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3 mission minutes: Jill, South Africa

By Lucy Slater | 4 March 2014

3 mission minutes: Jill, South Africa

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. 

Youth camp – this year Jill took 33 (compared to 19 last year)


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.


a prayer wall from the 24/7 prayer week

If you'd like to support Jill in her work, you can do so by logging into your giving account and searching for 20119802. Alternatively you can create a giving account and set Jill up as your first recipient by clicking here:


Posted by Lucy Slater

Lucy worked as a giving services advisor for Stewardship. She studied Zoology at University and is passionate about environmental stewardship and conservation. She blogs regularly on conservation issues and wildlife on tumblr, or you can follow her on twitter @lucylloydslater.


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