Northern Rivers, New South Wales, Australia

The recent death of visionary and Youth With A Mission (YWAM) founder, Loren Cunningham, in Kona Hawaii, has sent shockwaves through the international community.

I have no doubt though, that there is much celebration in heaven as another good and faithful servant reaches the ‘pearly gates’.

Loren Cunningham

Loren Cunningham. PICTURE: Courtesy of YWAM


"Sometimes known as the ‘deregulator of missions’, Loren brought change to the structure of a missionary when he created the opportunity for young people to serve on the mission field in a short-term capacity, across all the nations and voluntarily."

A statement that simply said "Loren is with Jesus" was released by YWAM to announce his passing on 6th October.

Sometimes known as the "deregulator of missions", Loren brought change to the structure of a missionary when he created the opportunity for young people to serve on the mission field in a short-term capacity, across all the nations and voluntarily.

I was one of those young people, although at 26 years of age, I was probably at the higher end of the median.  

According to his obituary published on the YWAM website, Loren was called to the Great Commission while kneeling at the altar during a revival meeting in 1948 at the age of 13. God spoke to him through Mark 16:15 – “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”

This was further confirmed to him in a vision when he was preparing to minister in the Bahamas in 1956. He was staying in a missionary’s home, kneeling beside the bed, praying for his talk that night. He said he then saw a map of the world, only it was alive and moving.

“I could see all the continents, and waves were crashing onto their shores. Each wave went onto a continent, then receded, then came up further until it covered the continent completely,” he wrote in an excerpt from his book, Is That Really You, God?

“The waves became young people – kids my age and even younger – covering all the continents of the globe. They were talking to people on street corners and outside bars. They were going from house to house and preaching the Gospel. They came from everywhere and went everywhere, caring for people.”

And so, the missionary work of YWAM was established in 1960.

I travelled to YWAM in Denver, Colorado in 1994 to attend their three month long Discipleship Training School which would then be followed by missionary work across the US and into Mexico.

YWAM for me was a refuge. I had left Australia having quit my job and escaped a toxic relationship that threatened to derail my relationship with God. Young people from my church had already done the same course and were coming back with glowing recommendations.

I felt God calling me to take time out and renew a right relationship with him again. So I did.

The Denver base is near the foot of the Rocky Mountains and each morning I would take in the vista and be reminded of Psalm 121 – “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

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For that time, YWAM became my sanctuary, my greenhouse of spiritual repair, allowing me to re-establish my priorities and relationship with God again. It also gave me a fire to continue to go into all the world and share Jesus’ love. 

It was during this time I felt called to go to Spain, so I applied to be on staff at the YWAM base in Madrid.

After completing my DTS, I travelled to London to work for a while, then once accepted by the YWAM base in Spain, travelled to Madrid in 1995. I worked there in administration, hospitality and support for the DTS school held there.

Loren and his wife Darlene have also established King’s Kids International, the University of the Nations, YWAM Ships (currently 28 are serving the most isolated coastlands and islands) and numerous other missions globally.

For me, however, I can only be so grateful to the man who listened to God’s calling and provided a channel for me to rediscover my worth in God and my purpose on this Earth.

Celebrate loudly in Heaven, Loren Cunningham.