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.