Student Christian group fills varsity lunch break gap

Student group Twenty20 is making a difference on various fronts

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Christian society Twenty20 Destiny, has seized the opportunity of newly-implemented daily hour-long lunch breaks this year, by offering an array of activities from Monday to Thursday on the varstity’s South Campus.

The Twenty20 Destiny society has a vision for campus ministry, which is summed up in their catchphrase: A student revolution impacting the nation by bringing about positive change.

Origins
In 2006, an idea developed and grew between Dave Walland of Harvest Christian Church and a few students at NMMU, after becoming aware of the increasing problem of “crowded loneliness” which many students seemed to be experiencing. As new and exciting as the ‘student’ phase of life can be, many young adults struggle with this adaptation, especially if they are far from their homes, families and support systems. Dave and the students wanted to help these fellow students cross over healthily into this new chapter of life, by providing access to a loving, encouraging, inclusive, intentional and supportive community.

They approached some local churches in Port Elizabeth who represent a significant number of students at NMMU and other tertiary institutions in and around the Bay area, asking them if they would agree to “come on board” and reach out with them to the students on NMMU’s campus. Thus, along with the secure support of the main churches and the Youth Leadership Network, a society was created. Their aim was to build up a person’s well-being in all aspects of life – emotionally, physically, spiritually, and actively in the surrounding community.

The following year, during a time of intensive prayer, it was sensed that the name that best described this united effort to see a brighter future and destiny for young people in Port Elizabeth could be summed up in Twenty20 Destiny – which speaks of perfect vision for the future and knowing where the future is headed. Twenty20 Destiny is trusting for a student revolution; one that will be drastic and far-reaching amongst the students, which will not only impact themselves in their thoughts and actions, but will also impact South Africa as a nation.

This is their vision: “To see a new culture emerge that is not ashamed to give their all for the name of Jesus. A generation that is determined to be a shining light in a place of need and in so doing be a hope to the campus, to the city and the nation. Our desire is to have our hearts arrested by the things of God, to be lovers of people and to have a genuine concern for our fellow students’ well-being, now as well as for eternity” writes Stuart Keil on their website.

Making friendships during outreach events

In its first year, 2007, Twenty20 Destiny attracted at least 50 members, and for the first term, they ran solidly and strong with a committee of nine members. At the end of that year, Lance Cairns, 22, currently a Psychology student at NMMU, was contacted to run the society in 2008. Lance ran as Chairman for two years, along with seven other members. The new Chairman is 23-year old Jon-Paul Raper, who is currently studying a BCom in Financial Planning.

Since its origin, Twenty20 Destiny has become increasingly more active and visible on campus, and active within NMMU. “We have the opportunity to reach approximately 10 000 of the 18 000 students here on NMMU’s Port Elizabeth campuses”, says Lance, who is now the Vice-Chair.

Opportunities
From coin and clothing collections to a barn dance, Jericho worship events and prayer groups, Twenty20 Destiny is continuing to involve and impact students at NMMU, focussing particularly on evangelism and discipleship.

At the beginning of 2011, NMMU introduced and implemented an hour’s lunch break each day. Twenty20 Destiny has taken advantage of this opportunity by offering a series of daily activities within this allocated hour. “Using this set time, we are challenging people to use their time well and to benefit from it”, explains Lance. Twenty20 Destiny’s calendar is fully booked each week during lunch breaks from a Monday to Thursday. “No other society has been able to do that every week, and find an available venue”, Lance gratefully shares.

Presently, Twenty20 Destiny runs a Vintage Jesus DVD series and discipleship group on Mondays (which is running for its second year already), a Unite life group on Tuesdays, a men’s cell group on Wednesdays and worship and prayer on Thursdays.

The Unite life group has been running since August 2010. A vision of former Twenty20 Destiny committee member and 21-year old Social Work student, Sarah Alfond, this group meets upstairs in Madibaz, the student café on South Campus every Tuesday from 12h15 to 13h00. Essentially a Bible study group, different topics and Scripture stories or verses are discussed each week, in an interactive environment.

“Unite reaches people for different reasons. Its aim is to unite students of different churches, and provides a way for meeting up with other Christians on campus”, explains Sarah. “We have had as few as eight and as many as 30 people coming over the weeks. It ranges from week to week. Random people are starting to come to us now in the lunch breaks and are asking different questions, and we are integrating them into a community where they feel welcome”, she shares.

Sarah feels very blessed and encouraged by the fact that people are willing to give up their time to ask questions. Using the lunch-time break as a time to meet has opened up a great opportunity for curious people who are wanting to find out more about God and Christianity. “We are wanting to utilise this time well, and also use Unite as a tool for Christians to grow”, says Sarah.

Outreach
For two consecutive years, starting in 2010, Twenty20 Destiny has hosted a “Tag a Tin and Touch a Heart” charity event for Valentine’s Day. Their desire, through this, is to unite students and the community in a cause that will bring love and support to those who are less fortunate.

Originally known as “Be our ValenTINe”, Twenty20 Destiny invited students, friends and families of all ages to Humewood Beach across from Happy Valley for a morning of fun. All participants were asked to each bring a tin of food as their entrance fee, and they were encouraged to come and help build a big heart (representing unconditional love) made up of collected tin cans. This year, Vistarus was the selected charity. All donors were also given the chance to personalize their donated cans with written messages. These days also included fun games of touch rugby, beach volleyball and soccer, as well as soaking up the sun and spending a relaxing time on the beach.

“Our [2010] ‘build-a-heart’ project was a great success”, says Jon-Paul. “We aim to involve as many people as possible in order to build relationships and serve others”.

“’Tag a Tin and Touch a Heart’ was a great success”, says Twenty20 Destiny committee member, Kylie Jefferson, of 2011’s event. “People who arrived at the event as strangers, left as friends. It gave Twenty20 Destiny the opportunity to not only network and build relationships with others, but also grow closer as a committee. Most importantly, it taught everyone that when you give to others you are blessed with joy in return. This event gave people the opportunity to touch the hearts of Vistarus but everyone’s hearts were touched that day. The potential of this event has been recognized by the whole committee who hopes that it will grow greater and more prosperous every year.”

As for the near future, Twenty20 Destiny hopes to host more city-wide worship events, hold a 24-hour prayer session where people may come and go as they want, as well as run more outreach events amongst the orphanages and hospitals in Port Elizabeth.

Twenty20 Destiny is still strongly connected with many churches in Port Elizabeth. A number of the committee members are leaders within their own churches and youth groups. These connections, along with promotional DVDs at events, Facebook, smses, emails, word of mouth and flyers and posters on campus are used to advertise and promote Twenty20 Destiny and its various involvements and events.

For more about Twenty20 Destiny, visit their website and their Facebook group and add ‘Tim Destiny’ as a friend on Facebook.  If you have a heart for students and campus ministry, and would like to network with others who share the same dream and vision, or even become involved with teams that have already formed across the city to coordinate prayer, worship and outreach events, contact Jon-Paul on ichoosetolive@gmail.com and 072 449 9508 or Lance on cairns49@hotmail.com .

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