We Live in a Fallen World

I’m sure many have heard that Youth With A Mission lost eleven of our missionaries in a tragic traffic accident on Saturday, February 24, 2024, near Arusha, Tanzania.

The incident, involving multiple vehicles, also killed fourteen others and injured twenty-one. Two of our leaders remain in critical condition. 

We are fervently praying for the injured, family members who lost loved ones, and deeply mourn the loss of our friends. 

Why do events like this happen?  

We live in a fallen world. 

We Live In a Fallen World 

Most of the YWAMers who died were leaders over various African countries, training bases, and ministries. They were taking part in a field trip when a truck driver’s brakes failed and smashed into their convoy. 

“We have not seen a tragedy of this magnitude in all of YWAM’s history and we are all devastated,” stated YWAM cofounder Darlene Cunningham in a letter dated February 26. She explained:

The individuals involved in running the Executive Masters were key YWAM leaders in the region—some leading flourishing YWAM bases; others giving leadership in the field of education and other spheres; others ministering in restricted-access locations where no one else would dare to go—and seeing the hand of God upon their ministries in amazing ways. The students attracted to the Executive Masters were the same caliber of people—life-long committed YWAM missionary pioneers. So their deaths create a massive vacuum in this part of the world for YWAM as a missionary movement.

This is a big loss, and it will take time to heal, rebuild and strengthen both families and ministries in that part of the world. 

Thanks for your prayers. The expenses in the aftermath of the accident will be substantial. If you’d like to make a donation to the relief fund, you can do it here.

We’ve all experienced losses like this, big and small. In fact personal loss, accidents, tragedy, death, war, and many other evils have been common on planet Earth for thousands of years.

It’s easy when these events happen to ask “Why, God?” “Why did this happen to me?” It’s even easy to blame God for the tragedies of life or turn away from him in bitterness and despair.

Many years ago I learned to never question God over life’s trials and tragedies. I realized from the Bible and supported by personal experience that God’s character is perfect, trustworthy, and never unjust.

God is good. Yes, all the time. 

He is not responsible for the multiplied effects of evil on earth.

Yes, there are times that God judges sin (Luke 13:4). He even uses natural calamities to awaken human hearts and bring us back into relationship with him (Isaiah 26:9).

But the main reason for accidents, people hurting other people, and the horrors of injustice that we experience is this:

We live in a fallen world.

Because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden (Original Sin) and the rest of us who have followed in their footsteps, we live in a broken world of calamities, injustice, and evil. 

Human beings are to blame–not God.

If you learn that truth well, you will save yourself a lot of angst, bitterness, tears, and bewilderment throughout your short life on earth. 

We live in a fallen world.

I began to glimpse this lesson in 1970 after my first missions trip–a Young Life basketball team–that toured the South Pacific. I was accompanied by a Young Life leader named Steff. Here’s the account from my autobiography One Small Life:

After saying farewell to my teammates and coaches, Steff and I boarded our plane to return to Seattle. I felt utter exhilaration from two months of playing basketball for Jesus and leading people to salvation. In fact, I didn’t realize it at the time, but the 1970 Young Life basketball team truly hooked me on missions.

Steff sat by the window on the return flight, and I occupied the aisle seat. As we neared Seattle, he looked at me sadly and said he must tell me something.

“Ron,” he looked down and struggled with the words, “I’ve been living in adultery. When we get back to Port Orchard I’m going to divorce by wife and marry another woman. I wanted you to learn about it from me instead of hearing it second hand.”
An arrow of shock struck my heart.

Steff was my spiritual father—Jesus-in-the-flesh to me. Had it all been a lie? Why was he disobeying God’s command and walking away from his vows to his wife, Carol, and their two beautiful daughters?

My teenage mind struggled to understand. Steff told me other details, but my mind scarcely heard a word. I was in shock. Disbelief.

My “Jesus” was living in sin.

We landed at Sea-Tac airport and returned to our homes after the greatest summer of my life—yet amid deep confusion. Steff did divorce his wife and marry a woman with whom he had been sleeping. Then he divorced her, moved out of town, and married another.

I ached for him, his family, and the blemish he had placed on God’s Name.

But a rock-solid truth was established during those days which still guides my life. Jesus doesn’t fail. God never moves. Human beings mess things up, sin, hurt, and even destroy other lives. In fact, those disobedient human being can include me. But never Jesus.

I was learning a pivotal life lesson. 

We live in a fallen world.

During that same era, my dad went to prison for three years when I was in high school. The charge? Attempted murder. Problem was he was innocent. It was wrong, cruel, unjust. I could have become bitter and even blamed God. But I didn’t. I continued to learn:

We live in a fallen world.

Imagine those that lived through the Holocaust during World War II. I met one of them–Corrie ten Boom– in 1974 during my first YWAM summer of service. She, like others, lost her entire family to the gruesome slaughter of the Nazis. Yet, she became a global ambassador of forgiveness and reconciliation. Tanta Corrie knew the truth.

We live in a fallen world.

Last year I read some books about the atrocities of of the second world war. I was amazed there were literally tens of millions of rapes by Japanese, German, and Russian soldiers in both the European and Pacific theaters. The Japanese called their Korean victims “comfort girls.” Imagine the scars left in those lives with the tendency to be broken, angry, or bitter. How do you cope with such personal humiliation and injustice? You understand:

We live in a fallen world.

Think of the evil of abortion worldwide, numbering possibly one-to-two billion over the last one hundred years. The unwanted babies went into eternity. Women were scarred by killing their children. Fathers felt guilt over never being able to hold their son or daughter. Why do people make terrible decisions like these?

We live in a fallen world.

Darlene Cunningham, co-founder of YWAM, ended a letter to the worldwide YWAM family regarding the Tanzania accident encouraging us to: 1) Hang onto God who is just and kind (Psalm 145:17),  2) Be like Job and endure suffering (Job 42:2), 3) Do not live in fear (Isaiah 41:10), and 4) Remember God is our protector (the Psalms).

Jesus personally experienced the wickedness of humankind via his betrayal, disinformation trial, cruel whipping, and tortuous death on the Cross. But he knew:

We live in a fallen world.

He also knew that one day He will redeem it.


  1. Doug Burleigh on March 7, 2024 at 8:23 am

    Ron, Enjoyed our brief time together recently.
    So sorry for the YWAM tragedy. You wonder how long the truck driver procrastinated getting his brakes fixed. Our world is in shambles—Joe will give his State of the Union Delusion tonight. We are
    praying for a sea change in November. Thanks for your diligence in continually shining the light on Truth vs. darkness.

    • Ron Boehme on March 7, 2024 at 5:28 pm

      Yes, it was great to see you. Thanks for giving me time.

      I had a nice discipleship time with Megan Hackman this morning> I think you know her from Chapel Hill.

      I am praying for you and your work among the nations!

  2. Grace Running-Nichols on March 6, 2024 at 8:10 pm

    Thank you Ron. Beautifully written though heart-wrenching. Yes, God is the same—always good, pouring out grace and truth, to draw and redeem us. You’ve encouraged us to remember His promises and presence—as you always do!

    • Ron Boehme on March 7, 2024 at 5:30 pm

      Thanks. Simply trying to be faithful.

      If you’d like a copy of my life story, please send me your physical address and I’ll get it off to you.

      God richly bless you.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.