Posted by: JennyRain | May 19, 2010

Africa is Starving and America Has Something to Give…

As our plane lifted off of African soil I found myself wrestling with an oft-asked question…

Why send an American overseas to train a foreign people-group?

The question had been prodding at my soul since late 2006 when I first began exploring mission-work in Africa. Why not raise up African nationals to educate?

Why me? Why now? Why this calling to Africa?

To me it made more sense to use local African leaders to affect transformation instead of attempting to bring in a foreigner to spark change. Local leaders do not have as many obstacles in building bridges, establishing rapport, and cementing their credibility. I would have to jump through all kinds of cross-cultural hoops just to establish a relationship with a people different from me.

God, I guess, has another idea in mind… hence my repeated Africa sojourns.

Transformative training is the cure for educational poverty.

Transformative training is what our team had the incredible opportunity to participate in the last two weeks in Burundi.


We trained local leaders.
We instructed local pastors.
We equipped trainers.
We mobilized staff.
We trained and trained some more.

Our job was to pour into front-line World Relief staff who, in turn, would then pour out on communities in need.

This is not the first time training has been the focus of a trip to Africa.

I love me some training.

To say I was in the “zone” would be an understatement.

I was like a pig in slop after a rainstorm. There was not one minute of working with the local leaders in a gospel-based training context that I did not eat up.

It was better than eating ice-cream with a fork.
It was better than pineapple.
It was better than a pineapple blizzard from Dairy Queen on a 90 degree day.

Um, ok, maybe not better than pineapple blizzard, but you get what I’m dishing…

For me, this trip just “worked.”

From stem to stern the engine purred.

To see my two decades of Professional Development and Training intersect with frontline ministry needs on the African continent was pure magic for me.


Something akin to spontaneous combustion in my heart happened mid-week-one.

I began to see the great need most African countries have for leadership training. I began to understand that we – as Americans – have information and knowledge that is like manna to a hungry people.


We have information. We have skills. We have education.

Africa has a need of these things.

More than simply giving away money, time, or short-term visits, Africa needs us to share our skills with them.

Skills can raise a country out of poverty. Education can transform a nation. Training can revolutionize systems, processes, organizations, and people.

“Our people are destroyed because of lack of knowledge.”


At the end of the week, World Relief’s HR director for Burundi said that to us in her thank you speech. “You have come to our country. You have given us information. You have gifted us with new skills. God has used you to open up doors of learning for our staff. We are forever changed.”

This scripture came alive for me that day.

It is not only knowledge about God that the world needs – although that is central to how we, as followers of Christ, minister. The real felt-need that is plaguing parts of Africa deals with skills and knowledge. Yes, resources are important. Food is important. Safety is important. Water is important. All of these things are important.

But so is education and training.

That is what I learned from my Burundian neighbors.
That is what I have been wrestling with since the first week.
That continues to niggle at me – even now.

I have been gifted with almost two decades of training experience in Corporate America.

Technical training. Leadership training. HR training. Organizational development. Customer service training. You name it – I’ve trained it.

But I’m not using it.

At home. Or in Africa.
I’m not using it anywhere right now.
And there is a need.
In Africa.

There are missions organizations popping up all over the place whose central focus is training local leaders to educate others.

During the trip we had an opportunity to learn about ICM (International Christian Ministries) who works to educate local leaders — see a theme here? — with skills and knowledge to help their communities and train others.

The need for training.

Everywhere.in.Africa.

America is almost trained-out.

We are at information-and-skill-overload. We have been over-stimulated and under-productive with the training we have received and business knows it.

We are skill-gluttons.

While Africa starves for knowledge. Skills. Training. Development.


These are the things weighing on my heart…

Things I am wrestling with upon my return.

What do I do with the skills and experience that I have been given in training?
What are my responsibilities the teaching gifts I have been given?
Where can I most effectively serve?
Am I being obedient to the call God has placed on my life — today, right now, at this very moment?

I do not have answers… only more questions. So I will keep asking…

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Responses

  1. Another inspiring read!

    In Africa sometimes I asked similar questions — why didn’t we stay home and let the Africans do what we came to do? And actually the organization my husband and I worked with, SIL (a sister organization with Wycliffe Bible Translators), is heavily involved in training Africans, and I believe other mission agencies are doing so as well. This is great, and I applaud that.

    Looking back on my experience, moving to Africa was not only a way for me to minister to Africans. God did lots of work in me to grow me up in faith, humility, gratitude, joy. He taught me so much about Himself, my relationship with him, His purposes for me.

    I can hardly wait to read more of your stories. They are blessing me (and others) abundantly. Thanks for sharing them.

    • Hi Linda – yeah, that is kind of what God showed me too on the plane ride back… He said, “You would depend on yourself instead of depending on Me” – meaning, if everything made sense, I’d have no reason to depend on Him for direction, guidance, strength, growth… sigh… such a learning process, yes?

      You are a blessing… thank you for coming back each day 🙂

  2. […] Africa is Starving and America Has Something to Give… « Rainmakers … Share and […]

  3. Hi Jenny,
    I know the struggle you go through concerning what you are meant to do. I think as Christians, we all struggle with this to some degree. I thought about how great it would be to go to foreign lands and be a missionary for God and I prayed about it. The answer came to me through my spirit, for me it was this. I have an opportunity to minister to many people in my workplace, my neighborhood, and my area. We all have our own mission field, to me it is clear yours and Johns are probably in Africa, and for now, mine is here. The Spirit leads. God Bless
    Jim

    • … it has been such a long journey me and Africa 🙂 The great thing is that our mission field is wherever God places us at the moment 🙂 yay!

  4. It sounds as if God has some special things lined up for you. He’s taken you to this place, opened your eyes to a need. I know He’s gonna use you.

  5. Thanks for sharing Jenny! I can so relate to every aspect of this. Sometimes I struggle with that here in Guatemala, as I know so many great, faith-filled leaders here. It makes me question why God sent me here, but then I also see how many doors are opened for them with an education that many would not otherwise receive. Once they have these tools in their hands… watch out world! God has shown Himself so faithful, and the fruit has been incredible!

  6. Hey! I know a mission who has a main goal of equipping leaders. 😉

    Isn’t it wonderful when your training, your passions, and you’re gifting all come together and you feel like you can shout, “THIS IS WHAT I WAS MADE FOR!!!!”?

    • OH my heavens I was so thinking that same thing 🙂 PLUS the great thing about WV is that they partner with other leadership organizations too in country… and I already have two picked out – one in SA, one in Kenya, one in Burundi. Sigh 🙂


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