Femi Adeleye: Filling the pulpits of Africa with trained preachers 

“My prayer and hope is that it’ll lead to the transformation of African nations” 

Femi Adeleye’s personal journey to his Christian faith began around high school as a teenager in Nigeria, reading biographies of young people committed and passionate about God and global mission. 

One of those books was Your Mind Matters written by John Stott, founder of Langham Partnership. John was known affectionately as ‘Uncle John’ to those who knew him well, and to those with whom he worked in Langham. Femi says that reading that book changed his perspective and understanding of the Holy Spirit. 

Femi went on to undertake student ministry as part of the Nigeria Fellowship of Evangelical Students, affiliated with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) when he had the opportunity to meet John Stott and was subsequently introduced to Langham and its work. 

Femi continued his work with IFES in ministry as a regional secretary, before relocating to Ghana to undertake his doctoral studies in Christian history and theology. Today, he’s been working in Christian ministry with various organisations for 32 years. After studying and working in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, the US and Scotland, Femi worked for three years at World Vision Global as the director of Global Church Partnerships. 

Joining the Langham Preaching team

After working with World Vision, Femi joined Langham Preaching as the Director for Africa. “Alongside that, I also lead an institute for Christians to challenge them to bring their faith to bear in all spheres of life,” Femi says. 

As Preaching Director, Femi describes his role as ‘busy’. He shares, “I have a staff of 10, so I don’t work alone. When I started, there were only two of us and I realised I needed to grow the team. Essentially, we run training seminars for pastors and laypersons going from the foundation of Biblical preaching to preaching from the Old Testament [and] preaching from the New Testament.”

While the Literature and Scholars work started from 1969, Langham  really began to expand on a more global level in 2001. Today, Langham Partnership has a presence in more than 70 countries. 

He says, “Initially we were working in about 15 countries. I was there when we started in Africa, through conversation with Uncle John we initiated the work in Uganda in 2002. In 2003, we had conversations about starting the work in Ghana and in 2005 it was Zimbabwe. I was there when Zimbabwe started and work in Nigeria was started in 2007. Today we work in 29 different African countries and in the past six months, we’ve just recently pioneered in three countries. I coordinate the team efforts in planning and implementing our training programs.”

Femi is excited by all the denominations Langham is able to partner with. While the Anglican church is the main denomination they’re actively involved with, Femi said Langham tries not to limit their training programs to any one particular denomination.

“I’m excited about the diversity of church traditions we engage with. We have Pentecostal churches and charismatic church leaders actively involved with Langham and I think one of the highlights for me is that an Archbishop of the Catholic Church attended one of our events and insisted his priests should go to Langham Preaching training,” he shares.

“I’m also excited about theological institutions who have invited us to help train their students in biblical preaching.”

Expanding ministry through adversity

Like the rest of the world, the Covid-19 pandemic slowed down the work of Langham in Africa but Femi says that, upon reflection, it actually gave them the opportunity to expand their work. 

Femi shares, “We didn’t do much virtually before Covid and we had to travel to be with people. With Covid, we introduced virtual training, which actually gave us a wider variety of participants who could connect with us. Of course, there are limitations to that because in some parts of Africa, connectivity is an issue.”

Although this has been a challenge, it has also been a blessing for growth. Femi says, “ It awakened us to fresh approaches and to carry our training even when we can’t travel to be in those various places.”

Significant impact across Africa

Many people who have attended Langham Preaching conferences across Africa reported that their preaching has changed and improved immensely.

“We’ve had testimonies of bishops and pastors saying since their members attended Langham preaching, their preaching has changed and improved. Some preached so well that they’ve had people ask them where they got trained. We have good feedback. I think the other important encouragement to me is that women are actively involved and they’re able to participate in our seminars,” Femi says.

Femi shares that he’s felt encouraged by some more recent developments as well. Pentecostal and charismatic churches have been at the forefront of Langham’s training and seminars. He’s encouraged that these churches are embracing the Langham ethos and supporting it both locally and financially.

Femi is seeing great progress within the Church across Africa, but also acknowledges that more growth requires more training and that’s where Langham has become such an essential resource for the pastors and church leaders in Africa. 

He says, “There is this common saying that the church in Africa is a mile wide and an inch deep, which I reject because it suggests that people are shallow. I think it’s more that people are not well taught. With the rapid growth of the church comes the need to equip more people to preach soundly.” 

Femi is praying that the pulpits of Africa will be filled by people who have been adequately equipped to preach God’s word clearly and relevantly and that those who do so will have the character of a shepherd for God’s flock. 

He says, “Beyond the preaching, I hope there’ll be a demonstration of the gospel in the lifestyle of people. So my prayer and hope is that it’ll lead to the transformation of African nations.”

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