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Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, is a tropical, diverse and multicultural city. It is home to residents from more than 60 nations and 70 ethnic backgrounds. It is strategic as a gateway to Asia as it is located closer to Jakarta than to Canberra, and nearer to Singapore than to Melbourne. The Northern Territory also has the greatest percentage of Aboriginal Australians who represent many tribal groups; from coastal and island people to inland desert people.

Today, YWAM Outback is committed to mobilising young people to mission, particularly Australians, while also desiring to equip and empower those marginalised and disadvantaged within the nations to the north.

Their mandate is to be a spring board through which many will go into the northern areas of this continent but more particularly into Asia.

Growing outwards

Over the years they have offered many Discipleship Training School (DTS) programs, and in recent years have seen these teams travelling for weeks at time to many of the nations in South East Asia; Thailand, Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia.

They have a strong focus on mercy ministry with an office of Australian Relief and Mercy Services (ARMS) established here in 1998 and, since the unrest in East Timor in 1999 have continued to relate closely to YWAM there.

In 2006 they were led to offer Mission Adventures as a short-term missions program and since then have seen almost 700 young Australians participate, with many testifying of this being a life changing experience.

A little history

YWAM was initially represented in Darwin when David and Helen Esdaile along with their children arrived from Goulburn and developed a local ministry while also having a focus towards Indonesia. They remained in Darwin from May 1984 until the end of 1987.

In early 1989, an outreach team from what was then YWAM Goulburn led by pioneers Joe and Sue Sheehy arrived in Darwin with a focus to reopen the YWAM ministry.

During a prayer walk one day, two young students from their team stumbled across a derelict building which had once been hostel accommodation, destroyed by Cyclone Tracy.

The students felt the Lord tell them He wanted to give the property to their team as a more permanent ministry centre.

Through a wonderful mix of miraculous provision from God, faith and obedience along with much hard work this property became the home of YWAM Outback and remains so to this day.

The Sheehy’s, in developing and leading the ministry in Darwin, were also involved in many of the pioneering aspects of YWAM Australia in that season. Joe and Sue stepped back from leadership in early 1994, handing over to Chris Harrison who had arrived with a clear calling from God as a new staff member during 1989.

Chris and Gina, and later with their family, effectively co-ordinated ministry out of Darwin for the following nine years. As YWAM Outback grew, they continued to partner with the local church and led many successful Arafura Games outreaches by hosting YWAM teams from many of our other Australian bases. Along with their staff team in Darwin they also ran a number of DTS programs and saw an effective youth ministry established within local Darwin high schools.

Ministry has continued to develop and grow in YWAM Outback and when David and Mia Giltinan got the call from God in late 2002 to move from YWAM Townsville and join the growing team in Darwin they obeyed. In January 2003, the family made the move and for many years Dave’s passion for worship along with Mia’s heart and compassion for the needs of women and children across this region provided many wonderful opportunities to reach out to the community.

Dave and Mia’s leadership and the partnership with YWAM Townsville continued to strengthen ministry within the city and out into South East Asia. They also led a number of DTS programs and were heavily involved in pioneering Mission Adventures in Darwin.

In 2009, due to unforeseen circumstances with family, Dave and Mia took leave from ministry in Darwin. So early in 2010, Jen Keatch was asked to take on the role as Base Leader after having served at YWAM Outback since September 1995.

Throughout the history of YWAM here in our city, we remain grateful to God for His leading and faithful provision, and give thanks for all those who, over the years, have come and invested themselves into the community and ministry in this ruggedly beautiful part of Australia.

Come and visit us in Australia’s outback, or if you are interested in training or serving with us, please get in touch.