Soul Quest Ayahuasca - Founder, Chris Young

The world is awakening to a world of self-healing and expanding consciousness. It is also becoming more aware of the limits of traditional western medicine, the dangers of the pharmaceutical industry and its willingness to produce and promote harmful drugs with life-threatening side effects.

Every doctor spends years in medical school. The fact that the pharmaceutical industry is the number one supporter of the American Medical Association (AMA), is highly suspect of their persuasive motives. Too many doctors are very quick to offer pharmaceutical drugs as a solution. Acknowledging mother nature as a gentle yet intelligent life-sustaining solution was never in their training. Too few doctors are willing to step out of their trained conditioning to investigate a holistic approach to their healing. Recognizing that manufacturing pharmaceutical drugs are produced without mother nature’s healing properties in mind has encouraged the awakening public to seek-out holistic medicines.

When powerful pharmaceutical lobbyists can indoctrinate a country, where can you go to find truth in healing? The mainstream American culture is trained from birth to never question a doctor. Don’t question the very same doctors who have been trained by the pharmaceutical industry and who produce and promote harmful drugs with life-threatening side effects. However, more and more wellness centers are appearing all over the world. They are dedicated to providing ancient plant medicine that only pure nature can provide. These centers rely upon the powerful plants and roots used to heal throughout ancient history.

Located in Orlando, Florida, the Soul Quest Ayahuasca Church of Mother Earth Retreat Center is one of the very few places where people can go to find truth in healing. Chris Young, co-founded the Soul Quest Ayahuasca Church of Mother Earth, to assist individuals who are on a path of self-healing. Reaching out his hand to heal a heart is the way of a plant medicine healer or a Shaman. They guide each person through a sacred ceremony using powerful healing shamanic medicines.

The vision gained by Chris Young to create the Soul Quest Ayahuasca Retreat Center came through his own experience and a series of synchronicities following an Ayahuasca conference in the mountains of Spain.  There, he learned about the amazing healing powers of the ancient Amazonian sacred medicine called Ayahuasca, that has been healing people for the past 2,500 years.   Chris experienced the sacred medicine for the first time during an eleven-day ceremony that followed the conference.  It was not until he was back home in Germany that the full force of his quest was made apparent.

After Chris read the book “The Ayahuasca Manifesto”, he understood how this amazing plant medicine could truly help humanity.  Shortly after that, Chris and his wife, co-founder Verena Young, relocated to the United States and attended a multitude of Ayahuasca ceremonies.  Chris then started a formal apprenticeship under the guidance of a traditional Brazilian Medicine Woman where he learned to perform sacred ceremonies in the Amazonian tradition. Ayahuasca is illegal in the United States, but there was no doubt in Chris’s mind that he would be opening the Soul Quest Ayahuasca Retreat Center.

Chris soon found out that the only way that he could bring an Ayahuasca Retreat Center to the United States legally was to create a church. He met with the leaders of the Oklevueha Native American Church (ONAC) and was told that if he became a member and purchased an independent branch of their church, then he would be protected under their legal organizational umbrella and under the freedom of religion act.   This turned out to not be true at all.

Chris wanted the Soul Quest Ayahuasca Retreat Center to be a legal church within the United States. The ONAC could not provide that umbrella of protection that the law required, so Chris formed the Soul Quest Ayahuasca Church of Mother Earth.  Chris then filed a 157-page exemption application to the DEA to officially become a church with Ayahuasca as their sacrament.    The United States per a unanimous 2006 U.S. Supreme Court decision called Gonzales v O Centro Espirata Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, ruled that a church could legally use Ayahuasca as a religious sacrament served in a protected, sacred spiritual ritual, and ideally, closely associated with card-carrying members of those churches.  Soul Quest Ayahuasca Church of Mother Earth has been an active legal church organization for the past two and a half years with over 4000 members.

What inspired you to start the Soul Quest Ayahuasca Church of Mother Earth?

I was inspired by my own personal experience with this medicine in the mountains of Spain and the amazing healing potential I personally witnessed in the ones partaking in the Ayahuasca Ceremony. The transformational work took place on all levels of being – from physical pain relief to breakthroughs with psychological traumas or depression. It was like 10 to 15 years of psychotherapy in one retreat.   I personally found relief from a decade long intense pain in my sciatic nerve. It was just gone.

After returning back to my home in Germany, my experiences in Spain kept coming back into my mind – especially in the night time where I received visions about the healing power of this medicine and my calling to bring it to my home country the United States.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it was the right choice for you? If so, how did you handle that?

After I made the decision to follow my calling to bring Ayahuasca to the United States, there was never a doubt in my mind that this is the right thing to do.  I believe that visionaries with courage and confidence could make this world a better place.  I knew I was doing the right thing and was ready to fight for what I believed could bring much needed healing to my home country.

How do you gain new church members?

We get a lot of our members through social media.  We also get members through word-of-mouth from our church members who have personally experienced the amazing healing effects from the medicine. We also have a veteran support fund that helps pay for veterans with severe PTSD so they can get the help and support they so desperately need. 

How long did it take for you to become a popular church?

I am not sure popular is the best word in this context. We want to bring healing to the people that needs it the most.  There are often treatment resistant people who have exhausted all other conventional options and see us a last hope to find peace and relief from their troubles in life.   These are people who suffer from PTSD from war experiences, childhood traumas, addiction, anxiety and depression. We also get people that have spiritual injuries and they are looking for ways to help them reconnect to their true selves.

There is a lot of information about Ayahuasca on the internet now.  Scientific reports, Youtube-videos, and documentary films like “Ayahuaca Vine Of The Soul”, that make people searching for healing alternatives aware of our work.  Also through the professionalism and spiritual integrity of our work, people often come back for additional ceremonies. With all this said, I think it took us about 2 years before the demand was enough to offer 3 weekend retreats per month.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?

Like I already mentioned, I always knew that this was the right thing to do.  I never gave up the fight for this vision and my dream to bring healing to the United States.  The only hurdle that I had to overcome was the separation of the ONAC church back in 2016, because they could not protect us and our religious sacrament the way we were promised.  So I learned what I needed to become a church that has its own legal protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act from 1993.  I am grateful for the lesson. 

What do you think it is that makes you successful?

The medicine itself, its amazing healing potential, and the transformational experiences people report are unimpeachable on the one hand, but I also think I am a visionary who has the confidence, strength, and courage to aim for this dream despite the risks and obstacles. I also would not be successful without my amazing team that consist of Ordained Ministers,  Psychologists, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Psycho-spiritual Integration Specialists,  Transformational Addiction Recovery Coaches, CPR & First Aid Certified Facilitators, Traditional Shaman from south America, Kambo & Rape’ Practitioners, Holistic Practitioners with specialties in Integrative Nutrition, Acupuncture, Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis and Neurotransmitter Testing.  We also have Energy Healers that offer Master level Reiki, Reconnective Healing, and Chakra balancing.  We have a certified Yoga Instructor that teaches Yoga Classes and Yogic Science and have facilitators of Shamanic Breathwork.

What has been your most satisfying moment in your spiritual career?

I am not sure if it is possible to point out this one special moment in my spiritual career.  There have been a lot of deeply satisfying moments at Soul Quest. People report in our integration circles that they got their soul back, found peace with a deceased father that abused them, moved passed treatment resistant trauma that was burdening them for decades – that’s all beyond anything I’ve ever witnessed in my professional life.  The work at the church with the sacred medicine is deeply satisfying to me spiritually.  It helps people to connect to Divine Spirit.  It’s all the conversions experiences we witness every retreat that makes this work so profound and satisfying. This work also renewed my deep faith in the Great Spirit.  It renewed my compassion for humanity and my belief that this world can be a better place.

What does the future hold for Soul Quest Ayahuasca Church of Mother Earth? What are you most excited about?

We are constantly growing in every way possible – Soul Quest Ayahuasca Church of Mother Earth is very excited about teaming up with Being True to You -Transformational  Addiction Recovery Coaching Program – to offer a revolutionary approach using sacred plant medicine to help our members face addiction that is based on “transformational recovery.” This model focuses on the opportunity of recovery more than the “disease” and problem of addiction. Our program is designed to be activating, motivating, life-changing, practical, and customizable. Through personal transformation a person can naturally mature out of their addiction and achieve success far beyond sobriety, on their own terms.

We also have the award winning movie “From Shock to Awe” – that was filmed at Soul Quest in 2016 – coming into the theaters on Nov 12th.The film shares the story how two Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans, devastated by their experiences in war, found relief from Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD at Soul Quest Ayahuasca Church of Mother Earth after the traditional medical system reached its limits to support them. It also raises awareness of the fact that an average of twenty-two veterans die every day in their homes by their own hands – that’s a higher death rate than occurs abroad in war. This is a true and also devastating reality in the United States that is destroying family lives. This documentary shows that Ayahuasca could be an answer to relieve these veterans, who are broken from the burdens of war and start a journey of hope and transformation.

What books have inspired you?

“Fellowship of the River” by Joseph Tafur

“Listening to Ayahuasca” by Rachel Harris

“The Ayahuasca Test Pilot’s Handbook” by Chris Kilham

“The Ayahuasca Manifesto”

What is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self or young people today?

I would tell my younger self that everything in life happens for a reason. All of the difficulties in life I had to go through during my childhood and youth were necessary to grow and to become the person I am now. So I would tell my younger self to have faith in life and see its challenges as opportunities to grow. Everything that happens in life leads one back to their true selves when we get the value of our life’s lessons. 

What would Chris Young like to share about the Soul Quest Ayahuasca Church of Mother Earth Retreat Center? 

No matter how stuck or hopeless you feel, how deep you’ve fallen or how big the mountain you have to climb, or how grand your passion and vision to turn things around is, we believe the sacred Amazonian medicine we offer here at Soul Quest can help you get your life back on track quickly, effectively, and with the greatest outcomes possible.

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