The important work of providing Bibles and affordable, accessible theological education has helped thousands of local church leaders across Africa better serve their church communities. It’s given us stories of hope from places like the South Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where despite ongoing violent conflict, pastor graduation ceremonies still persist as joyfully as ever. Or in rural Malawi, where poverty rates run notoriously high, but African Leadership students and graduates are planting new churches from scratch and experiencing promising growth, numerically and spiritually. This success has certainly been transformative inside the church community. But our graduates and church leaders aren’t looking for limited transformation – that’s not what the Gospel they’ve come to know represents. They’ve decided, and African Leadership as a whole has decided, that it’s time to move outside church walls and respond to not just the church community, but the entire community. The Common Grounds Initiative is that response.

Common Grounds represents the link between spiritual needs and physical needs. It represents pastors moving out from behind the pulpit and into the fabric of their communities. It is the Rwandan graduate who took his pastoral education and turned it into pastoral action – creating a community-based orphan care program to fund school fees through his church. Or the Kenyan graduate who connected the message of Gospel healing with the realities of physical healing – organizing support groups and outreaches for people living with HIV/AIDS in an overlooked slum.

2014 will see the introduction of several Common Grounds communities. We’re excited to be able to share the unique vision of each one – a vision distinctively determined by the community itself. I hope you’ll join us this year as we, the church in America, work to secure a “common ground” for the church and its people in Africa.

Sincerely,

John Walter President | African Leadership

P.S.: In the meantime, we’ve put together a short “who we are” video as we move into this next season. I think it captures the spirit of where we are headed and hope you will take a minute to watch.