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Cook Islands YWAM leader pays tribute to organisation founderal

Monday 30 October 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Local, National


Cook Islands YWAM leader pays tribute to organisation founderal
Cook Islands Christian Church Director of Evangelism and Missions, and Director of Youth with a Mission Cook Islands Volley Tangiataua. 23102480

A Cook Islands Christian leader has given thanks following the passing of a founding member of an interdenominational training organisation.

Cook Islands Christian Church Director of Evangelism and Missions and Youth with a Mission (YWAM) Cook Islands Director Volley Tangiataua has a long association with YWAM.

He has spoken to Cook Islands News following the death of Loren Cunningham, founder of YWAM, aged 88, on October 6.  

Tangiataua and his family volunteered with YWAM in Burma for 18 years and have given the organisation more than 30 years of service.

“As a young boy growing up in Mangaia, I heard stories of missionaries from Tamarua, my village, who left and brought the Gospel as far as Papua New Guinea,” he said.

“The journey to the unknown was difficult for them. Many lost their lives and became martyred for their faith in Jesus.”

He said some of them were his relatives, like Ruatoka and many others from his family who obeyed the call of God in their lives.

“They went and died, only a few came back.

“So that inspired me as a young child to follow the footsteps of my fathers by taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who haven’t had the chance to hear the Gospel.”

Tangiataua said YWAM teams came in the mid1980s to Mangaia and shared the Gospel and residents to follow Jesus.

“That was the beginning of my journey with YWAM.

“In 1988, the first Discipleship Training School (DTS) was held in Mangaia in the village of Tamarua in my family home.

“Seven of us Cook Islanders did the DTS Training.

“In 1989 several of us formed a team called the Second Wave and we went to work among the Native Indians in Canada. During that time, God opened my eyes to see that there are many people out there who haven’t had the chance to hear the Gospel, unlike us in the Cook Islands, we have heard the Gospel many times.

“From there God took me on a journey with Jesus in Asia. I did YWAM training schools in Singapore and went to Bangladesh from 1991 to 1995. I worked among the Muslims, sharing the Gospel of Jesus.”

When Tangiataua and his family were living in Myanmar (Burma) serving with YWAM, Loren Cunningham and his wife Darlene went to visit them.

“He shared in our YWAM staff meeting again to encourage us and our young people to follow the call of God in their lives.”

Tangiataua said YWAM was an instrument God used to prepare him and many others to extend the eternal kingdom to the world.

“So, from the bottom of my heart, I am grateful and thankful that God raised Loren Cunningham to inspire many young people like me to follow Jesus and to obey the call of God in our lives.

“That really reminded me of my fathers that obeyed the call of God in their lives. Up to today, my own children are following the call of God for their lives.

“One of my daughters went to Nepal for her outreach (two- month mission trip with YWAM) and my son went to Fiji for his outreach.”

Loren Cunningham founded Youth With A Mission in 1960.

Tens of thousands of full-time staff participate from more than 200 countries and various denominations and Christian traditions, serving at more than 2000 YWAM locations in nearly 200 nations. 

Millions have served in YWAM programmes as students, short-term volunteers and full-time staff.

Global initiatives launched under his leadership included YWAM Olympic Outreaches, the International Torch Run, Cardinal Points Prayer Days, the University of the Nations, YWAM Ships (28 vessels currently serve the most isolated islands and coastlands), Pray OMT, and myriads of other ministries birthed by leaders he inspired.