“He invented DTSes?!” I thought they were always in existence. I mean, as a six-year-old I knew YWAM wasn’t as old as Christianity, but it kind of felt like it. I was shocked when I found out that one of our most common speakers at Ohana gatherings was actually a co-founder of the mission. When your parents tell stories of their own DTSes, when they say how they met as staff, well, that seems like always.
I didn’t want to be DTS staff. When I would tell people in Newcastle that I wanted to come back on staff one day, the instant question was, “Cool! Which DTS are you planning on staffing?”. Me, growing up in YWAM and witnessing dozens of other ministries and schools a YWAMer can be involved with? I laughed. Why be DTS staff when so many bases needed my skill set as a primary teacher, as a blog-writer?
DTS staff was bland. Anyone could do it.
After post-DTS mission-building in Australia for three months, I found myself back in New Zealand. I returned a little bruised and a little broken, as you often are after months of heart surgery. But on a more practical note? Before I could be full-time YWAM staff anywhere, I needed financial support and my student loan paid off– which gained interest if I was out of New Zealand (not too helpful for a traveling missionary!).
So, cutting a hard and fun story short, I became a regular substitute teacher at a Christian preschool and a regular face hanging at the YWAM Bethlehem staff houses (right next door to my university). This lead to singing at the Tauranga House of Prayer (my Tuesdays looked like singing choruses in the morning and changing diapers in the afternoon!). In the midst of this? I got a message asking if there was any chance I could staff a DTS back in Newcastle.
It was a no, but it was nice to be asked– and I laughed about it in Dominoes with friends from YWAM Bethlehem. One of the July DTS leaders was there, joking (but of course completely serious at the same time) that I should staff with them. Then, a few weeks later, Jesus inconveniently and cheekily asked me to do just that.
Before I really knew what was happening, I was sitting in DTS staff training, learning how to do one-on-ones and practice the value of hospitality. Then, as if my life was on fast-forward, I moved from the Dawson’s house to Faith Bible College and 22 students arrived from 10 countries and lectures started and I was in the thick of it all: the joys, the pains, all the schedule I knew so well, but, for the first time– I was a part of making it happen.
Yet still, for most of DTS lecture phase, this lie persisted:
DTS staff is bland. Anyone can do it. I’m just filling a need, not anything special.
Because we all want an irreplaceable role, don’t we– not just a cookie cutter life? We’re made for greatness, we’re gifted to serve, we’re called to follow Jesus– wherever He leads us.
Yet in this seemingly “bland” role as DTS staff, Jesus has humbled me and broken me and changed me, more concerned with my character, than my specific skill sets. And the entertaining thing is, I am using God’s gifts every day– it just looks different than what I ever expected, and far from bland! (#partytime #whatanopportunity #andmanymoreinsidejokes). My expectations have been exceeded again and again– and when you live in New Zealand? Well, you simply have to open your eyes to be blown away by God’s wild beauty and adventure.
So, I’ve always loved YWAM. I’ve always known what DTS is. I’ve always known it must take a lot of work behind the scenes, and for that I was never motivated to be DTS staff (I was passionate about “other ministries”!). Now, just four days from leaving on outreach, I’m taken back to those Wednesday Night Meetings in the red and yellow circus tent, before the Ohana Court was built and before I knew Loren Cunningham “invented DTSes”.
The stories I grew up hearing were never about the ministry, the skills, or the roles.
The stories were about people. People hearing God. Getting to know Him. And seeing God transform lives across the globe.
It’s an absolute privilege to be a part of His story.
Photo: Team Thumper… half of our outreach team that I got to lead on a Faith Journey last weekend!
Credit: Isabella Lopez, September 2016. Tauranga, New Zealand