Mount Pisgah UMC Group Trains Leaders in West Africa


Their message was clear. When Christian leaders in Africa were asked what would make the greatest impact on people’s lives there, they quickly responded: Help us train, equip, and deploy leaders.

Senior Pastor Steve Wood, and the congregation of Mount Pisgah UMC in Johns Creek, accepted the challenge to make disciples of Jesus Christ through this process, both locally and globally. Mount Pisgah is working to form strategic partnerships for leadership recruitment, training, and deployment.

Mount Pisgah, along with a medical mission team from 12stone church in Lawrenceville, met in late August to begin the work at the West Africa Theological Seminary in Lagos, Nigeria. Dr. Gary Maxey, a member Mount Pisgah, is the founder and president of the largest Wesleyan Armenian Seminary in West Africa. The seminary trains pastors and Christian leaders from many denominational, non-denominational, and independent backgrounds.

Pastor Wood taught Christian leadership principles to 60 Episcopal and mega-church pastors and administrators from all over West Africa. He also provided them with materials as he challenged them to teach these principles to 100 potential new leaders over the next 12 months. With the Great Commission in mind, Dr. Dan Finch from 12stone church, Dr. David Sevier from Trinity Evangelical Seminary, and Dr. Richard Charlemagne from Cameroon, each taught classes focused on empowering leaders.

Dr. David Heyward, a dentist in Suwanee, led the medical team from 12stone church that ministered to hundreds of families as well as conducting several excellent evangelistic events for impoverished children.

Mount Pisgah is focused on tying the evangelical gospel with the social gospel, installing water purification systems in every place of global mission they take the Gospel. Two systems now provide clean water for students and their families, alleviating the malady of waterborne illnesses.

Pastor Wood also travelled to Jalingo, where Mount Pisgah partnered with McEachern UMC to conduct a leadership training event among United Methodist pastors and leaders from all three annual conferences in Nigeria. Jeff Jernigan from McEachern and Rev. Jerry Kulah - the District Superintendent from Liberia – also provided leadership training.

Under the direction of Bishop Arthur Kulah, 60 pastors and leaders from the three annual conferences of the UMC Epsicopal area gathered for an anointed time of worship and training in Jalingo and left inspired and encouraged to be God’s agents in Africa. Virtually all of these leaders are working in areas of the world where Christianity is in the minority, and yet the UMC in Nigeria has grown from 15,000 members to 800,000 in just the past 15 years.

Jeff Jernigan also trained young leaders and led them in the installation of a water purification system in Jalingo, a system that has the potential to save many lives.

Mount Pisgah continues to work toward enlisting other strategic partnerships with local churches to work in Africa, and especially within the Ecumenical WATS Seminary and the UMC churches in Nigeria. Approximately 15 of the 100 largest UMC churches are either already engaged or in the process of joining Mount Pisgah, WATS, and ILI to further the work of raising up a new generation of Christian leaders.

This article ran in the October 3, 2009 edition of the North Georgia Advocate. To subscribe or renew, visit