Vision International to Train 250,000+ leaders in Africa

LAGOS, NIGERIA - Dr. John Maxwell and the Rev. Rick Warren will moderate programs over the next four years for Vision International Christian Ministries (VICM) under the initiative of Africa Leadership Development Conference (ALDC) in an effort to fulfill the 'Million Leader Mandate', an initiative of raising one million international leaders by 2008 to guide and disciple church workers.

"VICM is committed to the vision of equipping disciplined leaders. Christianity, as we know in this country, is growing and it is seeing an enviable expansion," said Rev. Francis Olubambi, the national director of VICM. "One of the reasons for that is the obedience of the Church to the commitment and commandment of Christ. Fulfilling this commitment cannot be restricted to evangelism alone. That is why the Church needs to explore another commission that commands us to make disciples of the world. Thus making disciples implies evangelism and discipleship."

Receiving the expertise of Dr. Maxwell and Rev. Warren is all part of the strategy VICM has laid out for its goal. Equip, founded by Dr. Maxwell, is the non-profit global mission ministry that spearheaded the "Million Leader Mandate" started in 2002. Equip has asked VICM to oversee the project in Africa.

Equip expects the project in Africa will yield 11,000 trainers and 250,000 to be trained.

Dr. Maxwell is also the founder of INJOY, a Christian-based leadership program which teaches leadership as a spiritual act of service rather than a power game. He has written acclaimed books such as 'developing the Leader Within You' and 'the 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader'.

Rev. Warren also has a famous book title to his name. His book, 'the Purpose-Driven Life' was named in 2003 as look of the Year by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. The book teaches five main points: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and evangelism, which will be an indispensable teaching for VICM programs. He is also the founding pastor of 15,000-member plus Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, CA.

Olubambi noted the focus of VICM will be to reinforce the education as provided through the Church. VICM will particularly focus on improving the Seminary Network, which provides affordable theological education/training, and the Church Leadership Institute (CLI), which organizes conferences and workshops for Church leaders.

The first phase of the leadership training program will held during the week of March 15-19, offered in three locations in Nigeria: Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

The Seminary Network offers in-service training to Pastors, allowing continuous application of leadership skills learned within the context of community, and a weekend training course. Although the program is currently only offered in Owerri of Imo State, and Yenogoa of Bayelsa State, another location will be added, Olubambi reported.

"We strategically locate places where we observe don't have access to theological training. That is why our next place of call will be Akure, Ondo State."

CLI organized its first conference three years ago with the event name 'Prayer of Jabez and Purpose Driven Church Conference'. Around 9,000 church representatives attended the event. Jabez is a name of a man whose prayer comes out in 1 Chronicles, chapter 4.

Those who attended the conferences and programs have given incredible testimonies which encourages VICM to continue to teach lessons from such topics.

Victor Ogunkanmi, Senior Pastor, Christ Gospel Mission International, Abuja, believes the training will help urban churches that area off course and also help spread the word of God to rural areas.

Olubambi also explained about a ministry that will encourage Christian women to show their support in ways such as standing alongside their husbands on the pulpit.

"We have also flagged off Christian Ministry for Women. Under it, pastors' wives and Christian women leaders were trained to make them to actively assist their husbands in the ministry, and this is yielding a wonderful result",he said.