Africa’s next generation of Church leaders: catalysts for holistic transformation
When Dr Nancy Njagi first saw Daniel walking around the campus of one of the public universities in Kenya, she was shocked.
Her shock was seeing this young man who she’d worked with in Kibera, an informal settlement (slum) of Nairobi, and imagining the great social and emotional distance he must have travelled to be at university.
For Nancy, it was God’s grace in plain sight!
But she also wanted to know Daniel’s story. “I wanted to know how he had made it from the informal settlement, the slums, to the university,” she said.
Nancy learned that not only had Daniel attended an initiative she used to run in Kibera, a Homework Club, but some years later he had also founded an evening study group in the same local church.
Daniel was on his way to becoming a leader in the Church.
By as early as 2025, 760 million people in Africa will be Christians.
“The Christian faith is alive in Africa,” Nancy says. “People are hungry to hear the word of God and to have God meet them at their various struggle points.”
But there are challenges. While the church is booming, theological institutions are struggling to keep up with the rapid growth. Many church leaders are poorly trained, and the need for rigorous training is critical.
“Our nation is becoming more and more urbanised,” she says. “The extreme poverty that comes with urbanisation is only going to intensify as more people move to the cities. Or in rural areas, small towns grow and become slum communities. Local churches need to know how to respond in these contexts.”
She says stories like Daniel’s are the Lord’s grace in action. “It’s God’s grace amid limitations,” Nancy says. “And it tells us that God’s grace is sufficient. If we heed His call, He uses us to be a blessing to others.
“We are not created for ourselves but to serve God and humanity.”
Nancy’s focus on others is clear when it comes to her devotion to those ensnared by extreme poverty. She has dedicated more than 20 years of her working life to being a catalyst for change. Last year Nancy completed her Doctorate of Philosophy in Development Studies at St Paul’s University, Kenya, with a doctoral thesis: ‘Community Empowerment Strategies and Poverty Reduction: A Case of Local Protestant Churches in Kibera Slum, Nairobi Kenya’.
Mother of two teenage boys, and a daughter of visionary Christian parents herself, Nancy has a passion to see change – even if it’s one person or one family at a time. Particularly, a holistic transformation of people that is spiritual, social, economic and emotional.
Witnessing holistic change is why Nancy loves her job with Local Leaders International – an Australian organisation which works to ensure the words coming from the preacher are theologically robust, seasoned with salt. As Africa Director for Local Leaders International, Nancy has the opportunity to see more and more highly capable leaders equipped.
“There is a need to develop local leaders who can respond to their contexts,” she says. “We need people who are able to transform their families, communities, countries—and our continent.
“We must train leaders, not just with a degree on paper, but with a spirit to take action.”
Learn more about the work of Local Leaders International.
In her role as Africa Director Nancy engages with leaders and decision-makers of theological institutions, listening and responding to their experiences, journeys and visions.
“I love that any vision they have is not prescribed by Local Leaders International or anyone else from the West,” she says. “It’s the leaders of African Bible colleges who have the vision.
“At Local Leaders, we prayerfully walk with them and trust in God to provide the necessary resources.”
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