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.
Over the next two years, Fusion are hoping to visit every university location in the UK to help equip the local churches to be spectacular with students. And they’re doing it in an iconic VW camper van.
Miriam Swaffield (Student Mission Developer for Fusion) will be road-tripping around the land in the bright orange VW, seeking to raise the profile and participation of the student mission movement. “I’m passionate about seeing students grow as vital parts of the church body,” she says, “I want to see them looking outwards and loving their universities and friends in all the creative and everyday ways God calls us to.”
The VW camper van creates a tangible symbol for the student mission movement, and it’s also a brilliant mission tool itself.
“It gathers a crowd as soon as it’s parked, there’s space inside to have meetings, chill out with a cup of tea that can be made on the camper’s cooking facilities, and there are enough seat belts for a bunch of students to join me on the road from city to city.”
The plan is that any local church can use the VW to serve and fuel their local church student mission and any student can go on the road too. It’s all one beautiful gift.
Miriam believes students matter, and that connecting them with local churches can mean the difference between finding and keeping or losing their faith while at university.
“If students matter so much, if we believe that our university days are hugely important to God and a massive opportunity for people to meet Jesus, are we willing to put our money where our mouth is?”
For Miriam, who is herself an early twenty-something, it’s not enough to ask for money from her parent’s generation to help keep the student mission movement running: “If this generation is serious about reaching our mates and loving the local church, we need to commit to fuelling this movement ourselves.”
Through Fusion’s partnership with Stewardship, students have the chance to pay for the petrol money for the thousands of miles the Loveyouruni VW has to travel.
“It’s not cheap on fuel but this gives us the perfect opportunity to take responsibility for making the movement happen.” Miriam says. “And amazingly, Stewardship adds a tenner a month when you give a tenner or over to fuel the movement for the first year...we’re essentially getting double petrol money!”
The 18-25 giving account from Stewardship was set up with students in mind, to encourage a foundation of generosity long before the full-time pay checks start rolling in. It’s fee-free for two years, so the full amount given goes to support causes, and it also potentially has the benefit of an extra 25% Gift Aid on top. So ten pounds per month potentially becomes £270 to give away per year. Which, for Miriam, is a big help on the mission field…and the motorway…and the campus…
Her call to the students who read this is simple: “Let’s own student mission for ourselves,” says Miriam. “Let’s be generous with our money (isn’t all money kind of like a student loan from God anyway?). Let’s love our unis.”
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In this edition of 3 mission minutes, I chatted to Dan Randall from Pais Project about being a twenty-something missionary, mentoring a future generation of world-changers and the 14-year old boy who set up 'Text a prayer'.
Dan – tell us what Pais Project does in 140 characters
We are a bridge between schools and churches. We invest into Youth Pastors, plus we offer a free Apprenticeship in Youth & Schools Ministry.
Tell us what YOU do in 140 characters
I lead Pais in East Lancashire, investing into the team leaders and overseeing all 4 teams. I raise vision, recruits and finances.
What’s it like to be a young missionary in the world today? Does age make a difference?
In my experience over the past 3 years, it is exciting to be a twenty-something missionary. I aspire to see my generation changed by God and be the change agents the world needs. I am starting to see a spark in pockets of the UK where young people and young adults are rising up to see their generation changed by God.
What’s your vision?
My vision is to see young people grab hold of God’s purpose for their life and live in it: to see them be the head and not the tail in society. Young people full of the Holy Spirit empowering them to see change and the Kingdom come.
It’s clear to me that when a young person grabs hold of God’s heart then a community can be changed, when a group grab hold of God’s heart then an entire town can be changed, but if a generation grabs hold of God’s heart the world can be changed.
Got an inspiring story from the Project?
Ben is a young person who is mentored by me, in many ways he is a typical British 14 year-old teenager: he loves football and is a big supporter of Liverpool FC;he plays the guitar and goes to high school. He isn’t particularly loud or extrovert but is known for being the one who welcomes people and connects with everybody in a group situation.
What makes Ben different from many of his peers is the mission heartbeat that is in him, and indeed his whole family. Ben’s dad, Tom was a Pais apprentice 12 years ago and his Aunty Hettie currently leads a team in Burnley.. Ben has always been surrounded by people who love God, want to make a difference to the people in their communities… and who know they can.
Ben isn’t a Pais apprentice himself, he’s too young! But he understands fundamentally that he can make a difference in his community, in his school and with his friends.
After attending a Pais: GB M4 weekender last year (a weekend where young people are inspired and equipped to reach their community and school) Ben was encouraged to start some initiatives in his High School. Over the past few months Ben has set up a simple but effective scheme called ‘Text a prayer’ which is as it says! Having been encouraged by this he is now currently in the process of setting up a Christian Union in his school. He may be receiving help and resources from Pais but still, it’s amazing stuff for a 14 year-old boy from the North of England.
What has been your greatest challenge?
Taking on my current role, leading the Hub. For me it has been a stretching, growing and challenging experience both in terms of dealing with other people and in my own life. The challenges have helped to shape me and empowered me to grow more as a leader. Particularly over the past 12 months when God’s faithfulness has been even more evident.
How can readers keep in touch/support you?
If you want to find out more about The Pais Project then you can go to our website – www.paisproject.com
You can also stay in touch with me personally by e-mailing me and I can send you my monthly update.As well as my monthly update you can support me by giving monthly or by a one-off donation. To get in touch my e-mail address is – [email protected]Dan tweets at @DanJRandall and you can support him using your Stewardship giving account. His account number is: 20115351
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.
Chris and Dil Tapp are relative newcomers to Stewardship so we wanted to find out a bit about their work at the Living Waters Village on the island of Borneo and how early mornings and electrics are the order of the day. Chris spoke to us about their involvement with the project:
Tell us a bit about Living Waters
I first visited Living Waters Village in West Kalimantan with my son and his wife in 2006, and kept going back for more - October 2011 was my 12th visit.
The project is the outworking of Ronny Heyboer’s vision, received in 2002 to build a village to accommodate 1000 underprivileged, neglected or orphaned children from the jungle of West Kalimantan, Borneo, and to school a further 1000. Today about 450 children live there, and nearly 50 buildings are completed so far, including a primary school, children’s homes, dormitories, clinic, workshop, bakery and The Training Centre (where children first stay to learn basic living and social skills).
Why did you keep going back?
It is wonderful being with these youngsters, (aged 5 – 25, but appearing much younger in looks and demeanour) and seeing God transform their lives. There are now some older ones too who are marrying and starting their own families. Their background is mainly animistic (worshipping the trees, sun, moon, river etc.) and they often arrive very malnourished and sick carrying with them additional influences such as witchdoctors, alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. There are many testimonies of God’s deliverance and healing.
What sort of work were you involved in?
Initially my main work was wiring up buildings and maintaining the IT infrastructure. I have also been privileged to preach and teach in the worship meetings as well as encouraging the young people in their own walk with the Lord, individually and in groups.
Last year your wife joined you on one of the trips, tell us about that.
Yes, in March 2011 my wife, Dil, accompanied me for the first time. We had a very demanding journey. It takes 2 – 3 days to get there – the final part of the journey being a 14 hour drive crossing the equator, along potholes joined by road! We were there a week before moving to an Asrama (Children’s Home) for 10 days. Our task was to look after 32 children (boys and girls) with two Indonesian leaders while the usual house parents were away renewing visas. The days started with a 5.30am prayer meeting (yes, 5.30 in the morning!) then breakfast, school, lunch, evening meal and meeting or homework, all interspersed with household chores such as washing and cleaning. Dil was involved with the household stuff and I continued with the electrical and data work.
Have you learnt anything from being part of this project?
Over the past 5 years I have been training a group of lads (15-19yrs old) in electrical work; they can now wire up basic buildings with minimal supervision. They, in return, have taught me about the simplicity of their lives and I have seen how far our western lives deviate from God’s original intentions.
What’s next for you both?
We are currently seeking the Lord about our own future involvement with the work out there.
If you'd like to support Chris and Dil, you can find them using account number 2012 1038.
To kick off our first '3 mission minutes with...' series, we spoke to Petra Wainwright from El Refugio Ministries in Colombia about the challenges and joys of working with underprivileged children, being held at gunpoint, and South American chocolate:
When did you first join El Refugio ministries?
I came to Cartagena in Colombia after several years working in other countries on a more short-term basis training and language learning. All that preparation led me here in January 2010. El Refugio is a children’s project in one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Cartagena in Colombia.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the start?
I was very blessed in the way God led me into full-time mission through various short term missions: each one gradually lasting for longer and in different cultures which meant I had a gradual introduction into life as a missionary. So I can’t really remember ‘starting’ as such. But I would thoroughly recommend anyone thinking of life as a full-time missionary to spend time on short-term mission at first, if possible in a similar locations to that which you feel called to long-term.
What’s the most inspiring story to come out of the ministry so far?
It is hard to think of an inspiring story, working with children from a community with so many social, economic and cultural issues such as we do at El Refugio. During my 2 years or so here we have had some children and families who have made small breakthroughs and they to us are big! Kener is one young boy whom I call to mind: he is in the middle of a family of 8 siblings, mostly boys, the older ones all left school early with no encouragement to study from the family. Kener has many behavioural problems which caused him to fall behind at school and he was expelled without being able to read and write. Last September we had a teacher working with us who was able to take a small group of children who were not at school and teach them the basics of literacy; Kener was one of this group. After a tough beginning, all of the kids got used to a class environment and with lots of encouragement and creativity in the teaching we saw Kener start to make rapid progress in his studies and to show a lot of intelligence. After time, encouraged by his own achievement he also began to improve in his behaviour, even telling the others to behave as he wanted to study. Unfortunately though, he has begun to slip away with the pressure of his elder brothers to join in their life of crime.
Assuming you already have a bible, what’s the one thing you couldn’t do without while in Colombia?
My laptop. I was unfortunate enough to have my laptop stolen at gun-point at the beginning of the year but thankfully God provided a new one brought over from England in May by my Mum. However, during the months I was without one I realised how important it is, not just for work purposes, but also for social needs: watching DVDs, communicating with friends and family and even being able to attend my home church through their live streaming. I have also been blessed with a near constant supply of Cadbury’s chocolate which is also a definite need! Latin chocolate just isn’t as good!!
What’s the largest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Personally the largest challenge was the armed robbery: having a gun pointed at you is not something you overcome easily. However God was faithful and through the experience He was able to bring about a resolution to my biggest ministry challenge which was with our youth. As I have mentioned, this community put a lot of pressure on their children to drop out of school, become involved in sexual promiscuity, drinking, drugs and gangs. So starting our first youth group was a challenge because these young people are very much at the edge of the temptation to follow that path. Also, youth in any culture can be very difficult to please. I found myself in a position where the youth didn’t respect me or my authority; they would laugh at me and misbehave or have a bad attitude. The robbery took place during a youth group meeting in front of all of them, and since then they have all changed their attitude and now have a lot of respect for me.
How have you found the experience of raising your own support?
Raising support was very difficult for me in the beginning, issues such as my British reserve coupled with the fear that others will react negatively, expecting that you should get a paid job and not ’live on handouts’. Also while I was training it was hard for people to see the purpose in what I was doing. Since actually being in ministry it has become easier to raise support and when I came to Colombia in 2010 for the first time I had enough support to pay my basic needs. After going back to the UK for Christmas 2010 armed with videos and stories, I was able to increase my support to a level where I am now comfortable.
What’s your favourite part of Latino culture?
I love the openness of the people here, despite their problems the people I work with are so open and friendly and they accept me for me. The same goes for the team I work with who are mostly Colombian. I also love the liveliness and colour of the culture with the music and dancing.
If people want to support you, how can they do that?
People can support me through my Stewardship Account. (a/c number 2009 0351)
Where do you see the ministry being in 5 years?
It is my vision to expand the current ministry to work with girls who have become involved in sexual exploitation. It is estimated that there are 2000 underage girls being used in prostitution, mostly sex tourism, in the city of Cartagena.
Thank you for taking the time to speak to us! Any final thoughts?
I have a very good friend and supporter who supports not only me but another missionary. He has often said that when he hears missionary stories he feels like he should also be on the field doing something, but doesn’t really have a call to mission. It is something I believe God puts in the hearts of all his people, to “go into all the nations” however, it is my belief that he calls some people to “go” and some people to “enable”. Someone once said it is like the bees and flowers: the bees travel around spreading the pollen, but if there weren’t any flowers to pollenate what would the bees do? My friend is a flower that gives in order that I and others can fly around spreading God's love. The mission supporter is a very important person in the life of a missionary and is often undervalued. I have 16 very special people who give me a little of their income each month so I can fulfil my calling and I hope I never undervalue or dishonour them in any way. I know many missionaries, especially Latinos who work with me here, who are not so fortunate. More Christians at home need to realise that this is a very valuable and much needed way of fulfilling God’s great commission.
Follow Petra's story on Twitter: @Petrat76
blogs by the Stewardship team and selected guest writers.