move of God’s Spirit in history, that will bring about the greatest global transformation the world has ever known.

YWAM Madison DNA Americas Gathering Loren Cunningham Darlene Cunningham David Hamilton  youth with a mission dts

Key Themes During the Americas DNA

Throughout the DNA, God highlighted several key themes. In this season of YWAM’s DNA being passed to the next generation, the stories of Joshua and Caleb came up several times from members of both the Host and DNA team. Joshua and Caleb were the good spies. They’d seen the giants and massive obstacles blocking their path to the Promised Land. But they had great confidence that their God was able to defeat any giant. Despite this confidence in God’s miracle working power, Joshua still faced huge challenges as Moses passed the torch of leadership to him. Joshua was exhorted first by Moses, then God, and then all of Israel to, “Be bold and courageous, for God is with you wherever you go” (Deut. 31 and Josh. 1). Although Joshua had 40+ years of “leadership training” in serving Moses, it was not until he stepped out to lead that he gained self-confidence that the same God of Moses would be with him too. Through these words, God was exhorting all of us at the DNA not only to be confident in who He is, but also in who He is through us (our own gifts and abilities) and to boldly step out and fulfill our calling. Vickie Hedgepeth summarized it well when she said that Creation itself is crying out for us to fulfill our calling and redeem the world from its suffering (Romans 8:15-21).

There was also a strong sense that God had a great blessing and anointing for us in this season of our mission as we learn to work together across the generations. Loren’s words echoed in our spirits, “I was a young radical. Now I’m an old radical. Don’t mess with my radical!” Paul Allen led us in application of those words by tying them in to the story of Caleb who in his elder years declared that he would conquer the hill country where the giants lived (Joshua 14). Loren has lived with great boldness and vision throughout his life. And even as Loren continues to move forward in boldness, God is challenging us to rise up and take down the giants on the next hilltops.

The “twin” ministries of YWAM Ships and the University of the Nations was also a key theme. Nathaniel Baldock shared videos about YWAM Ship ministries and led us in intercession for YWAM’s 22 vessels, and the many more that are needed to reach remote areas. Through this broadened awareness, the vision to participate in ships ministries grew in all our hearts.

DTS as the “doorway into the mission” also came out several times. We again affirmed Darlene’s words, “as the DTS goes, so goes the mission” and that we cannot by-pass this vital entry point. David Hamilton shared through his stories of pioneering in Chile that the “DTS is a missions movement in a nutshell. It is like a time bomb you insert in a culture to explode the purposes of God.”

YWAM Madison DNA Americas Gathering Loren Cunningham Darlene Cunningham David Hamilton  youth with a mission dts

Powerful Worship, Response & Healing Times

There were several significant worship and response times during the DNA. On our first full day together, we watched highlights from the historic Azusa Now Gathering that had taken place in California on April 9th, right before the DNA began. Nearly 100,000 people had gathered in the L.A. Coliseum to seek God and commit themselves to unity and honoring one another. As we watched, listened to testimonies from Michael Berg, and engaged with what God had done in L.A., our hearts burned within us to join in the Azusa Now Covenant. Together, we repeated the covenant word for word, and committed to unity with the diverse expressions of Christianity. We also committed to have self-control over all our communication in person, in writing and on social media. As we did, the presence of the Holy Spirit descended. There were many tears as people made phone calls or talked to others in the room asking forgiveness for unkind words or disunity. Out of this time of repentance, great joy filled the room as the Holy Spirit brought forgiveness and unity. In response to another word shared at Azusa Now, we all also joined into the “Go” offering by taking off our shoes and lifting them to the Lord to say “send me.”

On Wednesday evening, we rolled out a massive 4k World Map. We worshipped and interceded for the nations. We prayed for new pioneering ventures in the places where YWAM missionaries are not. We also prayed for several teams who were about to leave on outreach. One participant noted that this evening imparted “a bigger view of YWAM as a whole, excitement in my heart about pioneering, dreaming with God, and vision! I feel God has given me a burden for the nations and praying on the map took that vision deeper.”

Another powerful time came on Thursday night of the first week. The YWAM Lakeside, Montana team led us into God’s presence through several hours of worship together. Throughout the evening, participants shared words God was giving them and led us in response. One participant (Evynn) invited people forward who needed prayer for healing. Almost two years earlier, she had come down with a debilitating mystery illness that drained her energy completely and confined her to bed. Then, God gave her a dream about healing her just a few weeks before the DNA and she came to the DNA trusting that God would completely heal her. Dozens joined her up front for prayer. God’s presence was incredibly strong and many began experiencing physical healing including Evynn. Others experienced deep, emotional healing that allowed them to experience fresh expressions of God’s love.

YWAM Madison DNA Americas Gathering Loren Cunningham Darlene Cunningham David Hamilton  youth with a mission dts

Networking, Convening Circles, Empowered to Change the World

With over 45 YWAM locations and 32 nations present at the Americas DNA, networking played a huge role in the event. Participants who felt led to pioneer in thematic areas (like education) or in geographic areas (like Utah) called “convening circles” with others who were interested in this passion so that they could pray together and discuss ways to partner in the future. Other convening circles included anti-trafficking, children’s ministries, moms in missions, ships, children at risk, government, refugee ministry, and worship ministry.

Break times and meals turned into innovation opportunities as people shared ideas God had given them and combined them with others’ ideas. But perhaps even more important than new vision was the unity of relationships that emerged from within such a diverse crowd as we shared life together at Windermere. One participant noted, “We met so many amazing people willing to obey the Lord together as whole families! We were very encouraged and our faith was strengthened through these encounters.”

By the time we reached the final day, we were excited to change the world, but sad to leave because of the depth of newly formed friendships. We wrapped up the DNA as we had begun — by focusing on Jesus. David Hamilton shared a devotional called “Remembering Jesus” about the experiences Jesus’ disciples must have told each other between His death and resurrection. We then took communion and shared with each other our own memories of Jesus and His goodness in our lives. It was a powerful moment that sealed the deep work God had done in reviving our hearts, bonding us together and filling us with vision during the DNA.

Darlene’s “yellow list” of parting instructions summarized the entire two weeks. And perhaps these three simple phrases summarize it best:

Hear God. Obey. Don’t give up!

YWAM Madison DNA Americas Gathering Loren Cunningham Darlene Cunningham David Hamilton  youth with a mission dts

* Host Team made up of leaders from North & Central America who organized the DNA: Paul Allen (DNA Convener & YWAM Madison), Michael Berg (Eastern North America Convener & YWAM Orlando), Vickie Hedgepeth (International DTS Centre for North
America & YWAM Charlotte), John Stenson (International DTS Centre for Central America & YWAM Madison), Wayne Groff (YWAM Madison), Josh Elke (YWAM Sarasota), Kristy Wilke (Worship Leader & YWAM Lakeside), Dallas & Gabi Quantz (Spanish Translators & YWAM Mazatlan). DNA Team who facilitated content & teaching of DNA: Loren & Darlene Cunningham, David & Christine Hamilton, Dawn Gauslin, Nathaniel Baldock (All YWAM Kona).

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Overcoming Asthma: The Joy of My First Deep Breath

YWAM Madison YWAM DNA Gathering Conference Chara healed from asthma
Chara has battled asthma her whole life. For the last couple years, she would frequently have asthma attacks 3-4 times a day (& at times even in the night). This made her very fearful to do anything physical.

“It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest,” she said.

On Thursday night, she felt she should come forward for healing prayer at the DNA America’s Gathering. A DTS student came up to Chara and said she felt like she was to pray for some who had a lung problem. It was a perfect match!

After the prayer time, Chara went on with life as normal. And for some reason, things that used to make her afraid didn’t anymore. She spent the whole day walking around Branson, Missouri on Saturday. Then on Sunday morning, she hiked up a long switchback hill to go to a chapel communion time for the DNA. When she arrived at the top, she realized she’d left her Bible behind and hiked all the way back down and up the hill again.

It was only then that it clicked. She’d been 3 days asthma free! She could actually take a deep breath for the first time! God had healed her!

“I never knew why people liked exercise before,” she said. “But now I get it. It’s actually fun if you can breathe!”

Thank you Jesus!

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