YWAM Pt. 1

My YWAM experience is going to be split up into 4 parts, I was there for 7 years and I have so much to say. I was hurt, I was spiritually abused, and I was treated like a project from day one. Here are the first 5 months.

The story starts with a text too my mom and the paraphrase goes something like this, “Mom I am in a very hard place, I can’t continue living like this because it is killing me. I need change” The reason I sent her that text is because I was everyone’s go-to person for any struggles they had along with a set of ears to listen to the shit that was going on. I was also going to go transition but being in an Evangelical Christian Context the thought of transitioning freaked me out. Living in that context meant if I came out and followed through with it I was going to hell so I sent my mom that text to get “help.” After she got the text her response was a little like this, “come visit, your dad wants to talk to you and share an option we have for you.” I was hesitant because of how my dad is I didn’t want a beer bottle thrown at my face because I fucked up now I need my parents to bail me out. I started couch surfing when I was 15 years old because of how intense my dad is. So, I went home he didn’t throw a beer at my face like I thought he was going to do, instead, he told me that I could go to YWAM in Tyler, Texas and he would pay for it. I honestly laughed because I knew how much it would cost and said, “Dad, you know it’s $3700 right?” He knew he just wanted me to get a fresh start. The first time my dad ever cared in my life. I was shocked.

From that conversation, I left for YWAM 6 months later and life seemed like it was getting better even before I left meaning I didn’t have to bend over backward for my friends. We took a massive 7-day road trip to drive from Portland, Oregon down to Tyler, Texas and that trip sucked. Being crammed with my family who I had a hard time with for 7 days was hell. All I wanted to do was smoke and sleep. When we got to Tyler, Tx my parents showed me around the campus since they did YWAM back in 92-93 and wanted me to see how AMAZING it was. After driving on the campus for what seemed like an eternity we made it to the cafeteria where we met a staff member who would show me to my dorm room. The walk down to the dorm was hell because it was hot and it seemed like we had been walking forever, once we got down there I noticed that the dorm was held together by duct tape and haywire. The walls where all different styles of wood, the bunks were all scrapped together and the bathroom smelled like vinegar.  It was rough but I was somewhat excited because it meant life was going to change and I was hoping it would change for the best.

The first night in the dorm I made several friends because living so close for 5 months you have to make friends or life will be shit and you won’t last. One of the rules was “no smoking” and I hated that rule since at the time I was smoking 3 packs of Marlboro reds a day and was told I had to quit. That first night I called my dad and with some of the most intense anger just blew up on him. “Why the fuck am I here I cant smoke, I’m in the middle of no-where, and I don’t really know anyone!” His reply, ‘well look you just made it another second and look another one keep going you’ll do just fine.” I made it through that somehow and was able to just smoke a few times throughout my first five months being there. That was the first few days and the story is only beginning.

I also had a girlfriend going to YWAM who was living in Portland, Or and I thought she was going to be the one I was going to marry after YWAM healed me from being transgender. In the back of my mind, I thought YWAM was going to heal me and I wou.d be able to live fully as a man. I was wrong. Back to the girlfriend, as I was going through the first 3 months of YWAM she cheated on me with one of my best friends. That hurt and I fucking hated life. I didn’t know how to move on but I forced myself too and just forgot about her. As the weeks turned into months there was 1 week I will never forget, it was the freakiest, most insane week of my life.

“Plumbline week,” is what the week was called and during the week you sit in a classroom that manipulates you to thinking about your deepest darkest secret like it is wrong and at the end of the week, you are asked to share all the bad things you have done in your life. My secret was I am transgender but I wasn’t about to share that in front of everyone because that idea freaked me out. I know I said I wanted YWAM to heal me but the people that are there are the wrong people and I’ll explain that more in “YWAM PT.3.” So, I lied and I said I had been looking at porn since I was 11 and as soon as I said that the leaders began putting their hands all over me rubbing me and praying the blood of Jesus to cleanse my eyes. I was freaked out but the idea of telling them I am transgender scared me more so I just went with it. Nothing changed I only looked at porn for a short time after I was 11 and haven’t looked at it since. so, that night was more traumatizing then helpful.

After the Plumbline week the rest of the time smoothed out and I was just floating trying to make the best of it to see if I could come out as transgender without being shamed or even sent away. There was never a time like that the entire 7 years I was there.

We left for South Africa for the outreach phase and spent two months working in drug rehabs along with orphanages. The drug rehab was hard as shit because everyone smoked and I wasn’t allowed too since I was apart of YWAM. It sucked but I got over it and once we got to the orphanage outreach seems like a cake walk. We took selfies with the kids and lived life in another nation just for the experience as we didn’t do much more than play with the kids. It seems pointless now that I look back at it, America needs more help before we start going to other nations to get our picture take with the brown babies. (IMO)

We came back to YWAM Tyler and had a debriefing week where we all talked about our outreaches and what “God did.” I was eating it up but still was very unsure. After debriefing week I went back to Portland, Or and told my dad I wanted to go back with a one-way ticket since I had nothing left in Portland. He got me the ticket and a month later I was back in Texas to live long-term not knowing what was going to happen but was excited about a fresh start.

To be continued…

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My name is Sasha Adele Braden, a transgender woman, who is queer and living in freedom. I knew I was transgender at the age of five because my development just seemed off so I had an inclination something was very wrong. I was locked away because of shame and I decided that I was going to take my truth to the grave and never open up to anyone because I was full of fear. That all changed February 14, 2018, when it all came out. I’m free. I’m alive. I’m learning that life isn’t just eating, sleeping, having sex, and going to the bathroom but it is so much more! Learning that has been a blast! I am also co-managing a grassroots organization called, “REFLECT” and it is all about trans and nonbinary expression through community while being able to completely lean on allies. I am super stoked to be doing this and being a safe place for the queer community of Austin, TX. Look up my Facebook page “REFLECT” for more details. With all of that said, welcome to my life. I welcome all types of people and welcome all types of dialogue. So, drop a comment or two on a post every once In a while​ this blog is mainly just a way to let go of trauma from my past. Expressing it has helped me overcome things I thought I was never going to be able to overcome and I’m living in freedom for the first time in my life.

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