One evening, the YWAM leaders gathered for the 2011 Global Leadership Forum watched pictures of Al Akimoff, leader of YWAM Slavic Ministries, on a trip into Kamchatka, Russia. They watched Al in a thick Russian hat crusted with snow after a snowmobile ride to unreached peoples. They saw pictures of smiling men and women dressed in bright red, white and blue outfits from their tribal background. They heard that now some of the first individuals from these tribes have come to faith. In one area, pastors and church leaders trained in YWAM Discipleship Training Schools have started a church of 1,000. One of the tools to reach out to these tribes is a boat that navigates the rivers when they are not covered in ice. This boat is so new to YWAM it doesn’t even have a name yet. It sleeps seven. The crew pays their way partly by fishing as they travel.
The next morning, these pictures took on special meaning as the assembled leaders considered ship ministries within YWAM. Jesse Missa of Marine Reach explained that 80 percent of the world’s population lives within 100 kilometers of a navigable waterway. A ship can provide a platform for medical ministry, a place of training, and a home for workers. Jesse’s ministry alone provided over 7,000 dental surgeries in 2011 and ministered to 34,000 people. He said YWAM has a goal to operate 40 ships by 2020. He and others in YWAM ship ministries want to see three ships for Japan alone.
John Dawson recalled the leading of God in YWAM to create ship ministries as well as a university. He remembered the time in 1977 when two YWAM families had twins on the seventh month and the seventh day seven minutes apart. “This caught our attention,” John said. “These events within our family story were part of a prophetic confirmation that the birth of the university and the release of the Anastasis signified a family partnership between the siblings, in this case the University of the Nations and YWAM’s Ship Equipped Ministries. Over the years we began to see that there is a deep purpose that God has for this.”
The YWAM leaders commissioned an eldership for YWAM’s Ship Equipped Ministries: Jesse and Princessa Misa, Ken and Robin Mulligan, Brett and Karin Curtis, and Brian and Anne Sloan. They also took an offering for the medical ship Marine Reach New Zealand is trying to purchase for the Pacific Region. They have raised $300,000 toward the $1.2 million purchase price. The 47 leaders pledged a total of $12,000.
In the prayer and discussion, YWAM leaders expressed enthusiasm for the renewed emphasis on ships within the mission. This emphasis began way back in 1964, when Loren Cunningham led an outreach team in the Caribbean to help people suffering in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane. He had a sense from God that this small four-year-old organization would have a ship. Only a few months later, a man offered Loren a ship. In the prayer time now at the Global Leadership Forum in Tijuana, Christine Colby of the University of the Nations prayed, “Father, I thank your for mercy that you can again trust us with your dream. Help us steward this dream so it will look like what you intended for it.”
In other discussions, the Global Leadership Forum added the Middle East to the Central and South Asia Field, considered models for expansion, witnessed an offering taken in South Asia and given to Southern Sudan and pledged their involvement in Global Outreach Day.
The GLF also affirmed an addition to YWAM’s foundational values. The new value is “Communicate with Integrity” and states that, “YWAM affirms that everything exists because God communicates. Therefore, YWAM is committed to truthful, accurate, timely and relevant communication. We believe good communication is essential for strong relationships, healthy families, communities and effective ministry.”
The meeting ended with communion. The bonds of care that could be seen in painting crews on the first day of the meeting ended in words of blessing shared with each other. Said one leader from Nepal, “I appreciate being part of the eldership, how we emphasize family. We need family commitment and bonding with each other in order to move forward and grow.”