Meet our new President, Emily Blackledge!


We’re kicking off the new year with an announcement that Emily Blackledge has been promoted from within by the Board of Directors and will now serve as the organization’s new President.

Blackledge most recently served as the Vice President of International Program. She has been part of the staff since 2010 and involved with the organization since 2005. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, she completed her undergraduate degree in International Political Economy at Belmont University, then spent time in Washington DC working with the President’s Initiative for Workforce Development. Blackledge received her Master’s degree in International Relations and African Studies from Boston University before returning to Nashville in 2008. She has taught international development and international politics at Belmont University and was the Sam Walton Fellow in charge of international projects for the Belmont chapter of ENACTUS before joining African Leadership in 2010. Emily and her husband Rob live in Nashville with their son Fletcher.

“Emily has played an integral role in our international operations since 2010, and the Board and I are confident in her leadership capabilities. We look forward to working with her in this capacity,” says Chairman of the Board Jerry Heffel, formerly the President of The Southwestern Company.

“My previous role allowed me to travel and see first hand the great impact African Leadership is having in communities across Africa. My new role will allow me to share those stories even more here at home, to tell more people about the very real impact of their everyday generosity – something I’ve seen and experienced up close the past several years. I couldn’t be more excited about that going forward,” says Blackledge.

On Wednesday, January 25, 2017, we will host an Open House at our office in Brentwood. The public is invited and encouraged to come meet Emily and learn more about the future of the organization.

Donuts & Mochas Open House

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 • 7:30am – 9:30am

500 Wilson Pike Circle, Suite 117Brentwood, TN 37027



Hannington's Story

I was born on 11th November in Githogoro, Kenya, as the third child in a family of five. My parents lived in Githogoro for many years and were both laborers in the coffee estates that surrounded the region. It was a task that did not require any credentials, therefore a job that attracted the most underprivileged.

When I was eight, my mum died from an unknown disease. My two elder brothers, Nicholas and Phanuel were in classes three and four, respectively, while the two younger siblings, Freedom and Philip, were in pre-school at the time. It was apparent that my parents valued education and took initiative to ensure all of us attended school. From what I remember, life was relatively good until Mom passed away.

Following Mum’s burial, things took a negative twist. Dad bore the sole responsibility of fending for all five of us from a daily wage of KES 90 (slightly under $1), which was hardly sufficient to place a single meal on the table. Basic items such as clothing became a luxury alongside anything else. A day with one meal was considered an extremely good one.

Because of the intensified hardships, my four siblings and I dropped out of school. Each turning to the endless search for a meal. The ‘meals’ were scavenged from the garbage bags of the neighboring affluent Runda suburb residences. Dad spent a lot of time away from home, sometimes taking a week searching for something. His prolonged absence gave us children a lot of freedom to do whatever we wished. There were disappointing times when he came back home empty handed. This got us even more desperate. The street life became normal, until four years later, when the government of Kenya introduced free primary school education.

I had grown taller than my peers. My stature gave the impression that I was older than I really was, so I was not placed in the class where I deserved to be. The school authorities did not care whether or not we would catch up with the rest of the children who had been in school.   The objective was to ensure that children went through the system, irrespective of performance. On the other hand, the school provided lunch—beans and cornand that was a great incentive for us. We ate us much as we could at school because supper back at home was never guaranteed.

I managed to get a B+ average by the time I finished class eight. I actually qualified for admission at a national category high school. I yearned to go, but my dad’s salary would not meet the cost required for school fees. At the realization that I could not afford school fees, I despaired of ever attending high school and joined my brother in collecting scrap metals and used plastics for recycling, which we sold to get ourselves simple meals.

Not long after, Dad came home with some news of a high school that was being started in the neighboring Huruma village. He informed my brother Nicholas and I that he wanted us to join. Even thought I knew there was no way he could afford the secondary education fee, I decided to check it out and visited the school. Many who had been out of school for years and could not afford the secondary education were interested when it was confirmed that the school was offering free education. This was music to our ears! The only requirement was for students to bring to school a bundle of firewood for cooking of our lunch. I was in high school at New Dawn Educational Centre with no fees required, no school uniform necessary and as if that was not enough, there was free lunch provided. A miracle of miracles!

It did not matter that the classroom was a bare-floored church hall made from rusty iron sheets. The same hall served as a classroom on one end and a staff room on the other end. We sat on benches without any writing space. Our laps served us well. Despite the fact that there were not enough qualified teachers (most were volunteers), we were proud students who were eager to learn and had the opportunity. That was all that mattered.

My experience at New Dawn transformed me totally. I came in hopeless, but I was filled with hope. We found a mum in Mama Irene, the school director. She was so assuring that a lot of good would come out of our lives. Mama Irene ensured that we received a holistic education; intellectually as per the curriculum, socially by meaningful and impactful interaction amongst ourselves and the community around, as well as spiritually through the word of God.  We had regular devotions and sessions of what was known as ‘vision conferences’. These spiritual forums provided opportunity to be affirmed and assured of God’s love and purpose for our lives. Our confidence was boosted and the sense of hopelessness gradually faded away. Where else would students be treated to good meals and even offered food to carry home for the next meal for the family? We were loved.

The love of God was so evident at New Dawn; I decided to give my life to Jesus Christ. For the first time, I felt whole. How I thank God for having denied me resources to join a fancy national school, just to have a chance to be at this place where he used circumstances to show that He truly exists! Like His word says, God raises His own from humble beginnings and makes them kings. This became a reality not only for me, but I can also testify to the fact that none of the students in my class left New Dawn the way they came in. Thanks be to God who was the real founder of a school in close proximity to these two villages, in the right time, to transform many lives.

To my greatest amazement, upon completion of high school, I topped my class and qualified to join public university. By this time, I had matured and made much progress in my walk with Christ. New Dawn had taught me how to relate to God as my father and therefore I enjoyed a great son-Father relationship. I stayed home another year due to lack of fees to pay for university. This time was different, however, in that I did not engage in hustlers’ businesses but volunteered to teach at New Dawn, as I trusted God to come through.

Mama Irene contacted me with grand news: a donor had showed up and was willing to pay the university fees for anyone qualified to join university from our class! God again provided the resources in my time of need.

I was enrolled in a five-year degree course at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Geomantic Engineering and Geospatial Information Systems. All this was accomplished with the help of that scholarship.

Today I can confidently stand and say that if it were not for the Lord on my side, I could be nothing. I appreciate God’s work through the ministry of New Dawn and all those who contributed towards the transformed life that has become mine. You did it not only for me but for the many others that have walked along the same path. My journey has brought me to a point where I desire to sow the same love I have received. I believe that God will enable me to transform another life. To give them a chance to be loved, to be thought of, and to be considered. I want to educate a needy person all the way through university, as was done for me at New Dawn, because I believe God would have me do it.

Give me bread today and tomorrow I will ever be at your door knocking, but give me education, the key to life, and you will have transformed the world.



Letter from Denis

Years of ongoing conflict in and around the Congo has led to thousands of refugees. Life in a refugee camp is often a struggle — but several church leaders are also finding it to be an opportunity to build the local church. 

Denis Hangi, our DRC Country Director, recently visited a group of church leaders and refugees who are part of African Leadership’s Common Ground Academy. His letter below offers us a glimpse into how impactful educating a church leader really is — what may seem like an intangible investment to us bears more fruit than we can imagine when put to the test in the face of some of Africa’s toughest challenges.

Denis’ letter:

I was invited by AOG church at Masisi, about 80kms from Goma city, where the wars took place for a long time between Mai-Mai groups and FDLR and so on.

There at Masisi, I met with my students who were displaced during the wars, in about 2008. Being in different camps, they had a leaders’ meeting. On that occasion we shared the stories about being refugees and I tried to encourage them. They were so happy to see me and to share their stories, then they told me about their encouragement, which came from God’s word.

They have used some manuals given from African Leadership. It was a great help. During the evening they could sit together and discuss in order to get something to preach in their small groups in the camps. Each pastor had his group.

So during the whole time in the camps, those manuals were their resource to learn new ideas, and people could get saved and accept the Lord as their personal Savior. Thanks for the supporters of the ministry.

The students have confidence that the whole world is praying for them in facing their afflictions.

They feel that in sharing the word in the camps, they began as familiars, then became best friends.

Though the lives were in bad situation, God’s Word made some young men not to be involved with the rebel movements; it made them to be mature spiritually. Praising God for that.

Still need your assistance in training and equipment, manuals, and so on. When someone is running, everything is left behind to save lives, so they have no Bibles.

The trauma healing is most welcomed. Many have lost their relatives, close friends, parents, and properties.

Prayer request for our country. The elections are still not planned.

In His name,




Pastor Dunia

Pastor Dunia has been serving the people of the DRC for 13 years as the leader of the pentecostal church in Kitchanga.  Like a lot of the region in the DRC, he serves those living in war-torn places and has been a witness to people dying right before his eyes.  He says he “trusts in God for his protection day by day”.  He has enrolled in the Common Ground Academy through African Leadership.

"It has been a great help to expand his mind in biblical knowledge, grow spiritually, and to increase my capacity in teaching.” “ It is very powerful and a great help for our churches in training the church leaders and to equip them in my areas because there are no other bible schools.”

His prayers are for different parts of the country to have access to this same learning since most are no where near a college or biblical institute.  He also wishes for his fellow pastors and leaders to have training to deal with the trauma that is prevalent among these communities where war have been a part of their situation for a long time.

“Thank you for the training and be with us in prayer."



Lifelong Transformations in Uganda!

Shalom Africa is a ministry based in Uganda that desires to create lifelong transformations in individuals through spreading God’s original intent for His creation, and teaching people to reconcile with one another, and with God. In order to facilitate these transformations, Shalom Africa focuses its training into specific programs, which include: Family and marriage, pastors and church leaders, students and student leaders, community and community leaders, and women and children.

Pastor David Ocira Geoffrey is the County Director of Shalom Africa, and a current student of the Academy, learning from the BTCP courses. He was also a student of Handbook training in Gulu. Pastor Geoffrey was kind enough to share with us a testimony of the accomplishments of Shalom Africa in the past year, and what the ministry plans to do in the future.

At Gulu Central High School, Shalom Africa was able to minister to students who were candidates for S4 and S6. These students were taught about the importance of stewardship, that we should work to protect and preserve on another. In terms of ministering to students and young people, Pastor Geoffrey says, “in our hearts, we feel that if true transformation is to happen we need to look at students, because after a few years, they will become opinion leaders, business people, and influential people in their society. So, if they are guided when they are still willing to change, then our community will change.”

Shalom Africa conducted ministries that pertained to marriage, and the hardship that can be experienced in a married relationship. In some cases, non-Christian men were brought by their wives to listen and learn, and Pastor Geoffrey says that these men felt very encouraged by the message. These ministries were conducted in the community of Arut in the Paicho sub-county, and the community of Kidikal in the Bobi sub-county. The topics covered included: spousal demands and what causes marriages to weaken, marriage and gender-based violence, roles of men and women in relationships, and how to work together as a married couple.

Shalom Africa was able to minister to pastors and leaders in training in Acet Odek Sub-county of the Gulu District. These future religious leaders were ministered to the importance of living in God’s way, and the character of a leader. Pastor Geoffrey said, “In this one meeting, we were able to bring together pastors and church leaders from different denominations, and they were able to connect with one another and embrace unity as the body of Christ and promise to work together as the body of Christ.”

Pastor Geoffrey recognizes that there are true, deep needs in many communities in Africa, and especially in Northern Uganda. He acknowledges that the need and problems that arise in North Ugandan communities stem from the brokenness caused by war, and the damage war inflicts on moral values. The first task in providing healing and moral repair is to convince these people that their is hope when they decide to give their lives over to Jesus. However, Pastor Geoffrey realizes that there must be a place for these people to gather together in community with others going on the same journey, and place where they can pray, ask questions, read the bible, and learn. Shalom Africa seeks to provide this community total healing from God.

Through the training and ministries conducted this past year, Pastor Geoffrey and other church leaders have truly come to realize the need for these types of training is overwhelming in their community. Pastor Geoffrey says, “We are so grateful to God and to African Leadership for the common handbook training and the excellent community engagement training on developmental initiatives.”

Shalom Africa plans to reach out to the same communities to continue to minister and guide them, and to follow up on the effect the training has had thus far. They also plan to reach out to even more villages and communities in Northern Uganda, hoping to help more and more people through the ministry of God’s word.

We would like to leave you with this call to action from Pastor Geoffrey:

“So, your prayers and support in any way for our activities and involvement for these communities are very important as we join hands to build the kingdom of God together. We also appreciate your continuous heart for the kingdom of God and support in any way.”



Welcome to class!

Today we welcome you into a classroom in Butembo, DRC where the lesson for the day is based around a scripture in Samuel:

Samuel 12:1-10

The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. 4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” 5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” 7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ 

You are part of a class of 18 others who have come together to have an in-depth study of this text asking questions like “Who are the subjects in the text?” “What are the main things happening in this passage? "What are the important words spoken in this text?” The lesson is a simple evaluation of the text that grows the knowledge of these pastors that they will take back to their churches and communities. 

The day ends and you go home. But the work continues as DRC country director, Denis, takes time to talk over how the day’s lesson went and how to reach deeper in knowledge the next time he teaches. He continues to work and perfect the next lesson to come.  The flight it took to get the this class - which was the safer options while looting, kidnapping, and killings are happening on the ground - is not the thought in his head. His heart is for his students. And the congregations that will hear Truth from these pastors as a result of their studies day after day.  He's a Nathan to a classroom of Davids. This is the work of the Lord. Thank you for being part of it.



Thank you from the DRC!

We recently received a note from Denis, our Country Director in the DRC passing on a word of thanks to African Leadership and its supporters. 

Denis understands that it may feel like a heavy burden in supporting African churches but it is great and joyful work to invest in the church and it’s leaders - especially in his country, "it is so very helpful."

“The body of Christ in the DRC needs to be built. But the field is too big and the builders are so few. Thank you for your commitment.”

The teachers and students are grateful for the biblical knowledge they receive through the training - their eyes and minds have been open to see the truth of the Bible and it’s teaching. To them, it is a rare opportunity & a privilege to be trained. The manuals are helpful is understanding and distinguishing the Old Testament stories of Creation and Israel’s history to the New Testament stories of God hatred of sin and reward for righteousness.

“This is our sincere thanks from Katindo center.”


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Emily Blackledge, Vice President of International Programs, saw the difference in Uganda on her latest visit to Africa.

Emily Blackledge, Vice President of International Programs, saw the difference in Uganda on her latest visit to Africa.

I was in and out of Uganda in 57 hours… but it was as magical to me as a weekend at Disney World. You have to know that the first time I landed in Uganda was in 2006. It was at the height of peace talks between the LRA and the Ugandan government. For a girl who had studied conflict resolution and community rebuilding, it was a dream to spend a week in northern Uganda – in Gulu. During that trip in 2006, I spent the week hearing and witnessing first hand what war does to a person. I was with women abducted by child soldiers and forced to be army wives. I saw children walking down dusty streets missing limbs taken by rebel soldiers. I spent the night with 2 of Joseph Kony’s wives and the youngest of his children hearing about life in the bush.

This time around, this Uganda I experienced was a completely different place. This Gulu was filled with life and laughter – not fear and death. This Gulu had boys and girls running to school, not away from soldiers. This Gulu had economic activity and buildings, not refugee camps and World Food Program deliveries.

The difference comes from several things – but our emphasis is education. I spent my days with the men and women in our Common Ground Academy. They were sharing what they were learning, how they were wrestling with this information, and what they were doing with it. These leaders are pastors in their churches, program directors for local orphanages and community schools, and visionaries looking to make Gulu better than the 2006 version. They were completing our 2-year program and sharing about how the Bible was impacting everything. They were talking about their growing confidence to preach the Gospel, how they addressed the injustices they saw in their neighborhoods, and the solutions their neighborhoods were using to solve their own needs.

This Gulu was filled with men and women who have learned how quickly life can unravel and have learned the ways to rebuild and put it back together – stronger than before. These women were pulling out data they had collected about literacy rates in their neighborhoods and sharing with me their plans to teach English to their children – so that their children can live a better life than they have. These leaders were explaining that before this education, they felt the burden of making their churches and neighborhoods stronger on their own. And now, they know how to engage their neighbors and church members so that the plans and solutions they put their hands to are owned by every member of their community. This ownership and sacrifice ensures the success and sustainability of their efforts. And with pride on their faces, they were showing me the work of their hands.

If I ever need a reminder that education and the Gospel can rebuild people and places, Uganda is my reminder. It works. In 10 years time, life can be rebuilt. Hearts and stories can be healed. Momentum can swing from fear and silence to laughter and the hum of activity. In 57 hours I saw the hope of what can be – not just for Uganda or Africa, but for us all. 

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Meet Amana


I am 13 years old, I have 3 brothers and I am the only girl. My dad died when I was 8 years old.  

When my dad was alive, I was his only daughter and he cherished me. I was in a good school, well dressed, and enjoyed family time. When he died everything suddenly changed. There was no food and no money to pay school fees or buy clothes. Life became very hard. My aunts and uncles came and took all of our inheritances, sold our home for money and took my brothers and me, not to help us, but for selling. We suffered a lot. I was able to escape with one of my brothers and return to our mom. When I woke up each day, I would see my dear dad in my broken heart. I would remember a good time and I would begin to weep.

One day, I was selected to participate in a workshop about trauma healing. This was a great time for me, to get a new direction to my life.  There, I met with other orphans living in the same or worse situations than me. It was a good time to heal my wounded heart.  At the end they gave me a precious gift, which is now my new friend.  When I feel alone my gift, my Bible, speaks to me. When I read it, it comforts me, gives me hope, and brings light to my future. It shows to me that I am not alone. I am with Jesus Christ, a great friend and a Dad for orphans.



Alumni Forum This Way!

Hat’s off to the 86 students who have graduated from the Common Ground Academy in five districts spreading throughout Malawi.  These pastors and teachers join the group of alumni  & newly established alumni forums that our Country Director, Leonard established for his students. These forums are a place for alumni to get together and encourage each other, share what they are doing, & help each other in ministry or teaching techniques. In the Dowa district, they built this sign that points them to the place to meet.


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The Affects of a Pastor

If a pastor preaches a 6-week long sermon series, and it only affects one person, was it worth it? In the same sense, if your support trains hundreds of pastors and only one is moved to bring the Word to his community, would it be worth it? 

Because of you, we get to celebrate more than one pastor. Because of you, thousands of lives have been affected. Each month, we receive updates from our country directors from across the continent sharing incredible testimonies of individuals who have studied a biblical worldview and are now graduating pastors. Your support has equipped these pastors to go out to their communities and make a difference. 

Komba Torto & Pastor Moses A.J. Sesay are two such individuals from Sierra Leone that you've supported! Their passion has turned to knowledge and that knowledge has turned into total transformation for the people in their communities.

Komba Torto

 “It is no doubt that I have been yearning for this course and today one of my dream has come to pass. I have gained a lot of knowledge through the BTCP program. I am going to use the knowledge gained to go to the wider community in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ so that people’s lives and lifestyle can be changed and to also help my local church to develop. The knowledge gained in Preaching Biblical Messages, Bible Survey, and Communication Skills will be used in the total transformation of my church and the wider community.

Pastor Moses A.J Sesay

“I see this day as a great day in my life because it is my first day of graduation. I have been attending Bible schools but this is the important one I have attended so far in my life. The impact of the BTCP program is that my life has been undergoing transformation from the day I entered the Baptist Training Centre-Lunsar. The Holy Bible says come out from among them and be ye separate. When I heed to the gospel call of coming out from among them, I am experiencing the difference within me. This impact has also affected others because as a Pastor in Lunsar, there are people that I am leading who want to emulate my good example. Now that I have completed this long awaited course, the knowledge gained will be fully utilized in the transformation of my Ministry. I promised to go all out and bring families together and give them the idea of development and spiritual living from what I have learned.”

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Emily Blackledge, Vice President of International Programs, learned a new lesson about listening and her role in Africa on her latest visit to Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and Rwanda.

Emily Blackledge, Vice President of International Programs, learned a new lesson about listening and her role in Africa on her latest visit to Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and Rwanda.

I love landing in Africa. The flights can be long and boring, but landing is always the best part! Back to friends and faces, smells and places that I love. But I was nervous this time – more so than normal. I had never left my little guy for 12 days. I hadn’t been to two active war zones as a mother. I hadn’t spent time with children in orphanages and known what it feels like to love a little face like theirs. So as I landed late on a Wednesday night in Entebbe Uganda, I was filled with excitement and adrenaline, but I was just a tad anxious. What would this world do to me this time?

I was in and out of four countries in 9 days. I’ve never moved that fast through my time on the continent. But maternity leave set me back a whole year. My intent with this time was to see and experience all of the plans and programs we’ve implemented over the course of the last 18 months and see what was working – and what wasn’t. And within 24 hours, I was bumping along dusty roads to hear and see the difference education can make in the lives of the men and women and children we work with. My job is to listen. To take in what is being said from my coworkers in Africa, to listen to the pastors and leaders – students in our Academy program – as they articulate what their dreams and desires are for their future and that of their children. 

In the listening I was reminded of 2 powerful truths. First, these men and women, leading their communities, churches, and families have dreams and plans. They have ambition just like you and me. And they understand the value of education. They know that the first thing they want or need to fulfill their vision is an understanding of how to achieve their dreams. They want to learn about budgeting, or running an elementary school. They want to know how to be effective teachers, or administer the best medicine. My job is to listen to what they want to learn and then scour the world over for the best course materials and tools to help them learn how to do for themselves.

Second, I was continuously humbled by the ingenuity of their dreams – and their dedication to getting them fulfilled. I stood next to our Country Director in South Sudan who starts each of his classes with a role call and an instruction for each student of where to hide if the planes come dropping bombs while in class. I laughed alongside our Director in Congo as he talked about the 8 hour bus ride that ensued after his 8 hour boat ride to visit one of the classes out in the most war torn region of Congo. His description of how he got a full night’s sleep was simply ingenious! These men and women are smart, driven, and have so much to offer their world – my world – our world.

The truth is, when we listen to those around us, in our homes, in our classrooms, in our social groups, we can hear such beautiful things. We can experience how they see the world and that can make us better or teach us something new. Listening is my new favorite hobby because I’m addicted to what I discover about the world – and its not just true in Africa. My little guy has some pretty amazing ideas too. 



My name is Bornface.

My name is Bornface Kamandani Mhango. I thank God who has transformed my life. God has played a great role in my family by letting me know his words and even practicing it. God has given me boldness of speaking his Word than before. Therefore l am able to preach the Word of God without fear and now l can see a great change in my family, because we are able to pray together as one.

As of now l also thank God for wonderful things that he has done for me in my life since he has brightened my future in both spiritual life as well as physical life.

I am able to know how to live with different kinds or social classes of people in our communities and communicate with them through the Word of God or Bible studies. Not only that but also l have learnt about how to prepare a program according to its time.

I have been called by God to be an evangelist and BTCP has contributed much to this call by helping me understand mission, evangelism, and discipleship which is already bearing fruit like maintaining a peaceful life in our society and wherever there is a problem I am able to go and bring peace through the word of God in the name of Jesus.

I thank God for African Leadership, which He has used to equip me for His services.



My name is Grifford.

My name is Grifford. I belong to Zolozolo Church of Central Africa Presbyterian. The reason l quickly accepted the joining of bible training was the fact that l knew that this was the only opportunity for me to learn more about the word of God through the Bible and have a deep understanding of God’s Word.

Since l joined in 2013 l have experienced a number of changes in my spiritual life. My experience is that: Previously l could read the Bible like historical events but now the Holy Spirit is always guiding me in understanding the Bible reading, teaching, and interpreting the Word of God correctly. Without the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, there can be no growth to spiritual maturity.

I have to be faithful to God in all endeavors of my life; for faith guides me to be in fellowship with God. I’m also delighted with Church History Survey Book for it has enlightened me very much about the church history. The lessons learned from the church history are clearly telling me to avoid making mistakes of the past and stick to those beliefs and practices, which are biblically connected. 

I have also learned about the influence of the Holy Spirit (in the book of Acts) through obedient servants of Christ in establishment, progress, spread and expansion of the church. I have also seen the benefits of practicing Biblical principles in my life.

Lastly, I would like to say blessed be the Lord God Almighty who inspired African Leadership to start this training in my community. I am testifying here that through this training my life has been transformed and blessed. To God be all the glory.



My name is Esther Zachariah.


My name is Esther Zachariah. I live at Bangulain Nsanje district. Nsanje district is one of the districts in Southern region of Malawi. It shares boundaries with Mozambique. I am a member of Faith Apostolic Agape Mission. I joined African Leadership Training Program in 2013 and graduated in early 2015.

I would like to testify that the training has changed me in different ways like my worldview, attitude and actions. The training has sharpened my skills for ministry. After my senior pastor noticed my skills after my graduation he assigned me to the ministry of teaching the elderly people and orphans who are cared for at our church in Nsanje.

Right now, I am teaching 35 elderly people who gather at our church every weekend. I’m also assigned to teach 95 orphans who get support from our local church. I’m satisfied with the ministry, which I am doing to these elderly people and orphans. Apart from doing ministry, I’m also involved in evangelism ministry.

I thank God for African Leadership. Through its ministry, I am what I am today. I am now useful to the ministry of our church. To God be all the glory for what he has done and is doing to people through me.



Poverty, Inc.


This Sunday, November 4, 2015 at Christ Presbyterian Church - 2323 Old Hickory Blvd

Movie Screening – 4:00pm

Q/A Session – immediately following

This is the thought-provoking film many non-profits do not want the American public to see.  African Leadership is proud to partner with Christ Presbyterian and others in taking a hard look at the (sometimes) unintended consequences of well-intentioned giving.  

This film will re-define your view of third-world countries and help better shape the definition of poverty.


Click Here – to register. ITS FREE!

Click Here – to register your children for childcare

If you live outside of Nashville, find a screening of Poverty, Inc near you – Click Here



The Power of Story

We all love a story…a narrative that takes us from where we are to where we long to be.  We search prose for glimpses of ourselves, or maybe who we hope to become.   Despite our location, vocation, security, or prosperity we are a people drawn to story. 

There is indeed one story that traverses all cultures…a story of brokenness, reconciliation, hope, and healing. It is a story that can bring a Wall Street tycoon to his knees and an African orphan to sing.  It is the Greatest Story Ever Told. 

Common Ground Academy is committed to ensuring this story, God’s Word, is shared throughout Africa.  We exist to make disciples – men and women who commit to learning sound Biblical teaching and advancing the Gospel one life at a time.  

Denis Hangi, a Country Director in the DRC, is one such disciple. For almost 40 years Denis has committed his life to bringing hope and healing to his country.  He became a pastor in 1977 and joined African Leadership in 2002.  Over the years he has trained pastors, planted churches, spearheaded trauma healing initiatives, and supported orphanages. On the heart level he has loved the marginalized, lifted the oppressed, ministered to the broken and educated those passionate for the Gospel. He is indeed a picture of Christ at work on Earth. 

Recently African Leadership caught up with Denis to learn about current conditions in his country and how we can help.

From The Pulpit:

“Churches are being planted all over the country but ministers who are called to serve have no formal theological or ministry training. The result is church members miss the Word and start to run from church to church because they are not rooted in Biblical Truth.” 

Common Ground Academy’s two-year, ten-course theological education provides the sound Biblical teaching Denis’ community so desperately needs. Pastors and community leaders are equipped for gospel living to tackle moral, cultural, physical and spiritual needs of their ravaged communities. 

To People:

“In the DRC, people cross a very hard time; a war without end.  Men are the first targets to get killed, women are victims of rape, and children are left abandoned. Properties are looted, relatives go missing, and inheritances are stolen.  Trauma healing is a great need.”

This coming year, African Leadership is working to train 50 Congolese leaders in trauma-healing, 30 of which will be trained in adult trauma-healing and 20 in child trauma-healing. Estimating that each facilitator impacts 20 people with this new know-how and influential training, our goal is to restore hope to 1,130 trauma survivors here per year.

To Places:

“90% of children live in poverty and 60% are orphans.  Some pass time in the streets without help, a place to sleep, or food.  For them, love never exists and the future is dark.  These children need to see God’s love.”

Flame of Love Orphan Care Program is a Common Ground initiative in Goma.   Around 70 orphans are fed, housed, provided an education, and live in a Gospel-centered community.  The Flame of Love Orphanage gives children healing for today and hope for tomorrow.

From the Pulpit, to People, to Places, you can invest in Africa. Click here to invest now! 



Just ONE Church Leader

  • An orphan care program providing 69 orphans with maize flour, home cooking, soap, and other basic necessities
  • A nursery school attending to 121 children
  • Tuition for 15 orphans to receive secondary school education
  • Bible study programs and counseling for 89 women living with HIV/AIDS, in addition to the provision of a garden that grows vegetables to help them maintain proper nutrition
  • An under-5 clinic open to the community’s children
  • An outreach group ministering to 35 widows

This isn’t a list highlighting some of the notable achievements of our several project partners across the continent.

It’s a list of the achievements of ONE church leader who graduated from the Common Ground Academy in 2013.

It’s the story of Chipiliro Jentala Phiri, the pastor of Jesus Calls Church in the village of Chankhungu, outside Lilongwe, Malawi. Pastor Chipiliro explains, “After seeing the problems my community was facing, I had a burden in my heart to do something about it.”

When he began his education in the African Leadership Common Ground Academy in 2012, Pastor Chipiliro’s church had 40 members. In the years since graduating, he marvels at what his church has grown into through each of these initiatives – the orphan care program, the nursery school, secondary school support, Bible study groups for women with HIV/AIDS and widows, and an under-5 clinic for children.

“Because of all these initiatives, our church has become a center where people from 22 surrounding villages go for help.” His church has grown in size from 40 members to 421 members. “I thank God for African Leadership. This organization has added value to my personal life and ministry. May God bless African Leadership and its partners.”

So, what do you say? Are you willing to invest in just one leader? $18 a month helps a church leader like Pastor Chipiliro receive a crucial, comprehensive, and accessible pastoral education. Give today…make an impact forever. 



The Difference a Year Makes

My name is Daniel Kadyenji. I am a pastor at Jesus Calls Church in the central region of Malawi. 

I became a believer in 2009. My desire to understand God’s Word was so huge, but I did not know what to do because at our church there were no Bible study groups. 

In 2012, I met Pastor Jetala Phiri who was running an African Leadership training program at his church. He encouraged me to join the class. I saw my spiritual life growing tremendously, evidenced by the growth of my prayer life. I graduated in 2013 and served under the supervision of my pastor for some months. Then my church decided to send me to a rural place called Thobola to plant a new church.

I thank God for He has used me powerfully in my ministry. It is now a year since I went for church planting, but I have seen the newly planted church growing from 1 member to 191 members, most of them coming from the background of believing in ancestors. Today I am glad to say that the Bible study sessions, which we are having with these new members, are producing very promising results. I can see that they have started seeing life from God’s perspective unlike in the past when they were associating everything with traditional beliefs. 

I would like to thank African Leadership for the training, which has made me to be what I am today.



Coffee and Conversation

The best stories come from someone who has been there. The best people to learn from are those who have already walked that road.  

Come hear as Jonathan Titus Williams, our Country Director in Sierra Leone, tells his story and shares about his work on the ground.  Last year Jonathan visited to share the needs of his community and a new vision with us.  Those dreams are now becoming a reality as he works to rise up pastors and change his community . 

Hear Dick Gygi, founder of ThriftSmart, share his experiences of traveling to Africa with African Leadership and how that has led to a partnership between the two organizations. 

Mark your calendar!

Coffee and Conversation:

  • Tuesday, September 1st from 6:30 to 8:30PM 
  • ThriftSmart
  • 454 Downs Blvd. Franklin, TN  

No tickets or RSVP needed. We look forward to seeing you and a friend!