What is YWAM?

The story of YWAM International

people-with-backpacks
people-with-backpacks

What is YWAM?

The Story of YWAM International
What is YWAM_ _ Youth With A Mission

 

Youth With A Mission is an international movement of Christians from many cultures, age groups, and Christian traditions, dedicated to serving Jesus throughout the world. Also known as YWAM (pronounced “WHY-wham”), we unite in a common purpose to know God and to make Him known.

Back when we began in 1960, our main focus was to get youth involved in missions. Today, we still focus on youth, and we also involve people aged 9 to 90. We currently have tens of thousands of staff (called “YWAMers”) and we work in thousands of teams and locations.

Video courtesy of YWAM International.

 

How YWAM Started

It all began with a vision. In June of 1956, Loren Cunningham, a 20-year-old student from the United States, spent a part of his summer break in Nassau, Bahamas touring with a singing group. One night after a busy day, Loren had an unusual experience:

“I lay down on the bed,” he recalled, “doubled the pillow under my head and opened my Bible, routinely asking God to speak into my mind. What happened next was far from routine. Suddenly, I was looking up at a map of the world. Only the map was alive, moving! I sat up. I shook my head, rubbed my eyes. It was a mental movie. I could see all the continents. Waves were crashing onto the shores. Each went onto a continent, then receded, then came up further until it covered the continent completely. I caught my breath. Then, as I watched, the scene changed. The waves became young people–kids my age and even younger–covering the continents. They were talking to people on the street corners and outside bars. They were going house to house. They were preaching. ‘Was that really you, Lord?’ I wondered, still staring at the wall, amazed. Young people–kids really–going out as missionaries! What an idea! And I thought ‘Why did God give me this vision?’”

 

YWAM’s purpose, core beliefs, and foundational values have been compiled in response to specific directives given by God since YWAM’s beginning in 1960. This shared purpose, and our corporate beliefs and values, are the guiding principles for both the past and future growth of our mission. Some are common to all Christians everywhere; others are distinctive to Youth With A Mission.

This combination of purpose, beliefs, and values makes up the unique family characteristics of YWAM—our “DNA.” We hold this framework in high regard. It helps us determine who we are, how we live, and how we make decisions.

group-photo-in-thailand
 

Purpose

Youth With A Mission (YWAM) is a global movement of Christians from many denominations. We are dedicated to presenting Jesus personally to this generation, to mobilizing as many as possible to help in this task, and to the training and equipping of believers for their part in fulfilling the Great Commission. As citizens of God’s kingdom, we are called to love, worship, and obey our Lord, to love and serve His Body, the Church, and to present the whole gospel for the whole person throughout the whole world. We of Youth With A Mission believe that the Bible is God’s inspired and authoritative word, revealing that Jesus Christ is God’s Son; that people are created in God’s image; that He created us to have eternal life through Jesus Christ; that although all people have sinned and come short of God’s glory, God has made salvation possible through the death on the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ; that repentance, faith, love and obedience are fitting responses to God’s initiative of grace towards us; that God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth; and that the Holy Spirit’s power is demonstrated in and through us for the accomplishment of Christ’s last commandment, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to everyone” (Mark 16:15 NLT).

 

Beliefs

Worship

We are called to praise and worship God alone.

 

Holiness

We are called to lead holy and righteous lives that exemplify the nature and character of God.

Witness

We are called to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who do not know Him.

Prayer

We are called to engage in intercessory prayer for the people and causes on God’s heart, including standing against evil in every form.

Fellowship

We are called to commit to the Church in both it's local nurturing expression, and it's mobile multiplying expression.

Service

We are called to contribute toward God’s kingdom purposes in every sphere of life.

 

Foundational Values

  • 1. Know God

    YWAM is committed to know God, His nature, His character and His ways as revealed in the Bible, the inspired and authoritative Word of God. 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.

  • 2. Make God 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.

  • 3. 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 as an integral part of our process for decision making.

  • 4. Practice Worship and Intercessory 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.

  • 5. Be Visionary

    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.

  • 6. 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.

  • 7. Be Broad-Structured and Decentralized

    YWAM is broad-structured and diverse, yet integrated. We are a global family of ministries held together by shared foundational covenants, purpose, vision, values and relationships. 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 recognized spiritual elders.

  • 8. 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.

  • 9. Have a Biblical Christian Worldview

    YWAM is called to a biblical Christian worldview. We believe that the Bible—the textbook for all of life—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.

  • 10. 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.

  • 11. 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.

  • 12. 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.

  • 13. 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.

  • 14. 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.

  • 15. Value Families

    YWAM affirms the importance of families serving God together in missions, not just the father and/or mother. We also embrace the inclusion of single-parent families. 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. We uphold and celebrate the biblical view that God’s intent for holy matrimony is between one man and one woman.

  • 16. 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.

  • 17. Practice Hospitality

    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, campuses and ministry centers to serve and honor one another, our guests and the poor and needy, not as acts of social protocol, but as expressions of generosity.

  • 18. 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.

  • 1. Know God

    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.

  • 2. Make God 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.

  • 3. 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 as an integral part of our process for decision making.

  • 4. Practice Worship and Intercessory 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.

  • 5. Be Visionary

    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.

  • 6. 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.

  • 7. Be Broad-Structured and Decentralized

    YWAM is broad-structured and diverse, yet integrated. We are a global family of ministries held together by shared foundational covenants, purpose, vision, values and relationships. 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 recognized spiritual elders.

  • 8. 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.

  • 9. Have a Biblical Christian Worldview

    YWAM is called to a biblical Christian worldview. We believe that the Bible—the textbook for all of life—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.

  • 10. 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.

  • 11. 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.

  • 12. 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.

  • 13. 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.

  • 14. 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.

  • 15. Value Families

    YWAM affirms the importance of families serving God together in missions, not just the father and/or mother. We also embrace the inclusion of single-parent families. 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. We uphold and celebrate the biblical view that God’s intent for holy matrimony is between one man and one woman.

  • 16. 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.

  • 17. Practice Hospitality

    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, campuses and ministry centers to serve and honor one another, our guests and the poor and needy, not as acts of social protocol, but as expressions of generosity.

  • 18. 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.

 

Ministries

YWAM’s many ministries fit into three main categories: evangelism, training, and mercy ministry. Through these ministries, we desire to see God’s transformation in every sphere of society.

evangelism-1

Evangelism

We believe everyone has the right to hear the good news about Jesus. Our prayer is to see fellowships of believers worshipping and following Jesus in every nation, tribe and tongue. We use music, performing arts, sports, and Bible distribution to connect with people of all ages. YWAM also starts discipleship groups in places where there may be no church at all.

training

Training

Our introductory course, the Discipleship Training School (DTS), is offered in many nations and languages. It is an intensive six months of growing more like Jesus and serving Him in the world. Through our training programs and YWAM’s University of the Nations, we aim to equip Christians to grow in their relationship with God and to serve others. Our courses focus on subjects like the nature and character of God, identity, the Bible, biblical counseling, healthcare, and business development.

mercy

Mercy

YWAM’s mercy ministry teams follow Jesus’ example of compassion to those in need. We operate relief and development programs in over 100 countries, working among people living in desperate circumstances. Our staff serve in areas such as agricultural assistance, the prevention of human trafficking, ship-based dental care, and micro-enterprise development.

 

Want to be involved with YWAM?

Do a Discipleship Training School

Visit our DTS page for more information

 

Discipleship Training School

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Check out the different opportunities we have at our campus

 

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