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A Look Inside the Training of 20,000 Leaders in Ethiopia

I sat down with Dr. Scott Rische last week to talk about Ethiopia and the rapid growth of Christianity, PLI’s training, the need for humble, godly leaders, and so much more. Over the next 3 weeks I’ll share the essence of that robust conversation in a way that will not only let you in on what’s happening THERE but put a few fresh logs on the fire of what can be happening HERE where you lead and serve…and for the church in the U.S. to be newly inspired. If you’ve been in PLI in the U.S. you’ll hear some common themes. 

Let me be bold. Before you do anything else, pick out a dozen key leaders in your congregation or circle and click the FORWARD button on these next 3 blogs with a simple invitation: You’ll want to read this. Let’s plan to talk about it next week/month. 

Today: A look inside the training of 20,000 Leaders in Ethiopia. 

Next Week: How Did PLI Get Started in Ethiopia?

Finally: Understanding the Ethiopian and U.S. contexts

“PLI fills a leadership training gap. It combines leadership training with a focus on the mission AND the character of the leader.”

a PLI partner in Cameroon

Scott, you’re just back from Ethiopia! You and Lori, John Busacker, Dr. Tesfai and Abby Tesema trained our indigenous Master Trainers that will train the 10,000 new pastors and their spouses that will plant the 10,000 new churches in reaching 10,000,000 new people for Christ.

It really is amazing. The Kale Heywet church body has an amazing Kingdom vision. It’s not a church vision. Their vision is to populate heaven. 10 million people reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ…not a vision to double our church body. There’s a difference between a Kingdom vision and a Church vision.

2028 will mark the 100th anniversary of Kale Heywet. They want to take this opportunity to invest in a whole new generation of leaders! I was talking with one of our partners in Cameroon, and he explained: “We don’t always have leaders that are good role models for our young leaders. Over time, people jockey for position. Motivations shift. The process of selecting leaders gets colored by interest groups that want to raise up a certain person. Election systems sometimes elevate the wrong type of person to leadership.” All of this to say that they see PLI as a way to accomplish raising up a whole new generation of leaders.

The quality of a leader matters!

PLI teaches that it’s about a heart for the Mission of God first. Raising up pastors and spouses that reflect that mission as their primary focus and accomplishing that mission of reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus. It’s a heart for God and a heart for His mission. Our partner in Cameroon said: “PLI fills a leadership training gap. It combines leadership training with a focus on the mission AND the character of the leader.”

Talk about the character of a leader. What do you mean by character? 

That’s a good question. In developing countries it can be hard to find leaders focused on people coming to Christ and not focused on position. Positions provide income and power. Something they may have lacked where they come from. 

That can be true here, too.

Yes. When we teach about the character of a leader, it involves sacrifice. Clarity of purpose. Willingness to stay focused on what you’re called to do and help people stay focused on the mission. Not easy!

It’s integrity. Honesty. Humility. Sacrifice. Obedience. Being faithful to your spouse. Not threatening. Not manipulating. No personal ambition. Not seeking personal importance.

In North America, one of our coaches said: People think of leadership training as “tips and tricks”… never the character of the leader! 

It’s very challenging. PLI brings a lot of challenge to leaders when we teach. Lots of encouragement, too. But it’s challenging. You can hear the room go silent. It’s like leaders get out a mirror and look at themselves in the mirror. We don’t bring the mirror. They get out their own mirror and ask themselves the hard questions. They process it as conviction, never as condemnation. No one ever experiences PLI as being condemning. It gets quiet. They get out their mirror. They look at their own reflection. There’s conviction. 

This is foundational to the type of leaders that get formed.

Tesfai and I were teaching on this, and one of the leaders said: The type of leadership you’re describing looks weak to our people and to the world. They see people lead with force. Getting things done. We understand that it seems biblical. Like Jesus…but weak!

Great question isn’t it? After a moment, we said:

Can you give us an example in the New Testament where Jesus forced someone to follow him?

… No.

Can you give us an example in the New Testament where Jesus forced people to believe in God and follow Him?


Would you agree that Jesus had influence in the world?

… (Smiles!) No one had more influence in the world than Jesus!

So, it’s possible. But, once again, it involves sacrifice, clarity of purpose, a willingness to stay focused on what you’re called to do, and keeping people focused on the mission. 

As you see, there’s lots of challenge…but also lots of encouragement. If you or your congregation would like to give to our international training, please contact Rika or click here. And if you missed our recent webinar celebrating 20 years of PLI International, you can watch it here.

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