Dela is the Vice President of Global Leadership, Area Team Leaders / LeaderImpact. Dela worked in Ghana and Kenya before moving to Orlando to take on the role of Vice President at Cru. For more information on Dela please see the link below.
Tommy: I am here with our good friend Dela from CRU. Dela, can you share with us what it is that you do for CRU? I understand that you used to live in Ghana before coming to the US. Can you tell us a little about that journey?
Dela: Well, I worked in Ghana with CRU starting in '79 and I worked there for 10 years before moving to Kenya in 1989. I provided leadership for our work there for 17 countries and later provided leadership for 23 countries in eastern and southern Africa.
In 1999, I took on the responsibility of Vice President for CRU, responsible for Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia, as well as serving as the International Director for Leadership Development for the organization. I did that until 2010 when I took on the new responsibility of being Vice President for the area leaders, which basically involves running line leadership for the organization.
Last year I took on an additional responsibility of being Vice President for Leader Impact, which is focusing on raising Christ-centered influencers in the major cities of the world and building a group of networks so that we can proclaim the message of Christ to influencers, grow them in the faith, and mobilize and engage them in transforming their cities for Christ. So, that is what I am doing now.
In addition to this, in 2004 we launched what we call the International Leadership Foundation. We did this within the context of Africa where we are committed to building leaders of integrity who are also equipped to spearhead societal transformation. We have done a lot of work with different governments and different nations across the continent. Since last year we have expanded to Latin America and we also have a presence in Korea and Albania. Our men work through the International Leadership Foundation, which is a professional entity, so we don't speak Christianese—though we carry our Christian values with us—but we speak in everyday language to penetrate society and establish a presence among the influencers of nations around the world.
So, I am involved with Leader Impact, I am involved with the International Leadership Foundation, and I am also involved with the line leaders of CRU.
Tommy: In the past, the whole idea of global missions was sending people out and going out to the mission fields, but in some sense, because of globalization, things have changed. Is that the purpose of Leader Impact—to respond to the globally changing aspect of leadership around the world?
Dela: That is correct. I mean, what we have done over the years is commendable, but it is not sustainable in the sense that we are all depending on North Americans and other wealthy nations—Christian nations—in the west to fund full-time missionaries who are going to different parts of the world. As the work has expanded, we do not have enough money to fund all of the initiatives. And in addition to this, the Christian strength of North America and the European countries is also challenged at this point in time.
As we have traveled around the world, we have seen that Christians who are becoming leaders in their various cities and nations of the world have a lot of resources, and yet they are not being invited to the table. So, they fund lower level activities while western partners fund the upper level activities.
Now, two things need to happen here. First, we need to help people in different parts of the world own the Great Commission as primary owners, not secondary owners. People in the Philippines or Nigeria need to take on the Great Commission to reach Nigeria and reach the world, so they are not getting it 'care of.' Secondly, we need to shift from the model where some people write checks and pray while other people work to a newer model where we are all mobilized and engaged. It is the principal of 'all are called.' We should rule out the mindset that I am working so that I can make money to do God's work. We should be able to say that the work that you are doing is part of your ministry; you should do it as unto the Lord. And then in addition to that, you should also facilitate others doing the work, so everybody sees themselves as missionaries in their workplace—in the marketplace—and they are not only writing checks, but they are missionaries by the way they lead, by the way they serve, and by the way they use opportunities to share the faith with others. Then we challenge them to live all of their life to accelerate the fulfillment of the Great Commission—giving all of their leadership opportunities, giving all of their influence, giving all of their finances, and giving all of their expertise to help accelerate the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Tommy: Dela, when you speak this message to marketplace leaders and pastors around the world, do they understand what you are talking about? Or will it take some time for people to understand what is happening?
Dela: The marketplace leaders understand it and they are excited by it because this is what they have been waiting for. Now they can 'play the game,' and not just write checks for professional players of the game. I think that it is a slower process for pastors to get it because there is a sense in which they see themselves as the owners of missions because they have historically been the ones to tell people what to do. Basically, this is a priesthood of all believers—a new concept of pastoral ministry—so the person who is in the marketplace is a pastor in the marketplace, even if he is an engineer by occupation. It does take a little longer to get pastors onboard, but we are seeing great excitement around the concept from marketplace workers.
Tommy: More and more international students have been coming to the west for school. As you interact with these students through your role with CRU, are you finding that more are returning to their home countries with a renewed interest to renew their cities and that they use their influence and their work to make a difference in their cities and to address the problems in their cities?
Dela: Yes. I would say that we see that more now than ever before. Previously, a good number of students would just stay in the US or abroad, but now they are reconnecting with home, and that does not mean just getting on the plane and going home. These students are reconnecting with home and are using technology, digital technology, and social media to make an impact. Some are returning home and establishing microenterprises or investing in education—that is a big thing in Africa where a lot of students are coming back. We see a new energy from this millennial group as they return home, bringing the ideas and the skills, as well as a renewed passion and vision for their missions and cities.
Tommy: Which key cities are you paying attention to most that are hot pockets in terms of developing a lot in these areas?
Dela: We are currently focused on 50 cities this year, and next year we want to expand to 150 cities. We are looking at cities like Johannesburg, Nairobi, Accra, Jakarta, Manila, Seoul, Bogota, Mexico City, and even Tirana in Albania. We are looking at those kinds of cities and are working with very established influencers as well as millennial groups.
Tommy: Well, Dela, thank you so much and I look forward to seeing you again here in person!
Dela: Alright. God bless you, Tommy. Keep up your good work.
Tommy: Take care, my friend.