HOW IT ALL STARTED
The story of how YWAM began and how it has grown is a story of God’s direction and grace in using people from all over the world. YWAM encompasses thousands of people and hundreds of ministries in almost every country.
It all started when a 20-year-old American college student, who was in the Bahamas on a singing tour, spent some time in prayer. As he leaned back in his bed and looked up, he saw what he called a “mental movie.” He saw waves on a map. The waves turned into young people, going to every continent, sharing the good news about Jesus. “Was that really you, Lord?” he asked. This radical idea that young people could be missionaries stayed with the young man, Loren Cunningham. Four years later, in 1960, he started an organization with that very idea expressed even in its name: Youth With A Mission. Today, Youth With A Mission (YWAM) has grown into one of the world’s largest Christian mission organizations.
The story of how YWAM began and how it has grown is a story of God’s direction and grace in using ordinary people from countries all over the world. YWAM encompasses thousands of people and hundreds of ministries in almost every country. Our staff and students are a mixture of nationalities and people from a wide variety of nations who serve side by side. We come from numerous different Christian denominations and speak hundreds of languages. Nearly half of our staff come from “non-western” countries, such as Brazil, Korea, Indonesia, India and Nepal. In addition to our full-time staff, many YWAM locations host short-term outreach teams made up of individuals, youth groups, families and churches who get to participate first-hand in “making God known” through both word and action. We send out over 25,000 short-term missionaries each year.
YWAM’s international ministry is three-fold, encompassing these different ministries:
Some creative tools used to present the gospel include drama, music, performing arts and sports camps.
YWAMers want to share their faith effectively in ways that the audience– whether teenagers, elderly refugees, or an unreached people group– will understand. YWAM also engages in church planting among unreached people groups.
Mercy Ministry is the “hands and feet” of making God known. YWAM helps meet some of the practical and physical needs of about 400,000 people annually.
Caring for street children in South America; aiding in the recovery of drug addicts in North America and Western Europe; feeding and housing refugees and women in need in Africa and Asia, and operating ships that declare the good news practically and verbally, are just some of the ways in which helping hands are extended.
Training and discipleship
Training and discipleship aim to better equip Christians to serve others in everything from agriculture and health care to drug rehabilitation and biblical counseling. Through YWAM’s University of the Nations (UofN), missionaries can study in specialized areas such as science and technology, linguistics, the humanities, and Christian ministry. Most YWAM schools combine classroom teaching with relationship-centered discipleship and practical service. The Discipleship Training School (DTS) is a requirement to apply as YWAM staff, and serves as a prerequisite to all other training programs.
Each year some 10,000 students attend a UofN school at one of the 250 different locations.
WHAT WE BELIEVE AND WHY
YWAM is committed to know God, His nature, His character and His ways. We seek to reflect who He is in every aspect of our lives and ministry. The automatic overflow of knowing and enjoying fellowship with God is a desire to share Him with others.
MAKE HIM KNOWN
YWAM is called to make God known throughout the whole world, and into every arena of society through evangelism, training and mercy ministries. We believe that salvation of souls should result in transformation of societies, thus obeying Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations.
HEAR GOD´S VOICE
YWAM is committed to creating with God through listening to Him, praying His prayers and obeying His commands in matters great and small. We are dependent upon hearing His voice as individuals, together in team contexts and in larger corporate gatherings. This is an integral part of our process for decision making.
PRACTICE WORSHIP AND INTECESSORY PRAYER
YWAM is dedicated to worship Jesus and engage in intercessory prayer as integral aspects of daily life. We also recognize the intent of Satan to destroy the work of God and we call upon God’s power and the Holy Spirit to overcome his strategies in the lives of individuals and in the affairs of nations.
YWAM is called to be visionary, continually receiving, nurturing and releasing fresh vision from God. We support the pioneering of new ministries and methods, always willing to be radical in order to be relevant to every generation, people group, and sphere of society. We believe that the apostolic call of YWAM requires the integration of spiritual eldership, freedom in the Spirit and relationship, centered on the Word of God.
CHAMPION YOUNG PEOPLE
YWAM is called to champion youth. We believe God has gifted and called young people to spearhead vision and ministry. We are committed to value them, trust them, train them, support them, make space for them and release them. They are not only the Church of the future; they are the Church of today. We commit to follow where they lead, in the will of God.
BE BROAD-STRUCTURED AND CENTRALIZED
YWAM is broad-structured and diverse, yet integrated. We are a global family of ministries held together by shared purpose, vision, values and relationship. We believe that structures should serve the people and the purposes of God. Every ministry at every level has the privilege and responsibility of accountability to a circle of elders, with overall international accountability to the YWAM Global Leadership Team.
BE INTERNATIONAL AND INTERDENOMINATIONAL
YWAM is international and interdenominational in its global scope as well as its local constituency. We believe that ethnic, linguistic and denominational diversity, along with redeemed aspects of culture, are positive factors that contribute to the health and growth of the mission.
HAVE A BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW
YWAM is called to a Biblical worldview. We believe that the Bible makes a clear division between good and evil; right and wrong. The practical dimensions of life are no less spiritual than the ministry expressions. Everything done in obedience to God is spiritual. We seek to honor God with all that we do, equipping and mobilizing men and women of God to take roles of service and influence in every arena of society.
FUNCTION IN TEAMS
YWAM is called to function in teams in all aspects of ministry and leadership. We believe that a combination of complementary gifts, callings, perspectives, ministries and generations working together in unity at all levels of our mission provides wisdom and safety. Seeking God’s will and making decisions in a team context allows accountability and contributes to greater relationship, motivation, responsibility and ownership of the vision.
EXHIBIT SERVANT LEADERSHIP
YWAM is called to servant leadership as a lifestyle, rather than a leadership hierarchy. A servant leader is one who honors the gifts and callings of those under his/her care and guards their rights and privileges. Just as Jesus served His disciples, we stress the importance of those with leadership responsibilities serving those whom they lead.
DO FIRST THEN TEACH
YWAM is committed to doing first, then teaching. We believe that firsthand experience gives authority to our words. Godly character and a call from God are more important than an individual’s gifts, abilities and expertise.
BE RELATIONSHIP ORIENTED
YWAM is dedicated to being relationship-oriented in our living and working together. We desire to be united through lives of holiness, mutual support, transparency, humility, and open communication, rather than a dependence on structures or rules.
VALUE THE INDIVIDUAL
YWAM is called to value each individual. We believe in equal opportunity and justice for all. Created in the image of God, people of all nationalities, ages and functions have distinctive contributions and callings. We are committed to honoring God-given leadership and ministry gifts in both men and women.
YWAM affirms the importance of families serving God together in missions, not just the father and/or mother. We encourage the development of strong and healthy family units, with each member sharing the call to missions and contributing their gifts in unique and complementary ways.
PRACTICE DEPENDENCE ON GOD
YWAM is called to practice a life of dependence upon God for financial provision. For individuals and YWAM corporately this comes primarily through His people. As God has been generous toward us, so we desire to be generous. YWAMers give themselves, their time and talents to God through the Mission with no expectation of remuneration.
YWAM affirms the ministry of hospitality as an expression of God’s character and the value of people. We believe it is important to open our hearts, homes and campuses to serve and honor one another, our guests and the poor and needy, not as acts of social protocol, but as expressions of generosity.
COMMUNICATE WITH INTEGRITY
YWAM affirms that everything exists because God communicates. Therefore, YWAM is committed to truthful, accurate, timely and relevant communication. We believe good communication is essential for strong relationships, healthy families and communities, and effective ministry.