02 December 2010

We do it for them

Early next year south Sudan will hold a referendum that may result in the independence of the south of the country from the north. This referendum was part of the peace agreement of 2005 and is set to take place on 09 January. We recently received an email asking us to help mobilize prayer for an end to the harassment of citizens currently seeking to register for the referendum. There is fear that the intimidation may result in clashes and even prevent the historical referendum from taking place.

In the midst of this reality we have YWAM Africa staff continuing their ministries in both the north and the south of the country. The team in Yei, where this photo was taken, have already suffered many difficult situations due to the conflict in the country. For a long time they would have to leave the base at night due to the fear of raids; within this context they continued to offer discipleship and vocational training. Only more recently have they enjoyed a level of peace that has enabled them to develop their team, their campus and the work they do.

These quiet heroes are why we do what we do. The key words of our AfriCom statement of purpose are: connect, champion and change. We want to strengthen YWAM staff like those in Yei, by connecting them with other YWAM teams in their region and across the continent, giving them a sense of the greater family around them who are praying and supporting them. We want to champion them, telling their stories in such a way that others are inspired to pray for them, to make donations towards their work and even to go and serve alongside them for a time. We want to help them bring change in their communities by offering training that equips them with communication skills to be more effective; that enables them to build ministry partnerships with others using those same skills.

One of the ways we do all this is through the magazine we produce for YWAM in Africa. In the magazine we feature stories about people like those in Yei and we tell those stories in French and Portuguese, as well as English, so that all our Africa teams can make use of the magazine. We stick with a printed magazine because many of our teams work in places like Yei where the Internet is not adequate for them to easily access websites, or is too expensive. We mail multiple copies to each YWAM base and the staff receive the magazine for free.

We have heard that as they look at the photographs and read the stories, the letter from the leadership team, and the information about upcoming events and resources, our hard-working staff feel encouraged. They feel part of a bigger 'missionary tribe', they know others are working as hard as they are to see God's kingdom come in their communities, they know they are being prayed for and are not forgotten. We know that many use the magazine to show to their supporters, or to potential students, because it helps put their work in the context of a bigger picture.

All this costs money! We have taken responsibility to raise finances to fund the magazines production and distribution - we want to offer it to our heroic staff members as part of our vision to connect, champion and change. We are raising money primarily through the placing of ads in the magazine and these ads are a great way to build a partnership with the fantastic work YWAM teams are doing in Africa.

Whether you are part of a YWAM ministry centre, or represent a company and would like to partner with us to strengthen those who are change-makers in Africa, get in touch. If you are an individual and would like to make a donation towards the magazine, do contact us: info@ywamafricom.org

Remember ... we do it for them!

15 November 2010

Effective Communication Workshop

Last week AfriCom team members ran an Effective Communication Workshop at the Worcester training centre, 2 hours drive from Cape Town.

We had a wonderful time with our 17 participants, most of whom spoke English as a second language.

Beginning with Interpersonal Communication and moving through Writing, Photography, Public Speaking, Fundraising and Use of Social Media, the aim was to equip these missionaries with skills to enable them communicate more effectively; in their teams, with their ministry partners and with other parts of Youth With A Mission.

We had great feedback at the end of the week, so it seems the workshop hit the spot when it comes to people's training needs. Communication is such a big part of a volunteer missionaries job and so many feel ill-equipped to do it well. A special highlight was to find that many participants found the teaching brought a measure of healing to them, especially for those who had been discouraged in the areas of fundraising and communication within their teams.

It was also special for us to partner with Wycliffe's Africa communication team. Heather Pubols joined us to teach on Use of Social Media and we are looking forward to more opportunities to support one another in missions communication.

For the AfriCom staff members running the workshop was encouraging and motivating. Needless to say we are keen to offer simnilar workshops in more locations: contact us to invite us to your region!

Global Communication Meetings

A little bit of a catch-up is needed!

Back in October, Tim and Miranda left the rest of the team holding the fort in Cape Town and travelled to Harpenden, England, to participate in YWAM's Global Communication meetings.

This was a time for YWAM staff from around the world, those who are contributing to YWAM's global communication pieces, to meet for a time of evaluation and goal-setting. One of the highlights of the gathering was the opportunity it provided to remind one another of why we are all engaged in communication in a missionary context.

If communication can be likened to the nervous system of the body, it is clearly there to serve the body and to enable the body to do what it needs to do; to fulfil its functions. In the context of YWAM, the purpose of the body of missionaries around the world is, 'To know God and to make God known'.

Communicators might be IT savvy, social networking addicts with cameras and gadgets hanging off them (the lucky ones, anyway!) but YWAM communicators have a heart for missions that drives and enlivens everything they do.

Being amongst this international group gave Tim and Miranda the opportunity to see again the big picture of how communication tools and training can enable missionaries, both new and experienced, to make God known around the world the more effectively.

What a privilege to be a part of this!

10 September 2010

Celebrating YWAM family

Stefaan Hugo has been the leader of the YWAM training centre in Worcester, South Africa, for the past 12 years. This week, amidst much celebration for the faithfulness of God over more than a decade, he handed over this leadership role to Bruno Guntelach who will partner with his wife, Judy.

Twelve years ago the Worcester training centre started in an old hospital, which the 15 staff members set about transforming into classrooms, accommodation and meetings halls. Today there are over 150 staff members and the centre is training people from many different nations, to work in diverse ways to take the message of Jesus to the communities of Africa and beyond.

One of the ministries at YWAM Worcester is a language training school. Many missionaries come from nations such as Brazil and Korea to learn English in order to be able to take news of God's salvation to other nations. Nilto is one such Brazilian graduate of the school who is now working in Maputo, Mozambique, where a new YWAM ministry has recently been established. In the riots in that city last month, Nilto was able to get news about the situation to those outside Mozambique, in order for prayer and practical help to be mobilized. He is one of many people who have been equipped to serve in other African nations through the work of YWAM in Worcester. They describe themselves as a 'gateway to Africa and the world'.

Over 40 nationalities came together to celebrate the foundations of this YWAM campus and to dream of the future growth and fruitfulness possible as they work together. Bruno Guntelach, originally from Switzerland, took on the symbolic mantle of authority from Stefaan Hugo, as leaders from YWAM in the region, as well as community leaders, welcomed him in this new appointment and prayed for him and his family.

There has been a long partnership between the YWAM training centres in Worcester and Muizenberg (the location of our communication team for YWAM Africa projects). It was wonderful to celebrate with staff and students and to look forward with them to all that is to come.

18 August 2010

Make YOUR communication more effective!

It has been said that communication in Youth With A Mission is like the central nervous system in a body; when it is functioning well, the whole body works more effectively. If you are a staff member, how about your role in this body called YWAM? Whether you are a foot, or a hand, or a mouth: Are you able to function as effectively as you would like to? Do others know enough about your ministry, and you about theirs? Could you share information more effectively than you do now?

Just as the nervous system requires the ongoing provision of certain nutrients in order to work as it should, so we need ongoing training to help us communicate as well as possible.

If you think your communication could use a top-up of nutrients, then we have just the thing for you!

The Effective Communication Workshop (ECW) is a week-long workshop for YWAMers interested in learning more about communicating effectively in a missions context, and in practising some very practical skills. This workshop will be offered from 7 – 13 November 2010, at the Worcester base in South Africa, and is open to staff members from anywhere in the region. Everyone who attends should leave the workshop with a broader understanding of communication and with an increased competence in communication skills.

We will give an overview of communication in a missions context, as well as covering public speaking, interpersonal communication, writing newsletters and articles, use of photography and video, and support-raising.

For an application form, email us at ywamafricom@gmail.com - We look forward to you joining us. Let’s get our communication highway up to full speed!

11 August 2010

AfriCom in Angola

Tim writes: Four of our team have just returned from a very full and satisfying road trip to Angola.

Full is an understatement: we drove a crazy nine thousand kilometres, much off road – that’s 135 hours in the car, an average of nine hours driving every single day. We visited seven Youth With A Mission locations - spread out over several provinces - shot twenty hours of video, and interviewed dozens of people, working 18-hour days for two weeks. We travelled as far north as Cabinda, above the mouth of the Congo River, and our total distance driven could almost have reached Cairo.

Satisfying is also an understatement: being a missions communicator is always exciting, but especially so when we get to tell the stories of ordinary people, doing quite extraordinary things. Often these people are unheard of, living in remote places, like those YWAM staff members we met working with isolated tribes in Angola’s low-lying savannah.

Angola is going through huge changes. Forty years of war ended eight years ago, since then oil has been discovered and the economy is growing fast. The infrastructure destroyed by guerrilla war is being rebuilt, roads are being tarred, new buildings are shooting up.

YWAM Angola is going through similar changes. A small team of Brazilian missionaries arrived in the country in 1991, at the height of the war. Their early years were spent in relief work, food distribution and training Angolans. Three Brazilian YWAMers died in the country in those early pioneering years. Several YWAM ministries have been thriving for more than a decade, in particular church planting and community development work among various tribes, and work among children at risk in one of the poorest communities in Lobito. These ministries have now bought land and are beginning the process of building training locations where they can teach other Angolans the skills they’ve learned over the years of work.

Given the changes in YWAM Angola it was a superb time to be travelling in the country. We visited each location, and now have footage to edit a promotional video for the YWAM teams. YWAM Angola is at the stage of moving to a new level in terms of training and multiplication. We trust that the video will help them publicise their work to raise funds, personnel and prayer.

Back in 1999, my small group leader on our Discipleship Training School in Cape Town was Brazilian, Ismael. He was in Cape Town for a year learning English, taking a break from work in Angola. Now he is YWAM Angola’s national director and he accompanied us on our trip. It was great to spend time with Ismael, to have hours to talk, and to see his leadership style up close. Most inspiring is to see the fruit of Ismael and Sibeli’s twenty years of sacrificial work in Angola. Many of the Angolans they trained are now full-time missionaries, training others.

Sixteen years ago Inacio was in the army, struggling with a drink problem. He wandered drunk into a church service, and left feeling called to full-time missions. Within months he had joined YWAM and begun working with street kids in Lobito. He married Mila and adopted eight street kids, bringing them up alongside their four biological children. Inacio started a school for neighbouring children, which the city mayor has called the best childrens’ project in the city. Today, local businesses are so impressed with the work that most of their food comes for free – Inacio showed me three freezers full of fresh fish! Every fortnight a tanker delivers water to the site, given freely by the mayor. Today, they are building a school on a new plot of land. They also plan a vocational training school, a clinic, and a training centre for people working with children at risk.

Inacio and Mila’s large family is growing up. One son is now being trained in South Africa for further work with YWAM. Another is a skilled welder, and is helping on the school construction site. Just a decade ago they were both street kids, rummaging for food in rubbish dumps.

It was inspiring to meet several Angolan YWAMers like Inacio. During this season of economic boom he has the potential to find a high-paying job. Yet he continues to follow his calling, putting faith into action. His vision to build and train others is contagious. He’s leading by example.

It was great to travel with three other AfriCom-ers. As none of them had visited Angola before it was a baptism of fire all round! In the hours on the road we had plenty of time to talk, argue, make-up again, and get to know each other much more deeply than in the office. I love my job ;-)

21 July 2010

More YWAM news available

For those of you who pop in here for stories about Youth With A Mission, you should also check out the podcast site where you will find YWAM news from around the world. You may even find the odd mention of AfriCom ;-)

01 July 2010

New addition in Cape Town

Hello from Muizenberg! My name is Jillian Vasquez and I am the new journalism intern at YWAM AfriCom. After an epic 48 hour journey from Seattle, I arrived in Muizenburg, Cape Town, baggage in tow, about one week ago. I couldn’t be more excited to be here, living out something God has planned for me! I recently graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Public Relations, and sought a meaningful post-graduate experience. That led me to South Africa and the wonderful people of AfriCom. Being able to combine my faith with my work is a total blessing, and I am so grateful.

Before joining YWAM, I served at my university’s Newman Catholic Campus Ministry and the Campus Christian Fellowship, where I really came to know God and the power He can have in one’s life. Finding that faith and accepting Christ my freshman year of college really paved the way for the next four years. Now here I am in Muizenberg, working with an enthusiastic group, living with my sister Noelle, and working to strengthen the YWAM missionaries across the continent through storytelling and communication.

I look forward to exploring the Cape Town markets, mountains and other sights. I feel quite at home already!

28 June 2010

Great Opportunity!

Looking for a worthwhile place to invest your organizational abilities? Look no further!

Opportunity for administrator/office manager
AfriCom, YWAM’s communication team for Africa, is offering an amazing opportunity for an administrator/office manager. Based in Muizenberg, South Africa, this is a key role in coordinating the work of AfriCom around the continent.

This person will offer general administrative support to the team, organizing events and developing effective systems to help manage a growing and dynamic ministry. There is also scope for him/her to participate in teaching and presentations and of course to travel widely to meet with teams and attend events throughout Africa.

Communication Teams in YWAM
Back in 2004, during a time of prayer, YWAM’s Global Leadership Team received the insight that the organization had an ineffective central nervous (communication) system.

Lynn Green, the International Chairman of YWAM, explained “That picture of a healthy body is the ideal picture of what our goal is … in reconnecting all our communication cells. Communication is vital to the Kingdom of God and to God’s purposes.”

Motivated by this insight, YWAM has mobilized communication teams to seek creative ways for YWAM ministries to effectively and efficiently communicate with one another. For Africa, God clearly spoke of multiplying communication teams across the continent.

The AfriCom core team is based in Muizenberg, South Africa. We are developing three regional AfriCom teams, in South Africa, Nigeria and Uganda.

AfriCom facilitates YWAM’s Africa projects by mobilizing people, prayer and resources, enabling YWAM teams to play a sustainable and transformational role in their communities. We do this by working closely with YWAM leaders to gather information from around the continent and communicate about YWAM’s work in Africa through print, web, video, text message, data and face-to-face presentations.

YWAM is committed to sharing knowledge across the continent. “By sharing information, we enable ministry teams to be better resourced,” said Lydia Smit, AfriCom Missions Communicator. “It is a way of empowering isolated communities with information that they can use to make informed decisions.” Missions communicators play a key role in attracting resources and staff to support needy projects.

If you have good administrative skills and enjoy diversity, if you are an excellent problem-solver and like to shape your own job, playing a part in a variety of exciting projects, then this could be the place for you!

Our current office manager leaves at the end of 2010. We are looking for a replacement to start anytime from October 2010 onwards.

Contact Miranda Heathcote at ywamafricom@gmail.com for more information.

23 June 2010

Introducing Peter Clemison

YWAM AfriCom is pleased to welcome Peter Clemison to the team at our Cape Town office. He is joining us with a specific focus on fundraising. Though fresh from a Discipleship Training School at the Muizenberg YWAM base, Peter is no stranger to the world of communications and missions. Before joining YWAM, he worked for Scripture Union England and Wales as their marketing and fundraising manager. Peter brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience from the Christian charity sector and is well versed in raising awareness for mission work around the world.

"I am living here in Cape Town with my wife, Becky. She too has taken a position within YWAM under the ministry to prevent trafficking, known as Justice ACTs. This is our first time to live in South Africa (outside of DTS), so we're just aclimatising ourselves to missionary life in the rainbow nation!

"It's wonderful to join such an enthusiastic team of communicators for mission. YWAM is doing so much across this continent. Even here in Cape Town, the YWAM bases have seen an exponential growth in ministry. AfriCom is the team tasked with linking all the Africa mission work together and bringing that to the wider world of YWAM. I'm looking forward to building relationships with the diverse ministries across Africa and sharing what each one is doing."

24 May 2010

A global communication network

The great thing about being part of YWAM's network of Communication Teams is the way it puts us in touch with what's happening in missions all around the world. In YWAM communications, no matter where we are in the world, we all share the goal of strengthening our missionaries and enabling them to do their Kingdom work more effectively; whilst mobilizing people, prayer and resources for the ongoing need to take the message of Jesus to the nations. This week Miranda is in Harpenden, UK, to work with communicators on the International Chairman's Team who have been managing our international website ...

For the past 8 years, AfriCom has been working to serve the YWAM missionaries in Africa. We have been producing communication tools - magazines and videos, bulk text messages and so on - as well as offering communication training, all to facilitate the work of our missionaries and to help them reach out to the communities of this continent. We love to hear that missionaries feel more connected to the rest of our global missions movement as a result of what we do, that they are able to access information that makes their work easier, that they can find information in their own language; we love to champion the work they are doing by telling others their stories (check out the latest story here). We also love to hear that more people are praying for the nations of Africa, that more people are giving towards missions and that more people from around the world are taking steps to visit Africa themselves, whether short or long term, to play their part in taking the message of the Kingdom to others.

Increasingly, we have had the opportunity to take this passion for good missions communication beyond the borders of our continent. When we see the difference improved communication makes for our missionaries in Africa, we are keen to be part of similar efforts in other parts of the world. This month marks a significant development in the scope of our work as we take on the gathering of news and stories for YWAM's primary 'face' on the web, www.ywam.org.

We are thrilled to be serving believers around the world who have an interest in engaging in some way with missions, and who visit our site to find out how to pray, give or go. We are looking forward to having our Com Team network contribute stories, translations and development ideas. And it's fun to think that from the tip of Africa we can be championing missionaries serving in communities all over the world!

10 May 2010

Training for better Communication

One of the things that Com Teams do to support YWAM missionaries is to offer them training in communication. Here at AfriCom, we have made a number of short courses available - in newsletter writing, fundraising, photoshop and short story writing, to name a few. The primary training strategy by Com Teams globally, however, is the week-long Basic Communication Workshop, or BCW (everything in YWAM gets shortened to an acronym, it's part of our corporate culture!).

The Basic Communication Workshop is just that: basic. It is a week of training for any and all YWAMers on communication skills that will help them to be more effective as a missionary in their context. The course touches on interpersonal communication - how to resolve conflict, how to be aware of cross-cultural issues, how to chair a meeting, or communicate a decision - which are commonly issues relating to functioning within one's missionary team and with those amongst whom you work.

We also focus on more 'concrete' skills, such as writing and photography, or design skills - those things that relate to functioning in partnership with one's sending church, or to promoting one's ministry.

As you may be aware, YWAM staff members all work voluntarily - even the president! This means that every missionary forms partnerships with family members or people from their churches who feel their part in missions is to give so that others can go. This strategy has led to amazing growth for us as a mission; YWAM is the one of the largest missionary organizations in the world, working in over 150 countries with over 16,000 staff, all whom rely on God’s provision and a team of people behind them.

This makes communication a crucial part of every YWAMers job. As our financial partners bless us, we want to also bless them by keeping them up-to-date with news from our area of ministry and by helping them to feel a part of our work. Photos, stories and videos are all great ways to do this and increasingly there are very helpful Internet tools available too. Oftentimes, people are very keen to bring a new aspect to their communication - to add a blog or a website to their normal newsletter - but they're not sure where or how to start. The BCW enables them to dip their toes in the water and before long they are swimming!

Although the BCW is short - more of an introduction that a comprehensive course - it is a useful way to boost both enthusiasm and capacity for this all-important aspect in the life of a missionary. Staying in touch with supporters can be fun, dynamic and encouraging and - when it is done well - missionaries find that their supporters want to give more than money, often taking on home-based projects to help the ministry, or planning a visit to get involved on the ground.

Com Teams have run Basic Communication Workshops all over the world; from Argentina to Russia, from Uganda to Thailand. This year, AfriCom is planning to run one in South Africa, as well as our more advanced 3-week workshop in Tanzania.

For more information, or to get involved, email us at ywamafricom@gmail.com

14 April 2010

Communicators help YWAM celebrate 50 years

In case you missed it, YWAM is celebrating 50 years of missions work this year! Throughout the year there are special events being held in every region of the world, giving YWAM staff, students, alumni and supporters the opportunity to look back on the milestones of the last half-century and give thanks for all that has been accomplished.

Everywhere where there is a Com Team, the members of those teams are taking this great opportunity to support their YWAM community at these events. Some are offering their practical skills to help make the celebrations run smoothly through taking care of all the technical details of showing video, maintaining good quality sound and even producing name-tags. In other places - such as in Uganda next month - Com Team members will be producing a photographic time-line of YWAM's story in their region and producing other visual pieces to help celebrate 50 years of missionary endeavour.

Here in Cape Town our team has been working on a commemorative magazine of YWAM's history in Africa. It has been an incredible project, with more contributors than any other project we have undertaken. The willingness of so many people to get involved means that we have successfully produced the very first compilation of YWAM's story on this continent ever! From design, to photos, to stories, to translation in French and Portuguese, to printing and mailing - everything has been done in partnership with very special people from around the world. Today boxes of those magazines are being mailed from India, where they were printed, to YWAM centres around Africa. At every 50th celebration in Africa YWAM staff will receive complimentary copies of the magazine.

We are thrilled to give these special gifts to the unsung heroes out there - Jo or Jenny YWAMer, giving their time and their energies to see sustainable change come to their communities. As they read the stories of those who have gone before them, may they be strengthened to persevere.

After all, we are not only celebrating what has passed ... we are eagerly anticipating what is still to come!

19 March 2010

Communication from West Africa

You may have heard on the news about the violence taking place in Nigeria. AfriCom staff have been working with local leaders there to compose a news piece from the perspective of the Youth With A Mission staff on the ground. The article has just been posted on our international website.

12 March 2010

Day 2 update from CRIT consultation 2010

CRIT Communication Consultation 2010

Every year the YWAM communication network collaborates to hold an international consultation and this year it is being held in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Alongside the consultation, a Basic Communication Workshop (BCW) is offered to YWAM staff to help them improve their ability to communicate effectively on behalf of their ministry projects, and at a personal level.

Tim and Lydia are attending CRIT from the AfriCom office in the south, and the team in East Africa is represented by Vikki and Charles, with Anne going from West Africa. It's a wonderful opportunity for the AfriCom network to connect with one another in person and to consult about communication strategy for this continent, as well as to share ideas and challenges with people from around the world.

This year there has been a strong emphasis on frontier missions, that is mobilizing and supporting YWAM workers in areas where few people have the opportunity to hear the Christian message. In Africa the leadership team have agreed to jointly promote mobilization into the central part of the continent, where we have very few YWAM teams. Life is hard in these places so communicators can play a role, not only in telling people about the need and the opportunity there, but also in strengthening those who do decide to work there. We can do this by helping them stay connected with the wider YWAM body, equipping them with skills to develop prayer and funding partnerships and letting others know about their work by producing articles and video clips. As always, frontier missions is most effective over the long term when done as part of a multi-faceted team. We hope to see a Communication Team developed at CRIT this year that will be specifically tasked with supporting the work of YWAM's frontier missionaries around the world.

05 February 2010

Serving the Africa Leadership Team

This week Tim is in Mali where he is attending the annual meetings of both the Field Service Team (FST) and the Africa Leadership Team (ALT). Regular readers will know that Tim is currently coordinating the work of the FST, a loose affiliation of ministries united by their focus on serving the needs of our YWAM missionaries working in Africa. This year the group once again looked at strategies to develop leaders, as well as ways to mobilize more YWAM teams into the challenging central region of the continent.

Every year a member of our team joins the ALT in order to give them communication support. This includes posting daily reports on-line so that YWAM staff in Africa are kept updated on the decision-making processes of the leaders. You can view these daily reports on the YWAM Africa website.

Introducing Christabel Lwiindi

As a YWAM communication ministry seeking to develop a network of communication teams throughout Africa, we do our best to connect with any staff members whose responsibilities include those related to communication. Christabel is one such staff member; she is based in Worcester, South Africa and attached to the southern regional leadership team, specifically to Stefaan Hugo as the Regional Director. Christabel is originally from Zambia and is trained as a journalist, so she brings great experience to her role, both of the region and of communication. She is supported administratively by Judy Guntelach who helps enormously by maintaining the database and sending out emails that need to reach YWAM staff throughout the region.

Miranda and Evelien really appreciated their opportunity to meet with Christabel recently, and are looking forward to working together in the coming months. If you are playing a similar role somewhere in Africa, or you know someone who is doing so, we encourage you to get in touch, so that by working together we can strengthen YWAM's communication capacity more effectively than we can when we work alone!

Email us at: ywamafricom@gmail.com