Excitement built on January 15, 2017 as 432 participants and more than 60 children from 43 countries flooded into the newly built auditorium and University of the Nations (UofN) campus for DNA Infusion Asia at Battambang, Cambodia. Only a few weeks prior to the DNA, the YWAM Battambang staff had moved onto this 17-acre property, their "promised land," and it was a joy to welcome the DNA as their first international YWAM event. As the people from the various nations rolled in like waves, it was the beginning fulfillment of years of words from the Lord that one day this land would be a training hub and “lighthouse to the nations” for people to come FROM everywhere to be equipped and refreshed and sent back out TO everywhere!
The high-ceilinged auditorium built to fit 1000 people danced with color as more than 50 national flags were hung from the rafters and graced the stage. Front and center above the stage was a beautiful back-lit cross, to serve as a constant reminder of Jesus, our focal point and vision as a mission.
It was significant that this DNA for all of Asia was hosted in Cambodia, as it was only four decades ago that this nation was devastated by the genocide of an estimated 2-3 million of her people at the hateful hands of the Khmer Rouge. Today, she is rising from the ashes by the grace of God and knowing a growing missions movement, motivated by God’s love. This was a redemptive and faith- giving testimony of what God is doing not only in Cambodia, but in all of Asia, as He is raising up a new wave of missionaries, calling them to play their role in the fulfillment of the Great Commission! The DNA began with a traditional Cambodian blessing dance as well as a celebration of all the nations that had gathered. When Loren Cunningham, Founder of YWAM, honored each country by doing a “role call,” the crowd clapped and cheered their welcome and approval, making each nation proud to be a part of the kingdom of God!
The DNA Infusion was a two-week seminar led by YWAM co-founder, Darlene Cunningham that imparted the foundational values, beliefs, history, and vision of YWAM. Much of the time felt like “family time,” sitting at the feet of our spiritual fathers and mothers, listening to stories of how God has guided our YWAM tribe, and His great faithfulness.
Loren, Darlene and David Hamilton (UofN Vice President for Strategic Innovation) took us back in history, sharing their personal testimonies of their legacy and calling: Loren was called by God at age 12 through a vision of Mark 16:15 to be a preacher of the gospel to all nations; Darlene was called at age 9 to be a missionary and later “a foot-washer to those who wash others’ feet,” playing whatever role is needed to further God’s purposes, and David was called to be a catalyst to see a missions movement arise out of Chile, as well as to be a missions innovator and Bible researcher.
Day one of the DNA began with a little taste of heaven, as our worship focused on Jesus. The echo of God's praise from all of the nations was a foretaste of Rev. 7:9, where every nation, kindred, tribe and tongue will worship Him around the throne in heaven. We were challenged that gratitude and faith go hand-in-hand, and encouraged to persevere in the unique calling God has placed upon us as a mission.
Who is Jesus to you? Darlene shared a powerful opening message on YWAM Foundational Value #1 “Knowing God,” entitled "Who is Jesus to you?" This was particularly significant because God had “downloaded” this message to her in the back seat of a taxi as she travelled across the landscape of Cambodia when she came to speak in the first DTS run at YWAM Battambang in 2007. The list of Jesus’ wonderful attributes went on and on, and the session ended in a wonderful application of asking and declaring in prayer who Jesus is to each one of us personally.
4 Legacy Words. When Loren spoke following Darlene, he emphasized Value #2, “Making God Known” by sharing many personal stories about his life and calling to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.” Throughout the DNA, four Legacy Words were identified that God gave to Loren at different points in YWAM’s history to serve as guideposts to lead us into the future. They are 1. The Vision of the Waves of young people, going from everywhere to everywhere; 2. The Christian Magna Carta; 3. The Seven Spheres of influence; 4. The challenge to End Bible Poverty Now.
DTS Doorway. The first afternoon, we had a fun time of personal introductions using a “DTS Doorway,” as the Discipleship Training School is the gate through which every YWAMer enters the mission and it is the initial time of imparting the YWAM DNA to every member around the globe. David called everyone to come forward according to the year they did their DTS, starting with 2017 and working our way back to the first school in 1969. Each person walked through the doorway and announced their name and where they did their DTS to the cheers and celebration of all. We discovered that we had done DTSs at 77 different YWAM bases in 30 different countries, and among us we spoke 91 languages. 80% of the DNA participants were under 35 years of age; 80% were indigenous Asians; and 80% were first-generation Christians!
Belief Tree. Later in the DNA, Darlene shared on the Belief Tree, emphasizing that a primary way of passing on DNA to the next generation is by making sure that our beliefs (roots) align with a Biblical Christian worldview; our values (trunk) are the expression of our beliefs; our values determine the principles by which we make decisions (branches); and our choices result in our actions (fruit). In this way, our lives become a living display of what we believe and value, and a model for imparting these beliefs and values to others. In application of this teaching, groups gathered according to the locations where they work and did an assessment of which YWAM Foundational Values are strong at their base, and which values need some work/improvement.
YWAM Covenants. David shared a wonderful understanding of the covenant God made with Abraham in Genesis 15, which still pertains to us today. Basically God said “even if you break this covenant, I will pay the price to keep it,” which He did, through the death of Jesus on the Cross. David then made a comparison between the Abrahamic covenant and God’s foundational covenant with YWAM, which is the first Legacy Word, the vision of the waves of young people going from everywhere to everywhere. Just as Abraham was seeking a son, and God promised him many descendants, so Loren was only asking God for the text for his evening sermon when God downloaded the vision of the waves that would lead Loren to start a missions movement that would release millions into their inheritance. David then walked us through many YWAM re-commitment covenants: the Manila Covenant, the Red Sea Covenant, the Nanning Covenant, the Jubilee Covenant and the Singapore Covenant.
YWAM Global Prayer Day: On the second morning of the DNA, we joined with the focus of January’s YWAM Global Prayer Day to pray for unity within the body of Christ. One thing that was underscored was a vision God has given the body of Christ in Cambodia called Mission Kampuchea 2021 to see a church planted in every village by 2021.
On Wednesday, after taking a group photo of our nearly 500 participants and children with a drone (fun!), we had the privilege of thanking the architects who designed the new UofN campus, 100-Fold Studio. Their story of dependence of God for every detail of their work was an example of Christians working in the spheres – in this case, the sphere of the Economy, including Science & Technology.
Protocol & Pastors’ Gathering
Thursday, January 19th was a very special day. We had the privilege of having the Buddhist Provincial Governor with us for a time of blessing the new campus that is being pioneered by YWAM, as well as a gathering of several hundred pastors from the surrounding area. The governor paid high respects to the mission of YWAM and its founder, Loren Cunningham, as well as to the founding base leader Garth Gustafson. He thanked YWAM for all the influence and help they are giving to improve Battambang in the spheres of education, agriculture and health, and he pledged to continue to assist YWAM to fulfill their mission. Many of the local pastors commented that they had never before experienced such favor and close relationship with the provincial government.
Following the protocol time with the Governor, the pastors stayed on for a day of teaching with Loren and the DNA participants. Many were surprised to see with their own eyes the facilities God has provided – and many were quite surprised to discover that no one in YWAM receives a salary!
At the outset of his time, Loren spoke about the former state of Cambodia as it was emerging from the control of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, and he shared about YWAM's involvement serving in the refugee camps, as Cambodians flooded into Thailand. He gave many examples of once devastated nations, such as South Korea, who have been blessed by God as a nation to the degree that they have embraced the word of God and begun to live by His principles. This was a very encouraging word to the nation of Cambodia, that God will increase His blessing as they embrace His word. He asked how many of the pastors had been in the refugee camps in Thailand themselves, and more than 100 stood. Many had found Jesus there, and they expressed excitement and thankfulness, with tears streaming down their faces, as they recalled being impacted by YWAM’s ministries in the camps – the soap factory, medical work, a bank, Post Office, sewing center, English classes, etc. Through the refugee crisis, God turned what the enemy had planned for evil and used it for good: a Jesus movement ignited that is continuing today. Loren affirmed the pastors’ unified call through Mission Kampuchea 2021 to get the Word of God into every home, because everywhere the Word goes, a spiritual awakening follows.
UofN Campus Dedication. On January 19th, we also committed this new University of the Nations campus to the Lord. YWAM/UofN Kona sent their prayers and congratulations on this spiritual mile- marker, and the pastors and DNA participants all signed placards to state that they were witnesses to the birth of this new ministry location.
Over the weekend, the unity of the January 19th pastors’ event in Battambang was mirrored at similar events, as Loren and a traveling team went to Siem Reap and Phnom Phen, the two largest cities of Cambodia, where they shared on missions and mobilizing God's people to work together to see churches planted in every village of Cambodia by 2021.
Saturday Outings. Also over the weekend, believing that much of our learning takes place in “informal” times and settings, the DNA leadership organized outings for the participants to explore Cambodia, also known as the “Kingdom of Wonder.” Groups went to a waterfall in Pailin, Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat (one of the seven ancient wonders of the world), the Bat Caves and Killing Caves in Battambang, or the Crocodile Farm and Bamboo Train in Battambang.
Community Nights & UofN Graduation: Two very significant events took place during the DNA that involved the local Battambang community on the first and second Wednesday nights. David Hamilton spoke at the first Community Night on missions, inspiring us all to make our lives count for “zero,” meaning we would commit to work for the Great Commission until there are zero unreached nations and villages, zero languages without a Bible translation...zero, zero, zero! This was a great night to engage local believers for missions! Secondly, on
January 25th, we had a University of the Nations graduation ceremony, with 11 Cambodians and one international student receiving Associate of Arts degrees from the College of Christian Ministries (one of the seven colleges in the UofN). It was exciting to hear from the students how God had used the uniqueness of the UofN to equip them for their calling: many of the students have vision to minister within unreached people groups and to pioneer in unreached nations such as Laos!
Intercession & Multi-lingual worship. Wonderful times of multi-lingual and multi-cultural worship were woven throughout the DNA, with gifted teams giving leadership from Bali, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and India, as well as Siem Reap and Battambang, Cambodia. Friday night was a special evening of worship, interspersed with dances and songs from the nations. We also had one morning of prayer focused on the YWAM refugee ministry now taking place in Europe and around the world, as refugees flood in from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. There was a strong bond, knowing Cambodia’s own recent refugee history and the ways that God turned what the enemy planned for evil to bring Cambodian refugees to Jesus who, upon return, are now helping to lead the Church in their nation and a missions movement from their nation. The fruit that came from engaging with the refugee crisis in Cambodia in the 1980s should challenge and build our faith, motivating YWAM and the body of Christ to engage in ministering within current refugee situations in the world. God can redeem and birth new things out of these crises; beauty out of ashes.
Generosity, Faith & Finances. David Hamilton spoke on the importance of developing a culture of volunteerism and generosity at the heart of any missions movement, and told many faith-building stories from his years of pioneering YWAM Chile. Later Loren spoke about God’s principles in faith and finances. This led into an application of these teachings, as an offering was taken during the second week for several different needs. It was an exciting and faith-building time, as everyone young and old listened to God and gave. In the end the offering totals exceeded what was needed: 1. $4,000 needed to cover outstanding DNA fees – offering totaled $5,358 (the overflow will go toward Battambang campus construction); 2. $4,000 needed by a couple pioneering a new base in China – the total given was $15,256.10 which will help with many other needs at this pioneering stage; 3. Gifts toward Battambang Campus construction $8,460 (matching gift will bring that total to $16,920). In addition, spontaneous offerings began to build, as people listened to the Lord: $4507 was given for YWAM Biarritz, France to pioneer a new base in Lesvos, Greece, ministering to the refugees pouring in from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and $2000 was given to YWAM Myanmar for work among a refugee group of displaced people. In the midst of the financial offering, there were many acts of generosity of things and encouraging words amongst the participants. To our surprise and delight, the total that came in – from a bunch of “broke” YWAMers – was $35,577.10 (with a matching gift of $8460 to be added to that). Everyone had opportunity to be generous – whether or not they had any money to give.
Breakouts & Circle Sessions: Throughout the seminar there were afternoon breakout sessions on a variety of topics which participants could choose from: Business as Mission, Word by Heart, Pioneering, Worship, Assisting Leaders, Campus Development, UofN Degree planning, etc. There were also Circles of relationships held the second week to bring people together in networks around areas such as children’s ministry, education, refugee work, business as missions, ASEAN Collaborative DTS, Asia Leaders Learning Community, etc.
During the second week of the DNA, Darlene shared some very important and practical messages on discovering the gifts that God has given to you – and understanding that the ones He DIDN’T give are part of the plan, as it leaves us in interdependence on one another. She gave a well-received session on Parenting/Families in Missions and spoke at the end of the DNA on How not to lose your Zeal.
Pioneering & Co-Creating with God
Also during the second week, Loren shared five steps in co- creating with God: 1) Think God’s Thoughts, 2) Pray God’s Prayers, 3) Feel God’s Feelings, 4) Declare God’s Vision/Words, 5) Do God’s Work. He emphasized that God wants to co-create new ministries, locations and methods with us, but the best co-creating we can do is to work together with Him to see people become new creations in Christ through salvation.
End Bible Poverty Now. Throughout the DNA seminar, there was a strong emphasis on one of the four Legacy Words, Ending Bible Poverty by 2020. There are still 1,671 languages that do not yet have the word of God. Six different ways were laid out in which we can be involved: 1) Prayer; 2) Translation (including oral to oral translation); 3) Production/Publishing; 4) Distribution 5) Education 6) Engagement. To spur us into action, innovative Bible engagement resources were presented, such as the new Source View Bible App designed by David Hamilton and a new Bible distribution tracking app designed by Rob Wiebe called Share Bibles, which is being used in Thailand but will soon be available to be used in all countries.
On the second Wednesday morning of the DNA we laid out a huge 4K map on the floor of the hall where hundreds of us began to walk and pray to End Bible Poverty Now. We prayed for Bible translation, distribution and innovation to come to every nation, country, city, village and home, so that the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.
On the final day, we had a time of expressing gratitude to the MANY people who worked joyfully to make the DNA happen. In addition to the months of work by YWAM Battambang staff to prepare and host the event, there were DTS teams that came from Kona Hawaii, Lakeside Montana, Kansas City, Missouri and Paris, France. A special highlight was thanking those who had run a children’s program for our 62 kids – and watching the children give a performance. That time ended with all the “Wee- WAMers” sitting at the feet of “grandma and grandpa” Cunningham to be blessed and prayed for by the founders of the mission.
The DNA closed with a profound and beautiful time of candlelight prayer on the 4K floor map, as we commissioned new pioneering works to China, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and several new locations within Cambodia. We also commissioned people into new leadership roles in Southeast Asia, including the commissioning of Samphas Chea as the Campus Director of UofN Battambang.
DNA Asia was a wonderful time of fellowship, equipping and launching new ministries...but the true proof of its value will be shown in the growth and fruitfulness that comes throughout South East Asia in the weeks, months and years to come.... To God be the glory!
- Text by Kara Zimmerle with Dawn Gauslin; photos by Dawn Gauslin.