Monthly Archives: July 2014

Reflections on our African Journey

We have been home for a few days now and I am slowly recovering from the 30+ hours that it took to fly from Ghana to arrive back in Kentucky. I thought that I would share with you some of my thoughts on our trip and what has been accomplished. I think that it is always necessary to reflect on what one’s experiences are in whatever endeavor that we pursue, so this final post on our trip contains my thoughts and reflections of our experiences during our trip to Uganda and Ghana.

I’ve learned is that our four-stage process is working! Not only did we see more people reached with the Lead Like Jesus message, we also saw greater numbers of leaders who are now committed to teach Lead Like Jesus to others and to develop leaders. The 11 leaders from last year over the past year conducted 43 Encounters with almost 1,100 participants. I can only imagine what this next group of 30 leaders might do this coming year. If you assume that they will do what the first year’s leaders did (averaging 3.9 Encounters and 25 participants per Encounter) and do the math, we could possibly see up to 117 Encounters with nearly 2,925 participants! Plus, we expect to have 90 new leaders enter the process when we return next year.

We learned that these leaders “can” develop and train leaders on their own. During our second week in Uganda, the 11 leaders conducted the training of the 30 new leaders all by themselves. Luke and I only gave some minor assistance and advice. These leaders conducted the training, managed the time, breaks, lunch, etc., and coordinated the logistical and facility support on their own. We sat back and watched them do it! They proved to us that they really can take the ball and run with it!

Another encouraging thing we learned is that Pastor Daniel understands that he must decentralize the training as the number of new leaders to be trained grows exponentially each year. He realizes that he must coach and mentor the newer leaders as they set up and coordinate the details or the training may not happen. This is why he developed a leader development team to assist him in providing oversight, resources, coaching and assistance as they delegate the training to others.

As with any endeavor, there are some things that need to be improved. The first thing that we need to work on is to help them set up a process of on-going coaching and mentoring. Last year, we had asked the leaders to meet three (3) times during the year to encourage one another, get reports and feedback, etc. This didn’t happen. They only met once and not everyone came to the meeting. This year we attempted to address this shortfall by providing them with a “Leaders Huddle Guide” that includes some basic instruction on how to conduct a huddle, a sample agenda, and some lessons on various leadership topics, such as, character, integrity, values, etc., that they can cover during their quarterly huddle meetings. However, we ran out of time to teach and explain why on-going coaching and mentoring is important and we were unable to break the leaders into small groups and let them get together to set dates for their huddle meetings. We now must try to do this after the training is over and they all have returned home.

We lost 6 of the 17 leaders who attended last year’s training. There were a variety of reasons as to why the six leaders did not follow through on their commitment. I believe that possibly a few of these leaders could have been retained in the program if we had helped them establish an on-going coaching/mentoring process?

Another thing that we need to work on is getting feedback from the leaders on a more regular basis. Some of the leaders regularly sent us reports on their Encounters but most did not. This is why we were surprised by the total numbers of Encounters they did and the number of attendees they had.

Overall, we are very, very encouraged to see the progress that has been made and the 30 new leaders that have been trained!

As for our Ghana experience, we only trained four (4) new leaders in Phase 1 of our process. But, I believe that those four will do a great job in spreading the Lead Like Jesus message to others. Because they are all from an established ministry (SALT to Ghana) that has connections to both churches and business people, I think that they will find plenty of receptive people who will embrace the Lead Like Jesus message. I am especially encouraged by the meeting that Luke and I had with Conrad and Ahmed on our last evening in Ghana. Ahmed also has a passion for developing leaders and the plans are already in the works for him and Conrad to work together.

I truly believe that God is on the “move” in Africa and I’m personally grateful to be a part of what He is doing there.

Thank you for being part of our journey. I want to especially thank you for your prayers and ask that you would continue to pray for the leaders in Uganda and Ghana and for Luke and I as we continue to work with them. We are planning to return to both countries again next year as we will be in the third year of our four year process in Uganda and in the second year in Ghana.

Again, thank you for your prayers and support! I will be posting updates on various topics from time to time, as well as share with you updates from our leaders.

Blessings!

Fred

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On our way home!

We departed Ghana yesterday (July 5th) at 8 pm and arrived in Cairo, Egypt at 4 am. Our flight to JFK departs at 9:35 am. So, we wait? I definitely will be glad to get back home!

We did have a short, but very encouraging meeting at an airport restaurant with Amhed, a Ghanian and a trained LLJ facilitator. We found that he has a heart and a passion for developing leaders! It is amazing to see how God is opening doors and connecting people in order to spread the message of Lead Like Jesus!!

Not long after I took the picture below we had a Burger King Whopper! Man, it sure tasted good!

Blessings!

Fred

Courtney and Luke waiting in Cairo:

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Update from Ghana (4 July, 2014)

Happy Independence Day!

I’m not feeling too well this morning. I woke up with a terrible headache and took some sinus pills. We ate breakfast together this morning and had a very interesting conversation with Captain Ben. He is originally from Sierra-Leone. He told us the story of how his wife (Nana) and their children escaped from that country, and how God protected them when there was a rebellion against the government and rebel forces were attacking and killing many people.

We also talked to him about Ghana and learned that he is a former member of Parliament and held a very high position as one of the cabinet ministers. His insight into the problems of Africa, and Ghana in particular, was very interesting for us to learn. He told us that the problems start with leadership and that most of Africa’s leaders seek only to enhance their position, power, and wealth and that favoritism, cronyism, and corruption is destroying people’s confidence in government. He told us that the leaders seem to exist to serve themselves instead of being servants of the people.

After breakfast, we caught a taxi and went into Elmina to take a tour of the Elmina Castle. The castle was built by the Portuguese and later captured by the Dutch. Initially used as an outpost to support trading with the local people, it later was used for more sinister and horrendous things, namely the trading of slaves. Our tour guide, Phillip, escorted us through the castle and told us about it’s history and gave us some insight into the terrible things that happened in this place.

After our tour, the taxi driver drove us to Conrad’s office. By this time, I was not feeling very well again. We were going to drive a short distance to a national park, but I decided not to go with everyone. So, Luke and Courtney went with Conrad and three of his children to the park while I went back to my hotel room to get some rest.

Once back in my room, I read for about 30 minutes and decided to catch a nap. I had been sleeping for about an hour when I woke up with a very upset stomach and in a cold sweat. After using the bathroom to relieve myself, I lay back down in the bed and slept for about 3 hours, when Luke and Courtney knocked on my door.

I really feel fine now and don’t know exactly what caused this. I didn’t want to take a risk of getting sick during the seminar session this evening, so I thought it would be best to stay here at the hotel. Courtney was also very tired and she stayed back as well. Both of us will go with Luke to Conrad’s home after the service for dinner, to thank them for their hospitality and to say our goodbyes to the family.

Tomorrow morning, we are going to Lonnie Weaver’s home for breakfast and then we will come back to the hotel, check out, and head to Accra and the airport. Lord willing, this will be my last post from Ghana and I will arrive back in Kentucky on Sunday, July 6 at 9 pm.

Thanks so much for the many prayers that you have prayed on our behalf. It is truly encouraging to know that many people have been praying for us and for the leaders that we have had the opportunity to serve these past three weeks.

Blessings!

Fred

Report from Ghana (2 & 3 July, 2014)

Wednesday, July 2

I had a very good nights rest. Maybe the best I’ve had since I left home. I met Luke and Courtney for breakfast at 8 am. When we got to the restaurant we had a big surprise waiting for us. It seems that “Nana” had directed the cooking staff to make us French toast with maple syrup!! Wow! When Luke learned that we had French toast he was absolutely blown away! The Captain came over a few minutes later to check on us to see how we liked our breakfast. We all told him over and over, how grateful we were and to thank his wife for being so considerate. What great way to start our day!

Conrad picked us up at 9 am to go to his office and begin our leader training. We spent until about 4 pm reviewing all the key points, exercises, and activities in the facilitator guide. We also instructed them on how to facilitate and how it was different than classroom teaching or lecturing and cautioned them not to preach.

Because Conrad had some business to take care of, we were unable to get away from his office until 6 pm, so our dinner would have to wait until we got back from the seminar. We ended up going from his office to their home to pick up Katie and the kids and then going downtown to set up and be ready for Luke’s session on Unveiling Glory.

After the session, we went back to Conrad’s home for dinner and to fellowship with each other. I told them some funny stories about my cat and some of my more humorous fishing stories. We left at 10 pm to go back to the hotel. By that time, I was very tired and decided to go to bed and call it a day.

Thursday, July 3

I woke up at 6 am this morning and quickly learned that the internet was out. We did have power, but for some reason the internet wasn’t working. I was hoping to do a blog post this morning but obviously that wasn’t going to work.

I met Courtney and Luke for breakfast at 8 am. Again, we had French toast!! 2 days in a row! Thank you Nana and Captain Davies! After breakfast, I was able to type up my blog post but was never able to send it. Oh, well?

We left for Conrad’s office and to drop off Courtney at the Living Hope Christian School at 10 am. This is Lonnie Weaver’s school. Courtney would spend the day with the children at this school.

After we arrived at Conrad’s office, we first went through a short after-action review process on what may have caused the poor attendance at Luke’s seminar. Many reasons were given, such as, the festival, denominationalism, lack of pastor support, etc. The general consensus was that denominational turf issues was the biggest reason. Too many churches refuse to worship and work with other churches from different denominations. How sad? But, it is almost, if not worse, in the US!

The teach-backs went very well today. We were able to divide up all the sections of the Encounter and go through them by 4 pm. We then talked to them about the 4-stage/year process and invited them to commit to it. They all said that they would, so we commissioned them as graduates of Phase I and gave them certificates. We now have four (4) novice facilitators in Elmina, Ghana.

Eric, Irene, John, and Conrad will do very well. Three of the four are very good at facilitation and have experience in teaching and training people. One of them is a little weak, but we have asked him to team up with one of the others to conduct his first two or three Encounters.

We wrapped up by taking a picture of us with the class. We then drove over to Conrad’s home for dinner and from there we went back into town for Luke’s teaching session on Unveiling Glory. Again, there was not too good of a crowd tonight? It is raining really hard outside, which may keep some people from coming back tonight. About two-thirds of the way through Luke’s presentation, the power went out. We tried to get the backup generator going, but it too wouldn’t work. The perils of teaching and training in developing countries??

Overall though, it was a good day and we enjoyed our day equipping and releasing four new facilitators who can teach and train others! Tomorrow, we will do some sightseeing, rest a little, and start packing our stuff for the trip home on Saturday. It seems that the internet is still out here at the hotel!

Thanks for your prayers. Just one more day and we will be heading home. We have really had a great trip and are very positive about what God is doing to develop leaders here in these two African nations. But, I will be glad to be back home.

Blessings!

Fred

Pictures from Ghana

I have posted a few of the pictures that I’ve taken over the past few days since we arrived here in Ghana.

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Luke preaching on Sunday

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Lonnie Weaver’s daughter holding a little kitty

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A picture of the ocean taken while we are waiting at the Radio station

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The Catholic Girl’s school where we held the Encounter

Pictures from our final day in Uganda

Here are a few pictures from Friday, June 27, our last day in Uganda.

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Luke, Pastor Daniel, and I at the beginning of the Nile River

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Here is the spot they call the Source of the Nile

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Here is our boat coming to pick us up for a boat ride on the Nile

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Luke talking with Pastor David (left) at his school and Pastor Winfred from Kenya (center)

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Luke and Courtney on the River!

Report from Ghana (1 July, 2014)

I am posting this report in order to get everyone caught up on what we’ve been doing since we left Uganda last Friday. Since coming to Ghana I have had some issues with the electricity and the internet not working that have kept me from posting as often as I would like.

This post covers the period from when we departed Iganga, Uganda on Friday morning to yesterday (June 30th). Thanks for being patient with me.

Thanks again for your continued prayers. If I am able I will post some pictures for you to see what we’ve been doing here.

Blessings!

Fred

Friday, June 27

We checked out and paid our hotel bill and departed at 9:15 am. Our first stop was at the King of Kings Academy. Pastor David is the headmaster there. We learned some very amazing things. First, his school is totally self supporting. Second, the school is sent kids that the public schools will no longer allow to attend school because they won’t learn or are severe discipline problems. Finally, we learned that about 70% of their students (of 1500) are Muslims! They send their kids there because of the quality of education and the high percent of their students who get accepted to college. What an incredible tool for witnessing!

We then headed for Jinja and to eat lunch and visit the Source of the Nile park. We first ate lunch at the Source of the Nile cafe. I had a hamburger and a ice cream bar! We then went to the park and took a boat ride on the Nile river. The boat was very old but in fair shape and had a well maintained outboard motor. The Nile is very swift here and you don’t want to fall in.

After that, we headed for Kampala. On the way, we visited with pastor Stephen (Daniel’s mentor) at the True Vine Christian school, which is a boarding school that Daniel’s son attends. We had a very good conversation with him about how he started his ministry and school. He told us that the school has a farm that provides almost all of the food for the children. They have 900 students with 430 living there full time. 100 of them are orphans and the school receives no outside support for them. Their entire ministry, including a free health clinic, is totally self-supporting! Truly amazing.

After visiting there for a while we left and drove into Kampala to next visit Daniel’s son and daughter that attend the Good Samaritan Christian School in the suburb of Nansana. This school has 2,000 children and is also totally self-supporting. Finally, we drove all the way across the city to have dinner with Stone Kyambadde.

Stone is associated with the Stephen Covey training organization and is one of the company’s keynote speakers for their training seminars and conferences. Stone is also the former head coach of the Ugandan national soccer team and still serves with them in a somewhat lesser role. While we were waiting for our food, he told us how he first was discovered by Stephen Covey. Stone is the executive director for non-profit school for boys who may have runaway from home or become orphans. He gives them a good education, a home, food, clothes, shelter, teaches them to become Godly men, and of course, teaches them to play soccer. It was really good to see him again and to see that he and his family are doing well. We left the restaurant at around 10 pm and arrived at the airport at a little past 11 pm.

The traffic in Kampala is horrific and almost too messed up to describe! The traffic in and around this city is some of the worst that I’ve ever seen. It is nearly always bumper-to-bumper all during the day and most of the evening. There are motorcycles, thousands of them, constantly weaving in and out of the traffic and most people seemingly have a total disregard for all traffic rules and regulations. It is absolutely a mad house! Not only is the traffic terrible, the exhaust fumes from the diesel trucks and poorly maintained autos burnt our eyes and lungs. I can hardly see how people can live in this?

At the airport, we said goodbye to Daniel and then checked into our flight. We had almost 3 hours before our flight departed, so we tried to rest but the terminal building was very, very hot and we could get much rest. I guess the A/C must have been broken?

Our plane for the first leg of the trip to Ghana flew into Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It departed right on schedule. We were surprised, however, to see a twin-engine prop plane! But, it was fairly comfortable and the flight was only 2 hours long, so we didn’t mind too much.

Saturday, June 28

The flights from Entebbe to Addis Ababa were very good. I was very tired and slept most of the two flights. We finally arrived in Accra, Ghana at 11 am local time (4 hours ahead of US eastern time).

Conrad Schwartzentruber (our host for the week) picked us up at the airport. We are going to Elmina (pronounced El me na) which is about a 2 hour drive west of Accra. On the way, Conrad stopped to show us the farm that their ministry owns and operates and we stopped at one of the many roadside markets to buy some fruit.

We arrived at 3 pm in Elmina at Conrad’s home. We met his wife Katie and their four children (2 sons and 2 daughters). They showed us to the room where we would be staying and we then unpacked a little, took showers, and caught a few hours of sleep before dinner.

Conrad is the executive director of a ministry called SALT to Ghana. His ministry specializes in helping local people start businesses and in making micro-finance loans and things that give a “hand up” and not just a “hand out” to the poor. Currently, the ministry has 1160 women in their program that gives them training, a small loan to get started, and then on-going coaching and training as needed to help them succeed in managing their small business. What a great ministry!!

Katie and the girls fixed us a very good dinner and it was good to fellowship with them and to have a home cooked meal for a change. We were still very tired, so after dinner, we said goodnight and went to bed.

Thank you Lord for your travel mercies, allowing us to arrive safely at our destination today. Please watch after our loved ones back home and bless our week as we seek to teach others the principles of leading like Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, June 29

It is very warm here! Conrad does not have A/C in his home but they do have ceiling fans in all of the rooms. It did cool down nicely during the night and I was able to sleep with just a sheet over me.

I woke up at about 6 am when the sun came shining through the window next to my bed. This morning the electricity seems to be very weak. Our fan was working but the lights wouldn’t come on? Finally, even our fan quit working. Without lights, I was forced to shave in a dark bathroom. It is a wonder that I didn’t cut my throat? After I shaved and brushed my teeth I took a cold, cold shower.This morning we are going to attend a small baptist church where Luke will give the message.

After church, we all went over to Lonnie Weaver’s home for lunch. Lonnie and his wife are long time friends of their family. At 3 pm, we drove over to the Catholic girl’s school where we will be doing our Encounter on Monday to set up.

After we got things ready for Monday, Conrad took us over to the local radio station to do a 20 minute interview where we could promote tomorrow’s event and tell people about Lead Like Jesus. While we were waiting to get started with the interview, the power went off at the station and the backup generator failed because it was out of fuel. So, they had to get a couple of people to go fill up some 5 gallon gas cans and then come back and refill the generator. That process took about an hour.

We learned earlier that Ghana is experiencing a gasoline shortage all across the country. All of Ghana’s gasoline must be imported into the country from outside refineries and because of government mismanagement (and possibly corruption), Ghana has been unable to pay the refineries for their gasoline and now they are refusing to send in anymore until they get paid. This looks like another example of a quasi-socialist government who is trying to do something that should be left to the free market to do. Why is the government of Ghana in the wholesale gasoline distribution business? Certainly, there are businesses that could do this better! Unbelievable!

Finally, after about an hour, we got to do our interview on the radio! We then went back to Conrad’s home to eat dinner and then pack our things to go to a nearby hotel where we would stay the rest of the week. We stayed the first night with them, but felt is was probably better to stay at the hotel. They have four young children, plus are being visited by a young girl from Accra, so they had seven (7) people in their house already. Plus, Luke doesn’t sleep well in very hot conditions and as you might imagine, I’m not acclimated to the heat either. We will still be eating our dinner meals with them each evening.

We are now staying at the Davies Villa Hotel. It is fairly nice, clean, and well maintained, and we have A/C and internet! After we got checked into our room (at about 8:30 pm), we learned that the internet was down and they had to get a technician to come out tomorrow to fix it. Go figure?

Tomorrow (Monday), is our Encounter from 9 am to 4 pm, and after that we plan on going to visit the beach and have dinner at a local restaurant.

Monday, June 30

After a good night’s rest and a good breakfast at our hotel restaurant, Conrad picked us up at 8 am and drove us over to the Catholic girl’s school where we will hold our Encounter today.

We got started at 9:30 am, a few minutes late, but this is not bad considering most places in Africa that I’ve been. Of course, we had to do some singing first. So, Eric, a young pastor, led us in four or five traditional hymns. They sang beautifully, and as they did I was moved to tears by the words of these great hymns and the thought of the wonderful privilege it is to be able to worship with God’s people here in Ghana and bring them the message of Lead Like Jesus.

We finally got started with our Encounter at 10 am. This would give us only 5 hours to complete what normally is an 8-9 hour long event! We knew going in that we had only six hours and adjusted our agenda accordingly. Now, we would have to make a few more adjustments.

Luke and I use a version of the LLJ Encounter that we put together specifically for Africa and other developing countries. Our version doesn’t use slides, a projector, nor does it have a costly 60+ page book. Rather, we use a simple 2 page (1 page front/back) handout and ask people to take notes. In our Encounter, we continue to do a lot of small group discussion and we have them go through and discuss a set of application questions at the end of each major topic/section. We include the large group exercises and activities, such as, the Change exercise, Unconditional Love and the Greatest Management tool activities.

We were told that we needed to finish by 4 pm and with an hour for lunch this really pushed us to stay on track. The two large group activities at the end took us longer to organize and conduct than we had anticipated, but we were able to finish by around 4:15 pm or there about.

The feedback that we received was very, very positive and we signed up 5 or 6 people to begin Phase 1 or the leader development process.

After the Encounter was over we helped Conrad and his staff clean up and rearrange the conference room back to the way it was when we found it, then we went back to the hotel to change for a trip to the beach which was only a few miles away and to eat dinner at a local restaurant there. Luke and Courtney had a great time running up and down the beach. Myself, I just sat in a chair with my feet in the sand and just enjoyed the beautiful scenery that God has made that we can enjoy. What a privilege!!

“How great is the love that the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)