The Lausanne Movement/MANI Southern Africa Younger Leaders meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, was the first of its kind in Africa since the 2006 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering in Malaysia. Some thirty young leaders from different areas of ministry and work in Southern Africa were present. The partnership vision between Lausanne and MANI (Movement for African National Initiatives) provided a unique platform for these dedicated and passionate young leaders (between the ages of twenty-five and forty) to fellowship, connect, inspire, encourage, and strengthen one another.
As we talked about why we came together we focused on the common things that bind us, including: one commission, one generation, and one region. Emphasis was also placed on two key words: relevance and context.
Larry Russell, younger leader development coordinator with the Lausanne Movement, shared what other younger leaders are doing around the world. We also invited Peter Tarantal, the incoming Southern Africa coordinator for MANI Southern Africa to share the purposes of MANI and the involvement of younger leaders. Esme Bowers, Southern Africa regional leader for the Pan African Christian Women’s Alliance and international chairperson for the board of African Evangelistic Enterprise, attended the meetings as an observer and encourager.
We got to know each other through ice-breakers and testimonies of what God is doing through some of the ministries in Southern Africa. Our conversations and interaction deepened as we began to engage with one another on the levels of personal challenges and requests for prayers. We met in small groups where we ministered and prayed together. The strength of connectedness was tangible during the worship sessions. These worship times attracted the attention of some of the early delegates of MANI who could not resist joining in.
On the final morning of the meetings, we gathered around tables in a creative forum tagged “Cafe Conversations.” One main question was posed: “What are the main challenges younger leaders are facing in the Southern Africa region?” Some key areas raised included: the lack of understanding, trust and space to lead alongside and beside senior leaders, and a non-existent network of relationships and support from other younger leaders. It became evident that there was a need for personal commitment to bring solutions to some of these challenges.
Individuals reflected and made personal commitments to seek the way forward. Some participants attended the main MANI consultation later that day.
We hope to continue the dialogue that started in Johannesburg as we spread the word to other younger leaders within our region. We also hope to connect and encourage other regions in Africa who are planning their own events.
Thanks to all who have offered their unbending support and prayers; we are very grateful for your input and how you have championed us as senior leaders. We look forward to coming alongside you increasingly in the future. We believe that God is a God of all generations and we can finish the task as we work together.