A Q&A with our newest Staff Member – TK Ilesanmi, South Africa
Common Ground. Common purpose. That’s the goal of the church and its supporting organizations, says TK Ilesanmi, African Leadership’s newest team member.
Based in Pretoria, South Africa, TK is our new African Director of Common Ground. That means he spearheads our on-the-ground relationships with our country directors across the continent.
TK isn’t a stranger to African Leadership. Years ago, he served as country director of Malawi. In this short Q&A, get to know TK a little and his heart for the ministry. He’s a pastor, a leader, an advisor, an encourager; basically, he’s just the person we need to continue investing in the lives of the men and women making a difference in Africa.
AL: What first caught your attention about African Leadership?
TK: In rural areas of Africa, pastors do not often have the basic theological training required for effective sharing of the Gospel, for preaching and teaching of God’s Word, the Bible. But that does not mean they do not have the passion, wisdom, or insight to share the Gospel.
African Leadership’s Common Ground Academy helps meet this need in ways that are truly unique. The uniqueness of AL Common Ground training materials is its simplicity. It points right back to scripture to help students understand its teachings.
As a result, pastors become more Bible-centered preachers and teachers, and more committed to reading the Bible on their own. This discourages a simple story-telling mentality, and encourages the ability to share the truth effectively.
AL: What do you hope to accomplish this year?
TK: A key goal of mine is to walk with the directors, encouraging and motivating them as they lead, teach, and serve in their communities.
Specifically, we will work together to establish a close circle of advisors – a board, of sorts – that can help share the workload, keep a level of accountability, protect the ministry, and be a trusted resource. Members of these boards will carry expertise in business, ministry, teaching, or other fields that can speak into the work on the ground.
It is our hope that these boards will not only spread the work out for the country director, but that they lend additional credibility to the work. And, in the event a country director moves to another position, these boards will help ensure continuity.
AL: When we say, They Know Best, tell us what that means to you.
TK: You know, a lot has been invested in Africa. For a long time, we have addressed “felt” needs, and we talk about this in the Handbook. A “felt” need. A passive need. The kind that the western world approaches, saying, “they don’t have X, and they need Y.”
But then there’s a revealed need. Discovering a revealed need means that we take on the perspective and view of the leader and the community he or she serves. It takes two parties to discover this, and the acknowledgement that they know the best way to manage the situation, because they have been living with that situation for a long time. When we come together to find a solution – what’s working, what’s not, and why – then we can determine the most effective solution. Because if the partnership comes from outside, it should be in a way that increases the effectiveness of what is already happening.
The result is this: Ownership. Engagement. Using resources already there to solve a local challenge.
AL: What does this role mean to you personally?
TK: For me, this work is a ministry of opportunity – not just a job. It’s with a spirit of calling that I return to working with African Leadership, and it is an absolute honor. I am blessed, the ministry is blessed, and most importantly the leaders on the ground are blessed – not because of who I am, but because of the work God has called us to do.
We look forward to more from TK in the coming weeks. Stay tuned to hear more of his story, and his work on the ground.