God is using Young Life Africa to ignite a movement across the continent. Teens are hearing about Christ, receiving the Gospel and leading others to share the Good News themselves. Christ is being glorified and lives are being transformed. Clubs, weekly discipleship groups, camps and various ministries are all instruments we use to reach over 24 countries across the African continent.
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We care for kids by meeting them where they are, as they are and believing in who they can be. We call this “contact work.” We find them in their schools, their soccer games, their neighborhoods and we build friendships. Africa is home to over 500 million kids between the age of 12 and 27. There are over 2,000 tribes and languages in some of the hardest spiritual and political places to live on the planet. Already at 1.24 billion people, Africa has the fastest growing population in the world and the largest percentage of people below the age of 25 years. Many of them are lost, lonely, longing for something more. This is where we come in.
Our outreach clubs are put on weekly in a central location – schools, soccer fields, neighborhoods and even outside under trees. It’s controlled chaos that’s almost impossible to describe, but kids know it when they see it. We welcome kids in by playing games and singing songs. At the end of it all, we share a simple message about God’s love for them. After all, that’swhat the celebration is all about.
We call these groups Campaigners, a name that points back to the early days when Young Life was referred to as The Young Life Campaign. It is a weekly meeting for kids who wish to learn more or grow in their faith through study, service and leadership. Young Life leaders also encourage these kids to celebrate their faith through participation in a local church.
Kids consistently tell us that Young Life camp is the best three days of their lives. That’s because kids, some of whom have never even left their neighborhood, pile onto buses and off to a place of welcome, of good food, of games and dancing, of small-group time and of revelation. Here, kids hear the gospel story in its entirety, many of them for the first time. They ask hard questions of their leaders and peers. They learn what sin is. And many of them meet their Savior Jesus Christ during those three days, and their lives are forever changed.
Known as traditional “Young Life,” this is by far our biggest ministry. We reach out to local high school students by getting connected in their schools. But in Africa, not everyone has the privilege of attending school. So our leaders focus on neighborhoods, and getting to know the teens in their own neighborhoods.
Our middle school ministry is called WyldLife. Here, we reach out to middle school students, build friendships and get connected in their schools and neighborhoods.
Young Life University is one of Young Life Africa’s new ministries, which officially began in fall of 2016. Young Life University is modeled after Young Life College in the states (but higher education is referred to as university in Africa). Young Life University offers a fun, accepting community for students to be a part of while exploring or deepening their faith. Some of these students even become volunteer leaders for Young Life and WyldLife.
In countries where young women experience hardship on a daily basis, our teen mom ministry – known as YoungLives – reaches out to young moms, offering hope for the future. In 2016, hundreds of teenage girls came with their babies to YoungLives camps and clubs in Liberia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
In Mark 2, the Bible records the story of four able-bodied men and their friend with a disability. Eager for their friend to see Jesus, the talk of the town in Capernaum (kuh-per-ney-uhm), the men carried him on a mat to a home where Jesus was teaching. Moved by their bold faith, Jesus restored the man with a disability to wholeness and health. We call Young Life’s ministry with adolescents with disabilities “Capernaum,” because we don’t think intellectual or developmental limitations should keep anyone from the presence of the One who promises fullness of life. Young Life Capernaum gives young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities the chance to experience adventure, friendship and the love of Christ.
In Africa, leaders are responding to large-scale challenges within the region, which are taking our leaders into refugee camps and internally displaced persons. As reported in global media, severe drought has led to full-blown famine across widespread regions of Africa. Young Life leaders are going to these camps, reaching out to the teens who have little to do there, getting to know them, hanging out and hearing their stories and the stories of their families.
Our prison ministry developed in Ethiopia in May 2016. During this time, the government declared a state emergency due to political tensions, putting restrictions on large-scale public gatherings of young people. Many young people have been arrested and imprisoned because they oppose the government. These prisons are often understaffed and under-resourced, which is where we step in. In July 2017, Young Life leaders in Ethiopia put on a day camp in an Addis Ababa prison that had 150/200 kids attend. Leaders made delicious meals, put on four clubs, played field games and even had small group time for the students. Seventy-six kids accepted Christ, and 50 kids have been released early due to “good behavior” since this new Young Life ministry began.
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