In autumn 2020, we launched, with your support, an exciting new venture; Innovista GB, training leaders in the most disadvantaged areas of the United Kingdom.

With the Covid-19 pandemic affecting disadvantaged communities disproportionately, it is a timely new project.

Kim is one of the new leaders we have been investing in. He is helping a generation of young West Africans make their way in the UK, helping them keep their faith alive in an unfamiliar culture.

When you hear about ‘youthwork’, what sort of things come to mind? Table tennis? Camping trips? Kim soon worked out that in the community he’s serving, it means something very different and much more challenging.

Kim is a youth pastor from an Ivorian Coast church, based in south east London. He came to the UK in his mid-twenties to study, and joined the sort of church which he was familiar with back home in West Africa; a French-speaking mission linked to the Assemblies of God. He quickly felt comfortable there and started to work for the church alongside his studies.

However, when he formally stepped into the Youth Pastor role, he realised he was out of his depth. In West Africa, the term ‘youth’ refers to anyone who is too old for Sunday School (ie. over 18) but who doesn’t want to get lost in the older congregation. Youth groups can include married couples and people in their thirties and forties.

Kim realised that he needed to understand a much younger generation, and how to engage with them if he was to make a difference in their lives.

“I’ve had to unlearn and relearn my perspective of ‘youth’ and how we can meet the needs of this first generation of African British citizens in the UK.”

The Essentials youth ministry training course was recommended to him by another pastor. In his own words, “it’s been essential!”

The Essentials course has given Kim (and three others from his church) a toolkit of ways to build relationships with these young people. It has also encouraged them to build an action plan for their mission within the church.

“Ivorian culture is just to ‘tell, tell, tell,’” he observes. “I’ve learned to really listen to the young people. It’s a two-way conversation”

Kim is also planning to set up a mentoring programme. “So many of the young people need a role model to grow into fully-rounded faith-filled young adults. They need someone who can disciple them through the ups and downs of growing up in a foreign culture.”

We have high expectations for Kim and his plans and we will be sure to keep you updated in months and years to come.