2010 Global Leadership Summit Team


As I sit overlooking the Nile, I have to say that today I’m impressed with the coordination between Kasr El Dobara and WePartner’s technical and logistics team.  Each session has begun ON TIME, even in a culture that considers time differently.  And it wasn’t as if people were left behind with the GLS starting without them.  Last night the room was packed with 1200+ people before start time.  This morning, it was standing room only!

Everything was handled professionally from the cameras, sound, light, translation and orderliness in serving the lunch meal.

Thanks team for such a well coordinated effort and making it all seamless!

In terms of content, I am continually amazed at how God orchestrates things that even the best project manager could not.  When Shoji, Mae and I were assigned our topics for the Pre-Summit Seminars, we wrote them independently.  When they were complete, we were amazed at how one built on the other.  The women were encouraged.

But today, it was even more amazing how even video and live discussions re-emphasized the same points.  Only God could have synchronized such independent thought processes and content development.  Of particular encouragement to the women was Christine Caine’s personal story.  The women resonated with Christine’s story of hardship and how despite this, God has used her in a big way.  It would be an understatement to say that women here continue to endure hardship.    They have been given permission to dream for the first time; permission to think of their own desires and take the risk to pray and fast on behalf of their own personal needs and desires!  I was told in advance that this might be a new experience for the women here.  It seems inconceivable that any person would exist without having explored their own needs and felt comfortable enough to ask God to assist with those needs.  This was a message well received this week.

Through it all, I was especially touched by the worship that we have in common with our Egyptian brothers and sisters.  Singing the same tunes in our own languages was amazing.  But the different rhythms were inspiring!  The lyrics referencing wandering through the desert like Moses was an amazing reminder of the historical significance of where we now stand!



Tuesday the WePartner team converged on Mallawi with more than 70 pastors and lay-leaders representing at least 15 ministries from the local and surrounding areas. Mallawi Evangelical Christian Church, located within the hustle and bustle of a city sounding like Los Angeles or New York were it not of the ‘hee-haws’ of passing donkeys, hosted a one-day leadership seminar where three volunteers from the WeParter team each presented on leadership and teambuilding within the community.

The seminar, based on Bill Hybel’s book “Courageous Leadership,” played out more like an interactive roundtable, as ideas on leadership were discussed in open forum and the struggles to reach the needs of the community in Christ-like fashion were wrestled with.  The exchange of information and ideas gave both sides fresh understanding of the possibilities, filling the day fasterthan anyone expected – a single day was not enough to exhaust all thoughts on the matter.

With new friendships, partnerships, and materials in-hand (including an Arabic translation of Hybels’ book) each attendee left with another tool for their respective ministries.  Today, the WePartner team prays for each of them as they lead their ministries to reach Upper Egypt for Christ.


Contrasts and Sameness

The village of Deir-Abu Hennis, where our team activities are taking place on this Monday, is sufficiently remote that it requires 90 minutes of bus travel to get there each day from our hotel in El Minya.  On this trip we see the contrasts that mark this unique land.  Driving along the banks of the Nile, we see life happening much as it has for millennia – some women washing clothes, some fires for cooking – while on the other bank a spectacular pyramid-shaped hotel of gleaming stone is being constructed.  A man in traditional dress driving two donkeys pulling his cart is passed on the road by a shiny sports car.

In one meeting the women of the ANWAAR ministry hear a message of empowerment in support of their service and interact with the women of our team.  Another team member speaks on the subject, “You Are the Image of God” to a group of ten disabled villagers – all young people – and their supporters, and we witness the radiant happiness on their faces as they each receive the gift of a new wheelchair, provided in partnership with Joni and Friends.  The team hears of the inspiring work of ANWAAR as it tackles the transnational issues of poverty, education, health and societal ills that run through much of the African continent.

The children of this village are delightful.  Our team – arriving on a bus so common in the tourist areas of Egypt but very rare here – represents an exciting event in their lives.  They crowd around us with happy faces, wanting to have their pictures taken and in any way possible touch the outside world.  They represent Egypt’s future, and we pray they grow strong in Christ.

We walk through the village, sharing the road with donkeys, cows, dogs, sheep, goats and even a camel.  Arriving at the 5th century Church of Saint John, we enter the ancient world of the Copts and understand that 1,600 years later, we too worship Jesus, the same yesterday, today and forever.


I have traveled to different places, usually with very little money left over to spend.  So I’ve gotten in the habit of picking up a rock or two from my travels and putting them in a jar as a keepsake.  Most of them are nothing fancy,  but the one I’ve taken from Mallawy is unique.  It’s a chip of red brick.  You see piles of them all over the village of  Deir Abu Hennis,  where building projects are happening all over the area and take years to complete.  We spent Sunday morning listening to a sermon about leadership, delivered by a volunteer from WePartner.  It was one of three being done in different local churches.  Afterward, all the leadership from these local churches met together for a brief presentation on how the local church is serving in that community.

It was a red brick day.  We learned how one local ministry is building important relationships for today and laying a solid foundation for tomorrow.

On the Road to Minya

We wanted to update all of our friends and family on the status of our trip.  Everyone made it safely and have no problems to report with flight delays, security or immigration.  God has been good to us, providing nice places for us to lay our jet-lagged heads.

Our trip has begun with a day of travel and tourism.  Saturday, we went to see the Pyramids and the Sphinx at Giza.  On our way to Minya, we also visited an 11th dynasty necropolis in Benni Hassan.  The tomb paintings were amazing and gave us a greater appreciation of the rich history of the people we are here to serve.

Sunday will be an exciting day, with three volunteers from WePartner preaching in three different area churches.  The congregations and volunteers will then come together for a time of food and fellowship.  All of us from WePartner would like to thank you for continuing to keep us in your prayers.  We’ll keep you posted.

To Cairo and Beyond…

Several of our team members headed from Chicago on Wednesday’s overnight flight to Cairo while the rest of the team headed over “the pond” on Thanksgiving Day.  On the first flight we enjoyed playing with the individual touch-screen TVs, watching movies, and trying to sleep through the turbulence.  And, we were fortunate enough to enjoy a light turkey sandwich on the plane during the second leg of the trip – thank you Royal Jordanian!

Our travelers and luggage arrived unharmed, and we were greeted promptly by Garden City Travel who whisked us off to the Sheapherd Hotel along the Nile River in downtown Cairo.  After a brief night sleep, we woke up to a wonderful Egyptian style buffet breakfast, complete with foul and flatbread, crepes and croissants, cheeses and qahwa (coffee).

We picked up a study-abroad student from Willow who is studying in Cairo this semester and drove 2.5 hours to the maritime city of Alexandria on the Mediterranean shoreline.  After enjoying the view, discussion and people watching at the local Starbucks (seriously), we visited a local castle that is situated in a park by the beach (Montazah).  It was wonderful to walk and talk as we shared stories from home and our excitement about this twelve day adventure.

For lunch, we drove along the coastline to the renown Fish Market for a delicious fresh seafood meal together and then visited the famous Alexandria Library.  If you’ve never been there, definitely check it out online at www.bibalex.org.  Truly amazing, but perhaps not as amazing as the fresh rice pudding topped with ice cream, nuts, cinnamon and raisins from Saber!

That evening, we drove back to our hotel in Cairo to meet up at the Shepheard Hotel with those whose flights had arrived during the day.  Everyone went to bed early in preparation for our early start time on Saturday when we would board the coach bus for Giza and El Minya.  It was a treat to spend a day getting acclimated to the culture and resting up before heading deeper into Egypt to serve the people in the village.

Thank you to everyone who is prayerfully supporting us on this ministry trip.  We are blessed by God and you to be here.  Stay tuned for more posts as we journey ahead each day…

Why I Serve

Hi.  My name is Dawn and I volunteer for WePartner.  I’m writing because I think some of you are like me. Have you been wondering why the folks who are coming on this trip are going?  Is it the excitement of an exotic locale, a chance to meet other people, a love of service – what?  My own motives started long ago.  I have always been interested in Egypt.  When I was a kid I used to wrap up my stuffed animals like mummies and would check out books about archeology by the armload.  When I was looking at colleges, I applied to a couple of schools with great archeology programs on the off chance my passion would impress them.  It didn’t, so when I had the opportunity to visit Egypt a few years ago, I jumped at the chance.  The dreams of my childhood were going to come true!  It was great, the Pyramids, the Red Sea, the Egyptian Antiquities Museum filled with all the treasures I had only seen in books or on TV.  But my knowledge didn’t prepare me for a change in my heart. We went off the “regular” tourist path and rode a bus to see St. Simon the Tanner Coptic Orthodox Church in the Mokattam garbage village.  We drove through this place, a village within a city where people earned a living by collecting garbage from city apartments for a small tip.  They take the garbage and separate and sell the recyclables.  The thing that struck me was not the extreme poverty, but the hope.  As we sat in traffic, I could see people working with each other, talking, laughing.  Little kids were coming home from school around that time and they were goofing around just like little kids anywhere do.  In a situation where I would have been weeping and wringing my hands, these people were ok.  When we got to the church I was struck from my feet by a “whisper” in my ear – these people were only ok because of the church and the teaching of God’s word. This was what I was supposed to see. The church was like the hub of a wheel, with the hope of God radiating from it into the lives of people.  I believe that the local church is the hope of the world, but I had never seen it so clearly before.  This divine moment of clarity is why I volunteer.  I want to do everything I can to ensure that people who serve God are sustained and “transformed by the renewing of their minds” (Rom 12:2).  The GLS does this so well, and I’m privileged to be a small part of it.

Common Life

Ephesians 3:19-21; “…and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
It is with great pleasure that I’m able to come and serve here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in Lilongwe, Malawi. I haven’t been to the heart of Africa for over 7 years now, and I miss it! It felt really good to arrive at the airport and come out smelling Africa! The ground is Africa Brown. You could see the color of it everywhere! Malawi is a country in southern Africa, surrounded by Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania.

On our way from the airport, we passed by a gas (petrol) station, and there was a line on the street about 20-25 cars long! There’s shortage in diesel, and people have to wait in line forever to get a fill-up!

I met some wonderful people here in Lilongwe. People who are passionate about their calling to serve Africa. Stella, who’s on staff at Willow Creek, lives here and she’s the one who brought the Summit to Malawi. I met Ernest, who is on the committee that organized the summit, he was the do it all person, the man who knows how to get things done in Malawi. He and his wife are heroes, when we had no power on Saturday, his wife found 10 litres of diesel for the generator to power the GLS for us. She reminded me of the women who poured all her fragrance on Jesus’ feet; with Malawi’s shortage on fuel these days, it was a wonderful gesture to give diesel for the Summit! Funwayo is a pastor from a city 4 hours away! He came and helped with powerpoint and other technical help. Grace was the glue! She has a wonderful smile, great attitude and a final exam on Monday! She was waking up at 2AM everyday this week to study, then she goes on to work on GLS work during the day.

I saw the love that surpasses knowledge this week in all of them. They obeyed God’s calling for them, and He delivered His message using them. So, while we couldn’t imagine a video and audio signal that is professionally displayed for the conference audience. While we couldn’t imagine power coming out of the generator on Saturday. While we couldn’t imaging even powering the generator itself with diesel that requires drivers to spend the night in front of gas stations, just to get their cars filled up. God did “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

There’s a common life between all of God’s people, bringing Hope to the world. I’m inspired to keep focus!

Church Leadership in Action

I heard today that our church in Alexandria gathered some of its leaders and went on a retreat! They played the Team Edition videos of Bill Hybels, TD Jakes and Patrick Lencioni’s talks. They had a great time discussing what they learned from the sessions and talked about what they can do with what they learned!

I’m still excited!!!! This is actually happening! It’s great when leaders share with other leaders what they learn and dialogue on how to make ‘The Hope of the World’ bring real hope!

Global Leadership Summit in Egypt

I’m still so excited! It’s been over a month now, and this post is way overdue!

On November 7 & 8, we had an amazing event that made up for any stress I had this year! After more than a year of preparation, we had our first Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in the Middle East! It was an event that I’ve dreamed about way back in August of 2001, when I first attended a Summit at Willow. The first time I attended the summit, I said to myself, “I’ve never heard anything like this before! We’ve got to take this to Egypt and the Middle East!” I learned so much that day, it was overwhelming to me. I was working at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena at the time and was struggling to learn about leadership and how to make technology a ministry that works for the Church and ministry.

GLS Egypt 2008 - Bill Hybels

Growing up in Egypt, I never heard the teachings of leadership the way I heard them at Willow. I decided to make it commitment to attend the Summit each year, and haven’t missed it since. Having the previlidge of working at Willow some 4 years later, I had the opportunity to meet the leaders of the Global Summit and share with them the vision of taking the Summit to Egypt. We started the Journey in the Summer of 2007, and in November 2008, we had 460 registered leaders from Egypt and other Arab countries.

We had the honor of Bill Hybels’ presence, who through his humble spirit and his valuable leadership lessons, gave us 3 sessions that were outstanding. Bill Hybels is an amazing leader, he has a Jesus heart that just listens to people and learns about their situation. He delivers talks that make people learn why they were assigned by God to do His work in the Church. He makes you just want to go back and start serving right away and not waste any more time! He is very passionate about Christ and seeing the Church be the Hope of the World, he is very contagious and inspiring!

Preparing for the Summit took so much energy, but because God is good and is in control, He lead us to the success of the event. I’m so honored to have worked with the WCA staff, Willow volunteers and KDEC staff and volunteers who have given so much of their time, finances and energy to make this event a success!

I’m looking forward to next year where we can expand the opportunity to more people. Leadership is a valuable lesson and life to learn. People anywhere should be excited about learning how to lead with integrity and skills that can advance the church and advance the community and advance government.

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