This page is no-longer being updated, but here is as link to the most recent report in 2015
from Friends and Volunteers in 2011
June 2011 - Reports from Prosper on recent work:
On the 12th of April, Isaac and I went to Kenya to help with some work and planning for up-coming conferences. We met with Gideon with whom Isaac worked for 2 weeks. During our stay, we helped him run a youth program for Eldoret that he holds at the Nobel Hotel every Saturday. Gideon has been generously offered a hotel room by Mr. Okware, the proprietor of the Hotel for the certificate program. The program deals with life Skills and life management skills. The two, with other volunteers, have put together module program that brings together youths from around the city regardless of religious backgrounds and affiliation. It was a pleasure being part of this incredible program.
Isaac, during his 2 week stay, helped run some Discipleship trainings with the Church choir and cell group leaders. We had a meeting with Gideon’s church youth leadership team to help strengthen and prepare them for the job. Dates were set for a youth leaders workshop in the Eldoret area to take place between the 13th and 20th of August. And a youth Camp to be held in the First two weeks of December.
On the 4th- 6th of May, Nathan, our Partner in Hoima who is the acting Diocesan youth worker, organised his first conference in his new position. An approximate of 250 youth were in attendance for the 3 day conference. Ian was invited to give a talk on the 2nd day about using and managing our talents and gifts. A cross section of guest speakers were brought in from Kampala, Hoima and Masindi. The conference centred on the theme “letting our light shine in the world”. The conference is going to act as basis and guide of the up-coming conference in Masindi in August.
Nathan, a close friend and associate of YEA is a former attendant of our conferences in the region. It is a great pleasure having him as our work partner in the long worked in Diocese of Hoima. He will be responsible for the organisation of all future conferences and work in the area. With our new Urban-Rural Model, he will especially be helpful in the organisation and coordination of the smaller, rural conferences with the local trained teams. A lot of communication and coordination will also be necessary for the smooth running of the urban based ones. Planning for the next trainings is underway thus a lot of prayers needed for wisdom and resources needed for this.
Masindi:A lot of activity has been taking place in this area of the country in the recent past. Most recent of this was a series of conferences run in Butyaba, Kabango, Biizi, Kiguumba and Kijunjubwa. We had two days of schools work in Masindi town and a local Lay readers’ training in which we gave the basics on youth ministry and the youth’s role in the church. The most recent were the 5 days we had with Isaac, Shadiq, Shida and I in Kijunjubwa and Karuma. While Kijunjubwa is an established Parish with a big area of Christian coverage, Karuma is the opposite of that yet a lot more vibrant. Karuma has no proper church structure or a pastor. It is simply a young church with Christians full of the love of God and zeal to know Him better. Our prayers should go out to the leadership of this church as they are trying to keep God’s work going on in this area with little or no training. We pray they get the support needed for this work to be realised.
... I am Fearfully and Wonderfully made.
“Our mother left us when we were babies. Our Father dumped us at our grandmother’s and left after he had got tired of us. I am now staying with an Uncle and the wife. He has lately refused to pay school fees for me. He keeps telling me to get married and take responsibility for myself and my two younger siblings. Everybody hates me.”
Akello Sarah told me this story of her life with a face of an abandoned kitten. See, Akello is only 15 years old at the moment. Our paths crossed at one of the conferences we’ve recently had in Karuma. She is currently dropped out of school in her senior three and working in her own Uncle’s place as a house maid. On the flip side, I got to meet her at this conference in her capacity as the church’s youth leader. So young and yet so brilliant in whatever she did, I was baffled. This actually is the reason I got to talk a little more with her, trying to find out what drives her. What I discovered instead was a lifetime of wounds inflicted by almost everyone and everything in her life.
“I am a mistake, an accident. That’s what my Uncle says. Auntie says that it would have been better for everyone if my mother had aborted me.”
Jesus knew his identity. He came from and was going to God. He is God as He said, “I and the father are one”. Jesus knew who He was in God’s sight and also the sight of man. He however, accepted and appreciated what He was in man’s presence yet He did not let it take His focus away from the Father. He did not have to throw His weight around just to prove Himself and His authority. He was not moved by circumstances in His life because of the quiet confidence within and the knowledge of who it was that put Him on earth.
The psalmist said, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made: your works are wonderful, I know that fully well.” (Pslam 139: 14). To so many youths like Akello, in the places we work in, these words are a mystery. They do not have a clue what they mean in their lives and surely cannot claim that they know this, let alone fully well.
Fortunately for Akello Henry, a partner of YEA in Masindi, offered to take care of her as she goes through her secondary school. The joy on the Uncle’s face as they agreed on the terms said it all. It was surely best she gets moved. Not so many in this situation are that lucky though. One of the major causes of the high HIV prevalence rates in teens, teenage pregnancies and marriages and school dropouts in Uganda is the lack of self worth. Low self esteem is a constant description of a typical Ugandan youth.
It is this gospel of self worth and confidence in Christ that we need to focus on in a lot of our trainings. The basis that they are special and personally designed by God will mean a great deal as they see it reflected in our own lives. With our effort we can help the youth realise that Christ came to give them life and life in abundance. To help them know our Father and the great love He has for us. Both children and the youth can respond with full commitment to Him and discover their place in His Heart. As it is said, “To know God’s word and delight in it, is the best foundation of living”.
“You know how when you were a small child, you were taught the Holy Scriptures, and it is these that make you wise to accept God’s salvation by trusting in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim 3:15)
May 2011 - Report from Prosper
YEA Building lifelong relationships.
With the official school holidays just coming to a close, we are ending one of the busiest times in our work schedules. While the planning happens mostly during the school terms, a lot of youth ministry happens in the breaks. This break has been no different.
Our first mission this holiday was the Hoima diocese youth conference. It was held on the 4th – 8th of May at Duhaga primary school grounds. Youthworx came in as part of the support and facilitation team. Ian and I were the representatives and a record attendance of approximately 300 Youth attended the 4 day conference. While I was mostly a fixer for the three active teaching days, Ian gave a well received talk on Talents and Gifts as based on the parable of the talents.
The conference and the whole time we spent in Hoima was a useful and successful one on three frontiers. One, we played a part in ensuring the success and smooth running of conference in a region that we’ve worked for a number of years. A clear sign of growth was witnessed with the attendance numbers and especially in the organisational abilities can’t go without mention. The fact that a variety of speakers from around the country were brought down to the conference, the accommodation, feeding and the time keeping were all well handled.
The second frontier of success was the witness of clear fruit of Youthworx East Africa’s efforts. The conference was all prepared and organised by a young team of youth leaders in Hoima. These we have trained, worked with and watched grow over the years, the leader of whom is Nathan Asiimwe, the current acting Diocesan Youth worker of Hoima Diocese. For a first time of organising such a huge youth event, it gave us a huge inner pleasure watching this Mustard seed flower.
The third and probably most important frontier of success was the fact that new relationships were definitely birthed and the old strengthened. Notably, on the last evening of the conference, Ian and I went out for a meal with Nathan, Henry (the Diocesan Youth worker of Masindi Kitara Diocese) and his wife Sylvia. The two had come over, for three reasons, to support Nathan, a personal and long time friend of Henry, to help with the Facilitation and also to get ideas for their own conference due for August. We jumped to the opportunity of having both of them in one place and used it to discuss our future mode of work. Fortunately, they welcomed the idea of using an Urban-Rural approach of work to reach out to the perfect target group more efficiently. We were blessed with the time we spent together just talking about ministry and finding ways forward for the work.
Nathan was meant to join us in Masindi a week later as we run two back-to-back conferences in Kijunjubwa and Karuma respectively but other commitments came in the way. While the First conference was a miss-hit in many ways, the Karuma conference is one of the best conferences I’ve been at in a while. The group composition, organisation, facilitation and welcome were all nothing less of what we could possibly ask or wish for.
On the border separation between central and northern Uganda, Karuma is a Highway town on the Kampala-Gulu road. It’s blessed with two tourist attractions, Murchison Falls National Park and the Karuma falls on the river Nile. Though we had the luxury of taking a walk to the falls on one of the evenings while there, most of the time was action packed with a very active and engaging group of about 40 Youth Workers. Though Luo, the predominantly spoken language, couldn’t be spoken or understood by anyone on our team, we did well with the help of interpreters. Henry, Isaac, Shadiq, Shida and I comprised of the visitors that run 5 workshop based sessions and climaxed the stay with a much needed and requested for prayer and delivery session.
On the second evening of our stay, one of the women who were taking care of us in the kitchen area requested Rev. Henry and I to go have a separate time of prayer with her family. We prayed and talked about different things. It was a special time seeing this older couple and their kids pouring out their hearts to two complete strangers and trusting that God had brought us in their lives for a reason. They welcomed our prayer and believed a blessing on their lives and family would appear soon with just the element of faith which we exhaustively talked about.
Karuma is in the process of turning into a parish. One of the requirements is having a church and a Reverend both of which they don’t have. They are currently constructing their church and are only led by a Bible student. With all that is waiting to come their way, Karuma is a very active congregation that needs a lot of prayer and support. Without an electric supply, Karuma will however soon develop into a big trading centre since a power dam is under way. We should pray that when this happens, Karuma will be in position to handle the spiritual pressures that come with the growth.
For all we know, missions and conferences will come and go, but the one thing that we should never let go of is the people we meet on the way. Let’s remember to say a little prayer for them. AMEN
May 2011 - report from Prosper
... INVESTING IN YOUNG PEOPLE.
Wanini Samuel Balyesiima is a 15 year old Senior 2 student of Kabalega Senior School. At such a young age Samuel single handedly glued together the different pieces that made the mission to Kijunjubwa a possibility. With the parish treasurer for a mother and the father in charge of all constructions, Samuel is a church born and raised. That however, does not explain anything about his hard working and enthusiastic character as only 10 percent of the youth who contribute 75 percent of the area’s population are church going.
Samuel who comes from Kyakaki Village, is the first born from a family of 6 children. With 5 siblings looking up to him, namely; Bingi Edson, Balemesa Judith, Basemera Dinah, Birungi Catherine, Bitekerezo Abby, Sam is doing a good job at setting an example. He is the very first person that received us with a huge smile as we came into this remote village church house in Bujunjubwa. He mobilised all the attendees and ensured a smooth running of the whole program in the absence of both parish youth worker and the Parish Reverend, both of whom were attending a parish leadership meeting.
The dark skinned, bright smiled, gentle face was in the background of everything. I asked him if he is interested in politics, just to see his views on power and leadership. He told me,
“Though I am very famous at school, and teachers asked me to, I cannot even be a prefect. My heart is only in serving God. I am on the scripture union team, which is the only power I need. I want to be a Pastor, nothing else”.
Those words shot through my spine like a Zulu Spear. At 15, I didn’t know what I wanted to eat for dinner and here is a boy literally carrying a whole Parish’s Youth ministry on his shoulders with more focus than a cross-country runner. Nick-named pastor already, Samuel took the group of youths through some talks and prayer sessions. He is definitely taking his calling seriously but most importantly he is blessed with a church that actually gives him a chance to serve as it definitely lacking in harvesters.
On the Sunday afternoon, after service had ended, I found Sam holding a sheep that had been auctioned off in church. With no immediate need for slaughter, he had offered to take it home (10km away) and take care of it on the church’s behalf. I engaged Samuel in a slightly deeper theological talk just to assess his depth of understanding of the word. I later realised that he does not even own a full Bible. He has a New Testament Gideon’s one. He can only borrow his mother’s whenever he needs to use a full one. For someone so passionate about serving God and growing in faith, He actually had very little understanding of the word, the most important ingredient to growth. His Lack of access had definitely hindered his Spiritual growth in that direction.
Samuel is just one example of this very disease that is preventing the growth of the church of Christ in a lot of rural areas. While some places literally do not have access to Bibles, others lack a local, understandable translation. Those with a local translation, the price of a Bible would be enough to feed the family for a month. Reading and interpretation of the word is thus solely left to the local clergy on a Sunday morning. A lot of these interpretations are usually biased by personal interpretation and personalities. The growth of the local church which is a focal in our ministry is thus as good as stagnant, fulfilling the saying, “...the church in Africa is a mile wide and an inch deep”.
Isaac has been trying to raise money through his home church in the US to specifically buy Bibles to give out to key persons in the different places we go that honestly do not have one. He will later in July work with Wycliffe international, a Bible translating organisation. One person can only do so much. My wish and prayer is the possibility of at least every youth that goes through our trainings receiving a Bible at the end of it. We can teach so well, but without a personal commitment to personal study of the Bible, our seeds will soon be eaten by the wild Birds.Because we had run out of giveaway Bibles, I gave Samuel my personal Bible because I felt he needed it more than I. The tears that rolled from his bright big eyes, down his dark cheeks as he said, “ thank you, thank you so much...”, told me how long he’s waited for this moment. “Finally, finally, I own a Bible of my own... I am going to read it day and night”. He said. The looks on his face as he said this, priceless. In the bid to invest in young people, how better than investing the word of God itself?
March 2011 - Tanzania Report from Collin
Dar es Salaam (The Harbour of Peace)
I spent 4 days in Tanzania last week exploring the possibilities of how YEA can help with developing youth ministry/work in the local churches there, if they need any.
Tanzania is the largest of the 5 East African countries. It's believed to have been the first country to host Arab slave trade merchants, hence the visible presence of many professing Islam in Dar es Salaam. Statistics show that Muslims are 35 % and Christians 45 %. It has largely been a peaceful country since the colonial times,unlike Uganda which had some rough times in the 70s and 80s and the rest of the East African region. The current president has been touted as a model African leader.
Dar es Salaam is still a fairly traditional city. The ‘mall culture’ of Uganda and Kenya hasn't quite caught up there yet. Its a very beautiful, congested port city and covers a large flat area. Because its a busy port many buildings in the city are basic hotels. It seems that Tanzania is behind Uganda and Kenya in catching up with modern trends. State TV only launched in 2001, there are not many internet hotspots and cafes in the city, the international banking industry is still fairly underdeveloped, cool hang out spots in the city are minimal, literacy levels at University level are still low, there are not many Bazungu (white people) etc.
Passing through the rural areas on my way to Dar es Salaam I saw many women draped in ‘Lesus’. In Dar es Salaam many of the ladies wear the traditional Moslem attire, the sharia dress. Dressing is still traditional for most people. Kiswahili is the dominant language spoken.
Our relationship with Tanzania and Dar es Salaam
In the early days of YEA, Ian and Silver worked with the youth Pastor of Mombasa Pentecostal Church, Kenya, and took teams of young people from this church to Lamu for mission.This was Pastor Ahmed, who moved to a city church in Dar es Salaam about 6 years ago and lost touch with us.
Late last year on a trip to the Network of Youth workers in Nairobi (NAYNET) conference, I met a young man living in Dar es Salaam and passionate about youth there. Talking to him ignited a passion for Tanzanian youth. He also extended an invitation to me and YEA.
Early this year we made a decision as the YEA team for me to visit Dar es Salaam and explore the prospects of youth ministry. I got in touch with Ahmed and spent lots of time with him there. I also spent time with 3 other individuals engaged with youth in the city.
I was hosted by a Christian family living in the suburbs.
The landscape of youth work in Dar es Salaam (DAR)
By 2013, 32.9 % of the total population of Tanzania will be between 13 and 30 yrs. And 35.8 % of the urban population of Tanzania will be young people of 13 to 30yrs.(National Bureau of Statistics of Tanzania). Children make up big % of Tanzania’s population as well making this a growing trend.
The typical young person in DAR is heavily influenced by modern contemporary pop culture lifestyle and will be in touch with the latest fashion, technology, music, films, celebrities, gadgets etc, and yet is also under influence of traditional social culture.
The typical church in DAR is traditional, the major Christian denominations being the Lutheran, Catholic and Methodist. The Evangelical Christian movement is slowly growing and mainly dominated by Pentecostal churches. The Anglican and Baptist churches are not that strong.
Because the local church is still traditional and not in unity as a body of Christ, church leaders and youth workers dont know how to respond to the needs of young people in their churches as well as those they are attracting to Christ. The youth find the church boring and Christianity a waste of time and are attracted to the affluent lifestyles of the Muslims and non Christians in their midst.
Individuals working with young people are divided and not in relationship with each other. There is no network on the ground for youth pastors and youth workers. They are also not trained in urban youth ministry. Youth discipleship and mentorship as a concept are not understood
Does God want YEA in Tanzania? Should we respond to the need for youth ministry in this East African city and Country?
As a team we sense God leading us to Tanzania, to teach the local church in urban areas the principles of discipleship and youth ministry, to train/encourage youth workers and young leaders and teach them how to reach the local church in rural areas.
We already have established relationships with Pr.Ahmed who is the Youth Pastor of the biggest Pentecostal church in Dar es Salaam, Abel who is a very passionate individual for youth discipleship and numerous other young people in Tanzania.
The resources needed are great, but if its His will then we will trust him for provision and strength.
The conference in Kigaya on January 19th and 20th was successful. There were about 100 youth in attendance, many of them visitors from neighbouring villages. Worship, which was sometimes comprised of a drum and a tin can of beans accompanying an enthusiastic leader, was always heartfelt and joyous. Games, organised by Shadic, engaged the youth in a way that held their attention and allowed them to interact.
The theme of this conference was centred around Proverbs 23:26: “My son, give me your heart; and let your eyes keep to my way.” The speakers included Ian, Prosper, Nathan (A youth worker for the local diocese) and myself. From the discussion groups that were held, and the response given at the last session of the conference, the attendees seemed to learn a lot from the lessons. Ian closed the conference with an illustration on being a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-2).
Though there were a few minor interruptions, things progressed smoothly. We had an enjoyable time; we held a successful collaboration with the local church; and, more importantly, we were able to bless the people there.
Thanks to Alex and Kenneth from KIC for their help with organising and leading discussion groups and for their assistance with many other important details on the trip! Thanks to Alex, especially, for his excellent dramatic role as the “living sacrifice” in Ian's lesson!