The thing that most come to mind was how many good friends I had on base who were there for me & I for them. I miss that fellowship.
I also saw that early on, I had to put on the mask of who I felt the leadership wanted me to be. We were stripped of our free-will, which is a precious gift from God.
So often, I felt I had no one to turn to who could or would do anything about the abuse. I often felt so alone, even with my YWAM friends.
I read again & again & again of my bouts of chronic fatigue. This would manifest after a confrontation or just by holding in things I wished I could have shared without fear of retribution by a low fever and extreme fatigue & weariness. After I left YWAM, I have not had an episode of chronic fatigue even once a year.
I realize how much God has brought healing & refreshment to my life since I got out of YWAM, and how especially the few months after I left, how God would provide for me by selling my art work, and through the encouragement & kindness of friends who were still in YWAM (but eventually got out as well).
Reading those journals made me realize all the more how we must not live in fear, and how we must speak up when ourselves or others are being abused. I have so far to go in my walk with God, to fully trust Him & keep my eyes on the Lord rather than abusive persons or situations.
People have often wanted me to shut up about anything negative about YWAM “because all of the good the organization still does”. The good YWAM may do does not negate the abuse that is still committed by leadership there. There MUST be an avenue for people who feel abused in YWAM to be able to address it without fear of retribution from leadership. This accountability MUST be communicated to all schools & staff on how to address these issues.
I will continue to speak up when I see or hear of abuse, wherever it is found & pray others will as well. This is what will help, in some small way, to bring about change and healing.
It almost surprised me yesterday when a person who is in leadership of another international ministry to countries which are for the most part closed, asked me if I might be interested in some short-term ministry opportunities with them as a photographer. I had been involved with this person years ago in ministry (but this is a new one she is involved in) and was surprised that I would actually consider it (It is NOT YWAM).
Another thing that was clear in my journals was God's faithfulness. His faithfulness in friendship, finances, encouragement in my artistic gifts, when I did not feel valued in YWAM and his faithfulness in freeing me from the bondage I was in for 12 years to YWAM. His timing is rarely our timing, but His timing is perfect timing & when He decides to move, it can be amazingly fast!
I will leave this observation with: Ecclesiastes 4:1 “Again, I observed all the oppression that takes place under the sun. I saw the tears of the oppressed, with no one to comfort them. The oppressors have great power, and their victims are helpless. (NLT)”
We MUST speak up for the oppressed!