As part of our ‘Riverside Story’ blog post series, this post will focus on a mission that Riverside is helping to facilitate here in Birmingham, the UK and around the world; supporting our vision to bring LIFE to every generation in every community. This month we are catching up with Linda and David Isgrove from International Christian Youthworks (ICY).
David and Linda Isgrove have overseen the evolving and flourishing of ICY… a grass-roots discipleship course that has spread across African nations to influence 400,000 people to date. Anchored on four key areas of mission (Spiritual Responsibility, Leadership & Discipleship, Environmental Stewardship, and Economic Responsibility) that are particularly needed within the African context, this spiritual “virus” has spread organically, shifting and changing to fit local contexts.
The organisation’s heartbeat is to transform individuals to transform communities, recognising the resilience and potential of young people to be the answers to the challenges they face in their communities.
The free course material, a year’s programme, is easily also adapted and used by summer programmes and intensive boot camps. Summer programmes have seen many come to faith. Boot camps are increasingly being used for an immersive discipleship experience where attendees go back to their communities to disciple individuals and develop teams to pass on what they have learnt through community projects.
One of the many other projects is the Agile Programme for schools that not only looks at Entrepreneurship and Innovation but also provides opportunities for faith exploration and discipleship. In Tanzania the course has been picked up by the Scouts, and elsewhere the bootcamps have become so popular there is now a screening selection process.
It is not a prescriptive “product” that is sold, but a short course on Christianity. Foundations are taught alongside working with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals leading to a practical implementation that enables the Holy Spirit to birth new ideas and to replicate into multiple communities. In one particular case it birthed an invention that produced an entire industry which received government support.
Attracting international recognition from other agencies looking to regenerate developing world countries from the ground up, ICY is more akin to a movement of spiritual transformation, rather than a prescribed course or fixed instruction in a particular method. For some, that is making it really hard to define, but in practice is highly effective in enabling people to understand the Gospel, value implementation, adaption and the importance of teamwork and community transformation.
As the movement grows there are new challenges about sustainability and how to guide the organisation through to maturity. ICY is currently supported by a network of individuals, a business and Riverside’s ongoing support.