In the spring of 1945, a man from Chicago named O.C. Johnson began building a half-million dollar lodge and resort on his property on the southeast shore of Potato Lake, Wisconsin. It was given the name, Opinikaning Tee Pee Lodge, the Indian name for Potato. After Mr. Johnson’s death in 1962, Mrs. Johnson sold the lodge and property to Wynot, an organization where alcoholics could receive rehabilitation and “get a new grip on life.”
In 1972, the property was acquired by Eden Ministries Inc., a development of Daystar Ministries. The following year Bill & Lou Lemke and John & Fern Degner hosted their first of many church retreats and began a one-year discipleship program for inner healing and personal restoration. In 1986, Eden Ministries officially became a part of the world-renown missionary organization, Youth With A Mission (YWAM). Rolling with momentum, the Lemkes and Degners fused their passion for discipleship with the structure of YWAM’s legendary 5-month missions training program called the Discipleship Training School, or DTS. Out of these schools, teams were sent out to minister in Israel, Mexico and parts of Central America. Adding to their numbers, the campus started a family focused school, welcoming couples and children to come for marriage enrichment and family counseling in the early 1990s.
Eden YWAM’s pioneering made a way for thousands from local churches to take short-term missions trips to Mexico. As influence and interest grew south of the border, a new YWAM Campus was planted in the city of Monterrey, Mexico in 1995. At about the same time, many staff reached out to local Native American children and families, which would later lead to the first ever YWAM DTS for Native Americans. Natives came from remote and isolated places in Canada and the US. This helped launch the building of a First Nations ministry, Discovery, which opened it’s doors to the people of Lac Coutre Oreilles Band of Chippewa Indians near Hayward, Wisconsin in the late 1990s.
The turn of the millennium marked a shift in vision for YWAM. With the shift came a new name, YWAM Northwoods. Many adopted a desire to reach unreached people groups of the earth with the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Since 2003, full-time and on-going works have been established in Turkey, Morocco, Thailand and Brazil.