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