Building bridges between AEC youth and USA


Former SIM Malawi missionary and Principal of EBCoM, Bob Setor, and his wife Grace recently led a team of ten African Americans from Restoration Christian Fellowship (RCF) in Aurora, Colorado, on a trip to Malawi working at a National Youth Camp for the AEC

The trip came about after Bob, who is now SIM USA’s Regional Director for the Rocky Mountain region had discussed the possibility with Pete Ong, SIM Malawi’s Youth and Children’s Work Co-ordinator, while Bob and his wife Grace were in Malawi two or so years ago on a previous short term trip.

“We had discussions at that time about the feasibility of a team coming over from the USA to do some kind of work with children and young people,” said Pete Ong.

Youth camp good opportunity

“After Bob and Grace went back to the USA it was then a question of us here in Malawi considering what would be the best way we could get a team involved with our work and for Bob to look at working with a church to put such a team together.”

It was decided that one of the AEC youth camps would be a good place to bring a team. In this case, the camp had well over 400 young people from across the southern region of Malawi and so presented many opportunities and some problems for a team coming in for the first time.

Bob approach Felix Gilbert, Lead Pastor of RCF, to look at putting a team together, and eventually the team, including Felix and the Setors, came together for the trip.

Some overseas missions experience

Three of the team had had overseas-mission exposure prior to the Malawi trip, and Felix Gilbert had made three trips to Africa; to Ethiopia, Liberia and Ghana.

Bob Setor outlined the purpose of the visit and what the team did while in Malawi: “The plans were to expose a team of African Americans to God’s work overseas, trusting God to work in their hearts and hope that they will become advocates for local and global mission in the African American community in Colorado, USA. It is the first-ever African-American team from Colorado to serve with SIM in Malawi,” he said.

Praying for the ongoing work of youth ministry and the presentation of footballs and netballs

“The team participated in, and ran for the greater part (about 90 per cent), the programme of the first National Youth Camp of the Africa Evangelical Church.”

Felix was also plunged into the deep end as he was one of the main speakers at the event and also played a significant part in leading worship.

Romans12: Living the Life of Worship

He was supported by Bob and another team member, Gordon Duvall, who is a licensed minister at RCF and has an interest in health care and the support and development of boys and men. In addition to speaking in the sessions which were based around the theme of ‘Living a Life of Worship’ from Romans 12:1-2,the team members provided discussion questions to guide the breakout sessions.

Though the talks and breakout group discussions featured as the main activities of the camp, other equally relevant teaching sessions were placed at the disposal of the young people including seminars on health matters (run by Gordon Duvall), boy and girl relationship issues and a ‘Questions and Answers’ panel discussion.

Various members of the team helped to facilitate and participate in these activities. During the ‘Questions & Answers’ session, the inquisitive minds of the young people posed a wide range of theological, biblical, health and relationship questions, thus creating an interactive and interesting final afternoon event.

During the morning sessions, all team members had the opportunity to share their personal salvation experience and their present walk with God. These sharing times were meant to provide a clearer understanding as to what it means to become a child of God.

Response to call for salvation

The young participants were given the opportunity one morning to respond to a salvation message, and about 30 of them walked up to the front to make a first-time commitment to the Lord. It was a beautiful scene to behold. The names of those who made the first-time decision were compiled for follow-up in their various churches.

According to Pete Ong, the camp was a great success and the team’s participation in it helped towards this.

But what happens now? The team is back to everyday life in Colorado, but does that mean the Malawi trip is just consigned to the memory banks?

Felix shared his impressions of the trip and, while he had experience of African mission work in the past and came with as open a mind as possible, he was still surprised by what he encountered.

“I approached my trip to Malawi with an open mind, and was prepared mentally for anything and everything,” he said.

Unexpected outcomes

Felix Gilbert, Lead Pastor of RCF

“Considering I approached Malawi with an open mind, I must say what I experienced there was unexpected. The level of poverty was mind-blowing but, at the same time, the safety I experienced in the midst of such poverty was comforting. In other countries where such poverty exists, crime is high. I did not sense that Malawi had a high crime rate, as the people were very friendly and warm, at least to myself and our team.”

 “I was very impressed with the people, country and general life in Malawi. I am still processing since my return to the US. Malawi had a great impact on me as there were so many needs. I am going to explore adopting or at least working closer with some of the AEC pastors for training. I sense they are lacking in that area and are crying out for help. I personally believe that, if the leaders are adequately equipped, they can take the people they lead further in life. We are praying to God for clear direction on the next steps.”

These thoughts were echoed by Bob Setor, speaking on behalf of the team.

“As a result of this trip, the team discovered that there are tremendous human needs to be met in Malawi and they are processing their thoughts as to how the Lord will lead them and their church to respond to these needs, to make way for the proclamation of the gospel in future.

Hope to return

Almost all of them hope to return to Malawi. They have had incredible and meaningful experiences and have been challenged in their spiritual growth and willingness to impact their world back home for involvement in both local and global mission,” he said.


The AEC Youth Ministry work is supported by SIM Malawi project

MW96658 ‘Youth Ministry Capacity Building’