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Why Hawaii?

This volcanic rock in the middle of the Pacific… the most remote island chain on earth… doesn’t sound like a choice location for one of the world’s largest mission training centers. But God’s ways are above our ways, His thoughts above our thoughts.

In 1973, during an all-night prayer meeting near Honolulu on the island of Oahu, God spoke to Loren Cunningham and other YWAM leaders, staff and students about YWAM starting a work on the “Big Island” of Hawaii. To one, He gave the letter “K”, to another, the word “Kona”. Others saw visions of very specific places where YWAM was to locate.

This amazing time of “hearing God’s voice” (the story of our mission!) led Loren and others to embark on a faith adventure that involved incredible miracles – including the provision of the Pacific Empress Hotel and land where YWAM-Kona’s University of the Nations now stands…

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YWAM Kona's University of the Nations Campus

YWAM Kona is a place of great vision… our University of the Nations campus reflects that. With 4 major ministry centers, more than 10 classroom / dormitory buildings and a solar powered 3000 person capacity cafeteria this is a place where the nations gather to go!


In 1978, Dr. Loren Cunningham, founder of YWAM, and Dr. Howard V. Malmstadt, renowned educator and scientist co-founded the Pacific & Asia Christian University (PACU).Their premise was that students could be equipped to bring transformation into the foundational areas of society worldwide through practical training and a Biblical worldview. In 1989, the PACU was renamed the University of the Nations to reflect its growing international presence.

The unique training methods of the University of the Nations were created in large part by Malmstadt. Leveraging his previous experience in course development and World War II training, he created a system to maximize student learning, innovation and application. This system is based on intensive modular courses and immediate field application, a creative atmosphere in the classroom and one-on-one contact between staff and students.

After first campus was launched in Kona, Hawaii, University of the Nations expanded across the world. Other large U of N campuses are located in Jeju, South Korea; Perth, Australia; and Lausanne, Switzerland. Today the UofN offers more than 800 different courses and seminars,  in countless languages, at approximately 600 locations in 140+ countries.

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About YWAM


Christ’s love inspires us to use many creative means to make His gospel understood to any audience. We use tools such as music, performing arts and sports to connect with people of all ages and develop friendships which can lead to conversations of eternal value. YWAM also starts churches in places where there may be no church at all. We believe everyone has the right to hear the good news about Jesus and our hope is to see fellowships of believers worshipping and following Jesus in every nation, tribe and tongue.


Through our training programs we aim to better equip Christians to grow in their relationship with God and to serve others in everything from agriculture and healthcare, to business development and biblical counseling. Our introductory course, the DTS (Discipleship Training School), is offered in many nations and languages. It’s an intensive five months of growing more like Jesus and serving Him in the world. YWAM’s University of the Nations (U of N) offers specialized study in areas such as science and technology, linguistics, the humanities, and Christian ministry.


If you believe it, you have to live it. YWAM’s mercy ministry teams follow Jesus’ example of compassion to those in need. We operate relief and development programs in over 100 countries, working among people living in desperate circumstances. Our volunteers serve in areas such as agricultural assistance, the prevention of human trafficking, health care, and micro-enterprise development. Their goal is to ease suffering and provide hope for those affected by poverty, disease or injustice.

Our Campus Handbook

The Handbook is a statement of the University of the Nations, Kona (UofNK or University) purpose regarding topics as University organizational structure, volunteer and student policies, and community life and services. This Handbook represents the official position of the UofNK on any practice or procedure that it addresses.

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Last updated Fall, 2018

Our Staff

YWAM Kona staff represent every content and many countries. As a movement YWAM champions all cultures, ages and backgrounds. This is reflected in our staff ohana and our leadership team. All YWAM Kona staff are volunteers who raise funds for their living and travel expenses – as such, our people are our greatest resource. Their passion and commitment embody our ethos of “Knowing God and Making God Known”.

Big Island and Kona

The University of the Nations’ Kona campus is located on what is commonly known as the ‘Big Island’ of Hawaii. The Big Island is just one of the eight major Hawaiian Islands, but is nearly twice as large as all of the others combined.


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Polynesian voyagers from the Marquesas Islands are believed to have first settled on the Big Island about 1,500 years ago and lived together rather peacefully for centuries. The Tahitians arrived later, bringing with them their god of war. This led to an oppressive class system called the “Kapu system” and violent forms of worship including human sacrifice. 

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THE UNIVERSITY OF THE NATIONS IS NOT ACCREDITED BY AN ACCREDITING AGENCY RECOGNIZED BY THE UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF EDUCATION.  Admission to the University of the Nations (U of N) and any of its sponsored programs is open to qualified individuals regardless of race, color, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, and educationally unrelated handicaps. U of N reserves the right to change schedules and course offerings as deemed necessary.

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