No segment in society can match the power, idealism, enthusiasm and courage of young people. Older generations have a profound opportunity and responsibility to walk alongside this rising generation, providing encouragement, support, and investment as they embrace their God-given potential.
Across the Mergon Foundation’s South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East & North Africa portfolios, we partner with ministries who sense the responsibility and potential of investing in the next generation. Through different contextualised programmes and initiatives, these ministries share the gospel and disciple youth in creative ways, train them in practical leadership and life skills and, ultimately, play a significant role in launching young people into all God created them to be.
Says Mergon Foundation’s SA Regional Manager, Cain Matloko, ‘We greatly value our partners who are dedicated to the education, skills development and holistic wellbeing of our children and youth to help them make a successful transition to adulthood. At the heart of their programmes, they seek to provide young people with an opportunity to hear the gospel, make an informed decision to follow Jesus and learn a new life and identity in Christ.’
Mergon Foundation currently partners with more than 30 organisations that focus on youth in one or more of their programmes and initiatives. In celebration of National Youth Day, we offer you a snapshot of what some of our partners are doing to see our youth grow and flourish into their full God-given potential.
It’s no secret that youth in Africa have a special passion for sport. Mergon Foundation partners with multiple ministries across sub-Saharan Africa that use sport as a way to engage and disciple youth. While many might see sport as purely physical, most of the organisations that form a part of the sports movement recognise the need to focus on all aspects of a young person’s life including the spiritual, physical, emotional and social aspects.
Says Mergon Foundation’s regional manager for sub-Saharan Africa, De Wet Spies, ‘Our partners use sport in various creative ways to connect with the youth. As an example, one of the ministries we work with aims to train 90-120 highly gifted sports and movement leaders from Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa as coaches and athletes who can use sport as a tool to share the gospel with unreached people groups in the region.’
Gold Youth Development Agency
‘We guide youth in initiating their own change – in themselves, their friends and family, and wider community, which echoes our strong belief in youth-led change across Africa,’ says gold Youth Development Agency (gold-youth) CEO Susannah Farr.
gold-youth works with youth across five African countries, taking a long-term, holistic approach to mentoring young people as they ‘call out the gold’ in them and raise them up to be leaders who positively influence their peers. gold Youth creates employment for youth between the ages of 18 and 26 – developing them as ‘facilitator interns’ who train and mentor teenage ‘peer educators’ over a four-year period. Facilitator interns help peer educators to model positive decision-making, strengthen their school academic work and positively impact their peers and communities. The alumni are part of the gold grads community for life; connected to opportunities in further education, internships, jobs and micro-businesses.
‘As Jesus did, we focus on the one, and see the impact on many. For over 15 years we have been building a lasting systemic solution that changes generations, one person, one family and one community at a time,’ says Susannah.
Echo Youth Development
In South Africa, Echo Youth Development hosts weekly youth programmes and offers free counselling services at a number of schools across the country. They have also created a support system for vulnerable youth where young people from different cultures and walks of life live together across 13 houses, called Echo Communities. Some of these communities focus on providing a home to school-going teenagers where all their basic needs are met, while others focus on supporting youth from childcare facilities that need to make the jump into adulthood. This ‘community house’ setup allows housemates to practise the basic principles of a life of simplicity and sharing, a life that challenges the norm, yet a life that we as followers of Jesus have been called to.
Children in Christ (CIC)
Serving and discipling children in 24 sub-Saharan African countries, Children in Christ (CiC) is an African indigenous ministry that focusses on the so-called 10/40 Window, a slice of the world spanning North Africa and the Middle East. It’s within this area that access to the gospel is most restricted and children are most financially, socially and spiritually marginalised.
Over time, CiC has developed a ministry model that cultivates and boosts the organic growth of children’s clubs and discipleship groups where, through games, songs, Bible reading and discussions, children are discipled and cared for. One of the key elements is their ‘apprenticeship’ approach to leadership development. Upcoming youth and young adult leaders are given a unique learning experience to grow as future leaders and coaches by travelling with and serving alongside senior leaders in other regions and countries.
CiC’s model has had a transformative impact by casting a vision and fostering multiplication, inspiring leaders to equip, empower and unleash the untapped potential of young people. Through their model, young leaders have been sent out to serve in other regions and countries, ‘impacting their families and entire villages with the love of Christ,’ says CiC’s Jennifer Merriman.
We celebrate all our ministry partners across Africa and the Middle East as they continuously keep youth front and centre, finding innovative ways to set them on a positive future path. We commend them for thinking small and big, deep and wide – for focussing on the one but committing to changing the system from the ground up so that the world will see our young people as critical change agents and crucial contributors to our future.