Rudy Lack

A tribute from Darlene Cunningham

Loren and I were in ChiangMai, Thailand celebrating YWAM’s 50th anniversary with our missions family when we heard the news that our dear friend and co-worker, Rudi Lack, had gone to be with the Lord on February 3, 2010. I was the first speaker the next morning for the anniversary event, and the subject was “Gratitude.”

I began to share the story of how Loren and I first met Rudi: It was the winter of 1969 in Switzerland, and Loren was having back pains so severe that he could not sit or stand up—he could only lie prone. He had committed to speak at a church in the German part of the country. Human “wisdom” would have said that he should cancel, but Loren had a strong sense of urgency that he was to obey God and go; God would take care of his back. Several of the YWAMers at the Lausanne base propped a board behind Loren as he stood, and then leaned him back until it acted as a “stretcher.” They loaded him, laying on the board, into the back of a bread truck and drove the many winding miles through Swiss countryside to the church. When they unloaded Loren and stood him up to speak, the Lord instantaneously healed his back!

The young man who translated for Loren that day into Swiss-German was named Rudi Lack. Afterwards, he told Loren that a man of God had prophesied over him that an American would come and call him to the nations. When God called, Rudi went…and he never looked back! He was the first Swiss YWAMer and the first European YWAMer. Rudi continued to be the first in many things in YWAM; with only Loren having gone before him, he was the first YWAMer to trailblaze East Africa, South Africa, China and a host of other regions and nations.

I remember one time—I believe it was in the 70s—as we were receiving reports at a leadership conference from various nations around the world, someone commented, “Rudi is like a bumblebee—everywhere he goes, he cross-pollinates, sharing vision that leads to great fruitfulness!” The analogy stuck, and he became known as “the YWAM bumblebee.”

As I shared all of this with our Asian friends in ChiangMai, there were people present from 48 nations, and the session was being translated into five languages. I asked for those who had been personally impacted by Rudi’s life to stand, and many of the leaders who had pioneered the region stood up. Several shared that Rudi was one of the first people who had told them about YWAM.

Rudi was a life-long visionary trailblazer, and another area he faithfully pioneered was the area of books. He saw early-on what a huge impact books could have for the Kingdom. He got a copy of Loren’s first book, Is That Really You, God?, into the home of every pastor in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Throughout his lifetime, this one individual man distributed millions of Christian books! Some that he authored include BREAKTHROUGH Taking the Gospel Across Forbidden Borders (1999) and 101 Leadership Principles (2005). How very fitting that he was still active in this vision up until his homegoing, having published Spiritual Lessons Learned with Julius in 2009.

And now dear Rudi is trailblazing Heaven. A true visionary pioneer has gone home, and I KNOW he has heard the Father’s affirmation “well done, good and faithful servant!” However, here on earth, the impact of his life will continue into many generations of present and future missionaries.

22 thoughts on “Rudy Lack”

  1. Rudi was a friend and a very important co-laborer with us in Eastern Europe. Ever since that first journey to Yugoslavia with our SOE in 1970, Rudi was hooked. He smuggled Bibles and ministered to the underground church and when the wall fell, we crisscrossed the entire length and breath of the Soviet Empire sharing Jesus and distributing the millions of tracts and books that Rudi had printed. Every journey was an adventure with Rudi. Not long ago, we sat in his home sharing old stories, we laughed and cried as we reminisced our adventures around the world. The world is a different place because of Rudi Lack. We’ll miss you!
    Al & Carolyn Akimoff

  2. When Rudy had the heart issue at Colorado Springs, Eliane gave me all their books to distribute. Since I was on the local committee for the Impact World Tour, I was able to get these books to the local pastors in English and Spanish, hundreds of them. I think Rudy’s books have raised the faith level and knowledge of God for millions.

  3. Jimmy and I were so sad to hear we lost Rudi. Heaven is richer, but we are poorer, especially in YWAM.

    It’s been forty years since we met up with Rudi in Sweden on a bright autumn day. We three were trying our best to introduce YWAM to the Swedes. I remember how Rudi bounced out of his small car, which was filled to the brim with books and literature. Rudi never missed an opportunity to leave behind literature to bless people and hopefully, get them roped into world missions, too.

    I remember times when we all caught Rudi’s excitement. He was one of the first (perhaps THE first?) YWAMer to go behind the “Iron Curtain,” smuggling Bibles and literature. We loved hearing about his adventures, his close calls with communist guards.

    I remember his “little red book” project. Back then, Chairman Mao’s sayings in a little red book blanketed many parts of the world. Rudi got copies of another kind of little red book–the Gospel of John in Chinese designed to look just like Mao’s–and mobilized local Christians to distribute it to thousands of Chinese who were building a railway across East Africa.

    Rudi always had a new project. His vision was never small. It was nation-sized, every time. He was especially tuned into the needs of the developing world, and had a lifelong passion for the least evangelized. Where others saw “closed countries,” Rudi saw opportunities.

    Rudi, we’re going to miss you, friend. I hear you faced your home going with peace, saying your work was done. I pray your example will spur us on, so that we will each finish what God has given us to do.

  4. A favorite memory: Spending a weekend with a friend at Einigen. Rudi and Eliane served us a wonderful breakfast at dawn out on the grounds, with the sun rising over the mountains, and cow bells clanging in the distance. But what I remember most is the godly character of Rudi and Eliane, and how gracious, hospitable and welcoming they both were to me. "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world." John 17:24

  5. Rudi impacted my life in so many ways,and inspired me to follow my heart in some life changing decisions.Even when thousands of miles away I remind myself of Rudi’s advice and example when needing to make major decisions. I will continue to do so. My life took me on new dimensions as a result of meeting Rudi.He will be missed.

    My thoughts are with my precious friend Eliane his wife.Thank you Eliane for sharing Rudi with the World.

    Rachel Lovell

  6. Rudi Lack, my dearest friend and confidant and missionary
    extraordinaire, has died today at 4h40 pm, in a quiet bed in Saint Loup
    Hospital in Pompaples, Switzerland.

    Rudi was aware of his soon passing to the Father’s love. Just minutes
    before his death, he told his wife Eliane, "It’s all right, I’m ready,
    I’ve done all that I was called to do."

    Rudi Lack has left us with a void in our lives–we have so cherished
    our mutual friendship. He died of an aneurysm of the aorta.
    They found a hole in the aorta that was inoperable. Ten years ago, Rudi
    fell in Colorado due to the first aneurysm. The Lord has extended his
    life and ministry by ten years.

    We celebrated last Christmas Day together with Rudi and Eliane, where
    Rudi was wonderfully able to celebrate the Lord’s Supper with the
    breaking of bread with us all.

    When we traveled together to the Congo, this great Swiss German man of
    God showed the importance of servanthood by personally picking up piles
    of trash in front of a church meeting place where no one cared to get
    involved. He cleaned the trash and then taught on the vision of world
    missions inside to a packed crowd.

    Rudi married our daughter Esther and her husband Andrew in Chatel,
    Switzerland over 2 and a half years ago. Rudi Lack was our photographer
    for our wedding in 1974. Rudi went to Addis Abba, Ethiopia in 1972 to
    oversee a missions team that included Evey. Man, did he ever crack the
    whip! His father passed to Rudi the legacy of praying through the
    Bible on his knees.

    A great story-teller, Rudi gave away money like it was water. He gave
    a Kenyan friend and leader the finances to complete his house project.
    More recently, a Christian leader in France, needed a new roof
    for his house. Rudi paid for it all. He said to me all the time,
    "Don, we are not getting any younger. Don, I love to go to the
    cathedral in Romainmoutier, Switzerland, to pray, because the presence
    of God from the Cluny movement is all over that place."

    Surely the presence of God is all over Rudi Lack tonight, this day, before Jesus, where there is no darkness at all.


    Don and Evey Heckman

  7. I’m so sorry to hear this. Rudi was the first YWAMer I met (1976 in Bozeman, MT) and he left such a positive imprint on me that I happily joined YWAM two years later. He will be missed.

    Todd Johnson

  8. Mounir Boctor So sorry to hear the news. Rudy was one of the first people I met in Lausanne 1971. He was a great man of faith and vision .He always was ready to help and encourage.

  9. Tricia Garza Appler

    My husband, Joseph just told me last night when I read the news about Rudy, that Rudy was the first YWAMer he met as well, (like Todd). At Christ For The Nations in 1972, right after becoming a Christian. Loren & Floyd also taught at CFTN that same year so Joseph didn’t have a chance! :)))
    Our prayers are with Eliane…..

  10. I never imagined I could miss someone so much when I had only met them a few times. But it’s hard to fully grasp he has already gone. Pioneer, as he was and is, Rudi’s influence and encouragement is all over the globe, hovering full time in Kingdom territory and present whenever you dare to think big ideas. Rudi’s heart for the impossible was contagious and he spoke the language of the spiritually possible. He embraced the challenge of the nations and tried to find ways to help others. He sort to help us realise our dreams for central asia. He and Elianne practised warm hospitality and enlivened the weary, even their cat played a part! He is missed, but this is our Hope, that this separation is not forever.

  11. Rudi’s middle name was ‘pioneer’. He led the way for Europeans to come on board with a radical, unheard-of youth movement. He kept breaking new ground everywhere he stepped. He was so non-self promoting that we often only discovered his impact long after he was on to the next needy part of the world. He was intrepid in his evangelism, and didn’t know the term, “fear of man’. Thank you, Rudi, for showing so many of us through your passion, generosity and vision, many lessons on how God works through sold out believers. Thank you, Eliane for making it socially possible to have time with the both of you when Rudi so desperately needed your gifts.

    How ironic that the first European YWAMer died on the occasion of the mission’s 50th anniversary. Truly the building blocks are in place through people like Rudi, for the next season of our mission’s calliing.

  12. I have been pondering Don Heckman’s moving tribute to Rudy Lack and I would like the privilege of adding a few words.

    Two qualities come to mind when I think of Rudy, courage and initiative. He is an elder brother to me who always inspired in me a sense of possibility and purpose. At first I saw Rudy through the gloss of apparent adventure. He seemed to be always doing something exciting.

    I learned that the real story was more about hard work, faith and endurance and that’s what inspired me most. One day when I was probably only nineteen or twenty years old, he took me out for pizza in Lausanne and I couldn’t wait to hear stories of daring deeds.

    I asked, “What’s the best thing about Bible smuggling behind the Iron Curtain?” And to my surprise he replied, “Being here in this restaurant telling you about it.” He went on to elaborate about how the long trips were a combination of tension, fear and boredom, followed by great relief when it was all over. I love that about Rudy. He is the most down-to-earth apostolic dreamer I know.

    I join with the whole family of YWAM in honoring the legacy of this wonderful man.

    John Dawson

  13. Judi and I remember Rudi from our first meeting during our SOE in Lausanne in 1969. Rudi was always enthusiastic about the Lord and serving Him. When Joy Dawson taught us about intercession, Rudi was quick to start applying it, inviting those who would join him in the evenings to pray. Those prayer times led to Rudi taking initiatives across Eastern Europe. Then Rudi stepped into the challenge of Africa. I followed with ever increasing interest his stories and adventures as he took on the impossible for the Lord. From Africa to Asia and the world became his mission field. When we would get together more recently, Rudi was always eager to hear what God was doing through our ministry. Rudi’s heart was always towards the whole world. Switzerland has produced many who are larger in stature and authority in the Kingdom of God than their land mass and Rudi is one of them. We will miss him. Joe and Judi Portale

  14. Rudi was instrumental in helping us publish books and ywam diaries in Russian. These books have touched thousands of lives in Eastern Europe and will continue to do so. Thanks Rudi (& family) for your passion for the former Soviet Union! Jesus is glorified through your life and service to Him.
    Kelly & Vicki Hoodikoff

  15. I first met Rudy during the winter of 1969 with Loren as we traveled to his father’s church in Switzerland to share re: YWAM. I remember sitting around a table in the kitchen and sharing about the first YWAM School and how it was changing my life. He later visited our school in Chateau d’Oex. Rudy and I then worked very closely together in East Africa and southern Africa. He was pioneering in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and I traveled on to South Africa, often crossing paths serving on teams together, and sharing of our pioneering efforts. Rudy was a very dear friend and co-worker. I knew him well in his earlier years in YWAM and always viewed him as a man of God, one of great integrity, vision, and faithfulness. Rudy will be greatly missed in our YWAM family as a visionary, and spiritual leader. I’ve often told the younger YWAM generation that we need more YWAM’ers like Rudy Lack that will be more concerned with what God thinks than what man thinks. He just wanted to obey God.He had a God-given adventureous spirit and utilized it to the fullest. His stories need to be told to the next generation–the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord.

  16.  my name is carol Hugo i read Rudy’s book sometimes back on break through it really inspired me. He then walked into Nairobi Kenya and came to family TV where i was working he got an interview with my boss. something kept pushing me to talk to him but i was afraid of taking the first step. today i carry the gift of faith to deliver bibles to communities in rural Kenya, to the marginalized communities and Muslim territories. i woke up one morning and there was the lord putting Ruddy name so strongly in my spirit, i don’t know why and when i goggled, i found out he passed on. i don’t know what the lord is telling me about him but i know there is a reason why i felt such a strong attraction to him when he came to my country Kenya. i really wished i had taken the first bold step to tell him that for some reason God was talking to me about him. I thank God for him

  17. i happened to read a book about him”Break Through” it inspired me.I reminded me of my duties on earth for the building up of his eternal kingdom.

  18. I peris kangethe from NAIROBI, KENYA  have just read his book August 2011. I’M
    retrieving the information of Rudi on 16 08 2011 only to find that he passed on last year. I’ve just sobbed. The walk of Faith of this man, has built my faith. He is a General. Was actually browsing to communicate with him. ELIANE , your husband a general has laboured for God. Move on with the banner. Amen.

  19. In 1978/9 I was an officer serving with the South African forces in Grootfontein, Namibia. On a visit to YWAM in Windhoek in 1979 I learnt that Rudi Lack was to visit the next weekend Windhoek. I asked the then leader of YWAM Windhoek if it was possible to have him speak on my military base. They said it was fine but he has still an appointment until noon on the Sunday and need to be back by noon on the Monday. It was 460km to our base and during the week there were also attacks on the roads close to our base by terrorists. For Rudi and Eliane it was not a problem and that Sunday evening he spoke to hundreds of soldiers and showed slides of his recent trips to China and Cuba (we were fighting against Cubans in Angola). At the end of the meeting more than 40 soldiers including a few commanders responded to an altar call made by Rudi and accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour. Rudi’s radical lifestyle and willingness to risk for God’s kingdom together with that of Brother Andrew greatly influenced me!

  20. By reading this book (breakthrough) written by Man of GOD Rudy lack,I have got many excellent thing that change my life.i love GOD OF YWAM

  21. Ooh my God its so sad that the great general Rudi lack has gone home along time a go. I found one of his book call breakthrough and read it all that was back 2007 and God really was speaking to me through that book I still got the copy of it and always desired to know more of the God of brother Rudi. The great manifestation of the Holy spirit at the boarders in the morning as they wanted crossover to take the bibles to the forbidden territory. What a miracle. Hoping to see him at home there sometimes later. Abraham Kishoyian from Kajiado county Kenya.

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