“Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on a pilgrimage.” - Psalms 84:5
Everyone is on some sort of pilgrimage. However, there's a specific group of people - BACKPACKERS - who long for adventure, exploration, and self-discovery. More than 350,000 backpackers journey to New Zealand every year, many of them young adults from different countries, backgrounds and worldviews who are seeking and asking the hard questions about life, about God, and about their futures. The Pilgrimage DTS is for ADVENTURERS who long to EXPLORE the truth and freedom of God before turning to invite others into that amazing reality.
Maybe it's time for you to go on a pilgrimage with God. Really go after Him. Allow Him to show Himself to you through His creation. Get away from the "norm" for a while, and get in touch with your wild side. You've got nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
The first 3 months of the Pilgrimage DTS (the lecture phase) is for YOU. This is your time to place your focus on God, going deeper with Him and beginning to understand His incredible goodness and wildness. This is your opportunity to open up to Him and be real about your struggles and triumphs, your questions and convictions, and your wounds and scars, in turn finding Him to be your Father, Healer, Comforter, Warrior, and Sustainer. You will have teaching, both inside a classroom and out tramping some EPIC mountains trails, in order to really know and experience this God. You will build relationships with fellow students from all over the world, learning to be a part of a community that is accepting, loving, challenging, and encouraging. You will live on the property of our training centre in Tauranga, NZ, surrounded by beautiful New Zealand countryside, and you will also get to spend some time camping and backpacking in other parts of New Zealand’s north island. It won’t often be easy, and it will stretch you spiritually, mentally, and physically. But if you come looking for God, you will find Him...and probably a lot of FUN, FRIENDS, and ADVENTURE along the way.
Your lecture phase is in preparation for the 2-month outreach that follows, when you will have the opportunity to SPREAD THE FIRE that God has ignited in your heart. Most of our outreaches take place in the Southeast Asia or Pacific regions (including New Zealand itself) and generally involve activities like practical work, prayer ministry, street evangelism, and leading church services or Bible studies. However, we are hoping that you also discover how to live with a lifestyle of naturally sharing your faith. As we journey to different parts of the world, you’ll see how easily conversation happens when you have received the love of the Father and carry a heart filled with love for every person. The purpose of this phase of DTS is first and foremost for you to grow in the practical outworking of your faith and ADVANCE THE KINGDOM OF GOD in the nations of the earth! However, you may have the opportunity to use backpacking as a tool for reaching out! Prepare to have your mind blown with what God is capable of doing through you!
Check out the “CURRICULUM” tab to find out some of the things you’ll need for the school.
Please Note: All of our DTS's join together weekday mornings for combined lectures, worship, and intercession. The main lectures cover topics like Hearing God's Voice, Relationships, the Nature and Character of God, and the Holy Spirit, to name a few. Normally in the afternoons throughout the week, each individual school will have specific focus groups, also known as streams. The streams are tailor made to focus on each school theme. The lecture phase of the Pilgrimage DTS will include 3-4 backpacking trips (away from the training centre), along with weekly classes on outdoor skills and evangelism to travelers.
Our Discipleship Training Schools are registered with the University of the Nations but not for the purposes of accreditation as U of N is not an accredited University as stated on their web site.
During the DTS, you will have a Pilgrimage class most weeks that we are at the training centre. This class will focus on the following topics:
- Pilgrimage in the Bible
- Backpacking Skills
- Risk Management
- Practical Evangelism (with a focus on reaching out to backpackers)
- Worldview Training - understanding different worldviews and growing in a biblical worldview
Fitness Level Required
Here's the deal. Yes, we will be doing some pretty crazy and challenging outdoor activities, but the truth is, you don't need to be someone who could survive in the wilderness all on your own for months at a time in order to come to this DTS. As beneficial as some previous outdoor adventure experience could be, it's not required for this school.
However! You will need to be physically and mentally prepared to participate in the school. There's a real good chance you'll be dealing with things like heights, enclosed spaces, extreme weather, carrying a full backpack, hiking on rough terrain, and possibly some activities having to do with water. So as long as you are physically and mentally able to participate, don't worry - we will provide the adventure!
Personal Gear Required
While we will be providing group backpacking gear such as tents and cooking equipment, each student will be required to bring his or her own personal gear. This will include items such as a backpack (designed for multiple-day trips), sleeping bag, sleeping pad, rain gear, and hiking boots/shoes. This equipment will need to be good quality, designed for backpacking outdoors, and still in good working order (as in, it won’t fall apart or stop working while we’re out hiking). Note that this list isn’t exhaustive - a more comprehensive list will be included in your information packet should you apply for and be accepted to the school.
Potential Hiking Locations
The potential locations of our mid-school trips are generally as follows (click for more info):
Lake Waikaremoana. This was a week long trip hiking around a huge lake in the Te Urewera National Park. During the hike we had lectures and ministry time led by our guest speaker, Matthew Jeffares!