Over the last few years, APF have developed a growing partnership with Next Leadership, a Christian leadership consultancy founded by the former President of the Baptist Union and Chair of the Evangelical Alliance, Revd Dr Kate Coleman and Revd Cham Kaur-Mann.
APF are supporting Next Leadership to extend their outstanding leadership training programme into Africa through the Role Model Leadership Academy. As Cham reports, the first of three sessions happened in Kampala, Uganda during March.
A combination of factors meant that Kate and I were working night and day in order to produce exceptional materials and a robust programme for the first gathering of the Academy. We had very little time to pull it all together, yet we sensed God’s presence with us in so many ways. In fact, we were still printing materials on the Sunday evening before our Monday morning departure flight!
As we waited in the departure lounge at Birmingham Airport all seemed well until it was announced that all flights through Amsterdam had been cancelled due to high winds and turbulent weather conditions. We prayed, sensing that God was more invested in getting us to Uganda than we ever could be and was already making a way. Within two hours, we received news that we were to be rerouted, via Kenya. We eventually arrived in Uganda at 5am, seven hours later than expected but in time for our first meeting with the local support team.
With Christian leaders arriving from Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan, the first session of Role Model Leadership Academy started the next day. Participants included creatives such as a short film maker, artist and singer, through to pragmatic business people. There were graduates and senior church leaders from APF partners including the Baptist Union of Uganda and Pastors’ Discipleship Network. The youngest participant was 20 years old and the oldest, 80 years old, but everyone gelled quickly. Teams formed from groups and accountability developed. Obvious stratification lines dissolved quite early in the programme.
We thought that we had set the bar high, but the participants went over and above our expectations. Even though some had undertaken a whole day’s travel to get to Kampala in the first place, everyone remained engaged all the way through the programme. There was a great deal of group interaction despite many of the participants being unused to non-judgemental spaces where they could speak and share freely without criticism.
One story that particularly stands out is Hosannah’s. Growing up as a ‘house girl’, Hosannah never had an opportunity to go to school and did domestic work to get by. After teaching herself to read and write she now works in Uganda’s vibrant music industry. On the Academy’s second day, she served as a Team Manager. With the support of her peer mentoring group, Hosannah was encouraged to present her team’s outputs in front of the entire gathering. She told me afterwards that this was the first time she has ever done anything like this. Her constant refrain was, “I can’t believe I’m here and that I’ve been asked to speak”. Hers, by the way, was the most concise, focused and informative presentation out of all the groups.
During the Academy, all the participants created their own six-month Personal Leadership Development Goals which they shared with the group and presented to God. By the end of the third day, the participants went off to establish work far beyond anything we’d expected. They had also committed to pair up with ‘Accountability Partners’ and to reconnect with each other every month for six months until the Academy reconvenes in October.
We’re privileged and blessed to work alongside wonderful local partners and grateful to APF for your prayerful support of this exciting initiative.