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!