Too Incredible to Ignore

The last couple of weeks have been really quite exciting as the picture of what lies ahead of us this year comes more and more into focus. One thing that is clearer than ever, in flashing neon lights, is that if anything is to happen, if our guys on the front lines are to continue the incredible work they are doing, they need help!!!

On any given day there are around 17 team at the Fusion office in Athens, Greece. These guys have been in the heart of the troubles, finding real and godly responses to the needs around them. Kids are fainting at school and people have been found having died for lack of food. Not only have they found practical responses but they have found their voice in speaking to the heart of their generation through professional quality film and television production. They are amazingly skilled and gifted! But they need help, support, training, fellowship, finances, so that they can continue the job they have been called to.

In Poland is a small group of mates, just starting out and exploring their first steps in becoming a Fusion centre. Becoming a Fusion worker means receiving no salary; these guys need help as they raise their support base and get trained. They have exciting, workable, plans and strategies but they need a hand.

There are the guys in Albania, an amazing group of die hard young people committed to seeing their country changed. They have found that running major theatre productions linked in with local high schools gives them an effective and fun way to engage with the young people, serve their communities, and bring joy and hope. This year i think they are doing the Hunch Back of Notre Dame. They are called upon regularly by the local authorities to help manage community events and youth services. But this growing team need training and support, they need financial help to put food on the table and equipment to run effective youth programs.

Moving to Ghana we have a team there, led by Francis. The team have turned the Fusion centre into a hub for the community. Not only is there fresh running water from a pump and tank that serves several communities within a wide radius. But also most days there is an after schools sports program and kids come to hang out with the team and work together. They have a radio station that has been shut down by the remote powers in Accra and the community is up in arms about it, the Regent is appealing to the powers that be to have it reinstated. The problem is that Yendi is a volatile town, and the powers in Accra fear that a radio station will fuel the violence, but the local leaders plead the evidence to the contrary – the team’s broadcasting program has helped the community come together. Then there is Timothy in Bauku – several times more volatile than Yendi… It can easily feel for these guys, like they are going it alone. They need fellowship, support, training …. you guessed it!!

Travel east from Ghana through Togo and Benin and you reach Nigeria, take the road north to Abuja and then further east to Kaduna, then work your way to the north of the city and you come to the suburb of Nassarawa. Nentawe is there, leading a small Fusion team, now respected and sought after by the community and its leaders. The work that these guys have done is breathtaking, bringing schools and communities together, leading recovery programs to outbreaks of violence or responses to a cholera epidemic, massive community interschool tournaments. A couple of months ago he was in a motorbike accident and required hospital treatment, a few weeks ago he was mugged and had his laptop and mobile stolen. Until we find an answer he is isolated from all support and fellowship and his hospital bills have yet to be paid.

Head down south to Cape Town and we have three young guys from KwazuluNatal who have this last week made the 24hour bus trip from Durban. They are returning to work with Derrick in Kewtown where they have been running kids clubs and day trips, targeting kids in a community where the norm is to drop out of school and enter gang life by your early teenage years. They have been doing a research project on the community and will be using that to help raise awareness and bring about change for good. I would love to send someone in for a few weeks to help get some key administrative jobs done that will set up the team for the rest of the year… from week to week they dont know how they will pay for groceries…

And I haven’t even mentioned the teams in Jamaica and Ukraine, India and Indonesia!! These guys need a team of us to serve them on the front lines – working to keep them connected, to tell their story, to raise support, to encourage them, to assist them in getting to training and in visiting each other for placements and support.

Would you like to be part of that team?

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miracles in Nassarawa and Trenchtown

 

The organization I am part of, Fusion International, is a global network of kingdom hearted teams of social entrepreneurs, of all ages, from all backgrounds, working to bring young people and their communities together with hope. Its kind of hope in action, a practical outworking of the ‘good news’, without the bible bashing. I love it!

A week or more ago I shared about Nentawe in Nassarawa. As I write he is in the midst of an annual interschool tournament in Nassarawa that he and the team have organized for the last three years. On the first day they had 2000 kids and about 150 adults including dignitaries, the police and the press, all thrilled with the day! Here’s how he describes it:

‘the kids were all dressed smartly in their various school uniforms and were ready for the march pass and other ceremonies, I asked some of them how they felt, and they were so excited answering me, it was very pleasing to hear the kids expressed themselves about what the tournament meant for them I shed tears when a kid told me that he felt so proud of himself and he will want to join Fusion and want to play a role in making Nassarawa safer and friendly! I was very grateful to God that the tournament was making a huge impact in the lives of these kids… The team in particular were in their best working real hard to see how to make things happen, everyone delivered at his duty post and crowd management and control was superb, the police were just having a nice time playing (with) the kids and they learnt a important lesson from us, be an example to the kids and don’t use the whips. And it was so nice how the crowd was managed – We had over 2000 kids and about 150 adults at the events.’

Someone gave a donation of $5000 to help finance the project, and we were able to get Francis across from Ghana to help:

‘It was so nice having Francis from Ghana come over, we thank God for granting him a safe trip over and his presence motivated the team loads!’

I’m looking forward to hearing how the rest of the tournament went!

I also wanted to introduce you to some other friends of mine. Dave and Liz have been working in Trenchtown, Kingston, Jamaica, for a number of years, Dave for over 20 years. Both their kids were born in Jamaica! Trenchtown has one of the top murder rates per capita in the world, but is home to some of our precious team who are giving their lives to make a difference in their community.

Here’s a bit of their story:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDj8F-dlgmQ

 

 

 

quietly changing the world.

Not long ago I caught up with a colleague of mine who heads up the work in Nassarawa, Kaduna (Nigeria). I first met Nentawe in 2007, I think, he may have been part of the first Foundations course we ran in June or the training I did with the team in August of that year. At any rate, from the time Dave and Jo Ireson relocated to Kaduna to establish the work in October 2007, Nentawe was part of the core team they were working with.

He is a quiet, respectful, unassuming man in his late 20s with a love for his people and a dream for his country. Well before I met him, he had become active in a number of youth forums and had already earned at least one scholarship to travel to the UK, representing his country. By 2008 doors were open for him to earn a reasonable living which would enable him to support his younger siblings, as is expected in the culture there. But it was during that year that he chose two things, firstly to stay with the community in which he grew up, Nassarawa, one of the poorest suburbs in that part of the country, and secondly to serve his community as a full time member of the Fusion team with no salary.

More than three years later Nentawe is still there with a small team of volunteers, and they are busy as ever. Running a Kids Club in the community each week for the last three years has helped build trust and credibility in the community with parents, community leaders and schools. Each year they run a primary school soccer tournament, advent pageants and other events which bring the community together. The team from Ghana, led by Francis, makes the two day road trip to join Nentawe and his team for the tournament. But a new thing seems to have emerged over the last 18 months or so.

At points of crisis, where the community would ordinarily look to local government services that often fall short of delivering what’s needed, both the community and church leaders come knocking on Nentawe’s door. Earlier this year an epidemic of cholera swept through Nessarawa taking the lives of many, at least one of Nentawe’s close family was lost to the disease. But it was Nentawe and the team that the community leaders and churches looked to in order to facilitate a way forward in dealing with the outbreak and preventing a recurrence. Within a few weeks the national elections were held and violence broke out both in the lead up and afterwards. I was in South Africa at the time receiving emails sent out by Nentawe, together the team there and I joined many across the world and prayed for safety for Nentawe and an end to the violence. But once again it was Nentawe and the team that the leaders approached seeking help in the aftermath of the violence and further loss of life in community.

When called upon at these times, Nentawe often feels inadequate, mostly he feels as if he doesn’t have the answers. Usually what he does is bring the leaders and stakeholders together and facilitate a discussion from which a strategy for a way forward emerges; sounds pretty all right to me! Some times he can assist with navigating government departments or editing letters to officials, but mostly he just turns up for work and does what’s needed as best he can. And so Nentawe’s faithfulness to his God and his people has meant that hope and life has come to his community; on $50 a month, barely enough to support one person, he supports himself and his volunteers and keeps taking each day as it comes. He has become one of my heroes.

 

(you’ll find Nentawe Gomiyar on Facebook, linkedin, youthpolicy.org and even on U-tube, posted by ‘trust entente’)