Inaugural Global Leadership Summit
Our leaders from around the world (Uganda, India, Lebanon, Haiti and U.S.) gathered for our inaugural Global Leadership Summit in Uganda this month. The two-week long summit was full of planning, growth, fellowship that included lots of dancing and testimonies that reminded attendees why we continue to serve and relentlessly pursue our mission.
Jake Barreth, Director of International Ministry, documented the remarkable experience:
As the sun slowly set over Rugurama Hill, Mama Leah found a good mound of turf to stand on to better address the growing crowd that had gathered in her backyard. Dirt stained and wrinkled, Leah’s hands bore the evidence of another hard day’s work. Likely throwing on her best dress just a few minutes earlier, she carried herself with a self-assured charisma that enchanted the 50 or more curious neighbors that had come to hear her story. Leah’s excitement couldn’t be contained. Her smile, so wide her eyes were forced to squint as they cradled little tears of joy in their corners. She hollered a sentence, but before the translation had time to reach my ears, the crowd erupted into shouts of joy and adulation. The drums fired up and a dance party followed: a thanksgiving dance for the Lord’s goodness and provision over Mama Leah and her children.
This was one of many testimonies our team encountered that week. Stories of families saved from the brink of disaster — children reunified with their parents who now carried themselves with dignity and respect having established themselves and productive leaders in their community. Our team, made up of GO’s key international leaders from around the world, had gathered for the first Global Leadership Summit in Uganda. Sharing in the joy and comradery of the local church and community, our team had no problem getting right in the middle of each dance party.
A year earlier, we began putting in place plans to host the first Global Leadership Summit. Our hope was to gather GO Project’s key international leaders to share best practices and delve into the complexities of some of our key ministry initiatives. In this case, our goal was to examine GO Africa’s Orphan Prevention initiatives that to help single moms and struggling families like Leah.
In the 15 years since GO Project was founded, the Lord has shown us that the healthiest model of caring for orphaned and vulnerable children must include ministry initiatives across the entire spectrum of Orphan Prevention, Orphan Care, and Transition. Each international field team: GO MENA, GO India, GO Haiti, and GO Africa have been quietly developing and refining expertise in each of these areas. The knowledge and wisdom emerging from our local church partners and local leaders has been astonishing. Responding to the needs in their communities and the challenges our local church partners face, GO’s field teams have developed innovative ways to walk with local churches and answer the call to care for the orphan. These lessons needed to be shared, so nine leaders from around the world rendezvoused with the GO Africa team in Entebbe, Uganda to begin a 10-day journey of sharing and learning together. Our time was packed with learning, fellowship and practical design so that each ministry leader could develop a local version for their specific context.
Our agenda was as follows:
Day 1-3: Ministry Overview: Core Principles of Family Strengthening
Day 4-5: Travel/Sightseeing
Day 6-8: Practicum: Visiting local churches and families utilizing family strengthening ministries
Day 9-10: Contextualization: Design for global application
Having heard story after story like Leah’s of lives radically transformed through the local church, the GO leaders had become very comfortable with sporadic dance parties and “Ugandan Hospitality.” Leah’s was the last stop on our visit to southern Uganda and it didn’t disappoint.
As I looked across the crowd and saw our leadership team, made up of seven nationalities, dancing and singing along with our Ugandan brothers and sisters, I couldn’t help but catch a vision of heaven where every tribe will be gathered. Singing praises together, having been adopted into God’s family.
What a privilege it was to walk with these leaders for the last 10 days. What the Lord began with people like Mama Leah in Uganda is spreading around the world as we look to launch more family strengthening initiatives in the coming months. I am so grateful for the strength and resilience of women like Leah, the courage of the local church and the wisdom of our local leaders.
Meet international needs
Support our local church partners in Uganda and around the world who are supporting and empowering children and families like Leah’s. You can provide the basics every child deserves and help keep families together by giving to our International Fund or by meeting specific, real-time needs through our online platform CarePortal.