In 1991, YWAM's international leaders met in Egypt, the first time they had met as an international group in the Middle East. The leader of YWAM's work in North Africa was invited to attend this meeting. A few months prior to the meeting, while this man was carrying some tent poles, he tripped, fell, and landed on the poles in such a way that one of them permanently blinded him in one eye. When he arrived at the meeting in Egypt, God spoke to YWAM's leaders through this terrible accident. One of them had the impression God was saying: "You've been looking at the Muslim world through only one eye."
Through that, YWAM's leaders sensed the whole mission should focus in a more costly and concerted way on the needs of the Muslim world. Out of the prayer times that followed, the 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus, the Red Sea Covenant, and the Reconciliation Walk were born.
In the subsequent years, each of these initiatives has grown into a significant part of YWAM's history. The Red Sea Covenant has become one of YWAM's foundational documents. The 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus, initially a small effort only within YWAM, has now been embraced by denominations and organizations worldwide. On the year of its 10th anniversary in 2001, millions of people worldwide prayed for the needs of Muslims using one million prayer guides produced in 35 languages.
The Reconciliation Walk saw Christians walk the more than 1,500 miles of the First Crusade, proclaiming verbally and in printed form their regret for the way the Crusades misrepresented Christ. The Walk marked the 900th anniversary of this Crusade, and culminated in Jerusalem in 1999. Over 2,500 people participated in some portion of the Walk. Wherever they went, the walkers were met by overwhelmingly positive response by both media and by individual Muslims, Orthodox Christians and Jews. In Turkey alone, an estimated 70 percent of the population heard the message. The deputy mayor of Istanbul commented: "This project is very important to Turkey. You can see how much it means to the Turkish people when they line both sides of the road and applaud."
YWAM's commitment to reach Muslims and other unreached people took another step forward in 1995. The international leaders met and named Jim Stier for the new role of President. The international leadership then clarified their own role, taking on a new name: The Global Leadership Team. Shortly after this meeting Jim Stier announced a new international goal: to adopt for prayer, research and ministry 1,000 unreached people groups by the year 2000.
This was one of several new goals YWAM set after a pivotal event in 1991. In that year, Loren Cunningham visited tiny Pitcairn Island, the last of the world's 229 countries for YWAM to minister in.
In June, 1995, the last Cambodian refugees left the Thailand camps. A chapter ended in YWAM's history, but another began. Experienced YWAM staff followed the refugees home and began mercy ministries in Cambodia and throughout Southeast Asia. Although church planting was never the immediate intent of the refugee work, by the mid-90s, there were an estimated 52 churches in Cambodia as a result of the Christian witness in just one Thailand refugee camp.
As YWAM neared the year 2000, its 40th anniversary, it unveiled a new logo. It also prepared for the inauguration of a new President. By the year 2000, YWAM had over 11,000 staff from over 130 countries. To reflect this diversity and also to lead it well, YWAM developed a new leadership role, the Executive Chairman, which Jim Stier stepped into, and made the presidency a three-year rotating position. It named Frank Naea, who is both Samoan and Maori, its first non-western President. This reflected YWAM itself, which had become almost 50 percent non-western.
At YWAM's 40th anniversary event in Mangere, New Zealand, that cultural diversity was celebrated along with YWAM's new President. The week-long "Hui" (a Maori word for "gathering") featured cultural expressions of all kinds from four different stages, with video teleconferencing links to eight sites on four continents simultaneously.
"I walk away astounded," commented Loren Cunningham afterwards, "astounded that I'm allowed to be a part of this mission, that is so diverse and so global and such wonderful people. I love being with such radical people. They can be radical in their praise and celebration and then the next minute radical in their repentance and weeping before God." He added, "I think the future will so much more glorious than the past. That's what I fully expect."
In 2003, YWAM reached another milestone as leaders of YWAM and Mercy Ships agreed to release Mercy Ships to become a separate ministry. "We were happy to give this freedom to Mercy Ships," said Jim Stier. At the same time, YWAM unveiled a new global plan, called "4K", to reach further into the neediest parts of the world. Said Jim Stier, "I believe we are on the brink of the greatest multiplication we have yet seen in our YWAM family."
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