The YEN Program equips college-aged youth with the paradigm and skills to build their lives and to build communities that flourish. Learn more!
Irene: Learning the dignity of work
Employment is hard to find in Uganda, and many proud new college graduates believe they deserve a white-collar job instead of taking other available work that provides an income. Often, unable to find a white-collar job, they remain unemployed and dependent on their parents.
The YEN program teaches the students the God-given dignity of all work. They are encouraged to start small, with the knowledge and resources God has given them, and go from there. For Irene, this meant starting a business making and selling charcoal.
“It was so hard for me to start up this kind of venture,” Irene says, “as some people discouraged me, ridiculing how a university graduate could sell charcoal. Indeed, it was hard for me to take this decision but, through my knowledge of entrepreneurship and the knowledge I got from the TNA training, I am able to manage and run the venture on my own. For sure I did not require so much to start this venture, but what I needed most was the skills and knowledge and a transformed mind which I got through the training.”
“I therefore advise my fellow youths that no one will laugh at what you are, and I remind them to never despise humble beginnings. Personally, I see myself very far along [in dignity and success] from where others see me.”
Stephen: Embracing his calling in the marketplace
Like many Christians trapped in a dualistic sacred-secular worldview, Stephen used to think that seeking God’s kingdom meant pursuing “full-time ministry” in separation from secular activities. “I began to think that education, politics, business and even work is secular, unspiritual and, therefore, ungodly,” he says.
Stephen even questioned his pursuit of higher education. “I just felt like running away [from school] and entering full-time ministry,” he says.
Stephen’s mind began to change during the YEN training. Through the study of Luke 2:52 and other scriptures, he began to see that God values growth in all areas of life, not just the spiritual. He considered God’s many servants in the Bible who held vocations that would be considered “secular” today.
“Discovering that one could be ‘in ministry’ doing business and participating in the leadership of nations was a very revolutionary idea,” he says. “That became a turning point in my life. Wholistic human development became my dream.”
Soon, Stephen reengaged with his studies and graduated second in his class with a bachelor of science degree in population studies. “My attitude toward work became positive, and I resolved to live a life that will leave a legacy on the earth,” he says. Stephen’s excellent grades opened the door for him to be a teaching assistant after graduation, and he dreams of becoming a professor.
Sebastiane: Serving to save a buddy
Part of the YEN program involves the design and implementation of a Seed Project: a small demonstration of God’s love done for people outside the church using only local resources. Sebastiane and his friends thought about how many of their peers drop out of college due to a lack of money, and they took the initiative to start a fund in partnership with the financial-aid office at Uganda Christian University.
Using the slogan “serving to save a buddy,” this fund is supported by fellow students as well as school staff and faculty. In the program’s first year alone, more than 80 students were helped by more than $2,000 USD.
“TNA inspired me to have a positive and biblical worldview which has helped me to discover that I am blessed,” says Sebastiane. “I was inspired to be a visionary and to develop a personal mission that made me not only a dreamer but also an achiever and a blessing. I have since been able to discover my various competencies and abilities which I am actively using.”
Sebastiane, who earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural sciences and entrepreneurship, also directs an advocacy group called PRENT (Professional Reach Enterprises) through which he has helped several other Seed Projects come to fruition. He hopes to return to school to pursue a master’s degree in organizational leadership and management.