Empowering Younger Leaders in the Majority World

Stories of impact from the YLGen Educate initiative

Micaela Braithwaite | 10 Feb 2023

A Lausanne scholarship initiative equips younger leaders from the Majority World with graduate education to help shape the world for Christ.

Throughout the history of the Lausanne Movement, experienced leaders have opened doors for younger leaders to pursue formal study. This embodies the Movement’s mission to connect influencers and ideas for global mission.

The Lausanne Younger Leaders Generation (YLGen) is a global community of younger leaders and mentors committed to stewarding three core values: to be Christ-like in character, Christ-following in mission, and Christ-serving in friendship.

The YLGen Educate initiative was launched in 2018 as a way of continuing Lausanne’s legacy through securing full-tuition scholarships from some of the world’s top seminaries, universities, and other degree-granting institutions for YLGen participants. Many of these leaders already serve as CEOs, board members, and lead pastors for some of the most influential organizations and churches around the world, and others are emerging leaders wanting to be equipped for global mission. During the past four years, YLGen Educate has made it possible for 32 scholars from 22 different countries to pursue graduate-level degrees.

‘Lausanne wants to help raise up the next generation of mission leaders, mission CEOs, board members, theologians, and mission states persons, to be able to lead the church’s mission in every nation and in every sphere of society,’ shares Michael Oh, global executive director and CEO of the Lausanne Movement. ‘Making great education available for emerging mission leaders is a crucial part of that.’

The Difference that Robust Theology Makes

YLGen Educate has a primary emphasis of connecting emerging leaders from the Majority World with robust theological and professional education programs. This initiative not only impacts the leaders and their ministries and spheres of influence, but also serves the educational institutions, as they benefit from having these younger leaders first as students and then as alumni.

For example, Emmanuel Kwizera, a Kenyan student in the Master of Arts in Evangelism and Ministry programme at Wheaton College, recently helped launch the International Institute of Evangelism where he has been appointed as the director. ‘It will be a great blessing to use the knowledge acquired from my experience at Wheaton College to train evangelists, since evangelism is at the core center of all my classes,’ he says.

Dr Daniel Thomas, president of the LoveMarch Movement, tells how he was at a point in his ministry where he was filled with passion for what God was calling him to, but felt unequipped. ‘I didn’t know how to come up with a strategic plan,’ he recalls. ‘I felt like I didn’t have the leadership ability to direct the organization to where it could have an impact on a national level.’

Two years later, Daniel completed his Masters in Strategic Planning and Organizational Leadership at California Baptist University.

‘It was an amazing programme that enhanced my ability to think through the issues and build on the leadership skills that I already had,’ he says. ‘I have been able to lead in a way that is far more focused, with more wisdom and understanding than I would have had had I just been on my own. I have also been able to pass on the principles that I have learned to assist others in ministry who have not had the same opportunity as I have had.’

These students agree that their theological understanding and practical training have been developed, and they have also been challenged to grow as individuals and as leaders through the courses they have pursued. Not only have their ministries been enriched, but their lives have been enriched as well.

Theological education is more than just academic training. It is the opportunity to have one’s own ideas confronted and challenged, and to either adapt one’s thinking or at the very least be able to form a logical case for personal beliefs. It is an opportunity to have one’s capacity broadened at every level—mentally and physically, as well as spiritually and professionally.

‘One life of an influencer can help change a nation,’ says Michael Oh. ‘And nations can be changed when key people are filled with the Spirit, have the right character, seek a posture of humility, and have access to theological education.’

Community Support

Many of the students involved in YLGen Educate are in the marketplace or are already very involved in ministry. Sometimes they have limited resources or may be studying in a second or even third language. This means there is a need to help students translate what they are learning into their own cultural contexts, so that they can maximize their capacity for impact in a contextualized manner.

With this need in mind, the YLGen Scholars Fellowship was launched. It is a quarterly platform aimed at creating a community of scholars who can think and grow together. The platform provides a space for scholars to get to know each other, support one another, discuss new ideas, and encourage and pray for one another.


Introducing the Lausanne Leadership Journey

An 18-month programme for emerging global leaders.

This is not only for the duration of their studies, but afterwards in supporting them as reflective practitioners. ‘We recognize that the students come from a wide range of backgrounds, with very different cultural, geographical and socio-economic contexts that may make it difficult to translate what they are learning into their respective contexts,’ says Julian Ayeh, leader of the Scholars Fellowship. ‘We want them to remain lifelong scholars, and in turn open doors for younger leaders.’

During quarterly calls, scholars work through reflective practitioner questions related to their workplace and communities. The questions were developed by the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity (LICC) and focus on listening, imagining, creating, and communicating.

The hope is that scholars will translate their learning and community calls into material and content that can be shared in their fields, communities, or published in partnership with Lausanne.

How YLGen Educate Has Changed Lives

Toluwalope Alabi-Otene from Nigeria tells of how when she joined the Lausanne community, she was just a young leader teaching God’s Word, but she was lacking in certain skills that could help her minister to her full potential.

‘I didn’t realize that I didn’t have the capacity to fully articulate the gifts that God had put inside of me until I started the programme,’ she says. ‘I have morphed from that young leader who only knew and taught God’s Word in its simplicity to an equipped and matured minister of the gospel in my local church. I have learned that we have not been called to this alone, but we are all part of a global family and can lean on each other to develop and grow.’

Alabi-Otene’s story echoes that of many emerging leaders around the world, particularly in Africa. She was following God’s call for her life, but without the right training, she was limited in the depth and breadth of her impact. Pursuing a Master’s in Global Leadership degree at Western Seminary meant that she learned the skills necessary to present the gospel more faithfully, accurately, and contextually.

Alabi-Otene, who now serves on the YLGen Educate programme, shares, ‘What excites me is the opportunity to be a part of preserving this faith we have received for the coming generations. This is especially important in the fast-changing climate of culture, media, Westernization, and the watering-down of the foundations of the gospel that often comes with it.’

What if the church was made stronger through more Christian leaders having access to sound theological education and practical training? This would help guard the next generation from inheriting a watered-down gospel, and help ensure that a high view of Scripture and praxis is maintained.

YLGen Educate seeks to strengthen the global church by training ‘Christ-like leaders for every church and sector’, one of the four pillars of Lausanne’s vision. ‘This is why equipping emerging leaders in theological and practical training is so important to us,’ says YLGen Educate Chair CJ Davison.

Micaela Braithwaite is the communications coordinator for the Lausanne Movement. She completed her honours degree in theology at the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa, where she has also lectured a course in Bible languages. She and her husband live in Johannesburg, South Africa.