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Answering the Big Question: "Why DTS?"

Updated: Mar 7, 2020

Beginnings are a funny thing when you think about it. Really, beginnings mostly consist of grey areas. One thing connects to another in a seemingly endless procession of events, and looking back it is hard to pinpoint the exact beginning of a thing. But still, in all the fog and confusion, you can see that there is still perfection in beginnings. They have winding roads, with countless twists and turns, but each one is designed by our Father with unmatched precision. That is how I kind of view the beginning of this journey with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). My decision to take a year off of school and attend YWAM’s Discipleship Training School (DTS) cannot be traced back to a single event. My experiences, decisions, and friendships have all led me here to this moment. I could answer the question of “why YWAM?” by starting at the very beginning of my faith journey, or at the beginning of college, there is really no exact beginning. With that being said, I will jump into this story at the start of my summer in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

In March of this past year, I lived in Colorado for the majority of my summer between freshman and sophomore year at William and Mary. I love Colorado and have always wanted to live there, so I figured that this would be the perfect time to go! I stayed with family there and worked at a raft shop (the best job ever in my opinion) and a bakery. Knowing only three souls in the tiny town of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, was not necessarily a recipe for social expansion. I had a lot of time to myself, and because of that, I spent a lot of time with Jesus, reading scripture and diving deeper into my relationship with Him. It was during this time that I began struggling with what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be, and how in the world Jesus would use me for good in this world. What were the callings He had placed on my life? Was I listening to hear what He may be trying to say? Was I even prepared to listen? Jesus brought me to the realization that the goals and desires I had for my life were still under lockdown, hidden neatly away from His reach (or so I thought).  If I really did want to fulfill the plans the Lord had for me, I needed to surrender them to Him completely. I began praying about that, asking for God to help me surrender control (which was difficult if you know the extent of my desire for a strict, precise, and detailed plan).

While I was wrestling through this, I met an incredible person who played a critical role in my decision to attend YWAM. He came along right as I was slowly going crazy from loneliness and planning the rest of my life (I was for sure on the brink of losing all sanity). In that regard, his friendship alone was an answered prayer! But more than that, he offered me guidance and stepped directly into my tug-of-war with God over the trajectory of my life, speaking so much truth, love, and wisdom into that situation. It was an emotional windstorm, but he walked with me and for that I am so thankful. Shoutout to this very special person!

My friendship with him led me to a small group of young adults where God first spoke directly and unmistakably as He led me to YWAM. It sounds funny written out, but please know that it was real. It was tangible, but it is hard to explain, so bear with me as I do my very best!

I was speaking with a stranger, (whose name I forget, but for the sake of this I will call him Sam). Sam was talking to me about my plans, my core desires, and my passions. I remember saying that I wanted to help people and that every day I wanted to wake up and be used by God. I talked about how I love science and healthcare. In those moments, everything around Sam blurred, not in a physical way, but everything around us just became less prominent. Really I do not remember much else other than Sam’s face. It is hard for me to remember the exact words that Sam used, but I remember that I kept hearing “stop” over and over again. Essentially, Sam was saying, “Stop trying to be good, benevolent, sacrificial, and enough. Stop. Stop trying to earn God. Stop trying to serve God. Stop. Just simply stop.” And then Sam began explaining further: “The very first thing you are called to do is know God and be in relationship with Him. You are called to love Him and let Him love you. The rest comes after that. God will use you, but first, He just wants you, not the things you do and not the rules you follow. He does not have to use you, and maybe He won’t use you in the ways you’ve planned. That is not the point. The point is to just simply be with Him and be at His feet. That is the primary calling.”

I believe God was talking to me in those few moments through Sam. I had no idea of the many things that my heart had been struggling with until then. Sam’s words were like scalpels, cutting deep into my heart with unimaginable precision which could have only come from the One who knows the detailed anatomy of my spirit, The Lord.

I had no idea I was chasing after God, desperately begging for Him to use me so that I could feel worthy of being in relationship with Him. I did not know how hard I had been working to earn God’s love, to been seen as valuable and worthy to God and to the people around me. It was like the Lord had just magnified the deepest whispers of my soul, and set them ablaze. He spoke directly to my heart in a way I had never experienced before and I was very much shaken, not knowing what any of this meant.

Leaving the small group, I knew something had just happened, but it felt like a daze. I arrived at home and was explaining these things to Gabriel, my cousin who I was living with, and I believe God spoke again during that conversation. This time, it was through scripture. I had been reading the parable of the young rich ruler found in chapter nineteen of Matthew’s gospel earlier that week, and for some reason the story came into the foreground of my thoughts. In the parable, a young man comes to Jesus, asking Him how to gain eternal life. Jesus responds that he must keep the commandments, but the young ruler states that he already has, implying that he feels he is still missing something. Jesus asks him to sell everything he owns and follow Him. A big ask, one that the young ruler refuses to obey. It goes on to say that this young man walks away sad. I felt as though God was revealing to me the similarities between this rich young ruler and I. By fumbling through obeying all of the rules, and trying to earn God’s love, I had been missing the real prize: Jesus. This story is not saying that having expensive things is wrong, or that we must leave all of our possessions behind in order to follow Jesus. The problem comes when we put our identity in things (anything) other than the Lord, like this young ruler had placed his identity in his possessions. Jesus is essentially saying, “let me be the rock on which you stand. Come, follow me. Leave the old you and all the things you used as crutches to hold you up, behind.”

For a long time I found my worth in things of this world, instead of resting in my identity as a beloved daughter of the Father. But Jesus was showing me that I did not have to walk away from Him sad, clinging to old definitions of myself. Over the next few days I prayed like I never had before. God had brought me to His feet, in desperate need of His presence and guidance as I sought clarity on how I could take these encounters and turn them into tangible responses.

After spending time with God and having conversations with my parents and other Christian mentors, the Lord brought me to the conclusion that I was to go deeper in my relationship with Him. It was like I had just woken up from a deep sleep. I remember thinking, if Jesus really did come to this earth, live a life defined by self-sacrificing love, and defeat death and sin on the cross, then what am I doing? If this world was the creative expression of God’s love for us, if all of us were made in His image, if the ultimate answer to my “not-enoughness” was because I was made for intimate relationship with my Father, then why wasn’t He at the very center of my life in tangible, active, and visible ways? What am I doing running around chasing social status, degrees, relationships, and jobs, that all amount to nothing without Jesus being at the front and center? I remember describing it to my parents as having God-colored glasses on for the first time. It was like I was seeing the world for its truth: that we need Him, desperately, and in everything. Everyone needs Him. I need Him, and He is calling me closer.

YWAM was the answer to this call in many ways. Lecture phase will be an immersive, all-in, academic environment dedicated to revealing the nature and character of God. Weekly topics include: holy spirit, spiritual warfare, biblical worldview, work and person of Jesus, relationships, and evangelism. This academically driven environment will allow me to grow in my faith spiritually, but also intellectually as we dive into these topics. We will be receiving discipleship training (in one-on-one and small group form) so that we are equipped to spread the Good News wherever we go. Outreach phase in Thailand will be a time of complete surrender of all of my rights to live faithfully, serving Him by serving the Thai people. I am so excited for this season of my life where I get to discover my identity, purpose, and value in the Lord alone. He is about to redefine my perception of love as I rest in the identity of His beloved daughter!

I hope that this first blog was interesting and helpful! I would love to answer any questions that it may have prompted. Just go to the FAQ’s page and scroll to find “Ask us!” then fill out that form so that I can respond! Nicole and I safely arrived in Coeur d’Alene yesterday and we are loving it so far. I already feel the presence of the Lord working and school hasn’t even started yet! The remaining DTS students will arrive tomorrow and classes start Monday. I am hoping to upload pictures of our schedule so that you all will get to see exactly what we will be up to. Thank you for your love and prayers. We feel so cherished and cared for by you all!!!

- Marie  

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