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Reaching African Teens

July 01, 2024

The Zehra Kids Program has been a fantastic way to minister to children during our Medical Outreaches in Africa. However, as we saw the young ones having so much fun, hearing about Yeshua (Jesus), and learning about their identities as precious to God, we recognized that there was a set of kids with different needs: teenagers. So, JVMI staff developed the Zehra Teens Program for kids aged 13 – 18.


Zehra Teens

Zehra Kids and Zehra Teens classes run in conjunction with our Medical Outreaches. While parents are in line or receiving care, groups of about 20-25 kids join a session lasting about an hour. The experience is similar to a day camp, with each group enjoying an age-appropriate lesson and activities. The Zehra Teens program differs from Zehra Kids in that the teens sit in a circle for a more conversational, devotional-style lesson encouraging interaction. They engage in fun games that involve trust, listening and following to reinforce the lesson’s main points.

Zehra Teens officially launched in October 2023 in Hosanna, Ethiopia, and ministered to 415 teenage boys and girls during the five-day Medical Clinic there.



A message that resonates

The curriculum for Zehra Teens is based on the life of Nehemiah. Nehemiah’s family was taken captive when Babylon conquered the Southern Kingdom of Judah, and he was born into slavery in the land where they’d been exiled. He’d never seen his homeland, but when he heard that Jerusalem’s gates and walls were broken down, it grieved his heart. The people remaining there were vulnerable to attacks by the neighboring peoples.

Though Nehemiah was a slave, he received a vision from God that he could be an instrument of change. He prayed, walked in the strength of his identity, and worked to carry out the vision of repairing Jerusalem’s wall.

The story of Nehemiah shows Zehra Teens kids the truth that no matter their circumstances, God has a plan and a vision for each of their lives. With God, they have the ability to do good and make a positive difference in their environments and the lives of the people around them.

The Gospel is woven into this hope-filled message during one-to-one time with the teens who are offered the invitation to place their faith in Yeshua (Jesus) as Lord. The program sessions also create the opportunity for teens to have a personal encounter with God, opening their hearts and hands in prayer before Him, believing He will speak to them with a vision for their lives.

The responses have been overwhelmingly positive. The teens in attendance leave inspired and hopeful for their future. They walk away lifted up, strengthened, and encouraged that they are loved, valued and have a purpose. Hear what some of them said afterward:

“This is the first time I heard that God cares for me and has a vision for my life. It makes me want to tell all my friends to also receive this opportunity. I feel like I can reach my goals even though I am starting from nowhere, God will provide a way.”

“Nehemiah was a slave, not important, but became someone important. The same is true for me.”

“We go through so many things here in Ethiopia and hear so many bad things. War in our region and all over our country. But after hearing about the life of Nehemiah, that he was young and prayed because he believed God told him, means I should too. Even if I'm young, God hears my prayers.”

“Now I know God can use me even if I'm young. He respects me and can use me. God can use me equally as much as Nehemiah.


Jacob’s story

After the lesson, a 13-year-old boy named Jacob approached Aviva, Jewish Voice’s Children’s Education Program Manager. Through an interpreter, he asked if he might return with his only school notebook and go through the class again because he wanted to write down the lesson. He didn’t want to forget the inspiration he received but wanted to have the material to read again and again.

Aviva gave Jacob printed copies of the lesson in both English and Amharic, his native Ethiopian language. She and some local Zehra Teens leaders sat down with him to pray, asking if there was anything specific he’d like them to pray for. He explained that his grandmother lives in the poorest house in Hosanna, and his vision is to buy her a nice home that is safe. Such love and thoughtfulness touched their hearts, and it was clear that this young man was already a leader.

Would you pray with us for Jacob and all the teenagers who have gone through the Zehra Teens program on various Outreaches in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe? Your support of Jewish Voice enables the Zehra Teens Program to reach these young ones at such a critical time in their lives, offering them the hope and love of Yeshua. Thank you!

Here are some points you can pray:

  • The Lord to draw those who don’t yet know Him into faith in Jesus the Messiah
  • Each one to know God’s deep love for them
  • The Lord to encourage them with His vision and plan for their lives – that they would know He can use them as He did Nehemiah
  • God to motivate them with the confidence and will to be agents of good, carrying out His purposes in their circles of influence

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