In this month’s 3 mission minutes I speak to Jill Duncan, a Youth worker in Durban. Jill is passionate about supporting and mentoring young people as they start their journey with God.
Jill - working as a Youth Pastor in South Africa must be pretty different to the UK, what keeps you there?
When I came here in 2009 I immediately fell in love with the place. I think it was just that God brought me here but the sub-tropical weather and beaches definitely help! I also find the different cultures and history fascinating and am greatly challenged by the extreme inequalities.
Can you tell us a bit about the young people you work with?
I work with high school aged young people. There is a wide range of differences in culture and financial circumstances from the wealthy to those with significant financial difficulty.
What has been your biggest surprise?
My biggest surprise, or learning curve, has been the diversity and cultural differences in South Africa compared to the UK. There are 11 official languages here and many different tribal and cultural groups. I’ve spent nearly 3 years here and feel like I’m barely scratching the surface!
And your biggest challenge?
Although my predecessors and I have worked hard to try and get a mix of people from different backgrounds, I would definitely say that racism is ingrained in many people, but that’s not really surprising considering the long history of oppression.
South Africa faces many complex challenges including inequality, poverty, HIV/AIDs, sexual violence, corruption and a lack of adequate education and healthcare. Faced with such major issues it’s easy to become disillusioned, and it is difficult as much of what people say which is normal here would be completely unacceptable in the UK. That is why I try to support the young people I spend time with in every way I can, physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. However, as schools become more mixed I think the young people are becoming more understanding of different cultures.
The Christian youth camps we run also bring challenges, especially balancing the different cultural norms and financial restrictions of the economically poorer against the expectations of the wealthier people. We don’t charge for anything other than trips and camps and subsidise for poorer individuals which helps to remove barriers. We funded approximately half the places at the youth camps we ran this year.
What has God taught you during your time as a Youth Pastor?
Lots! To rely on him and that he will provide (especially financially), the need to be patient and wait for his timing not my own, to be willing to take risks and do different things, listen to him more and do what he says. These are all works in progress, but I have learned a lot over the last few years.
What is your vision for the ministry?
My vision is really just to be obedient to God and do his will, which is obviously easier said than done! My main aims are to help young people to reach their potential and grow into the men and women that God has designed them to be, to encourage tolerance, develop leaders and equip young people to put their faith into action. Durban has always felt like a permanent calling, but wherever I end up, I hope I’ll still be trying to make a difference in the lives of young people.
This year more than 24,000 people have signed up to do Lent generously with our challenge, 40acts.
40acts aims to celebrate and reflect something of God's generosity at Easter, by preparing challengers for a life-time of big-heartedness. 40 days of Lent, 40 inspirational reflections, 40 simple acts of generosity. You can sign up here: www.40acts.org.uk
Today - Shrove Tuesday - we've asked the brilliant Meggie's Cupcakes to give us unique recipe for these pancakes. You can make, adapt and share these wonderful mulled wine pear/caramelised apple pancakes. Hop over to our Facebook page and let us know how you get on!
Meggie's Cupcakes Vanilla Pancakes with Mulled Wine Pears/Caramelised Apples
(serves 4-6 people)
- 135g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 130ml milk
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp melted butter (allowed to cool slightly) plus extra for cooking
- mulled wine pears (available in most supermarkets, or you can make your own)
- homemade caramelised apples
- maple syrup
- clotted cream
1. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla sugar into a large bowl. In a separate bowl or jug, lightly whisk together the milk and egg, then whisk in the melted butter.
2. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and, using a fork, beat until you have a smooth batter. Any lumps will soon disappear with a little mixing. Let the batter stand for a few minutes.
3. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add a knob of butter. When it's melted, add a ladle of batter (or two if your frying pan is big enough to cook two pancakes at the same time). It will seem very thick but this is how it should be. Wait until the top of the pancake begins to bubble, then turn it over and cook until both sides are golden brown and the pancake has risen to about 1cm (½in) thick.
4. Repeat until all the batter is used up. You can keep the pancakes warm in a low oven, but they taste best fresh out the pan.
5. Serve with real maple syrup and a dollop of clotted cream. The combined flavours are simply divine!
Some alternatives to try!
Try adding 2 tablespoons of cinnamon in the flour instead of vanilla sugar for a different twist - this will taste especially good with caramelised apples!
To make the pancakes extra fluffy you can also substitute self raising flour for plain flour.
With yet more floods and storms set to batter our weather beaten nation, for many with school-aged children, the prospect of this February's half term can seem a bit disheartening. Before you batten down the hatches and resort to DVDs and computer games, check out Stewardship's ideas on how to put the 'Fun back into February'.
This school holiday coincides with Random Acts of Kindness Week. So why not set a family challenge to do as many random acts of kindness as you can in one week?
And don't forget Lent is coming soon on 5th March, so why not sign up for www.40acts.org.uk and be challenged to carry out more simple acts of generosity for each day of Lent?
You can sign up for 40acts as a family and receive free resources - a weekly child-friendly mini Bible study, a printable kid's wall chart to stick on the fridge and a great activity pack!
This year Stewardship have partnered with a number of brilliant organisations to bring you 40acts Together - a new way to do Lent generously as a group.
From Wednesday 12th February 2014, you'll be able download resources especially for churches, families, youth groups, schools, work groups and more. Some of the resource packs have been created alongside HOPE, an organisation that helps to equip the church in their local community.
You'll find some HOPE resources inside the 40acts event planners when you sign up as a group at www.40acts.org.uk, but there are bonus resources for everyone to benefit from.
Download them below.
It’s January, it’s wet, it’s depressing. We should all be having the January blues. At least that's what I’ve been hearing when I’ve tuned into the radio, TV and social media in the past few weeks.
We hear the same sentiments every New Year: conversations about New Year’s resolutions, wiping the slate clean and starting afresh. For me at least, I start out meaning well and it all turns out to be a bit of a let down.
However this year, for me,is full of new beginnings.Our wedding is in April, then I’ll be moving into a new house but not before starting a new job. I write with some sadness as this will be my last blog for Stewardship as a member of staff. As I have been reflecting on my time here, in preparation for this new season, I realise how blessed I am to have come across some amazing generosity in action over the last seven years.
I remember those people I have seen time and time again giving so generously to anything from appeals for hurricane/typhoon disasters to missionaries working in the depths of the jungle in Burma. I have met people giving up their lives to work for God on the mission field whether it be working with the homeless in south London, or reaching out to trafficked women in Cambodia, all relying on people’s generosity.
I have to say, the people that will have the ultimate lasting impact on me are my Stewardship colleagues, past and present. Again and again, they have demonstrated Christ’s love and generosity to me and countless others. To be honest, I would have been lost without them. They have sown time, tears, laughter, joy and prayers into my life and I will be forever thankful.
I have never worked for an organisation that has remained so true to its values. It lives out generosity to its staff and clients. I am so thankful for my time here and excited for Stewardship’s new season this year and the impact it will have for God’s kingdom.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 says: Better is the end of a thing than the beginning of it. In order to start something new, there has to be an ending. I have come far since the start of my time here and certainly agree that the end is far better than the start of the journey. So, as I start my new beginning, I realise that new beginnings always carry something from the past. I carry with me this thread of generosity, and hope that it weaves itself fully into this new season.
What are you carrying with you into 2014? Could this be an opportunity for you to express God’s heart of generosity in a new way?
I love God’s mandate for us in Isaiah 61:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound,
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favour] and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,
To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion—to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit—that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
This passage is generosity in a nutshell. I really hope that I can be used for His glory in my new beginning.
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photo used under Creative Commons Licence by Keith Roper
Lent has formed part of many church traditions for centuries, as we take the time to remember Jesus' sacrifice for all mankind. Traditionally Lent is marked by giving something up, but for the past three years we've seen people awaken to a new idea: that we can reflect something of God's incredible generosity on the cross by creating a daily habit of generosity throughout Lent.
Whether your church usually observes Lent or not, we invite you to join us for 40acts Together. This free seven-week, downloadable series will include full sermon notes for each week, event planners and promotional activities to help your congregation get to grips with generosity, and reach out into their community during Lent and beyond. Download the sermon outline, and you'll get a preview of the resources.
Sign up for 40acts Together as a church leader and you'll receive:
- full sermon notes for each week
- an event planner and weekly emails to inspire you
- posters and postcards to put up and give away in your community
- the daily 40acts emails with reflections from high profile contributors from the Christian community
Contributing this year: Rob Parsons (Care for the Family), Mike Pilavachi (Soul Survivor), Shaun King (HopeMob), Krish Kandiah (Evangelical Alliance), Luke Smith (Fusion UK), Dot Tyler (Tearfund), Jonty Langley (Huffington Post), Caleb Meakins (My 40 Days), Sam Gibb (Sorted Magazine), Charlie Blythe (A21 Campaign, Hillsong) and many more.
Head to the 40acts website and select your group from the list. You can sign up as a group leader, and the resources will be available to download for free from Feb 10th.
The 40acts challenge is back! 40 days of Lent, 40 reflections, 40 simple acts of generosity.
Now in its fourth consecutive year, 40acts is the triple award-winning challenge from Christian charity Stewardship that invites people to do Lent differently. From March 5th to April 19th you will be offered the chance to give out rather than give something up. Over 15,400 people have already signed up to take part in 40acts 2014 and there is still plenty of room at the party!
"40acts began as a simple idea that asked, "What if Lent could be about more than simply giving up chocolate? What if it was a preparation for a lifetime of big-heartedness?" says Debbie Wright, head of content at Stewardship.
"Traditionally we mark Lent by giving something up, but for the past three years we've seen people awaken to a new idea: that we can reflect something of God's incredible generosity on the cross by creating a daily habit of generosity throughout Lent."
It may be talking to strangers, hugging a friend or giving away your time but for each and every day of Lent participants will be assigned a fresh and exciting challenge that will bless the people around them as well as a daily Biblical reflections from an esteemed Christian contributor to chew on.
Those contributing to this year's 40acts campaign include: Shaun King (HopeMob), Rob Parsons (Care for the Family), Mike Pilavachi (Soul Survivor), Krish Kandiah (Evangelical Alliance), Luke Smith (Fusion UK), Dot Tyler (Tearfund), Jonty Langley (Huffington Post), Caleb Meakins (My 40 Days), Sam Gibb (Sorted Magazine), Charlie Blythe (A21 Campaign, Hillsong) and many more.
New for this year is 40acts Together. Whether you're a family, church, small group, workplace, school or youth group, 40acts Together - in partnership with fantastic organisations - will provide you with the online and printable resources to guide you through your generous journey as a community.
There will be downloadable studies, prayer guides, event planners, kid's wall charts and much more to help different kinds of groups do Lent generously alongside the individual 40acts challenge.
Join in the fun, pouring out love to your neighbours while learning more about our generous and compassionate God.
Sign up here and you'll receive the daily 40acts challenges when Lent begins, as well as a unique link to download 40acts Together resources for your group from February 10th 2014.
Download the official press pack here.
I love The Message version- it says this:
'This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.'
photo from Pinterest
How do you begin a journey? One step at a time. You start with small steps; yet with the end in mind. Ecclesiastes 7 v8a puts it well: The end of a matter is better than its beginning. So, for the next 40 days let’s try five ‘bite-sized’ steps towards being more generous.
Let’s start with the endpoint:
1. Reflect: who are you giving to and why?
Reflection is the usually a last step on a journey and comes toward the 'end' of a project, major life event or a point of personal crisis. Reverse this. Start 2014 by reflecting: Who am I giving generously to and why? Write your response down in no more than two sentences.
2. Plan a small gift beyond your regular giving
Make a plan to give consistently even if it is £1 or 20p a day: be consistent. Keep track; tick it off and plan to do it daily. As a bright 11 year once told me about how she saves, 'take care of the pence and the pounds take care of themselves.' At the end of 40 days: give what you’ve saved away. Where? Go back to your reflection and give this extra to who you desire to give. This amount is the overflow – above and beyond your usual giving.
3. Plan a spontaneous gift
Take a small jam jar (after it has been emptied and cleaned of course) and put an amount of loose, end-of-the-day change in it. Any amount, every day. After 40 days, look for someone, a person or event that needs encouragement. Pray about it and then give the contents away (anonymously, if you can and maybe convert the change into larger denominations for the person’s convenience!). Add a brief note, like: ‘God asked me to give this to you.’
4. Give your time
Think of a way you can be generous in sharing your time with others. Every day, commit a chunk of time to someone else: phone a friend, speak to a neighbour, listen to a colleague, visit someone who is housebound, help with a chore – the list is endless. But don’t stop there – offer to pray for them too, for 40 days.
Last but certainly not least, write an encouraging email to 40 different people each day for 40 days. It doesn’t have to be long. I usually write a Bible verse but it doesn’t have to be a scripture. At the beginning of the day, a simple ‘I am thinking of you.’ or, I am praying for you.’ can be lift for another. Send it early in the morning, or at the end of the evening. Just be consistent, each day for 40 days.
Taking these small steps is like a daily exercise in generosity. Giving creates joy. Feel His love and his joy when you give in this way, for ‘God loves a cheerful giver.' (2 Corinthians 9 v7 b).
Consider: How many small steps will I take in 2014 and where might I end up?
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Thank you for journeying with us this Advent. We hope you found #adventwonder inspirational, challenging and motivating.
You can use the template below to map out your generosity journey for the coming year. Inside you'll find suggestions for structuring your finances and your time to enable you to live more generously this year.
If you liked #AdventWonder, take a look at our other free series' and resources:
blogs by the Stewardship team and selected guest writers.