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It’s been about six months since you made that crazy decision to leave everything behind and join a group of strangers in an unfamiliar place to pursue the heart of God.
Odds are, you barely recognize the person you were at the beginning of your Discipleship Training School. God revealed things to you about your identity, your calling, and His character.
Your life radically changed when you learned how to leave your past behind, how to truly forgive, and how to listen to God’s voice. Your DTS was probably full of hilarious moments of side-splitting laughter, moments of bodily defeat in sickness or exhaustion, and moments of crying your eyes out in a place of brokenness or unexplained intimacy with God. The DTS experience is a roller coaster of emotions and a whirlwind of questions, friendships, and challenges. So how does one even begin to share about the experience with someone who has never done a YWAM DTS? Here are a few tips to make it easier to share your DTS story with family, friends, co-workers, strangers, your church, and everyone in between.
One thing to keep in mind when sharing your experience is that not everything that holds a special place in your heart needs to hold a special place in someone else’s heart. You may have had a lot of intimate areas of breakthrough, realization, and growth, but not everyone will understand or appreciate these moments. Stories like these are important and can be encouraging to some people, but use discernment when deciding how much to share and who to share with; you don't want to go home and give your heart away to everyone. It is important to cherish a few special memories and keep them just between you and God. A married couple wouldn’t tell all the juicy details of their marriage to everyone. You aren’t obligated to do that with God, either.
During your DTS, you were challenged to be vulnerable and open with others. As you have probably learned, vulnerability can be powerful. Your story may bring conviction to someone, help them realize they are not alone, or even spark a healing process. Your story has value, and no one can tell it better than you can. There are definitely those personal memories you should hold close, but on the other hand, there may be experiences you need to push yourself to share. Your closest friends and family will be encouraged to hear about some of the deep things the Lord did in your life. Don’t be afraid to open up again. You never know what your story will mean to someone until you share it.
If you share your experience with many different people, you will undoubtedly encounter those who are simply not interested. No matter how amazing your story is, or how many miracles God performed, some people will not understand or want to hear about it. Don't be offended, and don't let them dim your excitement -- not everyone is prepared to discuss something personal and spiritual.
Similarly, if you repeatedly talk about your YWAM DTS experience, don't become desensitized. If you hear yourself casually mention hiking through the Amazon on outreach, or you start talking about the healing you found in Jesus as if it weren't a big deal, then you know your excitement has started to wane. Remember that it was a big deal! Never forget what a huge blessing the experience was. Never lose the sense of wonder and awe you felt when you realized God wrote an amazing story during your season of DTS. Challenge yourself to be excited about your story each time you tell it, and if you ever feel guilty that you were able to have this opportunity while others do not, try to refocus on gratitude rather than guilt. You don’t have to feel bad for going on a life-changing trip! Just be responsible with how you share the impact of that trip with others.
It's important and healthy to reconnect with your YWAM family, whether that means meeting up with them in person or over video chat. As you go out into the world, you may become friends with YWAMers who didn’t even do their DTS with you. They might be a friend of a friend, a coworker, or someone you meet at university. Whatever the case, there are few things more refreshing than talking to someone who just gets it. You will be able to reminisce and share more freely with someone who has also done a DTS. Although returning home can be a challenge, catching up with old friends will make the transition process easier. If one of you is struggling with something at home, you can remind them of the truths they learned, the truths you learned, and pray together.
You might be tempted to spill all your epic DTS stories to everyone as soon as you see them. However, you will find that the opportunity to share will come up in conversation on its own. When people have questions about God, His character, forgiveness, missions, love, etc, you will have a huge arsenal of stories to choose from. Be ready to impart your wisdom, but wait for the right moment. You never want to come across as a know-it-all, especially since we're all still learning and growing together. That being said, because you have spent six months strengthening your relationship with God, you are equipped to answer some hard questions. To avoid seeming self-righteous, it's always important to focus on listening to others and learning from them, even when you are sharing something with them. Sit with them and talk rather than standing in front of them to preach. It can be hard to know how to share all of your good stories, but don’t stress! You're bound to find an opportunity for each story at the right moment.
Going home can be overwhelming; you may feel like a stranger in your own home at first. It will be difficult to know who to talk to about DTS and when. Don’t be afraid! You have a story that is worth telling and people will be stoked to hear it. Let the Holy Spirit guide you and tell you when not to overshare, when to push yourself to share more, and who to share with. People back at home also need healing and restoration. God might use you as the missing puzzle piece. Allow YWAM to come home with you. Be quick to pray with strangers, be intentional with your friends, speak life into those around you, and inspire vulnerability. By the grace of God, your words and your experiences have the power to transform lives. You just have to be willing to speak.