01 August 2011


We're pleased to announce the launch of ywamafricom.org which showcases some of the great work of YWAM in Africa as well as being the new host for our blog. Please visit the contact us page to let us know your thought on the new website and any other comments you have on the website.

Important: If you get our blog entries by RSS or other feed, please update it to ywamafricom.org/blog.

14 July 2011

Feeling isolated...?

It is always good when you feel needed! In our eagerness to get out there and help others, share the gospel and generally reach out to others, we can often become islands, feeling isolated and alone. Jesus gave thanks to the father when the 72 "returned with joy..." (Luke 10:17). We are meant to share in the joys and share in the sorrows of our fellow missionaries, and give all thanks and praise to God. However, for many, there is a feeling of isolation and loneliness and efforts are made to press on with little-to-no feeling of support from the rest of the mission.
You would think that this only applies to individuals in remote places, but this can happen to whole schools and training establishments. It can happen to students and staff alike. It can happen to anyone and it creeps up on you. Just yesterday, we had a visit from a YWAM leader into our office. He was reporting on what God is doing and wanted to hear about some of the things that were going on around the continent. We welcomed him in, and he shared of the isolation that his family felt out 'on the mission field'. He said that they didn't have a visitor for 2 years and during that time they felt like they were forgotten. He brought this feeling to the regional leader, who encouraged him to be pro-active; he encouraged him to 'be the change'. And he did. Along with a team of young people, they are travelling around South Africa, visiting YWAM locations and hearing the stories, and sharing their own stories. There is mutual encouragement, which will be taken back with them to report on the great things that God is doing.
This is part of the vision of YWAM AfriCom and it is so good to see friends like this, who recognise the isolation that can be felt and can see the importance of sharing information and stories. We know that we cannot share all the stories or be in all the places where YWAM works across this vast continent. That is why we are encouraged by friends like this, who embrace the need to hear from others and the willingness to listen and learn. God is doing something in this continent to connect mission work. It's certainly an exciting time!

12 July 2011

YWAM Yei, South Sudan

South Sudan is going through a transition period. Bryan Whitlock a Ywamer recently travelled up to Yei to find out what is going on there...

YWAM Yei, South Sudan from YWAM AfriCom on Vimeo.

06 July 2011

What's holding you back?

At YWAM AfriCom, our heart is to serve those who work in YWAM in Africa so that they can feel better connected, that their work does not go unnoticed and that they can learn from others in the mission. Sometimes it's good to reflect on what holds us back. At a recent mission gathering, known as the Go conference run in Mossel Bay, South Africa, there was a talk on what holds missionaries back, or takes them out of missions. Hans Oines, who was at the conference summarised the main points we need to consider:

1-Bitterness and un-forgiveness with other missionaries is a killer because relationships keep us afloat, we need to be balanced and healthy with our expectations towards one another.

2- Keep short accounts. We must say when we are offended and forgive. We must be quick to forgive and apologize. We have to protect our relationships with one another and those we are called to serve.

3-Disappointment with God is another thing that shuts missionaries down. We are to move in obedience and it is costly. We have the wrong kind of expectation if we think that we will have open doors and everyone is safe. We should obey regardless of the cost. We need to have the character to follow Jesus no matter what the cost.

Why not share your experience of being held back, or being released from bitterness/disappointment in missions on the YWAM Africa Facebook page? Just go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/YWAM-Africa/127366240649036

01 July 2011

Pledges sought

As we enter into a new season for YWAM in Africa, here in the communications team we are excited about the projects that we have planned. God is guiding us to venture into new places and embrace new projects. We are equipping missionaries in the field with what they need to communicate, whilst hearing their stories and championing some of the great things that are being done there. In this picture we ventured into a rural location in Angola to find an Angolan YWAMer preaching and teaching in a village, making disciples and baptising new believers. From this visit, working alongside many different ministries, we were able to produce materials that built a better understanding in the region of what God was doing. We were also able to build partnerships between YWAM and other agencies.

For those that have been following us over the past months and years, will see that we are now starting to build on the projects that have been successful.

Right now, as our administration changes and we are preparing for what God has instore for the next season, we are looking for friends who will be willing to journey with us. Most important for us at this time is prayer and support pledges. We want to be accountable to a support team which values YWAM and wants to see more breakthrough in Africa. With that we are going to need friends who are willing to stand in the gap, financially and otherwise, so that we can complete what we have been called to do.

If you are willing to be a prayer partner and would like to pledge how you will support YWAM AfriCom to connect ministries in Africa:
please email

(e.g. I am willing to commit to praying once a week for guidance for the team or I pledge $15 per month towards this ministry).

10 June 2011

Connecting Africa

Imagine working for years in isolated circumstances. Your calling is to reach tribes in rural Africa with the gospel. Faithfully you go and serve, build relationships and work in a people group that is not your own, adopting customs and cultures that are alien to you and embrace life there. Your contact with the 'outside world' is limited to visits back to the big cities for meetings with other missionaries, or the ocassional visit from a leader. However, your knowledge of what is happening in the broader picture for the mission is limited. Easily you start to question what you are doing in relation to others.

Is anyone else out there doing what I'm doing?
Does anyone else have the difficulties I'm facing?

All too often, missionaries leave their 'posts' because of burnout or isolation. That isolation is not usually because there aren't people around them, it is because they are not connected with others who are doing and feeling the same way.

That is why it is so important to build a communications network where those working across Africa in places away from their 'home' and extended family can feel connected to others in similar circumstance. They need a place to share their stories outside of their immediate circumstance and they need to be valued by others in the mission.

God has laid on our hearts, in AfriCom, the vision to support all who serve in YWAM. We visit projects in far-flung places, we collect stories and share them, we make videos to champion the work done by the unsung heroes of faith and we teach the wider body of the mission how to build their own links with each other.

It is our vision that every ministry location in Africa should be connected to one another and thereby feel valued and part of wider work of the mission.

It might not seem like much to many of us, but the magazine we produce bi-annually, known as Djembe, is highly prized by those that receive it. Our running costs are relatively low, but to distribute a few copies of each magazine to some of the remotest locations is a costly exercise. But something that, from our own experience is well worth doing. People donate their time and energy into gathering stories, writing, designing, translating and producing the magazine. In other contexts we could just publicise it online. However, in our context, a physical magazine showcasing the work done by YWAMers on this continent is invaluable and something that we cannot compromise on. However, it does lead to the problem of printing and distribution costs. This is usually around $3,000 per edition. We would value, so much, if friends could pledge a donation today to support us in the production of the current edition which has been produced and is just waiting to be printed. We have raised a third of our costs so far, so we are just asking anyone to donate to enable this to happen.

In YWAM AfriCom we work to serve YWAM any and every YWAMer who lives and works in Africa. We do not receive corporate funding; we get our support from friends who value what we do.

By sponsoring this magazine, YOU can know that you are helping connect ministries together and build a holistic mission to fulfil the Great Commission together.

06 June 2011

Best foot forward

Peter Clemison writes:

This morning was the first meeting of the new group of elders for YWAM AfriCom which is made up of five longterm, well established YWAM staff who have a passion for Africa. This group has committed to meet with the AfriCom team once a month to help us as we grow and develop the ministry to serve YWAMers in Africa.

During this transitional time, as the baton is handed from one to another, it has been an opportunity to look at some of the achievements that have been made since its inception in 2002. If you look at YWAM being the decentralised movement of training, outreach and community ministries in many different locations across Africa, it is amazing to think that this small team of communicators has achieved so much. I can really see God's hand on guiding and developing this team. YWAM has been organic in its growth, focusing on where God is leading, rather than slow strategic planning. Therefore building a culture of communication and developing an

understanding of the value of communications in a missions context has been a great challenge.

Yet, the AfriCom team has developed a communications focus in YWAM that has equipped so many missionaries serving in Africa with what they need to communicate – through schools and workshops, seminars and events. It has connected some very isolated missionaries on this continent with one another and helped develop a culture of communication which has led to partnerships being formed which otherwise would not have existed. It has also championed the 'under dog' – the quiet unassuming ministry that presses on toward their goal.

As I look to take on the co-ordinating role in this team and I look to continue to serve this vast continent, I know that I must trust God to guide the team in developing the plans for the future. That is why I am so glad that the team has the elders in place to speak prophetically into AfriCom and be an accountability for us in the future.

I am excited about the future of AfriCom. Communications in missions can often be misunderstood and overlooked, yet when it is done effectively , so much can be achieved.

17 May 2011

YWAM leaders from South Africa meet in Bethlehem

Autumn in South Africa is a time for refreshing and gathering together of those that lead YWAM training locations and ministries in southern Africa. Over the weekend of 6-8th, about 50 of us gathered in Bethlehem (no, not that one! – Bethlehem, South Africa). It was a chance for us to share our stories, each one part of the larger story that is YWAM's work in this part of the world.

In the cool, misty, remote location of YWAM's training centre in Bethlehem we were singing and dancing to songs with hand and arm actions to warm our bodies as we worshipped God. Though cold outside, the atmosphere in the main hall was warm and inviting with lots of family jokes and banter among old friends. As the meetings got underway, each ministry in this region had a chance to share with the group the ways they are working to meet the needs of the communities where they live, along with the main things that they are facing this year. Some shared about great challenges, whilst others shared about exciting new beginnings.

YWAM Durban surprised us all when they told of their rescue home for cats (currently housing 100 felines) which – apparently – has opened doors into the community that would never have been there otherwise. Another unusual story came from a YWAM ministry which began working with the police to bridge relations between the community and church pastors, who had been getting into trouble from parents of school children who objected to their work within schools.

It was inspiring and encouraging to hear and share the myriad projects that are being done as part of Youth With A Mission's engagement in the communities of South Africa. Our work as a YWAM communication team means that we focus on building connections between diverse Youth With A Mission ministries, and on championing them by telling their stories. Meeting with the leaders from this part of Africa was another reminder of what an honour this is!

11 May 2011

Inter-agency Networking

When we started AfriCom, the first regional communication team for Youth With A Mission, it felt like we were creating something completely new. And we were, for our organization. Communication had either been dealt with at a local level - more or less competently - or, when it came to our public face, at an international level from the United States.

Those first years were a combination of experimentation, building connections with leaders in the organization, being told what we were trying to do couldn't work, and then seeing the first small signs of success. It was hard and sometimes messy. But we were convinced it was important and we enjoyed it enough to keep going!

Last week Miranda and Peter went to JOhannesburg to meet with the communication directors for Africa from Wycliffe, Africa Inland Mission and the International Baptist Mission. We have been discussing how the unique 'personalities' of our organizations have led us to pursue communication in specific ways on their behalf. We have exchanged ideas. We have been impressed by what one another is producing - beautiful stories from Africa in video, written and photo form. We have identified ways of partnering with one another, together supporting the work of each of our missionary groups in Africa.

We learned that we are not alone. That others have walked this road before us and have made the road smoother for those that follow behind. That this great mission which we have all given our lives to - making Love and Life known - can only be done as we work together.

Who do you network with and how does this encourage and inspire you?

26 April 2011

AfriCom team offers training in Maputo

AfriCom in Maputo from YWAM AfriCom on Vimeo.

Several of the AfriCom team recently traveled from Cape Town to Maputo in Mozambique to offer a week-long Effective Communication Workshop. This workshop is designed to enable volunteer missionaries to communicate more effectively with missions partners and with other agencies, in this way rendering their work more sustainable.

This clip summarises the workshop and the response of the participants. As you watch it, you'll become very aware of one of our primary challenges as a communication team for Africa: multiple languages!

With many thanks to those whose generous donations made this field trip possible.

12 April 2011

Venturing into the unknown

Recently two members of the AfriCom team, Bernine Stewart and Lydia Smit travelled up with Bryan and Adelson – some friends from the YWAM Muizenberg base – into Uganda and Sudan. Bernine reflects on the journey and her experience travelling into remote Africa...

The idea of doing good things in the world, living a better story and making the world a better place is a bold and courageous goal, a goal in which those who are not satisfied with the norm dream of making a difference. But what happens when the realistic requirements of these dreams hit you in the face like a hailstorm? Details. Petty details to mountainous details. Visas, boarder crossings, raising support, accommodation, sickness, culture shock, rejection, cultural differences, new foods, war, death, and treacherous travel.

After having slept on the Johannesburg airport floor for the first night, Lydia and I then met up with Bryan and Adelson and proceeded to Kampala in Uganda. We stayed there for a night and then started our journey to South Sudan. We took an 8 hour bus ride to Kit Gum where we met up with Bosco, one of the guys from the Arua base pioneering the work into Sudan. We dropped off all of our stuff other than what we would need up in the mountains. After that we took a taxi truck which
the guys had to sit in the back with all our stuff. This section of the trip was only about 3 or 4 hours but the last part the road was terrible. Back home this road would be considered impassable but somehow this truck managed. As we were driving the sun went down, the road got worse and my mind started racing. I kept thinking “What am I doing?! Where am I going?! I can't handle this!”. Remembering the words I once said about wanting to go to dangerous places, wanting to live a life that would mean something, wanting to love the unlovable and my response to that was yeah, “in theory that sounds so noble and yet in reality, this is crap!”

I was heading into a dark and unknown place, watching as rats ran through the grass in front of the truck. I would glance out the window up to the stars and internally cry out “Where are You taking me!?”

As we reached the unofficial Ugandan border a man wrote our names and information in a notebook and then we were allowed through the branch gate. Then we arrived at the Sudan border and as we drove up they started yelling at us and told us to turn off the truck and then a man with an AK47 walks up and we told him our names and information and were allowed to pass through another branch gate. Continuing on for quite some time we finally pull into Lobone and find the hut where we would be staying. Thoughts of dread continued until I got out of the truck and one of the first people to greet me was a 22 year old, 5 foot nothing (1.5m tall), cute little brunette who happened to be from Pinocha, Alberta (about a 30 minute drive from my home town Airdrie). In that moment I felt God say If she can be here, so can you. Ashley and her husband, Carl, welcomed us into their hut and allowed Lydia and I to stay there because they had just recently managed to kill all
the rats. Thank you, Jesus.

So, I found myself sleeping on a mat under a mosquito net in a hut in a remote village in South Sudan wondering how on earth I got there. As I had mentioned in my last post it used to take me an hour to work up the courage to pee in a port-a-potty – here I had no choice. I used to be a picky eater – here I had no choice (hence eating bush rat which is the equivalent of a massive gopher). I used to be afraid of the dark – here there was no electricity. I used to take drinking water for granted – here I saw its irreplaceable value.

Two days later we packed up our few belongings and started our 7 hour trek up to the even more remote villages. It was hot. Extremely hot. I really had wished I had maybe gone to morning workouts in Harpenden (UK) or maybe taken it a little easier on the biscuits. And yet, I loved it! Something in me rose up and I didn't even really struggle. This had to have been God.

When we finally reached the top we met the people who have always lived in this village. The same village which the SPLA would hide out in during the war. The Issore people spend most of their time brewing alcohol and getting drunk. They wore an expression of hopelessness. Here we prayed for the sick, prayed for the spiritually oppressed and then had a dance party with the whole village. It was such a surreal moment for me. Looking back it was one of those moments where I was standing in the middle of it all, my thoughts racing and yet everything else moving in slow motion. As though it had to slow down for me just to take in all the vibrant colors, foreign and exotic sounds, pure unpolluted smells, and the undeniable presence of God.

Chief Olwen Omona said “It looks like God is opening a light to my people because this has never happened. Even our own government has rejected us. For you to come is proof to me that God is beginning to see us. I welcome you with all my hands. If you come, I am sure the people will learn from you. They want to know of God but there is no one who will teach them. Thank you...may you open our eyes.” That made it all worth it.

After our time in Lobone and Issore we started our journey on to YWAM Arua (unaware at the time that it would take us 24 hours to complete) and having arrived in Arua it felt like we were in a 5 star resort. After the long day of travel I saw my designated foam mattress bunk bed and in my eyes it looked like a king size memory foam mattress with down filled duvet.

God is good.

22 March 2011

Missions Communicators in Sudan

An update from our missions communicators in Arua, northern Uganda; working into South Sudan in preparation for shooting video footage to mobilize people, prayer and resources for the work of YWAM there.

"We were received by old friends of YWAM in Kampala and then met up with with our small outreach team in Lobone, South Sudan for our first location. It was great to be a united team of eight people from various nations coming together for Christ to be made known in the remote hills of this long neglected people. From the base in Lobone (YWAM is beginning a work on a plot there now), it is a several hour hike into the first village of the Issore region, and each village is quite a distance apart from any other. We were able to spend two nights, three days there, and we really sensed more of what God wants for this people. We are grateful to William and Bosco, who will carry on the work there even as we go away. We can see God touching many to come and serve alongside them in this needy region and we know the production of the video will move many as well."

Since receiving this communication, we have also heard that one of the team was detained by Sudanese authorities for an afternoon and only released after paying a fine. His crime? He had unwittingly taken a photograph of an army barracks. Missions communicators need to be savvy to make it in Africa!

What challenges are you aware of in your own communication? How are you working to overcome them? Have you been touched by videos and stories from remote places like Issore? How were you moved to get involved in some way?

18 March 2011

Building communication at a local level

This week, some of the AfriCom team in Cape Town travelled to nearby Worcester to meet with the newly formed Communication Team at the YWAM centre there. Our connection with YWAM Worcester was strengthened at the end of last year, when we ran a week-long Effective Communication Workshop for their staff. Since that time we have visited monthly to help the communication director in her quest to mobilize a team to work alongside her in serving the communication needs of the ministry and training staff in her YWAM location.

This week we were hugely encouraged to meet 6 new Com Team members (currently all part-time) including a writer, photographer, videographer and video conferencing expert. What a great team, each person highly motivated to launch communication initiatives that will help connect missionary staff at this thriving training and ministry centre, as well as promote their work among the local community as well as nationally and internationally.

This sort of consultation and support is one of the ways regional Com Teams like AfriCom can help strengthen the work of YWAM at a local level. To find out more about how we can help YWAM in your location, email info@ywamafricom.org.

15 March 2011

YWAMers fear armed conflict in Ivory Coast

In Ivory Coast, a nation currently under threat of civil war, YWAM has a history of discipling individuals and building communities. As well as the 6 month Discipleship Training School, YWAM Côte d'Ivoire has offered training in Christian counseling and supports a number of local pastors through their church ministries work. At times like these, when communities are under a high degree of stress, pastors and church leaders provide a steadying anchor for individuals and families who fear for their own safety.

North and south Ivory Coast have been divided since 2002 when ethnic, religious and economic disparities caused conflict that meant a united nation was not sustainable. Last year's presidential election was the first in a decade and came as the result of a lengthy peace process. In that election, Mr Ouattara, a muslim northerner, won a slender victory that has since been declared invalid by supporters of Mr Gbagbo in the south. Many international organisations, however, including the UN, African Union and EU, have recognised Mr Ouattara as the winner.

Whilst it is being reported that civil war is not inevitable, what we hear from YWAM staff on the ground indicates that there is a lot of fear that the situation is escalating towards armed conflict. "If war is unleashed" wrote Richard, YWAM leader in Ivory Coast, "there will be serious loss of life since both sides are ready to give their all for their leader."

Every day large numbers of the population are leaving the city of Abidjan for the countryside; whilst in the west of the country people are fleeing to Liberia and Guinea. The UN refugee agency reports that over 450,000 people have fled their homes because of the current crisis.

For now, although some YWAM staff have already left the country for Ghana or Togo, most YWAMers are in the city of Abidjan and for now are staying. This decision is being reassessed daily as the situation unfolds. YWAM teams in neighbouring countries stand ready to receive their fellow missionaries if evacuation proves unavoidable.

For more information about the current state of affairs, go to a news website such as this.

08 March 2011

For Marta and the women of Mozambique

Marta Alige was a pioneer. She was one of the first generation of girls to grow up educated in peacetime Mozambique, and one of the first generation of Mozambican missionaries. When she finished school, instead of moving to the city looking for work, she was trained by Youth With A Mission, and spent the rest of her short life working as a frontier missionary in the isolated Zambezi delta.

For ten years YWAM Marromeu has worked in this delta region. Education has always been a huge felt need for the Mozambicans there, living far from the nearest schools. YWAM leaders, Shephen and Caitlin Mbewe, both trained schoolteachers, are committed to develop education in this area, where poverty and illiteracy are rife.

Several years ago, after completing her DTS in Marromeu, Marta began the first primary school in the delta. Her husband Pedrito lived with her in the delta, running a small first aid post. Slowly, with the held of a fellow YWAMer, Tiago, and a government teacher, Marta developed the school. Steady progress has now been made in teaching literacy, though the number of simple books in the local Sena language is limited.

Many outreach teams have also helped with the literacy programme, flown into remote delta villages by helicopter, generously provided by Mercy Air. With the motto, ‘Wings of love to people in need’, South Africa’s Mercy Air has accelerated the speed with which the YWAM team is able to travel, reducing three-day canoe trips to 30 minutes.

Tragically, in late 2010, Marta Alige died, after complications during a Ceasarean Section. Still today, two decades after Mozambique’s civil war ended, one in thirty seven Mozambican women die in childbirth. Thankfully Marta’s story does not finish here, however. The work she started has been continued through the lives of three teenage YWAM girls.

Caitlin, and her three daughters, Nyasha, Kudzai and Tatenda, wanted to do something special to remember Marta. They translated a traditional African folk tale into Sena, doing the artwork themselves. ‘Why does the eagle steal the hen’s chicks?’ has now been published, dedicated to the memory of Marta.

The book was recently given to children living in the delta, who Marta had taught. Fifteen-year old Nyasha comments, “Everyone loved it. Even the ones who could not read could follow the story by looking at the pictures, and could recognize words in the story from the vocabulary pages. It was so exhilarating! Everyone was so disappointed when the story came to an end - it made me wish I had more books. I want to bring reading alive for them."

The day after giving the books out in Luawe, Caitlin visited Bumbani, another village in the delta, to check on the progress of the reading scheme she had introduced earlier in 2010. She found that many of those attending the programme could already read all the word cards that she had provided. Now their great need is books.

Recently, Caitlin made an emergency trip to South Africa. Whilst there, some wonderful partnerships began. She met Anne Herbert, the Outreach Coordinator for Mercy Air, with 27 years experience teaching primary education. More people heard about the Sena literacy programme and began donating their time and skills. A team from South Africa are now creating a ‘Classroom in a box’, containing practical literacy materials that can be easily carried into remote areas.

Today the Mbewes are busy translating further African folk tales into Sena, as easy readers for the learners. Enthusiastic artists from supporting churches in the United Kingdom are helping with culturally appropriate artwork. Plans are afoot to publish short bible stories and challenging books that will help build a biblical worldview.

A generation of Mozambicans living in the Zambezi delta now have the opportunity to learn to read and write. For the women in particular, education offers the possibility of radical transformation. Marta did not have formal training, only 5 years of primary school. It was Martin Luther King who said, "One does not need a degree to serve." Marta proved that to be true, she served the children of the delta with love and devotion, and her short life will bear much fruit.

For more information, contact Mercy Air or YWAM Marromeu via email: mbeweshephen@yahoo.co.uk

23 February 2011

Communication projects lead to life-saving partnerships

Some time ago AfriCom partnered with a YWAM video production ministry called Media Village to produce a promotional video for our team in Marromeu, a remote town along the east coast of Mozambique. The video was shown widely in an attempt to mobilize people, prayer and resources to help the YWAM team fulfill their vision to see community transformation in this delta region at the mouth of the Zambezi river.

As a result of seeing the video, a ministry called Mercy Air decided to partner with YWAM Marromeu. The goal of Mercy Air is to provide safe, professional and cost effective aviation service to the wider humanitarian aid and mission community in southern Africa. They agreed to fund quarterly helicopter visits to Marromeu to enable the YWAM team to visit the remote communities in the delta region that could otherwise only be reached via days of difficult boat travel. By visiting these communities more regularly, YWAM has been able to establish literacy and health care projects for people who previously had no access to any such facilities, as well as to develop bible teaching programs.

On one visit, Mercy Air was able to help save the life of a local man who was bitten by a crocodile. This is common enough accident in this marshy land of waterways, and in many cases a croc bite so far from medical care results in death. Watch this clip and join with us in rejoicing at the long term difference one video can make, in the life of this man and his family, and for the whole community!

21 February 2011

AfriCom goes to Sudan

AfriCom exists to serve YWAM in locations all around Africa and our next exciting opportunity to connect with YWAM in the field is coming up! At the end of next week Lydia, our editing and production coordinator, will be traveling to South Sudan along with Bernine, a photography intern.

The two team members have a lot of ground to cover in their 3 week trip. Flying to Kampala, Uganda, they will make their way by bus into Sudan. They will begin background research for a mobilization DVD about the community development work of YWAM in Issore, a remote collection of seven villages. Traveling from there to Yei, where YWAM Sudan has an established work in partnership with the team from Arua, Uganda, Lydia and Bernine will work on the production of podcasts, photography projects and articles about the experiences of the YWAM staff during this time of transition in Sudan, as the south secedes from the north.

The vision of AfriCom is all about connecting remote YWAM teams such as these with their fellow YWAMers around Africa and throughout the world. By developing these connections, using communication, we are able to mobilize people, prayer and resources to help make the work of YWAM more effective. This trip is a wonderful opportunity to champion the unsung heroes on the ground by telling of the positive and sustainable changes taking place in communities because of what they do.

Before returning to Cape Town, Lydia and Bernine will visit Jinja, in Uganda, to meet with our fledgling Communication Team working for the East Africa region. These face-to-face meetings are rare and precious opportunities to encourage and develop our other communication team members, through coaching, planning and evaluation.

In order to not put extra strain on the YWAM teams in Sudan and Uganda, both Lydia and Bernine are raising their own funding for this trip. They have been generously supported with donations by their missions partners. $1,000 is still required to make this trip possible.

If you would like to be a part of helping us to strengthen the work of YWAM in Sudan and Uganda, it's very simple to make a donation: Please visit the project page on our Given Gain website.

14 February 2011

University of the Nations: a vehicle of hope

Last week, YWAM in Cape Town had the great privilege of hosting the international leaders of the University of the Nations. In town for their strategy and planning meetings, the leaders also took time to join the local YWAM community for times of worship and staff development.

Tom Bloomer is the international provost of the UofN. As he stood in front of volunteer missionaries from at least 5 YWAM training centres, he encouraged them to think long-term about their missionary calling. Youth With A Mission is known for its opportunities for short-term volunteers. What is less well-known is that we also have tens of thousands of missionaries who have been working for many years with YWAM, all following the same call to 'Make God known' among the nations of the world.

After recently celebrating a half century of sending missionaries around the world, YWAM has been asking what we need in order to be effective for the next 50 years. Tom addressed this question from a personal angle.

What is it, Tom asked, that will keep a missionary going through years of inevitable ministry challenges? He asserted that it is hope that will help us to continue our work over the long haul and, as he looks back on almost 40 years as a YWAMer, he is himself testimony to the power of hope to build perseverance and tenacity.

Hope, Tom pointed out, is the foundation for faith. "Tell me where you've stopped praying," he said, "and I'll tell you where you've lost hope."

Taking the story of Lazurus' death as his starting point, Tom looked at the question of unanswered prayer. In spite of Lazurus' sisters sending for Jesus, He did not arrive until days after their brother's death. Jesus didn't answer in the way they expected and neither did He explain His delay; it is this lack of explanation that can most offend us, Tom argued. He admitted that we are all tempted to bury our hope when God doesn't seem to answer our heart cries; this can become a hard place in our hearts. Indeed, many end up leaving the mission field for this very reason; prayers for finances, healing or for loved ones remain unanswered and people leave disheartened. Nowhere is this more true than in Africa.

Tom asked why Jesus wept at Lazurus' tomb, and argued that it was perhaps out of sorrow that Mary and Martha were not able to wait through more than 4 days of unanswered prayer before doubting His ability and desire to help them. "When we pray," Tom argued, "we are trusting God. When He doesn't answer, He is trusting us." He reminded us of Jesus' response to the grieving sisters: "Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?"

In closing, Tom connected our personal need for hope with the ministry of the University of the Nations. He reflected that one of the principal callings of YWAM's university is to bring hope to communities, to demonstrate to people that the reality of Christ's resurrection has a redemptive impact on all of life. And if the university is to truly be this vehicle of hope, then each of us need to be living with hope at the core of our attitudes and behaviours.

In what ways has your hope has been challenged? How have you renewed your hope? In what ways can you see your YWAM ministry offering hope to the communities in which you work?

01 February 2011

So you think you know what's happening in Sudan?

(Photos by Philip B)

It would be hard to have avoided the momentous news coming out of Sudan in recent weeks. As part of the peace accord signed in 2005, north and south Sudan agreed to hold a referendum to allow the people of the south to vote on whether to secede from the north. Last month they voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence.

Much has been and is being written about this historical period in the story of the nation. But there are other tales to tell, other lives God is weaving together in the tapestry He is creating for His glory in both the north and the south of Sudan. The following story was relayed in the e-news bulletin of YWAM's frontier missionaries:

"8-wells" is a joint project started in 2010 to spread the good news of Jesus throughout northern Sudan. It incorporates distribution events, book exhibitions and "Marches for Jesus". For the latter, a bus has been outfitted with a sound system and generator. A worship team rides in the bus and sings during the entire March, accompanying the rest of the participants who are on foot. In every bus station and market place and wherever lots of people are gathered, the March pauses, and the gospel is openly proclaimed. The marchers give a free copy of the "Gospel of Luke" to everyone along the way.

The organizers are gearing up to have a "March for Jesus" in 25 locations in northern Sudan, during which 1 million copies of the "Gospel of Luke" will be distributed. Through the combined efforts of 80-100 churches and agencies, God has provided nearly a quarter of a million US dollars to fully fund this project.

As a further demonstration of God's love, believers in northern Sudan responded to flooding in the area of Shandi. They filled two trucks with food, blankets and medicines and a third truck with 40 young people to help distribute the items. After initial resistance, local authorities agreed for the believers to handle the distribution themselves. One thousand bags were prepared to give to needy families, each containing flour, oil, sugar, lentils, pasta noodles, tea, biscuits, rice, a blanket and medicines, along with a printed copy of Psalm 23 and an explanation that the bag was a gift from the evangelical Church of northern Sudan for the people of Shandi. The participants felt the presence of God very strongly as they gave out the bags to the flood victims." (Story by Mark Fadely)

Pray for Sudan. Pray for the formation of a the new nation in the south, for it to function along godly lines of governance and for there to be forgiveness towards those who have perpetrated violence in the land for so long. Pray also for the north, that through God's kindness - as demonstrated by His people - many would be drawn to know and love Him.

To learn more about YWAM's frontier missions work, visit their website. You can also find locations where YWAM training centres offer the School of Frontier Missions by searching on www.ywam.org

24 January 2011

Latest Djembe magazine is out!

Last week, winging their way from the printers in India, came the latest editions of YWAM Africa's magazine. A djembe is a West African drum and the magazine is so-called because it reports the rhythms of YWAM in Africa. With stories from around the continent, this is a great means of connecting with other parts of the YWAM Africa family, and a great resource for prayer for the continent.

If you are part of a YWAM ministry in Africa, you should find print editions of the magazine at your local YWAM training centre (base). You can also find an electronic version of the magazine here. Share this resource with your supporters as a great way of introducing them to the broader YWAM work, of which you are a part! Thanks to the work of committed translators, the magazine features every article in English, French and Portuguese - so share it far and wide.

To email us with feedback, or to submit a story for the next edition, contact: lydias@ywamafricom.org