The Six Million Mile Man—YWAM Founder Loren Cunningham 

On May 27th, 2013, Youth With A Mission (YWAM) founder Loren Cunningham passed the 3 million miles mark with United Airlines the same way he travelled the vast majority of those miles… sitting in an economy seat. That makes over 6 million miles across all airlines in his extensive travel history. On arrival after a series of long flights he looked tired, but had a sparkle in his eye and a smile on his face.

Loren Cunningham is the first missionary to travel to every nation and also the first to go to every dependent country (238) – plus more than 150 islands and territories (400+ geo-political areas).

Loren Cunningham’s early years of travel

Stepping off the plane at his home town airport in Kona, Hawaii on the day of this milestone he said: 

I was born in 1935 so I’m gonna be 81 next month; but I’ve been flying since 1956. I think that was my first flight to go out to the Caribbean. Usually I’m in 20-40 nations every year. I traveled last year… about two hundred and two days. United? Yeah it’s been 3 million since they started counting. But I think I went quite a few million miles with various planes all across the world. 

It’s been a great life. [I’ve] gone to every nation and every dependent country… and I thank the Lord and I thank the airlines for the wonderful services they give to us around the world. 

I’ve gone because we’ve been pioneering this wonderful group of people that we call Youth With A Mission. They’re reaching out to the poor and the needy of the world… and we’re serving in every way possible: food, drink, clothing, shelter, healthcare. Also, visiting prisoners… and that’s a part of the role of YWAM worldwide. 

So now we’re in 191 countries with centers… coming up on about 30 thousand full-time workers. We’re known for our short-term work which has engaged over 5 million people since 1960 when YWAM began. 

So I’d say to anyone who starts: Have a purpose. Have a call. Make sure that you are doing it for God and His purposes. He is love and you must show His love.

YWAM Teams to Every Nation

Loren and Darlene Cunningham and part of the YWAM team stepping off the landing boat in Pitcairn.  Large vessels are not able to reach the dock in the treacherous and shallow waters.

Loren Cunningham led a group of YWAM missionaries with dental and medical volunteers in August 1991 to the last nation the organization had not yet ministered in… Pitcairn Island. This remote island nation was founded by the mutineers from the famous novel and films, “The Mutiny on the Bounty”. Pitcairn can only be reached by boat and only about 4 supply ships per year make the treacherous journey. The island is just 3.2 kilometers long by 1.6 kilometers wide and at the time had a population of only 55.

The 30min 1991 documentary “The Pitcairn Story” on their trip

Loren’s Final Nation: Libya

Libya was the last nation for Cunningham to visit – and certainly one of the most perilous to travel to during the violent Gaddafi dictatorship. His spine was injured during a border crossing on one of his initial attempts. Finally in 1999 Loren Cunningham arrived in Libya, becoming the first person in history to go to every nation and dependent country for the sake of the Gospel!

Loren Cunningham and travel companions Magdy Michael (L) and Markus Steffen (R) show their passport stamps from Libya upon their return in 1999