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