What is YWAM? Youth With A Mission is a global, Christian organization seeking to primarily help young adults to “know God and make Him known.” YWAM has over 800 operating bases in 145 countries. Involvement with this organization is broad, but the most common way of participating is by attending a six-month Discipleship Training School (DTS). These schools are usually made up of students from all over the world, ranging in age from about 17-30 (there are schools for older adults and families as well).
The typical DTS is structured into two phases—lecture phase involves living on a YWAM base and attending classes for three months, while the outreach phase involves serving on a three-month mission trip that is typically in another area of the world. Students cover a variety of topics from international speakers during the lecture phase before going out and putting feet to their knowledge. We both attended YWAM schools in New Zealand.
What We’re Doing With YWAM
- Running a hospitality house in Christchurch
- Speaking on schools (Topics: outreach debrief, outreach prep including team dynamics)
- Website building & designs (ywam oxford, ywam tauranga, marine reach)
- Connecting incoming YWAM teams with outreach opportunities in the city and accommodation
- Helping create “Tribe” out of YWAM Kona—a multi-faceted initiative to reapproach the DTS re-entry into life back home, connecting x-YWAMERs to others back home, igniting them on local mission, etc.
- Leading a Friday night outreach with students involving our ministry wearechch.co.nz
More in-depth: We currently live in the YWAM ministry house in Christchurch and provide short-term accommodation for missionaries or people in need who contact us through the base or through mutual friends. We also use the house to host gatherings for prayer nights, house church and traveling speakers. The home was given to YWAM Oxford a number of years ago with one condition—that it would be used for ministry.
In addition to hosting teams we attend various meetings and events at YWAM Oxford—which is about 50 minutes outside of Christchurch city. Sometimes we connect the DTS students with local outreaches in Christchurch. Because YWAM is short term and the students are always coming and going, we hope to act as a bridge between short term evangelical outreaches and the long term discipleship that needs to take place among people they minster to. Currently we meet with each school to talk about outreach possibilities in town and get them connected to the right contacts. We currently run one of the regular Friday night outreach opportunities—a photojournalistic outreach focused on capturing the stories of locals in Christchurch. Sometimes we also speak at the base during a lecture or training block.
Noah has redesigning and maintains the YWAM Oxford website, while Kate is currently serving as the Earthquake Relief Coordinator for anyone contacting the base for information and leading the Friday night outreach “We Are Christchurch”.
The House: What’s the house like? It’s a medium-sized home with multiple rooms outfitted for incoming guests. In regards to small mission teams staying here, the main back room is large, which facilitates worship, prayer, team meetings and general hangout time. The downside to the house is that there is only one bathroom and shower.
When we arrived the house was in need of repair due to wear and tear from previous residents and uses. We spent the first six months working on the house. It is now in much better condition, though there are still several big projects waiting to be done. We took a break from hosting while we had no power, water or plumbing. We are currently hosting small teams (no more than 8) and individuals. Please email us for inquiries. Keep in mind we do have baby if you’re fine working around her sleeping schedule! // We are also currently awaiting news of whether the house will be repaired or torn down and rebuilt from earthquake damages. (It is livable and safe for the time being, but still needs foundational repairs.)
::We Are Christchurch Project::
Basics: Essentially it’s a photojournalistic project that creates the opportunity to meet and reach locals through conversation and pray for them if God leads.
How: Currently the main focus is to interview locals, take their photo, and put a brief story about them on the instagram feed… and Noah is working on building the website that will feature that photo feed and more (see below.)
Who: Kate has been spearheading this effort and guiding a team of YWAM students on Friday nights who are participating in this project. (We help the YWAM schools outreach to Christchurch and Oxford each Friday night. This project is one we specifically lead while other teams are sent to various other opportunities around the city with other ministries.) We meet on Friday afternoons in various locations around town.
Purpose: 1.To spread hope, positivity and love through hearing people’s stories and affirming them in who they are. We aim to love them, ask engaging questions, and encourage them with prayer if God leads us/students to do so. 2. We try to jot down whatever stands out to us about them so that we can encourage them with that when we post their photo (contagious laugh, calm spirit, positive outlook, kind-hearted, etc.). We hope that when they go online to look at their story they feel loved and valued.3. We also see the website/instagram feed as a connection point for other locals to “meet” one another through the stories, feel a sense of unity with fellow “Christchurchians” and feel HOPEFUL during this new season in Christchurch. 4. The other main purpose is to give YWAM students an opportunity to build confidence in talking with strangers, engaging in conversations and praying for others.
Details: The purpose of the website is to feature in-depth stories (articles highlighting various ministries, outreaches, creative initiaties, and people around Christchurch who are making a change in the city), short stories (the instagram mini-stories), and links to events and opportunities around town.The whole point is to be a positive voice in Christchurch. We are hoping to have the website up and running soon!
Inspiration: A few years ago I stumbled across a blog in Denver called “I Heart Strangers”. The blogger’s goal was to meet and interview someone he came across each day and then blog about this person. When we moved here I really felt pulled in the same direction—to do something like that here in Christchurch. Especially after the quakes, we felt it was an open opportunity to talk to people while they are more open to chat aout more meaningful things with strangers!
Some of our Guests in 2010-2013.
Our Experiences With YWAM
Noah attended a YWAM DTS on the North Island of New Zealand in 2000. While Noah was participating in his outreach on the South Island in 2001, it was the city of Christchurch that God strongly put on Noah’s heart. He wasn’t sure what form it would take, but he knew in time God was calling Him there and that one day He would reveal His plan. When Noah met Kate in 2005, he shared this with her.
Kate participated with YWAM through a Marine Reach DTS, on the North Island also where she lived on a medical ship. For outreach, they sailed to Fiji, where they traveled around the outer islands, offering free medical care and spiritual teaching to isolated villagers. During the last month of her outreach, her team lived on a remote island off the coast of Vanua Levu with a small village.
YWAM was a great experience for both of us, as we were both challenged to grow in new areas, made lasting friendships with international friends, and were a part of making God known in our specific areas during outreach. Upon Kate’s return to the States, we kept the dream in the back of our minds, always wondering about God’s timing for the move back to New Zealand. For Noah, it had been almost a decade of preparation and growth since being given this prompting.
It wasn’t until January 2009 that we felt God release us to pursue NZ. As we prayed and researched in preparation for the move, we got reconnected with a particular YWAM base near Christchurch—Oxford, and we were invited to stay in their city ministry house. In May 2009 we found cheap tickets and took a whirlwind trip to Christchurch where we scouted out the house, met up with a wide-range of contacts in the city and attended a national YWAM conference at Oxford. We took the plunge and moved to Christchurch in March 2010.