Lydia Munene, Area Executive Director for Biblica Africa, shares what God is doing in that region.
Can you tell us about Reach4Life?
Reach4Life is a life-skills program that began about 14 years ago in South Africa. It was specifically developed for teenagers in high school. This innovative program takes them through four journeys. They learn about God and how to know Him. They also learn how to grow in Him, how to live life and face their challenges, and how to become change agents in society.
We started this program in order to combat the HIV/AIDS crisis in South Africa. So many young people were dying because of AIDS. Our desire was to seal off a generation from getting this disease.
Is Reach4Life just an HIV/AIDS prevention program?
As we launched the program, it quickly became much more than an HIV-prevention tool. It became a way to show young people how they can live their lives to the fullest.
Reach4Life not only teaches young people about their sexuality, but about how they can live according to God’s plan. It equips them to deal with real-life challenges like peer pressure, drug abuse, and other issues that teenagers grapple with.
Over the years, as we held the program in schools, we learned that young people really love the Reach4Life New Testament. It doesn’t look like a Bible. And when they receive it, teenagers take it everywhere – often to the amazement of their parents. It is a compact size and contains lots of fun stuff.
How is the program impacting teenagers?
As the program was launched in South Africa, we began getting amazing stories about lives changing. Some had to do with changes in behavior: teens began choosing to live pure lives. But beyond that, we began to receive testimonies from schools where Reach4Life was taking place. Students were more focused in their studies, they were performing better, absenteeism was reduced, and teenage pregnancies dropped. Most of all, we heard of lives being transformed by Christ.
Close to 2 million teenagers have participated in Reach4Life. Most of these have been in Africa, but recently the program has expanded into South Asia and the United States.
We are excited that Reach4Life is a program that is making a difference. It is bringing hope. And hope is something that is lacking today, especially for many young people in Africa. They often grow up in desperate situations, without anything to look forward to in their future. But when they start reaching for life, they realize there is a whole world out there that God has prepared for them. They can become change-agents in places where hopelessness abounds.
Can you tell us a specific story about Reach4Life influencing the life of a teen?
We recently received a story about the Reach4Life program in northern Kenya – an area near the Somali border that is dominated by Muslims. The program was run in Muslim schools! The administration was happy to have it. They gave students the choice: take the R4L New Testament and be part of the program, or refuse the book and not take part in the program. Surprisingly, most of the students chose to participate.
One young Muslim girl who joined a Reach4Life group explained that she came from a polygamous family and didn’t feel loved by her father. Her mother also felt unloved, as one of three wives. In the Reach4Life New Testament, the girl found the love of Christ and excitedly shared this with her mother.
The facilitators of Reach4Life helped the girl and her mother to find a church. So today, both of these women are followers of Jesus!
The Reach4Life program is opening doors that otherwise would not be open. What we need right now are the resources to get into as many nations and schools as possible. By investing in Reach4Life, you are investing in the lives of young people – and the many friends, siblings, and other family members they influence.