Colby Bouma comes from a small Dutch town in Lynden, Washington. Growing up as a Christian was pretty easy for him. However, when he saw how his fellow Christians negatively treated him and others, he decided to walk away from his faith.
He signed up to be a volunteer with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) Ships in Kona, Hawaii and needed a pastoral reference for one of the forms. One of his teachers at the Christian school he had attended, also happened to be a pastor.
“He was the one that planted the seed about DTS. He said, ‘You can go there, volunteer and be on vacation or you can go and get into the Word.’”
A Discipleship Training School (DTS) is a 5 month training course with Youth With A Mission designed to draw you closer to the heart of God. It consists of a lecture phase and an outreach phase.
Lecture phase starts in the classroom, where you’ll learn about the characteristics of God, who you are in Him and the calling He has for you while living in community with fellow believers. Outreach phase gives you the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom and bring it to the people in places all over the world.
Initially, Colby was thinking of doing his own thing in Hawaii. When he arrived, however, he was able to watch one of the DTS staff’s videos about their time in Hawaii during their DTS and outreach and was totally captivated by it. He thought, “That’s what I want to go do.”
During those first few days, Colby was also able to hear different people’s testimonies of what God had been doing in their lives. He wanted to see how real people were, what they struggled with, and if they’re anything like him. What he didn’t expect was to be asked by the school leader about his own relationship with God.
He honestly explained that he had walked away from the faith and wasn’t really sure what he was doing in Hawaii. He had a lot of anger and pride built up from his past and he was looking to find his identity.
“I didn’t really come here to build a relationship with the Creator, not with YWAM. That was something I wanted to do on my own time.”
After hearing the stories from others, Colby felt that they were real and have real problems but were still hungry for the Lord. He was just so curious about everything, especially from watching that video.
When Sean, the DTS leader, spoke to him about possibly doing a DTS, Colby immediately put up his walls. Sean was able to pray for him and encouraged Colby to do the same.
3-4 people also talked to Colby about DTS. If Colby felt pressured to do something, he wouldn’t be open to doing it. In this case, there was no pressure, just conversations. Instead of being closed off, Colby was open-minded.
In the midst of everything going on, he had a realization. He was sick of the way he was trying to live his life and the results he was creating for himself and was longing for something more.
The opportunity presented itself.
He signed up for DTS after being in Hawaii only a few days.
With doing a DTS, a lot of the times, students get a better understanding of why they think the way they do and the transformation comes when they learn how to embrace what God is doing.
Since starting DTS, Colby’s perception of Christians has changed dramatically. Growing up he saw how they treated other people and felt that that wasn’t something he wanted to be involved with.
“I came here with a lot of anger. I was searching for joy and I didn’t know how to get there. I wanted to let go of a lot of my past and let it be in the past. I wanted to start new.”
Before his DTS, people would tell Colby that everything he was searching for and needing was Jesus and he understood that but he didn’t really care.
It took getting to know people in YWAM who lived that out and seeing how they handled similar situations to him for Colby to realize that they couldn’t do it on their own. It really made him think, “You totally had to have Jesus in your life in order to handle that.”
Everything started clicking.
He was done with devotion to himself and making himself better. He decided to devote everything to Jesus and live his life for Him. He hoped and prayed that everything would start falling into place, and it did.
“I have a new found joy in myself and a joy for the future. DTS renewed my mind and the perception I had on the world. There’s totally a spiritual battle that’s going on right now.
“I’ve started to understand that there’s a difference between your heart and your head. I’ve never understood that before, no one taught that to me. You’ve got to learn how to make a conscious decision for yourself.
“And you have to actually want it. If you don’t want it, you’re not going to receive it. Why would God waste His time with giving you these revelations of His love for you if you don’t even want it and you’re not going to live it out right.”
Colby made the conscious decision to live for Jesus and to give up his life for him. All of the Christian terms and vocabulary that he’s grown up hearing was starting to make sense; it wasn’t just head knowledge anymore.
“When you’re at the end of your rope and you come to do a DTS, it’ s so fulfilling.”
As he gets ready for his DTS outreach, Colby feels this is just the next step in laying down his life for Jesus. He’ll be heading to Haiti for the next 9 months with his team.
When he asked God if outreach was a lifestyle, he felt an inner peace which confirmed to him that this will be the start of something long term. Even though he didn’t know much about Haiti, Colby had peace about going there.
“I’m so excited to go see what God has planned for me. I feel what I need right now in my life is in Haiti.”
Even though the normal length of a DTS outreach is about 2 months, Colby feels that that wouldn’t be long enough to build relationships with the people there. For him, it’s about a lifestyle and commitment to Jesus.
“This is the first stepping stone in making a huge commitment in my life. Why not give up at least 9 months in Haiti for God’s kingdom. It’s going to be eternal.”
As Colby reflects on his time in Hawaii and looks towards the future, he mentions the leaders here; how they live their lives and how they talked through issues with him. They’ve encouraged him to bring everything before the Lord.
“I have huge respect for them. I love the relationships with people here.
“Coming into this environment was intimidating at first glance but the DTS and the leaders do the best job of hearing God’s voice.
God meets you completely where you are at. The DTS is so inviting for anyone. Your day never goes to waste.”
By Jaime Gomez
Port YWAM Kona Communications Staff