Home Forums Ex-gay/reparative/conversion therapy survivor stories My experience with Youth With a Mission in the 1980s

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  • baz201
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    I grew up in the Uniting Church. My mother, whom I’d been close to as a child died when I was 15. She had started a healing group at her church, but unfotuneately it did not stop her cancer from taking her life. I had known I was gay since coming out at school age 17 in Canberra and then going back in the closet at age 19 as I found it all too scary after tasting the gay scene in the early 80’s in Sydney as a teenager.

    At A.N.U. in 1987, I joined a university Students’ Christian group called “Students For Christ”, which was really much more like a Christian cult. I was looking for answers to rid myself of my sexuality…. any sexuality. SFC was very spiritually abusive, but I will tell that story elsewhere in this forum. In many ways it was worse than the following story.

    At the end of 1987 I went with a group called “Youth with a Mission” to Bali, where we did some beach mission work. Students for Christ were very focused on missionary outreach and we were all encouraged to go and do it.

    Through “Youth with a Mission” (YWAM), I found out about a six month course they did called Discipleship Training School (D.T.S.). I signed up to do the school in Brisbane in 1988. It was three months of brainwashing in right-wing Christian fundamentalist thinking, straight out of the Bible belt of the United States, and then three months of outreach. As I was stone broke at the time I did not go on the overseas outreach which some students did, but stayed in Queensland doing various evangelism activities mainly on the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast. Again I can remember anti-LGBT teachings during this “training”. One of the doyennes of the Youth with a mission empire was a Kiwi woman named Joy Dawson. I remember watching videos of her saying how she spent six years praying on her knees to God for him to show her his will and his work for her life. I also remember her saying that “ somebody asked me if I would like to read about lesbians so that I could know more about them. I told them, no I don’t want to read that filth. I only want to know about the holiness of God.” I got the message.

    I also went in front of the student group and confessed to them that I had been involved in the gay scene in Sydney in my younger years, and they all prayed for me. Of course nothing ever changed in terms of my sexuality. I’m pretty sure that I probably also had “demon deliverance” from some visiting preachers to the D.T.S., but of course it did not work.

    The end of that year, after we had done the Queensland outreach, a group of people who were on the next discipleship training school overlapped with us for a few days. Amongst them was a young man who was the son of a minister. This young guy was obviously gay, and he had been trying to slit his wrists, I would imagine because of the turmoil he was being put under. I remember the blood.

    When I finally finished the Discipleship Training School, I was told by one of the leaders that I had not completed it successfully and that I need to come back and do another one. Forget that! I didn’t have any money anyway.

    I returned to Canberra to finish my last year at uni and did not go near any church for another year.

    Sue G
    Post count: 14

    Hi Baz, Thanks for sharing your story. I too experienced this sort of right-wing Christian Fundamentalist conversion treatment when I was young: especially at University and in the Bundeena/Moombara Christian Community (cult). Some of my friends at High School were involved with YWAM but fortunately,I didn’t. The Pentecostal camps and Bundeena were more than enough to brainwash me as to how evil and sinful I was! Thankfully gay conversion “treatment” is not as common these days, but we all need to work to make sure young people are not subjected to it in churches or indeed, in any other situation. All the best to you. Sue G.

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