Encouraging words and testimony here from a dear brother in South Africa. God Bless You Simon and your team for your wonderful and inspiring work!
Youth Reach SA is a registered non-profit organization based in Johannesburg South Africa. We care for teenagers by providing after school meetings, counselling and assemblies in 9 government High Schools in townships in the north of the city.
Diepsloot Township, in which Youth Reach operates in five schools, is a densely populated settlement in the north- west of Johannesburg, home to 150,000 people, half of whom are unemployed. Many live in shacks 3m by 2m, assembled from scrap metal, wood and cardboard. They lack access to basic services such as running water, sewage and rubbish disposal. Growing up in Diepsloot presents unique challenges to teenage boys and girls. Living in poverty and degradation, they struggle to believe that a better life is possible for them.
Due to government policy, Christian input into High Schools is not encouraged. Schools cannot afford counsellors for the teenagers and most local pastors in the townships either do not have the skills or the inclination to help out.
After School Student Meetings
Youth Reach cares for teenagers by providing after school meetings called Student Christian Meetings, characterized by lively music, teaching, drama and participation. We believe that the love of God, exemplified in the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, is the primary solution to the difficulties these young people face. It is this love that Youth Reach volunteers proclaim and live out. We are met with packed classrooms as often over a hundred teenagers cram in to hear the wonderful news that they have a Heavenly Father who accepts them as they are and will provide a way forward for them as they draw near to worship Him. At the end of the meeting, we provide borrowing libraries of appropriate reading materials and they also come forward for personal counselling and prayer. These weekly meetings are the heartbeat of the Youth Reach’s work, providing learners with a Christian community in which to feel safe, process their struggles and grow into the men and women God intends them to be. Learners at Sunrise School Receiving Bibles Diepsloot Combined High School
Testimony from Tebogo.
My name is Tebogo (pronounced Teboho). I am 14 years old. When I was young, my parents died. My father killed my mother and then killed himself in 2005 when I was five years old. In 2008 my brother….people killed him so I had to live with my grandmother. As I am living with my grandmother it became hard for me. I thought of doing drugs some of the time, going out and doing all the bad stuff. But this year when I joined the SCM, it was great for me and it as changed my life for me a lot. Now I can read my Bible, I read my Bible every day, I am happier now than I ever was before. Now I know that Jesus is greater than any mother or any father.
Now sometimes I even think of starting bible studies for the future and helping other people know Jesus. If it wasn’t for SCM I wouldn’t be here; in the SCM we share the Bible stories, comfort each other. I feel safe when I’m with the SCM. It has changed my life. It’s a great feeling being with God because even today when I stared writing exams I knew it wasn’t me who was starting to write the exam it was Jesus. Because now I am no longer in control in my life. Jesus is the one who is controlling my life.
Prayer Requests and Counselling
It is very important to us to know what situations the learners, as they are called here, are facing, so we regularly ask them to write their prayer requests on paper. We can then pray for them individually, respond with a personal letter of encouragement and offer them one-to-one counselling when appropriate. This helps the learners to ‘know and be known’. Once we know the problems they are facing we are also able to address them directly with scripture and encouragement.
Below is an example of some of the prayer requests we recently received from a school in Olievenhoutbosch Township.
“I have family challenges; my parents are people who are drinking alcohol; my older brothers are not helping at home; lack of support, always fighting and hating has made a lot of impact in my family. I want change sin my family”
“I have problem. I want you to pray for me is the long time I look for my father I want you to pray for me ‘cause every day I feel a pain without a father”
“Can you please pray for my family because in my family we are always angry at each other? We do not have peace in the house.”
“For God to be the one to guide me and my family and to go through the fact that I once was raped.”
“I would like to get help on my studies and for my family because my family doesn’t support me or wish me good things in my life and I don’t perform well at school. Every time I get home they always shout at me. Right now I don’t have a mother and I don’t even know my father. I would like to get help and the prayers from the Lord to be brave”. Learners writing prayer requests. Volunteers praying for them and answering them
The Gospel works. When we proclaim and live out the Gospel we see changed lives, despair turned to hope, broken teenagers made whole in His hands, and fear transformed into faith and love. Treasures come out of the darkness.
One example is Jeoffrey Hlongo. We met him when he was 15 years old. He told us he was contemplating suicide because of the hopelessness he felt. After attending the meetings and taking some reading materials home with him, such as Obstacles are For Overcoming, he decided to make a difference. He started gathering other learners around him to do meaningful drama, poetry and choral work which he called Angel’s Voices. He became a leader in the school. On leaving we assisted him to enroll in an internship at a local church which he faithfully worked through. At the end of the year, he was sponsored to attend university, where he is now doing a degree in public relations and communications. He is the first in his family to go on to further education.
In 2014 aged 19, assisted by Youth Reach he started his own Foundation called Live Your Dream Africa. He provides teenagers in Diepsloot Township with weekly Saturday programs that provide academic support, Bible study, and performance arts training in dance, poetry, drama and public speaking.
Below are some reactions from attendees.
Aubrey: LYDA (Live Your Dream Africa) is very miraculous unlike any other organization that I have come across , because we invite God into everything; there is a sense of family ship . It’s like you have whole new family here even if you come from a troubled homes or background you have a family here which you know loves you. Being a teenager in Diepsloot is bad because they don’t influence each other in good way but when we come LYDA we have a whole new different experience because everything is God relate
SK: It’s a good place to be and I like to be here I like to learn more about poetry ..I am always here because I love ot be here…it makes me feel good, active and purposeful…. (When asked what he would do if he could not go to LYDA if it was not here) I would open my own group.
Tidimela : I came because I want to know about drama and learn new things generally… Its not ok living in Diepsloot ; they kill each other and rape and the children are smoking and there is a lot of drugs.
Tatu : First of all coming to LYDA is like a dream coming true. Before I came to LYDA I would just be on the street watching other people smoking drugs and I felt pressured to be like them, but coming to LYDA has changed my life… now I really think about where I am going and here we include God when we speak and talk.
Jeoffrey as a learner, with his LYDA group and performing at an outside function.
We are now printing our own Gospel materials for the teenagers which are a big hit. We are also in the process of making a magazine filled with testimonies and articles that can go into every classroom in every school. Channeling appropriate scriptures, Word studies and applications to these kids is exciting as ultimately it is the word of God that is bearing fruit in their lives.
We are also supporting and equipping the ever increasing teams of volunteers who are working in the townships. At present we have 11 volunteers who donate their time and take responsibilities in the High Schools. Some have covered their own expenses for several years while working in the townships for 2 – 3 days a week. We believe that our best volunteers deserve support to help cover their expenses and encourage them in the work that they do. This will enable the work to expand further into new schools and township areas.
You can check out their blog @ http://youthreachsa.blogspot.co.uk