“You are incredible LEADERS, you are KNOWN, you are LOVED, and you are PRAYED FOR”…this was the opening line I shared with the 18 YL Tanzania staff members who welcomed me into their staff retreat in March this year.
I shared with them that the idea for my time with them had started almost a year earlier in May of 2018, while Alexis was in the US at our Tanzania-Zanzibar (“TZ-Znz”) US Regional Team retreat. During which we focused that time on what the purpose of our regional team was and how to take action toward that vision. Overall it was for us to intentionally partner with the TZ-Znz YL Staff and volunteers to reach every kid in that region by: Praying, Going, Connecting, and Partnering. Many of us have been on expeditions to the region and have more expeditions planned for 2019 through 2021. However, we wanted a way to bridge going to TZ-Znz and connecting with the staff. So Alexis suggested we come to one of the semi-annual TZ-Znz staff retreats in Dar. They meet each March and each November. This created the perfect opportunity to go and connect with the staff to build relationships with each of them.
Back to March 2019, I traveled to Dar es Salaam, where I got to spend almost four days with 18 of the Young Life staff in TZ-Znz. Their love was so overwhelming, I was immediately welcomed into their team. Alexis asked me to share several sessions on topics such as team building, change management, time management, the power of setting goals, and other topics I frequently speak on through my own work. However, the most amazing thing was how the Holy Spirit interwove those topics with spiritual renewal topics from Papa Deo, strategic leadership topics from Jackie Kwamy, and team brainstorming and goal setting from Alexis. We could not have made the flow of the four days and the topics work better on our own…it was all God!
During the retreat, I shared with them one of the desires of our regional team was to connect each of them with 2-3 of the TZ-Znz staff to build relationships, love one another, pray for one another and start or deepen our relationships. However, we only want to do that IF the TZ-Znz staff wanted it as well (one of the things our regional team has committed to is to never do something that distracts the TZ-Znz staff from their mission…we only want to do things that support them). So I asked them to keep that in mind over the next few days while we shared our time together, and then I would ask them at the end of the retreat if they were still interested. At the end of our time together they all wanted to connect with regional team members and are committed to it!!! Immediately upon returning to the US, Costa (the TZ-Znz staff in charge of logistics) and I set up the “connect” groups using WhatsApp and people are already sharing their lives with one another and drawing deeper relationships so we can support one another more.
If you have never been to Africa, then I would highly suggest an Expedition style trip where you get to be involved with camp, clubs, work in a village or something like that for your first or second visit to Africa. However, once you have seen the ministry in action and you are ready to really dive deep with the mission, I would highly encourage you to consider this type of trip where you get to meet the staff. You might be concerned about the language barrier, don’t worry that has a way of working itself out with Jesus and love! I guarantee you have ideas to share with them, and you will learn more from the experience that you will teach!!! If ever in doubt, just let them know what great leaders they are, that they are known by you, that they are loved by you, and that you are praying for them. It will help the staff to know they are supported, but it will also help you to develop your regional team because few people are moved to get active on a team just because a need exists…instead, most people are moved to get deeply involved on a team (especially a volunteer team) because of the relationships they have with the other people involved.