Chowning Report

March 2001



Leaders' Meetings


Leaders from congregations in the northern regions of Aja have been meeting together every two weeks.  The meetings are good for the growth of the church and that area and are a sign of their maturity and independence.  The meetings had been taking place for more than a month before I ever heard they were taking place.  I did not hear of them by way of an invitation to attend.  A leader merely mentioned to me that some plans had been made for an upcoming cluster meeting.  I found out a few weeks later that the leaders were meeting to make plans and decisions.  There are enough mature leaders among them, that it is better for us not to be a part of such meetings. 


In the middle of February, they asked David and me to begin meeting with them and give them some lessons concerning leadership.  We have been to three sessions so far.  We were able to teach at the first two.  Most of the examples of leadership that these leaders have seen are not the best for real growth in the church.  Most of the traditional leaders gain their authority from privileged knowledge or power.  These village leaders receive payment for each service they perform.  They will also sell their knowledge or power.  The few denominations around them have a hierarchical leadership system.  These leaders' directives are to be followed, unless a group wishes to violently rebel against them.  It is a temptation for the Aja church leaders to demand respect and obedience from the members in their congregations.  David and I presented Biblical and traditional models that are more in line with Godly leadership.  Leaders have followers.  Members follow certain people because they want to emulate their devoted and pure lives.  They trust certain people because through walking with them, they are confident that they will protect them.  They want to learn from certain leaders because they know that their advice and discipline is given with the good of others in mind.  Leadership is granted by the followers, not demanded by the leaders.  It is a tough lesson, but they know that "Axweto" (village elder and councilor) is respected and consulted because of the wisdom he has shown and offered long before he ever became a leader.  The honor of being the clan's "Tashino" (the one who prays to the ancestors) is only given to one who does not argue with people or commit immoral acts. 


As with most endeavors, there are possible snares that might be encountered as a result of these meetings.  At the third meeting, they spent the entire time dealing with a problem in the Dadohwi (dah-DOH-hwee) congregation.  Satan used jealousy and pride to cause a lot of harsh words and accusations to enter into the discussion.  My observation was that, after almost four hours they only reached a superficial resolution to the problem.   But, what does an outsider know?  Today, Cyndi and I had a meeting at Dadohwi and those who here treated the harshest were there and eager in their faith.  Praise the Lord.