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The monthly newsletter of Free Methodist World Missions

African Leaders Converge

by Hendrik and Kaylene Smidderks | Aug 2023 | HB Africa, Heartbeat

Leaders from 12 African countries came together in Togo in February 2023 for a week of fellowship, training and planning. They came from Cameroon, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. This gathering brought together our best indigenous leaders for a powerful time of spiritual renewal.

During the first session, country leaders had the opportunity to share what God is doing in their region. Some reports were inspiring, others challenging, and others were difficult to hear as some leaders shared anecdotes of suffering and persecution. We praise God for our African leaders serving with love and humility in extremely difficult circumstances. As these difficult stories were told, many voices were praising God for His great mercy.

A group of guests from the U.S. joined our African leaders. Among the guests was Dr. Elisée Ouoba, associate professor of biblical studies at Spring Arbor University. Dr. Ouoba led the morning devotions, focusing on scripture’s unsung heroes. He was an excellent resource for biblical understanding, language skills and multicultural experience.

The Rev. Mike Reynen and the Rev. Glenn Lorenz cast a vision for a three-pillared approach to ministry in Africa:

  • Multiply committed disciples.
  • Develop healthy leaders.
  • Empower transformational churches.

The Rev. Aaron Wells presented on the pillar of “Multiplying Committed Disciples,” sharing his passion and experience in church planting. Many leaders were inspired to dream and apply the teaching in their context. There was a shared sense that the Holy Spirit was moving and igniting new endeavors.

The Rev. Glenn Lorenz presented on the pillar of “Developing Healthy Leaders,” focusing on ministerial preparation and explaining the ordination process. He also led a workshop on using technology to communicate and coordinate between our African leaders. Leaders received mobile tools to use both for work and encouraging one another.

Lauren Chudnovsky and the Rev. Hendrik Smidderks presented on “Empowering Transformational Churches.” Lauren shared her experience in Burundi, and Hendrik shared his experience in Mozambique. Both gave practical action steps and stories of other Free Methodist churches engaging in their communities.

The Lomé Free Methodist Church hosted Sunday worship under the leadership of the Rev. Dosseh Takpale. In the afternoon, the entire group visited the Wesley Missionary Institute (WMI). Although still under development, this school is functioning to train Africans as missionaries to reach new countries and areas in Africa.

Praise the Lord for this powerful week of equipping and encouraging the leaders of FMWM in Africa. Join us in continued prayer for the effectiveness, encouragement and perseverance of these faithful leaders as they work toward expanding God’s kingdom in Africa.

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