"YWAM is dangerous...I spent 12 years...under the influence"


November 1999
By a former member

I attended a Discipleship Training School (DTS) in the 1980s and was once a member of Youth With A Mission (YWAM). During the 80s and early 90s I was a member of a bible-based fundamentalist church "planted" (founded) by YWAM, which taught YWAM doctrine Sunday after Sunday. When I was not a staff member I spent every free moment traveling with YWAM as a participant in their programs. I spent 12 years of my life (from 17 to 29) under the influence of YWAM.

I would not only support your conclusion that YWAM cannot be recommended, but indeed is dangerous.

I personally believe that YWAM is a dangerous cult [sic]--dangerous because the methods are very subtle and it takes a long time (at least it took me a long time) to realize what was wrong and to get it out of my system.

The YWAM structure is based upon shepherding teachings with a strong authoritarian leadership at all levels.

It certainly is true that any doubts [about YWAM] are often seen as rebellion and rebellion at times can be labeled as witchcraft.

Once you leave without their consent you have "backslidden" and may be considered "ungodly."

I know personally a number of people whose mental and physical health as well as financial security was ruined by YWAM--one of them actually had to be institutionalized.

To my knowledge, no staff member worldwide--receives any salary or benefits whatsoever from YWAM at any time. Instead, staff is responsible for raising their own funds through their church and circle of friends. Every staff member is financially independent--so to speak. YWAM takes no responsibility for the staff member's finances at all. There is no flow of monies from the organization to the staff member--only from the staff member to the organization.

YMAM members live at a "base" (a building owned/rented and run by YWAM) and they have to pay YWAM for room and board and in some cases also an additional amount for use of the office facilities.

All travel undertaken for/with YWAM is paid by the staff member. No insurance coverage is provided and disclaimers are a prerequisite. The same applies to all courses offered, such as the "DTS." There were other financial arrangements I found unacceptable, such as high profile staff members with public "ministries," and/or "base leaders," often having a larger income through donations than a staff member working in the kitchens--who didn't have a public ministry. A "high profile member" would travel worldwide, speak at

Churches where "God speaks to people" and tells them to give money to the speaker. I always found that quite unjust--even though I actually belonged to the category of staff who got more public exposure and therefore had a better income from donations than most.

Regarding YWAM's finances--though it may appear very unclear to outsiders--at the bases I worked in Europe and the United States I never come across purposeful or outright fraud. I think it is rather a lack of skilled accountants and untrained personnel handling finance that leads to a perception of murky accounts and perhaps their inability to provide clear budget plans and financial disclosure. Though I can only say this regarding the bases where I worked. Every national branch is financially independent and it depends on the skills of its leadership to raise enough donations for their work.

I am tempted to write pages and pages, but I don't want to bore you. Let me just say it once more: YWAM is dangerous [sic] and people should be careful when their kids want to get involved.

I was 17 when I first got involved with YWAM and I sincerely regret the 12 years of my life that I wasted on them. It took me 4 years to come to grips with the experience and put it behind me--with the help of a therapist. I still struggle in some areas of my life, but mostly I have been able to regain control over my life and am very happy.

A good book to read if you ever want to research the YWAM concept of intercession is "Intimacy with God." by Joy Dawson. Dawson is one of the major ideologues of the organization. Many of their teachings such as' "intercession" and the "nine steps'," as well as such "loaded language" such as "don't say it, pray it"--originate with her and can be found in her book and other writings.

Copyright © Rick Ross

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