Imagine devoting a year of your life by learning about and serving God. Imagine spending a year completely focused on Bible study, worship and intercession, character development, and outreach and evangelism. Imagine this being your life from sun up until sun down. Could you do it? Could you give of yourself in such a way that brings an intimacy with God, fully knowing Him by experiencing God’s love and His Heart and yielding to the work of the Holy Spirit?
If you can’t imagine it, then let Outhatile Dlamini, Kyung Won Kim, Hyebin Park, and Whitney Leon Flores bring it to life for you. They are spending two weeks of the year in their lives in Bulembu.
The group of 11 students is from Hatfield Church in Pretoria, South Africa, which is where the “Year of Your Life” program originates. The YOYL program started nearly 25 years ago with the intent to create a culture of solid Biblical teaching, personal accountability and practical experience in a year of intense discipleship. The studies focus on relationship with God, personal restoration, character development, relating to others, finding a purpose in life and career guidance. The training takes place in a multi-cultural environment, as is demonstrated in the group of students in Bulembu. Dlamini hails from South Africa while Kim and Park are from South Korea. Flores is from Peru while other students are from Spain and the U.S.
As part of the YOYL curriculum each student chooses to do one of four tracks, which are designed to give the students specialized training in their area of interest and gifting. The tracks consist of worship and music, video production, youth and children’s ministry and transformation and life skills.
The students, who range in age between 18 and 22, are spending a great deal of their energy in Bulembu working with the children by helping with homework and spending time with them. They work on sorting and folding clothes that have been donated for the children while the guys have been doing a little manual labor by clearing out weeds on the banks of the children’s homes and other outdoor projects.
The work has been both rewarding and challenging for the students. Whitney points out that she’s not had much experience interacting with children but has found it an enjoyable experience. Outhatile says the YOYL team members are all having a great time with the children. “They are just so happy to see you and the way they are so forgiving,” she said. “To learn to be child-like again, that for me has been quite an experience.”
A “Year of Your Life” is a daily transformational process for these eleven students who are spending two weeks of their Year in Bulembu, making memories of a lifetime by experiencing God’s love and sharing God’s love. It is a transformation that will help them disciple and prepare others for not just a year of their lives, rather a lifetime – an eternity – with the One who made them.
By: Theresia Whitfield