Beginning a DTS
What absolutely must be accomplished in the first few days of the DTS?
At the first international DTS Leaders' workshop in Lausanne in 1987 Loren set us an exercise to do. It seemed somewhat cryptic until he explained it later on.
We were to imagine coming to our base for the very first time, coming to the station, driving up to the gate, driving up the drive, seeing the base and coming in the front door. Could we put ourselves in the place of a DTS student as he or she first comes to the base. At the time I was living at Holmsted Manor and could easily imagine driving through the green hills of Sussex in South England and coming upon this oasis with its long oak tree lined front drive. At the top of the drive the trees give way to the view of the house -- Victorian splendour in beautiful grounds with lawns and mature trees and lakes. The front door looks like an ancient slab of oak and the front hall, huge, oak-paneled, oak floor -- glorious.
Loren asked us what the first impressions would be for that student. "Aaaah, sigh, I've arrived, I could live here in this peace and quiet forever." (I know that isn't for everyone -- pastoral scenes drive some young people mad, but you get the idea.)
Hold that thought in your mind about first impressions, Loren went on to tell us about bonding. Bonding is a psychological term discovered looking at the early relationship between mums and their new babies. If they don't bond in the first few hours and days then the newborn baby may not flourish and in the extreme may even struggle and die! It is very important that mother and child bond. (Maternal bond article and General human bonding article)
Loren went on to say that there is a similar process involved in joining an organisation, if there is not a proper bond built in the first 3 minutes or 3 days, the relationship may never work properly. In fact, a person's initial experience of an organisation may colour their thinking and feeling toward that organization for the rest of their lives.
Are you still holding that initial thought of first arriving at your YWAM base? Keep holding it and I'll tell you how we have applied this bonding idea to our schools of frontier missions. (SOFM) When an SOFMer leaves and goes to the 'field' we arrange for them to be met by a local person so that their initial bonding doesn't blight them for the rest of their career. Compare two experiences, the first when a new missionary is met be a fellow countryman, the second, when they are met by a local.
- Joe arrives at Mumbai airport and is met by Steve, from the same city in Britain as Steve.
- "Welcome to India, I'm sorry I don't have a car to pick you up in, they're really expensive here and it's hard to get a driver's license. We will have to travel in the bus, I know it's crowded and sweaty and dirty but it won't last too long."
- You drive past a slum, "This is the biggest slum in the city, it's quite dangerous but we hope to start a church plant there some day. We'll go down there and pray but you need to know a few things before you go so you can be prepared for what you meet there."
- And then past a market, "This is a fabulous market where you'll be able to get gifts to send home to your family, you'll love it, just don't eat the food and watch out for your wallet."
- And you arrive at your friends house.
Contrast that with Joe being met by a local person.
- Philip, "Welcome to India, we are going to get a bus. Buses are the best way around the city, always full of people, always lively, always chatty, a journey is never dull. It's also the main transport for the communities we have been befriending so it is really helpful to meet people."
- You drive past a slum, "This is the biggest slum in the city. I have some family there and we are going to go and see them, they are really quite poor but their welcome is always very genuine and they are really open to talk about the new spiritual things in my life."
- And then past a market, "This is a fabulous market where you'll be able to get gifts to send to your family, you'll love it. I don't know if you know it but the very best glass bangles in the world are made right near here and we are immensely proud of them. I can show you the very best of the very best. We will also go down there to eat because some of the best food in the city is from here -- you do need to be careful who you buy it from but all the visitors I take there can't wait to get back again."
- And you arrive at your destination.
Those first few minutes and hours of bonding can affect the rest of a person's life. The first experience may have led the person to be suspicious and fearful for life, the second could have opened the door to a life time of love for the people. The initial bonding is important!
Have you still got the thought? The initial impressions the student gets of YWAM may affect the rest of their lives. If a student comes and sees a country estate that is so relaxing and pleasant they may be excused for thinking that that would be a great place to settle down for the rest of their lives.
Who is YWAM, what should, what must new DTS students be bonded to in the first 3 minutes and 3 days when they arrive?
Loren reminded us that we are here to see waves of young people (you are as old as you feel) reaching further into the continents of the world with the love of Jesus. The new DTS students must be bonded to that more than anything else. We set our school staff this challenge: prepare the base such that the first impressions the new DTS students will get will be of going into all the world.
What have the school staff done? They have put flags and banners up on the drive saying things like, "Go into all the world", "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to me...." "Know God and make Him known". They have had dynamic video and visual presentations of where previous outreaches have been. They have made name tags in the shape of nations, cookies in the shape of feet.... Get the idea? The students must be bonded to the vision of YWAM in the first minutes and days of arriving or they may be bonded to the wrong things. The very first day of class I like to play 2 hours of the most dramatic material from Global Perspectives (YWAM's missions video magazine). The students come out of the classroom reeling from the drama and say things like, "I knew I had come to mission organization but I didn't realise it was so vast, so radical, and that there was a place for all of us, forever!"
To sum it up. We have only 3 days to bond students to the purpose and call of YWAM or it may be too late. If the first time they hear the words evangelism or missions is in week 7 of the DTS then it is probably too late and they have every right to say that we are not about those things.The first week of the DTS then is our chance to present the vision for YWAM, the DTS, the base and their lives. Mark Vening likes to say to his DTS students on the first day, "Welcome, you may not know why you are here, but you are in the right place!"