As a young youth pastor, he launched a missions movement in 1960 based on a vision God gave him of “waves of young people” hitting the ground running on the shores of every continent on earth. The vision seemed crazy to his church leaders at the time who told him they couldn’t accommodate the scope of the vision he was describing to them: Interdenominational. International. Mobilizing young people into the mission field with crash training, without first giving them a full theological degree.
Loren and his wife Darlene knew God had spoken, so they branched out from their denominational cocoon, spread their wings, and launched Youth With A Mission.
This rest is history–a marvelous, adventurous, faith filled, testimony-laced history of seeing the nations impacted for the glory of God.
The first time I heard Loren, as a youth pastor back in 1984, he so clearly articulated the vision of the Great Commission in a missions context that I was swept off my feet. I made the decision then and there to leave my hometown in San Diego and follow that vision wherever in the world it would lead me.
I never looked back. I am still pressing forward in the call.
In his signature modesty, Loren often bragged over the years that YWAM was “a mile wide and an inch deep.” After serving 15 years in YWAM (1985-2000), I understand what Loren meant. The nature of the mission necessitates breadth over depth. This is it’s genius, the secret sauce to its success. But I would like to clarify that Loren was not a shallow man. The depth of this man’s heart and his understanding of the ways of God was prodigious. I learned so much from his teachings and the teachings of leaders he mentored throughout the years.
Mike Bickle, founder and leader of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, said today that next to the Apostle Paul, Loren Cunningham was the greatest missions leader in world history–bar none. That is a huge commendation from a man who has spearheaded the greatest prayer movement in our generation.
Loren Cunningham went home to be with Jesus this week. He was 87 years old. His legacy will live on for eternity.