YWAM Marks 50 Yrs of Radical Missions' Spirit

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HARPENDEN, England - Youth With A Mission , one of the world's largest mission groups, is celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year.

The missions agency was started in 1960 by Loren Cunningham and quickly became known for it's radical pioneer spirit. For more than half a century, YWAM has produced an inspirational family of missionaries around the world.

International Chairman Lynn Green, who's based at their headquarters in Harpenden, England, first joined the group as a young man from Colorado at the base in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"I ended up going on YWAM's School of Evangelism in 1969 in Switzerland. That's how I got there," Green recalled. "But what drew me was firstly getting around Loren and Darlene Cunningham and living with them for a year in a community and a whole bunch of other young similar-minded people, some married, some single, but all in their late teens early twenties and just a sense of God among us."
 
Green said it's been an amazing journey for the past 41 years working with this remarkable family of workers around the globe, particularly Cunningham.

"I think history will show Loren as one of the men of our era who had the biggest impact on the world," Green said. "I think it's just an unspeakable privilege to be a friend with a guy like that for the past 41 years."

Landa Cope is another of YWAM's long-standing missionaries. She first joined the team in 1971. 

During the past 40 years, she has travelled to more than 100 nations, speaking to religious, political, business, and professional leaders on what scripture teaches believers practically about discipling nations.

"I always have to chuckle at being the vessel God chooses to pour it through," Cope said. "There is no explanation to who I speak to and what I'm asked to consult on."

"And no one is deluded about where my information comes from. They only know that the only thing I've studied is the Bible," she added.

But as YWAM continues to pass on the flame to the next generation, young missionaries are continuing with their radical pioneer spirit using the most creative means to spread the Gospel. 

YWAM's head of evangelism in England Yan Nicholls uses "escapology" and illusions to share his faith.

"It's quite different to get up there and do something with fire or get out of a strait-jacket," Nicholls explained. "And that's intriguing for young people, and it's got such a powerful message of freedom and lots of parables that you can bring through it. And so that's why I use it."

Right now much of Nicholls' focus is mobilizing a team for YWAM's London Olympics outreach in 2012.

"YWAM's had a history of being involved in the Olympic games since Munich 1972," he said. "We just want to create an environment where churches can do mission in this country and move things on to the 21st century."

"We plan to have mobile phone apps where people can bump tracts over," he said. "We'll be doing all sorts of new kinds of evangelism."

The organization is also raising up the next generation of communicators to use the latest media technology.

Janice Entee is heading up YWAM's documentary and film-making school.

"It is such a great medium to be able to communicate what we need to communicate and reach a mass of people," she said. "It is vital for this generation of young missionaries to engage in this area, to use it to tell stories that are on God's heart."

So as YWAM celebrates 50 years of ministry, it looks like this next generation of YWAMers will carry on the baton of spreading the Gospel message to the ends of the earth. 

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Peter Wooding

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