Thursday, January 17, 2013

What Africa Needs Most...

I have been told by people in Africa that if you ask a North American what the top 5 needs are in Africa, you will hear the usual suspects: poverty, hunger, disease, orphans, corruption... But, if you ask Africans what the top 5 needs are, you are likely to hear something else rise to the top: leadership development.

At first that surprised me. But, it makes sense.

Other voices concur.

Dambisa Moyo, author of Dead Aid says "The responsibility of development of the African continent is front and center the responsibility of African leadership."

Ghanaian economist George Ayittey calls for fast-moving entrepreneurial leaders that he depicts as cheetahs to overtake the elite hippos that rule with corruption.

But this begs the question...how? How can Africans (in greater numbers than now) become prepared to lead?

There are many answers,but no doubt, the most important answer is through intentional leadership development and theological education IN AFRICA. The two go hand in hand. While others are rightly focusing on political and economic structures, I see the greatest need to be spiritual. How can corruption be addressed? It is a matter of the heart.

The late African scholar, Kwame Badiako remarked that “What happens within the African Churches in the next generation will determine the whole shape of church history for centuries to come.”

If you look at Nigeria alone, it is the seventh most populous country in the world with a population of over 162,000,000. Yet, less than 20% of Nigerian pastors have theological or pastoral training.

But...good news...

There is a seminary there--tucked away on the south side of Lagos, the largest black city in the world. Named West Africa Theological Seminary, or WATS, it serves about 560 students (with plans to double this number before the end of the decade) from 150 denominations, 75 native language groups, 6 different countries, and 31 (out of 36) Nigerian states.

WATS is addressing the most important needs of the African continent.

And...that is where I am going! I plan to work alongside friends there as Special Assistant/Adviser to the Provost. Join me in my journey, won't you? Go "with" me by reading my blog posts, visiting the website, (come visit the campus!), contribute to my support, and pray for me that my dream will be realized and that I will be able to fulfill this appointment that I have been so honored to have received.

I truly believe that you CAN go "with" me. As I go, I can represent you, too.

Blessings upon you,
Shelley