“Just go over to the house sometime, they’d love to meet you!”
Fresh to Tauranga, New Zealand, friends had raved about the YWAM Furnace community. My new university was right next door to where their current Discipleship Training School was running, and I wanted to meet them. I’d heard about DTS all my life and it had taken God’s very-clear guidance for me to do a teaching degree instead. I loved the multicultural chatter of YWAM, the real-time missionary stories, and just hanging out with people who loved Jesus well.
However, one brisk, autumn afternoon, I stood frozen at the start of the YWAM house’s driveway, soon after my friend urged to “just go over!”. Crinkled leaves blanketed the gravel, but I didn’t want to take another step through them. I double-checked the text that said it was alright to visit, and nervously smoothed out my coat.
All I could do was just be myself—and it freaked me out.
For long as I could remember, I always felt slightly out-of-place. My parents were from New Zealand, yet I was born and raised in the USA. I was six years old when I found out that I had a different accent than them. It didn’t bother me too much until I started realising that I didn’t quite think the same as kids at church or on my soccer team. I was forever “straddling the fence”… not quite American, not quite Kiwi, never fully belonging anywhere.
Rather than admit I felt out of place, I quickly discovered that if I was helpful and servant-hearted, I could at least fit in somewhere. Of course, serving at church or at kids camps took work. But hard work was better than feeling excluded, so work hard I did. I made great friends and had fun as I did it, but by high school I was convinced I only belonged because of what I had to offer—what I could do.
At eighteen, I arrived in Tauranga—and suddenly I had nothing to offer. My university schedule was so packed I didn’t want to volunteer at a church just yet, and I couldn’t do the five-month DTS or any other course to be “officially” part of the YWAM community. I could only be… me.
How could that be enough?
In the midst of those crinkled leaves blanketing that long driveway, I took a deep breath. I still don’t remember how I showed up at the doorstep, or got the courage to knock.
What I do remember is the flash of smiles as I was invited in, offered a hot cup of tea, and asked friendly questions about myself. And over the next four years, I’ll never forget the Lord of the Rings marathons, the Fourth-of-July parties (with the ever-patriotic Americans!), and the philosophical banter in the living room that usually ended with a game of Jenga or something of the sort.
And when I had graduated university, done my own DTS in Australia, and come back to New Zealand to work for a season—that’s when God invited me to serve at YWAM Furnace.
Only because I finally knew, without a doubt, that I belonged to a community—and ultimately, to God—without having anything to offer.
And that was enough.
YWAM Furnace NZ Media