YWAM stands for ‘Youth With A Mission’ so it’s a common assumption to think the Discipleship Training School (DTS) is exclusive to youth. However people from many walks of life partake in a DTS, I’ve even heard of people as old as 80 doing it! The majority of DTS students come straight from highschool oppose to any other domains. So in this interview-style blog I’ll share a bit about my life before coming to DTS and have lots of input from other people. Some who went to university, some who were in full time work, and some who came straight from high school. Remember, the life experiences that are shared here are all specific to individuals. The intention of this blog is to share insight on the underlying factor that truly anyone from any walk of life can do a DTS if they feel that God is calling them to it.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU STARTED YOUR DTS? AND WHAT PART OF DTS ARE YOU IN NOW?
TALIA, 21, New Zealand: After highschool I went to university and completed my studies in Journalism. I had been working in mainstream news media for 8 months before deciding to leave to do a DTS. I am currently doing my DTS now.
JOSH, 22, USA: I completed one year of university then decided to take a job offer in which I worked for that company for two years before coming to my DTS which I am currently doing.
BRANDT, 19, Canada: I completed one year of university right after high school, but still wasn’t sure what I wanted to study so I decided to take a year off to hopefully figure it out. I am currently doing my DTS now.
MIRIAM, 19, USA: I applied for my DTS while I was still in high school. Then a few months after I graduated, I came to do my DTS which I am currently doing.
BRANDON, 26, USA: I completed my DTS in 2016. Before coming to YWAM Discipleship Training School I was I high school teacher in Le Mans, France.
JULIA, 19, Brazil: I was in high school, and closer to the end of my senior year I applied and 2 months after graduation I came to do the DTS which I completed in May of 2017.
WHY DID YOU NOT DO A DTS STRAIGHT AFTER HIGHSCHOOL?
TALIA I’d never heard of YWAM when I was considering what to do after high school. I was looking to do something for a gap year before heading to university but was advised to just apply to university first and take it from there. I got accepted and that was the end of my gap year plans.
JOSH: I wasn’t following Christ in any way after leaving high school. I rededicated my life to Christ at the age of 19 after my freshman year of college.
BRANDT: I really felt like I wanted to study kinesiology to become an athletic therapist, considering my love for sports. I ended up not liking it as much as I anticipated. My relationship with Jesus had grown a lot that year and I felt like I needed to do something like a DTS.
BRANDON: I didn’t become a Christian until my first year in university, so a DTS wouldn’t have made much sense if I had done it right after high school.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO DO A DTS AFTER HIGH SCHOOL?
MIRIAM: I knew I wasn’t supposed to go straight to college after high school. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do but college did not feel right. I went on a few other mission trips through high school, so when I found YWAM, doing a DTS just fit me. I talked about it a lot with my family and some family friends. Through these conversations, God confirmed that DTS was exactly where I needed to be.
JULIA: I’ve always been someone who listens to advice. I grew up in a Christian home, hearing about Jesus, so I thought before going to university, a place where I’m surrounded by other beliefs and ideas, that it’d be wise to get to know this God that my parents shared with me. Once I knew him I could choose if I wanted to follow him or not.
WHAT ARE YOUR PERSONAL POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES OF NOT DOING A DTS STRAIGHT AFTER HIGHSCHOOL?
TALIA: A positive would be having some life experience outside of highschool. I went through a lot of character building during my time at university and what I went through in those years contribute to who I am now. University culture is something that truly tests your faith and although I made mistakes, I was able to learn from them and find God through conviction and repentance. I experienced his mercy and his grace and because of my mistakes those characteristics of God are so much more than just words to me.
One of the negatives of not doing a DTS straight from high school is that during my DTS I’ve been learning great life lessons that would’ve been a great foundation for me prior to university life. If i knew some of the things I know now, the way I dealt with temptation would look completely different.
JOSH: A positive of waiting a few years after high school to complete a DTS was being able to gain some legitimate life experience. I was able to see first hand how the real world works outside of high school and my parents home. I had to fall flat on my face before I realized my utter need for God in my life. I now can see in hindsight how the Lord protected me over this time.
A negative aspect to waiting is that most people don’t. I knew coming in that I would probably be one of the oldest people in the program (22). The majority of the time I am really enjoying the company, however, there are times I wish I had more peers that weren’t all 4-5 years younger than me.
BRANDT: A positive of not doing DTS straight after high school was getting used to living away from home. DTS is a very exclusive experience in that you most likely won’t see your parents for a full 5 months. It was also very valuable to learn more about myself and how I function in living with others, and also just to really make my faith my own. Growing up in a Christian home you never really have to make that choice as much as you do living on your own.
A negative would be that now that I know what God is calling me to, I won’t actually be starting to study it until I’m 20, where most people will be 18. So realistically it puts me at 24 when I graduate with a 4-year degree rather than 22 like lots of people.
BRANDON: I am personally very glad that I did a DTS later in life. This way, I had already figured out who I was and had made my decisions about following Jesus 100%. I knew that I could jump in with both feet from day 1 of DTS and go deeper in every subject than I had gone before. For me, this helped me go deeper, faster because I came in ready and sure that Jesus is the only way I wanted live. I had already had that moment in life when I realized that I needed Jesus more than anything and was willing to give everything to have Him.
I wonder sometimes if I had somehow ended up in DTS directly after high school what may have happened. Maybe my little faith would have been bolstered and confirmed. Or maybe I would have been more confused than anything. In the end, the way things happened for me turned out very well and I am glad I had the opportunity to finish my university education and had some experience in careers before taking those 5 months to focus on discipleship training. I feel that I had much more to bring to the table and more experience and maturity to work with than if I had been just 18 or 19 years old.
WHAT ARE YOUR PERSONAL POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES OF DOING A DTS STRAIGHT AFTER HIGH SCHOOL?
MIRIAM: A positive of doing a DTS right after high school is being able to learn so much about God and life at such a young age in society’s eyes. The experiences of living with other people, traveling to different countries, seeing other cultures, and trying new things will all help me. I will be able to take all the knowledge I gain from my DTS into my next chapters of life; whether that be college, a job, or other mission opportunities.
A negative of doing DTS right out of high school is the big culture difference that hits you after being in a very comfortable setting. It is strange to put yourself in a new country with a new language when you have only lived in the same place with the same language until then. At least in my case.
JULIA: Something super positive about doing a DTS after high school is the adventure experience! Being able to experience all the different cultures, food, music and language opens your eyes to the beauty in diversity. It helps you to appreciate life and everyone that you meet in it because you understand now that we all have a story!
A negative was that once it ended I felt like I had lived in this kind of bubble for 5 months, so it’s hard to go back home and adapt to everything back again. It’s hard, but not impossible.
HOW DID GOD CALL YOU TO YWAM?
TALIA: When I was working I realised I wasn’t fully satisfied. Only recently have I realised that this dissatisfaction came from a desperation for growth in my relationship with God. I heard about it from a friend who completed a DTS with YWAM Lausanne last year. I didn’t even have to finish my prayer to feel peace and confirmation that a DTS in Lausanne was the next step.
MIRIAM: I knew a family friend who had done YWAM and it sounded like a really awesome opportunity. I didn’t know how to be confident in hearing God’s voice at this time, so I wasn’t sure if I God wanted me to come or if I just wanted to come. A family friend confirmed what I thought I was hearing from God, and I signed up right after that.
BRANDON: Before coming to DTS I was a high school teacher living in France. Ever since meeting Jesus at 18 years old I knew that I would eventually do missions full time. YWAM DTS made full time missions much more accessible to me at a younger age than I would have expected. A friend of mine had done a DTS and suggested to me that I consider doing one to get more training for the mission field.
JOSH: God spoke to me through a Facebook ad. After a lot of prayer, He made it abundantly clear that Lausanne was the right base for me.
BRANDT: I was looking into many different options with the same sort of experience, but I only knew people who had done a DTS. I had only ever heard good things about it, so I looked into it pretty seriously. I knew I had always wanted to come to Switzerland, and I found this base online and prayed about it for several months. God confirmed it to me after I was diligent in prayer and I had applied and been accepted in due time.
JULIA: I heard about YWAM when I was young. Some people from my high school joined and they had amazing stories, so I wanted to have experiences like that too. My parents and I prayed together and felt peace that this was from God.
Each of these individuals have all come from different walks of life. Their stories are a true testament to the importance of not where God’s calling you from but where he’s calling you to.
It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing, there is no ‘perfect time’ to do a DTS. All it takes is confirmation from God DTS is the right direction. To follow a calling from God to do a DTS takes obedience, commitment and an open heart in preparation that your life will never be the same.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11
Talia (New Zealand), is currently doing her DTS, and is fulfilling her practical ministry in the communications department here at YWAM Lausanne
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