The New YLI Home Base

A YLI Home Base isn’t just a house and it isn’t just an office. It is a place for our Coaches to land for a few hours, or days, and get time to pray, play, meet together, rest from travel, retreat, relax, re-create, study, and connect.

YLI has a new Home Base in northern Ghana, and that’s a significant milestone!

Years ago, we had a home base in the southern city of Kumasi. Kumasi was strategic because of the large population of Christians, especially Christian young adults in southern Ghana.

Ghana’s north, on the other hand, has historically been heavily Muslim-influenced in both culture and religion, and poorer than the south. I’ve heard stories of Ghanian pastors from the south, who, as a consequence of angering the wrong denominational leader, were exiled to a northern post as punishment!

YLI has had its eyes on the north since our beginning. Our vision has been to disciple Christian leaders who would move joyfully into the Muslim world out of love for God, and lost people. Over the years, YLI’s center of gravity has slowly but naturally moved north. In 2006, 80% of Coaches were from southern Christianized ethnic groups. Today, over 90% of YLI Coaches and interns are from a northern Muslim or traditional ethnic group, and our southern leaders are ministering in the north.

A couple years ago we began to talk and pray about establishing an actual Home Base up in the north.

Reestablishing the “YLI Home Base”, in Tamale, Ghana’s northern capital, is a visible marker of God’s faithfulness in leading YLI deeper into the non-Christian African world. YLI trained leaders are serving in very challenging places. Most live as Christian minorities. Many live in hostile environments. They need our love and support.

As soon as we can get the home base ready, YLI leaders will come to for training, community, discipleship, rest, prayer, food, sports, and encouragement. It will be their place as much as YLI’s place. We want it to be amazing for them.

We need living and dining furniture for 20 people as well as two sets of bunkbeds for 6 bedrooms. We need a fridge, a range and kitchen supplies. We’ll need linens and towels. We want it to be decorated comfortably but uniquely as a YLI Home Base. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

As our plans come together we will be in contact with you about how you can get involved either by donating or traveling to Ghana to sweat with us! Stay tuned…

In Memory of Chris Henderson

Chris and Tammy Henderson

Christopher Clay Henderson, age 53, went to his heavenly home to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Friday, August 26, 2022. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, son and brother. Chris loved Jesus and loved others. He was truly a friend to all! Chris was passionate about life and lived it to the fullest every day. He was known to be exuberant and generous, blessing those around him.

Besides spending time with his wife, Tammy (the apple of his eye), as well as family and friends, Chris had a fondness for other things like gardening, hunting, fishing, cooking, and sports of all kinds. He was always eager to try new things and experiences and share them with others. One of the many ways he served the Lord was through a faithful commitment to support YLIs clean water projects in Africa, knowing that Living Water brings Life.

With this in mind, Chris’ wife Tammy has asked that in lieu of flowers, YLI accept donations in Chris’ memory, so that YLI can continue to provide clean water to those communities in need, thereby reaching and leading the people of those communities to Christ, the Living Water.

To make a donation, click YLI’s giving page, choose a one time or reoccurring donation and select the Chris Henderson Memorial fund. You will receive a confirmation of your gift, and when the water project is completed, YLI will update you with photos and information about the community that received clean water in memory of Chris.

May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. -Ephesians 3:17

Double the water projects 

Drilling a well to serve this pregnant woman and her entire community.

Earlier this year, YLI Coach Constant photographed the pregnant woman above as she attempted to collect water from a muddy river bed in the village of Latinkpa. Constant’s heart broke as did ours when he sent us the photo. Praise God, her entire village now has clean water. 

When YLI leaders first began going to remote villages for cross-cultural discipleship, they felt dissonance in talking about God’s love when the people lacked clean water. In 2010 we prayerfully discerned that funding clean water in villages where African YLI leaders were planted for mission did not distract from our call to discipleship. In fact, it has given credibility to our leaders’ testimonies of Jesus. 

This year, by God’s grace, we have more young leaders working in rural communities, and that means more clean water projects than ever before. We completed three and have seven more to go. 

Coach Retreat, July 2022

YLI trains around 200 new young leaders every year. After completing YLI’s training process, a few of them are invited into a 3-year internship. Intern retreats are great fun with prayer, teaching and friendship. They also share about their lives which is more serious. Interns told stories of persecution, broken families, deaths of children and parents, and financial and career hardships. They are not defeated by trials. As Jesus’ disciples they minister out of their suffering. 

July 2022 in Accra, Some current Coaches and Interns from Nigeria and Ghana (along with Ash Zook and friend Nathan White) at the semi-annual retreat.


Sept 15-16. Gbeogo, Ghana: Follow Up Training

Sept. 16-25. Ash Zook in Ghana

Sept. 21-24  Chamba, Ghana: Basic Training

Oct. 3-5. Wapuli, Ghana: Basic Training

Nov. 6-20. Ash Zook in Nigeria and Ghana

Nov. 8-11. Tamale Ghana: Leadership Summit

Nov. 17-19. Jos, Nigeria: Basic Training

Dec. 13 YLI Luncheon at the Atlanta Athletic Club. You are invited! RSVP

YLI’s updated logo art

A logo that tells our story. It goes like this…

Inside the fire the Gye Nyame symbol represents Intimacy with God. It means “unless God makes a way”. The Holy Spirit is our fire that is within us, refining us, and clearing the way.

The two houses reminds us of Incarnational Evangelism. YLI training teaches that Jesus became flesh and made His home among the people, so we too, go to where the people are.

The two people preparing food illustrates Spiritual Multiplication. It is important to invite other people to join us in our discipleship work so the Lord’s work will multiply and endure for generation after generation until Christ returns.

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” 

2 Timothy 2:2

New Intern!

Kathryn Zook, Media Specialist

Kathryn and Ash in northern Ghana

Kathryn grew up in YLI, visiting and living in Ghana off and on with her family since 2008. She loves YLI and our people, and has a desire to see YLI continue to reach younger generations.

For the last few months Kathryn has been overhauling YLI’s social media accounts, designing t-shirts, and telling the stories of YLI Coaches and Interns. 

Kathryn is currently living in Carrollton, GA and is also working as a youth ministry intern at Southern Hills Christian Church. 

You can see Kathryn’s work and learn about what is going on with YLI in Nigeria and Ghana.

Instagram @youngleadersint

Facebook @youngleadersinternational

In memory of Bruce Genter

Bruce and Joyce Genter with Katie and John Mark Zook
The Aburi Botanical Gardens, Ghana 2014

On February 19th, we lost Carrie’s father, Bruce Genter. Bruce and Joyce were incredibly supportive of YLI and our family’s involvement — even when we would take their grandchildren to Africa for long stretches. It was a difficult sacrifice for them, but Bruce and Joyce didn’t let the distance stop them, traveling to rural Mali to visit Carrie south of Timbuktu in 2000 and our family in Ghana in 2014. Bruce, known by the kids as “Big,” is already dearly missed, but we know that for Bruce death does not have the final word. His eternity is in God’s presence.

I will always be grateful that Bruce allowed me to marry his daughter and supported our decision to join YLI and make West Africa a part of our family’s story.

Joyce has asked that in lieu of flowers YLI accept donations in Bruce’s memory, so YLI’s work with young leaders can continue to lead people to the Jesus he loved and served. If you would like to honor Bruce in this way, click this link and select “Bruce Genter Memorial” from the fund drop down menu. Click for the full obituary.

Ash Zook

YLI Executive Director and Big’s son in law

YLI is 20 years old in 2022!

A message from Executive Director, Ash Zook.

I just returned from Ghana in late November, and my excitement level was almost as high as when I first joined YLI. Over the past 13 years I have either lived in Ghana with my family or have taken four trips each year. But since 2019, I have only been to able to travel to Ghana three times. This is the reality that we all have endured since March of 2020.

It is humbling to think it was almost 20 years ago, in 2002, that I stumbled upon Jim Moye’s phone number at a friend’s house. I had not seen Jim since 1994 when I was in a his discipleship group at Eastern College. I reached out to Jim and Fran and we met for breakfast during which Jim told me about a vision God had given him and Fran to start a discipleship work in Ghana, and that the Lord had given him the word picture “Coach” to describe the heart of this ministry. The surprising thing was the night before I had a dream that I had been hired to coach a team of young Africans. A couple months later I was on a plane to spend a month with Jim and Fran as they were starting YLI.

The vision God gave Jim and Fran was to start a discipleship movement with young leaders in Ghana’s Christianized south who would then move north into Ghana’s Muslim world and into surrounding Muslim countries. Jim did not live to see this vision realized, but today YLI is based in Ghana’s largest Muslim city. And YLI leaders are working in northern Nigeria’s dangerous Muslim dominated regions.

Last month was the first time our entire group of disciples had been together in Ghana in almost two years.  When I arrived home I was amazed but not surprised. Amazed at what YLI has been doing during my absence, but not at all surprised by God’s faithfulness. YLI has multiplied more through the pandemic than any other time since 2002.

YLI’s 20th anniversary is a time of celebration and thanks to God. Please read on about 2021, but keep in mind the African proverb, “If we stand tall, it is because we stand on the shoulders of our many ancestors”. Or as Hebrews 12:1 says, as we run the race before us, “we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses”. And although we grow older the discipleship race we run results in a prize that will never perish!

In Christ,

Ash Zook, Executive Director 

Ash Zook and Jim Moye in Ghana, 2002.

YLI at year 20 

We’re getting older, but YLI is still a ministry of young leaders!

When I arrived in Ghana in 2002, Jim Moye told me how much he wanted to introduce me to Vincent Asamoah. Jim was obviously very excited about this Vincent guy. He was the director for the Ghana Baptist Convention with a busy travel schedule, so we had to catch him one night when he was at home. After it had gotten dark, Jim drove me to visit Vincent’s family and we spent a short time together. That was the only time I got to spend with Vincent in 2002, but I knew it was important to Jim that we meet. None of us knew just how important that introduction would be years later after Jim had passed away, when Vincent became my co-laborer in YLI and one of my closest friends. Vincent is also one of the most effective developers of leaders I have ever known. 

Twenty years later, Vincent and I show the predictable signs of aging! This past June, we held the memorial service for Naomi Awuni, our dear friend and Coach. Afterward the service, Vincent, Jonah Manyan (who Jim also introduced me to in 2002), and I were lounging like in my room.  We were the old guys. On the floor below, the younger Interns and Coaches were making noise and goofing off the way we used to do.  We used to be the young leaders. Those  days are gone, but I was reminded that YLI is still young. 

Discipleship is the only investment that will never perish. Discipleship just keeps reproducing life. 

YLI is 20 years old, but showing no signs of age because it’s not about YLI the organization. Anything we buy, build or grow eventually fades, even from memory.  There will probably even come a time when no one alive on earth will know that an Ash Zook, Vincent Asamoah, Jim Moye, or Young Leaders International ever existed, yet the work that any of us put into intentionally investing in discipling young people will never fade away.

Discipleship growth in universities

God wastes nothing, not even a global pandemic!

For the last two years, YLI West African director, Yakubu Zachariah (Zach) and his top Nigerian leaders, Abraham Shuaibu and Peter Iliya, have not been permitted to travel and gather for many training events due to COVID restrictions. Instead they’ve focused their discipleship efforts on students at their local universities. 

At Tamale Technical University (TaTU), YLI functions as a college ministry.  Zach just completed a three year Agriculture degree there, and each year has started YLI’s discipleship process with new students. Zach is still providing oversight, but one of his disciples from the beginning, David, is a senior and is leading YLI at TaTU. 

YLI’s discipleship work in Nigeria started when Ghanaian Coach, Constant Adzomoni, moved to Nigeria as a student for two years of missionary training. As is the YLI way, when Constant got settled he began to disciple other students. By the time he returned to Ghana in 2019, a YLI Nigeria began with two of his disciples, Abraham and Peter.

Abraham is a graduate student and is employed by Nasarawa State University. He has spent two years training university students with YLI’s material. Some students who graduated this year, as they have taken jobs in different regions in Nigeria, have started YLI’s discipleship process in their own new towns and cities. To use Biblical imagery, handfuls of seeds have been scattered across multiple new fields. It reminds me how my discipleship from Jim and Duffy Robbins influenced me as I moved over a thousand miles away to start my career in another city and state. Throughout mission history the Church has always grown through natural events of diaspora.  

Peter Iliaya was an undergraduate student when Constant began to train him. Currently Peter works as a field officer serving persecuted Christians, assessing need and then mobilizing food, water and safe shelter, as well as trauma counseling and widow and orphan care to victims of religious persecution and terrorism.  

College ministry is incredibly strategic if it is based upon intentional discipleship not just social events. Over a four year period, students who are committed to growing as disciples of Jesus are trained, and then scattered wherever their career opportunities take them. It’s leading to incredible spiritual multiplication.

Today, recent graduates of Nasarawa State University, are YLI leaders in six different new regions in Nigeria. They are continuing to grow in their discipleship training with YLI with Abraham and Peter.

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