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The Live/Learn Environment: Its Value and History in YWAM/UofN

by Loren Cunningham

It is important that we regularly discuss our Live/Learn Value to refresh our memories, and understanding, for purposes of clarity and unity. It would be good to review these values from the catalogue as well as brochures that the public reads. These documents, plus our Web sites have now been read worldwide by hundreds of thousands of people, especially parents, pastors, Christian leaders, prospective students and supporters, as well as government agents. We in leadership must constantly refresh our awareness of our corporate communication of the Live/Learn Value and its implications in all our decision making.

In essence, Live/Learn means community - that is, "together" - for the purposes of learning. Jesus had it with the twelve. The schools of the prophets in the Old Testament had it, as did John the Baptist. Paul had it in Acts 19. Augustine had it in his 13 schools, as did the Catholic orders through the ages and then the Protestant missions. They established a community of common values, learned together and began to reach out to others to bring change in individuals and societies. The fruitfulness or results always depended on the purity and unity of the community around their values.

The founding of these principles and values came into the U of N with much deliberation, prayer, discussion, reconsidering and then "it out again" at the beginning in 1978. These values are an extension and application of what we had learned over the years in YWAM. But we had to walk out new implications in the University of the Nations.

The community, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, created "of protection" (our values) and the "were the appointed, anointed" leaders (our interpreters and enforcers of the values).

These are the questions we raised and answered at that formative stage of the U of N:

  1. "Do we take in non-Christian students?" No - and to ensure that they are Christians - they must do a DTS/CDTS first. "Wouldn't the university be a good evangelistic tool to bring in lost youth?" we were asked. No, the University is for discipling Christian leaders; not for evangelizing students. Evangelism is an integral part of the University, but as students participate in it on outreach. This preserves the identity of the YWAM community and its purpose as a model, an incubator, and a test tube for God's Word in action. This serves as a protection, in order to enhance the discipling process. Some have asked," that just creating hot house Christians?" No, but it does create a nurturing environment. Nature teaches you need a womb, then a family to give birth and raise children. We don't apologize for training only Christians; our task is to produce disciples that are world changers, and in a sinful, out-of-control society, an intentional Christian environment is a necessity to maximize learning.
  2. "Do we take in staff who are not YWAM?" No, they must do a DTS/CDTS first.
  3. "What about staff with grown non-Christian family living in YWAM community?" They must live off campus so there's no wrongful influence on others.
  4. "What about Mission Builders?" They may live in the YWAM community for six months with only one possible six-month extension. It is understood that they must be Christian and be a volunteer with their pastor's recommendation. If they choose to extend their time further with YWAM, they must do a DTS/CDTS.
  5. "What about Resource Teachers?" They must be believers in and followers of Christ and reflect our values and give only short term input to the students and staff.

These are our walls of protection. I, and all of our leaders, must watch these walls so that they not breached. This, of course, is one of at least three of our priority mandates as spiritual leader - i.e. maintaining our values.

Even non-believing government officials have understood our community and our values. One had complained that our foreign students were violating the law by doing a 2-hour work duty per day on campus. When we explained our Live/Learn Value and that formal, informal and non formal education is a life style taught among our people in community, the problem was solved. When they understood that our staff were teaching the students Christian values and character through the Live/Learn Value, that understanding became the basis for government officials allowing our foreign students to work on campus in Kona.

Several of our ILT members were at the LTS in Pune, India, where the school was held at the local YMCA facilities. The YMCA movement was " YWAM of 100 years ago," with the leader, John R. Mott, pressing for the completion of the Great Commission by 1900. Out of the YMCA movement came the student volunteer movement which gave rise to Wycliffe Translators, etc. Mott would no doubt try to tear down with his hands the YMCA in Pune if he were there today. Although it has a nominal Christian as director, it is mostly a Hindu place, with Hindu weddings, events etc.

The International Christian University in Tokyo is mostly Buddhist. They took in more and more students, then staff, then professors and leaders who are non-Christian. Eventually it became almost entirely Buddhist. Similar things have happened to other universities that began with a Christian foundation. The American University in Cairo was founded by Presbyterian missionaries and today is run mostly by Muslims. The great Ivy League schools of Harvard and Yale likewise had Great Commission purposes, but are dominated today by secular humanists. It is unthinkable that this spiritual demise would be allowed in the lifetime of the founders of any Christian movement. It is certainly unthinkable to me for YWAM/U of N.

How do we prevent such potential slippery slopes from becoming avalanches of erosion? By leaders constantly renewing their own commitments to YWAM's Foundational Values in their daily decision making; by passing on each quarter these values to the new YWAMers; by teaching in both word and deed.

As leaders of YWAM/U of N, let us commit to review these values regularly. Let us make sure our foundations are not being eroded, either in our own personal lives or in the corporate life of YWAM/U of N at large.

The Live/Learn Environment: Its Value and History; Loren Cunningham, March, 2000; 2005 U of N Reference Guide. Copyright © 2000 by YWAM/U of N; revised 2005. All Rights Reserved.