Nestled among the affluent suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa, is Westlake township, where shacks and shanties have sprung up in every available space and backyard.
In this setting, violence and crime are commonplace and various forms of abuse — sexual, physical, drugs and alcohol — are high. Many young people have little hope of finding a job and turn to gangs and drugs in a bid to escape the harsh reality of their township existence.
With four times as many people living in Westlake than intended, around half of young people are unemployed and half the children have no father figure in their lives.
However, by the grace of God, many children and young adults now have a new sense of hope and purpose, thanks to the Young Legends programme, which exists to uplift them through sport, music, drama and Jesus
Young Legends was started in 2018 by three young South Africans with a passion for the community they know and love. Today, this independent, grass-roots initiative is now a partner project of SIM South Africa.
The vision of the project is for Young Legends to be a place where children and young people can get off the streets and express themselves through football dance and drama. It also extends to sharing the good news of hope that is found in Jesus and for it to be a means of unifying the community to bring about reconciliation and restoration.
Young Legends started with football and now has 114 young people between the ages of 10 – 36 regularly training and playing matches. But not everyone wants to play football and so drama and dance groups were started to provide opportunities for young people who enjoy the creative arts.
A drama club meets four evenings each week, with up to 45 young people taking part in traditional dance and drama/performance classes. The activities in each class focus on individual student’s potential and teach them how to express themselves artistically, as well as providing therapeutic methods to enable them to focus, and build confidence and trust amongst each other.
Teaching the Bible and about Jesus is a part of each and every class, which starts and ends with prayer, and the impact can be seen in the Westlake community, with many parents saying they notice the difference in their children who attend Young Legends programmes.
The message of hope, forgiveness and reconciliation found in Jesus is restoring family relationships; giving young people a new sense of hope and purpose and leading to drop in crime and substance abuse.
- He is using this exciting youth ministry is having a great impact on the township of Westlake and lives are being transformed.
- The gospel of Jesus can be the anchor to enable young people to be selfless, respectful and understanding.
- That 15 young men now are committed Christians and are being encouraged to reach their friends.
By Kerry Allan