By Jim Pool
In March 2017, more than 80 Vineyard leaders converged in Mwanza, “the second city of Tanzania,” where several million people live snuggled next to the southern coast of Lake Victoria. We came for the East African Vineyard Leaders’ Network gathering. We came by plane, we came by van, we came by bus along dusty, bumpy roads. One team traveled three long days for the opportunity to spend three short days together. Why?
In the Vineyard we are committed to the cause of raising up and releasing indigenous leaders, empowering local leaders to create authentically Vineyard movements that are also authentic to their local culture, and planting the kingdom seed in the fertile soil of their land and working alongside our friends to cultivate the growth.
Teams of leaders came from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Congo, South Sudan, Malawi, and the host nation of Tanzania. We worshipped and dialogued in Swahili, English, and French. We considered the importance of cultivating character before success in leadership; of prayerful strategic planning; practices of wise financial stewardship; and we shared stories along our journeys of developing self-governing, self-sustaining, self-reproducing contextualized national Vineyard movements. We blessed seasoned leaders of leaders, and laid hands on the newest Kenyan pastor: a 25-year-old worship leader who now serves as senior pastor of a growing international church.
But most of the important work was done at meal time around the tables: sharing stories, coaching best practices, acknowledging our need to learn from one another, building and strengthening relationships, experiencing the kingdom coming.
After a final excursion to an island park where we enacted the reality of our adventurous journey together (see photos), we left refreshed, encouraged, joyous. Breakthrough moments filled this strategic gathering, mostly because the soil of each national work was fertilized with love and tended with hard work. The Spirit of God set our hearts ablaze so that we might each return to our homes and shine.