August 16, 2012

Global Notebook - Day 5

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Another full day of plenary sessions and breakout groups on the fifth day of the ACSI Africa Roundtable in Johannesburg, South Africa, delegates continued to focus on developing a broad strategy for Christian education in Africa.

Representing EduDeo Ministries at the historic conference, Executive Director Hank de Jong joined delegates for the fifteen hour proceedings at the Johannesburg-based Willow Park Conference Centre, participating in and documenting the significant event.

The largest gathering of Christian educators in Africa, the roundtable is drawing delegates from across the continent, including representatives from ACSI’s five member regions (West Africa Francophone, West Africa Anglophone, Central Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa).

Australian delegate Dr. Ted Boyce, principal of the Dural, New South Wales, Australia-based Pacific Hills Christian School, returned to the podium to lead opening devotions.  Having already pointed the assembly to the key kingdom themes of ‘The Deity of Christ’ and ‘The Dignity of Humanity’, Dr. Boyce directed delegates to the final theme ‘The Destiny of Christian Education’, issuing a call for Gospel transformation in the classrooms of Africa. 

Australian-based author and leadership consultant Vanessa Hall led the first keynote session, directing delegates to the importance of trust in both professional and personal relationships.  The keynote speaker shared her personal story of broken trust, having experienced abuse as a child and personal tragic loss as an adult.  Widowed early in her marriage, the young single mother bravely triumphed over adversity, aspiring to a successful career in international risk management in the corporate world.  Pointing the assembly to Psalm 118:8, Hall called the gathering of Christian educators to trust in God at all times despite external adversity.  Hall urged the delegates to establish trusting relationships at an organizational level, especially in leadership roles.

Posing for a formal group picture on the grounds of the conference centre, delegates returned to the meetings rooms, gathering in regional groups to discuss local challenges and opportunities.  A common concern voiced by several educators from each regional group was the pressing need for a Biblically-integrated and Christ-centred worldview approach to the classroom.  Other issues included the need for additional curriculum resources, consistent accreditation processes, stronger school administration and governance and the continual spiritual formation of teachers.

Delegates at the roundtable have been challenged to develop a broad strategy for Christian education in Africa by the end of the week.

"While there is tremendous diversity at the roundtable, delegates are unified in their desire for additional teacher training," Hank noted.

"As an experienced global partner committed to a Biblically-integrated life and worldview, EduDeo Ministries is well-equipped to respond to the urgent call for the training, spiritual formation and professional development of teachers in Africa."

Hank cited the growing appreciation for EduDeo Ministries’ ‘Walking Together’ program by a
number of Christian educators present at the roundtable.

“It has been deeply gratifying to meet a number of African delegates at the roundtable who have benefited from EduDeo’s teacher training initiatives,” Hank noted.

"Several delegates expressed their appreciation for the ongoing in-country efforts and support of several Canadian Christian educators, including ‘Walking Together’ teacher trainer Jim Vreugdenhil.  The African delegates from Benin and Niger were especially appreciative of Jim’s Biblically-integrated approach to the classroom.  They refer to Jim in a fatherly way, commending his patient and servant-hearted leadership and guidance.  The greatest tribute is that many of Jim’s students are now passing on their worldview training to other educators.  This is the heart of the ‘train-the-trainer’ model!"

Following the breakout sessions, delegates gathered together for a highly touted keynote address by one of Africa’s leading evangelical academics, Rev. Canon Dr. John Senyonyi, Vice-Chancellor of Uganda Christian University.  Dr. Senyonyi urged delegates to meet the growing hunger for Christian education in Africa.  A critical door of opportunity has opened with the global shift of Christianity from North to South and the growth of higher education in many African countries.  Citing the theological convictions of evangelical Anglican John Stott, Dr. Senyonyi stressed the need for Christian education to impact all areas of life and to motivate students to engage culture beyond the walls of the church.

"I completely resonated with Dr. Senyonyi’s address," Hank noted.

"EduDeo Ministries is absolutely committed to this comprehensive and holistic shared vision of transformation."

Following dinner, delegates returned for a final plenary session led by South African international trade expert Julius Steyn, President of the World Trade Center Africa
Initiative.  The faith-based business leader challenged the African delegates to mentor an emerging generation of committed and effective leaders, noting the incredible resources and human capital of the African continent.

The roundtable proceedings concluded with an hour of prayer for the five ACSI regions in Africa as well as the plight of Northern Africa and the global regions represented by the international delegates.

Dismissed, delegates retired for the evening, exhausted but blessed.

You can receive ongoing liveblogging updates from the roundtable by following EduDeo Ministries on Twitter at @edu_deo.

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