I was in YWAM [Youth With A Mission] from May 1981 - August 1984.
I led in various capacities whilst with YWAM and attended several YWAM schools including the second international leaders school (led by Loren Cunningham) held in Kailua Kona, Hawaii.
These were amongst the happiest years of my life, and I feel personally undamaged by YWAM excesses.
My natural cynicism preserved me a little - used, no doubt, by our gracious God. YWAM was and remains a cult [sic].
Theologically it has always taken its bearings from Charles Finney's systematic theology which utterly rejects any notion of justification by faith, original sin and the sovereignty of God. To this it has added the imaginings of the high priestess Joy Dawson, who would profess spinelessness at the time that I was with YWAM. She had developed an ingenious seven step way to be certain that one's thoughts were the very voice of God. This is still practiced by YWAMers everywhere. Joy enjoyed unhindered access to every thought of God, so she believed. This led her to the conclusion that God was still looking for a human to stand in the gap, between heaven and Earth, people like Moses and Elijah, a ministry to which every YWAMer aspires.
All YWAMers are encouraged to be dynamic God hearing intercessors. They are not encouraged to know Jesus as the One intercessor between God and humans (1 Tim 2:5), no, God is still looking, according to Joy, even though He now has both Joy and Benny on the planet at the same time. Add to Dr. Finney's theology and Mrs. Dawson's unprecedented purity the theological incompetence of an international and predominantly boys own network of 1960s dropouts, and you have the birth of a university, the University of the Nations, God's dream university.
As mentioned, I escaped with my health and mind; my finances took a hammering.
YWAM knows how to manipulate every penny out of its cash strapped workers and students.
Being only 27 when I left YWAM, I had a chance to get a proper education and rebuild my life in such a way that I could resume a relatively normal life.
What concerns me particularly, however, is the number of peers that started with me in my YWAM experience, who never got an education, who never went back to church and who never had normal relationships again. YWAM's crime, which I hope I will one day be called to testify to, is that it robbed youthful and zealous Christians of normality and spiritual certainty.
Let me explain.
Humans are designed to pass through phases of growth and development which will enable them to enjoy life and function normally in society. During a human's third decade, it is assumed that he or she will gain useful skills and education, accumulate some funds to begin the process of property acquisition and hopefully nurture healthy lifelong relationships.
YWAM, with its unique brand of anti-intellectualism, encouraged students to spend their (or their parent's) savings doing worthless schools which were invariably led by high school dropouts. YWAM's education only prepared a person for life in YWAM, no, not even that.
Has any significant denomination accepted YWAM certification as the basis for ordination?
These [YWAM] schools were invariably very expensive.
Most students were stripped of their funds by numerous YWAM appeals (with extraordinary manipulations) within months, or at the most a year, of their arrival.
One soon learned all the masterful techniques of how to raise funds from family, friends or any remote connection.
Once a new recruit joins the ranks of the YWAM pauper class, it does not take long before the new missionary views any new recruit with a bank account as fair game - a provision of God for their continued missionary service.
Relationships within YWAM do not proceed naturally. During my time, any relationship had to be approved by leaders before they could proceed. I knew of one couple whose love for each other drove them to make marital vows without the consent of the hierarchy, the marriage was cursed as being not according to God's will. The marriage lasted four years.
You see what YWAM does is rob young people to facilitate its misguided and alarmist version of the Great Commission. It manipulates young people by the tyranny of the urgent, encouraging them to squander their youth, finances and serious education, leaving many to be wounded, bitter and profoundly ripped off. All this because YWAM believes that if young humans do not do something NOW, other humans will go to hell.
Young people are not encouraged to put in the hard yards to make a lifelong contribution, but to squander their youth, believing that education, experience, wisdom and respectability are not necessary; God only needs availability - the only true virtue.
May God deliver today's youth from this corrupt organisation.