October 17, 2014
The story of Youth With A Mission is the story of a young couple that, in many ways like Abraham in the Bible, obediently responded to what they understood to be God’s voice inviting them to walk with Him into an unseen future. With little more than a promise that He would bless their efforts, in 1963 Loren and Darlene Cunningham followed the only One they had found worthy of absolute loyalty and unswerving love. In their case, it was a call to partner with Him in a global effort to mobilize the youth of the their generation to take their place in fulfilling the Great Commission. Though it would be years before Loren’s vision of ocean waves becoming waves of young people crashing onto the shores of every continent, that grand vision eventually became a reality.
In its 50 plus years of existence, YWAM ministries around the world have literally seen tens of thousands of young people mature into faithful ambassadors of Jesus Christ confidently taking the good news of the Kingdom by way of evangelism, training and mercy ministries all over the globe.
No one, including the Cunninghams, could have ever anticipated the far-reaching implications their decision to say “Yes” to Jesus would one day have. In the years that followed, young people by the hundreds from all around the world began to say, “yes” to the missions call that resonated in their own hearts and minds. Today, YWAM is a missionary force that now enlists more than 18,000 full time workers in 1100 operating locations in 180 nations. Interestingly, though significantly larger in numbers, the DNA of YWAM has remained much the same throughout its 50-year history. Though every age group is now well represented, we remain YOUTH with a Mission, still deeply committed to reaching the world for Jesus through the training and mobilization of young men and women.
Our story shares a clear family resemblance with the thousands of other YWAM stories, large and small, that you will hear from the lips of YWAMers all over the world. We began our journey with a handful of people in 1985 that felt called by God to join hearts and lives together in an effort to launch a new ministry in a little known corner of Western Montana. Today, whether a remnant of the few who pioneered the ministry in 1985 or a recent new-comer to the now 160 staff, together we still are doing our heartfelt best to love and follow Jesus while playing our respective parts. Whether running a school, leading a team, swinging a hammer, cooking a meal or running an office, our ongoing call is to complete the assignment God gave us so many years ago to see the next generation equipped and ready to receive and respond to their Kingdom assignment with the same joy and confidence with which our founders started out so may years ago, still trusting that the One who loves and calls us is still well able to empower us to complete the race he has called us to run.