What is YWAM?
Youth With A Mission is a global movement of Christians from many cultures, age groups, and Christian traditions, dedicated to serving Jesus throughout the world. Also known as YWAM (pronounced “WHY-wham”), they unite in a common purpose to know God and to make Him known.
When they began in 1960, the main focus was to get youth involved in missions. Today, they still focus on youth, and they also involve people aged 8 to 80. They currently work in more than 1,100 locations in over 180 countries, with a staff of over 18,000.
One of the joys of participating in YWAM is to work with people from many nations. YWAM’s staff (known as “YWAMers”) come from over 130 countries, including places like Indonesia, Nepal, Mozambique, and Colombia. For more information you can visit their webpage at www.ywam.org
Riversgate has had a number of high school students graduate and serve as part of a DTS. The students below are actively engaged in YWAM ministries and would love your prayer and support as they navigate God's call on their lives!
Join us in praying for Analies Steensma as she returns to her base in Australia to serve on staff, facilitating DTS experiences for other students looking to explore their identity in Christ and their call to serve in missions around the world!
A lot has happened since my last full newsletter! It feels like time is slipping through my fingers even as I write this. I’m learning to hold on to the things that bring joy in each day as well as the things that aren’t so glamorous. There’s a lot of tedious activity, background prep work, and hard hours that go into what I’ve been doing lately, but I’m seeing more and more how I can use every moment for something bigger. It seems like one of the classic musings of a grandparent, “Where is the time going?”, and yet at 22 I find it often on my mind. I guess it’s learning to balance what I’ve done and what I have not yet done, the gap between the things I’m doing and what I dream of doing, being dedicated to where I am and imagining what will be. I’m not too sure if I’ll ever be perched perfectly on top of it all, balanced like a rock climber on their way up Halfdome, but I’ll do my best to clamber up as far as I can get.
God’s been doing a lot in me lately and growing me in new ways, but before I get to that, here are some things from the past season that I’m learning to cherish.
The July DTS was commissioned.
I was totally blown away by everything God did in and through these students in the five months I was with them. They loved deeply, were willing to go the extra mile, and made a huge impact on my life and the lives of the people we met in Indonesia.
Although it went by way too quickly, I really enjoyed getting to spend time with my family while I was home! I even got to spend a weekend with my momma at one of my favorite places on earth: the Oregon coast.
From going out with friends that you’ve known for almost 20 years, to snowshoeing adventures with friends from around the world, I’ve been really blessed by friendship in this last season. I love how relationship is so key to health: I can’t count how many times having people in my life who truly see me and love me has made all the difference.
I’ve been waiting for weeks for a pretty package to wrap this up in, but I haven’t been able to find one. This may be jagged, a bit unrefined, but it is raw, and organic seems to be the popular thing these days anyways, so here goes:
I’m selfish. I’m fearful. I miss home. I don’t have it all together.
When I first moved to Australia in September of 2014, I was full of excitement, passion, and a hunger to see and be seen. When I joined staff with YWAM, all I wanted to do was see people set free into who they were created to be. As the years went on, I saw a lot of my desires grow, some fade for good reason, a lot of them I saw change and get reshaped into new things. God has been and continues to do amazing, profound things in my life and in the lives of the people around me, but at what cost?
Counting the cost is something that Jesus talked to a crowd about 2000 years ago and the sentiment remains: with commitment comes sacrifice, and with sacrifice comes loss, but even in that loss, there is great reward.
After coming back from my time at home in America, a big wave of doubt and homesickness hit me. I had just committed to another three years of serving and growing the community here in Wollongong, and all of a sudden, I didn’t even want to be in the country that had become my second home. I doubted that I had heard God correctly about being here, I doubted what my role and purpose was here, and I was confused why I was feeling all of these things.
I was having a chat with a wise friend about all of this, and they shared something that really helped: when you first start something, you get swept up in the newness and adventure of it, but as time goes on, you reach different moments of re-evaluating the cost of it. Maybe at first it isn’t much, or it might just be surface level, but as time moves forward, the cost gets greater. When I first came to Australia, being away from my family didn’t bother me that much, but being on the other side of the world is a much bigger sacrifice to make when it becomes years without them. Realizing something is a bigger sacrifice than it used to be isn’t a bad thing, but it’s an important step in making commitments and understanding the cost of our choices.
In the beginning of February, Northern Queensland experienced the worst flooding the state had ever seen. With that came thousands of homes lost, dozens of people displaced, whole industries damaged and tons of communities feeling isolated. The YWAM base in Townsville works closely with their local government, and when the disaster happened, they were asked to coordinate relief work for the different churches, government agencies and non-profits that went to respond. The need was pretty big, so some of the leaders from there contacted different YWAM bases in Australia and asked for help. When I heard about all of this, my heart started pounding and I heard this small voice in my mind that said “Go! This is for you!”, and as soon as I heard that whisper, I heard even louder “No! This is too much! You have plans this weekend, this is too short of notice. You’re not spontaneous, you can’t just up and leave!”. It’s amazing how quickly fear and selfishness come to mind in the face of great opportunity. I was learning about sacrifice again, this time in a different way. When I sat down to think of my reasons to go and my reasons not to go, I filled the ‘not to go’ list pretty quickly. But when I looked a bit closer at all of those reasons they were either based out of fear or selfishness. I realized that it would be a sacrifice to go to Townsville, a sacrifice of money, time, my social plans, my comfort zone, but in making those sacrifices, I was also creating space for even greater reward.
After I decided to go, to step out and be willing, I saw an amazing move of generosity and received many donations to help make the trip possible. I saw a small team from our base come together and say ‘no matter the cost we’re in, no matter how uncomfortable it will be, we’re in’. I saw the whole Wollongong campus rally around us to cover our responsibilities while we were away. It was truly incredible to see it all come together in just a matter of 2 days.
While up in Townsville, I got to help the hospitality department get ready for an influx of guests and volunteers, and I also got be a part of the initiative ‘Team Townsville’ that the YWAM base organized, to reach out and check on all of the residents affected by the flooding, in partnership with the city council. What we did for the first phase of Team Townsville, was go house to house, street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood, to check on each person to see how they were fairing emotionally and physically, connect them with help, and let them know they were not alone. It was hard, the weather was extremely hot (in fact the hottest days they had on record for over 40 years), and being confronted with such extreme loss can be overwhelming. Even amidst the challenges, the rewards were incredible. I got to meet with so many people face to face and hear their stories. I got to sit and share afternoon tea with people who had just lost all of their belongings and dream about what was to come. I got to see organizations and churches and government work together all for the well being of their neighbors. I was able to see an entire city come together in celebration and declare ‘this was tough be we are tougher’.
I would have missed out on all of those things and more if I had chosen what’s often the easier option of being comfortable (and beneath that, selfish and fearful). But in sacrifice come space for much greater reward.
The cost might be big, but I've chosen that it's worth it.