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As you are all likely aware, I have finally come up to the end of my time with YWAM! It has been a very good, long and challenging year. I will do my best to sum up what I have been up to here.
The King’s Lodge - the YWAM Base I was at for the past year
1 year, 1 week and 1 day ago, I headed overseas to be involved with a YWAM (Youth With A Mission) School, called the School of Biblical Studies (SBS). I initially chose to do this because during my DTS (Discipleship Training School) with YWAM, I strongly felt like I needed to deepen and further my knowledge of the Bible. Did you know that 9% of North American Christians have read the Bible more than once (and 11% have read the whole Bible once)? I didn’t want to be part of the 89% who had never read the whole Bible! As Christians, we profess that the Bible is God’s inspired written work, and we base our morals and often our decisions on what it says. If I didn’t know what was in it, how could I, in good faith, claim to know what God’s heart was? However, plans to come back to YWAM were put off for 2 years as I had been accepted to do my Master’s degree in Audiology, and I felt like I needed to do this first. But at the end of those 2 years, I finally made my way back to England (that’s another story how I chose England, I didn’t want to go back to the same country), to The Kings Lodge, and began the SBS.
My DTS class from 2016
I would love to say that I fell in love with the school and the YWAM base when I got here, but honestly I didn’t. We started the school with 20 students, about half of which had already had connections at The Kings Lodge (from previously doing a DTS there or being a staff on the base), and for the first 3 weeks or so, it was quite lonely. But quickly enough, we started to take initiative as students to build those relationships and to get to know each other, and the school was off and running. I won’t lie, the first term was intense and I probably couldn’t tell you very well what I learned, because we focused mainly on the New Testament and that is what most ‘modern-day’ churches that I have been to teach out of. But I did learn a lot of new things, most significantly about Paul’s 3 missionary journeys, the churches that he wrote letters to (who they actually were), and just a lot more of the “extra” details we don’t necessarily realize or know when reading these books!
My parents paid for my flight home for Christmas, which I was very grateful for, and I was able to spend about 1 ½ weeks recovering and visiting friends and family.
And that rest was much needed! I didn’t take another proper rest until July! In January, we launched right back into finishing the New Testament (we had about 4 or 5 books to finish), then we had to do an oral exam on what we learned from the New Testament. That was terrifying and challenging! We needed to know (for each individual book), who wrote it, when it was written, why it was written, who it was written to, as well as memorizing a key verse (that summarized the main idea of the book), knowing the main idea of the book, the historical background of the book (who the church was, what was the political situation, had the author been there before, etc), and a rough outline of what the book talked about. That was probably one of my most challenging examinations I’ve ever had!
Once that was all finished, we launched into the Old Testament. This is when things became more challenging for us, because it was not as familiar. Sure, most of us have heard of Adam and Eve, and the flood story, and probably David and Goliath. But the Old Testament is riddled with other stories I had never heard of, that challenged my understanding of who God is (read the book of Judges if you ever get a chance - there are some seedy characters in there!). I think the most challenging and eye-opening for me was when we studied the prophets. So often we misuse the literature to support what we believe, but we don’t fully understand the original intent! The prophets were a horribly abused and misused people that God chose to speak on His behalf. They went through some pretty awful stuff! But I think I really saw God’s heart for His people most clearly during this time, the Israelites and Jews had done some horrible things, and God was still pursuing them, He still loved them and wanted to redeem them.
Really, I think the whole Bible seems to be about God wanting to dwell with His people again.
That’s quite profound.
Near the end of this school, we had another oral exam where we had to know pretty much the same stuff as we did for the New Testament, but just for the prophets this time. Also challenging, but this time around, it was eye-opening just how much I had learned the past few months! We then finished off the school with Revelation, the “what’s next” book of the Bible, and that is a tricky book to wrap my mind around!
We finished at the end of June, had our commissioning and most people left. I had a 3 week vacation during this time, and was finally able to decompress a bit (not as much as I would have liked to, but somewhat). Then I started up again!
My SBS class at commissioning night!
My 2nd school I did was called The Titus Project. The idea behind this is that people felt like the SBS was great, but how do we put this into practice? The school is all about equipping SBS trainees to take what they have learned and learn how to teach and preach in countries that don't necessarily have access to quality biblical teaching. And that’s what we did. The first 3 weeks were about training and equipping us practically to go and teach, and the next 8 weeks were spent in Uganda putting everything into practice. Then we returned to The Kings Lodge for 1 week to celebrate what God had done through us, and to debrief our time abroad. This school was especially challenging for me, as we originally planned to have 2 outreach teams, one to India and one to Uganda, however, one trainee never showed up, and another made the choice to leave the school our second week, so the India outreach was cancelled. Our team had a great, but a very challenging outreach, and I was glad to return to the UK. One major takeaway for me after the Titus outreach was a clarification of my calling, and of the gifts God has given to me to share with others. So I am very thankful to have had this time.
My Titus Team at commissioning
And now I’m returning home! I put my audiology career on hold whilst away, and will be picking that back up when I return. I have a lot that I need to do now, that most of my classmates did just over a year ago when they finished their last placements! I also have a service dog at home that has been “on vacation” for 1 year, and I need to reassess her ability to continue working, so that will be another thing on my plate.
Some may ask what was the point of the schools I did, and how will I use this in the future. I learned so much from my time abroad, from how to think critically, to managing personal discipline in completing quality work in a short timeframe, to endurance to continue heavy coursework over a period of 9 months. I have gained a deeper understanding for how people think and act, and I am able to respond in an appropriate way. In Uganda, I learned how to be increasingly flexible to accommodate for last-minute program changes and late participants to my teaching seminars. I also learned just how important it is to manage conflict, and to seek for resolution. My cross-cultural sensitivity has grown so much, and having never been to Africa before, I now have a better understanding of how African people think and act. I’m not sure exactly how I will use what I have learned in the future yet, but I deeply value all the things I have learned, and I know they will be used at some point.
And that’s where I’m at! If you want to know more about my time away, or what I’m up to, please contact me - I’d love to have a conversation with you!
Thank you for tracking along with this journey over the past year!