I am a youth worker with a gap year program in a city called Ndola.
Youth work is a funny thing because it is so relational and flexible. But here’s a typical day in the gap year program:
8:00am-12:00pm—homemade bfast cuz mornings are my freetime while the students are in class and I am a sucker for brunch
1:00-4:00pm—afternoon skills with the students like art, swimming, and children’s work
6:00pm—dinner. The students make their own dinner as a group and I love chilling with them while they cook around the charcoal
7:30-10:00pm—after-dinner programs which vary by day. Book reflection, mentor groups, game/movie nights, etc.
10:00pm lights out and I crash!
Even though my day is full of activity, I view my biggest and most important job as pouring into the students. And that happens in the little moments. The moments I am frustrated and tired, or the ones I am excited and engaged. It is the most fun and challenging job in the world!
Though it is not as common in the US, abroad lots of students will take a break between finishing high school and starting university and/or work. We have crafted a specific program that utilizes this time in Zambian students’ lives to help prepare them for university and beyond! It is a mix of academic and practical skills, helping them discover their own strengths and passions so that they will thrive.
But you aren’t at a bible school or evangelizing on the street or even teaching English?
You would be correct.
My take on things is that there isn’t really a line between God-stuff and not-God stuff. It is all just life. I believe there is a God and He is big and loving and confusing sometimes. Without getting too far into the philosophy of it all, I feel loved by God and so I love others in what I do. A lot of the “reaching out” Christians have done in the past has been alienating, drawing a line between us and them. I don’t see Jesus like that. I see God as wanting us to flourish and that flourishing is what we are working towards in Zambia.
Your gifts actually have a very short trip: your wallet, to my sending agency in the States, and then to me in Zambia. Done.
My sending agency SAMS takes 15% off the top to cover expenses and trainings. But I will vouch for them and say that they do a lot with that little bit. When it gets to me, your money facilitates the part of the gap year program that I am able to lead. I could not do my job without you backing me!
All that to say: when you donate money to the work I do in Zambia, you are directly investing in my students’ futures!
If you have any more questions about how the gifts are used and how it impacts the students, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am an open book. 🙂
Okay so not many people actually ask me this, but I know they are thinking it. There’s a lot of good work going on in the world. Why give to this one?
This is what I say: There is a HUGE need to pour into the upcoming generation in Zambia. Being a teenager is hard anywhere, but the stakes of messing up while trying to discover who you are in Zambia are high. In a country with so many young people (50% of the population is under 15!), we cannot afford to have so many teens that are struggling with addiction and dropping out of school because it will result in an even weaker country in the future. The youth of Zambia deserve to be loved and poured into so that they can become solidly grounded, empowered to lead and change their own country. And that is our specific aim at the gap year course.
No. Not many people do these days.
It has been a long day. Two phone meetings, two in-person meetings, and a session of fundraising class. This season of my life is sending letters, emails, messages, texts, meeting with people, spreading the word about what we do in Zambia, and asking people to partner with me by praying and giving financially. It is a huge task! My monthly budget is $2000 per month (including everything like insurance and social security and pay check) in order for me to be able to work as a relational mentor to these students in our gap year program. And I have over 45 people giving to make that happen.
I sit over a cup of strawberry kiwi tea with a wonderful lady from my mom’s small group from church. And I just shake my head. What has been running through my head all day comes out: “I don’t deserve this. I definitely believe in the work I do in Zambia and I truly think it is filling a huge need. But every time someone offers to commit to take time out of their busy lives to pray for me or when they commit to giving money every month out of their hard-earned paycheck, I just can’t believe it.”
She smiles and says, “Of course you don’t deserve it. None of us do.”
I stopped to sip my tea.
Okay let that sink in. We are not able to do what we do–working in Africa or not–because we deserve it. All of us have been given gifts. (Start with the gift of life and just continue on from there.) We are creatures that mess up and hurt each other but we still get showered with gifts from some unfathomable Love. Honestly it defies reason.
And I know I am not perfect. Yet through the generosity of other people, God is giving me all that I need to be able to live and work in Zambia.
I don’t deserve it and neither do you. We don’t deserve any of this crazy amazing life God gives us. I just get a more tangible bottom line of knowing exactly what those gifts are that I am given. Two thousand dollars per month, lots of prayer, the opportunity to influence Zambian teenagers, and some amazing partnerships to be exact.
SAMS Missionary April Sylvester serves in Zambia with at-risk teens. Would you prayerfully consider partnering with her by becoming a Sender? Pray, encourage, and give today! From April:
Join me in helping at-risk youth in Zambia! It’s easy! CHOOSE ONE NUMBER FROM THE BOARD and begin donating that amount monthly (don’t worry it’s not forever. You can put in an automatic stopping date.). It makes a huge difference!
Give here and comment below the number you chose.
The background: I live in Zambia and mentor at-risk teens, giving them a solid foundation to thrive in university and beyond. Here I am about to head into year two and I need your help! I am looking for people to partner with me in prayer and giving! Giving is so easy and doesn’t have to be a huge thing. Just look at that $2 sign, people! Together we can make an impact on the youth of Zambia!
Bonus: when you donate, you will receive my monthly newsletter with updates and stories from the ground.
I am so excited to share the journey with you!
Update: numbers 1,20, & 30 are taken!
First newsletter from America this year! I think this deserves a celebratory gif because it means I get to see most of you!
Reflecting on all that God has done this past year has been so awesome. See more details and stories in my 1 Year Anniversary in Zambia newsletter coming to you by snail mail. I am just so thankful for you guys and all of the piles of prayer you have sent my way!
PRAY FOR FUNDING! Currently fundraising has gone very slowly and I might not be able to return as planned. Pray for connections and provision. I am talking to a few churches and individuals this week. If you have not given yet, take a look at the super easy challenge below!
Basically I love you and am so happy to be building the Kingdom with you!
Ps. Yes, the title is my Sbux order. And yes, it was the first thing I got when I got off the plane.