I remember when God was calling me into missions. Raising support was something that terrified me. Honestly, I was filled with self-doubt and didn’t feel worthy of support. But everyone who joins YWAM needs to face this, no matter what culture you are from.
Before we start exploring the value "practicing dependence on God in different cultural contexts," let us re-read the value.
16. Practice dependence on God
YWAM is called to practice a life of dependence upon God for financial provision. For individuals and for any YWAM team or community, this comes primarily through His people. As God has been generous toward us, so we desire to be generous: giving ourselves, our time, and talents to God with no expectation of remuneration.
When we look at the world, there are individualistic cultures and collectivistic cultures. Individualists see themselves apart from others and make decisions accordingly. These are generally considered western cultures. Where collectivists think of themselves as a part of the group and decisions are based on the group. These are typically regarded as non-western cultures.
How does the YWAM value “Practice dependence on God” apply to individualists and collectivists? How does God provide for us in YWAM? Traditionally, everyone in YWAM is responsible for raising their personal support, which is more individualistic. Collectives get their needs met from the collective. Currently, the wording of the value would allow collectives to trust God as a collective for their needs to be met. We can see this in the Bible when Jesus and His disciples received support as a collective (Luke 8:3). However, there are times when problems arise. I have met YWAM leaders in collective cultures who are responsible for raising the support for everyone they lead. This becomes a massive burden for the leader but also limits their followers.
Additionally, another problem arises. Suppose a person or group in the collective believes God is calling them somewhere else. In that case, they may be persuaded not to leave due to the fear of having no support after leaving. Also, they may not want to become leaders because they do not want to carry the burden of raising support for all of their staff. So how do we address the problem?
I lived in Asia for 20 years, and I do have a couple of suggestions.
1- The collective should carry the collective. What do I mean by that? The responsibility should not be all on the leader. The group should be looking out for one another.
I am an American, but I am married into a Filipino family. There were times when my brother-in-law needed financial help. He was taking care of my mother-in-law, and his job didn’t pay all that well. My wife and I would give what we could to help them out. Now years later, he is doing much better and is supporting us.
The collective should take responsibility for those in the collective. So if some need help, the collective should jump in as a whole, not just the leader.
2- Everyone should invest. I have seen at times when, in a collective setting, there is a staff who joins YWAM because there is a bed and three meals a day. They don’t invest in the collective. They are more of a “taker” rather than a “giver.” This is a discipleship issue that leaders need to address. This value also addresses generosity. We are all called to be generous. This needs to be a part of our discipleship.
If you are a YWAMer, I would love to hear what you think in regards to this. I am sure there are angles I am not seeing. Please feel free to leave a comment or a question.
In July 2021, I finished my Master's degree at the University of the Nations in Team-based communication. The title of my thesis was "Looking at the Application of Youth With A Mission's Foundational Values Through Different Cultural Lenses." If you like to read it, click here. Blessings.