Africa needs African leaders who know the true African story. It’s very common to hear about the poverty in Africa. You probably heard about the AIDS, orphans and widows too. And you feel overwhelmed by the dark picture of Africa painted by well meaning western workers.
The workers often appeal to the emotions of westerners so they can get them to give financially and be involved in “changing the lives of the poorest of the poor”.
It sounds noble but this traditional money focused approach to introducing Africa to the world has done more damage than good. It maligns African Leaders who are giving their lives away for the Gospel. These African leaders go into unreached villages with culturally appropriate tools and methods.
That’s why I get overly excited when I meet African leaders who are not only building the kingdom of God but also are raising leaders wherever they go and empowering their communities to live in a spiritually, economically and socially healthy environment that they helped create.
This morning, I had the honor and privilege of sitting and hearing the Founder and President of African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries (www.ALARM-inc.org). Celestin has been empowering African Pastors, community leaders, women, politicians and the like for the past 20 years. His work mainly focuses on East Africa but his heart and long term plan is to expand to the other parts of Africa.
Why African Leaders Need Good Training
Celestin has a heart and a strong desire to see young African leaders empowered. He believes young African leaders like myself should do what God called us to do in Africa. I grew up in Ethiopia and saw the lack of spiritual leadership in many churches. And I saw void that was left when western missionaries left our country during the brutal Derg Regime.
During the persecution, most Western missionaries fled the country leaving behind local pastors. Most of these pastors didn’t go through theological training. They were not actively groomed to take on the leadership of the churches. Yet, they had to lead a church that was under persecution.
Persecution forced most of the Ethiopian Evangelical churches to go underground. But a new government came along and brought religious freedom. However, a new era of corrupt evangelicalism ascended giving birth to prosperity gospel.
How Prosperity Gospel Entered Africa
There are many Christ-centered, gospel believing evangelical churches in Ethiopia. However, the problem is most of them are not attracting the younger generation. Christ-centered churches are at the risk of dying out.
The prosperity gospel movement lures young people to a pseudo Christianity that doesn’t require carrying the cross, doesn’t identify with Christ in His suffering, and dying to the flesh is a foreign concept . And no real sacrifice is expected besides a sacrifice of money at the altar to enrich the pastor.
This false and deadly movement has confused the Bible and pagan traditions. It uses them interchangeably as tool for manipulating the congregation. If only the missionaries had trained more African leaders, now false teachers are in control. And questionable churches are opening left and right and center.
This is now out of hand. There are TV stations dedicated to the man of god, the prophet and the apostle. These are the African leaders that are influencing local communities because they are rich. After all, they collect money from the communities through untruthful fear based teachings. These African leaders teach that if you give you’ll be blessed and if you don’t you’ll be cursed.
I daily plead with the Lord to raise African leaders in my country; men and women who fear the Lord, stand for truth and are true prophets for change.
What Young African Leaders Really Need
Meetings Celestine fueled my heart with hope, passion, revival and anticipation for what the Lord has in store for my country and my people. Leadership development should be a key component to spreading the Gospel, I think we Africans tend to think that the Holy Spirit will do everything for us.
However, the Holy Spirit will do everything THROUGH us not FOR us. Therefore, we have to present our minds, hearts, souls, abilities and skills to Him. We have to be invested in developing ourselves because we are the vehicle Jesus uses to work in and through our local church, communities and government.
If we are Christians, we have to be the best in all we do. And if we’re Africans, we have to be the best of the best. Because we have redeem the damage done by unChristian Western philosophies and tactics.
We have a lot of self educating to do. You and I need to study our own cultures and go back to our roots that are not contrary to the Gospel. God created us differently for a reason, he placed us in Africa for a reason. Hence, by abandoning our culture we’d be abandoning the image of God displayed in us.
Let us partner with ministries such as ALARM. It’s an opportunity to use our gifts and talents to bring reconciliation and thoughtful leadership to our continent. Let us equip our people, and be a part of the great commission – a command to be obeyed for all believers including AFRICANS.