“While I’m not Paul, while I’m not Barnabas, while I’m not anybody, my goal is to do for young African boys and girls what was done for me. I want them to hear the gospel and to know Christ as their Savior.” —Charles Juma
I (Barry) met Charles in 2003, when I spoke at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY. During a break, I grabbed my bag lunch and turned to see the lone person sitting by himself. It was Charles Juma. Over the course of our conversation, and after, I discovered that he is a uniquely gifted leader. As a result of that lunch, we both knew we were kindred spirits. Since our meeting, he has gone through Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry training. Now he represents Reach Out all across East Africa. We work together to equip African youth leaders in Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry who then reach and disciple young people like Charles.
Charles Juma, our Africa leader, grew up as one of those impoverished children—a product of the poorest family, in the poorest village, in the poorest region of Kenya. Grass provided most of his daily nourishment. To make an amazingly inspiring story very brief, this Muslim boy ran away from his small village to Nairobi, a city of 18 million people, at 15. He knew no one, but when strangers invited him to church for the first time, he met Jesus. For two years, the church leaders discipled Charles. Later he became the youth leader in that church. For over ten years he developed a dynamic and influential ministry to kids across Nairobi and throughout Kenya. While studying for a master’s degree in the United States, he traveled back to Kenya and Tanzania during January and in the summer. Now a PhD student, Charles’ ministry spans 13 countries, and will expand next summer to three more.
One summer in Rwanda, Charles stood outside the church where he would preach, waiting for the service to begin. The pastor pointed to a group of teen boys standing a few feet away and said to Charles: “Each one of those boys murdered many people during the genocide. They live with deep pain, guilt and shame. We have so many kids like these all over our country. We must reach and disciple them, because Jesus is the only one who can heal their hurt and lift them out of their pit of guilt and shame. Charles, I believe the Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry training is what we need. Will you please help us?” Charles is helping them this summer.
Charles Juma is well-equipped from his own childhood experiences to help the younger generation in Africa. As an indigenous African leader, he has equipped many other indigenous African leaders to train younger generation leaders in churches to implement Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry.
“Africa will never be one until all our flags fly under the banner of Jesus Christ.”