Over the last several years, we have sent several groups to Kenya to further the ministry of Youth Venture there. In September 2015, my wife Marissa and I traveled to Kenya to train leaders how to run YV clubs in their cities. The following year, we sent a group of 12 college students from our Micah 6:8 discipleship group, as well as Jeremy and Rheanna Chan, to put on youth conferences for the kids in the area where we run clubs. We had a wonderful time with our host Larry Neese, and were so blessed to see the amazing fruit that the leaders there are bearing for the Kingdom of God.
The ministry of Youth Venture in Kenya began several years ago when Mark Hoffman taught a conference at a pastors’ training school called Kenya Ministry Training Institute. KMTI is located in Kitale, Kenya and is run by a man named Larry Neese. For many years now, he has been training pastors in Kingdom principles, helping give them a Biblical foundation to minister to the people of their areas from.
At this conference Mark taught on the principles in his book, The Joshua Principle, and the importance of reaching youth. There was a young pastor at the conference named David Kibet who caught the vision for reaching youth as he heard about the weekly Bible clubs we run on public school campuses here in the U.S. He saw the need for a similar ministry in his area, and began running clubs on several campuses using our Youth Venture mentoring curriculum. Soon after, another pastor named Felix Aseto joined in the work and it began to quickly grow.
What David & Felix found is that the door in Kenya is wide open for the ministry of Youth Venture.
In Kenya, they do not have the same separation of church and state that we have in the U.S. and they are free to preach the gospel in the schools. Also, they found that many principals & headmasters were eager to have clubs at their schools, and were grateful that David and Felix would run a program on their campus for students to attend. Whenever a new club was opened, the teachers and principals would bring the entire student body.
Very soon, hundreds of young people were attending YV clubs in several schools and they were in great need of more leaders, training, and support. They had never run clubs like this and largely did not know what to do. We sent them more materials and supplies and organized a trip to send some of our leaders down to train them. On this first trip, hundreds of pastors were trained on how to reach young people and were taught practical skills for running Bible clubs in schools.
From that time until my wife and I arrived, the ministry of Youth Venture in Kenya grew exponentially. We began funding the work completely and regularly sent training materials and resources, including many boxes of The Joshua Principle. By the time we went, the work had grown to the point where many thousands of young people were hearing the gospel in Youth Venture clubs on dozens of campuses in several Kenyan districts. New districts and schools were opening up to Youth Venture and clubs had even been started as far away as Uganda. There was a new need for more training. Many leaders who were currently running clubs had only one weekend of training, and needed more. Also, there were many new potential leaders who needed training for the first time.
Our trip was broken up into two weeks. For the first week, we trained leaders at conferences in three cities. The first conference was in the city of Nakuru. Nakuru is one of the biggest cities in Kenya and the YV team had been trying to start clubs there for several years. Finally, the area was opening up to YV. One of the reasons YV has been able to spread so rapidly is because of the many pastors who have graduated from KMTI. As a pastor goes though the program they are taught The Joshua Principle. These men are ready and eager to start clubs. KMTI had a school in Nakuru, so there were many leaders ready to be trained there. The second conference was in an area called Bungoma. The leaders in this area were hearing about YV for the first time. They were very excited to hear about the opportunity to reach kids through Bible clubs and were eager to start clubs. They asked us to come back soon to give them more in-depth training. The third conference was in Kitale, where the KMTI campus is located and where the YV clubs began. At that conference, there were many current YV workers from areas around Kitale and even from as far away as Uganda.
One of the highlights of the trainings was the many school teachers, principals, church leaders, and community leaders who attended the conferences. Many of these men and women have broad influence over whole areas of Kenya, and could open doors for YV to be in many more schools. After a week of conferences, we had trained between 250-300 leaders who are currently doing YV clubs and who will take YV clubs into new schools and new areas of Kenya.
The second week of our trip was spent visiting current YV clubs in schools and opening new clubs in several others. When we arrived in Kenya we had an unexpected blessing in disguise. Right before we arrived, a nationwide teacher strike occurred that would end up lasting for many weeks. This meant that most of the schools in Kenya were closed and it would be difficult for us to visit clubs. The blessing was that because many of the teachers and principals didn’t have classes, they were free to attend the conferences and hear about YV. God is sovereign and works all things according to His will.
Even so, we were able to visit many schools. During our second week in the country, we visited a dozen schools and ran YV clubs for almost 2,000 young people. It was incredible to see these young people worship the Lord and respond to the message of the gospel. They are so hungry for the love of God and the hope of salvation.
The following year, we traveled to Kenya with our Micah 6:8 group with the purpose of running youth conferences for students and helping in various clubs on schools throughout Kenya. Below is the testimony of Chris and Christiana Alley, who attended this trip.
Along with 10 others, we traveled to Kenya in July to work alongside Larry Neese with KMTI ministries. We helped pastors from Kitale, Moiben, and Eldoret put on Youth Venture Clubs throughout primary and secondary schools. We split into a number of teams and visited four to five schools a day. It was a special moment every time we entered into a classroom full of 100-400 kids. I will never forget when I walked into my first school in Kitale. They were all genuinely excited to see us and hear what we had to say. Seeing the kids’ eagerness to learn from us was so encouraging; and their joy was so contagious! We visited a total of about 40 schools altogether, and every school was better than the last. There was one secondary school we visited where we split up the boys from the girls. Another young woman from my team and I (Christiana) had a “question and answer” session with the girls.
The time we got to share with these girls was very special, and it opened my eyes to the need for discipleship in these young people. I wanted to take time with every single one of them and tell them how much they are loved and how valuable they are to Jesus. You could tell just by the way they listened to us that they are desperate for wisdom and for more understanding of who Jesus is and what He has for them. This is a hunger and thirst for the gospel unlike anything I have ever seen. The seed that Youth Venture has planted is truly remarkable. And as it continues to grow, these young people will grow into some incredible young men and women. I was also honored to have met the pastors who are laying down their lives to see the next generation have a hunger for Jesus Christ. The men that are leading this country are some of the most humble, genuine, and powerful men of God I have ever met. I have so much hope for the country of Kenya, and I was so blessed to have seen the fruit from all the work and service that men and women have sown into the young people in this country. Going to Kenya was an extraordinary experience for us. We loved meeting the people of Kenya and learning about their culture.
What struck me (Christiana) the most was how kind and joyful everyone was. They were always smiling and laughing. The people of Kenya have big, beautiful smiles. One of the coolest things that we experienced in Kenya was at the youth conference that Youth Venture Ministries put on in Kitale. There were about 150 to 200 youth in attendance, ranging from ages four to eighteen. We started out the conference by playing games with the youth. I (Chris) believe that fun is a universal love language for children. When playing games and having fun with the children, any shyness they might have had with us disappeared, and they opened up their hearts to us. A new connection and trust was also made between the youth and the adults there. After engaging in fun activities with the youth, we were able to speak biblical truth into their lives because they were open and trusted us. Three different speakers, Jonathon Alvarado, Daniel Waugh, and Chris Alley, each spoke on the theme of God’s call to salvation and to building His kingdom on the earth. The messages were powerful as God spoke through them. The conference ended with an altar call for those who wanted to take on God’s commission to advance His kingdom. The Holy Spirit fell powerfully as 70 youth responded to His call in their lives! When the conference came to a close, the youth did not want to leave. Instead we all stayed as long as we could, singing praises to Jesus. It was a moving and powerful conference that will not be forgotten by either of us. – Chris & Christiana Alley
The Future of YV in Kenya
The door for the gospel in Kenya is wide open! We are living in a moment of great opportunity. This is due to several reasons. First, over 60% of the population of Kenya is young people. There is a plentiful harvest just waiting to be taken for the Lord. Second, the schools are wide open for Youth Venture clubs. The new schools we visited were overjoyed that we would come to their schools and run clubs. Some even begged us to return every week. How different that is to what we experience here! Many more schools and districts are just waiting for us to come in and start clubs. Third, the Christians of Kenya have really caught hold of the vision of Youth Venture. Everywhere we went to train leaders, their eyes lit up as we explained to them that they could go onto a public school campus and teach young people about Jesus. Many pastors in Kenya have a deep burden for the problems they see among the youth but they don’t know how to reach them. When we teach them how to reach kids through YV they jump at the opportunity.
There are many, many schools ready and willing to host YV clubs. And we have many leaders willing and eager to go into the schools. They only thing that is missing is training. The greatest need they have is to be trained so that they will be adequately equipped to be successful in this wonderful ministry. So that is what we are working on. We are currently working on updating the training materials to be more effective at training them how to reach young people in their unique culture, and we are working on getting that material into their hands. The door is open in Kenya, but no one knows for how much longer. At any moment, the government could change and the door could close indefinitely. That is why we must take hold of this opportunity now.
Larry Neese has stepped up to oversee the YV ministry in Kenya full time and help to lead the leaders who are running the clubs. He predicts that in the next two years we could be in over 200 schools in Kenya. Be praying for the ministry of YV in Kenya. Pray that the door would stay open and pray that we would be effective in training leaders to go into the schools.