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What is YWAM?

Youth With A Mission is a global 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.

Our Story

At the climax of the long, winding story of God’s redemption of humanity and creation told through the Bible, Jesus tells his disciples these important words: “Go, make disciples of all nations.” Since that moment over 2,000 years ago, countless Christians have embraced the identity of a missionary and followed the call to share the good news of Jesus all over the world. Loren Cunningham, YWAM's founder, was one such Christian who desired to reach the world with the gospel.

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It started with a vision

In 1956, 21-year-old Loren was on a missions trip in the Bahamas to evangelize and gather young people together. He found himself kneeling beside his bed, asking God about the message he was to speak that evening to the youth. At the time, young people were not considered candidates for missions and Loren was struggling to inspire amongst this reality. At that time, he looked up at the white walls of his room and God responded with an unexpected vision that would lay the foundation of the largest volunteer missions movement in history; Youth with a Mission. 

Loren recounts this moment saying,

Suddenly, I was looking at a map of the world, only the map was alive and moving! I could see all the continents, and waves were crashing onto their shores. Each wave went onto a continent, then receded, then came up further until it covered the continent completely. The waves became young people - kids my age and even younger, covering all the continents of the globe. They were talking to people on the street corners and outside bars. They were going from house to house and preaching the Gospel.

 

From Vision to Reality

18K

Staff

1100+

Operating Locations

180

Countries

Four years after his vision of the waves, in 1960, Loren Cunningham launched Youth with a Mission with a focus on activating young people in their calling to fulfill the Great Commission. Today, YWAM, is a global movement of Christians still dedicated to knowing God and making God known. We still focus on youth, but we also involve people from age 8 to 80 in over 180 countries. We currently operate from over 1,100 locations (YWAM Salem, Oregon is just one of them!), with a full-time staff of over 18,000. YWAM has a place for everyone and endless opportunities. 

3 Ministry Focus Areas

YWAM’s many ministries fit into three major categories.

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1

Evangelism

We do evangelism because we believe that everyone in the world has the right to hear the message of Jesus and that he has called those who know Him to make him known to those who do not.

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2

Mercy

Another focus is mercy ministry, where our staff are giving hope to the poor, sick, and those suffering from injustice.

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3

Training

We do training to equip people to use their unique calling to serve God in the world. Every YWAMer starts their training with the intensive half year discipleship course called the Discipleship Training School (DTS). After DTS, they can continue in their training in our University of the Nations, the world’s first global university, offering a diverse set of modular and specialized missionary training courses.

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YWAM’s training schools and short-term outreach programs have provided opportunities for thousands of young people who were raised in our affluent society to experience the reality of life in other parts of the world. Through these experiences, the students have found a greater understanding of the breadth of God’s love, and many have committed their lives to church ministry or missionary work. I am grateful for their influence on the youth of American culture and around the world.
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Dallas Willard
Late author and professor of Philosophy at USC

YWAM is a unique contribution to world mission. YWAM has been highly effective in attracting mission entrepreneurs, especially among young people, and mobilizing them for a wide range of important mission work. Sprawling, sometimes messy and very nimble, YWAM’s entrepreneurial spirit is the envy of the larger, more structured missions. YWAM’s dependence on the movement of the Spirit of God in directing its work is a witness to all of us.
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Bryant MyersProfessor of Transformational Development, Fuller Theological Seminary; former Vice-President, World Vision

It has been my privilege over the years to observe and participate with Youth With A Mission on numerous projects around the world. Their focus on evangelism is always great. YWAM has a tremendous team of dedicated servants of the Lord and always marvel at how God has been able to use them in so many strategic areas of the world.
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Franklin Graham
President and CEO, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

My life has been so powerfully impacted by missions. I’ve been involved with trips to Calcutta, India, to Bucharest, Romania, to Ecuador. And I have seen God move through those trips powerfully in my life and seen how God uses that to change people’s lives in those countries. I have had some very close friends of mine who have worked with Youth With A Mission and been on mission trips and their lives have been radically turned around by working with this ministry. So, I encourage people considering going on a missions trip to link up with YWAM because it is an incredible ministry.
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Rebecca St. James
Musician

Unified Through Beliefs and Values

As YWAM has grown over the years, it has developed as a diverse family of ministries, rather than a highly structured, centralized agency. Although we have international service offices for YWAM, we do not have an international administrative headquarters. We are diverse and de-centralized, yet unified in the Biblical values God has emphasized for our mission from the beginning. The combination of the the following beliefs and values make up the unique family characteristics of YWAM—our “DNA.” 

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YWAM's Statement of Belief

Youth With A Mission (YWAM) is a global movement of Christians from many denominations 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 all creation” (Mark 16:15).

 

The 18 YWAM Foundational Values

We know, 18 is a lot! But these values express who we are as an organization and unify our diverse family of ministries. Take a look!

1. Know God

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.

2. Make Him Known

YWAM is called to make God known throughout the whole world, and into every area 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, trust, train, support, make space 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 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.

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 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 area 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 then an individuals 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 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 bases 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.

Curious about what a YWAM location looks like?

We are one of the 1,000+ YWAM international outposts all over the world. Each location has their own little personality. Get to know us!

Learn about YWAM Salem, Oregon
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How can you get involved with YWAM?

Do a Discipleship Training School (DTS)

Our flagship missions training course, the DTS offers five months of growing deeper with God and impacting the world, all in a community environment. It’s prerequisite for not only becoming YWAM Staff, but also for YWAM's second level training

Learn More about DTS

Volunteer on our campus

We have a bustling volunteer program at YWAM Salem. You have the opportunity serve alongside missionaries, assisting with everything from plumbing, carpentry, and maintaining our 35-acre campus, to food services and secretarial work. Have you already done a DTS? Consider joining our staff team. 

Learn More about Volunteering

Explore our Ministries

YWAM Salem, Oregon is a Youth with a Mission ministry hub. Do you have a free evening, a few weeks, or anything above and in-between? We can connect you with some wonderful community outreach opportunities on our city. 

Explore our City Ministries