The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. - Proverbs 4:18 | NIV
The replication of servant leadership communities expands the Kingdom of God, such that God’s Name is worshipped among the nations. Apparent nominalism in the Church (which has been described as ‘mile-wide and inch deep’) seemed to have become the accepted definition of the Christian. The foundation of HaLCiA is built on the passion and commitment to implement the Great Commandment and the Great Commission in obedience to the mandate of our Lord Jesus Christ to make disciples of all nations. But for this mandate to find active fulfillment, the leadership style of the Master himself has to be followed. The Son of man came not to be served but to serve and give his life away. HaLCiA is about the critical role of leaders to lead as servants to walk in the exemplary steps of the Master and be the redemptive agents every community stands in dire need. From a humble beginning, starting with their salvation and call to full-time missionary work, God led step by step, amidst numerous challenges and setbacks, to evolve HaLCiA with the mission, ‘To promote a culture of servant leadership in Africa.’
God has used Iliya and Becky Majam to lay the foundation of HaLCiA. However, in looking back, it is clear the process of calling and equipping them for this started way back in their secondary school days in the 60s. It involved knowing Him as the critical first step. Through the Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS) ministry, each had accepted Christ as Lord and Savior before they left secondary school. Their local churches and other ministries like AFCS (Association of Fellowships of Christian Students) and Campus Crusade for Christ (now Great Commission Movement in Nigeria) provided them with the platform and growth in discipleship. In 1975 they connected with the Navigators through Dr. Robert Tausig, a veterinary professor at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. Through Dr. Tausig, Iliya and Becky connected with Mike and Chris Treneer, and the world of the Navigators Worldwide was open to them. The course of their life was to be permanently changed.
The year 1987 witnessed Iliya and Becky Majam leave their employments in Nigeria, and like Abram and Sarai, they left the known to the unknown. They were excited and, at the same time, apprehensive about leaving friends and families in Nigeria and moving to a different part of Africa altogether. They moved to the Head Office of the Navigators Africa in Kenya as Regional Administrator but it did not take long before it became evident that their calling would be in promoting of discipleship training in the local churches. In Kenya, they first heard the description of the Church in Africa as ‘mile wide and inch deep’. When the Navigators leadership saw their deep desire for discipleship takes root in the local churches, they gave them the responsibility of promoting church discipleship in Africa, where the Navigators were already present. Yes, the path of the righteous gets clearer and clearer, and we were beginning to see that.
Saul’s seminal question, ‘what should I do, Lord?’ was beginning to be answered in our case. During Iliya’s travels across Africa promoting discipleship in churches, his eyes opened to the fact that the Church was wide indeed but not deep in most of Africa south of the Sahara Desert. He noticed the Church was institutionalized, and the membership was largely nominal. Getting churches to embrace discipleship training in the majority of the local churches was often a challenging task. The thought of going into formal theological training appealed to Iliya. The assumption was that churches would be more open to someone from outside offering them discipleship training if they perceived him as ‘one of us.’ Iliya hoped that he would be better received if he undertook theological training and learned to speak the language of pastors.
The opportunity did come for Iliya and Becky to study at Western Seminary in the United States. During their time in seminary, they saw that getting discipleship training into local churches would have to start with the church leaders. They were the gatekeepers. With the understanding that church discipleship training has to start with the leaders, they at the same time came to know Church Resource Ministries (CRM). This organization focused on renewing and equipping church leaders. These leaders would then be able to pursue their pastoral calling by renewing their congregations to transform their communities subsequently.
Iliya and Becky returned from the US to Kenya and, in 2003, invited some CRM leaders in the US to come and introduce the Focused Living Training to African leaders. Some of these Christian leaders (majority church leaders) participated in the Focused Living Training and found it life-changing. The Focused Living Training focused on analyzing and learning critical lessons from the people, events, and circumstances (both the good and the bad) of a leader’s past. The leader’s calling followed after careful planning of the leader’s future in life’s purpose, vision, and values. The third aspect of the Focused Living Training was to have the leader ask and answer the question, ‘Who will help me fulfill my Calling’? These leaders saw the Focused Living Training as an effective tool or strategy for renewing and equipping leaders who will repeat the process with their church leaders and, subsequently, the members.
The Focused Living Training event was so well-received that a similar but more significant event was organized in 2004. For two weeks, 35 Christian leaders from the United States, South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda (and some other African countries, including Kenya, the host country) participated in the training event. It is exciting to note that two of our current members of the Board of Trustees were in that training event.
At the end of the Focused Living Training event, it became clear that something significant for church leadership in Africa had started and needed to be nurtured to grow. Gary and Margaret Mayes (one of the CRM US leaders asked Iliya and Becky Majam to consider leading this new Church leadership renewal initiative. Iliya and Becky asked the Navigators Africa to release them to give leadership to the new Church Resource Ministry Africa (or CRM Africa). The Navigators gave their blessing and readily released Iliya and Becky to take on the task of forming and leading CRM Africa. Stan and Marilyn Troyer were CRM-US leaders training team that came to Africa and bonded with Iliya and Becky. Having lived and worked as teachers in Nigeria before, Stan and Marilyn poured their time and resources into traveling to Africa to mentor and coach Iliya and Becky in their leadership of the CRM-Africa work.
One of the first things CRM- Africa needed was the issue of legal status. CRM- Africa got registered with another name, Harvest Leaders Network Kenya. The significant number of participants that attended the Focused Living Training came mainly from South Africa and Nigeria plus Kenya, the host country. It seemed reasonable to also register Harvest Leaders Network Kenya with the vision of expanding the work into the rest of East Africa. Harvest Leaders Network South Africa was registered with the image of growing to refocus leaders in Southern Africa. Similarly, in Nigeria, Harvest Leaders Network Nigeria (HaLCiA) was legally established to expand the work into English-speaking West Africa. French-speaking West Africa would be considered with time.
Through a series of events and circumstances, Iliya and Becky finally decided to return home to Nigeria. The unexpected difficulties of cultural re-entry (after 20 years away from home) took a lot more time and energy that they could muster enough energy to focus only on establishing Harvest Leaders Network Nigeria. Harvest Leaders Network Kenya and Harvest Leaders Network South Africa could not be developed as anticipated at the legal registrations. However, in looking back, Iliya and Becky see the hand of the Lord in bringing them back to Nigeria in 2008 despite the numerous challenges they have had to face trying to settle back and build the ministry.
The journey to renew and refocus leaders, churches, and organizations has brought home essential life and ministry lessons. The majority of leaders who start well do not finish well. Finishing well is about loving and obeying Jesus as Lord throughout life and continuing to bear fruit even in old age:
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him. Psalm 92:12-15 NIV.
Finishing well as a leader involves following in the steps of Jesus who came not to be served but to serve and give his life a ransom for many’ The one phrase that defines the style of Jesus’ leadership is servant leadership. While leaders’ renewal and refocusing enable them to express their calling in terms of mission, vision, and values with great clarity, clarity of calling alone does not guarantee that a leader will finish well as a leader. The practice of other leadership characteristics is necessary for the leader to end well. Key among these is servant leadership. While Focused Leaders Training enables a leader to clarify their calling, servant leadership training equips the Christian leader to follow in the steps of the Master by leading as a servant.
In 2014 Iliya and Becky came in contact with Co-Serve International (CSI). The calling of CSI to promote servant leadership and the building of servant leadership communities complemented very well with our training goal to help leaders clarify their calling and to live out that calling to finish well. We saw clearly that partnership with CSI will enable us not only to train leaders to live out their calling but to do so as a servant, following in the steps the Master who came not to be served but to serve and give his life in the process. We entered into discussions with CSI and formed a ministry partnership agreement that would enable Harvest Leaders Network promote servant leadership as a foundational in its leadership training.
Following the partnership relationship with CSI, the leadership of Harvest Leaders Network agreed to register HaLCiA (Harvest Leadership Community in Africa) as a Christian Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).
According to Retired Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya David M. Gitari, ‘One of the urgently required changes in African churches is for the top church leaders to demonstrate to the Flock of Christ that they are Servants – not Masters.’ HaLCiA is one response towards making this change. The path is indeed clear – our calling is to evangelize, to discipleship, to lead as servant leaders and to replicate servant leadership communities. Thus the Kingdom of God will advance and the name of God shall be worshipped among the nations.