For nearly a decade, Highlands Fellowship Church in Virginia had been involved in missions outreach in Tanzania. In partnership with Saddleback Church, they built PEACE Centers in three villages outside of the commercial port of Dar es Salaam. Over time, they witnessed those areas shift from traditional beliefs to Christianity.
In February 2016, the Highlands Fellowship team was invited to the All-Africa Pastors’ Gathering in Rwanda. For Lead Pastor Alan Jessee, Executive Pastor Jim Fleming, and Missions Pastor Winston Johnson, the decision to become the International Partnering Church (IPC) for Tanzania made perfect sense. Yet, it wasn’t until early 2017 that their vision casting meetings really began.
According to Pastor Jim, one of the best decisions their team made was to invite Tanzanian leaders to experience a Purpose Driven Church in action.
“We like bringing people to our home church because they can see how PD works and then teach it to others,” says Pastor Jim. “They can really experience the impact here, and then take it back to their own country.”
Shortly after the partnership was in place, Highland Fellowship hosted Bishop Stanley Hotay from the Diocese of Mount Kilimanjaro. Joining him in their 10-day Purpose Driven Church Conference were other men and women of PEACE. The training Bishop Stanley gained led him to accept the role of Steering Team Leader in Tanzania.
With a leader in place, the Highlands IPC team returned to Tanzania in February of this year. Together with their new 12-person Steering Team, they discussed their approach to building a Purpose Driven nation and the best practices in implement training.
They then selected four major cities where leaders would receive training in PD strategies and PEACE. Among them were Arusha in the north, the seaport of Tanga, the capital of Dodoma, and the bustling city of Dar es Salaam.
In May of this year, the Steering Team and IPC leaders started with the first round of PD training. In attendance were 30 pastors per city, coming from 100 churches and 10 denominations. Word quickly spread of the opportunity for church leaders to learn about PD/PEACE strategies. This resulted in an overflow of 120 pastors registered for training.
“In July, our Lead Pastor, Allen Jessee, and another Highlands Pastor, Robbie Gaines will be going back to teach Lessons 2 and 3,” says Pastor Jim. “Our next trip is targeted for the September or October time frame. Hopefully we can get in another round of training by the end of the year. More than likely we’ll conclude training in early 2018.”
Once all rounds of training are complete, Highlands Fellowship will host a formal PD graduation in 2018. In the meantime, they’ve made themselves available for mentorship, with the intention of training leaders to be sustainable to equip others. So far, the training has been extremely well received.
As Eric Munyemana, Saddleback’s Africa Continental Director explains, “We look forward to the amazing transformational discipleship movement that is being birthed in Tanzania as a result of obedience to God’s call!”
To learn more about planting Purpose Driven Churches around the world, visit pd.church/start.