Loren Cunningham

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Loren Duane Cunningham (born June 30, 1935) is founder of the international Christian missionary movement Youth with a Mission (YWAM) and the University of the Nations. Cunningham founded YWAM in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1960 with his wife, Darlene Cunningham, at the age of 24. They reside in Kona, Hawaii and are members of the YWAM Global Leadership Team.[citation needed]

Early life[edit]

Loren Cunningham was born on June 30, 1935, in the oil boom town of Taft, California.[1] His parents, Tom and Jewell (Nicholson) Cunningham, were itinerant Assembly of God pastors who moved their children, Phyllis, Loren and Janice, with them as they planted churches across the Southwest. Cunningham's maternal grandparents were traveling evangelists who planted churches in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma, and his paternal grandfather was an itinerant Bible teacher known as "the walking Bible". Cunningham received his own missionary call at the age of 13 at a Monday night youth rally in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He attended high school in West Los Angeles at University High and graduated in December 1952. The following year marked his first missions outreach – an Easter break trip to Mexico with 11 other youth. He took a year of courses at Santa Monica City College and the University of California, Los Angeles, before moving on to Central Bible Institute and Seminary in Springfield, Missouri, a school affiliated with the Assemblies of God. At CBIS, Loren served as student body president and also joined a singing quartet called The King's Magnifiers.


Youth with a Mission[edit]

While traveling in the Bahamas in 1956 as part of a gospel quartet, Cunningham claims to have experienced a vision. In this vision, he described waves on the shorelines of the continents on a world map, eventually growing bigger and bigger, covering the landmass. He records that the waves in this vision changed to young people covering the continents, talking to people about their faith.[2] This vision would inspire the beginning of Youth with a Mission four years later as a movement providing missionary opportunities for Christian youth after high school, regardless of their denomination.

He and his wife continue to have influence on the leadership of YWAM International, holding the title of Founders of the Mission. They are members of the YWAM Global Leadership Team and advisers to the Team 3 leadership of YWAM International.[3]

University of Nations[edit]

In 1978, Cunnigham co-founded the University of the Nations in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii with Howard Malmstadt.[4] He served as the university's president until 2010.


  • Cunningham, L. (1984). Is That Really You, God?. YWAM Publishing. ISBN 1-57658-244-2.
  • Cunningham, L. (1989). Making Jesus Lord. YWAM Publishing. ISBN 1-57658-012-1. (first published under the title Winning God's Way)
  • Cunningham, L. (1991). Daring to Live on the Edge. YWAM Publishing. ISBN 0-927545-06-3.
  • Cunningham, L.; Hamilton, J. D. (2000). Why Not Women?. YWAM Publishing. ISBN 1-57658-183-7.
  • Cunningham, L. (2007). The Book That Transforms Nations. YWAM Publishing. ISBN 1-57658-381-3.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lambert, Sean (August 3, 2020). "60 Years of Faith for Finances". LorenCunningham.com. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  2. ^ "YWAM History". ywam.org. Youth with a Mission. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  3. ^ "YWAM's Global Leadership Team". ywam.org. Youth with a Mission. Archived from the original on May 9, 2008.
  4. ^ Fer, Yannick (2012). "Youth with a Mission". In Juergensmeyer, Mark; Roof, Wade Clark (eds.). Encyclopedia of Global Religion. 2. SAGE Publications. p. 1397. doi:10.4135/9781412997898.n796.

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