We are reaching out to share about the recent happenings and changes taking place in our community and to invite you to stand with us. The purpose of this letter is to connect with people like you who have in one way or another been involved with YWAM Restenäs since the start in 1980. Our aim is that as many as possible would be aware of where we are at today and our need to see a major breakthrough if the work here is to continue.
Before we go further, we want to thank you for the way you have carried this place in your heart throughout the years. And also thank you in advance for taking the time to read the lines below.
Going through a very difficult season.
For the last few years, we have been going through a very difficult season which today leaves us in a hard place. There are many reasons that have brought our community to where we’re at today, and we want to do our best to look at those reasons in the lines below. We are currently working together to find answers to those challenges, but we also want to recognize that we are in need of help. We simply want to be honest with where we’re at and our hope is that you would be inspired to stand with us for the future of YWAM Restenäs.
So what have been the contributing factors
to this challenging seasons?
1 - Decreasing number of staff & students
Over the last years, we’ve seen a persistent decrease in both staff and student numbers. Our courses have been smaller and fewer and being lower numbers of staff than before, this has resulted in low income from both areas.
A painful part of this is also the reality that some of our staff have left hurt and burdened. The last few years have been quite messy and we have failed to organize ourselves properly. This has resulted in creating a stressful and unclear work environment, which in turn has been a burden for some members of the community, creating many misunderstandings and frustrating situations. We want to apologize for missing the mark in this area and we hope you can trust our desire to make things right in the future. We are currently working hard towards creating what we hope will be a healthier work/life environment for all those who join our community, whether as staff or student.
We are also seeking to connect personally with those that might have left hurt, hoping to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. If you would like someone from the leadership team to get in touch with you to talk through something that happened during your time at YWAM Restenäs, please write to us and someone from the Leadership Team will contact you personally.
2 - Lack of purpose and direction
For the last few years, it’s been a challenge for our community to take concrete steps towards our vision, which has resulted in a lack of purpose and direction. It has also made it complicated for us to communicate with others about Restenäs, not always knowing how to invite people to partner with us, and not always doing a good job at welcoming those who came.
The world changes quickly and that requires us to continually lean into God in order to adjust our aim. This is something we’ve realized in a new way during this past season. God has been challenging us to reconsider our ways and how we wanted to implement our vision, making sure we were not simply doing what had always been done before, only because it made us feel comfortable.
This resulted in us slowing down and paying attention to what God wanted to show us. Even though it’s been a long and challenging process, we are also encouraged to see a renewed sense of purpose and direction for our community.
3 - Insufficient fundraising
In October 2015 we celebrated 35 years of YWAM Restenäs. There we invited people to financially support our ministry and we raised a fair amount of monthly support. Afterward we did not manage to implement a clear follow-up system to make sure we both had a good overview of our donors, and we didn’t have a good way to keep in contact with them. We also did very little in the area of fundraising, which today leaves us at a place where our monthly support is very low. We want to take this opportunity to ask for forgiveness for our negligence, especially to those of you that had expressed the desire to support us financially.
4 - Major mandatory infrastructure projects
Our large property comes with big responsibilities. For example, we are required to connect our sewage system to the municipalities. We’ve already invested a substantial sum of money and more is needed (approx. 1 500 000 SEK). We are also obligated to upgrade our fire safety and ventilation systems, both costly projects estimated at 1 000 000 SEK. The raw reality is that we currently don’t have the finances needed to execute these projects.
5 - High renovation costs to host refugees
In 2016, we sensed that God was leading us to welcome refugees. In the midst of this process, we were also aware of the real challenges that might come with opening our community in this way. We faced the difficult reality of making a hard decision in the midst of sometimes very different opinions in the community. We decided to move forward and we invested a large amount of money (that was originally planned to be used for connecting our sewage to the municipality’s system) to bring Ängsgården up to a standard that would meet the authorities’ legal requirements. The plan was to see this money return within 2-3 years through government subventions for hosting refugees.
Unfortunately, things did not turn out the way we expected. At the last minute and with no clear explanation, the contract we had with Migrationsverket was cancelled and we were left with a newly renovated building, very high costs, but no refugees coming to Restenäs. Therefore, there was no money left for the impending sewage connection project.
Where does that leave us today?
Looking at all those factors, it’s not hard to understand why the last few years have been very challenging for us. And a very real consequence of this difficult season is that our finances today are in a critical situation. With this comes a sense of urgency and we need to see a major breakthrough in the coming months.
We also recognize that we haven’t done a good job at calling for help in time. It is not always easy to grasp reality. Especially in the context of community, where opinions can be as diverse as there are people. It took us a long time to come in agreement as to the seriousness of our current situation. ‘’Why’s that?’’, you might ask. Well, perhaps a complex mixture of sheer optimism, inexperience, faith, naivety, pride and stubbornness? All those elements entangled together and keeping us from realizing the harsh reality of our situation. It’s hard to tell what is what, but what we do realize is that our call for help should have come earlier and it didn’t. And for that we ask for your forgiveness.
Since the beginning of the spring, we as a leadership team have been receiving help and advice from a group of senior YWAM leaders who are committed to walk with us in this difficult season. We are thankful for their willingness to come alongside us and their help and input have already proven to be very precious for the challenges we are facing.
So, where are we heading now?
In the midst of this very difficult situation, we are choosing to hold on to hope because of what God has been showing us in the past few months; a new way to be a community and a renewed sense of clarity to walk into the vision He has given us. And this gives us the strength and courage needed to face the mountain ahead.
So what does that look like? Our vision hasn’t changed: we still want to see people encounter God’s renewal in a way that sparks them onwards to impact Sweden and the nations with His kingdom. But unlike how we structured ourselves and worked in the past, we are now moving towards living out our vision by functioning as an entrepreneurial playground. The idea is simply to see Restenäs grow as a cluster of diverse and dynamic teams that would both function as rich learning & discipleship environments, all the while working with and addressing the needs and problems of today’s society, both locally and abroad.
We believe that through this idea, God is giving us new keys in helping us reimagine the way we train & educate people, as well as taking us outside of the box when it comes to concretely working with and addressing our world’s most pressing needs.
Our aim is that this playground environment would function as an inspiring soil into which we get to welcome young people and their massive creativity & potential, seeing them grow and sparked onwards to impact the world with God’s Kingdom.
That being said, we do understand that words like entrepreneurship & entrepreneurs might sound strange for some of you and you might be wondering: what is the connection between a mission movement like YWAM and entrepreneurship?
So what do we mean when we are using those words? Well to put it simply, we are going back to the original root of these words. From the beginning, an entrepreneur was someone who undertook & pioneered. They were the people who saw the challenges and problems around them and chose to do something about it, moving heaven and earth in the process and never quitting, whatever may come their way.
And that is the meaning we are going back to when we talk about this entrepreneurial playground. And this is the kind of people we are aiming to inspire, train and launch from Restenäs; a new wave of young people, full of faith and creativity, going to the least, the last and the lost with the good news of the Kingdom! That is what we believe God is showing us and that is the vision we are now walking towards as a community.
At this point, we intentionally don’t want to go into more details as we realize the urgency of our current situation and our need to see a major breakthrough for the work at YWAM Restenäs to even continue. We are currently working on the shaping of this new implementation of our vision and we will keep you updated with more details on how things will be developing in the coming months.
So there you have it friends, an honest look at where we’re at and what we are facing. We are right now in a very challenging situation and we want to humbly recognize that we cannot do it by ourselves. We need help. We need your help.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. We hope that you are being inspired to stand together with us, believing like us that Restenäs’ time is not over and that there is much more that God wants to see happen in and through this place.
Isak & Beatrice Oscarsson
Mikael & Tiina Lamberth
The YWAM Restenäs Leadership Team,
together with the community
Fill in the form below to stand with us!