Our History

Where we came from and where we're heading

“In my mind’s eye I could see a world map, alive and moving!” recalls Loren Cunningham. “Waves crashed onto the continents, advancing inland until all the nations were covered. As I watched, the waves became young people of all races. They were my own age and even younger, talking to people on street corners and outside bars. Going from house to house. Helping the lonely and the hungry. Caring for people everywhere they went.

Suddenly the scene was gone. What could that be? I wondered. I was barely out of my teens when I experienced that mental movie of the waves. What did it mean? Then I remembered an experience that I had as a 13-year-old, when one day in church the words of Jesus had spoken very directly to me: Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. That was the vision. Young people fulfilling the Great Commission of Mark 16:15. An idea began to grow: God wanted to release the resources of youth for lay missions.

Others objected: Youth were unreliable, uncommitted and inexperienced, they said. But God had used Joseph, David and Esther as teenagers. And some of Christ’s disciples were very young when He had sent them out on short-term missions in Luke 10.”

So in 1960, Youth With A Mission began and the waves became reality. Hundreds of thousands young people went out. Today, because of God’s power and grace, Youth With A Mission has become the largest Mission organization. We have more than 10000 full time workers all over the world. Each year tens of thousand young people, business people, retired people and whole families are joining us for short term programs in more than six hundred ministry locations in 135 countries.

Youth With A Mission believes that the Gospel is not only God’s Word, but that it has to be put into everyday practice. Using different means and tools of evangelization, we go out and share the Good News. Founder Loren Cunningham has set some goals for Youth With A Mission:

Until the year 2000 we hope to establish 1000 training locations and 3000 ministry locations (evangelism, mercy ministry and training) globally. We especially hope to raise non-Western missionaries, their zeal and different cultural background will benefit the furthering of the Gospel.

In the 70’s there were a lot of hippies going out to India, Nepal, and Afghanistan in search of truth. Instead many got dysentery, hepatitis and other ailments. Floyd McClung began a ministry called ‘Dilaram’ which took in the ill hippies, nursed them, talked to them about Jesus and many got saved. Several ‘Dilaram’ houses shot up in India, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Amsterdam and in November 1977 a Dilaram House began in London. A team of 11 people led by Paul and Mary Miller pioneered London’s Dilaram House.

In the late 70’s the Dilaram Ministries joined with YWAM to become a part of YWAM internationally. The London Dilaram house ran for 7 years under the leadership of Paul and Mary Miller and later Richard and Michelle Lahey-James.

The ministry involved outreach to the local community (Lewisham and Brockley area) plus Leicester Square, Hyde Park Speakers corner and Portobello Road.

In the summer a host of young people from different nations would come to join in the 6 to 9 week ‘Summer of Services’, living in rented accommodation in the Portobello Road area as well as camping in Tent City and church halls.

The main thrust of the Dilaram work was to amongst those who were in drug, alcohol and sexual addictions and young travelers.

In the early 80’s a team led by Lynn and Marti Green came to Putney (London) from the main YWAM training base in Sussex. Many folk joined them and further bases were established in Fulham, Notting Hill, Earls Court, Kings Cross, Soho, Clapham, Brixton and later the East End of London.

Over the years there has been a diversity of urban ministries, including outreach and friendship evangelism to the homeless, addicts, women in prostitution, homosexuals, young vulnerable people and ethnic minorities (particularly those from Islamic backgrounds). Alongside these ministries a number of church plants were established.

YWAM London has often hosted training schools, including Operation Year, DTS, Counselling schools, School of Biblical Studies and Perspectives Course. YWAM London has networked and partnered with numerous local churches creating joint projects like Door of Hope (work to Prostitutes) and Earls Court Project (later ECCP). YWAMers have enjoyed good relationships with local church and team members are encouraged to find a local church and become actively involved.