Port Elizabeth Christian youth worker Alta de Lange has been running Adventure Week children’s holiday clubs for 10 years. And the adventure just keeps on getting bigger and bolder.
Having seen the love and joy of Jesus touch thousands of young people’s lives through Adventure Week and the programme spreading from church to church as it kept outgrowing venues, she became gripped by a vision to see every child in the city provided with an opportunity to experience Adventure Week at least once a year.
After her youth work contract with Lorraine Dutch Reformed Church ended last year she joined Human Hearts, a young city ministry with a passion to lead people to Jesus and to make disciples. Human Hearts embraced her vision and in partnership with four Dutch Reformed Churches which hosted Adventure Week events in July, they embarked on an enterprising plan to take the life-changing holiday club to poorer church communities that would not normally get to experience Adventure Week. This week the plan paid off as hundreds of kids at Anchor of Hope, an inner city church with members from many different African countries, and Jesus is Lord Ministries in Kleinskool, enjoyed a week of Adventure Club action as they got into the swing of the 2014 theme — “Weird Animals, where Jesus’ love is one-of-a-kind!”
The key to taking Adventure Week to the less privileged communities was using “profit” from the July Adventure Week events to subsidise the Anchor of Hope and Kleinskool holiday clubs in October. Registration fee money paid by parents of the July holiday clubbers was used to pay for food and materials for the week. Savings were made by bulk buying for the weeks at Hoogland, Lorraine, Kragga Kamma and Despatch Dutch Reformed Churches. Generous food, material and draping sponsors also helped keep costs down. Theme decor that was created a week before Adventure Week by the participating churches in July was later stored for re-use in October.
Kragga Kamma and Despatch both hosted Adventure Week for the first time in July and numbers at both exceeded expectations, indicating that they will have to plan to join hands with other churches to ensure adequate venue space to cater for all the children wanting to attend. An impressive tally of 950 primary school children and 301 volunteers (adults and teenagers) participated in Adventure Week in July.
The October Adventure Week enrolment also surpassed expectations. About 160 children attended at Anchor of Hope and about 500 to 700 participated in Kleinskool.
Anchor of Hope was Alta’s first Adventure Week to be run in English — a decision that was necessary because of the multi-national and multi-cultural community. The language change was acutally easy, says Alta, since the Adventure Week course material in published in English by Group in the United States.
“Normally we have to translate it into Afrikaans,” she says.
She says the thankfulness of the children and the helpfulness of the teenagers gladenned her heart.
She says she was struck by how the children from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar and other African nations showed much tolerance of one another.
She said some of the children only ate a small portion of the food that was given to them, wrapping the rest in serivettes to take home to share with their families.
The Adventure Week at Jesus is Lord Ministries in Kleinskool was originally pioneered by Lorraine Dutch Reformed Church and is in its third year. The area is very poor and traditionally the number of children attending grows during the week as word gets around that food is provided. The Kleinskool holiday club is condensed into a one hour experience because the venue does not have space to divide up into five stations for different activities as happens at the other venues. This year, local leaders are running the programme with minimal input and by next year they will be ready to run everything, says Alta.
Over 10 years Alta has seen the lasting impact of Adventure Week on communities. Children remember Adventure Week worship songs, slogans and verses for years. She has seen children attending year after year, growing up to become leaders. Teenagers get an opportunity to serve in a mission situation at Adventure Week and then go on to become Sunday School teachers and youth leaders. Parents who would not normally be involved come and work in the kitchen just to share the fun with their kids — and they too become more engaged in church life.
Looking ahead, she says that Human Hearts would like to keep on growing the number of churches offering Adventure Week. They would like to start up two new suburban churches a year in July whch would then subsidise the start-up of one new less-advantaged church in September/October each year. Next year they aim to run Adventure Week in English at churches in possibly Lorraine and Summerstrand in July — and in Afrikaans at Kensington Dutch Reformed Church in September/October.
“But we will see how God guides,” she says.