Our YWAM base has an average staff of thirty and is located in a beautiful, historic, character home. From here we run specialized Discipleship Training Schools (DTS): Snowboarders, Backpackers, and “Around the World in 80 Days”. We also offer a Bible Core Course (BCC) and Basic Leadership School (BLS). This is no institution but rather a home away from home, with awesome country style meals, great fellowship and radical teaching.
History of the Base
The base at Oxford was founded in 1992. The big old house on the property was originally built in 1870 and owned by the Anglican Church. The first occupant of the house was a minister, a missionary from England. Not only did he plant a church in Oxford, but he also dedicated many hours each week praying that God would raise up a mission force from this small town to go and extend God’s kingdom everywhere. Today his prayer is being answered as 140 young people are sent out on short and long term mission trips every year from the Oxford base.
Since the 1.2-hectare property was gifted to the Mission, more buildings have been built or relocated on. A neighbouring house was purchased in 2004, giving a total capacity of seventy live-in staff and students.
Base directors since 1992 include Bob Scroggins (USA), Luis Lemmons (NZ), Boyd Henderson (NZ), and Chris D. (NZ).
Discipleship Training Schools
In 1998, the student and staff numbers were at an all time low. The leadership prayed and asked God for a new strategy; perhaps a new beginning that would revive the work again. The Lord pointed to Psalm 121:1 “I lift my eyes to the hills; where does my help come from? It comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” As we looked at our beautiful hills and mountains, the idea came to us to start a Snowboarders DTS (SDTS) . Not only could our winter term students enjoy that amazing white stuff, but we could see the potential of discipling a specific “new tribe” – snowboarders, who, after being discipled, could return to their nations or go into unreached nations and have a mighty impact in reaching snowboarders everywhere for Jesus.
The first SDTS had eight students, the second thirteen, then twenty-five, thirty-two, thirty-six, thirty eight… God’s word has born fruit. Not only do we have a thriving winter DTS, but several successful snowboarding related ministries have developed in other places in the world as a result.
The Lord was consulted about our summer DTS. How would that relate to the “lift your eyes to the hills”? He showed us to start a Backpackers DTS (BDTS). A discipleship school that would be for backpackers as well as outreaches to backpackers. The school grew faster than the SDTS! Students enjoy the amazing natural beauty of South Island New Zealand; hiking, climbing, and camping during the lecture phase of the school. In the outreach, they split up into teams of six to eight, take one of the YWAM vehicles and simply head out, looking for adventure and divine encounters with the hundreds of thousands of young backpackers that flock to Middle Earth, Narnia, New Zealand, every southern summer. Some teams prefer to go on an overseas outreach like nearby Australia or the Pacific Islands.
The international backpacking community is growing every year as young people leave home, looking for adventure, and many in search of truth. They are a mission field that few Christian ministries are targeting. The BDTS is one that is reaching out, meeting a need, and bearing fruit.
Around the World in 80 Days seems a strange name for the third DTS that was started in 2004. The first school had eleven students, the second thirty-six, the third has been capped at 42! Why such interest? Why is this school so successful? The history of the AW80 DTS started with a comment by Ralph Winter in his 2002 editorial of Frontier Missions magazine. He asked why, despite forty years of short-term missions trips out of the US that exposes millions of young people to the reality and needs of the unreached world, that the long-term missions force continues to decline. His conclusion was that most of these young people had been exposed to the third world and its needs, but few have been purposefully introduced to long term workers from their own cultures, who are committed to the long haul, having sacrificed all for the sake of taking the gospel to the unreached. He believed a focused exposure such as this would help young people identify with long term, committed missionaries challenged by the missionaries’ lives, the young people will be inspired to go and do likewise..
The leadership of YWAM Oxford decided to put together a DTS that would expose students to these long-term, committed heroes of the faith. To allow them to observe their way of life; where they live, what they eat, how they educated their children, see different ways of “doing” missions. Various missionaries include tent making skateboarders to fully sponsored church planters, singles and married, younger and older, teams and individuals, etc. In addition to “observing,” these students serve those they meet in any way they can. It could be painting a fence or preparing a church service, playing soccer, sharing their testimony, or teaching English.
The world is a very big place and obviously the students can’t visit every nation in the three-month outreach. So, they can choose. There are seven or eight teams to choose from that travel from “down under,” up through Australia, Asia, Africa, South America, Europe, the Middle East…all meeting up for graduation in Israel for a tour of the Holy Land and a graduation on the Mount of Olives where Jesus said to His disciples, “Go ye therefore…”
This school has a strong missions emphasis from beginning to end. Students are encouraged to consider taking further training, which could include one of the many Schools of Frontier Missions that YWAM offers. Hopefully, many of our graduates would join those heroes that leave home and country for the love of those who wait in darkness for a Great Light…
Bible Core Course
This twelve-week intensive, inductive Bible course is a core requirement for all the University of the Nations academic degrees. Roger and Julie Philpott are the pioneers of this school in Oxford which they started in 2000 and continue to lead. Many of our own DTS graduates, as well as those from other places, enjoy the beautiful, peaceful setting that Oxford offers for uninterrupted study. This is a great school for getting up to speed on Bible knowledge as well as teaching the students how to continue effectively studying the Bible throughout their lives. (see BCC)
Basic Leadership School
This apprenticeship style leadership training has been a part of staff training at the Oxford base since 1992. All new DTS staff are required to be part of this hands on course. As well as staffing two DTS’s, the student is required to attend three hours of leadership lectures per week, submit a weekly journal, and complete three book reports. As with all our schools, this is registered with the University of the Nations and receives degree level credit. There is no charge for this school. (see BLS)