YWAM—Youth With a Mission

Answering the Call to Missions

Do you believe God has a bigger dream for your family than what you are experiencing? In 2014, our family began a journey into something I never dreamed we would do. We had everything the world tells us we should desire – good jobs, beautiful home, healthy family. Even so, there was something missing; we knew there had to be more to life than just this. We loved Jesus, were involved in church, had family around — our lives should have been fulfilled. Youth With a Mission was part of what was missing.

That yearning for something more led us on a short-term mission trip to Thailand that changed the trajectory of our future. We spent three weeks in Thailand at an orphanage for children with HIV. In those weeks, we played with them, loved them, and taught them about the love of Jesus. We knew then that God was calling us into long term missions and began a journey of seeking what that would look like.

A year later, a friend told us about Youth With A Mission, also known as YWAM. When Loren Cunningham, the founder, was 20 years old, God gave him a vision of thousands of young people flooding the nations – a wave of believers moving into all the world to share the good news. The main focus of YWAM then was to help youth get involved in missions. Today, YWAM still has a focus on youth but also includes people of all ages.  It is a global movement of believers from many cultures, age groups, and denominations that are dedicated to making Jesus known throughout the world. 

YWAM disciples and trains believers to share the love of Jesus through their words, lifestyle, and action and then sends them out together in teams to carry the good news around the world. YWAM currently has over 20,000 staff from nearly every country with over 180 mission bases around the world. These ministries cover every sphere of society, including ship-based medical care, refugee crisis, frontier missions, reconciliation, performing arts teams, Bible training programs, business coaching, sports ministries, anti-trafficking work, and many more.

Discipleship Training School

Maybe you have a child graduating from high school soon. A great start to their new life as an adult is spending 5 months digging into knowing God and then making Him known to others. Whether they already have a passion for missions or if they aren’t sure what they want to do post homeschool, this is a wonderful option for them. Parents will learn their identity in Christ. They will develop a boldness and passion as well as the tools to share the Gospel. They will walk in the authority of a child of God. DTS (Discipleship Training School) is made up of two phases: lecture phase and outreach phase. During the lecture phase, students live in community with one another and have daily classes.   During outreach, students and staff form teams and travel overseas for ministry on the mission field. There are numerous DTS’s around the world with different focuses. Go to a country you have always dreamed of going to or explore a focused DTS that aligns with your gifts and calling. Some of the different focuses are arts, fitness, dance, adventure, Frontier (10-40 window), Crossroads (over age of 30), family, medical, snowboarding, surfing, photography, justice, and many more.

We have heard many parents talk of how transformative it was for their young adult to complete a DTS. We have even seen many parents decide to do their own DTS after seeing the growth in the spiritual life of their child. 

YWAM—Youth With a Mission

Family Discipleship Training School or Child-Friendly Training

After staffing a few Crossroads DTS, we felt God calling our family to Family DTS or Child-Friendly Training. We have now led 5 Family DTS schools. It always amazes me to see God work in the entire family. We strongly believe that God can speak to anyone of any age. He always shows us that when working with families with children of any age. Your kids can hear God, often more clearly than we do! One of the things I love to watch as we lead Family DTS is when parents and/or kids realize that they can hear God speak to them!  He wants to speak to them and has been speaking to them all of their lives, even if they didn’t realize it! 

Let me share my own story of realizing God speaks to us and not just about big spiritual things. 

While we were staffing our first Family DTS in Kona, Hawaii, we had heard a couple of stories of families that asked God to show them where the dolphins would be swimming and then experienced swimming with the dolphins at the beaches He spoke to them. I loved the stories, was envious that it happened to them, but honestly didn’t think God would do that for my family. 

On our last weekend in Kona, we decided to ask Him about the dolphins. I admit, I did not have the greatest faith that it would happen. Our daughter immediately got the name of a beach, but my husband and I did not hear anything. The beach she heard was not my favorite beach, not where I wanted to spend my last Saturday, but I wanted to be a good example! The next day at the beach, after about a half hour of swimming and playing in the ocean, I decided to go into the beach and warm up in the sun. 

My daughter immediately told me I could not go in yet – the dolphins had not come yet. Like a good mom, I started to try and convince her that it was okay if the dolphins didn’t come – God still loved us and was still good to us.

She was adamant, “No, mom. I heard God tell me that we would see dolphins at this beach!” As my husband then started trying to console her and convince her that sometimes things don’t turn out like we expect but that doesn’t change who God is, I turned my head to look out at the ocean, feeling defeated. I wanted her to experience hearing God. I didn’t want to “convince” her of God’s goodness to her; I wanted her to experience it. 

As I silently prayed for wisdom on what to say, I began to see people swimming far out in the ocean. But they were swimming really, really fast. I quickly realized they were not people – they were dolphins! My daughter and I quickly began to swim towards them, but we didn’t really need to. They swam right to us and passed by us within 10 feet. We even experienced swimming with a momma and a baby dolphin. God gave us even more than we asked or imagined!

Do you want to go on an amazing adventure with your family and God?  Are you looking for opportunities to disciple your children together?  Family Discipleship Training School (DTS) trains the whole family how to journey together in faith. It gives you tools to stay connected and minister together.

In Family DTS, the whole family will learn topics such as Hearing God’s Voice, The Father Heart of God, Spiritual Warfare, Holy Spirit, Identity, and others that will prepare you for missions as a family, whether at home or abroad. You will have times of worship together as well as intercession, debrief, fun, and ministry opportunities. Whether you pray for someone, feed the hungry, play with the lonely, or share the gospel, at Family DTS you will learn the tools to work and serve together as a family. 

Our vision is not only to change the parents’ lives, leaving the kids wondering “what in the world has happened to my parents,” but to have the children also experience some of the same things personally. Family DTS & Foundation School (DTS for the kids) is a transformation of the heart school. It’s not focused on worldly aspirations, success, or academics, but on intimate relationship with God and each other. We believe in the importance of giving children the same truths that their parents are receiving. The Family DTS & Foundation School provides the perfect atmosphere for married couples and families who want to discover God’s purpose for their whole family.

Giving God your YES! will never be a regret. He will do more than you could have ever thought or imagine He would!  Ask God to show you what His dream for you and your family’s life is. He will never cease to amaze you with the BIG adventure He has for you!


Shelly Christianson and her husband Peter live in Chico, CA, where they lead the Family Discipleship Training School. They have 5 children and 10 grandchildren. Peter and Shelly have served with YWAM for 7 years. They are passionate about strengthening marriages and families so they can be how God intended them to be.


A Favorite Homeschool Resource

At HomeschoolingFinds.com, we love the Christian biographies from YWAM Publishing that help bring heroes to life.

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