Last week I gave some idea of what it is I am doing here in Australia, and I promised that I would also give a quick sketch of what the bigger picture is of YWAM, and specifically of YWAM Perth. So....without further ado, let's go!
First of all, I'll briefly explain what YWAM is - although I think most people are somewhat familiar with it, so I'll make it quick. Youth With A Mission (YWAM) was founded 50 years ago with the idea that years of theological training did not necessarily qualify people to serve the Lord effectively, and should not be a requirement before encouraging young people to pass on the love of Christ through missions. At the time, this was considered a revolutionary concept. Over the last 40 years, YWAM has grown to more that 16,000 people serving in over 1,000 bases on every continent and in over 160 nations around the world with the mission to "know God and make Him known".
YWAM Perth was started 25 years ago with 10 people and has grown to be about 300 staff, plus hundreds of students coming through the wide variety of training programs each year. There are dozens of ministries operating from the base, both in Perth and throughout the world. I will focus today on some of the training programs, as well as some of the ministries we have going on.
The *culture* of the base is one of working hard as a family. And we do work hard...there are no scheduled days off during the year except for Christmas day, and even this we spend together! We eat 2 meals together a day, and the singles are squeezed in 10-12 people per house! Despite this, everyone seems to get along really well. One thing I have really appreciated about the family atmosphere is how inclusive and inviting everyone is - there really is a sense of family here. Corporately we have many times together each week (in addition to 2 meals per day)...worship on Mondays, intercession on Tuesday and Fridays, staff meeting on Wednesdays, evangelism on Thursdays, and Friday night meetings. Everyone spends the first 1/2 hour of the day working together to get the base cleaned up and we also have a lot of family times doing things like going to the beach or park, BBQ's, game nights, movies, etc. It is definitely a bit different than the way we do things back home! It hasn't always been an easy transition for me, but I am learning and growing each day.
So, let's start with the training programs - the primary "school" being the DTS (Discipleship Training School). This is the entry level school for anyone wanting to be involved with YWAM, or for those just wanting to set aside 6 months to really focus on who God is and get His heart for them and for the world. This is what YWAM is best known for.
There are also a multitude of 2nd and 3rd level schools. These schools are generally 3-12 months in length and train people in more specialized areas. Did you know you can actually earn your AA, BA, MA and PhD through YWAM? Yup!
So, there are a few dozen higher level schools here in Perth, covering topics like health care, counseling, biblical studies, education/youth & child ministries, media, frontier missions (unreached peoples), worship/music, community development, community transformation, etc. All in all, there are over 35 different schools offered each year with about 500 students coming in for training. Wow! That's a lot!
Moving on to the ministries here...I'll just focus on a few, but you can actually find out lots more (if you're just REALLY wanting to know all the details!!) at www.ywamperth.org.au - it's actually a great site!
So, basically, it is helpful to recognize that all YWAM ministries focus around 3 primary areas - evangelism (making God known), training and mercy ministries. Within these 3 areas, YWAM has identified 7 "spheres of influence" that they feel cover the various aspects of society - religion, government & law, arts & entertainment, education, busines, media, and family. Hopefully that helps give some perspective.
As you can imagine, much of what we do covers multiple "areas" and "spheres" - for example, my ministry - Pathway - would be both evangelistic and mercy ministry in scope, and covers different spheres such as religion, education, and family. Yeah? Yeah!
Okay, so here is a quick look at the ministries we have going on here in Perth, and a brief description of them...
100 Clinics - planting 100 mother-and-child health clinics in poor communities throughout the world where there is little to no health care. They train local people using *simple health care* teaching in areas like: how to deal with diarrhea, dehydration, nutrition, etc.
Ark International (Children at Risk) - we are "defending the rights of children at risk, restoring their dignity as children of God, and developing their God-given gifts" in this ministry. Who are children at risk? Kids who are impoverished, abused, neglected and worse.
Art Refuge - these ladies use art to connect with people and create a place for people to open up and talk. They work with abused women, homeless people, the elderly, and those in detention. Plus, they do a lot of teaching around the base and working with the different schools there.
Asia Impact - There are over 10,000 Asian-Buddhists in Perth, and we are very close to many Asian nations. These guys partner with Asian churches in the area and are reaching the Asian community for Christ.
Australian Relief and Mercy Services - Also knows as "ARMS", they work with families at risk for short periods helping in whatever way is needed - cleaning house, watching children, running errands, gardening, and just being there in tough times.
Backbone (Support Staff) - well, I guess this one speaks for itself, huh? These servant-hearted folks take care of those things like: property, vehicle maintenance, kitchen, accounts, hospitality, accommodation, etc.
Bible Education and Leadership Training - in partnership with Wycliffe, training church leaders in Nepal, the Congo and the Pacific leading toward community trasformation.
Boomerang Teams - this is the "short term" outreach opportunities for people to get a taste of missions - similar to what I did in Chico.
Children's Resource Centre - this ministry is based in Thailand and is a partnership with ARMS, ARK and Asia Impact offering counseling, education, and training for children at risk. They work in slums, with trafficked children and offer sports programs - the Nak Suu Tigers rugby academy.
Create International - they make movies and other media projects for cross cultural evangelism that are in the mother language and are culturally relevant to different people groups - similar to the "Jesus" films.
Faces 58 - their goal is to transform communities and to see the faces of the people change.
Island breeze - using dance, music and dramas from the Islands to share the gospel.
Justice for Women and Children - fairly self-explanatory, but focused primarily on women and children who have been trafficked into the sex trade.
Media - part of the "backbone" ministry, they put together all forms of media for the base; including print, internet and video - these guys are very talented!
Megacities - with a vision to transform large cities, they coordinate with churches in different cities and surrounding areas to pour into that city for a full year with hundreds of teams from our base, as well as other bases and ministries. The 2010 city focus is Mexico City. We will be focusing on London in 2012.
Mission Builders - these are short-termers who come and help out at the base for any amount of time from 1 week to 3 months. Looking to check out YWAM, or just want to come alongside and help in a variety of areas? This is a great place to do it!
Sports Ministry - using sports to connect with youth and communities in order to share the love of Christ.
Youth Ministries - working with youth in a variety of ways - through school presentations, discipleship, sports, camps, music, youth groups, etc.
Yeah, so this is just a snapshot of some of the things going on here! This past Friday night, we were given some statistics of what we have accomplished in the past 3 months...check it out!
- we have spent over 2,000 hours in prayer in JUST our prayer chain time...which, by the way, is a 24/7 prayer chain that has been going on for over 12 years now!
- over 100,000 hours of work and ministry have been completed - all of this being *volunteer* work, as no one is paid a salary.
- we have seen over 1,000 people come to the Lord!
Well, although there is so much more going on that I could talk about, I will end now. Some things just have to be experienced, don't you think?