“Let’s dream big. Become content creators. Change the way we engage with young people throughout our continent.”
That was the goal established by the 20 people representing six countries at Youth for Christ International’s first Africa Digital Academy, in South Africa. Facilitated by Martin Ainsworth, this gathering represented some of the best and brightest talents in Youth for Christ in the Africa Area. They fundraised and saved to attend this academy because of the opportunity it presented.
“I would have to go to university to get this type of training,” said one attendee. “We have a chance to reach so many young people on so many levels if we start creating content and it catches their attention on their phones,” said Jules from Burundi. The academy was designed to be an intensive 5-day dive into all the technical aspects of digital content creation with a 12-month follow up plan for accountability and refining. “Little did anyone know that, two weeks after we took our group picture, 99% of our ministry would be evolving and online due to the quarantine,” remarked Ainsworth.
The lockdown has limited the amount of in-person ministry, which is what Youth for Christ is known for. Reaching young people through sports camps, studies, and public gatherings has shifted quickly to the world wide web, and this team was prepared! From Public Service Announcements about where to get help, to inspirational biblical readings, to video challenges to those with the access, to helping set up online churches in their local communities, the leaders who attended were ready and willing to share their gifts to keep the mission going. “We are not hitting pause, we are continuing on, just at a more rapid pace because we have no other choice. We are driven to create content for Instagram, TikTok, etc, but also focused on being so good at what we do in our respective countries that young people search us out online, and the reputation of Youth for Christ is improved locally, thus opening doors for more and more ministry to share Jesus,” said Sisa from Zimbabwe.
Ainsworth closed with this: “My sincerest prayer is that this fire is not quenched and that the current pandemic allows this team to reach as many as possible with the love of Jesus...and frankly, I think they are.”