I’ll start by saying that I consider myself a parent who likes to be involved in the lives of my children; some might even call me a “helicopter parent”. I have three girls, I love them all, and I want to see each do well. My husband and I both graduated from the University of Michigan, and if we had our choice, all of our girls would go there also. I quickly found out that attending our alma mater was not either of our two elder daughters’ dreams and coped with that pretty well. However, I still wasn’t prepared when my then-17-year-old daughter told us that she wanted to take a gap year from college and do a Discipleship Training School with YWAM.
I knew little about the program, so I researched it online, called another parent who had a child in YWAM, prayed about it and couldn’t see a reason to say no. But I tried, because frankly, I have a hard time with control and my girls leaving the nest.
I wasn’t completely comfortable with my daughter being on the other side of the world,
so I tried to convince her that she should try Europe or Hawaii, thinking at least then I’d be able to reach her in a day, in case something happened. She held firm, however, reminding me that she really thought God was telling her to go to Newcastle, Australia. How could I argue with that?
The next several months went by quickly; Allie turned 18, graduated from high school, earned the money for the trip through fundraising and working. My husband and I were at peace with her trip (or so I thought). Fast forward to her departure day. After waking up that morning, Allie’s best friend arrived and they were giddy with excitement for her adventure to begin. I pretended to be excited for her, but inside, I was full of questions. What was I doing? Was I crazy for sending her across the world just because God said to?
It wasn’t easy, but I realise now that this journey wasn’t just for my daughter to be obedient to God but also for me.
God revealed to me that I needed to stop thinking that I was the one in control.
Allie arrived at YWAM Newcastle in October, and we were limited to phone calls and FaceTime. While she was gone on her DTS, I started to see a change in her. She was always my more reserved daughter, not as outgoing as my other two girls. However, since attending YWAM, she has been so full of joy and inexplicable happiness. She is clearly on fire for the Lord! I find it so exciting to see this transformation in my beautiful daughter. She looks for the good in people and situations; she has a peace within her that I am delighted to see. Talking to her now, I realise that she is stronger, more independent, more caring and definitely loves herself more than when she left.
Her time away was not easy for me. I hadn’t seen my daughter for about six months and that was very hard, especially during the holidays. Additionally, she chose to go to South Africa for the outreach phase of her DTS, which scared me. While there, she went to the ER with a swollen ankle, and then again later for bronchitis (and received medicine from them I had never heard of!). The “helicopter mom” in me wanted to jump on a plane and make sure she was OK, but instead, I prayed, sent requests for prayer to family and friends, and turned to Scripture.
I kept remembering, “God has this”.
As Allie’s return approached, she informed me that she really wants to go into long-term missions rather than go to college. That wasn’t my plan for her, but I am at peace. I know that wherever God sends her next, she will go with His loving arms wrapped securely around her. As long as I trust in Him, I will continue to be at peace. Even though my daughter was the one in the mission field, and I was at home, this trip has strengthened my faith and reliance on God so much.
My advice for parents of young women and men who are thinking of joining YWAM: first and foremost, pray. Then, pray some more and make sure you are open to hearing whatever the Lord says to you. If you have the opportunity, talk to and meet with others who have been part of YWAM. Hear from their experience and gain from their insight. Next, determine what you are comfortable with, but anticipate that God will stretch you beyond that.
Finally, rejoice, and find the blessings that God will surprise you with on this adventure!
by Mindy Kiss
Parent of YWAM Newcastle Compassion DTS student