Old army base is home to new mission
A disused World War 2 military base beneath majestic Cape Peninsula mountains has become the training ground for a new mission – to develop Godly character in the youth of Africa. Jabulani Africa Ministries (JAM), an inter-denominational ministry and registered section 21 company, is fulfilling this mission by offering guidance, mentorship and experiential learning to youth across South Africa.
JAM was a spin-off of work started by it’s leader, Gerhard Duvenhage’s father, Why Duvenhage, in 1993 when he approached the South African Defence Force about the use of an old WW2 military base at the Apostle Battery opposite Llandudno in the Western Cape. The more senior Duvenhage, who was a chaplain in the South African Police Service and a member of the Christian Police Association (CPA) at the time, wanted the space to operate camps for the Police. Gerhard recalls attending one of these camps when he was only six years old. JAM was birthed in 2007 after he took over the reins from his father.
According to Gerhard, when one considers that many young people have been thrust into a position of responsibility following the death of one or both parents as a result of AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), it is more appropriate to regard them as leaders of today, as opposed to tomorrow. However, he says that JAM does not only work with vulnerable youth but also youth from more affluent areas or a more secure home environment.
The organisation uses camps in what Gerhard calls an “island situation” – fresh air, mountains, and the dark tunnels running below the huge cannon – as an entry point for building a long-term relationship with young people. These camps involve various activities and sharing personal stories to influenceyoung people to approach their life and communities from a leadership perspective and with biblical foundation. Some of the themes covered during the camps were taken from the US-based Pointmen Leadership Institute’s Youth Programme and “Africanised”.
JAM’s vision is the cross of Jesus for the cross of Africa. Gerhard says: “The cross of Africa refers to the pain and suffering of this continent – the poverty, hunger, disease, corruption, war, Aids, hopelessness and the lack of Christlike leaders. But when you look at the cross of Jesus you see love, grace, peace and hope. We envision a new generation of leaders in Africa who will rise up to their God given purpose and become the salt and light like Jesus explained church should be.”
Aside from camps, JAM provides young followers of Christ (18 to 25 years) with an opportunity to be a part of the organisation for a short-term or one year internship; engages in long-term discipleship programmes in communities all over South Africa; and partners with many likeminded churches and organisations to assist them with projects.
A youth from Calitzdorp who first became involved with JAM in 2007 and attended one of the camps says: “I see people don’t get stuck in poverty any more or feel sorry for themselves because they know that God is among us and God is with us. Young people don’t have the desire anymore to do bad stuff but to stand in God’s word. I can start by going and joining some of the kiddies because they are the ones that are looking up to the ones doing bad stuff. When they look around they see that the people who are more mature than them are the ones that are breaking the place down with things like vandalism and doing drugs and doing bad things.
“I will go and join the kiddies and show them what a real character, a godly character looks like and how it is to be with Jesus. When they look at me I know God is going to let them see the light moving in me.”
Another youth from the area says, “Never in my heart did I trust people, not even my own mother. But, when I come in the presence of God, and I know who God really is or was or were, I will follow His path. I will be a Jesus kind. I’m going to be loving and patient and I’m going to start there in Calitzdorp and I know through that, everyone will become patient and kind and loving. Then, I know Calitzdorp will be a lovely place.”
Thanks to the contacts built via the CPA, JAM has a national reach across South Africa with a base in Mavhuza in Limpopo, as well as at Bambisana Village, Eastern Cape and the Karoo town, Prince Albert. It is supported by individuals and churches, some from South Africa and many from America, who share JAM’s vision and who are focused on training and discipling young Africans in becoming Godly, servant leaders who can impact their communities for Christ.