When you pass the little town of Tarkastad between Cradock and Queenstown on the R61 in the Eastern Cape, you might not picture it as the place your teenager would want to stay – for a year. But this might just be the place where he or she could have the year of their lives…
Gateway Community Church in Tarkastad is starting an outdoor Gap Year project in 2015 called Gateway Gap Year Africa. This is for born again Christian young people between 18 and 25 from all over the world who love nature and the outdoors, but also want to grow into a deeper relationship with God and become better disciples of Christ.
“We call it ‘Discipleship in the Wild’ as we combine spiritual teaching with a lot of fun and exciting outdoor activities,” says Dave Hood, who is responsible for the day-to-day running of the program as well as the nature training.
Due to the amount of physical activities included in the programme, students need to be reasonably fit, but strong emphasis is on their walk with God.
“We believe in doing things God’s way because we’re convinced He knows best and we want to find out what He has in store for every one that does the gap year. We also believe in applying solid Biblical principles to our lives and expect nothing less from those that spend a year of their lives with us,” says Hood.
As part of their nature training, students will work through the first level of FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) material, do hikes in the mountains, do white-water rafting, help construct an obstacle course, learn some hunting skills and hunt an antelope if they choose to, do a trail run and experience the farm lifestyle.
As part of their character building, students will be expected to take on household chores and be responsible for duties at their digs as well as within the community. They will also do basic hospitality training and do a wilderness trail, be involved in church activities, do presentations, do team sport, do problem-solving projects, among others.
Spiritual activities will include weekly home group gatherings, a mission trip, local outreaches, a course on dating and one on Kingdom finances, attending conferences, reading specific Christian books which will be discussed and more.
The programme will run from February to the end of November. Three mornings of a normal week will include worship and two spiritual teaching sessions or activities. The other two mornings will be dedicated to outdoor activities. In the afternoons there will be sport, lectures, presentations on nature, projects, etc.
“Though we have a planned programme, we are flexible to the leading of the Holy Spirit.”, says Hood.
More information can be viewed on the website http://www.gatewaygapyear.com/ or be obtained by calling Dave Hood on 083 225 9476 or by sending an email query via the website contact page.