Loren Cunningham, an author and founder of the prominent Christian youth organization Youth With A Mission (YWAM), has died at the age of 88 after battling cancer.
Cunningham died Friday morning in his sleep at his home in Kona, Hawaii.
His demise was announced in a Friday statement shared on YWAM’s Facebook page.
“With great sadness, we announce that Loren Cunningham founder of Youth With A Mission died at 88 today at 4:20 AM in his sleep at home in Kona, Hawaii,” the statement read.
After a full body scan in Honolulu, in March, Cunningham was reportedly diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
“We have already decided as a family to prioritize Loren’s QUALITY of life over trying to extend the length of time, through chemo or other treatments that could reduce his energy and productiveness,” CBN quoted his wife Darlene as saying.
Cunningham is survived by his wife of 60 years, Darlene, his children, David, Karen and Judy, and three grandchildren, Madi, Kenna and Liam.
Born in 1935 in California, Cunningham felt called to ministry at 13, when he attended a revival meeting. In 1956, while staying at a missionary’s home, he had what he later recalled as a vision.
“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,” Cunningham recounted, as quoted in the obituary posted to his website.
“The waves became young people — kids my age and even younger — covering all the continents of the globe. They were talking to people on street corners and outside bars. They were going from house to house and preaching the Gospel, they came from everywhere and went everywhere, caring for people. Then, just as suddenly as it had come, the scene was gone.”
In 1969, Cunningham founded the global missions group YWAM which boasts around 2,000 chapters in nearly every country.
“Millions have served in YWAM programs as students, short-term volunteers and full-time staff,” stated the obituary. “Many have credited YWAM as among the world’s largest and most significant mission movements.”