Global Challenge is an expanding Kingdom ministry that defies any attempt to put it in a box.
It began with a challenge by founder Anna Marie Franken to 20 young Christians to join her on a year-long round-the-world adventure mission trip. And eight years later the God adventure continues with a number of international expeditions and a growing array of innovative and impactful homefront projects in education, business, church and upliftment.
About 80 to 90% of people who go on a Global Challenge Expeditions mission trip return with a burning vision to become change agents, says Global Challenge pastor, Willem Taute, who stayed on with the ministry after going on a 20-nation trip in 2007, the year after Franken’s initial adventure challenge. Young people from past Global Challenge expeditions are now serving as long term missionaries in Kenya, Jordan, India and Thailand. And 50 to 60 people from around South Africa have moved to Jeffreys Bay, the Eastern Cape coastal town where Global Challenge is based, in order to be part of some of the extraordinary things that God is doing through the ministry.
Commenting on his first Global Challenge expedition which included getting arrested in China, Taute says: “It was the best year of my life. I felt from the start that this was the dream the Lord wants me to be part of, and that I will be with Global Challenge my whole life unless the Lord directs otherwise.”
He says he first heard about Global Challenge when he was a journalism student at Potchefstroom university. He sensed God tell him to sign up for their round-the-world mission expedition even though the only money he had was R5. Within two days of enrolling God provided the funds supernaturally as four people each gave him R5 000. Taute met his future wife, Janine, on that first expedition, and today she teaches at the ministry’s high school, Global Leadeship Academy.
God’s favour and provision
The high school, like so much of Global Challenge’s ministry, is a testimony to God’s favour and provision. The leaders of Global Challenge felt God wanted them to start a high school and by November 2009 they had about 30 students enrolled for January 2010 — but at that stage they did not yet have any school facilities. The owners of a shopping mall with an empty wing had agreed to let them house the school in a big, empty store which they would have to partition internally to make up classrooms. But subsequently the mall owners announced that the deal was off as the space would not be ready in time. Some time later one of the owners asked Stefan Kleyn of Global Challenge to meet him at the mall. Kleyn sensed God telling him that what the owner would tell him would be what God wanted and would be a miracle. The owners offered him a row of about 10 empty shops for use as classrooms for the same cost as the previously offered big store, but he said Kleyn would have to say “yes” or “no” to the offer there and then. Kleyn said “yes”.
The independent school follows the National Curriculum and is not marketed as a Christian school but simply as Global Leadership Academy in order to attract and impact both Christians and non Christians. About 90% of the 20 to 25 teachers have been on Global Challenge mission expeditions. The number of students has grown to 250 and they have had a 100% matric pass rate for the three years since 2012 when they offered their first Grade 12 classes. The school has a vision to provide excellent, affordable education in an innovative learning environment where young people will grow into leaders who will impact and serve their world.
Initially Global Challenge was a little concerned about the transparent shopfront walls of its classrooms which line a central mall corridor. But they soon discovered that the glass walls in fact enhanced school discipline and management — so much so, that big, glass classroom windows facing the corridor have been incorporated into the design of a new school building presently under construction
True to form, miracles abound in the story of the construction of the new school which has been underway for the past 4.5 years. For instance, at the suggestion of an employee of the developers of a local wildlife estate, Stefan Kleyn asked the developers to donate land to the school. It so happened that the developers had just done some research which showed that it would be good to have a school close to the estate; they were wondering where they could get a school when Kleyn came and asked them for land. The developers gladly gave Global Leadership Academy 7.5 hectares of choice land where they began building an eco school designed by an architect who is part of the Global Challenge family of former mission expedition travellers who now work in Jeffreys Bay. All of the bricks for phase one of the building project were donated, as were all the electrical plugs and wiring. The school campus will include accommodation, a community and sport centre, a conference centre and a cafeteria. Ultimately the goal is also to house the headquarters of Global Challenge on the property. Currently the ministry headquarters is in a Jeffreys Bay house that was revealed by God in a dream and purchased by a benefactor.
“We never had lots of money for building [the new school] but felt we needed to start. It has been a long, learning process but God has been faithful and when funds dry up on Friday we receive more money on Monday for the next step. The school hopes to move in next year,” says Taute.
The Global Challenge Expeditions side of the ministry has also developed over the years from one, annual trip, to several different expeditions to different parts of the world that cater for about 30 to 40 travellers per year. The expeditions provide an adventure-filled opportunity to disciple and develop young servant leaders.
Church to support mission
Taute says God also asked Global Challenge to build a church, which he pastors. The church is needed to support people in the long-term mission field and also to provide them with a model for church planting in the mission field. The Global Church follows an organic house church model which is built around community.
Some of the other areas in which former Global Challenge Expedition travellers are making an impact are through local businesses such as two coffee bars, a dance academy, clothing shops, a t-shirt print shop. Others are involved in a primary school and a pre-primary school, while others represent Global Challenge in partnering various community upliftment ministries….Watch this space!