Loren Cunningham founded Youth With A Mission (YWAM), the world’s largest mission agency, in 1960. The organization has now 12,000 fulltime staff members and missionaries all around the world.
At the YWAM Global Passion Conference in February at the FineLine Center in Liverpool Cunningham explained how God gave him the vision to start YWAM and why the theme of the conference was “World Mission is for you, whoever you are and whatever you do.'”
Cunningham said, "For me personally, the Vision of YWAM started when I was 13, and God spoke to me at that time to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. Then it was in 1956, in the islands of the Caribbean that God spoke to me on a Wednesday afternoon at 3 o'clock. I was praying for my message that night-I was speaking to about 200 young people. There were 5 of us young men out there in the islands. And God gave me this picture of waves of millions of young people going to every nation on earth. And I saw the multiplication of what we had done a little bit about and He was simply taking it and multiplying it to the nations of the earth. And since that time, by 1995, we've seen already over 3 million young people serving short-term with Youth With A Mission."
In a follow-up interview with Peter Wooding, Cunningham also talks about the importance of a missionary and shares what that has meant in his life.
Peter Wooding: The message here is that 'missions is for everyone'. What would you say to people-that they all have a part to play?
Loren Cunningham: For the Body of Christ it is literally that every person in the world has a mission. I believe that you are either a missionary or a mission-field. You're either part of God's answer or part of His problem. The word 'missionary' means 'one sent.'
"As the Father sent Me," Jesus said, John 20:21, "So send I you." Now, He has sent every one of us. If you are living in your home, in the will of God, then you're God's missionary on that street. And so you're to 'let your light shine so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father that is in Heaven'."
Peter Wooding: So what does the future hold for you and for YWAM? Do you think you'll retire soon or do you think you'll just keep going on?
Loren Cunningham: I don't see a place of stopping, I don't even see passing on a torch. I believe that I can light the torch of others with my flame--I'll share my flame. But the torch goes with me. My parents died, my father just last July, he outlived my mother by a couple of years. But they were in their 90's, and they just radiated the Spirit of Jesus right up 'til their death. Any time they'd get to praying, I could just hear the great strength that was in each of them. And that's really where our strengths lie.
In an address at the conference, Cunningham said, "I remember as a young preacher trying to hold back my messages until I could someday give them. But I found I forgot them, I lost them, I never got to give them! So, I learned: you give away what you've got and then you get to keep it. And that's how you also learn. So, whenever you're discipling someone if you're the discipler, you first have to model it before them, like Jesus did."
In terms of the life of what God wants to have for Youth With A Mission, and for me in it, I have given away most of the titles to others. I started when I was 50, giving away the titles, but" he smiled, "the role of 'founder', I haven't found anyone to take that one yet."