Spiritual Abuse a Common Complaint for YWAM Students

By Steve Rabey
YWAM
Former YWAM Discipleship Training School students Abby Townsend and Faith Rowe tell of their experiences.

Hundreds of alumni from Youth with a Mission’s (YWAM) training and outreach programs say they were spiritually abused by immature leaders, who claimed to speak for God, and warned that questioning their absolute control equaled rebellion against God.

In painful videos posted to social media, victims of the abuse share their stories and forgive the local leaders who abused them, but blame their suffering on YWAM’s international leaders for their lack of oversight.

The videos have generated hundreds of comments from fellow ex-YWAMers who applaud the girls’ bravery, and say they’ve experienced similar abuse at YWAM bases in France, Australia, and California.

YWAM has had the same problems resurface year after year around the world and each response had been to make it circumstantial rather than recognizing there’s a major problem with the structure of the organization,” said one commenter.

Hundreds more YWAM abuse survivors gather virtually in public and private Facebook groups and other online forums.

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“Donors and parents sending their kids off to serve Jesus with YWAM need to understand the model is flawed and their kids are at risk,” said Robert Charach, principal and CEO of Linden Christian School in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. One of Charach’s teachers saw her daughter suffer spiritual abuse with YWAM last year.

As MinistryWatch recently reported (and was republished on The Roys Report with permission), YWAM has a unique non-structured structure that lacks the standard management, governance, and accountability functions that most ministries rely on to assess and address problems. YWAM isn’t incorporated, lacks any central organization or headquarters, and has no president or board of directors. Rather, individually organized YWAM ministries around the world are part of a network or “family of ministries.”

As some abuse victims have long charged, YWAM’s loose structure of independent ministries allows its international leaders to evade responsibility and legal liability, making it extremely difficult to hold abusive leaders accountable and allowing abusive practices to continue unchecked at some bases for decades.

YWAM boasts of “launching waves of missionaries into the world since 1960,” but its approach to developing its leaders and training its new recruits has unleashed waves of ex-students who’ve struggled with trauma, flashbacks, insomnia, panic attacks, self-isolation, doubts about God, an aversion to worship songs that trigger bad memories, and even suicide attempts—some of them successful.

YWAM Leaders Respond

At least two YWAM leaders have responded publicly to the videos and other charges of abuse on social media. Their responses suggest nothing significant will change.

Lynn Green, who leads a YWAM base in Harpenden, England, responded by video. Green  identified himself as a 50-year veteran of YWAM, a senior leader, and “part of the Founders Circle,” but quickly added the standard disclaimer: “I am not speaking anything official on behalf of YWAM,” but only providing “my teachings” and “perceptions.”

Lynn Green
Lynn Green, who leads a YWAM base in Harpenden, England, responds to allegations of spiritual abuse within YWAM.

Green acknowledged that spiritual abuse happens at YWAM bases, and said he had personally talked to “a lot of people on the receiving end of manipulation, deception, or the abuse of power.”

But Green then suggested that spiritual abuse within YWAM was inevitable, and that there is little that can be done to stop it given YWAM’s unique DNA and methodology. It attracts, quickly trains, and hurriedly sends out passionate young evangelists, often entrusting them to equally young—and often spiritually and emotionally immature—leaders-in-training who, Green admitted, are often “out of their depth.”

“I do know of many occasions where young leaders have made the same mistakes we’ve made before,” Green said. “That’s going to happen when we’re committed to the call of mobilizing young people into all the world. They’re going to make some of the mistakes that I made when I was 18 and 19 and 20 years old.”

Green defended YWAM’s record, saying that for its size it had seen relatively few cases of spiritual abuse, which he claimed “happens all over, in all kinds of churches and Christian organizations.”

In making this defense, Green claimed YWAM’s network is bigger than previously reported: 30,000 to 40,000 full-time (but unpaid) workers, 25,000 young people trained every year, and independent bases in 1,200 to 1,300 locations around the world.

God Speaks to Us, Not You

Brainwashing and thought reform. Condemnation of parents. Financial, emotional, and social dependence. Hours-long group sessions where people confess their “deepest, darkest” sins while leaders reveal God’s responses. Shunning of young people in “rebellion” against God and his anointed.

Former students say these “cultic” practices are a regular feature of YWAM’s Discipleship Training Schools (DTS), which cost anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on location, and are a major source of funding for hundreds of independent YWAM ministries. DTS includes three months of classroom work and two to three months of outreach, and is the required first step to volunteering with the organization full time.

“YWAM is an enabler of spiritual abuse,” says Abby Townsend in her wrenching video about the abuse she suffered at DTS in Newcastle, Australia. “These things happen at every single base.”

Abby Townsend
Abby Townsend describes spiritual abuse she suffered while involved with YWAM.

She posted her video in October 2019, and it has since attracted 16,000 views and hundreds of mostly supportive comments, with many viewers saying they, too, suffered abuse.

Abby is among many ex-YWAMers to describe leaders who claim to speak for God, say they can see into students’ souls, and demand students’ total submission and obedience.

“Their ability to ‘hear God’s voice’ always trumps your own connection to the Holy Spirit,” says Abby, who endures daily flashbacks, anxiety, and cloudy thinking. Those who asked questions were “in rebellion.” Those who tried to employ critical thinking had “big red targets on their backs.”

“I’m not the least bit angry or bitter about my experience,” Abby said. “I’m just heartbroken. I’m trying to reclaim a lot of things that have been ruined for me, and that’s a process that will take time.”

David Stephenson, managing director YWAM Newcastle, responded to Abby’s YouTube video with a convoluted comment that praised her courage, acknowledged “there were mistakes made” in her case, apologized, and said Abby’s comments “have been taken seriously with appropriate corrective measures in place,” without providing any specifics on which measures were taken.

Stephenson added, “We honour your bravery in speaking up, we also ask that you examine your own motives and behaviours.”

That brought a frustrated response from Adam Green, a YWAM Newcastle veteran. “I was in YWAM Newcastle from 2002-2005. This type of thing has been going on for 17 years and nothing has changed even though many have written their concerns to YWAM leadership about this base and others,” Green wrote. “David: It’s time for you to step down, your leadership has hurt enough people.”

When God Speaks, He Sometimes Curses

Faith Rowe, who attended DTS in Washington state, posted her victim video in April 2020, and it has generated more than 22,000 views and hundreds of supportive comments.

Faith graduated from a private Christian school, had a “heart for missions,” and also enjoys a great relationship with her parents, which seemed to be a problem for DTS leaders and speakers, as she dutifully recorded in her class notebooks.

The speaker at one session urged students to “find ways our parents had done us wrong.” Then, speaking directly to Faith with a “word from God,” the same speaker told her, “You’ve dealt with rejection from the time you were inside the womb.” Another speaker, also speaking on God’s behalf, told her that her parents were “never proud of you.”

Faith Rowe
Faith Rowe describes issues she had with YWAM in a YouTube video.

When she grew confused and left class to pray in the girls restroom, she was told that was inappropriate, and shunned until she went home early, three days later. “You should blindly follow your leaders, even if you know they’re wrong,” she was instructed.

Faith also described coming to class one day and finding the chairs in a circle. She said the next 7.5 hours were spent with students “confessing” their deepest sins, followed by leaders speaking what they were “hearing directly from God in regards to everyone’s situation.” God apparently has a salty tongue, because the leader hurled F-bombs as part of his divine revelations.

Faith’s posting includes a reference to Laurie Jacobson’s article, “My Experience in YWAM,” which compares YWAM’s tactics to those employed by cults: “She finds that her YWAM training, and the philosophy which undergirds it, are similar to that described for cultic groups. Features common to YWAM and controversial religious cults include manipulation of fear and guilt, authoritarianism, the denigration of critical thinking, social exclusiveness, and suppression of individuality.”

“Is This Close to What Jesus Endured?”

Lynn Green is the most senior YWAM leader to acknowledge that spiritual abuse is a common and recurring experience at DTS classes and outreach activities. Unfortunately, his video response offers nothing that can help root out the problem.

Green protested that the phrase “spiritual abuse” is “a toxic term, quite a condemning term,” and suggested that the term is often misapplied to YWAM.

Green expressed disdain for mission agencies that put missionaries “through seven years of training first so they don’t make any mistakes.”

Green claimed that growing condemnation of spiritual abuse isn’t due to an increase in spiritual abuse, but is instead due to “a major culture change where people really feel they have a right not to hear anything they disagree with.” Some of these people claim “the Bible leads to spiritual abuse,” Green said.

Green said social media has introduced a new form of “social media rage” that’s akin to road rage, and which encourages “people to say disgusting and hateful things on social media, because there’s no consequences.”

And Green reminded everyone that Jesus suffered worse abuse than any YWAMer did. “When I’m tempted to take offense at somebody, I ask, is this close to what Jesus endured? If he didn’t take offense, I don’t have to take offense.”

“We’re Doing Our Best”

In his video, Green discussed a number of alleged abuse cases he has heard about personally, weighing whether each case constituted abuse, or merely incompetent leaders engaged in “serious mistakes.”

Green described one case of abuse in which he intervened. A young woman had been pushed to the point of “breakdown” by a young male leader who “had been thrown into the deep end, had not intended to lead, and did not feel qualified to lead.” This leader used rules, biblical teaching, and manipulation to coerce students. He focused on the girl who later broke down, having her stand in the center of a circle as fellow students talked about what a “rebel” she was.

Green acknowledged this case constituted significant abuse, but didn’t address the girl’s suffering. Instead, he said the incident had helped the immature young leader grow. “This guy has gone on to become a really able, fruitful, loving leader.”

Green assured viewers that YWAM leaders feel victims’ pain. “Any time persons are damaged in any way, or leaders behave inappropriately to them in any way, we take that really seriously, and take it to heart,” he said.

But even though Green has personally intervened in individual cases of abuse when they manifest, there’s apparently nothing he or other international leaders can do to combat this recurring tragedy.

“Newcomers coming in will inevitably…some will be insecure, and we’ll get some of the same mistakes,” Green said, referring to the immature leader who caused the girl’s breakdown.

“Every time that happens, we’re really sorry about that. We’re doing our best, but sometimes we do slip up.”

Steve RabeySteve Rabey is a veteran author and journalist who has published more than 50 books and 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and culture. He was an instructor at Fuller and Denver seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

This article first appeared at MinistryWatch.

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34 thoughts on “Spiritual Abuse a Common Complaint for YWAM Students”

  1. Richard Roberts

    1 Timothy 5:22 – “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; guard your own innocence.”

    These kinds of deceitful and damaging ministry philosophies (putting young and immature believers in positions of authority) are rooted in the unethical “ends justify the means” which the Scripture clearly condemns. It sounds good, because we all want the gospel to be proclaimed and Jesus to be known, but we neglect the means by which he has proscribed for us and instead substituted our own presumptions about how to do it best. 1 Timothy 5:22 is a case in point, a clear rejection of the YWAM model and a warning that we participate in the evil of all of those whom we place in such positions. Therefore, their failure and the harm produced by them is also the failure and harm produced by those who laid hands upon them for such ministry.

    We become deceived when we justify ungodly means to achieve godly purposes, and abusive men stay in power because we defend their place because of the “good” that they do for the Lord. We need to start evaluating our “means” just as we do our “ends.”

    1. The same is true for many of the first-generation of Jesus People Movement converts, especially many of those in the Calvary Chapel movement. What does Proverbs say about zeal without knowledge (or wisdom)?

  2. I remember hearing these stories about YWAM 40 years ago. Nothing seems to have changed. Same old “hearing from God” garbage. You have 66 books written down so you can hear from God. You don’t need a 21 year old “hearing from God” on your behalf. This is mental abuse.

    1. I don’t agree that “hearing from God” in and of itself is garbage. It’s a biblical idea, but when you start to use that to manipulate and guilt-trip young, impressionable students, that is where the harm lies. Hearing from God through someone else and being told that is the absolute truth and that any doubting or questioning is sinful or rebellious is where you start to get very problematic and in the realm of spiritual abuse.

    2. The five most horrifying words in some church cultures.
      “I hear the Lord saying”

      Nope, no, nada, you probably don’t.

      1. Thank you! When an acquaintance told me God told her I shouldn’t homeschool my kids, I thought she was weird and let her go.

        Now, twenty years later, I can see God’s beautiful influence in my kids’ lives because we homeschooled. And all three love the Lord and are walking with Him. Maybe that might’ve happened with public schooling, but it would’ve been harder.

    3. Archie Gene Kelso

      Dear Andy. God bless you. But I’m a 75 year-old man who has experienced many Divine Interventions from Jehovah. The truth that I speak is alarming indeed to people. But no matter what people think of me, I still have my faith that Jehovah has instilled in me, that Jesus has suffered and died for my salvation too. Gene

  3. When I went to DTS we were often told that we would no longer be fed at our local churches.

    Obviously, the little bit of head knowledge we retained was enough to be spiritually superior to our local church.

    I can attest to spiritual immaturity and the use of “words of knowledge.” The use of “charismatic gifts,” is deeply problematic, especially when used by immature believers.

  4. Aah the church – denominational/charismatic/independent/youth/seeker!!!

    It’s the same everywhere. But you repent, confess and continue. Or you confront, get rejected and go elsewhere.

    Always found that there would be a handful of true believers who make the difference. The others are all wolves in sheep’s clothing.

  5. I’m sorry this happens in YWAM ministries. My adult children have been immensely helped by WYAM. It would be good to research the good that some YWAM bases/ministies do as well. BTW, how can Abby possibly know that “these things happen at every single base”? Has she visited each base? I doubt it. I found that sweeping statement to lack credibility.

    1. I agree that there is much good that YWAM does. I have seen first-hand the difference the ministry makes in some young peoples’ lives. At the same time, I’ve witnessed the poor governance and immature leadership at YWAM too. If the organization humbly invites a group like Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments to investigate these cases and suggest remedies, YWAM could emerge stronger. Sadly, I’ve rarely seen a Christian organization in crisis respond that way. Instead, they generally defend, deflect, and attack. I am praying that doesn’t happen in this case.

    2. I can’t speak regarding the YWAM of today but my experience of DTS in 1987 at the Keith Green Last Days Ministries location associated with Twin Oaks Ranch in Lindale TX was extremely positive. I look back very fondly on that time of my life and found it valuable in adjusting to the future struggles and experiences I was to have in my life. So at least back then there were some good healthy places in YWAM.

    3. Replying to Bill E.
      I don’t think Abby meant that literally. Have you been to every YWAM base? Its possible for people to have differing experiences at the same camp or base.( at differing times especially).
      But does it matter? Do you really care? A problem in Christianity is if it doesn’t happen to us or someone we know we don’t take action. If it was your a son or daughter would you take the action that Julie Roy’s suggested in her response?
      If your experience was good isn’t that all the more reason to put on the pressure on YWAM to make changes so (most) everyone’s experience is good?

      1. I experienced both good & bad sides in YWAM. My 2014 DTS was a very powerful first breakthrough in my personal life with God. It shook & crumbled my wrong foundations as a Christian.

        After that I staffed for 2 years in another city, here the leadership was poor, and I saw very abusive relationship between two staffs that strongly influenced the whole base.

        At first I thought YWAM bases’ atmosphere everywhere was about as spiritually awakening as that of my DTS base, but now i understand that YWAM & its systems also has pluses & minuses like any other. Nothing is perfect. But I’m really grateful that God used YWAM to win my heart for Him.

  6. I’m saddened because most of the spiritual malpractice that goes on is subtle. It’s confusing. It’s not always so obvious but it’s hurtful just the same. I love ywam, having been on staff for 15 years, but it needs to own up to these issues and actively learn what spiritual abuse looks like and how to avoid it. Trust me, the pressure to be in unity is strong…for good or for bad. I have a lot to unpack after leaving ywam.

  7. I shied away from YWAM after some college meetings where I found some of their ideas rather loopy: I wanted to be mentored by mature Christians and led God me to a mission group that did just that.

    1. I should add to my other comment that looking back on the teachings that I received, there were a few ideas and theologies that were floating around in YWAM teaching circles which were the beginnings of what could presage abusive ideas or at least certainly bad theological ideas and so I have no doubt that much of what this article is referring to is probably real. Furthermore, I absolutely and wholeheartedly agree that YWAM is in desperate need of accountability by experienced and solid biblical and balanced Christian oversight. Problems of this nature are entirely avoidable so for them to keep on going like this is unacceptable. Especially for Folks wanting to be good Christians.

  8. On The Other Hand

    Are so many Christian disciples really this fragile, easily-controlled, damaged, and powerless? These commitments are VOLUNTARY. You can quit and leave. Jesus’ disciples stumbled around when He sent them out to do ministry. Youth doing ministry is going to have a learning curve.

    Once you’ve gone to the YWAM school to prepare, you’ve got to know the strengths and weaknesses of their approach. Young leaders can’t learn to lead without having a chance to lead. As a young man, I was able to understand that young leaders were learning. You take that into account, and you speak up or you don’t follow.

    I was part of the Charismatic Movement. All sorts of independent groups, missions, and meetings were going on at the time. When I found one that was oppressive or over-controlling, I didn’t join it. I moved on. There were plenty of good opportunities that were a good fit for me. I also found non-charismatic groups that were very controlling in discipleship training. I experienced this in a Navigators group. They planned out your life for you and put a lot of pressure on you to conform to the group lifestyle. It was the most joyless Christian youth ministry I ever experienced: all head, no heart. It didn’t take me long to drop out of that group. But, I’m sure all Navigator groups weren’t and aren’t that way. They, too, are structured locally.

    Truth is some people need a very structured environment. Other’s don’t. Teen Challenge is very structured. Drug addicts need it. Voluntary recovery groups can be brutal. One is always advised to visit a few and look for one that is a good fit for you. The freedom we still enjoy to associate with each other voluntarily for fellowship and ministry means we have to take responsibility for our choices. The alternative is centralized control and legal liability of the type that has made it impossible for a bunch of kids to gather in an open lot and play baseball. Thank God that freedom of religion and freedom of association in the Bill of Rights still protects religious belief and practice..

    1. “The alternative is centralized control and legal liability…”

      Don’t forget about Spiritual Liability. You can excuse and defend claiming everything is voluntary, but all things will be judged in due time. Jesus said, “It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin.”

      After listening to some of these testimonies, I would say YWAM is playing with fire.

    2. I’m afraid the answer is “yes”. Many young, zealous Christians simply do not have the knowledge and experience necessary to recognize and understand what spiritual abuse is.

    3. ANOTHER CONCERNED PERSON

      Thanks for this. I’ve been blessed by God through many people in YWAM. There have been others that fell out and caused fall-out while operating under/ over YWAM ministry operations. It may be prone to abuse, but it’s also clearly prone to radical growth and adaptability to local needs. If you’ve not seen that side of it, you’ve written it off before you looked at both sides. I agree that YWAM is not for everyone. No church or parent should “pass off” their youth to any program of discipleship without careful inquiry into its goals, methods and accountability measures–not disregarding that these may (and probably will, in YWAM anyway) be non-conventional and more relational than structural.

      To blame YWAM for its lack of transparency is akin, in my mind, to blaming the depth of the ocean for its lack of light. If you want the gospel to go into hard places, you might need to accept some risk. It’s a spiritual battle we’re waging as God’s people, and our enemy does not deal lightly with the vulnerable. Should individuals be held responsible for what they say and do, whether leaders or followers? Absolutely. Does this happen in any organization with flawless precision and satisfying speed? Unfortunately, we have become accustomed in this current world culture to accepting the testimony of the offended party without even looking carefully at their claims. If 1,000 YWAMers have 1,000 different issues with 1,000 different leaders at 1,000 different YWAM bases, that probably requires that those issues each be addressed as distinct with the persons directly involved (Matt. 18:15-20). To claim that YWAM as an organization is inherently flawed strikes me as bizarre and misses the point: people are sinners (not organizations) who need to repent and choose follow Jesus. YWAM is a vehicle designed to adapt and allow for organic change in real time and circumstance.

  9. “The alternative is centralized control and legal liability…”

    Don’t forget about Spiritual Liability. You can excuse and defend claiming everything is voluntary, but all things will be judged in due time. Jesus said, “It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin.”

    After listening to some of these testimonies, I would say YWAM is playing with fire.

  10. My daughter and her friend did a YWAM overseas the year after high school. The program was recommended by a local
    Pastor. I felt increasingly apprehensive as it felt cultish and they did their mission trip in a dangerous country, saying their safety was in the Lords hands.

    One of the girls was sexually abused while in the foreign country where thru did the mission trip while sightseeing. Nobody from YWAM called. There was little supervision in outings in the foreign country and my daughter and friend were naive and vulnerable and easy targets in a country that didn’t value women.

    I couldn’t wait until my daughters YWAM finished and she was safely home. My daughters personality changed as well; she became distant and introverted. I have had major guilt and regret about allowing her to do YWAM at such a young age and cannot recommend them.

    Thank you for this article.

  11. The missions committee at our church decided three years ago to take YWAM off of our approved agency list. We have had three different couples all report horrid experiences when they went to DTS. Both New Zealand and Fiji operated out of extreme charismatic theological models which sadly allowed for the leaders to exert oppressive control over new inductees. And when one couple came back they left our church altogether.

    I would warn any church that tries to have good accountability with their missionaries YWAM is not reliable.

  12. This garbage has been going on with YWAM since the 1970’s. Workers are treated like garbage , their food for the workers is trash Not to different than the moonies , if I remember correctly

  13. My parish had a bunch from Kona visit and we were invited to be “ministered to” by them. I made sure to describe my individual walk with God and this hulking designer-looking bod (they are all tall) a third of my age wouldn’t accept my testimony, it wasn’t cookie cutter, he was insultingly patronising (a real god in someone would have honoured my attitude). So even if we want to endanger our sons and daughters, spare a thought for the people they are going to get inflicted on after. Even if they want to deform themselves, what really is ever going to be their mission in life?

  14. I did a 6 month DTS in 1993 and had a wonderful experience. I still look back on that with great appreciation and I’m still in touch with the majority of my classmates who are thriving in their ministries, families and businesses. I’m not downplaying the abuse these ladies faced. It does sound like they attended schools that were much different to mine and I’m sorry for them. However, when you start off an article with “…hundreds of abuse victims,” and go on to cite only two, I’m left feeling like there might be another side to the story. And, I know there is cuz I lived it.

  15. I have never worked with YWAM or “studied” under the auspices of YWAM, but we have a number of young people at our church who have, in particular our youth minister who spent over 10 years on staff with YWAM.

    What I observe:
    1. Dependence on God at times is artificial (groups are sent out intentionally with little money). For me, this is tempting God, not depending on Him.
    2. spiritual elitism
    3. Regarding “listening” prayer for others: Why is it not enough to hear and discern what God says to me for myself? And to test it? What value is there in hearing words of God for others, particularly when these go beyond universal spiritual truths (God loves you, God is with you …) to specifics (God has this plan for you, God is concerned about this sin in your life). It seems to me that this way of mediating between God and individuals – even when the individuals test the words they’re given – tends to limit spiritual growth rather than further it. In the hands of a wise, discerning and loving spiritual mentor, this can be a valuable spur to growth (although the added authority of a “word of the Lord” received for the individual isn’t even needed). In the hands or from the mouth of an inexperienced, poorly trained leader, these words can cause great harm when they result from abuse of authority. Even the practice of prayer and asking God for images to guide a group or individual in street evangelism may seem harmless on the surface but is misguided as it contributes to learned helplessness disguised as following God’s directives.
    4. Over-emphasis on “spiritual warfare”: Seeing criticism or setbacks as elements of a spiritual battle limits the ability to accept legitimate criticism or to stop, reconsider, re-evaluate and possibly change direction. This has to do with the spiritual elitism mentioned above. The attitude seems to be: What God has shown me is the way to go and anything else is Satan’s plan to get me off track.

    My experience after over 40 years as a believer is that the directives that believers hear from God mirror the spiritual and emotional maturity of the one hearing them. And that a life lived relying on God’s guidance in small things is successful (emotionally and spiritually, not necessarily financially) when the believer has two feet solidly on emotional and spiritual ground. People with common sense hear God differently than those who lack it.

  16. I attended DTS in 2018, a “justice” advocacy school in Mazatlan 2019, a frontier missions and Bible course in 2020 in New Zealand and can say that but for the frontier missions program, none of the “staff” had any formal training, poorly trained and in most cases prone to spiritual abuse. Now I preface all this by saying that I am in my late 40’s, a licensed attorney and only attended because my church had sponsored me and I felt called to go to the nations.
    Was it a total waste? No. It provided me with a stable community where I could seek and continue my study. But had I been a weak or young adolescent, I would have been vulnerable to the abuse that is referenced in this article. Did it take place? Yes, on every base I visited. What saddens me the most is that YWAM promotes themselves as a Gap year alternative but becomes a refuge for lost and broken introverts where families pay to dump their adolescent children.

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