Why I Love Being Part Of A Community
When I first joined Youth With A Mission, the family aspect surprised and impacted me greatly, and it continues to bless me years later.
Become part of a big family
Being part of a Discipleship Training School is a very unique experience. I have heard people liken a DTS to life in a university, and while similarities do exist, I don’t think university sums up the experience of DTS. Family does. Yes, there is overlap with uni: roommates, lectures, lasting friendships and late-night-shenanigans, but DTS isn’t the same as university.
In YWAM, we don’t only give and we don’t only receive. DTS students join YWAM to know God and to make Him known, and part of that discipleship process is learning to serve. Regardless of location and size, YWAM centres all over the world encourage their students to invest into their YWAM community in practical ways. Whether that means cooking meals, minding children or helping build new dorms, there are countless opportunities to grow closer to your fellow students. To me, this type of serving felt a lot like sharing chores with siblings. I found it so impactful to have that time with my DTS mates to discuss lectures, share stories and make jokes while contributing to the YWAM “household”. Having responsibility within the community made me feel like I belonged, and working hard alongside my peers was a great way to get to know people with whom I might not otherwise spend time.
Another great thing about community is the supportive atmosphere. On DTS, you receive undeserved and unconditional love from people you just met. Because you are learning and studying together, as well as living, eating and working together, you have lots of opportunities to bless each other. As children, most of us are taught that we have to love our family, whether they’re lovable or not. It is so freeing and refreshing to receive unsolicited kindness from someone who doesn’t expect anything from you in return. One reason this type of support is so powerful is because it is completely unexpected. As Christians, we are brothers and sisters in Christ, and over DTS I definitely experienced love from my YWAM “siblings”. I also received grace from them as we shared testimonies and past struggles, and that strengthened our friendships.
As a family, we helped each other through our hardest moments: illness, bad attitudes, homesickness, spiritual growth, and even financial problems. There was a person on my DTS outreach team who still needed a couple hundred dollars to be able to buy flights for outreach. We wanted to support him in his fundraising, so we shared a post explaining how close he was to his goal and how much more was needed. Within a matter of minutes, the entire amount had been raised, all by donations of YWAMers on our campus. We believed in our teammate and knew that God had big plans for him. Family members support each other.
Learning to work through conflict is a crucial life lesson. It isn’t always fun, but it is helpful for working in teams, living within a family, being part of a workplace or even just spending time with friends. The community environment in YWAM creates lots of opportunities to experience and overcome conflict. That sounds intense, but don’t let it scare you. In life, there are always situations with tension or disagreements, but we don’t always know how to deal with them. Before DTS, if I had a disagreement with a coworker, I would most likely avoid them for the rest of the day. Not the best approach.
Once I joined DTS, I quickly realized that method of dealing with conflict would not work. There was a girl on my DTS who was in my morning chore group, my small group and my work duty group. We were required to spend a lot of time together, and unfortunately, we did not get along. I felt that she was being rude to me, but I couldn’t understand why, and I was afraid that it might just be in my head. Without meaning to, I began to resent her subconsciously and tried to avoid her during the day. Our days became awkward as we had to interact in our different groups together. Finally, one of my friends challenged me to swallow my pride and talk to the girl. I explained where I was coming from and how I felt, and she did the same. We were able to understand each other’s point of view and reconcile. We became much closer once we both humbled ourselves and communicated to each other. I now know the importance of open and honest confrontation with the goal of reaching compromise and understanding. It’s so important in life, and a vital part of living in community.
Form enduring friendships
Whether you’re waking up early to catch the surf or staying up late to share testimonies, DTS is a time of making friends. Because of the deep spiritual growth that DTS entails, the friendships you form are strong and lasting. Even though the friends you make are from all over the world, you have a deep bond and a connection through Christ. We rejoice with each other over victories and cry with each other during times of sorrow. We are always willing to pray and intercede on each others’ behalf. Regardless if you visited your DTS friend last week or haven’t seen them in decades, they still matter to you and you matter to them. I have attended two weddings of DTS friends, and was a bridesmaid in one of them. Most of my family was unable to attend my wedding because they live on a different continent than me, but my YWAM family sacrificed their weekends, driving up to celebrate with me. They don’t have to love me, but they do, and it is such a blessing.
Living in community is not easy all of the time. It’s usually loud, often busy, sometimes messy and occasionally awkward. But it’s always rewarding. Make friends for life and become the person you were created to be alongside them. Join a Discipleship Training School with us today and become part of our family at YWAM Gold Coast!
by Fiona Winslade
YWAM Gold Coast staff