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Collection 647 Oral History Interview with Loren D. Cunningham

Identifier: CN 647

Scope and Contents

Oral history interview with Loren D. Cunningham, in which he describes his early life, family and influence of his mother and evangelist father, the Assemblies of God church and evangelistic mission, role of prayer in their family, other influences on his spiritual life, accounts of growing in his faith and learning to hear God speaking, call to worldwide mission as a young teenager, education, early mission trips, moving beyond Assemblies of God circles, meeting his wife Darlene, dream to enlist young people to carry the gospel cross-culturally, early developments in formation of Youth With a Mission (YWAM), starting the YWAM school University of the Nations, and encounters with Billy Graham and participation at the 1974 Lausanne Congress.

Loren Cunningham was interviewed by Paul Ericksen on February 9, 2009, at 3:15 PM. The events described in the interview cover the time period circa 1900-2009.


  • Created: 2009

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Full name: Loren Duane Cunningham

Birth: June 30, 1936 in Taft, California


Parents: Thomas Cunningham (died at age 92) and Jewell Etta Nicholson (died age 93), ordained ministers in Assemblies of God

Grandfather: James Henry Cunningham, pastor

Siblings: Phyllis (b. 1933), Janice (b. ca. 1944)

Marital Status: Married to Darlene Cunningham in 1963

Children: Karen, David


1954: Attended the Assembly of God’s Central Bible College in Springfield, MO

Three Bachelor degrees: University of Southern California (USC)--Philosophy, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

MS in Administration of Education at USC, Masters in Psychology at Temple. (Finished graduate work in 1959)

Two honorary doctorates


1955: Started church with another man outside Springfield, MO, while in Bible school

1960: Co-founded of Youth With a Mission (YWAM) with his wife, Darlene Cunningham. (As of 2019, YWAM has an estimated 18,000 full-time workers in 171 countries.)

1978: Co-founded the University of the Nations (known as Pacific and Asian Christian University until 1989) with Howard Malmstadt, serving as president until 2010

Other significant information:

Ca. 1942: First sensed God speaking to him (unclear whether this was audible or perceived by the heart)

1949: Called to ministry at a youth rally

Ca. 1949: Preached first sermon after hearing God's call to the gospel ministry

1953: Went to Mexico with team of twelve young men to evangelize

1956: Had a vision of waves onto all the continents' shores, changing into young people sharing their faith (while in the Bahamas as part of a gospel quartet)

1954: Mission trip with friends to Mexico, twenty converts at service

Authored five books that were translated into over 50 languages: Is That Really You God? YWAM Publishing (1984); Making Jesus Lord, YWAM Publishing (1989) (First published under the title: Winning God's Way); Daring to Live on the Edge, YWAM Publishing, (1992); Why not Women? with J.D. Hamilton, YWAM Publishing (2000); The Book That Transforms Nations with Janice Rogers (sister), YWAM Publishing (2007).

Currently a member of YWAM's Global Leadership Team (GLT)


1.00 Sound Recording

103 Minutes

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Loren Cunningham in February 2009.

Accession: 09-09

May 20, 2019

Paul Ericksen

Collection 647 Oral History Interview with Loren D. Cunningham
Paul Ericksen
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

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