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.
OSCAR is the premier online information portal for missionaries. We spoke to its founder - Mike Frith - about the top 5 resources every missionary should know about.
You can email Mike at [email protected] for more info on any of the topics above.
image by Cory Doctorow, used under Creative Commons Licence.
In 2011, we set out to discover how we could support Christian workers more effectively. We conducted two surveys and asked a range of questions relating to personal finances, budgeting, income, savings and lifestyle. It came as no real surprise to learn that Christian workers are living on far less than average income, and are often receiving less financial support than they need.
You can read the full survey summaries and results here:
How we're going to help:
This year Stewardship will oversee a substantial increase in free resources for Christian workers, based on what you shared with us in the surveys. From free training days about support-raising, to downloadable guides about pensions and savings, we’re aiming to equip and help Christian workers so that they can be effective in their calling.
Free training days... if you’re in full time Christian work, we believe you should always feel confident and equipped with your finances and personal support raising, whether you are brand new to the work or long established. But we know it isn’t easy, which is why we now run regular, free, ‘training days’ at our offices in Loughton, Essex. Designed to cover the biblical basis for support-raising, technical issues such as taxation and practical subjects like budgeting or using social media effectively. You also get a great Stewardship lunch thrown in for free and the chance to have a sneak peak behind the scenes!
One visitor from last year commented:
“It was an invaluable opportunity to meet fellow workers in very different fields – it gave a refreshing perspective on my work; seeing the bigger picture. I’d encourage others to attend.”
Free resources... The first of our free resources is entitled ‘Finance for Living’. In this three-part series, Myles Wilson (founder and author of Funding the Family Business) discusses the key issues of support raising, and asks two vital questions – ‘how much is enough?’ And ‘to ask or not to ask?’. As well as tackling the practical ways to approach finances, Myles looks at the psychological barriers that often prevent Christian workers from asking for support.
Download the Finance for Living series directly from this blog, or head to the Christian worker area of our website to download them from there. Please note, the Finance for Living series is in PDF format requiring Adobe Reader. This is free and can be obtained here.
Our recent international survey of full-time Christian mission workers has revealed that 27% of those surveyed rely on an annual income of £10,000 or below.
Of those Christian workers who took part, the average income for survey respondents was revealed to stand in the region of £15,000 per year. This is at a time when the average salary in the UK is reported to be £27,415 (Source: PayScale).
When queried on perceptions of a ‘suitable’ level of income; mission workers regarded an annual income in the region of £21,500 would be adequate in meeting their financial needs and those of their family. The results of the survey conducted by Christian charity Stewardship, an organisation who supports a network of over 2500 individuals in or studying for ministry, serve as a reminder that the financial needs of many Christian mission workers around the world are not being sufficiently met.
Michael O’Neill, Chief Executive of Stewardship comments;
“The figures from our latest international survey suggests that a large percentage of Christian mission workers are surviving on an income which is a third less than they require. As an organisation we are committed to seeing mission work generously resourced, however these survey results will certainly challenge Christian mission workers, their supporters, sending agencies and churches and reveals that we still have a long way to go.”
Read the full survey breakdown here.
At the beginning of the year we asked some of our registered Christian Workers to answer a few questions and help us make some wise decisions. We were delighted that over 200 of them did.
You can find the full report here, but we pulled out three key statistics that are particularly illuminating:
The responses in this survey have clearly indicated that there are a number of issues commonly facing Christian Workers which need to be unpacked further.
If you support a Christian Worker through your giving, have you considered how they might be planning to fund a pension? Do you hear them speak openly about any financial difficulty they may be experiencing?
If you are a Christian Worker, can you identify with any of the key findings? What would you say are the financial challenges you'd most like to communicate to your supporters?
If you receive our Piggy Bank newsletter because you are a Christian Worker or Bible College Student, please click on the link inside the latest edition to complete the second survey - your views really will help to shape the services that Stewardship provides to recipients. Results of the second survey will be available later in the year.
blogs by the Stewardship team and selected guest writers.