Every child welcomed, Every Youth Equipped, Every Church an engaged community. We walk alongside those who walk alone.
Every child welcomed
Everyone has the need to 'belong'. That is why we welcome children and youth and journey with them. They experience the love of Jesus through the presence of the Alongsider in their life. Like a family gathers to celebrate, share, eat en do things together, so the Alongsiders Europe family also gathers. That happens through the 1-on-1 relationship of the Alongsider with the younger brother or sister, but we also gather at Alongsiders Europe events. Every child welcomed.
Every youth equipped
Alongsiders Europe equips Christian youth for discipleship. We believe that we have to both follow Jesus' teaching as well as His method - meaning that discipleship has to be relational at the core. We equip Alongsiders through training and challenges, so that they - in their own communities - can walk alongside one vulnerable younger brother or sister each. We choose for this 1-on-1 model so that everyone is included. Every youth equipped.
Every church engaged
Alongsiders Europe strengthens churches in Europe. We mobilize and inspire. We help create engagement to the great commission Jesus gave us: to be His disciples and to make disciples (Matthew 28). We create this through training, speaking opportunities and workshops. The Alongsiders vision on discipleship goes back to the teachings and method of Jesus Himself. Alongsiders Europe focusses on youth and young adults. We're a movement that strengthens the church and creates engagement. Every church engaged.
Alongsiders Europe - we walk alongside those who walk alone
Many children in Europe are vulnerable—26% of them, to be precise. That's one in four! In some places in Eastern Europe (like Romania) that number doubles to about 50%. Huge. Let that sink in for a moment.
These children are vulnerable or socially excluded in one way or another. This may be due to severe poverty or the recent refugee crisis. However, even children who are in financially stable situations don't have any guarantees. Think of the fact that many children grow up in single parent situations where parents work hard to keep the family going but - as a result - children are on their own much of the time. Children who have what money can buy may come home with no one to greet them, see them and listen to their stories and joys. This is what loneliness could look like. Especially in urban areas, loneliness is said to be one of the biggest problems of this generation.
Even children who have it all and seem to be doing well need a friend. Someone who is willing to invest time, energy and ideas into them. Someone who is willing to help guide them and encourage them to be the best they can be. To grow and learn in every area of life. What we see here is an opportunity to love in Jesus' name!
Throughout history, young people have been at the forefront of every movement for change. Therefore we equip young Christians to disciple one child each.
This is our dream for the next generation of young Christians in Europe - of one generation transforming the next. To laugh with them, or help them get through when life is difficult. To come alongside and be their Alongsider. To be brave enough to step out and take Jesus’ command to disciple seriously.
If this resonates with you let's get in contact. If you feel like serving with us take a look at the current possibilities and join us in walking alongside those who walk alone.
A discipleship movement
We mobilize and equip Christian youth in Europe to walk alongside vulnerable children in their own communities.
We gather to share life, to enjoy and to learn.
One to one. One child at a time.
Our story begins 20 years ago in a slum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Craig Greenfield, the founder of Alongsiders International, left a corporate career and moved into a Cambodian slum. Together with his wife Nay, Craig began working with poor families devastated by AIDS, so that children who had lost their parents were not taken away from everyone else they knew and loved as well.
But as they grew close to many of the orphans who were their neighbours, Craig and Nay were frustrated that they could only personally reach a handful of children with the type of intense nurture, love, coaching, encouragement, mentoring and discipleship that would transform their lives.
Recognizing that you cannot buy love, they decided that more paid staff was not the answer. Instead, Craig began to pray for a volunteer movement of young Cambodian Christians to rise up from within the Church to reach the tens of thousands of marginalised children all across the country. This movement would be entirely reliant on the work of the Holy Spirit in people's hearts, rather than financial incentives. And it would not be dependent on outsiders, but would truly be a movement of the poor helping the poor.
The movement started with just ten young Christians. They made lots of mistakes and made even more changes. But gradually, by God's grace, they began to identify the keys to seeing such a movement take hold and go the distance. In 2003 Alongsiders Cambodia was born.
Today, thousands of young Christians faithfully walk alongside one vulnerable child each in their own communities.
The movement has spread all over Cambodia and beyond as another dozen countries in Asia and Africa have begun Alongsiders movements themselves. One generation is being equipped to reach the next.
But this is not the end of the story…
When Mart-Jan & Talitha van der Maas moved to Cambodia in 2014 they quickly realised that the challenges of the country were many, and the work was beyond what they could ever do. Feeling their own weakness as outsiders they were touched by the simplicity of Alongsiders and how it equips insiders (locals) to help children in their own communities. While seeing the results in Cambodia - and hearing of other countries as well - they began to ask themselves, “Where is the Alongsiders model in Europe?” When it became clear that they were heading for the Netherlands / Europe in 2020 they decided to take Alongsiders with them as well.
We dream of a movement among youth and young adults in Europe who will take up Jesus’ call to disciple the nations and walk alongside one child each. Imagine how Europe will look like if we would…