Discipleship training strengthens faithWhen Katie Carlson went overseas, she came home with a stronger faith.
By: Jo Colvin, Alexandria Echo Press
When Katie Carlson went overseas, she came home with a stronger faith.
A 2006 graduate of Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Carlson recently spent six months in Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia through Youth With Mission (YWAM) Discipleship Training School (DTS).
YWAM is a non-denominational Christian organization dedicated to serving Jesus throughout the world. Its main focus is to get youth into short-term mission work and to give them opportunities to reach out in Jesus' name.
The DTS, which aims to form Christian character and establish Biblical relationships, is a Christian training course that begins with an 11- or 12-week classroom phase followed by a 12-week outreach.
Carlson first heard about DTS as a senior in high school, and knew right away it was something she wanted to do. After two years of college, unsure of her plans for the future, she decided that there was no time like the present.
“I had no idea where I wanted to go with the rest of my life,” she said. “It seemed like a good thing to do while I figured things out.”
Carlson’s classroom phase took place in Perth, Australia, where she stayed for three months attending classes on topics such as repentance and forgiveness, and learning about the Bible.
“I learned a lot,” Carlson said. “I really got into the Bible and understanding that a lot better. In every aspect I learned something new.”
From Australia it was on to the Philippines, where the real work would begin – building relationships with people and spreading the word. Carlson’s team of 12 spent time in Cebu, Subric and Manila in the Philippines.
“Our goal there was to help out and show God’s love in any way,” Carlson said.
In each city, they concentrated on the poor areas, working about 12 hours each day. The group painted a mural in a slum area, held vacation Bible school, volunteered with feeding programs, picked up trash, played games and worked with children, put on church services, performed dramas and had day camps for teenagers.
“We talked about God and our faith and our beliefs,” she explained. “We talked with people and built relationships.”
Carlson also taught an adult Sunday school class, where she spoke on Lordship and surrendering everything over to God.
“It was a great experience for me,” she said. “I really found myself finding a passion behind what I was saying.”
In Manila, Carlson was able to help some people living near Smoky Mountain. But it wasn’t a scenic visit. The “mountain” is a pile of garbage so huge that it actually steams.
“That’s what they do for a living,” she said. “They go through it and see what they can salvage and what they can sell.”
When their work in the Philippines was complete, the DTS team traveled to Bali, Indonesia. It was here that Carlson had her most rewarding experience when she took part in a ministry that was trying to help young girls escape lives of prostitution. Carlson spent time with a 13-year-old girl who couldn’t find a way out of the life she had been forced into.
“She is in this situation and has to be a prostitute and she doesn’t have an option or another way out,” Carlson said. “She was just scared, really. It was a really sad situation.”
Along with focusing on the prostitution ministry, in Indonesia Carlson also helped at an orphanage and taught English at a school, along with mingling in the community and building relationships with its people.
Carlson returned from her six-month discipleship at the end of June. She feels like she is a better person because of it and would recommend it to others.
“I had such a great time while being there and have really been able to grow in a relationship with God,” she concluded. “I felt like I could see His heart in certain situations. I could see that something was happening.”