Y ‘Whammed’

formerly known as YWAM BLUES

DTS with YWAM – a Warning!

Posted by rantsampersandmore on August 23, 2009

A DTS or Discipleship Training School is the entry level course to YWAM (Youth With a Mission).

Should you be considering a DTS for yourself or your child, please please do your homework, both the good and BAD.

YWAM operates in many locations worldwide and each centre (Base) runs autonomously from another.

There is no doubt that some YWAM bases have great leadership and great programs that are impacting cultures and communities for good (and for God).

However, there are some places that YWAM is a mess and the leadership are extremely ‘authoritarian’ and are given to ‘spiritual abuse’.  * I have first hand experience of this in Australia.

Please research for yourself, before making a decision to join YWAM. There are many testimonies of people who are the ‘walking wounded’ after their exposure to YWAM.

Below are some worthwhile links that will aid your search.






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Who / What is YWAM (Youth With a Mission)?

Posted by rantsampersandmore on August 23, 2009

In answer to the above question, we have copied and pasted the wikipedia response to a ‘YWAM’ search, as we believe an answer that is factual and un-biased, without ‘spin and propaganda’ will serve this blog better. We would encourage all, to check out the link provided below and follow all the associated links, to gain a well rounded ‘idea’ of the good, the bad and the ugly of YWAM.

Youth With A Mission (YWAM, generally pronounced as “why-wam”) is an international, inter-denominational, non-profit Christian missionary organization. Founded by Loren Cunninghamin 1960 to “know God and to make Him known,” YWAM now has operations in over 160 countries.[1][2]

Youth With A Mission has been active since 1960.[3][4]Originally using the model of sending youth on short-term trips to foreign locations, YWAM has expanded its day to day operations to Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe and The Americas. In the nearly 50 years since its inception, YWAM’s activities have expanded from youth-focused short term trips to include educational training, church planting, business as mission, and relief and development services. Today, YWAM involves people of every age group.[5]

YWAM is now comprised of people from over 150 countries and a large number of Christian denominations, with over half of the organization’s staff coming from “non-western” countries.[6]YWAM currently has over 16,000 full-time volunteer workers in nearly 1,100 operating locations in 171 nations[citation needed] and trains 25,000 short-term missions volunteers annually.[7]Along with the positive experiences and positive impact which have been attributed to YWAM, the organization has been the subject of controversy and criticism.


Youth With A Mission (YWAM)
Founder(s) Loren Cunningham
Type Evangelical Missions Agency
Founded 1960
Key people *John Dawson, International President
*Iain Muir, International Director
*Lynn Green, International Chairman
Area served 171 Countries
Employees 16,000 volunteers
Slogan To know God and to make Him known
Website www.ywam.org

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About – Y ‘Whammed’

Posted by rantsampersandmore on December 2, 2008

This is the ‘new’ home for YWAM BLUES (renamed Y ‘Whammed’)

Y ‘Whammed’ is all about facilitating a great need in this world. The need to be heard, the need to connect with others who have endured similar journeys, who carry similar battle scars to themselves, subsequent to and during their years with YWAM (Youth With a Mission).

Our hope is to provide a resource with links to others and a place for sharing ‘your story’ even if it has been told before or never seen the light of day. Through the contributions of many this blog will provide an authoritative ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ of YWAM for YWAMers, Ex-YWAMers, Wanna be YWAMers and interested third parties.

Please be WARNED, that a lot of the material that will surface on this blog will paint YWAM in a very negative light, so if you do not wish to read criticisms of YWAM, you may wish to exercise your right and leave this web-log.

Should you wish to contribute to this ‘blog’, we would understand that you may feel more comfortable to use a pseudonym or pen-name in order to maintain some anonymity. If so, please do. 

* The safety and security (anonymity) of ALL contributors to this blog is paramount, thus the necessitated changes to YWAM BLUES.

We would also prefer that this ‘blog’ not be used to attack any individual, as this will not be condoned.

Links to other ‘like-minded’ blogs are welcomed.

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YWAM vs. Integrity

Posted by rantsampersandmore on August 23, 2009


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Integrity comprises perceived consistency of actions, values, methods, measures and principles. A value system‘s abstraction depth and range of applicable interaction are also significant factors due to their congruence with empirical observation. A value system may evolve over time while retaining integrity if those who espouse the values account for and resolve inconsistencies.

Integrity may be seen as the quality of having a sense of honesty and truthfulnessin regard to the motivations for one’s actions. The term hypocrisy is often used in contrast to integrity to assert that one part of a value system is demonstrably at odds with another, and to demand that the parties holding apparently conflicting values account for the discrepancy or change their beliefs to improve internal consistency.

YWAM is who and what it is… please see previous posts for a definition courtesy of Wikipedia.

YWAM Australia, nationally has been ‘busted’ for a severe lack of Integrity in relation to the “visa’s” that non-Australian YWAMers have used, to be allowed to stay in Australia, while engaged in volunteering with Youth With a Mission.

Many non-Australian YWAMers have been in Australia on an Australian Visa (Religious Worker Visa – subclass 428) see below for definition…          ***Disclaimer… some YWAM Centres in Australia may have been integral in all of their dealings with the Immigration Department, however several stand to loose up to a third of their ‘staff’ to this crackdown on incorrect visas.

Religious Worker Visa (subclass 428)


This visa provides for the temporary stay of persons who will be full-time religious workers in Australia. Religious work is work of a religious nature for which the applicant has had relevant religious training. The religious work proposed must directly serve an organisation’s religious objectives. It would usually be religious work involved in: providing spiritual leadership, conducting worship, teaching or guidance in religion, ministering, pastoral care or proselytising or other high level specialist work in relation to the above.

Who is this visa for?

Religious workers from overseas who wish to work in Australia to directly service an organisation’s religious objectives. You must be sponsored by a religious organisation in Australia for this visa.

What does this visa let me do?

With this visa you can: work full-time for your sponsoring religious organisation stay in Australia for as long as your visa is valid, bring eligible family members with you.

There would NOT be a YWAMer in Australia (not even YWAM Leadership) be it an Australian or a non-Australian that would have a ‘job description’ that meets the requirements for this visa.      YWAMers are volunteer workers, generally un-educated (theologically), somewhat gifted but never-the-less have no ‘papers’ endorsing a ‘qualification’.

Why YWAM have not worked with the Local Church and/or developed ministries that could ‘legally’ have an overseas person ‘working’ on a Religious Worker Visa, is a question to ask!  ***See post “3 Notable Exclusions”

The so-called “Voice of the Lord” takes a lot of the rap, whereas if the YWAM  leadership ‘fessed up’ and actually admitted to it’s failings, then did something about ‘getting it right’… then they are in with a chance on actually hearing what God is saying about this situation.  

*** It is worthy of note that some two years ago (October 2007) that during a time of Base Intersession ( at a YWAM centre in Australia ) where all present went through the ‘Steps of Intersession’ that the resounding theme of that prayer time was – clear and direct ‘warnings’ that God was not happy with the lack of Integrity with regard to YWAM Australia and Immigration issues it was ‘fudging’.  ***This Prayer time was documented and was presented to Base leadership, for follow-up.










The Australian Government / Immigration Department have discovered the inconsistencies and have now ruled against ‘some’ non-Australian YWAMers and have issued notices for them to exit the country.

We have several good friends who are affected by this ruling and we have in the last few days said our farewells. Although we are saddened at their leaving, we are glad that YWAM has been finally brought to account for this area where ‘integrity’ is absent.

Our friends and many like them, join the ranks of the Y’Whammed’

News Flash….. we have also learned recently that certain individuals with YWAMs consent / encouragement have written NEW ‘job descriptions’ that address each of the points required – armed with this they hope to re-apply for this particular visa.

Hopefully, the Department of Immigration in Australia will not be taken as fools and truth, integrity, righteousness, justice will prevail.

On a similar topic….    Without knowing the actual requirements of a ‘Student Visa’, I would hazard a guess that many ‘students’ coming to Australia to do a DTS, actually do not meet the criteria of a student visa. The ‘student’ may, but the ‘school’ probably doesn’t!!!   But, that is a whole other area of a lack of integrity – YWAM Australia and the schools it runs!

According to a Wikipedia definition…                                                    

The opposite to Integrity is Hypocrisy.

I am sure there will be further updates on this issue in the weeks and months ahead, our source for all things YWAM will be out-of-country for a while (if not forever) , so updates may be some time in coming.

Until then….

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YWAM Foundational Values – Three Notable Exclusions

Posted by rantsampersandmore on December 2, 2008

It may be of interest to our readers to see how the ‘original’ 21 Foundational Values of YWAM stack up against the ‘newer’ 17 Values of YWAM. * We have deliberately left out the word ‘foundational’ as this would be mis-leading, would it not?

Having thrown out all of my ‘YWAM memorabillia’, I was not sure if I would be able to track down a copy of the original 21 Values, but to my pleasant surprise ‘google’ located a YWAM Base that still uses the original 21 Foundational Values. If you are looking for a base to go serve at, this would be the base to go to. Their link is at the bottom of this article.

We propose to cut & paste the two versions so that one can appreciate the similarities and the subtle changes at a glance. Trust you will find this excercise an interesting read.

FIRST – The ‘newer’ 17 Values of Youth With A Mission (YWAM)

Please note: The 21 Foundational Values (the original ones) are ‘inserted’ between the New Values

(This has been copied from the YWAM International Website)

Youth With A Mission (YWAM) affirms the Bible as the authoritative word of God and, with the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, the absolute reference point for every aspect of life and ministry. Based upon God’s word, who He is, and His initiative of salvation, the following responses are strongly emphasized in YWAM:
Worship: We are called to praise and worship God alone
Holiness: We are called to lead holy and righteous lives that exemplify the nature and character of God
Witness: We are called to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who do not know Him
Prayer: We are called to engage in intercessory prayer for the people and causes on God’s heart, including standing against evil in every form
Fellowship: We are called to commit to the Church in both its local nurturing expression and its mobile multiplying expression

The Foundational Values of Youth With A Mission are the expression of our basic beliefs coupled with specific directives given by God since YWAM’s beginning in 1960. They are recorded here in order to pass on to successive generations that which God has emphasized to us. These shared beliefs and values are the guiding principles for both the past and future growth of our mission. Some are common to all Christians everywhere; others are distinctive to Youth With A Mission. The combination of these beliefs and values make up the unique family characteristics of YWAM–our “DNA.” They are values we hold in high regard which determine who we are, how we live and how we make decisions.

Originally… (21)

Since the beginning of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in 1960, God has emphasized certain Biblical values which serve as spiritual foundations for the mission. The combined strength of these Biblical values has strongly influenced the nature and character of YWAM around the world. These shared values are the guiding principles for both the past and future growth of our mission. They are beliefs we hold in high regard which determine how we live and make decisions. God’s Word is the final authority for conduct and faith in Youth With A Mission. Our foundational values are not a list of rules to be adhered to; they were not written down until YWAM was 25 years old. Rather, these values are recorded here in an attempt to pass on to successive generations that which God has emphasized to us as a mission.

The following list has been reviewed by the YWAM International Executive Committee and approved by the International Council.

(The Revised 17)

YWAM is committed to know God, His nature, His character and His ways. We seek to reflect who He is in every aspect of our lives and ministry. The automatic overflow of knowing and enjoying fellowship with God is a desire to share Him with others.

-YWAM is committed to know God, His character and His ways. We affirm the vital importance of hearing God’s voice, seeking His counsel and obeying His instructions. (Numbers 23:19-20; Deuteronomy 32:3-4; John 5:30; 10:1-4; 16:13; Isaiah 6:8; Acts 16:6-10)

YWAM is called to make God known throughout the whole world, and into every arena of society through evangelism, training and mercy ministries. We believe that salvation of souls should result in transformation of societies, thus obeying Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations.

-YWAM is called to make God known, through Evangelism, Training and Mercy Ministries. All our activities should contribute toward the goal of discipling nations. (Acts 13:2-3; Genesis 12:1-3; Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; Romans 10:9-18; 15:18-21)

YWAM is committed to creating with God through listening to Him, praying His prayers and obeying His commands in matters great and small. We are dependent upon hearing His voice as individuals, together in team contexts and in larger corporate gatherings. This is an integral part of our process for decision making.

- Nothing similar from the original list.

YWAM is dedicated to worship Jesus and engage in intercessory prayer as integral aspects of daily life. We also recognize the intent of Satan to destroy the work of God and we call upon God’s power and the Holy Spirit to overcome his strategies in the lives of individuals and in the affairs of nations.

-YWAM is called to praise and worship of the Lamb of God, intercessory prayer and spiritual warfare. We endeavor to resist the devil by moving in the opposite spirit, which is the Spirit of Christ. In all things, we desire to keep Jesus central to our lives and ministry. (Ephesians 5:19-20; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Psalm 32:6; 100; 150; John 17:15-21; Mark 11:24; Acts 1:14; Colossians 4:2-3; 1 Timothy 2:1, Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; James 4:7, Matthew 12:23-29)

YWAM is called to be visionary, continually receiving, nurturing and releasing fresh vision from God. We support the pioneering of new ministries and methods, always willing to be radical in order to be relevant to every generation, people group, and sphere of society. We believe that the apostolic call of YWAM requires the integration of spiritual eldership, freedom in the Spirit and relationship, centered on the Word of God.

-YWAM is visionary, doing new things in new ways where new initiatives are required to accomplish the Great Commission. (Isaiah 42:8-9; John 4:35; Matthew 10:1-10; Hebrews 11:1-3; Proverbs 29:18; Habakkuk 2:2)

YWAM is called to champion youth. We believe God has gifted and called young people to spearhead vision and ministry. We are committed to value them, trust them, train them, support them, make space for them and release them. They are not only the Church of the future; they are the Church of today. We commit to follow where they lead, in the will of God.

-YWAM is called to champion young people. We believe in their leadership and potential to change the world and are dedicated to equip them with the tools to do so. (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Samuel 2:18-19; 17:33-37; Daniel 1:4, 8-9; Jeremiah 1:5-10)

YWAM is broad-structured and diverse, yet integrated. We are a global family of ministries held together by shared purpose, vision, values and relationship. We believe that structures should serve the people and the purposes of God. Every ministry at every level has the privilege and responsibility of accountability to a circle of elders, with overall international accountability to the YWAM Global Leadership Team.

-YWAM is broad structured and decentralized, with operating locations linked together by relationship, shared values, accountability to leadership, and a commitment to world evangelization. (Mark 10:42-43; Exodus 18:17-26; John 8:36; 1 Corinthians 3:4-9; Hebrews 13:7,17)

YWAM is international and interdenominational in its global scope as well as its local constituency. We believe that ethnic, linguistic and denominational diversity, along with redeemed aspects of culture, are positive factors that contribute to the health and growth of the mission.

-YWAM is international and interdenominational in its scope and constituency. We believe that cultural, racial and theological diversity are positive factors that contribute to the health and growth of the mission. (Matthew 24:14; Ephesians 4:1-16; Revelation 7:9)

YWAM is called to a Biblical worldview. We believe that the Bible makes a clear division between good and evil; right and wrong. The practical dimensions of life are no less spiritual than the ministry expressions. Everything done in obedience to God is spiritual. We seek to honor God with all that we do, equipping and mobilizing men and women of God to take roles of service and influence in every arena of society.

 -YWAM makes no distinction between the sacred and the secular. We seek to honor all functions equally within the Kingdom of God. No roles or ministries are more important or spiritual than others. We seek to equip and mobilize men and women of God to take roles of service and influence in every sphere of society. (Acts 11:9; 1 Peter 4:11; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Zechariah 14:20-21; Romans 12:3-8, 13:1-10, Philemon 1-2; Titus 3:13; Colossians 4:14; Hebrews 13:16)

-YWAM affirms the importance of living holy and righteous lives. We believe that holiness is a fruit of God’s grace, transforming the motives of the heart, and affecting our words, conduct, business dealings and relationships. (1 Samuel 15:10-28; Psalm 32:1-5, 51:6-17,; Matthew 5:8; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:7)

YWAM is called to function in teams in all aspects of ministry and leadership. We believe that a combination of complementary gifts, callings, perspectives, ministries and generations working together in unity at all levels of our mission provides wisdom and safety . Seeking God’s will and making decisions in a team context allows accountability and contributes to greater relationship, motivation, responsibility and ownership of the vision.

-YWAM is called to team ministry. We recognize that functioning in teams at all levels of the organization provides an opportunity for balance of spiritual gifts and insights. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Mark 6:7; Ephesians 5:21; Proverbs 15:22; Acts 15:22; Acts 10:25-26)

YWAM is called to servant leadership as a lifestyle, rather than a leadership hierarchy. A servant leader is one who honors the gifts and callings of those under his/her care and guards their rights and privileges. Just as Jesus served His disciples, we stress the importance of those with leadership responsibilities serving those whom they lead.

-YWAM is called to servant leadership. A servant leader is one who honors the calling of his/her followers and guards their rights and privileges. Just as Jesus served His disciples, we stress the importance of those with leadership responsibilities in our mission serving those whom they lead. (Luke 17:7-10; John 13:12-17; Mark 10:42-45)

YWAM is committed to doing first, then teaching. We believe that firsthand experience gives authority to our words. Godly character and a call from God are more important than an individual’s gifts, abilities and expertise.

-YWAM is committed to doing, then teaching, according to Jesus’ example. We affirm the importance of living a concept, theory or belief in personal experience as essential to passing it on to others. We believe that godly character and the fruit of the Spirit are more important than an individuals’s gifts, abilities and expertise. (Ezra 7:10; Acts 1:1; Philippians 4:8-9; Colossians 3:1-17; 2 Peter 1:5-10; Micah 6:8)

YWAM is dedicated to being relationship-oriented in our living and working together. We desire to be united through lives of holiness, mutual support, transparency, humility, and open communication, rather than a dependence on structures or rules.

-YWAM is dedicated to being relationship oriented in our living and working together. We desire to minimize the need for structures and rules by leading lives of transparency, humility and open communication. (1 John 1:7; Galatians 5:1)

YWAM is called to value each individual. We believe in equal opportunity and justice for all. Created in the image of God, people of all nationalities, ages and functions have distinctive contributions and callings. We are committed to honoring God-given leadership and ministry gifts in both men and women.

-YWAM is called to value each individual. We believe all races, ages, cultures and individuals – male and female – have distinctive contributions and callings. (Genesis 1:27; Psalm 139:13-16; Galatians 3:28; 1 Corinthians 12:4-31; Acts 13:1-3; Ephesians 2:19-22; 4:4-7)

YWAM affirms the importance of families serving God together in missions, not just the father and/or mother. We encourage the development of strong and healthy family units, with each member sharing the call to missions and contributing their gifts in unique and complementary ways.

-YWAM recognizes the value of the family. We affirm the importance of fathers, mothers, and children all sharing a call to missions and contributing in unique, complimentary and vital ways. We support the necessity for each individual family to be a strong and healthy unit. (Deuteronomy 4:9-10, 40, 6:6-7, 32:46; Proverbs 31; 1 Timothy 3:4)

YWAM is called to a relationship-based support system, depending upon God and His people for financial provision, both corporately and individually. We believe that relationship-based support promotes responsibility, accountability, communication, and mutual prayer. It involves the donor as a partner in ministry. As God and others have been generous toward us, so we desire to be generous. YWAMers give themselves, their time and talents to God through the mission with no expectation of remuneration.

-YWAM is called to practice a life of dependence upon God and His people for financial provision, both corporately and individually. (Phil 4:6-7, 10-20; 3 John 5-8)

-YWAM is called to practice generosity and to model and teach the spirit of generosity in all we do. (Romans 12:8-13; 1 Timothy 5:17, 6:18; Philippians 4:17-18; Luke 6:38; Acts 20:35; Psalm 112:5)

YWAM affirms the ministry of hospitality as an expression of God’s character and the value of people. We believe it is important to open our hearts, homes and campuses to serve and honor one another, our guests and the poor and needy, not as acts of social protocol, but as expressions of generosity.

-YWAM is dedicated to hospitality. We believe it is important to serve and honor our fellow YWAMers, guests, and the poor and needy through this ministry. (3 John 8; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8; Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9)

(YWAM Foundational Values approved by the Global Leadership Team August 2003; released February 2004.)

There you have it…

Try as I may the following three ‘original’ Foundational values, do NOT seem to fit in anywhere on the ‘newer’ list of Values. Not that a list of ‘values’ is anything special on their own without the commitment to ‘embrace’ and ‘live out to the letter’, however these THREE NOTABLE EXCLUSIONS, in my opinion spell out – just where YWAM has gone wrong in recent years.  

Here they are…

 -YWAM recognizes the Bible to be God’s inspired and authoritative Word and relies upon the authority of the Holy Scriptures as the standard for life and ministry. Obedience to the Word of God is an evidence of our commitment to Jesus’ Lordship. (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16; John 3:31-32; 2 Timothy 2:15)

-YWAM affirms the importance of the local church and seeks to promote unity among all God’s people. We endeavor to work in partnership with other believers, building bridges among Christian leaders, churches and missions for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. (Philippians 1:3-5; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10; Ephesians 3:8-10)

-YWAM affirms personal responsibility and volunteerism, encouraging individuals to seek God for guidance and direction regarding ministry roles and methods of performing their work. We encourage personal initiative in these areas, making decisions together with their leaders both YWAM and others. (Exodus 3:4; Isaiah 6:8; 1 Samuel 3:10; Mark 1:17-18; Matthew 9:9; Acts 26:12-20)


What do you think?

Your comments and feedback is welcomed. 


As promised, here is the link to that YWAM Base mentioned in the Introduction.


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YWAM – Did you hear this wake up call?

Posted by rantsampersandmore on June 19, 2008

A little over Six months ago (December 2007) shots rang out over a wintry Colorado sky. Life at YWAM Arvada, in Colorado was forever changed and sadly four innocent people (two died) became victim of a lone gunman (Matthew Murray) who had something to say. Unfortunately, Matthew chose a rather savage and lethal way to get his message across and his resulting actions would also be his last.

YWAM Arvada, just happened to be the YWAM base where Matthew had been associated. YWAM Arvada, subsequently became the object of his built-up wrath. *It could have happened anywhere!

There would be many wounded ex-ywamers out there that on hearing the news of this terrible event, would have immeadiately recognised that the ‘then unknown shooter’ had been ‘abused’ by YWAM at some point in time.

This is a reality, that YWAM should recognise as something that needs to be addressed, that there are many people ‘hurting’ and hurting bad due to their association with YWAM.

By no means do I wish to qualify or endorse the actions taken by Matthew. What happened was terrible for all concerned; YWAM, the victims and their families, Matthew and his family.

Below are some links to some articles written on the for-mentioned subject. They are a worthwhile read… 

MATTHEW MURRAY: Toxicity, Online Community, and Religion with a Twist.

Matthew Murray was angry.  Matthew Murray had been angry for a long time.  On Sunday, Matthew Murray was so angry and so unbendably focused on exacting revenge that he packed up his guns and his ammo and let his anger fly in the direction of 2 Youth with a Mission staffers and two sisters, age 16 and 18, who were unfortunate enough to be in his sights at New Life Church.

His anger didn’t come on suddenly.  It smoldered over a very long time… (click on link below for more)




Matthew Murray. Will his become yet another infamous name like Scott Peterson or Ted Bundy? I have spent the last couple of weeks doing research on Matthew. His postings that led up to the day of the killings at YWAM and at New Life Church in Colorado Springs detail the sad and bitter mind of a young man who somehow got off track along the way and never found his bearings again.When I read his posts my heart breaks.

You see, Matthew is us. Much of what he experienced in the church mirrors that of others… (click on link below for more)


YWAM – Were you listening?

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Reasons Christians Commit Spiritual Abuse

Posted by rantsampersandmore on June 4, 2008

We believe that it is important to understand just what ‘Spiritual Abuse’ is. Whether or not it fits with a persons YWAM experience or an individual YWAM Base is not what we are trying to achieve here. Spiritual Abuse is rarely, something that a Christian sets out to do. To be malicious, to manipulate, to demean, etc. are just by products of fervency without proper accountability.

We are sure that you will find the following article helpful.

Courtesy of an article by Major Scott Nicloy

Reasons Christians Commit Spiritual Abuse

For the most part, spiritual abuse is committed by those who sincerely love Jesus, who believe the Bible to be the Word of God and who want to win lost souls for Jesus. Hence, spiritual abuse can often be found, as Ronald Enroth points out, in churches that are doctrinally sound, conservatively Christian, thoroughly Biblical, and zealously maintaining the fundamentals of the Faith. There are several reasons why Christian people of good will and a sincere desire to share Jesus can inflict serious harm and injury upon others in the Name of Jesus. Lack of Empathy. Empathy is the ability to perceive, to understand, to sense, to feel what another person is experiencing. Unfortunately, in witnessing for Jesus many evangelicals talk to people, not with people. It is impossible to truly talk with anyone about Jesus, or anything else for that matter, without knowing the other person. Authentic ministry is based upon knowing a person. There is no point in claiming that Jesus is the answer, when you have not heard the question. A physician who prescribes medicine without knowing the patient is likely to injure the patient. In like manner, evangelicals who try to minister without knowing the sheep in an empathic manner will most likely injure it.

Narcissism. The reason that many Christians have a problem with developing empathy skills is because they have a problem with narcissism. Narcissists are not necessarily bad people. Narcissism simply means that, for whatever reason, the person’s only point of reference in life is himself. For the narcissist only his thoughts, his feelings, his perceptions are fully real. For him the thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of others are less real. In the religious context, narcissists simply assume that what they think God thinks, and what they believe is Bible-based. They take it for granted that any idea that jumps into their heads is from the Holy Spirit and that they are only following the promptings of the Holy Spirit whenever they decide to do anything. The fact that other people may see their words as being less than holy, their motives as being less than pure, and their actions as being hurtful and injurious never occurs to them. When you believe that you are right and righteous, then all that you say and do is right and righteous. Any thought to the contrary never enters the picture.

Dichotomous Thinking. Abusive Christians in abusive church fellowships generally exhibit dichotomous (either-or) thinking patterns. With them everything is black/white, this/that, either/or, us/them, good/bad, etc. There are never any weeds among the wheat. When something is good it is all good; when something is bad it is all bad. Of course, dichotomous thinking Christians put themselves in the all-good camp, while others who may not agree with them on some minute detail of theology or Bible interpretation are in the all-bad camp.

With abusive Christians there are no ambiguities, no unanswered questions, no gray areas, no doubts. Everything is sorted, classified, and properly labeled. They are right, others are wrong; they are spiritual, others are not; they truly believe the Scriptures, others do not; they are thoroughly committed to Jesus, others are not; etc., etc. To disagree with them is to disagree with God. They are, of course, the final judge and jury of what the Bible says, regardless of subject matter. They have the exact interpretation of any given particular Scripture text; any other nuance or shade of meaning is considered heresy. Dichotomous thinking Christians believe they have everything all figured out (when they do not) and that they have everything properly classified and labeled, which is often not the case. They have the definitive Bible-based answer for every question, even when they have not understood the question. Dichotomous thinking Christians have a one-size-fits-all hammer for every problem, even when what is needed for a particular problem is a screwdriver.

Dissociation. In the lives of abusive Christians the ideal often exceeds the real. Don Quixote in his rusty armor riding headlong on his broken-down horse runs over and injures many people as he hits a windmill in his quest to glorify God, to right wrong, to rid the world of Satan’s influence, and to defend the honor of his lady (who could not care less that he is alive). The members of one church congregation were exasperated at the fastidious righteousness of one of their church members. Consequently, they met with the pastor to discuss what could be done with this raging righteous, condemning, judging, censoring, damning holier-than-thou church member. After much debate that went nowhere, a deacon finally suggested the obvious solution: hire the guy a prostitute. As the deacon explained, there was nothing wrong with the Bible-quoting saint that a good roll in a haystack with a good prostitute would not cure. The pastor pointed out, however, that church funds did not allow for that kind of therapeutic treatment, as accurate as the diagnosis might have been.

One of the reasons why we have a major problem with abuse in Christian churches is because we have Christian people who are dissociated. They are mystified. They do not know what they feel, what motivates them, who they are or what they are about. They are divorced from their sexuality, divorced from their feelings, divorced from their real needs, divorced from their authentic selves. They are strangers unto themselves. Jesus said from the Cross, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Disassociated Christians are people who do not know what they are doing. Abraham Maslow wrote, “The great cause of much psychological illness is the fear of knowing of oneself-of one’s emotions, impulses, memories, capacities, potentialities, of one’s destiny.” Disassociated Christians are people who do not know themselves and are afraid to know themselves.

Zealotry. Obviously, we want people to be passionate about their Faith in Jesus. Unfortunately, in evangelism zealotry often sharpens the claws but dulls the senses. In other words, zealots may have a burning desire to win lost souls for Jesus but they do not have much sense. Consequently, our daily prayer needs to be, “Lord, this day deliver us from your saints.”

Zealots often commit much harm in the Name of Jesus because they have tunnel vision. Their zealotry blinds them from being able to see the big picture. They are myopic. They can only see what is close to them and even that is blurry. They do not mean to hurt people but when people go through life with blinders on they tend to run over others.

I knew a Baptist minister who carried around with him several notebooks containing all the names of people that he had won to the Lord. I went around with him one day on his soul- winning crusade and figured that most his converts accepted Jesus just to get rid of him. Most of his “converts” considered him more of an annoying bombastic pest than an ambassador of salvation. Then there was one zealous Baptist minister who used to sneak into hospitals at night to pass out gospels tracts such as “Are You Ready to Meet Your God?” or “Hell is Hot, Hot, Hot!” The hospitals in that city had to cancel numerous operations because of that guy.

The Power in Being “Holy”

Abusive people in church fellowships have stumbled upon the fact that “holiness”-at least holiness in a legalistic sense-is a way to have power and control over a congregation. For example, I was raised in a church where a woman exercised a great amount of power and control in the fellowship due to her “Holy Ghost convictions.” When a new church building was being planned, Sister Orpha had this Holy Ghost conviction about having no food in the church. According to Sister Orpha’s Holy Ghost conviction, a mouse hiding in the janitor’s closet could not even have a crumb of cheese, as that was dishonoring God’s Holy Spirit. One midweek afternoon the pale white walls of the church flashed a brilliant red when Sister Orpha caught a Sister Alice serving Kool-Aid and cookies to a group of elementary aged children in the basement of the church building.

Sister Alice had deliberately and willfully challenged one of Sister’s Orpha’s Holy Ghost convictions. The challenge to Sister Orpha’s Holy Ghost conviction was reported to the pastor, the church board, and eventually to the denominational headquarters. The bishops of the Free Methodist Church had to take the time to send out a ruling stating that it was okay to eat in the church building, providing there was a door separating the sanctuary from the dining room. Sister Orpha, however, insisted that the Holy Ghost took precedence over the ruling of the Bishops. So, the whole point of contacting denominational headquarters about the matter was meaningless. Sister Orpha defended her stand, while Sister Alice and her husband eventually joined another church fellowship. In the end, the important thing for Sister Orpha was that she had taken her stand for holiness and righteousness. She had defended the standards of holiness and was very proud of it.

When the new church building was being built, there were no plans to have a kitchen in the building because it violated one of Sister Orpha’s Holy Ghost convictions. Of course, Sister Orpha had so many Holy Ghost convictions that it was pretty hard for the church fellowship to get through a week without a couple of those Holy Ghost convictions being violated. Anyway, one Saturday morning while the church was being built, my dad snuck down to the church building site and secretly installed the plumbing for a kitchen, hiding it underneath the flooring. Years later, when the church board finally decided that they had enough of Sister Orpha’s Holy Ghost convictions, they voted to install a kitchen. When someone opposed the idea because no plumbing had been installed in the foundation of the church during construction, my dad tore up a piece of the floor without a word. There was the plumbing needed for a new kitchen.

Dad and Sister Orpha had their problems. He was teaching the teenage Sunday School class one Sunday morning when Sister Orpha came into the classroom and commenced a long scolding lecture. Sister Orpha found out that one of the young ladies in the class had been hired as a waitress at a local restaurant where alcohol was served in a bar, which was off to the side of the restaurant. Upon being informed of this travesty against holiness, Sister Orpha barged into the teens’ class and started to lecture the teenagers on the sins and evils of the world. Although Sister Orpha never named names, it was obvious to all present that the young lady in question was being singled out and attacked. When Sister Orpha finally came up for air in her long scolding lecture on the sin of being a waitress in a restaurant where alcohol was sold, my dad piped up and said, “Nehemiah was a bartender.” Sister Orpha was not amused. (Actually, Nehemiah was the cupbearer for the king of Persia, which for all practical purposes made him a bartender.)

Substance Abuse, Addiction, and Abusive Righteousness

It should not be surprising that much of the spiritual abuse that we see in our churches often involves people with substance abuse in their past. In reality, the raging drunk that becomes a raging saint is still a raging addict. Naturally, the fact that a saved and sanctified saint of God has not touched a drop of alcohol for five, ten, fifteen or however many years really means nothing in terms of recovery and healing. Exchanging a substance abuse addiction for a religious addiction is not recovery. Often when listening to people testifying to how they have been delivered from addiction “by the mighty moving of God’s Holy Spirit,” I have had to bite my tongue hard to keep from saying, “You are still an addict.”

Abstinence does not mean that a person is recovered. Abstinence does not mean that the person is healed. Abstinence does not mean that the person is delivered from alcoholism. Abstinence may only mean that the person is not drinking alcohol. In every other way he may just as much be an alcoholic as the guy who is passed out on skid row.

We have saints running around testifying to a complete and total deliverance from alcoholism when they are still alcoholics. They think like alcoholics. They act like alcoholics. In fact, some of these dry drunk saints do more harm while sober than they did while being wet drunk sinners. At least, when they were wet drunk sinners everyone knew to stay out of their way. Many times when an alcoholic has “found Jesus” family members deliberately try to get them drinking again, since handling a raging drunk is much easier than handling a raging saint. When it comes to dry drunk saints, cognitively their thinking patterns are dichotomous, emotionally they are disassociated, physically they are in a state of protracted withdrawal, and spiritually they are quixotic.

Obviously, a person who is obsessing on Jesus is still obsessing. The person who is compulsively quoting Scripture is still compulsive. The person who is mood altering by hypnotically singing worship choruses over and over again is still mood altering. The quixotic person fighting the forces of hell is still quixotic. The person with a narcissistic personality disorder is still a narcissist. Changing one’s addiction garb is not recovery.

Because of this, a sober non-drinking alcoholic should not be involved in Christian pastoral counseling ministry for about five years after the last drink. The originators of the Twelve Step program saw that a major component of the treatment for alcoholism was the need to share one’s spiritual awakening and message of healing with other people. Sharing one’s recovery process with others, however, is not the same as counseling others. Sharing one’s life experience with another is based upon the principle of equality-one beggar telling another where to find bread. On the other hand, providing pastoral counsel implies a position of power, influence, and authority in reference to the one being counseled. Alcoholics tend to be co-dependent, as the development of their relational skills was interrupted when they started drinking. Therefore, co-dependency issues often impede their ability to acquire the empathic skills so vital in providing pastoral counseling. People lacking empathic skills may be sincere, but they may be sincerely abusive.


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Five Warning Signs of Spiritual Abuse

Posted by rantsampersandmore on June 4, 2008

We believe that it is important to understand just what ‘Spiritual Abuse’ is. Whether or not it fits with a persons YWAM experience or an individual YWAM Base is not what we are trying to achieve here. Spiritual Abuse is rarely, something that a Christian sets out to do. To be malicious, to manipulate, to demean, etc. are just by products of fervency without proper accountability.

We are sure you will find the following article helpful.

Courtesy of article by Major Scott Nicloy

Five Warning Signs

Baptist minister Charles Kimbal, in his book When Religion Becomes Evil, gives us five warning signs of abusive fellowships:

Absolute Truth Claims. There is naturally a sense where each church group has absolute truth claims. Obviously, “Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life” is a fundamental truth claim for any Christian fellowship. However, in abusive churches absolute truth claims are numerous, excessive and are often about insignificant issues that really do not matter. In abusive churches absolute truth claims often reflect the personal views and opinions of a church leader that are expressed as divine dicta.

Blind Obedience. Abusive church leaders expect to be obeyed because they have the mind of Christ and they know the Word of God. To disobey them is to disobey God.

Establishing the “Ideal” Time. Eschatology, the study of Last Things, is often a subject of major interest in church fellowships that tend to be abusive. In the evangelical community eschatological time line scenarios have changed drastically over the years. In the 19th century most evangelicals were post-millennialists, whereas in the 20th century most evangelicals shifted to the position of premillennial dispensationalism. The point here is not to debate the merits of any millennial position. The problem with abusive Christians is that they are often obsessed regarding eschatological time lines and with end times preaching. This obsession with end times scenarios feed the fears and uncertainties of people in abusive Christian fellowships. Of course, a person who can keep people in a state of anxiety and fear is a person who can control and dominate others.

The End Justifies Any Means. Many abusive churches are unethical and dishonest in their evangelistic tactics. They will sponsor and advertise a “community” event-an Easter egg hunt for children or a community barbecue, for instance-that is nothing more than a cover for a hard sell Gospel campaign. There is nothing wrong with an event being a hard sell Gospel campaign, but false and deceptive advertising is morally and ethically wrong. Sometimes, an abusive church fellowship may cover up the criminal misconduct of its leaders on the grounds that if the reputation of the church is harmed, then the church’s ability to win souls for Jesus is compromised. A perfect example that winning lost souls for Jesus’ sake is more important than ethical and moral considerations was Jimmy Swaggart’s refusal to accept church discipline because the Holy Spirit told him that thousands, even millions, of souls would end up in hell if he was not out there preaching.

Declaring Holy War. Abusive Christians often crusade for holiness and righteousness. Aldous Huxley noted that “Those who crusade not for God in themselves, but against the evil in others, never succeed in making the world better… To be more against the devil than for God is exceedingly dangerous.” Of course, those who crusade for righteousness in others claim that they “hate the sin but love the sinner.” One can only imagine that whenever one of these raging righteous guys talk about “hating the sin but loving the sinner” the angels up in heaven gag and vomit all over the celestial streets of gold.


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Characteristics of Spiritual Abuse

Posted by rantsampersandmore on June 4, 2008

Once again wikipedia is sourced for a definition for the topic of ‘Spiritual Abuse’. Many ‘wounded’ ex-YWAMers will identify with one aspect if not all aspects of this definition.

Characteristics of Spiritual Abuse

Some writers conceptualize a set of discernible characteristics of spiritual abuse. Ronald Enroth in Churches That Abuse identifies five categories:

  1. Authority and Power – abusive groups misuse and distort the concept of spiritual authority. Abuse arises when leaders of a group arrogate to themselves power and authority that lacks the dynamics of open accountability and the capacity to question or challenge decisions made by leaders. The shift entails moving from general respect for an office bearer to one where members loyally submit without any right to dissent.
  2. Manipulation and Control – abusive groups are characterized by social dynamics where fear, guilt, and threats are routinely used to produce unquestioning obedience, group conformity, and stringent tests of loyalty to the leaders are demonstrated before the group. Biblical concepts of the leader-disciple relationship tend to develop into a hierarchy where the leader’s decisions control and usurp the disciple’s right or capacity to make choices on spiritual matters or even in daily routines of what form of employment, form of diet and clothing are permitted.
  3. Elitism and Persecution – abusive groups depict themselves as unique and have a strong organizational tendency to be separate from other bodies and institutions. The social dynamism of the group involves being independent or separate, with diminishing possibilities for internal correction and reflection. Outside criticism and evaluation is dismissed as the disruptive efforts of evil people seeking to hinder or thwart.
  4. Life-style and Experience – abusive groups foster rigidity in behavior and in belief that requires unswerving conformity to the group’s ideals and social mores.
  5. Dissent and Discipline – abusive groups tend to suppress any kind of internal challenges and dissent concerning decisions made by leaders. Acts of discipline may involve emotional and physical humiliation, physical violence or deprivation, acute and intense acts of punishment for dissent and disobedience.

Agnes and John Lawless argue in The Drift into Deceptionthat there are eight characteristics of spiritual abuse, and some of these clearly overlap with Enroth’s criteria. They list the eight marks of spiritual abuse as comprising:

  1. charisma and pride,
  2. anger and intimidation,
  3. greed and fraud,
  4. immorality,
  5. Enslaving authoritarian structure,
  6. Exclusivity,
  7. Demanding loyalty and honor,
  8. New revelation.

Although some of these points form aspects of a strong and healthy society (e.g. respect for proper authority, loyalty and honor), the basis of spiritual abuse is when these characteristics are overstretched to achieve a desired goal that is neither supported by spiritual reality nor by the human conscience.


Sadly, there are many people ‘within YWAM’ that are blinded to the fact that YWAM does have some real issues with spiritual abuse. The fact YWAM will not entertain any discussion or opinions to the contrary (which is exactly what is spoken of in the above definition) highlights how widespread and entrenched this problem is, dismissed even by senior leadership (Global Leadership Team)

A victim of Spiritual Abuse- a broken hearted / a wounded ex-YWAMer may take years to overcome (if ever) the impact this sort of abuse has on their emotional, physical and spiritual Psyche. Some will even turn their back on their faith in Jesus as the Messiah, and embrace another philosophy or religion, some have become ‘isolationists’ and just stick with themselves, remaining cold and detached from ‘life’.

The catalyst to ‘launching’ this web-log was the recent ‘dismissal’ (kicked out) of a DTS (Discipleship Training School) Leader shortly after he and his wife returned from ‘outreach’ with the DTS they had been leading. Because they ‘resisted/questioned the ‘new direction’ the YWAM base they were associated with, was taking.

In time to come, once the dust settles, we hope that their ‘story’ will appear on these pages.

A pastor friend who was unaware what was happening ‘at YWAM’ spoke into my life about a year ago now, and told me that for “my health, my spiritual health” I needed to leave YWAM. I am so grateful that he cared enough to recognise the symptoms of  spiritual abuse and ‘warn me’. 


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What is Spiritual Abuse?

Posted by rantsampersandmore on June 4, 2008

We believe that it is important to understand just what ‘Spiritual Abuse’ is. Whether or not it fits with a persons YWAM experience or an individual YWAM Base is not what we are trying to achieve here. Spiritual Abuse is rarely, something that a Christian sets out to do. To be malicious, to manipulate, to demean, etc. are just by products of fervency without proper accountability.

We are sure that you will find the following article helpful.

What is Spiritual Abuse

Courtesy of Artical by Major Scott Nicloy

The hurt and harm of spiritual abuse is rarely inflicted upon people with the intention to wound anyone. Most spiritual abuse is inflicted by Christians who are very sincere, who believe they are obeying the Bible in sharing Christ with others, and who often believe that they are being led by the Holy Spirit. Ronaldd Enroth writes in his book Churches that Abuse:

    Do the abusers intend to inflict hurt? In most cases, probably not. They usually are unaware of what they are doing to people in the name of God. They may, in fact, be convinced that their behavior is what the Lord has mandated. What others interpret as control they may view as caring for the flock. They are usually so narcissistic or so focused on some great thing they are doing for God that they don’t notice the wounds they are inflicting on their followers.


Spiritual abuse has been defined as “a kind of abuse which damages the central core of who we are. It leaves us spiritually discouraged and emotionally cut off from the healing love of God.” Another definition of spiritual abuse is “the mistreatment of a person who is in need of help, support or greater spiritual empowerment, with the result of weakening, undermining, or decreasing that person’s spiritual empowerment.”


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