During this Olympic period, Forever/YWAM and More Than Gold have been working together to create lasting impact in the UK, by bringing teams from around the world to partner in short-term outreach with local churches and long-term projects. Once the outreach teams have packed their bags and headed home, the hope is that their short-term trip will establish or support the long-term ministries and churches, and leave a legacy that carries on forever.
As part of the Forever Olympic outreach, a team from YWAM Barbados has joined in the efforts to support and encourage The Excel Project (known among locals as XLP). Supported by the churches around the London borough of Newham, XLP has been working in East and South-east London for over 15 years, engaging inner-city young people in an effort to transform their attitudes and behaviour, as well as identifying fresh goals in their lives and helping them to reach those goals.
“It’s great to have short-term teams like the YWAM Barbados team come in and help us,” says XLP borough leader, Matt Way, “because they provide fresh energy, input and resources.”
The YWAM team has come alongside XLP in their efforts to establish a long-term work in the community of Beckton, a new area for XLP. Way talks about his hopes for the area: “Beckton is one of the newer areas of East London. There are certainly drawbacks here, like educational failure and a lack of good role models for the youth. But there is a real sense of community, and the people are very welcoming. There are challenges, of course – that’s why we’re here. But the community has so much potential.”
“There are a lot of drug problems, and it’s infamous for gang fighting. This can get messy when the gang culture collides with the family culture in the community. That’s why involving the whole family in our ministry is key. The majority of informal mentoring in these young people’s lives comes from their parents. We want to impact the community as a whole.”
Caleb Wahl, from Canada and a member of the YWAM Barbados team, described the work they did with XLP. “We assisted XLP’s vision this week by helping with their community barbecue. We provided resources and people to help connect with the families in this neighbourhood of Beckton. We knocked on doors and invited people to come, and then we got to hand out free burgers and play football with the kids.”
The YWAM team has been helping XLP practically by spreading their name and bringing awareness to the project on the Beckton Estate. “In the afternoon we play football with the neighbourhood kids,” Wahl continued. As the XLP teams usually work with kids in the 11–16s age range, this week they have been focusing on connecting with entire families. The YWAM team helped by doing practical work in the area. “In the mornings we are going around the estate doing service projects, like car washing, gardening, and litter picking. When we offered free car washes to the families of the neighbourhood, often they said, ‘How much do you want?’ They were so surprised we would be doing something for free. It was a great way of giving back to the community.”
Matt Way finishes with this thought, “The East End of London is famous for being community-orientated and inclusive, but recently it’s become more segregated. I would love to see people in this area managing to coexist – to be a community within the community. This is the first step, at least, and it’s great to see YWAM teams coming and helping spread the word to this long-term goal.”
Just one example of the many teams spreading around London and the UK throughout this Olympic season, each with the same heart of making Jesus known and supporting projects that will continue long after the teams have gone.