YWAM Montana - Lakeside https://ywammontana.org Whatever it takes to know God and to make Him known, Together! Fri, 22 May 2015 22:17:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How Can I Use My Talents For God? https://ywammontana.org/how-can-i-use-my-talents-for-god/ https://ywammontana.org/how-can-i-use-my-talents-for-god/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 16:47:25 +0000 https://ywammontana.org/?p=4851 “It is the task of youth not to reshape the church, but rather to listen to the Word Of God.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

For many people in our generation there is a burning desire for adventure and success. We want to be creative and successful. We desire to leave a legacy and to have fun while doing it. In the church, in the work place, and in our schools – we desire to bring some kind of change and leave our mark on the world.  In order to reach our goals we need to learn how to use our skills and talents to their full potential.

I enrolled in YWAM Montana Lakeside’s “Summer Programs” in 2012. When I signed up for the program I was mostly looking for a fun summer experience. To be quite honest, I wasn’t focused on growing in my faith. All I wanted to do was play music and tour around the world. Thankfully it didn’t take long for my priorities to change.

On the first day of class I quickly realized that my desire to just show up and play music was shifting. During worship on our second day the Spirit of the Lord hit me so hard that I fell to my knees trembling in the presence of the Lord. At that moment I realized that Jesus knew everything I had done, every sin I had committed, every negative thought I ever had, and I was scared out of my mind. In that moment I expected condemnation and wrath, but what I got instead was the comfort of a Father showing me how he had been by my side through all of it.

I discovered that I was made for something greater than just playing music

The next six weeks took me on a radical journey. When I asked, “how can I use my talents for God?” I discovered that I was made for something greater than just playing music. I was built to use my gifts to reach unbelievers and lead people into worship of the Lord. This experience radically changed the way I live and God has never felt more real to me than he does today.

Last year I came back to YWAM Montana Lakeside and joined staff. My heart is to equip people with the tools they need to change the world for Christ. Our Summer Programs exist to show everyone that they can be used by God. We desire to give our students an experience that reaps lasting fruit in their lives. Our heart is evangelism and using our gifts to tell people about Jesus. We focus specifically on sports, dance, and music (with more focus areas coming in the near future).

We believe that artists and athletes who are equipped with the Word of God are incredible resources for the Kingdom

Our commitment, first and foremost, is giving our students a solid foundation in the Word of God. We spend our mornings in lectures learning about the character and nature of our Father. Then in the afternoons students break into their “tracks” to focus on honing their skills. Our talents, interests, and passions give us the ability to reach into the hearts of so many people who might not otherwise be open to hearing the good news. We believe that artists and athletes who are equipped with the Word of God are incredible resources for the Kingdom. So many times our students will get to see, for the first time, what is like when a person accepts Jesus. Last year we took three teams to Cambodia. We saw 50 people accept Christ and get connected to ministries that are eager to disciple these new believers.

If you are a dancer, athlete, or musician, I want to personally invite you to come and join with us in our mission to know God and make him known, together! Click the image below to learn more about our Summer Programs.

summerprograms

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Everything for the Love of God https://ywammontana.org/everything-for-the-love-of-god/ https://ywammontana.org/everything-for-the-love-of-god/#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 17:44:20 +0000 https://ywammontana.org/?p=4830 The Practice of the Presence of God by brother Lawrence is one of the most well-known books in Christianity.  Written by, and about, a monk who lived more than 300 years ago – it outlines his own journey of Spiritual formation and growth.

I want to quote it here:

“So, likewise, in his business in the kitchen (to which he naturally had a great aversion), having accustomed himself to do everything there for the love of GOD, and with prayer, upon all occasions, for His grace to do his work well, he had found everything easy”

Business in the Kitchen… everything for the love of God.

To me, this sums up what it means to serve at a YWAM campus like ours in the area of Food Services.  Doing everything for the love of God.  Interacting with the people who come into our Kitchen, people who eat our meals, students who help us prepare meals each day.  Everything for the love of God.

We have a full-time staff of more than 150, and train more than 250 people each year for missions of all kinds in God’s Kingdom.  It’s a veritable army of passionate, spiritually-hungry, devoted and pioneering young people.

Not only are they spiritually hungry, but physically too, they need three meals a day.

Here’s the secret though – It’s not about the food!  It’s about doing everything for the love of God.  That’s the real reason we’re in the kitchen.  We love God and we want others to love Him too.  Whether that’s here in Montana, or one of our Target Nations, we want people themselves to do everything for the Love of God.

The kitchen makes that happen.

Hungry students aren’t able to concentrate on discipleship, biblical studies, dance, sports, etc.  Happily fed students are able to learn about God’s love, so they can tell others.  Happily fed students move our mission forward.

Will you pray about being a part of this with us?

We have some great opportunities here at YWAM Montana to serve our Kitchen.  Opportunities to do everything for the love of God.

We have the following opportunities available:

Kitchen Manager (Administration, Ordering, People Skills)

Shift Managers (Food Prep, People Skills)

Kitchen Help (Food Prep)

Please email us at: personnel@ywammontana.org if you’re interested in becoming part of the team that makes YWAM Montana what it is.

Check out our Staffing Needs page for even more staffing opportunities here at YWAM Montana Lakeside.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of a Life Worth Living https://ywammontana.org/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-of-a-life-worth-living/ https://ywammontana.org/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-of-a-life-worth-living/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 21:17:40 +0000 https://ywammontana.org/?p=4795 “There will be failures and mistakes and criticisms. If we want to be able to move through the difficult disappointments, the hurt feelings, and the heartbreaks that are inevitable in a fully lived life, we can’t equate defeat with being unworthy of love, belonging and joy. If we do, we’ll never show up and try again.” – Brené  Brown, Daring Greatly, 2014

Over the past few years I have worked through something that has, and still is, changing my life – the power and the pain of vulnerability.

The five points that follow are things that I am still working on in my own life. I hope this post will help you in your own journey.

Life won’t go as you planned. And that is awesome.

I LOVE planning. I love researching all the tiny details of what I am going to do next. For me the planning process is part of the joy of doing something new. Whether that’s a trip, a new job, moving across the world or even relationships. I want to know all the possible details before I make a move. This is partially due to my personality, I just generally enjoy planning, but I also feel this way because I like to be in control. I even plan out what to do if things don’t go according to plan. I have backup plans for my backup plans.

But, thankfully, God doesn’t make life that simple.

He has these ways of redirecting us that range from a gentle nudge in a new direction to straight up hurling us off a cliff. Oftentimes when I start to forget that God is the one who has the BEST plan for my life that’s the moment when he decides to step in and intervene. In those moments my job is to just get out of the way and let him work. It’s not always as easy as it sounds but it is always worth it.

As a teenager growing up in a missions orientated church I always said that I wouldn’t end up doing a DTS like everyone else – that I would be different and that I was called to the workplace. That’s a calling that I believe still remains true, but God’s timing was different than my own and I’ve spent the last four and a half years as a missionary. I said yes to a five month DTS and God surprised me by calling me to staff here with YWAM Montana Lakeside. I believe God brought me here because he wants to prepare me to be as effective as possible in my calling, whenever he decides it’s time.

Vulnerability hurts.

Over the last four and half years that I’ve lived in the States I have had my heart broken or bruised more times than I ever had in the 22 years before. It’s not because American guys are especially mean, it’s because God has been developing my identity in him and giving me the courage to take chances despite the possibility of rejection.

And yes, sometimes it hurts. Laying it all out there, whether it be in a relationship, in a job or in a ministry, means taking risks and being vulnerable. Both of those things can often lead to pain, but it’s worth it! Through every heart-pounding jump out of my comfort zone and every disappointment and hurt, I have learned more about God’s love and care for me, and more about who he made me to be than I ever did in the good times.

You get knocked down, you get back up.

So what do you do when you go for what you want and you fall flat on your face? You get back up. It’s really that simple. It’s been a hard journey to get here but I have learned that if you truly want something in life (and it is a Godly, Biblically-based desire) you have to keep going – even if you experience failure after failure. Use those times to grow, to lean into God’s love and to come back stronger to try again another day.

Wallowing in self-pity will only lead us down the long road of shame and insecurity, and that is not God’s plan for us!

You are enough.

“’You are enough.’
These little words, somehow they’re changing us.
‘You are enough.’
So we let our shadows fall away like dust.”  – Sleeping At Last, ‘You are Enough’, 2014

The artist Sleeping At Last perfectly sums up this point for me. When we fully embrace our identity as a son or daughter of Christ it changes us. When we realise that we are fully loved and cared for by God no matter how much we do or don’t do for him, no matter how we screw up or make him proud. We are always enough. If we understand this, it will change the way we react to disappointment, to heartbreak, to loss, to failure. We will transition from an attitude of, “I should have been/done/said this better” to one of, “Ok God, I tried and it didn’t work out. What’s next?”.

We cannot hope to have fully healthy relationships until we grasp this. We are not defined by our successes and failures. We are loved no matter what. We can love only because he first loved us.

No one is an island.

My last point is a little more practical.

I am blessed to be a part of a community of friends that challenges and changes me, that supports me. A community that I trust enough to show my true self to. These kinds of friendships don’t just happen by chance, they are the result of years of mutual vulnerability. They are the result of walking through struggle and victory together.

I have learned so much from seeing my friends walk through hard seasons, and from seeing them come out victorious on the other end. What a beautiful thing it is to partake in that process.

A life worth living is a life full of taking risks with God

Knowing that I have a good support network of friends means I have more courage to step out into risk and new things, because I know that if I fall on my face, there will be people to catch me and help me get back up. We can not live a life worth living alone. A life worth living is accepting that we are broken, imperfect, yet precious sons and daughters of God and that we are walking through the challenges of life with other broken, imperfect, precious people.

You may be feeling that you do not have this in your life, and, honestly, it is becoming a hard thing to find. We have to start by being willing to be vulnerable and intentionally building a community of friendships based on mutual honesty and shared life. These things take time and effort but the results are worth every beautiful, raw, messy minute.

Life was never meant to be easy – we are never promised that. But a life worth living is a life full of taking risks with God, stepping out into the unknown and trusting and hoping beyond our human understanding. It won’t always be a comfortable experience.

I am still a work in progress in all of the above, that’s for sure.

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Phil 3:12


I was prompted to write this post because of two books I have read recently; Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly and Donald Miller’s Scary Close. These books have changed my life in how I relate to myself and others, and how I view vulnerability and shame. Some of the ideas in this post I have been inspired by these books. I strongly recommend you check them out. 

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What’s The Deal With The Trinity? https://ywammontana.org/whats-the-deal-with-the-trinity/ https://ywammontana.org/whats-the-deal-with-the-trinity/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 17:30:33 +0000 https://ywammontana.org/?p=4760

BELIEVING IN THE TRINITY AFFECTS ETERNITY

Have you ever asked yourself “What in the world do I need theology for?” Do we really need more theoretical knowledge to fill our heads with?

Theology is not just the theoretical opinions of a bunch of grey-haired, dusty scholars arguing over whose interpretation of a given Bible passage is the “right” one. Theology is practical. Theology has real-life consequences.

How so? Let’s take the Trinity, for example. Ever since I was a child I have believed in a triune God. I did not understand how it all worked, and my friends frequently questioned my faith. Sure, it’s a strange concept to wrap your mind, but what’s the big deal about believing in the Trinity or not believing in it? The church spent 451 years to figure out and explain what we believe in the creeds (“creed” literally means “I believe”). It’s helpful to look back at the history of our faith. It’s necessary to know who God is, and that includes an understanding of the Trinity.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

We need to understand that the creeds were written as a protection against heresy, especially Modalism (God appears in three different modes, as the Father or the Son or the Spirit), Arianism (since Jesus was begotten by the Father, he is made of God-stuff, but lesser than God the father), Adoptionism (the Son is adopted by God and the Spirit came upon him at his baptism and left before his crucifixion, so Jesus was a good and divinely empowered man only), Tritheism (three individual gods working together) and Subordinationism (the words “beget-begotten”, “send-sent”, “proceed” are said to indicate hierarchy in nature).

The church responded to these claims and debated the Trinity at the Councils of Nicea (AD 325) and Constantinople (AD 381). Based on Scripture, the leaders of the church affirmed two things:

JESUS IS GOD – NOT MADE FROM GOD-STUFF AND NOT A DIVINELY EMPOWERED MAN; HE IS ONE WITH GOD.

God the Father, the Son and the Spirit are one in nature/essence/being – not three separate beings (countering Tritheism) and not on different status levels (countering Subordinationism).

The disciples are commanded to go and baptize in the name – not names – of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Mt 28:19). Jesus claims to be God and does things that only Yahweh did in the OT (miracles, shining forth the Shekinah glory, forgiving sins). Jesus is God – not made from God-stuff (countering Arianism) and not a divinely empowered man (countering Adoptionism); he is one with God.

The church councils also affirmed the plurality of God. God speaks of himself in the first person plural (Gen 1:26, Gen 11 or Is 6:8-9), which is even reflected in his name, “Elohim” (“im” is the plural marker). When Jesus is baptized (Mt 3:16-17), the voice of the Father comes from heaven and the Spirit descends at the same time – three persons working together, not three modes of one being (countering Modalism). All three persons are individual, independent and separate entities with distinct actions and feelings.

Every person of the Trinity possesses the full essence of God in and of themselves but there is an order of derivation (or internal operation) and there is a primacy with the Father (Heb 2:10-11, 1.Cor 8;6) from whom are all things (he is uncreated and unmade). The Son is uncreated and unmade (countering Arianism), but he is begotten (Jn 3:16). The Spirit is uncreated and unmade, but he proceeds (Jn 15:26). Jesus’ begottenness does not change his pre-existence. He is the image of God. His derivation is an eternal begottenness. So Jesus has all the divine attributes. The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father and Jesus (Jn 14:26) and he proceeds from the Father and the Son (Jn 15:26).

Concerning the external operation of the Trinity, which applies primarily to creation and redemption, the church fathers expounded that the Father speaks and plans, the Son mediates and accomplishes and the Spirit hovers and applies (Col 1:15-16, Eph 3:9-11, 1.Pet 1:1-2, Tit 3:4-7). There is a priority, but no hierarchy and no “roles” (countering Subordinationism), which is a term the church fathers never used at any time.

IF JESUS IS ONLY HUMAN, HE CANNOT BE THE PERFECT SACRIFICE

There are lots of aspects about the Trinity that are still a mystery, but the Bible affirms that God is one and he is three; he is everything you can attribute to deity – he is the consummation of it all.

BUT WHY IS THIS QUESTION SO IMPORTANT?

If you do not have the Trinity you do not have a God-man that dies on the cross. The fullness of God adds to himself a human body. What he does on the cross is dependent on who he is. If he is only divine, he cannot (and would not – Greek and Roman gods were aloof and didn’t want to associate with humans) take upon himself the sin and iniquity of others. If he is only human, he cannot be the perfect sacrifice because he bears the blemish of original sin passed down by Adam and Eve; he can only – and very temporarily – atone for his own sins. The only blameless being in the universe is God himself. So he becomes incarnate without losing his divine attributes. Being 100% human and 100% divine, God functions as substitute and as representative. That’s why we are saved. My salvation depends on a God-man who took my place before the judge and rescued me from eternal damnation. This is no small matter!

The Trinitarian teaching also gives us confidence in Jesus’s words – because being God he has the authority to tell us how to live (and it’s not just about love and inclusion). Next time someone gets offended at the Christian truth just remember that our God became incarnate, died and rose from the dead, which is a lot more than other religions can claim! But it is more than a claim because God came near in Jesus and through the Spirit. God lives with us and in us – which other god does that?

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What’s the Point of Outdoor Ministry? https://ywammontana.org/whats-the-point-of-outdoor-ministry/ https://ywammontana.org/whats-the-point-of-outdoor-ministry/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 18:45:54 +0000 https://ywammontana.org/?p=4721 Ministry today looks much different than it did 2000 years ago, but the message is the same. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave to save us from eternal separation. My pastor once said, “The Gospel is kind of like a can of soda. If you look at the style and design of a soda can from 20 years ago you would see a lot of differences, but the contents are still the same.” It is the same with the ways we do ministry. Our methods change and evolve with the times.

Outdoor adventure ministries are one of the new opportunities we can use to bring people to Jesus, make disciples, and to give people a chance to get away from the busyness of life and connect with their Creator. We need this! Take a look at Jesus; there were many times when He “slipped away” to the wilderness or garden to spend time listening to His Father. Shouldn’t we do the same?

RISK, UNCERTAINTY, AND UNFAMILIARITY LEAD TO GROWTH, CHANGE, AND RENEWAL

When a person is taken away from their daily routine and put into a challenging situation we often see an abundance of growth. Kids taken from their monotonous school routines often find relief and opportunities to grow when exposed to the great outdoors. When people are exposed to beauty of God’s creation for the first time (seeing it with their own eyes, not through a computer screen or on TV) they are filled with a new sense of accomplishment and purpose. We are able to see beyond our own troubles and insecurities when we stop to watch a sunrise on the mountains with the beautiful alpine glow for those few short minutes.

Westley’s story

Several years ago, I helped take a group of eight teenagers on a five day backpacking trip into the Sierra Nevada Mountains. On the third night, we moved each participant at least 100 yards away from the main camp and gave everyone a good 15  hours to just be alone. Right before they went to sleep, we went down to check in on everyone. Westley was laying on a nice flat rock just staring into the huge emptiness of space that filled the sky. We were up at an elevation of about 8,000 feet and the sky was crystal clear. As I sat down next to him, he continued staring up at the star-filled sky and he asked me “Is there really a God out there that loves us?” I smiled and took a breath. The Holy Spirit had just tossed up a beach ball for me, and gave me a chance to hit it out of the park. So I swung and shared the Gospel with him. That night was a eye-opening moment for Westley. The beauty of God’s creation had opened a door in his heart.

Outdoor Ministry

Those are the moments that we strive for. Opportunities for the Holy Spirit to work in the lives and hearts of others. Sometimes in these moments something clicks in a person’s heart and they accept Jesus for the first time, they have a revelation how much God truly loves them. Or maybe in that moment of quietness they truly understand that they can overcome their addictions to drugs, cutting, pornography, anger, insecurity… Oftentimes risk, uncertainty, and unfamiliarity lead to growth, change, and renewal. For many people the outdoors are a risky, uncertain, and unfamiliar place. That is why we take people into God’s creation. That is why we keep doing what we do.

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I Love Making Announcements https://ywammontana.org/i-love-making-announcements/ https://ywammontana.org/i-love-making-announcements/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 19:23:06 +0000 https://ywammontana.org/?p=4705 One of my favorite parts about being a Session Leader in the School of Biblical Studies is making announcements during the first first five minutes of each class… and if I’m being honest the announcements usually take me closer to 10 minutes because I’m having fun, probably more fun than a person should have while making announcements.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all the other aspects of staffing an SBS – teaching, studying the bible, and getting to know my students and staff  – but man, do I love giving those announcements! I think it’s because we always end up laughing for one reason or another. Usually it’s because I’ve said something dumb, or didn’t pronounce something correctly, or one of my students was snarky and I snarked back. It always ends with us all laughing though. I don’t know what comes over me. There’s just these moments during announcement time where I’ll end up dancing, fake crying, stumbling over a “big word” like “Thursday”, or being sassy with one of my more sarcastic students.

My students learn quickly that I really like to laugh, and have fun, and just be a total goofball. Life is too short to be serious all the time. God has blessed us too much for us to not laugh at the silly things in life. I give a lot of credit to this group of students. They are all really great. They’re totally chill, they make any environment super comfortable to be in, and they value laughter.

This group of students really exemplifies the personality of “Rocket Raccoon” from Guardians of the Galaxy. If you haven’t seen it, thats a bummer, because it’s a really great flick. We discovered this comparison when I had the students over to watch the movie, and the more Rocket did his thing in the movie, the more we realized that my fun loving, snarky group of students was embodied in that crazy, spit fire of a raccoon. The students have fully embraced this comparison, and they are very proud of it. Not all of them are that way, some are quiet but even the quiet ones laugh at the sarcasm and join in from time to time. I love my students. They are my snarky raccoons, every single one of them. They are going to do amazing things because they really love Jesus, the Bible and other people.

This is why I love what I do, we get to learn a lot about Jesus, the Bible, and people. We get to live life together – laughing at the goofy things, crying in the hard times, and loving each other in this shared nine months of SBS. For me giving announcements is so much more than a bland chunk of information at the beginning of class. It’s a time where I get to laugh and connect with this awesome group of students.

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Catalysts of Change https://ywammontana.org/catalysts-of-change/ https://ywammontana.org/catalysts-of-change/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 16:43:41 +0000 https://ywammontana.org/?p=4687 There came a point in my life when I began to wonder what life as a Christian really meant. I was questioning why there were still so many desperately poor people, injustice, war-torn communities, preventable disease, widows, and orphans, many of whom live in countries that claim to be primarily Christian. If there are so many Christians in this world, why wasn’t there more of a difference? And yet, the even bigger question I had was what could I do, as a Christian, to influence the world around me? Everyone lives in some sort of community, and regardless of whether you are rich or poor, God wants everyone to have life abundantly. That is the reason why I took the Community Development School. Community development focuses on transforming communities that are stuck in life-destroying cycles to communities that are living in abundant life.

During my time in Zimbabwe for the Community Development practicum, a woman I will call Anne told me her story. When Anne was a teenager, her father passed away. Times were already hard for their family, but once her father died, the family became destitute. In order to help support her family, Anne dropped out of school and became a seller of snacks for buses that would stop along the main road. The first day of work, she did not sell a single snack because she lacked the courage to go up to the bus windows to show her goods. She went home defeated. However, the second day, was different. She claimed confidence in Christ and sold so many snack that her mother scolded her when she returned because she thought Anne must have been stealing! Anne continued to help support her family in the family farm, and through these means, her family was able to pull themselves out of poverty. Anne eventually married and had a daughter of her own. When her own husband passed away, Anne was able to continue providing for her family since she knew that God would not abandon her and her daughter. Today she is sending her daughter to university (rare for the village they’re from) and is encouraging and helping the community to seek abundant life that can come through Christ.

Community development is the call of each individual Christian as well as the whole body of Christ to be the catalysts of change in communities. Community development is a call to action and and a challenge to live intentionally for Christ.


Are you interested in learning more about how you can be a catalyst of change through community development? We offer a 3 Month Community Development School here in Montana followed by an optional 3 month outreach. Learn more about our Community Development School by clicking the image below.

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We also offer a shorter, 4 Week, Community Development Seminar. Learn more about the Community Development Seminar by clicking the image below.

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7 Resources for Teaching English Overseas https://ywammontana.org/resources-for-teaching-english-overseas/ https://ywammontana.org/resources-for-teaching-english-overseas/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 17:05:29 +0000 https://ywammontana.org/?p=4642 Believe it or not, there are two billion people around the world right now learning the English language. With so many people seeking someone to teach them English, there are a lot of opportunities these days to become a “teacher.” For some, being a teacher means having a group of students sitting in a classroom with desks and a board to write on. For many, however, the opportunity to be someone’s teacher is less obvious. You will find that doing simple things like sitting around tables in coffee shops with university students, or cooking a meal together with adults, or making crafts and kicking soccer balls with children…provide real experiences for those real “students” to practice their English with you. And every potential student you bump into is another life you can positively impact in a way that goes far beyond the reaches of language. Many lives have been transformed forever—both inside and outside of the classroom—because of a relationship that started with a simple English lesson.

My husband and I have had the great privilege of equipping DTS teams for English teaching opportunities during their outreaches, in addition to leading TESOL courses for professional English teachers. Below are a few of the best and most frequently used resources we’ve trusted over the last ten years of teaching English to students of all ages in the U.S. and Asia.

These resources are geared for the outreach team preparing an English Camp, or the solitary missionary who finds him or herself in an English classroom with little or no training, zero time for preparation, and fresh faces looking on in anticipation. Many have found themselves in your shoes at one time or another. Fear not—you can do this! Especially with endless help and strength from our wonderful Lord. “Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” (Joshua 1:9, MSG) Remember, as you enter wild foreign lands, He is with you.

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1. Fun Activities for Teaching English

It doesn’t have to be an English class. You can use these activities in youth gatherings, business meetings, bible studies, and cultural exchange camps. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: “It doesn’t always have to be about English.” And secondly, almost everyone likes to have some fun now and then. This resource consists of more than 60 proven activities that offer folks a chance to practice their English with you, while having fun at the same time. And having fun together is really the best starting point for making relationships. In the words of Plato, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

We like to photocopy this into little half-paged booklets that all of our DTS students can keep on them during outreach. They’re just the right size to fit in your back pocket, or your daypack. The activities inside can be added to existing English lessons to make your curriculum come alive. They can also stand alone when you’re in a pinch for time (see the section titled “How to prepare a lesson, FAST!” for ideas on how to survive that awkward moment when someone asks you to teach an impromptu English class with little time and preparation). These will also help you as you look for ways to make your lessons more active and engaging for everyone in the group. Also included is a guide for understanding your student’s level, useful website links, lesson plan templates, and some non-English activities when all you want to do is “get this party started.” Download this resource to your iPad or smartphone, and it will always be with you. I keep a copy of mine in the iBooks library on my phone, just in case.

Download: “Fun Activities for Teaching English”

Download all of the Resources as a bundle: “TESOL Resources Bundle”

PROS | builds relationships, minimal materials required, transferable to different levels and settings, fun for all ages, perfect size for outreach, free downloadable content

CONS | no pre-made lesson plans provided (do-it-yourself), doesn’t include reading and writing activities

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2. Magazines, Newspapers, and Travel Books

So you’re headed onto that plane. As you hand the stewardess your boarding pass and walk through the doors of the airport gate you walk past a tall metal stand that has a few shelves filled with complimentary newspapers. You spot one from the foreign country to which you’re traveling. Grab one. As you find your seat on the plane you take a quick look at the headline. You can read today’s headline because it’s written in English. In fact, the whole newspaper—even though it’s from your foreign destination—is written in English. You just found the textbook for your first English lesson. It was free. And it’s filled with brightly colored photographs, advertisements showcasing the latest trends, and or course, the news—current events that matter to the world, that should matter to the lives of your students, and that are happening just beneath you as you fly over your destination.

Most classrooms have textbooks and other materials that are several years old. Therefore, a big problem with using traditional textbooks is that they never provide students with real-life content, as it’s actually happening. In addition to this, not every school has the ability to buy beautiful, expensive textbooks for their students. However, there are often wonderful resources located all around us—you only need to look around. Neither is this something to be ashamed of, in fact, there are enormous benefits to using “genuine content,” as we call it. Typically, students will be more engaged with a well-made lesson that uses content from their favorite magazine, than a lesson from the fanciest of textbooks. That’s because all of the things that your students find most interesting right now—the latest trends, the hottest topics, the most popular music and movies, the scariest news stories from around the world—all of these things can be found in one place: the newspaper and magazine stand at your local convenience store.

So, how do you add this content to your lesson? For a simple reading activity, choose an article and have students look at any pictures, titles, or captions in the article. Ask them to make predictions, such as “What is happening is this picture,” or “What is the woman saying to the man?” After reading the article, ask your students questions about what they read to check their comprehension. And then do a fun role play based on the people and events from the article. Find activities A3 and A4 in our Fun Activities for Teaching English booklet (see above) for instructions on doing role plays. For other activities you can do with newspapers and magazines, see B10, B11, B19, C8, C9, F1, F2, F3, G1, G2, G3, H1. You can also do a modified “scavenger hunt,” where students are asked to find certain things related to your lesson. Or choose an interesting photo and have students write a short paragraph or dialogue based on what they see, then have them read the actual story. When tutoring students one-on-one, or doing conversational English lessons in a coffee shop, you can do many of these same activities with the travel and photography books that you almost always find in cafes and other hangout spots.

PROS | inexpensive, easy-to-find materials, genuine and meaningful content, nice photos, interesting for youth and adult learners, transferable to different levels and settings

CONS | no pre-made lesson plans provided (do-it-yourself)

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3. Conversational English Lessons

One of the most popular places English learners go to practice their language skills are cafes. A great example of this is The Rock Coffee Bar in Danshui, Taiwan. University students and businessmen from all over Taipei City area have been known to travel an hour or more to visit this little cafe, because they know it’s a great place to have a conversation in English (or another foreign language) over a nice cup of coffee. And they may make the journey several times in one week. Most of the time, people will begin coming to The Rock because of the opportunity for language practice, but they continue to come—night after night—because of something more. Some people continue to come purely because of the relationships they have made there, and some come in search of spiritual truth. And there are a lot of cafes like this one that are currently being operated by missionaries all around the world, because they are such good environments for making friendships and sharing biblical truths—night after night.

Although many “Conversational English” or “English Corner” sessions are completely informal and simply consist of a few random people sitting and talking at tables, there are a few curricula that can be used for more intentional settings. Two of our favorites are called International Discovery and God Loves The Outcast, both of which have been created by—and for—missionaries and church planters in Asia. Either of these could be done in a number of different settings: from living rooms, to classrooms, to coffee shops. And they are wonderful if you want to add an element of evangelism or real discipleship to your English classes.

International Discovery is a set of 120 Conversational English worksheets that you can print, two per page, and hand out to the students at your table. Each lesson begins by practicing language that students need for communicating in everyday situations. The lessons are also centered around a cultural story that discusses culture in Asia. And every lesson is designed to lead into an encouraging story from the Bible. The transition is typically subtle, so teachers can decide whether or not to incorporate biblical truths into their lesson, and how much. Most lessons provide wonderful opportunities for sharing personal testimonies and stories from the Bible.

God Loves The Outcast is a set of 40 lesson plans complete with flashcards and materials, and each lesson teaches English through telling Bible stories. The curriculum is designed to be spread out over 14 weeks with three lessons per week, however the schedule could easily be modified as a yearlong course with one lesson per week. Each lesson focuses on some form of language practice, including new vocabulary, pronunciation, and simple grammar points. Then the lessons include listening, reading, and speaking practice that centers on a story from the bible. The curriculum moves chronologically through the Bible with a new story introduced every week, which makes this a great resource for teaching basic Bible Overview to receptive English students. That is what makes this resource so wonderful for church planters looking for a more intentional way to bring the Bible into their lessons and make real disciples along the way. This curriculum is designed for adults from a high beginner to low intermediate level, and includes a lot of reading, but you can make it suitable for lower levels by simplifying the Bible passages and replacing some of the reading requirements with listening activities. By doing this, it also makes a decent English-through-the-Bible curriculum for children, and the lesson plans have been written in a simple format that makes it easy for anyone to pick up a lesson and teach.

Download: “International Discovery”

Download: “God Loves The Outcast”

Download all of the Resources as a bundle: “TESOL Resources Bundle”

PROS | complete lesson plans provided, teaches the Bible at the same time, great for discipling and church planting, no other materials needed, free downloadable content

CONS | single level (fit for high beginner-intermediate)

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4. Multi-Level Curriculum

Sometimes, nothing beats a good textbook. When it comes to establishing professional English classes at your school, cafe, or other ministry location, nice-looking textbooks will add some sizeable style points to your program. But one of the biggest benefits to using textbooks in all of your classes is the progression students experience when moving from one level to the next. When students complete one book they are ready to move onto the next, and with each new level they receive a feeling of accomplishment while maintaining the familiarity of a common curriculum across all levels. If students know what to expect when they come to class, their learning actually improves, and the repetitive rhythms of textbooks makes this easy.

One of the common downfalls to using textbooks is that they lack a little “spark” if you’re not creative with them. So we try to make our lessons come alive by adding a few fun activities to keep the students active and interested in the material, and we tend to build a lesson centered around content from the textbook, as well as an occasional newspaper or magazine article to keep your lesson up-to-date and meaningful to your students. The best and simplest way to organize all these different pieces is making your own “PPP” lesson plans, and saving your lesson plans and materials in folders will make it easier to reproduce the same great lessons next time.

Although it’s ideal to have a textbook for every student in every class, this is often impossible for some schools and ministry locations. If that’s the case, we have a simple solution that maintains a lot of the benefits mentioned above while holding back a huge chunk of the cost. Copyright laws will generally keep you from photocopying pages out of your textbooks, however, as long as you have a single copy of each book in a set of curriculum, you can gain a lot of great ideas from those textbooks regarding which topics to focus on, which vocabulary and grammar to practice with your students, and what that all might look like. Then you can fairly easily take that inspiration and craft your own lessons that follow a very intelligent path through all of the different levels, with plenty of room and freedom to make your lessons fit your own context and worldview. If you’re unable to print out your new materials, simply write your exercises on the board (or find creative ways to get your students to write them on the board), and hand out lined paper to your students for note-taking. For the cost of a few textbooks and a stack of blank lesson plan templates you can easily and cheaply design your own curriculum. Just be careful to respect your textbook’s copyrighted content as you do this.

One set of textbooks we highly recommend for teaching high school and university-level students is the Smart Choice curriculum designed by Oxford University Press. Each level of books is split up into similar looking units; each page of the unit focuses on a different language skill, such as learning new vocabulary or practicing speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The back of the book has scripts that can be read aloud or turned into role plays if your classroom doesn’t have the CD player necessary for each listening section. And teachers and students are able to logon to the Oxford University Press website and practice grammar and vocabulary through fun online games—great for assigning homework to a tutored student, or setting up a computer lab station in your classroom. In addition to Smart Choice, there are a number of other great curricula that have been designed in recent years by Oxford and Cambridge Universities, all of which we’d recommend. You’re looking for something that you can afford, that looks professional, has nice photos and other visuals, and makes practicing the different language skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing, pronunciation, grammar, etc) easy to follow for both the teacher and the students.

Download: “PPP” Lesson Plan Template

Download all of the Resources as a bundle: “TESOL Resources Bundle”

PROS | complete lessons provided (however, doesn’t include lesson “plans”), multi-level (beginner-advanced), great for language skills practice, best choice for paid language courses, most professional, online practice included

CONS | expensive, some lesson plan preparation still required (to make it “come alive”)

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5. Bible Coloring Pages

One of our favorite things to do is teaching English and Bible Stories to children. Kids love learning in hands-on interactive ways, they have bright imaginations, and they are always open to hearing the Good News about Jesus. Kids also love to have fun, and when you make the gospel message fun and exciting for them, they will tell their families and the whole world what they have learned. When designing a typical lesson for children, we will follow a “PPP”-style lesson plan format, but this time allowing extra time for fun activities that get the little ones moving around and basically shedding lots of energy. See our Fun Activities for Teaching English for a list of great activities for children.

But kids also love making stuff. And anything you can offer to children that will let them be creative and make something artistic (or edible) will be a good idea to include in your lesson. That is where coloring pages come in. This is one of the simplest things to prepare, they’re easy to find, and kids absolutely love them. There are many professionally-made books out there, on many different topics, and each one is filled with tens or hundreds of different coloring pages. Bible Story Coloring Pages by Gospel Light is a great choice. You can also simply search the internet for any topic and include the words “coloring pages” in your search and you will not be let down. If you are heading on an outreach trip and you’ll be out of country during, or near, a popular holiday, then be sure to bring a few coloring pages based on that holiday. I’m sure you will have a chance to bless some kids with them.

On a teaching trip in Thailand, while volunteering at a children’s home, I once had a classroom full of girls ages 4 – 14. It shouldn’t be surprising, but it wasn’t easy to make a lesson that gave the 4-year-old something simple to do while also keeping the 14-year-old interested in the exact same lesson as everyone else. But in classes with mixed ages, sometimes all you need is a few coloring pages and some stickers to keep the lower half of the class busy while you pay attention to the needs of the upper half. Don’t forget your crayons or markers.

PROS | perfect for teaching children, reinforces Bible stories, great for holidays, reproducible content

CONS | requires having to photocopy materials (print before you leave on outreach if it’s easier)

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6. Mobile Apps for English Teachers

At last count, nearly 2 billion people worldwide use smartphones, and millions more have tablets and other devices that can access the internet at anyplace and anytime. With all of that expansion in the mobile sector, it only makes sense that technology will soon have a bigger and bigger place in tomorrow’s education. And with leaders like Sal Khan, whose website (and mobile app) has a mission to offer a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere, it’s becoming possible to harness technology in a way that can bring a great education to many who never had access. For these reasons alone, we think it’s a good idea to explore using this new technology in the classroom, so long as its presence doesn’t take away from your ability to relate well with your students. Done in the right way, we think it’s possible to be a better teacher by using mobile devices such as smartphones and iPads, and there are a lot of fun activities that you can do in your lessons with these devices.

One of our favorite activities for older students, both in the U.S. and Asia, has been the “Digital Scavenger Hunt.” (See A2 in the Fun Activities for Teaching English booklet.) In this fun activity, groups of students work together to find items and complete tasks on a scavenger hunt list, and they take photos of whatever they find as proof that they completed that task. These photos can later be used in the class just as you might use flashcards and other pictures, including “Describe Your Picture” (B11), or a modified game of “Pictionary” (B3) or “Charades” (A5) where students try to reproduce their photos without speaking, while others guess which photo it might be. There are a lot of fun and interesting ways you can incorporate technology into your lesson, this is really just the beginning.

Download our Mobile Apps for English Teachers for a list of over 50 useful apps that we’ve found so far. And let us know what apps you’re using in your classes (you can email us your great ideas at tesol@ywammontana.org).

Download: “Mobile Apps for English Teachers”

Download all of the Resources as a bundle: “TESOL Resources Bundle”

PROS | great tools for activities and staying organized, downloadable content (get apps before you leave on outreach)

CONS | can make lessons “tech-heavy” and less relational, requires internet and power source

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7. Three Things You Already Have

With all the anxiousness people experience prior to teaching English on outreach, here is a short word of encouragement. Your greatest resource might be you. Yourself. The things you already possess and carry with you wherever you go. When you step off that plane and you’re surrounded by opportunities to teach your language, you really don’t need any of the resources I’ve mentioned above. All you need are three simple talents: to talk to people, to make friends, and to pray.

MAKE FRIENDS. BE A BLESSING TO PEOPLE. BUILD GENUINE RELATIONSHIPS FOUNDED IN TRUST AND HUMILITY.

That’s because what students usually want more than anything else—and truly what they need as language learners—is someone to talk to. They just want someone they can practice their English with, and someone who will simply be their friend. So just get out there and talk to people. Take advantage of the opportunities in front of you. Make friends. Be a blessing to people. Build genuine relationships founded in trust and humility. And shower all of these things with prayer. Share your story with your friends: what Jesus has done for you, and what he can do for them. Do all these things, and you will be far more than an English teacher. You will be a missionary

Any excellence we strive for in our English teaching, any preparedness we attempt to have as we gather these resources, should not be done solely for the sake of becoming excellent English teachers, but because we have an amazing opportunity to be messengers of the Gospel. We are not just here to display new ways of speaking, but when we live as ambassadors for Christ every part of our lives are on display.

I believe we should stop running away from opportunities to teach English. Instead, we should be running toward them. Someone once said, “Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Weak men wait for opportunities; strong men make them.” This philosopher, however, believed that mankind could make these great opportunities exist through the power of his own strength and merit. I think the better tactic here…is to pray. Pray that our Heavenly Father will lead you to the right students, at the right times, and provide you with the opportunity to share your stories and speak truth into their lives. And then, taking advantage of every moment he leads you to, make those occasions great.

Teaching English is an exchange. Both parties give a little, both parties receive a little. It is not just an exchange of language, but it is an exchange of feelings, ideas, and deep-rooted cultures. Like waiting for any fruit to grow, it takes time and we should go expecting to be learners as well as teachers. Friendship, C. S. Lewis wrote, is born in that moment when two people learn they have more in common than they first thought. I hope that is what teaching English will bring to you. Occasions for learning from one another, for establishing common ground, and for birthing those transforming relationships that form in those moments when you realize, although language separates you from others, it is also what draws you together and you have something now that you didn’t have at the start. You are friends. And anything is possible through a little friendship mixed with prayer.


CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR TESOL TRAINING COURSE

2,000,000,000 – There are two billion people in the world right now learning the English language. It’s the most widely learned and sought after language in the world. Because so many people want to learn English, most missionaries from North America find themselves teaching in classrooms at some point in their overseas ministry. A large number of ministries around the world use English classes as a tool for evangelism, building relationships in their communities, and as a way to open doors of ministry in restricted access nations. Yet, many of today’s missionaries have never had any formal training as language teachers.

TESOL is a uniquely strategic seminar designed to quickly and effectively train any English speaker as a fully certified English teacher and to release them into ministry. This course emphasizes an interactive classroom using Language for LIFE.

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7 Backcountry Skills I Take With Me On Outreach https://ywammontana.org/edts-backcountry-skills/ https://ywammontana.org/edts-backcountry-skills/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 17:24:57 +0000 https://ywammontana.org/?p=4582 What follows is the second installment in a two-part series on things that translate from backcountry use and practice onto the mission field. The first piece I wrote detailed my top 10 pieces of gear that translate from a backcountry kit to the mission field.

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In this second part, I want to focus on skills, activities, practices and approaches that contribute to both a successful backcountry trip and a fruitful outreach. In EDTS, we call these collective skills, activities, practices and approaches our “bag of tricks”. We equip students with a comprehensive quiver of practical tools and resources for the outdoors and mission field that they can pull out of their bag as needed.

What follows are a handful of tried and tested things from my EDTS bag of tricks. And, as always, I’m excited to talk about some gear that will help you best utilize each trick!

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#01 – Storytelling

This might not be one of the first things you think of when you think about a backcountry skill. But think about time spent at your campsite, base camp, host-home or around a campfire. It is a place of rest, relaxation, being yourself, sharing good food, practicing hospitality and fellowship, and usually engaging with people. Good story telling (and good listening) is a skill to be learned, honed and practiced. I like to have a few stories in a few different categories in my bag of tricks… Stories of my adventures and travels, stories from the mission field, and my personal testimony. Supreme to all of those, however, is the story of God and the good news of Jesus – that’s the one I want to be able to articulate the most if the opportunity presents itself both in camp and on outreach.

Recommended Gear Pairing:
Have a good book or magazine in your pack that other backpackers and travelers might also be reading. It’s a great conversation starter


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 #02 – Wilderness First Aid Training

I can’t say enough about this. All of our students go through a 4-day Wilderness Advanced First Aid through an internationally recognized wilderness medicine agency and walk away from EDTS with a 2-year certification. Members of our staff team hold Wilderness First Responder and EMT certifications as well. Ask anyone on our team and they’ll tell you that wilderness/backcountry medicine scenarios mirror what we find on the front lines of the mission field in villages and cities alike. Most importantly, this skill is an avenue for loving and serving people. Wound management, in particular, is a tangible way to show the love and compassion of Christ to others.

Recommended Gear Pairing:
A well-stocked group/expedition first aid kit with smaller, supplemental kits for day hikes or short trips. Encourage everyone in your group to have a small stash of band-aids and hand sanitizer that they carry themselves. The $.99 cent first aid kits found in the travel section at a store are great. The container is small but still large enough that you can add a few other things like a small lighter, clothes pin and antibiotic ointment to beef it up.


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#03 – Living out of a Backpack

It is a practice in simplicity for some, a game for others (think ultra lightweight hiking) and a challenge for the rest of us. Having everything you need for life, adventure, travel and ministry all in 85 liters or less is an impressive trick.

Recommended Gear Pairing:
A well-fitted backpack with appropriate volume and capacity for the activity.


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#04 – Group Games and Team Building Exercises

Build unity, community, trust, communication and teamwork with your backpacking group and have some fun while you’re at it! Debrief each activity and stash into your bag of tricks. Pull these out and adapt for children’s ministry, drawing a crowd, icebreakers, running mini camps and equipping aspiring outdoor educators.

Recommended Gear Pairing:
An 8’ x 8’ tarp, slackline, tennis balls, hacky sack, Frisbee, retired climbing rope. Learn some foundational experiential education and facilitation approaches like challenge by choice, the comfort, growth and danger zones, and how to brief/debrief activities.


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#05 – Backcountry Cooking

Let’s just say that we’re glad that we had a student back in 2012 who was comfortable butchering chickens. On outreach in Cambodia that year, that trick came in handy! Meal/menu planning, shopping, dehydrating, packing, storing, transporting, serving, consuming, clean-up all translate.

Recommended Gear Pairing:
Here are 5 personal recommendations that we pass along to our EDTS students each year and that we stick to both in the backcountry and on the field.

  1. Always carry a well-stocked spice kit!
  2. Carry instant coffee. Folgers Singles, Starbucks Via, Nestle “Turbo” are among our favorites.
  3. Know your units (English/metric conversions for measurement, altitude, distance, volume, weight, etc) – use precision and accuracy when preparing meals and planning trips.
  4. Ask these questions before each trip… What am I cooking? What am I cooking it in and what am I using to actually cook it (i.e. Spatula, spoon, tongs, pocketknife)? What am I using to eat it?
  5. Always have one good cooking knife with you (separate from your pocketknife if possible)

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#06 – Water Sanitation & Personal Hygiene

Nothing puts a damper on a camping trip or outreach like communicable diseases spreading through your group like wildfire. The trick to this trick is getting your team to maintain both individual and group accountability to sanitation practices. The best way we’ve figured out how to approach that accountability is by seeing our bodies/mind/soul, healthy living and healthy community through a correct Biblical worldview – which is also something that your team can teach about on outreach.

Recommended Gear Pairing:

  • Appropriate water treatment devices and methods.
  • Tools, equipment and know-how on creating hand-washing stations.
  • Tools to implement and practice Leave No Trace principle #1 – Plan Ahead and Prepare as well as principle #3 – Dispose of Waste Properly.

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#7 – A Tech-Savvy-Social-Media-Artistically-Gifted Student/Staffer Equipped with a DSLR Who is Also Mechanically Inclined

You might not find all of this in just one person, but you get the point. Capturing the story of your trek, adventure, expedition or outreach, and effectively communicating it through relevant media streams is something that, if done well, will serve your program, goals, and further the kingdom. These are the means by which we partner with others in ministry, keep them updated, market and recruit for schools/programs, but most importantly they’re one of the ways in which we testify to God’s faithfulness and to how the gospel and truth of Jesus Christ are changing people, communities and nations.

Recommended Gear Pairing:
An iPhone 4s or newer. There are two big reasons that I recommend these, or similar, smartphones. First, we pair an iPhone with the DeLorme inReach satellite communicator to create a fully functioning GPS/emergency communication device on our backcountry trips. Second, I can pop a SIM card in my phone pretty much anywhere in the world and have everything I need to coordinate ministry. I’ve gotten better 3G coverage in the corners of Nepal’s Himalaya’s and remote parts of Cambodia than some parts of where I live in Montana!


The vision for the Endurance DTS outdoor ministry is to take students deeper into their own discipleship journey with Christ, and then give them the tools to reach out to others, particularly within the outdoor industry. We know that people on a trip, trek or great adventure are often seeking deeper spiritual revelation as they journey, and God has given us a desire to reach out and meet these individuals along the way. Endurance DTS aims to equip our students to engage with both the lost and trekker/adventurers, and to testify to Christ’s saving grace and faithfulness with credibility and confidence. The focus of our outdoor curriculum is two-fold… Build “translatable” backcountry skills that are applicable to the mission field, and build credible, industry-standard outdoor/backcountry skills that can lead to both outreach and future vocational opportunities post-EDTS.

For more information on EDTS and to read more about the foundations of EDTS and our specific goals, please visit the “Resource Materials” drop-down menu on the EDTS page below.

Click the image below to learn more about EDTS!

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5 Reasons Why You Should Do a DTS https://ywammontana.org/5-reasons-why-you-should-do-a-dts/ https://ywammontana.org/5-reasons-why-you-should-do-a-dts/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 16:19:33 +0000 https://ywammontana.org/?p=4493 “So why did you do a Discipleship Training School?”

Having done my Discipleship Training School about four years ago and now being on DTS Staff, this is one of the most frequent questions I get asked. You could ask ten people this same question and you would probably end up getting ten different answers. Some people have grown up wanting to be missionaries, some came because their parents encouraged them to, and some because they didn’t know what else to do. For me, it was simple…

I was lost in my faith. I knew there was more and I wanted it. I needed it.

I grew up in a loving Christian home where my family had always been involved with church in some way or another. My oldest sister had done a DTS after she graduated high school and then joined staff; so I was pretty familiar with the concept of DTS. During my sophomore year of high school everyone was so concerned about their GPA and their extra curricular activities. They were doing everything right so that they would qualify for the right scholarships to get into the best colleges, while I was still thinking, “I have absolutely no clue what I should go to college for, so why would I go and waste my time on a degree I don’t even know if I can use, or that I even want?” I enjoyed school, I just wasn’t sure of the direction I wanted my life to take. Around that same time, the youth group at my church fell apart and the youth pastor ended up leaving. That was when I realized my faith was in serious trouble. I had allowed myself to be spoon fed without developing my own relationship with God. I knew He was there and that He loved me, but my faith wasn’t my own.

Missions had always been something that interested me and I wanted my own relationship with God. I knew DTS was a great program where I would be submerged in a community where we would all be going after God’s heart together, which was what I wanted.

I hope that through sharing some of my experiences I’ll be able to communicate a little bit of what I’ve learned during my time with DTS. Here are the five reasons why I think you should do a Discipleship Training School.

#1 To Know God

Wherever you are in your walk with God, whether you just submitted your life to him, or you have been following for a while. . . there is so much more to learn about God. He is just so vastly outside of our comprehensible limits. However, He has made Himself available to us. He wants to be known. He wants to be known by you. In DTS, we learn about topics like The Father Heart of God and Hearing God’s Voice (and many more). By understanding more of His character and hearing Him speak to us, we can eliminate the lie that He is a distant and cold God. In reality, He is loving and inviting and is trying to communicate with you this very second. He desires relationship with you and is waiting for you to take a step closer.

THERE IS A GOD WHO LOVES YOU MORE THAN YOU CAN COMPREHEND

This might surprise you, but most students that come to DTS do not believe that God loves them. They know He does in their head (many of us are quite familiar with the Sunday School tune “Jesus Loves Me”), but they don’t believe it in their hearts. Honestly, who can blame them? It doesn’t make sense. I think to myself, “Why would the Creator of the universe love me? I am flawed, broken, and more sinful than I care to admit. What about me is worthy of being loved at all, especially by the King of all Kings?” I think the more we understand the gift that Jesus was, and the love that motivated that kind of sacrifice, the more we are changed. We are completely undone because that kind of love that is so undeserved, yet so freely given. If you have no idea what I am talking about, please, please come do a DTS. There is a God who loves you more than you can comprehend and He is just bursting with excitement to be able to shower that love upon you.

#2 To Know Yourself

It says in Genesis that we are made in the image of God (1:27). Therefore, by knowing more of who God is and how we bear His image we will ultimately learn more about ourselves. In my DTS, one of the biggest things God spoke over me was my identity. By looking into God’s Word, He revealed so much to me about who I am and who He created me to be. By learning to hear and recognize His voice, He taught me who I was as an individual and how He uniquely designed me. I found out who He said I am instead of what society and culture were trying to make me out to be. I am to be set apart, and so are you.

I love this verse as it is written in The Message.

1 Peter 2:9 (MSG) “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.”

God has so much more in store for you and your life. Are you willing to give Him the chance to reveal that to you?

#3 To Make God Known

We are all called to make God known, wherever we are. In Matthew, the last words of Jesus before He ascends to heaven are:

“God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 MSG

This is the charge the Jesus leaves with his disciples. The word “disciple” translates to mean “a follower”. I believe if we consider ourselves followers of the Lord Jesus Christ then this verse applies to us. We are called to be disciples and we are called to disciple others.

These first three reasons to do a DTS are connected. How can we make Him known if we don’t even know Him? How can we understand ourselves and our purpose if we do not understand our Creator? We are called to know Him in such a way that the outpouring of our relationship with God spills out to every area of our lives, making it impossible to keep it to ourselves. That is how transforming the love of Christ is.

WHILE ON OUTREACH YOU’LL GET A GLIMPSE OF WHAT OVERSEAS MISSIONS LOOKS LIKE

During your Discipleship Training School you’ll be given the opportunity to Make God Known by visiting a foreign country and sharing His love with people who have maybe never even heard the name of Jesus. The Gospel is for everyone. What an amazing privilege – to be able to introduce Jesus to someone for the very first time. While on outreach you’ll get a glimpse of what overseas missions looks like, and you will have the opportunity to use your gifts and abilities for the Kingdom of Heaven.

#4 Because He is Worthy. He is the Redeemer.

I have this picture of what it will be like to stand before God on Judgement Day. I am standing there, knowing I deserve hell, having accepted my sin and my humanity, knowing that my best efforts just weren’t enough to deserve eternity…  and then Jesus walks in. He comes to stand right in front of me and shows the Father His hands where His scars remain. These scars that say I am clean, that my slate has been washed by the blood of Christ, that I bare my sin and shame no more. As Jesus stands in my place on that Day, I am ushered to the gates of Heaven where the most amazing Holy Spirit party is taking place because of the reality of what Jesus did for us the day He took up our cross.

DTS ISN’T THE CLIMAX OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD BUT RATHER THE BEGINNING OF A LIFE FULLY COMMITTED TO HIM

Because of this, He is worthy. He is worth taking five months to fully devote yourself to Him. We don’t want your DTS experience to be the climax of your relationship with God but rather the beginning of a life fully committed to Him. He is the Savior and He is the one who comes to redeem your story. No matter what kind of story you might have, no matter what you have done, you cannot out-sin His forgiveness. He is worthy, and redemption is yours for the taking.

#5 Why Not?

Take a minute to ask yourself “Why not do a DTS?” – I understand that we all have our own obligations, ambitions, hopes, and dreams to consider. I have been there, I know! Sometimes we need to give God the opportunity to be faithful in our lives. God is steadfastly faithful, but when we try to control everything, we don’t allow Him to reveal that part of Himself to us.

LOST IN MY IDENTITY, INSECURE AND HOPELESS, THE LOVE OF CHRIST CHANGED ME

Why not set aside five months of your life to chase after God with everything you have? Look back at where you were five months ago. How much is different? How much is the same? I can guarantee you that when you look back after your DTS you will see that a transformation has taken place. That is the power of giving everything over to God.

Lost in my identity, insecure and hopeless, the love of Christ changed me. Will you let Him change you?

Want to learn more about Discipleship Training School?

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