Late in the 1990s, Deo Kyara, along with a group of prayer leaders from across Africa, began to imagine a gathering of people from all over the continent coming together to pray for Africa. This is the Dark Continent: slavery, wars, genocide, corrupt leaders, human trafficking, disease, broken families, poverty, HIV/AIDs. These leaders knew their continent needed a holy intervention. So in 2001, this dream became a reality. In Arusha, Tanzania – a place halfway between Cape Town and Cairo – over 10,000 people came from all over the continent to fast and to pray. They poured into a stadium and, from morning to evening, they faithfully prayed for transformation in Africa.
On the morning of the second day, 16 leaders set out from this prayer gathering carrying 53 stones – each stone representing one of the 53 countries in Africa. They began an ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro. In the Bible, it is not uncommon for people to seek God by ascending to a mountaintop. Mt. Kilimanjaro, at 19,300 feet, is the roof of Africa; the tallest peak, and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. It is the mountaintop. Each of these 16 leaders prayed fervently for one element of Africa; Deo prayed for the young people of the continent. They walked and prayed for seven whole days, all the way to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Step by step, day by day, they cried out to God to renew their countries, their continent and their people. If one person grew too weak to carry their stones, others bore the burden. When they finally reached the top, they placed the stones at Uhuru peak, the summit of the mountain.
In the thin air of Uhuru peak, they worshiped, prayed and cried out to the Lord. And on that peak, Deo had a vision. He could see sparks igniting across the continent, each spark representing young people. These sparks grew into Holy Spirit fires across the continent, igniting a movement that would bring hope to young people and, through those young people, transformation to Africa.
Several years following Deo's vision at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, a family in the US moved to Africa. The Larmey family arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was their role to take the roots of Young Life Africa, launched in Addis Ababa by Chuck and Linda Reinhold, and bring the mission of Young Life to the entire continent of Africa.
Three weeks after arriving, Senior VP Steve Larmey was introduced to Deo. As Deo heard about the mission of Young Life – to introduce teenagers to the gospel and help them grow in their faith – he was convinced that Young Life was the vehicle for his vision and he joined the work of Young Life. It is an audacious, daring, courageous vision. But it is a vision moved by the hand of God, and by His grace and provision, this vision has fueled and propelled us for the past 14 years of ministry. And we’re not done yet.
Introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith.
We accomplish this mission by:
Together we have set our eyes Forward, joining in a movement that compels us to go deeper in our walk with Jesus while helping young people grow deeper in their faith; to welcome a diverse team of men and women to all levels of leadership; to innovate new ways to reach and teach; and to grow — building relationships with more young people all over the world.
As we move into fiscal 2018, Young Life will begin a five-year campaign called “Forward.” Over the five-year period, 2018 through 2022, Young Life hopes to double its worldwide impact by focusing on four key areas: Deeper in Christ, Together, Innovation and Growth. Young Life Africa has been preparing for this and has set specific goals and objectives, including the following:
Put a Bible in the hands of every leader, in their own heart language, throughout Young Life Africa and train them in the Discovery Bible Study method to bring kids and leaders closer to Christ. We want to listen more closely to the Lord through His written word and through His Word spoken into our lives. We want to make disciple-making disciples. We will take training to a new level. Key leaders will receive University-level courses on the Life of Christ, Biblical Interpretation and Basic Theology.
Leadership development is critical to the mission of Young Life Africa, which pioneered the Leadership Tree as a tool to train and develop volunteer leaders through intentional Bible study and mentoring. “Pamoja, Pamoja” (“Together, Together”) has defined our culture with leaders training and leading together. Senior volunteer leaders are trained at Rika, an intensive 17-day immersion to expose all aspects of the ministry and prepare them to be disciple-making disciples. Leaders mentor volunteers through Hands On Training (HOT) to give practical experience and instill confidence. Moving forward, we will: significantly increase women in leadership and the number of volunteer leaders; challenge leaders to raise substantial local funding; significantly expand our US-based Young Life Africa Committee; enhance our performance review and compensation structure; and fully implement the Three-Legged Stool plan (infrastructure of field operations, bookkeeping and, logistics.
YL Africa has been an innovation leader. Tools like the Leadership Tree and the Staff Sponsorship model have been widely adopted within Young Life. A few years ago we rolled out (literally) Camp On Wheels, HOT training techniques, and Three-Legged Stool infrastructure. This year we developed the Data Portal to enable our staff to plan, manage and oversee camp operations using smartphones. We will continue to innovate: an Incubator Program will partner key leaders with mature counterparts from the United States to share ideas, train and experience cross-cultural fellowship; our “Big City” Program will jumpstart ministry in key capitals across Africa; teaching English online will enable access to kids in closed countries; and programs for Muslim-background kids, kids in youth prisons, and kids in camps for Refugees and Internally Displaced People.
Doubling in size every three years, growth has been our norm. We anticipate this growth to continue as we will focus on outreach clubs, campaigners, discipleship ministries and innovative camp experiences. In addition, we will expand newer ministries including YoungLives (Young Life for teen moms), Young Life University and Capernaum (Young Life for kids with disabilities). Moving into new places. Plowing hard soil. Training more leaders and expanding our tent.
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