African Wisdom for Ash Wednesday


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One of the sessions Drew and I attended at YL75 was on the African Leadership Tree…a method of developing people as leaders through one on one mentoring, life sharing, and cohesive mission. The deliberate and passionate stories, diverse among country and gender, encouraged us as we realized just how big the world is how easily God’s work happens in humbly brave vessels.

They shared “isms” and essentials that direct their mission day to day and year to year. They gave non-negotiables and palpable tenets to take home and contextualize. I said to my friend right next to me, “I want my family to be formed by these ideas.” So, in efforts to remember and begin, the list of YL Africa’s intentions:

In YL Africa, WE:

  • Listen- To God. To the Spirit. To each other

  • Sing– Every chance we get.

  • Dance- Every time the music plays. We are bodies, not just spirit.

  • Pray- Cannot live without this.

  • Walk- Everywhere. Everything we believe must walk.

  • Laugh- This is power. This is life.

  • Go- Wherever the Spirit calls and leads.

  • Stay- Even when it’s dark and dangerous

  • Love-  God. Enemies. Neighbors. Brothers and sisters. Selves.

  • Obey- God. Spirit. Leaders God places in our lives.

  • Give- The nature of God. Greatest weapon against poverty: generosity.

  • Celebrate- Thank God and others every chance we get.

  • Welcome- Kids. Each other. Strangers. Aliens. Sinners. The Spirit

Furthermore, part of their DNA was described in these ways:

  • “Haraka Haraka Haina Baraka”– “The slow way is the fast way”.   No shortcuts in the Spiritual life, friendships, planting/reaping, discipleship. We value the power of time over efficiency. Only time deepens relationships with God, kids and others. We believe that efficiency does not always equal excellence.
  • Pamoja Pamoja” – “Together Together”. We are committed to unity and empowerment across every line- tribal, country, gender, class, language. We are a ministry of reconciliation.

  • Mangoes not tomatoes- Tomatoes grow easy and fast but we have to plant them every year. Mangoes take a few years to produce but then they produce fruit year after year on their own for over a hundred years. We choose to grow leaders the mango way- leaders to last, multiply, and transform.

  • Bend and not Break- Life is hard and unpredictable in Africa. Like the tree in the storm we need to be able to bend but not break. Flexibility is a high value.

Today is Ash Wednesday and time to experience a Lenten space for Jesus to enter.

My desire, this year same as most, is to empty, let go of, and lay bare what is empty, broken, hurried, frantic, without lasting meaning, and fleshy.

I’d like to give up complaining this year.

Can I make it a discipline that makes me rely on strength outside myself and calls me to rid of dark and fill with light?

Perhaps the African words of listening, laughing, dancing, staying, loving, obeying, and celebrating will call me out of complaints.

Anything on the list call out to you?

With all the world around me, sitting in my small place, I say,

Blessings on you in this season and take a walk.

More info on Young Life Africa here 



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