Thursday, March 15, 2007

The CULT of YWAM Honolulu

Unfortunately, cults are subtle and mix truth with error.

Emotions experienced during my 12 years in the cult.

I always thought that people who ended up in religious cults were mindless to begin with, or they would not be sucked into the organization. I found from experience that this is not the case.

Life is not always “fixed” by a prayer, spiritual formula or a pat answer. One can know the Lord, but after a horrific experience in a cult, be forever emotionally & spiritually scarred. I do not know why God allowed me to get involved with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Honolulu for 12 years, but I think one reason is to warn others. I forgive those who wronged me, but that does not mean that the leadership at YWAM HNL (most of who are no longer there) should not be held accountable for their ungodly, unethical and unbiblical behavior which was forced on others.

The message of what life is like under a theocratic dictatorship needs to be shouted to the world, so it might save others who have a heart after God from getting involved with such a group. People who go into YWAM wanting to serve the Lord soon find that they must be puppets in what they say & do in what the leadership wants to hear in order to survive! If one questions a policy or action, rather than discussing it as adults, you are met with "Are you questioning MY authority?" or "GOD has placed ME in this leadership position". One also hears comments such as “God wanted me to tell you…”.

When the Lord finally freed me from the clutches of this "Christian CULT" I felt emotionally & spiritually dead. After being away from YWAM for a few months, I realized that even though I was in my 30s, I was never allowed to be an adult! I even felt the need to "protect" the true reality of YWAM when I first left, afraid to even whisper that "I had been involved in a manipulating cult". God, in his mercy has healed me a lot since then, but I still retain the emotional & spiritual scars & do not trust those in a position of "spiritual authority".

One time, I volunteered to lead a prayer time and felt we should pray for Russia. I was told by one of the leaders, “We can’t pray for Russia when so many of the bases we have sent long-term workers to need prayer”! (A year or 2 later, a team from YWAM HNL was sent to Russia on a mission!)

Families are “worshipped”, as are those who have gone to third world countries long term in YWAM. It’s ironic that the families do less on the base than a person who is single. Most of the wives were "mothers" & did nothing to contribute to the group, yet were the first to take whatever might be donated to the base. Singles were chastised for not willingly offering to baby-sit the children of the families! What if God calls you as a single to serve Him in a first-world country? Is that not just as "spiritual"? Students were made to feel guilty if they wanted to leave YWAM after they finished their course to go to university, being told “there was no higher call than to go to the mission field”. Ironically, I heard complaints from those who were long-term in places like India because of being sent workers with no skills.

Of course a mother with small children should have the freedom to spend 100% of her time caring for her children. I am referring to those with school age children who did nothing to contribute. The base director's wife would always say that "she would be involved on base once her kids were in school". Once her kids were in school, she was made a council member (conflict of interest to have both a husband & wife with votes on the council) but did almost nothing for the good of the base!

What was also noticed is that for the most part, the children on base would be unsupervised, undisciplined & would run all over the base, as if it were some large day care center.

Why was it that one mother with young babies could be so involved in the base while other base moms with fewer & older children would do nothing to contribute. Moms should not be expected to be Super Moms like one of the council member's wife was (even though she, like all of us had her faults), but she was an example of what a mom could accomplish on base whilst raising her children. That was the family that was asked to leave!!! They also had a ministry to Mormons, and since that was "not the calling of YWAM Honolulu", were told they did not want them involved in evangelizing Mormons (though the wife of the council member was saved from Mormonism)!

God gives us in life the gifts he intends for us to use and our “mission field” may be at a secular job. He has not called all to go serve Him in India or to die as a martyr. To use the gifts he has given us is a form of worshipping Him, as we are simply being who He has called us to be. Those who were not like the YWAMer that fit the mold would quickly be ostracized as having an "independent spirit" or looked down upon, such as those who did not speak in tongues. (It’s funny how the charismatics during times of worship came across as so spiritual, but in day to day life, were no different or more spiritual than anyone else.) The charismatics were constantly trying to attain an emotional experience rather than living simply by faith & the Word. Non-charismatics were told that “they were not “Spirit-filled”, yet if one does not have the Spirit living within them, they do not know the Lord.

There was an ugly power struggle within the leadership while I was there that sent away a godly family, when the focus should have been on how to glorify Jesus, not a man or group of leaders. The YWAM base is like a family. The leaders are the head of that family. When the head of that family is dysfunctional, the entire family becomes dysfunctional. One quickly learns not to feel, see or discuss the dysfunction one sees daily.

I was involved in an evangelistic crusade in Tahiti where a well known evangelist in charismatic circles came to do some healing services. The services were advertised as such, with flyers saying the evangelist had even "raised the dead". (Of course this happened years ago on a remote island in Indonesia, and can not be verified.) Many were promised their healing at the crusade “if they had the faith”. People came in wheelchairs, crutches, or with missing limbs. ALL left the way they came & were told that if they were not healed, it was because of their lack of faith. In so doing, not only did these precious ones have to suffer physically, but were given a guilt trip of not being good or spiritual enough. Even in the midst of that, many YWAMers would say, "Wasn't that a great crusade?” I was appalled & ashamed to be part of such a horrible scam. Many of those attending could have been turned off by God, rather than the man claiming to be his messenger.

I was good friends with the secretary of the base leader. She told me how disgusted she was to type up his Christmas newsletter, making his family sound so poor and asking for financial support. She saw how much money would come in through individuals, as well as organizations & groups he would speak at throughout the world. I have been away from YWAM for 12 years now, yet at least three times a week, I continue to have emotionally suffocating dreams that I am back in the YWAM HNL cult. Many, many times, I continue to forgive those who wronged me & others, but must live with the emotional & spiritual scars that were forced upon me while raping me & others of their individuality and self-esteem.

After leaving this cult, I ran across the base leader’s wife at a grocery store. I had just gotten out of hospital with pneumonia & looked & felt very weak. She asked how I was doing & I told her. She replied, “Oh, you poor thing, having to go get groceries by yourself & not have anyone to help you”. Then she simply walked away… One hears a lot of good teaching and words coming from the mouths of those at YWAM HNL. The message of their lives is a different message. I was told by a trusted priest that “I will probably always have these re-occurring nightmares due to the impact my time at YWAM HNL had had on me”. I was also told by a counselor that on a stress scale of 1-10, 10 being the most severe, my time under YWAM HNL was a 12!

I know of several, who like me left YWAM irreparably hurt & wounded, but who left God behind as well. One young woman, after having been to the same retreat in Colorado that I had been to also had the strength to get out. She remarked to me, “I feel like under the leadership at YWAM Honolulu, I was spiritually gang-banged”! I thought her remarked summed it up quite well. I praise God that I know that HE is my Rock & that my time at YWAM Honolulu was in no way, a reflection of His character or desire. I realize that there are still good people at YWAM bases & there may be other bases that live by godly principles & character. I am sure that these people do lift up Jesus & do well in the world. I just pray that God will separate the wheat from the chaff and purify this group.

I walked past the base the other day as part of my healing & again, prayed forgiveness for those who were far from a reflection of Christ during my time there.

Another horrid example is when a dear woman of God in her mid-60's who'd gone long term to Papua New Guinea returned to Honolulu for a hysterectomy. She had no family in Honolulu when she was hospitalized, or after she had been discharged. After she returned to the YWAM HNL base from hospital, she asked the woman in charge of "hospitality" (whose husband was the most abusive of the base elders) if she could use a comfortable chair from the guest house while she recovered. They actually told her "NO"! She is with the Lord now & I can't even imagine what kind of chair the Father provided for her when she returned Home.

I think a lot of people who have been involved in a cult try to ignore that inner voice that tells them something is awry. They also fear bringing it to light for fear of having been made a fool of, being ostracized by the group or even letting God down.

The only time the Base Leader got in contact with me after having served 12 years on the base, was to inform me that Loren Cunningham (YWAM’s founder) would be speaking at a Friday night service & "wanted to make sure there was a full house" (I have never gone back to a single meeting since I left, though I live about 2 miles from there now). After having served at the base for 12 years, I was not given so much as a doughnut hole in honour of my years of service.

People in authoritative positions at YWAM HNL will pray for you, and often as they "talk to God", they are really saying the things they want YOU to hear in order to manipulate and control you. I once had a base elder say to me, "It is your responsibility to obey us, who have been placed in authority over you-even if you feel what we ask is wrong. We will be held accountable to God for that".

The most important thing is to know what and why you believe as you do. Know what the Bible says, so when false doctrine and attitudes come forth, they will be recognized as not from God.

Many who read this blog who have had anything to do with YWAM will probably jump to the conclusion that I am clinging to a bunch of anger, bitter & unforgiveness. It is just that though one can forgive, one still bears the scars of years of spiritual abuse. Just like one who is scarred from a severe burn, the pain may be gone, but the scar remains.

It's funny how I mostly have non-Christian friends now & how much more real they are than most Christians. I try & share the Gospel when I am able, but do not force feed it to them. So often in the church (or YWAM base), people are afraid to show their humanity & want to show instead, the mask of having it all together. There are very few people I have met and churches I have attended that are truly transparent & on a regular basis, are a reflection of the Jesus of the Bible. As we grow closer to the Saviour, we will naturally show this transparency & Christ-likeness. I have a long way to go.


Anonymous said...

It is very sad for me to read this webpage. Obviously you have some hurts and were faced with problems during your time in YWAM, however that does not make YWAM Honolulu into a "cult" nor is it a good witness for those who get on the internet and see that some Christians are bitter and can't seem to get along with each other. I believe it would help you to find someone who is a respected Christian leader and share some of your hurts so you can be restored. I hope and pray that you will feel the comfort of God and be free from your hurts. I was in YWAM Honolulu way back in the 1980's and actually in the same DTS as Danny Lehman. At no time did I see any evidence of YWAM being a cult. On the contrary, we were told to communicate with family and friends and forgive and be restored. Broken relationships don't mean that the organization is a cult. It just means that as people we have feelings and differences and need to always try and communicate and seek restoration. This is what Christ taught us in the gospels. Yes, when you get together with people from all walks of life it can be difficult! We need to always try and walk in the spirit of humility and restoration. I am praying for you.

Longe Hawaii said...

It is easy to sit in pious judgment over those we have no relationship with or knowledge of. I would be responding to you privately, but your e-mail was sent anonymously. This reminds me of what I learned at Healing for the Nations when dysfunctional organizations such as YWAM Honolulu don't want people to talk about, see or feel that which is broken.

Your experience was not my experience. Since you did not say who you are or if I know you, I do not even know if we were on base at the same time. If you were not on base the TWELVE years I was at YWAM Honolulu, you know not what you speak. If you were, perhaps you were one of the "inner circle" of which I write.

Exposing that which is evil and wrong about a professing Christian organization does not equal bitterness. Instead, for me it has equaled freedom to not cover for those people, attitudes and policies which were in fact sinful and both quenched and grieved God's Holy Spirit. It is like a child molester who does not want the child he or she seduced to light.

I continue to pray for revival at and a Spirit-led YWAM Honolulu, but if it continues to function as it did when I was there, it does more harm than good to the body of Christ, and I pray for it to close up shop.

Dan B said...

Ok. ok. I agree with you both. Sortof.

But first let me give the disclaimer that I am a YWAMer living in Thailand now, but have spent numerous years involved with YWAM in Australia, India, Thailand and a few locations in the US.

Here's my take on your article:

While YWAM Honolulu could potentially *be* a cult, you don't actually point to, or document, issues that might indicate classic signs of a cult. So your label could in fact be correct, but the evidence just isn't mentioned.

In all my years in YWAM I have never seen any locations involved in cultic practices. However, some have come pretty close perhaps. Certainly, I have seen control issues, lack of accountability, character, etc. But I have also seen these issues in a few of my former workplaces, yet I would not label them as cults. Just poorly managed and ineffectively staffed.

So, let me just say that I am sorry that whatever happened to you happened. Pretty shameful that an organization that is so often effective and accountable (which I believe YWAM often is) appears to have gone wrong.

I apologize on behalf of our mission. I've never met the Honolulu staff, though I have heard they went through some "rough times".

And if these allegations of cultic issues is true, may God deal with us as a mission and the staff of YWAM Honolulu in particular.

All the best,
Dan B

Longe Hawaii said...

I just deleted a comment as I have been very careful not to name the names of the abusers. This last comment said a lot of things about people I could not substantiate & the person in question named their names. I welcome comments about experiences at YWAM HNL, but must insist you not name the names of those you felt were abusive. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Thank you dear one for sharing your horrendous YWAM experience. I want you to know you are not alone in this and I ask the Father to continue to heal the wounds which were inflicted by this cult. I was also with YWAM Honolulu....and have experienced shame, snobbery, rudeness, ungodly attitudes, and overall false piety and self-serving induviduals. I served as kitchen staff...and I was so disgusted by all the complaining about the food. The students were great....but the staff were less to be desired. I actually point blank told one of the wives of a person in leadership if she didnt like the food she could go to Macdonalds! I pray for those trapped in YWAM's grip. They take advantage of all those young people who fervantly want to do God's will and serve him on the mission field. God bless you and may his blessings and healing continue in your life

Anonymous said...

Many, many stories could be shared relating to your own experiences, from YWAM Newcastle Australia. From 1997-2001, I know of dozens of people hurt by the leadership and base directorship/dictatorship there, which I can only imagine has increased since my departure and the departure of my friends. Thanks for being brave enough to post this online! Parents and kids should be warned. Good bases do exist, so get educated before sending off your young mind to be molded by (unfortunately, primarily uneducated) adults. If only we knew in our teens what we know in our 30s :o)

amytoddachildofgod said...

Sure, people can say "good bases exist" but I was on staff with a base that was supposed to be one of the 3 healthiest and turned out to be a bunch of self rightous Christians who had little social ablity because "they were more confident" then others... what a joke that place, and organization.... If they could only understand how damaging they are..

Angie said...

I too served 2 years at the Honolulu YWAM base along with the OP of this blog. I can verify all that he has stated as I too suffered under the same abuse of the leadership there. I also served at the Maui, HI, Perth, Australia and the Melbourne base in Australia and in all of these places, it was the same story. Some worse than others. The honolulu and the Maui base were the worst. I actually had the leader of the Maui base tell me if that I was unhappy I was a bad Christian because if you were a true christian you should always be happy and do what your leadership told you to do! I was 33 years old at the time yet was treated like a child. I was forced to serve the leaders wife as her personal servant. (This was still in Maui). Since my time, the leadership has been removed and I can only pray that they were not given another base to lead elsewhere. The honolulu base, held to much of the same practices. The OP of this blog and I were good friends. We were able to discuss much of what was going on. Which helped me tremendously. I thought, it was all my fault being told that if I didnt agree with what I was told I had a "rebellious spirit" and hence a "bad christian". I was blessed to be sent to a retreat where I was taught, that it is ok to be me. It isnt a sin to question what you see. We do not have to blindly follow anyone just because they are put into a position of leadership. I was the one who said I felt like I had been spiritually gang-banged! Since leaving YWAM, I have tried to go back to church, but unfortunatly for me, I encounter simple aspects in the new church I attended and left that was well. Since then it has been over 5 years since I've set foot in any church at all. I have forgiven all those involved but like the OP has said, the scars still remain. The trust issue is totaly gone. If you can't trust your own pastor, who can you trust? I too suffer from nightmares of being forced back into YWAM. In my dreams I am trying to warn people to get out but no one listens. I know a lot of people who have been in YWAM have not had these experiences but then again, many more have. Some do not even realize what has been done to them. I could go on forever with many more experiences I had seen or been involved with, but space is limited. I still retain my faith is God, but IZ just can't do orginized religion anymore. I believe that God knows my heart and understands even if no one else does. Let me leave you with this thought. There really is only two basic rules to remember whenit comes to pleasing God and the first one is: The the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. 2: is love one another as you love yourself. If you follow these two basic rules, you will live a Godly life. Because if we love one another (or respect might be a better way to put it) we would never do anything to harm them. We would steal from them, kill, lie, covet etc...because we love and respect them. Simple isnt it? That toomee is the whole Bible in a nutshell.

Christine said...

I never fit in at the YWAM HNL base either. I felt as an outsider. I never fit the YWAM mold, too independent. I always felt that God gave me a mid and voice and I should use it. But, since I did not follow the "rules" I was out of line. I was banned from going on an outreach with the SOE school because of this (I believe) when I was on the SOE staff. The other leaders of the school did not acknowledge that I was part of their group, so I did not attend any meetings that season. I went and had coffee by myself. I was usually alone.

There were 4 girls on the SOE staff ,and we had a larger room. The next school, a married couple took our room and all 4 of use moved into a room 1/2 the size. We were single and expected to give up to couples. I was told that I could not go on the mission trip, so no one talked with me. I hated "love feast" because I was always alone.

If any relationship seem to be starting, that guy left. Can anyone tell me why?

To believe in God is not to fit into the "mold" but to be free in God.

I left the base to go home and help with a family crisis. I was critized for leaving and not being involved with any "missionary" work. I am a nurse, that is missionary job. God knew that this is what I was suppose to do.

Cathy W. said...

Thank you for sharing your blog here and linking to it on facebook.

I think the term "spiritually abusive" is probably the best term to use. People can quibble all day long about whether it is a "cult" or not. Frankly, I lean more toward "cult" but that's irrelevant. It's spiritually abusive. And that's bad. Period.

I pray for all those who have suffered spiritual abuse and had to go through the tribulations of learning how to trust again. But I know from personal experience that it can open up the connection to Jesus about 1000-fold. And I praise God that there is some redeeming value in it! Perhaps that is why the Lord allows it to happen? Who knows...

Gypsy Gregg said...

Thanks for posting this story. I'm 37 now, but my father has been a guest speaker at many YWAM bases around the world since I was a child and he still does speak at the one in Honolulu sometimes, if I'm not mistaken.
I grew up around these groups and when I was eleven, my father started a group in Oregon, based on the DTS model.
Pure misery on my part.
Virtually every issue and abuse you described in your post I either experienced as well or witnessed.
Every teenager there experienced depression and isolation (one girl attempted suicide)and our interactions with each other were very limited and were always viewed with suspicion. We were all either home schooled or Christian schooled to protect us from the evils of the outside world. At the Christian school I went to, I witnessed the sexual abuse of a sixth grad boy by the principle and never said a word, out of fear. I still think about it often and regret every day that I was silent. Education for the kids was not necessary since we were all supposed to grow up to be missionaries or the wives of missionaries and have half a dozen kids or so. I never wanted kids and I never wanted to be married, that made me a rebellious a basically useless person.
Guilt, shame, worthlessness, depression and a suspicious lack of God's love is all I ever felt there. A number of the authority figures (but, not all) were self righteous, arrogant and, to my mind, clueless and cruel.
I never thought of it as a cult 'cause we didn't stock pile guns and sex abuse was not the norm, although there was at least one confessed child molester there, repentant, of course.
No one I have ever met, except for those who have been through similar experiences, are able to understand how traumatizing religious abuse is. It's very isolating.
Anyway, sorry to vent, but the first comment here, by Anonymous, made me sick to my stomach and just reminded me why I've been avoiding Christians for the last 20 odd years, and I suddenly felt the need to write.

Salty Sally said...

Dudes & dudesses. The scars never really heal. I helped start that base. What hurts is knowing the fantasy is not real. I miss the fantasy like an addict might miss his drug. But the real world is real and there is so little time--life is fleeting. Love God & love neighbor, to paraphrase Christ. Each one is infinitely precious to him--worth his death. All the above comments are true, save the ones who still try and defend a system that allows fallen people to persist in their fallen ways. And some of them do quite well for themselves. But we will all stand before God. First last and last first. I am so grateful that most if us have clung to God--where else would we go? Only He has the words of eternal life. If only we saw that truth earlier.

Oregon guy said...

Hey guys i am really interested in attending YWAM for college because i really want to get into the ministry, but after reading all these comments i don't know if this would be the right choice. I know there are a lot of other places i could go but what are the main reasons you didn't like it here? how long did you study? major? it cost 10,000 for the first six months trip and how much is college? i have a lot of questions but i would really like to know if you all could input me on the Pros and Cons of attending YWAM, thank you!

Anonymous said...

I want to thank you so much for posting this. I am in ywam now. I am on my way out after a tough time of abuse. I'm in shock of how I have been treated. On my DTS there where a guy in the base staff who constantly persued me. We eventually got a good connection. I got called into a meeting with my mentor and after I had to talk with my leaders wife. We were not allowed to be with each other and talk with each other. He texted me on my phone almost every day even though he were not allowed to. He also kept pursuing me when my DTS had supper together. He came and joyned us for supper, because than he culd talk with me. I started to fall for him. It is a long story. When I went for my outreach he texted me and told me he liked me. I went the whole outreach knowing this. When I came back he left the base a couple of days later and we met again at a gathering for all the YWAM'ers in the country. There we got together. We ammediately got strong reactions from the staff. I felt ostracized. I started to work at the base as a staff. I could feel that alot of people didn't like our relationship, but no one ever said anything to us. It was very painful, and it really affected me. Little by little my boyfriend showed some sides of him that was very tough for me. I couldn't spend time with others than him. If I spent time with a girlfriend we ende up having long talks about how I prioritized my time and what was important for me. He didn't feel important if I chose others above him even though I had been with him all of my time off for days. He also threatened commiting suicide and he told me that he knew it was a lie thought but if we didn't have sex we had nothing. We ended up having sex. It killed me inside. I told my mentor because I was afraid of my relationship with God. It is a long story. It ended with me going on sick leave at home with my parents. My boyfriend and I talked for about 3 hours, sometimes more, every day. He also called me alot and wanted text messages too. It got too much. I couldn't bear it anymore so I called my mentor and just cried and told her the situation. After that I never heard anything from him. My mentor told me that he was told not to have contact with me and he had to leave the base and she recommended me not to have any contact with him either. I was very confused. When I came back to the base people welcommed me back, but after people acted so different to me. When I came into the room people got quiet and constrained. I've tried to talk and get to know the girls but I feel whenever I come they go really quick, get weird, quiet etc. I've just been ostracized. I didn't want to go to the dinner or the staff meeting after a while because I can't take the behaviour. The whole period I have been here it has just been a struggle. When I taked to my leader I got told it was just a lie thought. The last couple of days I got in touch with a girl at the base I really wanted to talk to. It showed up that she is going through almost the same things that I've been going through the last half year with the same people. I've been praying to see the truth and what is going on. I feel I am getting some answers to my prayers. I haven't done anything wrong, still I have been treated as the bad person at the base. The staff has been incredibly rud to me in behaviour and their talking. What I have written here is just a drop in the ocean. It's just unbelievable. I don't get how they can do this. It is destroying peoples life.

Longe Hawaii said...

There is now a Facebook group I started, "Spiritual Abuse in YWAM". It is a private group, but anyone can join, as long as the reason is NOT to say how great YWAM is! There are currently 37 members who experienced abuse in YWAM from many bases around the world. If you are thinking of going into YWAM or are a victim of spiritual abuse due to YWAM, please join! Aloha, Joey

Longe Hawaii said...

Oregon Guy, I would suggest you NOT attend YWAM for college. It is NOT an accredited university. This means, ANYONE can teach there, even without a university education & the "credits" are non-transferable to an accredited university.

Anonymous said...

Yikes. So um, maybe my ex-friend who was acting like a total douche after going on a YWAM, was experiencing some of this shit?

It was like... She was suddenly disregarding her emotions more than she was even before she left. She would tell me what God wanted me to know, and insist that I needed to know the truth.

She was creepily serene as well, even while arguing it was always "I love you, I'm never mad, I'm always perfect, and always right. Your perspective is not worth even listening to because I already understand the entire thing. You are lost. I will save you." It got to the point where she was completely disrespecting my choices while not caring to even know me. So I decided to end the friendship.

Now she's working at a base in Australia. =/

Angie Grosskrueger said...

Totally sounds like the cult mind. Sorry you lost her to the cult of YWAM. A lot of people dont realize that YWAM is a cult but you can tell by her behavior she has obv. been brain washed.

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone, I am so sorry for the bad experiences and abuse you received in YWAM. I am in YWAM and ask your forgiveness. I am in leadership and will take your comments seriously and try and be a good and loving leader. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

A cult is a cult! And ywam definitely fits that category. But I know it's not a politically correct term to use as it depicts people in a bad light often demonizing them because people are often unaware what cults are apart from what they see in mainstream media. It's the doctrine that is the cult not the people "for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, spiritual wickedness in high places." - Eph 6:12. (Excuse the preaching). So when I refer to doctrine I don't necessarily mean it's biblical teachings but instead the spirit and powers behind the doctrine, teachings, practices, methodologies, and behaviour. The people in YWAM are all victims of these sinister forces who operate in high places. (But now I'm sounding too spiritual or "airy-fairy"). Look at scripture like the one I've mentioned, and also read about Queen Jezebel in the book of Kings 1 and 2. She was a master manipulator amongst many other evil character traits, but her method was always deception and control, not just a seductress and temptress as most Christians believe. She belonged to a blatant cult of the prophet Elijah's day which worshipped the Phoenician god Baal whose name literally means "master" or "lord" (check for yourself) which is a demonic power (here I go again being "airy-fairy"), and whose name indicates or implies control. This demonic force operating through Queen Jezebel managed to deceive over 9 million Israelites (correct me if I'm wrong on the exact numbers here) into worshipping the pagan god Baal leaving only a remnant of 300,000 out of 10 million believers of the one true God YHWH, and whom also caused one of God's greatest prophets of the old testament to sink into depression. I'm astonished at how a single person can almost obliterate an entire nation and religion. So it's then not so surprising if Christians can still be deceived into cults today. That's why the Bible tells us to know a tree by its fruit (Mat 7:16-20). By people's behaviour we can determine which spirit it comes from; either the devil, or the Holy Spirit. (By the way I am not a "practicing Christian", but a sinner who believes in Christ. So I want to make it clear that I do not judge and neither do I sit in seat of pious judgment). The underlying spirit behind ywam is spiritual pride. Which again is a spirit operating through these people; mainly the leaders. I want to make that point clear because the people I met and came to know in YWAM are good people but just effed up if you know what I mean because of the doctrine/spirit. But in saying that I have severed relational ties from them because of their abusive behaviour and I will not have anything to do with them unless they break free too. With YWAM, they will never accept the truth of YWAM being a cult or spiritually abusive. Just like Queen Jezebel they will attack your speaking-out and discredit all you have to say about YWAM. They will say that they're sorry, and that they're sad for you, and that they'll pray for etc, but they don't care. It's all manipulation and guilt tactics to discredit you and condemn. With YWAM, the truth is all in their tone. Don't trust a word they say until you've judged the tone in which they're saying it. Test the spirits and know the fruit the Bible tells us. The spirit is the tone saying one thing but meaning the total opposite. A lack of honesty is a real issue here, to be forth-right. It's the painted mask of Jezebel. Smiling on the outside but offended on the inside. Don't give into any of it, it's all BS. Anyway, gotta get some shut eye. Catch you's later!!! Peace!!!
yours truly,
Sean Aotearoa.

Anonymous said...

Wow...for a bunch ov Christians you guys seem very confused ...I'm Hindu. & I don't know how I stummbled along this blog....atleast now I know I'm in the right will definately bring you peace my friends

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your experiance with YWAM. I also had very bad experiances with YWAM JAMAICA, Montego Bay. In the beginning i taught it was only me, but i keep hearing more bad experiances and testimonies from other people. It's a big shame to see, hear and read all these bad things.. for the sake of mission and in the name of God?

It is also a big danger, because young people are being decieved, manipulated and brainwashed.. and actually instead of gettin closer to God, they get more distant or even loose their faith.

To all young people outthere.. we don't need an organisation to become disciples of Christ! We have been called already, the holy spirit is out teacher, we just need to have a relationship with God, read his word and follow Christ. mission is a lifestyle..

He can send us to other nations without an organisation.. did Christ or his disciples need a organisation? NO.. he sent them out two by two.. and its the same thing today.. just live by faith.. seek the Lord and he will show us where to go with who, and what to do.. Blessings!!

Roland Frank said...

YWAM is hooked up with the Assemblies of God.depending on which A of G you attend, you may have YWAM people coming through to speak.I was involved with YWAM in the early 80's.It only took 6 months for their brain-washing crap to give me panic attacks for a year straight after I left. YWAM should be shut down.They are an evil controlling cult.Should you attend an A of G church where you might get sucked into a cult ?, or go to the Babptist,presbeterian,no-denom ect,. church where you will never here about this group.Hmmmmmm

The Writing WordSmith said...

Hi Joey
You probably do not remember me, but I was in Honolulu when you were leaving I think. It was about 1995 I went there and left in 1998-1999. I applaud your sincerity and honesty. I think many people from your time were hurt big time by the young leaders, even though they may not have been young in age, that were there. I also remember times when I was shocked at decisions, and knew that people were trying to get in the way of what the Lord was doing. I wanted to stay there but the Lord told me to leave and I obeyed. It was a hard decision, and one I still wonder about, because I was single and my life has not "turned out" the way I thought back then it would.

I do want to encourage you. Sincere, innocent people who listen and obey the Lord are always not welcome when places become institutional, and nervous about how they are being perceived. Continue to learn forgiveness, because in it, from what I know, is the only strength we have to combat evil which is continually at our doors. I pray that you will be able to encourage more people to realize that we all need to follow and obey out of sincerity and not obligation.

Oh my Name is Tim I was on DTS Staff there when you were there.


Leslie Lim said...

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Maria said...

I am very sorry to hear about your experiences in YWAM. I have been at one of the YWAM's Scandinavian bases. I need to tell you that your story is reflecting the same kind of experiences and feelings that I'm having right now after quitting there. I feel shocked and quite lonely to be with my experiences. I feel so deceived. I think it's a bad thing that YWAM draws young people who are vulnerable and easy to manipulate. There were also some very abusive people in the leadership positions at the base were I was involved. Let's hold on to the true God who isn't anything like that. I'm glad that you didn't give up from your faith.

Anonymous said...

Hi< year back I was at a base doing a course that I didn't wan to be on but got side tracked into it... long story... anyway while there a friends baby died and I was wanted by them... the base leadership would not let me leave... told me to focus on the high call of God... that messed with my head.. then there was a role play and I was chosen by the leadership to be the head of the underground church... I didn't want to do it at all. I was manipulated into it and it was so hard as my heart was grieving for the loss of the baby whom we had prayed so long and hard for.. anyway I turned to a friend at the base and he was chosen to be my betrayer... but in the role play and in true life I needed a friend with whom I could share the pain with... it was crushing me... at the end of the role play I felt so abused and I lost it with my friend... I was pulled over the coals for being unchristian towards a brother... we ended up talking it through in a role play that ended well... but my stay with YWAM was over.. I left so defeated and broken... I was more or less abandoned by them... it was horrible... but when I did my DTS the leaders were brilliant and very supportive, kind and very helpful, I loved being part of YWAM the first time... second time there were leadership control issues, a lot of immaturity in the leaders who expected to be obeyed like they were God or something... it was so bizarre really... yet there are some great bases and I still have friends in YWAM who love it and who serve God well there.
I would like to return to YWAM but the fund raising is something I have a problem with long term... I truly think we should work part time to help support our mission call...
I was confused by the treatment I received when I refused to cow down and do what they wanted when it was a conflict of interests... they were getting ready to ask me to leave when I knew from God it was time to quit... the leadership were rude and very unkind... power having gone to their heads I think. This was a long time ago and I am sure the base has changed and even grown up some.
the concept of YWAM is excellent but the insular nature of some of the bases was so wrong... it got too big and there wasn't the amount of accountability there should have been of it was glorify God in its corporate life.
I have never spoken of this before, not because I was afraid but because I thought it was all fault it all went wrong...

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone,

My name is Nikola Kusturić. I am 47 years old currently and live in Croatia, city Trogir.
I was afraid once, idolized people, believed the world is mostly good when i was a child.
I got destroyed, crushed, to the point of becoming a beast much more then a man in character and a demon in mind.
I did it all, the darkness consumed me until all the light and the good was extinguished and just a speck, a glimmer of hope remained. I was not aware of the glimmer though.
One day, somehow i heard of this man, familiar name, an echo from a distant past. I was told that that man could save people. That he was not a just a man even but a God.
Deep inside something moved. I guess it was the glimmer.
I said, if someone needs to be saved , surely, i need to be saved, although i did not know anymore from what exactly.
And so it started, a new journey.
If i knew where it would lead, what would happen, i would have declined. But i did not.
So there it was. A new hope. Riches and glory at hand, so close.
This time i would do it right. O, yea. Little i knew.
Plunged into society again, trust in human kind kindled anew.
Promise of death to the beast within, shining rays of light on the horizons of my mind.
The desire, the draw, the pull. Oh, my God.
Years have passed.
I had to learn new meanings of hell, agony, desperation.
More had to be broken, extinguished, crushed, erased, ooh the agony.
You know, what i am talking about, you know... my friend.
Through all of it , the glimmer remained, i became aware of it, i am holding onto it, it became more precious to me, so easy to miss, so small, so important.
I am alone now, and i know, i will always be, in this dark land, with the beast within me, chained, roaring, trying to consume me, but the glimmer, i think it grows, i am holding onto it. My precious.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your experience at YWAM Honolulu. Even though I like YWAM and what they are doing around the world for the most part, unfortunately, this type of oppressive leadership and activity is still going on in the Korean DTS in Honolulu. The Korean staff leader is like a dictator and runs the school like a communist country. He says it is the for the training of the students but it is evident by his leadership that he has little understanding of the Gospel. The staff and Korean speakers misinterpret and misuse Scripture for their benefit and are constantly surveillancing the students. Students cannot access the Internet, use their cellphones, nor have any sort of communication to the outside world (besides snail-mail and using the payphone) during their DTS.

During the worship times and lectures freedom (freedom in Christ, freedom in the Spirit) is emphasized but yet in practice there is no freedom and the Korean staff uses guilt to force obedience on the students.

Do I believe the people in YWAM Honolulu love Jesus? I cannot say no. But for people who meditate on God and listen to His voice so much, they lack a deep (maybe even shallow) understanding of the Gospel and fail to model a Christ-like life.

Panda said...

I also suffered horrendous spiritual abuse during the early 90s at one of the Melbourne bases that I am only now able to start processing. What a den of vipers the leadership were. Power hungry, narcissistic, delusional and entitled. It's amazing how God seemed to favour the "in" crowd. The financial impropriety was outlandish. I also have the nightmares.

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Anonymous said...

I was at YWAM Denver in the late 80s, taking a DTS. The spiritual abuse was tremendous, and mostly stemmed from their Shepherding Theology error. That is, leaders know what is best for your life and you must listen to them. Period. To do anything else is "rebellious". While on my mission at the end of DTS our mission leader developed feelings for me that I didn't reciprocate. As a result she had me kicked off my mission trip. When I returned to YWAM Denver base I was kicked out into the streets (literally), with no money and no place to go. All my cash was tied up in YWAM. My fiance', who was also in YWAM, was forbidden to see me or speak to me, and her family were told I was a horrible, rebellious person. Two staff members took me into their private home, even though they were warned that to help me would be grounds for disciplinary intervention. I was told by the base leader, Peter Warren, that if I would speak to the current DTS and confess being rebellious and tell them to do what leaders say to do, I'd be allowed to graduate the DTS program. I spoke, but instead of what he asked me to say, I told them that when leaders are wrong, you have a moral obligation to disobey. Warren was furious. As we walked out of the bldg. I said, "I'm sorry Peter, I had to tell the truth." He spun around, looked at me with intense hatred, and said, "If I wasn't a Christian I'd punch you in the face!"

Many years later now I hold a BA in Biblical Studies and Theology, and am working on a Master's degree. What my education and experiences have taught me is that YWAM is indeed a cult.

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