An Eye Opener!

Brunstad Christian Church South Africa (BCCSA) runs a comprehensive youth development program (Christian Youth Development Program or CYDP) at the Stephanopark Conference Centre complex in Vanderbijlpark, South Africa. BCCSA’s key partners in the program are the Basfour Group, who provide the skills training through various developments in the region, and Wereldwijd Evangeliewerk (WEW), a Christian humanitarian foundation in the Netherlands. The objective of the program is to equip young people from South Africa and some other African countries, namely Malawi, Kenya, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda, with skills as well as spiritual education and guidance, to enable them to lead productive and meaningful lives in their own countries and communities.

A comprehensive understanding of the positive impact of the CYDP on local and other African communities is critical, therefore in March 2019, BCCSA hosted a workshop for this purpose. Representatives from the Departments of International Relations and Co-operation, Home Affairs, the South African Police Services, Rand Water and the Emfuleni and Ngwathe local municipalities attended the workshop. Representatives from relevant international embassies in South Africa and other entities such as Wereldwijd Evangeliewerk were also invited.

The support of these role players is vital to the streamlining of the administrative side of the program. Their awareness of its impact in South Africa and other African countries in terms of skills development and transferring of skills, job creation, poverty alleviation and the benefits to our local communities, directly and indirectly, is of utmost importance for the continuance of the program.

Following the initial welcome and introduction of the visiting dignitaries, Dr TJC Slabbert (Director of the CYDP program) addressed the audience regarding the aims and impact of the CYDP, not only in South Africa but also in the other African countries participating in the program. A presentation on all facets of the program was shown:

  • Bible studies
  • Choir
  • Music
  • Team building
  • Audio training and filming
  • Hospitality
  • Building and construction
  • Administration
  • Bookkeeping and finance
  • Computer networking and IT
  • Project & Property management
  • Machine operating

Dr TJC Slabbert also explained about various events and forums through which the participants are exposed to cultural diversity. Camp Africa, which takes place annually at the Stephanopark Conference Centre in Vanderbijlpark, is an event to which young people from several African countries are invited, and where the participants learn to work together in team building exercises and other recreational activities. The “Africa Choir“, which is made up of a diverse group of young people belonging to Brunstad Christian Church in Africa, is another forum where, through voice training and singing practice, they learn to co-operate with others as they learn to sing as one voice. This choir has performed in Norway. The BCCSA Summer Conference which is held annually in Vanderbijlpark, is attended by members of Brunstad Christian Church from the EU and Africa and also exposes the participants to cultural diversity. Dr Slabbert emphasised how, through Bible studies and church services, the participants are equipped with good Christian values which they can put into practice in all spheres of their lives; whether in the work place, at home or in their social interactions with others. This is a vitally important component of the program.

Mr Colin Turner, a representative of the charitable organization, Wereldwijd Evangeliewerk (WEW), gave an address on the impact of the CYPD from their perspective. He explained that an evaluation of the program and its impact was done by Prof Wynand CJ Grobler from the North West University in South Africa. The evaluation involved two aspects of the program, namely hard skills and soft skills. Learning hard skills (or practical skills) such as bricklaying, carpentry, bookkeeping and so on, is vitally important to enable young people to support themselves and others. Equally important is equipping them with the soft skills required to be effective in the workplace. For example, learning to take instructions, to work with different cultures, to pay attention to customers’ requirements and developing good work ethics, to name but a few, provides a broader scope of development.

“In relation to giving young people a valuable combination of both Hard Skills and Soft Skills, this program can be considered a success,” concluded Prof Wynand CJ Grobler in his evaluation. Read more about the evaluation here.

In conclusion, the dignitaries were invited to view some of the practical projects which stemmed from the training participants on the CYDP have received. One such project is the living quarters they built, in which the current participants are accommodated during their stay in South Africa.