Youth With a Mission is often asked “how we do it” in regards to the DTS (Discipleship Training School) course that we run. What makes it so special? How can this program take ordinary young people and set them on fire to love God and tell others about Him? The truth is that it has nothing to do with the program at all – it has to do with God Himself! What’s special about a DTS is that it’s designed to help students EXPERIENCE God. DTS is about so much more than just listening to other people talk about who God is…
We get to experience Him FIRSTHAND!
This is the type of knowledge of God that Paul talks about in Philippians 3:8, when he says that KNOWING God is the most valuable thing of all. The Greek actually indicates that this is personal, intimate, experiential knowledge and not just knowledge of a person’s name and occupation. Through doing life together, through applying what we learn in the classroom, through seeking after God in our own personal time, these six months are not just six months of getting knowledge but of creating memories with God. So, here are a few ways – big and small – that we experienced the goodness of God with this wild bunch of young people over the lecture portion of the January 2018 4WD DTS.
1. Learning to work together as a married couple in ministry
While we have been part of the same organisation for the last two years, this was our first time being on the same team, and the first time with Chris leading and me following (in a ministry context, that is). We got to learn firsthand about the humility, trust, and ability to lay down personal preference that is necessary in marriage. When we did it well, we had the privilege of reflecting God’s desire for family and relationships to our students. (And even when we didn’t do it well, God’s grace was there!) We love providing a bit of security away from home for these guys and loved the lessons God showed us in working together as a team.
2. Understanding prayer in creative ways
One of our favourite times of prayer on the school looked a lot more like a time of play. One of our guest speakers shared some principles of praying as a team through playing sports! We got to see how important it is to be vocal, to support each other and not check out when we didn’t “have the ball.” The sports analogy also showed us how active prayer needs to be, both in the offensive and defensive. We also saw how there truly is an outcome of participation in prayer – every person on the team has a role! With the focus of our school being on cars and adventure, this was a great demonstration for those students that are a bit more hands-on. I love that God wants to teach us in practical ways – He lets us get our hands dirty and “give it a go” as we say in Australia!
3. The best girls’ small group in the world
I can confidently say that this truly was the best small group in the world because these five girls came from all over the world! I don’t think God could have brought five more different girls to this school, but spending time with them – especially all together – was an absolute joy. The times we spent away from the guys with just us girls are some of my favourite memories from the entire school. Whether we were sharing our hearts and opening up, asking big questions about lectures, or just hanging out, it was always a good time. Even the guys will never forget one of our best inside jokes as a small group since they could all hear us cracking up! It’s really God’s intention that girls have good relationships with each other, and that’s not always reflected in the world today – but these girls, with all of their differences, were a picture of heaven in how they could love each other with everyone’s quirks!
4. Celebrating who God is while standing on a cliff
We always love to express our hearts in worship to God, but something about being in His creation makes it even more wonderful. During our three-week camping trip, we had a time of worship up on a cliff overlooking the gorgeous Indian Ocean. The weather wasn’t ideal, but we celebrated anyway! The song “Cornerstone” was fitting for the moment: “Through the storm, He is Lord!” I remember this moment every time we sing this song now, and that joy we had during a physical storm is something I want to carry into emotional storms as well. Another highlight was driving back down to our campsite and eating instant noodles to warm up afterwards.
5. Being washed white as snow
As part of the DTS, students have the opportunity to bring things to light from their past in front of the group, both things they have been involved in and hurts inflicted on them by others. This creates space to repent and forgive in a safe environment – and in front of believers, as we are recommended to do in the Bible. It also bonds our team beautifully, which can be a pretty unexpected outcome whenever we share our deep secrets with people and find out we are still loved! But this is how we experience the love that God has for us. His forgiveness is available with open arms when we are ready to turn from our past, and His love is unconditional. This also set the tone for the rest of our time together. When things weren’t right relationally in the group, we knew through practice that the only way to overcome was to humble ourselves and speak it out, by both asking for forgiveness and extending it to each other.
6. Practising our teamwork skills for outreach
Before heading out on outreach, we spent some time working on our teamwork by doing team building exercises. It was a lot of fun, but it also brought out different things in different people and led to interesting discussion. The thing is, working in a team isn’t ONLY about getting through the obstacle course. It’s not just about the task, but about the process of completing the task. This goes back to what I said before about God teaching us in practical ways. He doesn’t want us to become perfect and THEN live life. We are made complete when we learn through disagreements, conflict, and tough situations.
7. Receiving input and teaching from amazing leaders
For Chris and myself, one of the best parts of being involved in the school was being able to spend time with leaders and teachers from all different locations and backgrounds. We not only got to listen to them speak as we sat in class with the students, but we got to take them to dinner or hang out with them while camping and get to know them even more. We had a bit of marriage advice, got some input on how we were doing as leaders, and got to hear incredible stories from people who have seen God do so many things all over the world. I absolutely love the relationships that God creates between His people!
8. Being bound together in love
On the last night of our camping trip, we had a time of encouragement as a school. We used a spare rope and each held onto a piece of it as we were encouraged, creating a web that represented our connections to each other. The camping trip as a whole was something incredibly special to us as – a chance to get away from busy base life and just be “us” for three whole weeks! This final evening was such a representation of the connections we had built over three weeks without cell phone service, only being able to talk to each other. These are the kinds of connections that last long after the six months of DTS!
9. Praying for outreach finances up until the nick of time
The day that our outreach finances were due, we still needed about $3500 as a school before everyone was paid in full. We spent the evening praying, as well as asking God if there was anything practical we could do to see the money come in. When we added up what we had at the end of the night, through the generosity of those on the school and other individuals, we had $600 MORE than we needed! This was such a picture of God’s provision to us – He is able to provide even more than what we need!
10. The first shower in three weeks
This one might be a little funny, but let me tell you that going without really does make you thankful for what you have… and it shows you what really is important. I’m still loved even when I smell bad and haven’t shaved my legs in three weeks, and I’m still able to love others who are in the same situation. But, yeah, showering after three weeks of camping feels pretty good.
These are just ten of countless moments experiencing God over three months in Perth with the 4WD DTS. Want to hear more? Shoot us a message on Facebook or send us an email and we’d love to tell you more about it all, plus hear the stories of how you’ve been experiencing God in your life lately!