Unfortunately the image of Africa is distorted in the minds of many. It is true the above-mentioned snapshots form part of the tapestry of African life, but not all. An enduring love for and commitment to the extended family, unexpected generosity with the last chicken to a hungry visitor, a clever joke to make someone laugh in un-laughable circumstances, inward resolve to match outward strength to do what appears to be impossible. Reconciliation, Faith, Patience... HOPE. These are also threads to be found in the warp and woof of African life.
For a very long time I have said the future of Africa is black. Not a cynical, hope-crushing assessment of the status quo, but an expressed faith in Africans. Their future is in their hands. Whatever we do, it needs to be with a gesture of an open hand and heart, enabling and encouraging local initiative, fostering ownership of the solution, always fighting to put a dent in that pervasive spirit of resignation and despair.
But how to make a difference in what seems to be a sea of soul-twisting need? Where to start- how do you do something that really matters? We have seen the well-intentioned but wasted millions as macro-this and macro-that projects waste away through channels of government corruption, inappropriate technology, and unsustainable foreign dreams and visions of a better life.
Local ideas, local resources, and local leadership- there is no need to trust in "trickle down" when you are already on the ground. This is why we put our energy into the development of local community leaders in Africa. Let the pundits address the macro issues from their ivory towers. Life is lived on the ground and that is where we want to be.
Community leaders- such as pastors of local congregations, can organize, educate, and inspire the people in their circle of influence. Our purpose in the eastern Congo is to multiply hope in a part of the world that mocks any concern for justice and where the worst of human behavior challenges the best. Long after the soup kitchens close, the TV cameras dim, and the bureaucrats pose for photographs, these leaders remain. They are the key to a better future.
Our goal is to cultivate the necessary infrastructure that can provide a sustainable and culturally relevant program of leadership development for local community pastors. While this is a faith-based initiative, we assure you the doors are open to everyone in the city neighborhoods and villages where these men and women work and live.
We want to further develop campuses where these leaders can come and with healthy interchange challenge each other with new ways of thinking. We want to provide temporary subsidies for those men and women who walk for a week each way to attend courses on these campuses, and to give them the tools and resources they need to confront the daily challenges they face. We want to add another layer of hope on that little bit of hope with which they come.
You are either part of the solution or you are part of the problem. We ask you to be on the solution side of the equation.