YWAM Philippine History


Youth with A Mission’s founder, Loren Cunningham, was the first YWAMer to visit the Philippines, arriving in 1963.  Six years later, a YWAM  ‘Round the World’ team came for a short-term outreach followed in 1970 by an ‘Asian Circle’ team.  The latter group spent several months ministering in the southern regions of the country under the leadership of Ross Tooley. In 1972, Kel Steiner and Mike Shelling pioneered YWAM Philippines’ first permanent ministry center in Baguio City.


During this period Ross and Margaret Tooley served as the national leaders of YWAM Philippines. They were centers in Baguio, and the focus of the ministry was on the student population. From Baguio, YWAM teams traveled to and ministered in the mountain areas of Ifugao, Benguet and Mountain Province as well as other parts of the country.  In 1979, Graeme and Mary Jones began a YWAM work in Davao City in the south.


The year 1983 marked the beginning of a permanent YWAM work in Metro Manila pioneered by a creative ministries team from Hawaii. Kel Steiner assumed the National Directorship and moved the national headquarters to Quezon City.  Between 1984 and 1986, six more ministry locations opened in Manila, as well as bases in  Banaue, Bontoc, Olongapo/Subic, and Surigao City.  Also, a number of indigenous churches were planted among squatter communities in Manila and among tribal peoples in Baguio City and the Cordillera mountains.


This was a turbulent period for the nation with the EDSA revolution, six coup d’etat attempts, the Baguio City earthquake and Mount Pinatubo’s eruption, along with a number of typhoons and floods.  YWAM Philippines underwent a period of consolidation following the earlier rapid growth, Kel Steiner passed on the YWAM leadership to Larry Baldock in 1989.

In 1989, YWAM leaders met at the University of Life in Pasig, Metro Manila to seek God for His vision for the future ministry of YWAM in the Philippines.  They believed God was calling our mission to make a concerted effort to establish new ministries in key urban centers throughout the nation which would lay a groundwork for releasing Filipinos into mission fields abroad. God spoke through the scripture, “Lengthen your cords, strengthen your tent pegs, for you will spread abroad to the right and the left and your descendants will possess the desolate cities.”  (Isaiah 54:2,3).

These new YWAM ministries would be established according to the word of the Lord given to the leadership at each location as well as being consistent with the mission’s overall Statement of Purpose.


These seven years witnessed another period of growth in which YWAM established new centers and operating locations in Abra, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, Angeles, Bacolod, Palawan and Aparri. The number of staff grew to approximately 220, with Filipinos compromising 60% of the staff and 50% of the leadership. Overseas missionary effort had also increased, with long-term Filipino missionaries serving in Africa, China, Indonesia, India and Cambodia, and short-term teams visiting Eastern Europe, Siberia, Mongolia, India, the nations of South East Asia and participating in outreaches at the Barcelona and Atlanta Olympics.


The year 1997 marked the 25th  anniversary of Youth With A Mission in the Philippines. A special anniversary celebration was held in Baguio City, with guests including Loren Cunningham, Ross & Margaret Tooley, Kel Steiner and many former YWAM co-workers.

The Lord spoke that YWAM Philippines was now stepping into a new phase of ministry; not simply a new chapter, but a whole new book. At that time, Larry Baldock turned over the National Leadership to Carlo Ratilla, and YWAM adopted a new structure where more of the initiative, decisions and responsibility would rest with Regional and Ministry leaders rather than the with the National Leadership.

This period witnessed growth in the depth of ministry, with an increase in the number and types of training schools, more students attending these schools, more Filipino short-term participants, and more YWAMers involved long-term among the un-reached. Two new operating locations were established in Naga City and Albay in the Bicol region.

At the 1999 staff conference in Cebu, Carlo Ratilla handed over the National Leadership responsibility to John Parsons.

2001 to 2005

As of January 2002, YWAM Philippines presently has about 275 staff working in 21 centers and operating locations. As we move further into the 21st  century, we are seeing a greater release of leadership at all levels, as well as the power and excitement of a new generation of youth now emerging and rising to the challenge of world evangelization.

Ministry has continued to grow, and Administrative and University of the Nations Leadership Teams were developed to better facilitate ministry.

During 2001 National Staff Conference in Davao City, with YWAM International President Frank Naea as guest, the Lord spoke to the staff of YWAM Philippines to fight for their spiritual inheritance in this nation and to focus on the challenge of reaching our neighboring nations Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar. God also reminded us that whoever holds Manila holds the nation and we must love this great city and do our part to disciple her.

2005 to the Present

At the 2005 staff conference in Baguio, John Parsons turned over the National Leadership responsibility to Aurelio Loseo. We see at this time as Aurelio takes the leadership that we are entering into a great time of growth and development for YWAM Philippines as we move more and more into reaching the vision of 4k Target 116 Philippines.