Spirit-filled and Spirit-led young African leaders know only too well the giants of poverty, sickness, foreign domination and failed leadership at work to destroy their great continent. They also have a vision of what God can do through them as servant leaders to turn things around in Africa. Floyd McClung, leader of All Nations in Cape Town, South Africa, invited some of the young African leaders attending CPx to share with the other students some of Africa's beauty and pain.
In his introduction to the special session, Floyd set the tone for what followed, "I believe God planned the nations, tribes and peoples of Africa. God planned each individual and God planned each "nation" of individuals. God made Africa and Africans. How will we serve Africa, and how will we respond to the challenges of Africa?" he asked. Floyd believes that Africa, once enslaved, now needs to be served. "The beauty in Africa will be set free by people with serving hearts," he says.
The All Nations CPx has brought young leaders together from several countries in Africa and from other continents as well, to learn what it means to be servant leaders, especially in Africa. The majority of these sixty-six men and women are from African countries where the words 'servant' and 'leader' are often polar opposites.
Africans Speaking About Africa
Three of the African leaders in CPx, Bruce Chitambala and Sydney Musonda from Zambia, and Vakele Dlamini from Swaziland, opened their hearts and shared what they see are the bright spots but also the shameful realities in Africa. Bruce described the good news about Africa and the bad. Africa is the most "Christianized" continent. It is a continent of amazing natural beauty. "Her unique and colorful peoples are hospitable and gracious to strangers. Her vast natural resources can feed the world."
However, Africa is a continent ravaged by HIV and AIDS, wars, crime and poverty. Bruce talked about his crushing loss when his favorite aunt died from complications from HIV and AIDS. Most of the African CPx'ers raised their hands to show they had lost a friend or relative to HIV/AIDS. Bruce wept as he described how his mother would cut up her dresses to make shirts for her children and how he had to sell colored iced sugar water to help buy food for the family. "And we would be described as one of the privileged few," he said. How Does Africa Break the Cycle of Poverty?
How does Africa break out of the cycles of poverty and disease? Bruce, Sydney and Vakele agreed: "Africa's most compelling need is servant leadership. Our leaders must learn the difference between significance in God's eyes and success in man's eyes. Sadly, many of our leaders are more interested in how much they can acquire than how much they can give. Africa has enough to meet the need, but not the greed, of all her peoples," one said. Sydney explained that most African men want an education and with it, the perks of a good life, cars, money and clothes. "Naturally, a person wants to take care of oneself first," he said. "But we must raise up young men and women with a bigger vision, who will make a difference, to go back to their countries to impact the young generation with new role models. Everything rises and falls on leadership." Bruce and Sydney and Vakele have given up good paying jobs and careers to invest their lives to train and equip other African young leaders.
Child Headed Households in Africa
"Africa is sick, and we need a healing message," Bruce declared. "Everyone knows about HIV and AIDS but one result of this pandemic is the massive number of child-headed households. The family, though highly esteemed, is endangered. It is plagued by poverty, ignorance and unfaithfulness among partners. We have to speak about purity and abstinence to men, since this is not the norm," Sydney says.
Bruce shared his conviction that many Churches in Africa are weak and dependent. "Those planted by international aid agencies are often enslaved in dependency. This is why I am excited about the simple church model in which everyone learns to love one another, studies the Word of God together, and take responsibility for each other," Bruce says.
Sydney spoke about the need to disciple believers. "If Africa is so highly Christianized why it is also so highly infected with HIV/AIDS? What is wrong?" he asked. "People need to be discipled," he said. Bruce, Sydney and Vekela voiced their conviction that Sub-Saharan Africa has been evangelized but not discipled.
A New Kind of Leader - Courage to Be Different
All of the African leaders in CPx see themselves as part of the new thing God wants to do in Africa. "It is time to rebuild Africa," Sydney says. Floyd McClung also believes this.
"This is the one of the main reasons we moved to Africa. God wants something new to be birthed in Africa," he says. "We sense God birthing something new through CPx in the hearts of these young leaders. God is longing for His people in Africa to break free from hierarchical models of leadership. God is longing for African leaders to break free of the old ways of dominance and control, and to unleash the potential of Africa to bless the rest of the world. We are dreaming and working toward holistic church planting movements all over the continent. God will not be satisfied until Africa is ready to come to the party!" he says.
"What is God's response to these huge challenges? Do we continue to do church the way we have in the past? Will old ways of thinking solve the old problems we face?" he asked. "Perhaps the old problems have been caused by the old ways of thinking about church and the kingdom of God. My heart is exploding with longing to empower the bright young leaders of Africa who see the problems of Africa and are open to change," he says.
What about Women in Africa?
It takes a special bravery for an African woman to speak up, but Vakele Dlamini is willing to be that kind of woman. "We have experienced love and acceptance on all fronts here," she told her fellow CPx'ers. "We are free to share our brokenness, our same struggles." As a woman in Africa, there are many struggles. "Women are almost non-exsistant," Vakele says. "We are raised to listen to men, respect our culture and traditions, and be silent. Men are customarily allowed several wives and mistresses, and a woman, out of fear, must submit to this," Vekela says. She said this practice contributes to the rapid spread of HIV and AIDS. Even for women in churches, this is a "huge difficulty," Vakele says. "Like many women, I do not know where to find my place." Vakele believes the African men and women at CPx hold the key. "Guys like ours need to embrace change, and target other men to help them change," she says.