November 3, 2023 | Belinda Oyugi

Breaking Barriers and Kindling Hope: Young Life Camp Comes to South Sudan

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15


“At home, we rarely get the chance to play and enjoy such fun activities. However, since I arrived at camp yesterday, I’ve had an incredible time playing various games and engaging in different activities. I’m immensely grateful to you for bringing the Young Life camp to us.” – Emmanuel

In August 2023, a Young Life camp brought a fresh wave of hope and faith to the young nation of South Sudan. With over 40% of its population under 15 years old and an additional 25% between 15 and 29, the call for Young Life to reach South Sudan couldn’t be ignored. In 2019 Martin Wamalwa, senior vice president of Africa East, started ministry in South Sudan with a team of prayer partners. In August, Martin and his team witnessed teens with committed adults around them hearing the Good News of Jesus.

Five years later, the South Sudan ministry has grown. David Nyoma, the country representative, supervises 23 clubs and 101 volunteer leaders with about 490 kids attending clubs every week. The time for a Young Life camp had come. At this camp, 53 out of 176 young hearts started a relationship with Jesus. With the theme “From Darkness to Light,” the camp offered a great experience for 234 adolescents. It was a dynamic program that struck a balance between spiritual enrichment and sheer fun, marking a memorable moment for these young souls and showing them so much of the character of a God who knows them.

Beyond the games, songs, and laughter, the campers embarked on a journey of personal reflection. The speakers’ testimonies and gospel teachings illuminated their hearts and provided an opportunity for the young participants to share their journeys from darkness to light. The power of these narratives fostered unity and offered hope, affirming that God’s love is all-encompassing.

“Describing what happened within me yesterday is quite a challenge, but I’m certain that God deeply touched my heart. During that moment of reflection, I became acutely aware of the numerous factors pulling me away from God. It became crystal clear that I wanted to dwell in the light rather than in the darkness, as I fully recognized that without God, I am truly nothing.” – Salva

The camp was alive with melodies and rhythms, as campers showcased their talents through traditional South Sudanese songs and their dance moves. “I used to believe I couldn’t dance or didn’t enjoy it. However, yesterday was a pleasant surprise as I ended up leading my team in dancing, and I found myself doing it quite well. We even emerged victorious in most of the challenges, and it filled me with excitement.” – Salama

The camp culminated in heartfelt departures, with campers carrying not just memories but a renewed sense of purpose. The message of “From Darkness to Light” resonated deeply, igniting a newfound hope and determination. The campers departed as beacons of light, ready to illuminate their communities, choosing to live in the light and share the love of Jesus.

“This camp is the best thing that has happened to teenagers here in Juba. I would like to encourage all leaders to continue serving wholly in Young Life as we give hope, through Jesus Christ, to the youth. What we are doing is not in vain; we are bringing transformation to the community and impacting positively on the next generation.” – David Nyoma, Country Representative – South Sudan

South Sudan’s inaugural Young Life camp was more than just an event; it was the dawn of hope, faith, and transformation. Lighting the way for more teenagers to be known and to know Jesus, Young Life is making a profound difference in the lives of these young souls.


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