Loren Cunningham graphic (Charisma staff)
Imagine being a young believer, asking God to direct you—and suddenly He shows you a world map that is moving before your very eyes. Waves crash over each country and eventually take over entire continents.
For 20-year-old Loren Cunningham, the vision was startling. As he watched, the waves “became young people,” he remembers. “Kids my age and even younger, covering the continents. They were talking to people on the street corners and outside bars. They were going house to house. They were preaching.
“Was that really you, Lord?” Cunningham wondered, in awe that God might be calling him to a launch a worldwide youth movement. “What an idea!”
Just five years later, Cunningham started Youth With A Mission. That was in 1960, and today YWAM is one of the most influential mission movements in history.
Cunningham has empowered tens of thousands of young people by assuring them that God really does talk to them and is ready to work through them to do miracles to fulfill the Great Commission. You can find YWAMers, as they’re called, all over the planet, often in the most remote locations. More than 18,000 serve in 140 nations and even on the high seas, where Marine Reach acts as sailing hospitals that travel the world bringing medical relief.
Fifty-five years later, the army of young people that Cunningham still mobilizes shows no signs of slowing down. Some who joined YWAM in the 1960s are still serving and so are their grandchildren. And today the organization isn’t just for youth; many join as a second career or after retirement.
What an idea, indeed.—Diana Scimone