For the 25 young people from Brunstad Christian Church in Cameroon who were chosen to join the Christian Youth Development Program (CYDP) hosted at BCC South Africa, it was a great disappointment when their trip was cancelled. Plans and arrangements were thwarted by difficulties and delays in obtaining the necessary visas for their year long stay in South Africa and the ripple effect of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown also impacted the trip, due to restrictions on international travel.
However, these obstacles did not hinder the coordinators of the CYDP in finding a feasible interim solution to the setback. The BCC fellowship in Bafoussam sorely needed a venue in which to hold church services and other church activities, and this need provided the perfect chance to turn a disappointing situation, with the potential loss of opportunities for the young people, into a positive viable alternative! Hence the decision was made to set up a CYDP in Cameroon, using the construction of a church venue as a project through which basic training and skills transfer could take place. By tapping into the skills, experience and knowledge gained by those who attended the 2017 CYDP in South Africa and through regular online mentoring by project managers and staff in South Africa, the 2020 participants are now also able to reap the benefits of the program to a certain extent. Through the mentoring and on-the-job-training, a wide range of skills are gained which include project management, store management, costing, accounting, procurement, as well as brick laying, carpentry, plumbing, electrical work and painting. Once the Covid-19 restrictions are removed and appropriate visas can be obtained, these CYDP members will have a head-start when continuing with the CYDP program in South Africa, which covers a wider spectrum of skills to be obtained.
The construction of the venue is progressing very well, with all the preliminary work done, the site levelled and a store set up for the storage of all the building materials. The structural work is well underway with the electrical, roofing and soundproof sheathing components soon to follow.
CYDP not only equips the youth with skills to enable them to be productive and employable young adults; teaching of Christian values and spiritual nurturing is also a very important aspect of the program. Bible studies are conducted online twice a week in conjunction with CYDP participants in South Africa, thus providing a solid foundation for their lives and practical help in their daily circumstances.
The Bible studies take the form of informal discussions on Tuesdays held online together with Tielman Slabbert, leader of BCC South Africa, and Claude Kue Kamdem, member of BCC in Cameroon. Engaging with the participants in this way has proved to be of inestimable value, as the young people gain insight into the gospel and its significance in their daily lives. On Thursdays a more formal Bible study is held online with the Cameroon participants and their counterparts in South Africa, using the Brunstad Bible School course material. The course comprises different themes, for example: ‘What is man?’, ‘Sin and Conscience’, ‘Israel in the Old and New Testaments’, to name but a few. The participants are divided into groups, with a leader and a mentor for each group. This course is not undertaken lightly; participants need to prepare each week so that when the course material is explained and discussed, they are familiar with its content. Tests are set to establish their comprehension and knowledge of the content and the test results are included in the participants’ final CYPD assessment.
A reasonable level of fluency in the English language is a requirement of the program. As French is the mother tongue of most Cameroonians, to ensure language is not a barrier in the discussions and to enhance the level of understanding of the course material, English classes are held twice a week, led by a past participant in the CYDP.
Some of the young people on the 2020 CYDP were interviewed regarding their participation in the program in Bafoussam and this is what they had to say:
Miryam Kue Kamdem: “I started on CYDP in June 2020 and I am involved in the building of the hall. At present I am working at the construction site and have already learned a lot. I have been doing some ground levelling, carpentry, brick laying and painting. I am very excited for the time ahead because I will not only get training on the hard skills, but also learn about being a disciple of Christ and learn more and more how to live with others and grow spiritually. I am looking forward to a great and blessed time here on the CYPD program.”
Rachelle Nokam: “I work in the cleaning and store keeping department. I am very happy to be with friends and I’m also thankful for all the activities and Bible studies we have on the program.”
Aristide Kuitchie: “I joined the CYPD in order to learn to serve others and become a disciple of Christ.”
Vanelle Kamgang: “I am working in the construction department. I like having fellowship with the other young people and we play board games and volleyball.”
Djubril Maffo: “Currently I am working in the construction department as part of the CYDP. I want to grow spiritually and look forward to becoming a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.”