Loren Cunningham (1935 – 2023)

Loren and Darlene Cunningham worked as a team since they married 60 years ago. She was born in Vancouver.

Loren Cunningham, world-changer, has transferred his citizenship to “life in the age to come.”

I first met Loren in London, UK speaking at Kensington Temple in 1991. Shortly after that I joined Youth With A Mission and have been with YWAM ever since; I’m sure there are hundreds if not thousands of young people who have similar stories.

Since that day I have had the privilege to meet Loren many times in numerous countries. On several occasions we hosted him at Missions Fests across Canada, a very special time as we got to spend the weekend with him.

But what really stood out was when Loren was at the book signing table at the end of the evening. We were ready to go to bed, but he would give everyone who wanted their book signed his undivided attention as if there was no one else in the room! 

Every nation

Loren Cunningham founded YWAM, a global missions movement born in 1960 from a vision of waves of young people going into missions around the globe. YWAM has reached into every nation on earth through evangelism, training and mercy ministries. Throughout, Loren had with him an amazing partner and companion in Darlene (who was born in Vancouver); they married in 1963.

By 1999, Loren had personally gone to every sovereign nation on earth, all dependent countries and more than 100 territories and islands for the sake of Christ and the Great Commission. That gave him valuable insights into global trends and uniquely prepared him to share God’s strategies for world evangelism.

His wisdom, experience, leadership understanding and call to build bridges of unity within the body of Christ gave him opportunities to speak publicly to live audiences, from a few to more than a million people gathered in one location.

Pre-Covid, he usually ministered on all six continents each year. During Covid he says he went further and reached more people via Zoom than during all his previous years of ministry combined.

 Making the Bible accessible

Loren carried a burden, with many other global leaders, to make the Bible accessible to every person on earth, thereby ending Bible poverty worldwide. Wherever the Scripture goes, the Spirit of God brings transformation! He met with hundreds of influential leaders in evangelical, charismatic and Pentecostal denominations, as well as those leading the oldest Christian traditions, to invite their partnership in this cause.

More recently, his passion became fine-tuned to focus on making an oral translation of the Bible available in every mother tongue on earth, because that is the language of the heart. This must happen to fulfill Jesus’ prayer “on earth as it is in heaven,” pictured in Revelation 7:9: “. . . a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb . . .” 

Born in Taft, California, Loren’s family heritage was rich with generations of Christian ministers. His  educational background includes three Bachelor degrees, a Master of Science in Administration of  Education, and three Honorary Doctorates.

Loren wrote six books: Is That Really You, God? (translated into more than 140 languages); Making Jesus Lord; Daring to Live on the Edge; Why Not Women?; The Book That Transforms Nations: The Power of the Bible to Change Any Country; and We Can End Bible Poverty Now.

Loren is survived by his beloved wife, Darlene Joy Scratch-Cunningham; his daughter, Karen Joy Cunningham; his son, David Loren Cunningham (Judith Fitts-Cunningham); and three grandchildren, Madison Grace, Kenna Faith and Liam Reid.


Loren was loved and appreciated by many; here are a few of the accolades he received from a wide range of leaders:

“While Loren’s reputation as a revered and renowned mission leader preceded him, I was deeply impressed by his unassuming nature, his ability to connect on a personal level, and his genuine interest in our ministry and the work we were undertaking.” Lawrence Tong, International Director, OM

“Everything about Loren’s life bore witness to his unconditional surrender to the lordship of Jesus. From his earliest days, he had an unwavering commitment to do everything the Holy Spirit called him to do – to spread the good news about Jesus, Saviour of the world, to every person on earth. 

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and they follow me.” Loren heard the Good Shepherd’s voice from a very young age and followed, whether the path led to costly sacrifice or great blessing.” Lynn Green, YWAM leader

“Loren Cunningham, a great one. I am with you in my prayers.” Pope Francis

Mike Davies works as a community leader for YWAM Vancouver and is the president of the local YWAM board. He facilitates a number of businessmen’s discipleship courses in the city and is passionate about Business As Mission.

Go here for an overview of YWAM history, which included this 2010 entry:

YWAM celebrated 50 years of existence in 2010 with multicultural festivities all around the world. With more than 18,000 staff and over 1,200 ministry locations, it is now one of the world’s largest missionary training and sending organizations.

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2 comments for “Loren Cunningham (1935 – 2023)

  1. A great article by Mike. I will never forget when Loren came to speak at the Vancouver Missionsfest. He inspired many of us to a renewed passion for the Great Commission.

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