As many of you already know, I will be taking a gap year in between high school and college. In January 2017, I am going to Ukraine for an extended mission trip with Youth With A Mission, or YWAM. My base is located in a town called Vinnytsia. At the moment, it's far enough away from the Russian border and isn't being affected by the fighting, so for now, it remains my destination. I don't know anyone else who is going yet. I suspect they will mostly come from Europe and be around my age.
In case you haven't heard, here's a little information about YWAM. YWAM was founded in 1960 by Loren Cunningham, who had a vision of sending wave upon wave of young people as missionaries into the world. Today, YWAM is a global non-profit organization with more than a thousand bases all over the world. Each one is run differently and has a unique focus, but they generally follow the same structure and basic principles. There are several levels of training at YWAM, the most common being a DTS, or Disciple Training School. The DTS has two phases: Lecture and Outreach. The Lecture Phase involves seminars from the staff and guest speakers from around the world, mostly focusing on hearing God's voice and evangelizing. In the Outreach Phase, you are sent to a different YWAM base (usually in another country) and work solely on mission work. Each phase usually lasts 3 months, so six months in total.
My DTS is called Compassion, and it focuses on helping orphans. The Vinnytsia base actually primarily focuses on orphans and does the DTS on the side. During the Lecture Phase, we will be serving in orphanages, visiting the baby hospital, connecting with homeless people and combatting human trafficking. This will continue into the two-month Outreach Phase. We will pray and ask the Lord to show us where that location will be.
The base is run by David and Tetyana Yarbrough, who used to go to Belmont Church. This summer they'll be visiting Nashville and I'll meet with them for the first time. After that, I'll have more details about the DTS and the geopolitical situation in Eastern Europe. Vinnytsia is located in Western-Central Ukraine, and, at the moment, it's not being affected by the fighting. They just wrapped up their 2016 DTS a few days ago with no problems, as far as I know.
If you would like to donate to my trip, you can go here.