YWAM & Loren Cunningham:
Training Young People to Take the Gospel to the World
By Dave Earley
God gave a young man a big vision. Loren Cunningham saw waves of young people being sent from the nations to the nations, ultimately covering every continent with the gospel. From that moment, he has lived a life of bold faith and radical obedience to fulfill the will of God. In 1960 Loren and his wife, Darlene, launched YWAM (Youth with a Mission), a unique missions agency based on exposing young people to global evangelism , discipling them in Live/Learn Environments, and taking them to share the Gospel to the least reached.
Since then, YWAM has grown to become one of the largest mission agencies in the world with over 20,000 full-time missionaries, serving on 1,500 bases in 191 countries. Over 5 million people have now experienced missionary training and participated in outreach efforts with YWAM.
In 1974, Cunningham followed the Lord’s direction to start a mission base and training site at Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii. The vision was to create a launching pad for ministry into Asia and create a place where young people from all over the world can be trained for missions.
The base at Kona now houses seventeen ministries including: aquaponics, movie-making, sustainable living projects, the Uniscript Bible translation project, global mapping that measures the spiritual needs of every person on earth, the arts, Crossfit sports ministry, YWAM Ships, and a prayer room.
The Kona training site also has been developed as University of the Nations. Every quarter, well over a thousand students are studying in ten to twenty schools. Each student spends three months studying and serving at the base and two more months doing outreach at mission bases throughout the world.
In February, I had the opportunity to sit down with Loren Cunningham. The seventy-eight year old spoke with us for over two hours as he shared his passion to get the Bible in every home, every hand, and every heart on the planet. Along with written copies of the Word, he was very excited about how they were creating an audio version of the Scriptures for the illiterate or for those whose languages are not yet in written form.
Loren had just returned from a trip on which he met major Christian leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope, seeking their blessing to give Bibles to the adherents of their groups. (He showed me a selfie of himself talking with the Pope at the Vatican). The goal is to have the Bible available to every person on the planet in their language by 2020.
Loren has modelled a heart that listens to God’s voice and a life that quickly and completely obeys. As a result, he is seeing his original vision fulfilled. Young people are rising up from all over the world to be trained to go back into the world, especially the 10/40 window, taking the Gospel.