The first CBMC African Leadership Forum was by all accounts amazing. Five CBMC veterans from the United States were selected to travel to Victoria Falls, August 28 through September 2 for this inaugural trip.
Patrick O’Neal, president emeritus of CBMC, and his wife, Tina, made the trek halfway around the world, and both agreed it was a time they will never forget. “It was a real joy being here with our African brothers and sisters. Their hearts are excited, and they are wide open to the need for practical training on a host of topics,” Patrick said.
Many of the 38 Africans who attended, endured long lines at border checkpoints. Others traveled non-stop for three days to be there. Still others took expensive airline flights. Most agreed it was well worth whatever inconveniences they experienced. Patrick said, “I had the pleasure of conducting a class called ‘Doing Business as a Christian,’ and Tina spoke to the women on ‘How To Disciple Women.’ And the amazing part is, I never saw anything but willing hearts and smiling faces.”
Paul Johnson of Minneapolis echoed that sentiment saying the faces, the smiles, and the openness are things he will never forget. “What’s interesting to me is that a house captivated by Christ is the same no matter where I’ve travelled,” he reflected. Paul is well-qualified to make that statement having travelled the globe for CBMC, sharing Christ from village to village and town to town.
“This trip to Africa was an overview trip, so we didn’t have time to drill down on many things we wanted to, like coaching and team training,” Johnson said. “The hope is to return at some point and conduct a ‘Train the Trainer’ series of classes so that African leaders can take this information and run with it.”
One of the most exciting classes, Connect3 training, was taught by Lee Atchley of Chattanooga, and those in attendance from eight African nations were especially interested in the practical applications of that popular offering.
Timo Plutschinski, president of Europartners (CBMC Europe), told African leaders that, like the United States, Europe stands ready to assist them in their quest to share Christ with others across their vast continent.
Baltimore-area Leader Chuck Whitmore was fascinated by what he experienced and believes that what the CBMC team shared will have a lasting impact on those who came. “It was a wonderful experience, and the various men and women there sincerely appreciated the materials and the overviews on how to best use them,” Chuck said.
Each day began at sunrise with devotions and sometimes the meetings and workshops were still going long after dinner. Paul observed, “Nobody much cared about what the clock was saying. We were all immersed in the experience of sharing and receiving Christ.”
No trip to Livingston, Zambia, would be complete without a trip to Victoria Falls but O’Neal and Johnson ignored the more sanguine approach. Word is they boarded an ultra-light (a 2-passenger go-cart with wings) and flew over the mammoth falls.
As the curtain came down on this amazing trek, some went off to experience a true African sunset dinner cruise while others departed for Botswana for a photographic safari. Rest assured, thanks to the unwavering faith of men and women across Africa, CBMC is not only alive and well but looking for Christ’s work through our ministry to grow exponentially in the years ahead.