The iHub students are currently on a well-deserved 1-week break as they just finished up Phase 4 of the training program. The lead photo above shows several students sporting their awards certificates from this phase – which were given out to recognize “Top Achievement” academically and embodying the iHub’s “Core Values”. Phase 5 will commence on September 25th and run for 8 more weeks. Then the final two weeks of the program hold final exams and an internship job fair with Placement Partners leading up to Graduation in early December. 2023 has held our strongest student cohort since the program launched in 2019 and we’re expecting very strong finishes from all the 36 students currently in the program.
Turning attention back to this side of the world, we’ve had a wonderful summer in Calgary since our arrival in early June. We’ve had many meaningful, memorable and extended times with family and good catch-ups with several of our friends; plus enjoyed many hot summer days outdoors (albeit many a bit smokey from the forest fires). Without a doubt the highlight of our 4 months back in Canada was the wedding of our youngest son Adrian to Jessica Taylor on September 16th.
The wedding took place on Saturday, September 16th at the Norland Estate in Lethbridge, Alberta. They were blessed with a perfect late-summer day, exchanging their vows and celebrating with about 100 family and friends surrounding them. We’re so thankful for the God-honoring day it was and are so excited for Adrian and Jess as they start their new journey together.
As in prior visits to Calgary, we’ve continued with our Cape Town engagements remotely with regular Zoom meetings, often multiple meetings each week. This has allowed Sonya to continue to deliver the Living in Color program to her South African clients (including one in Kenya) and myself to continue my responsibilities as a Director of the iHub and strategically advising Hillsong Africa’s church planting efforts, also known as the African Continental Expansion Team (ACET).
We’ll be on our way back to Cape Town soon, departing September 30th. Once we’re back, over the jet lag and settled in, I’ll be focused on these three areas in the final quarter of 2023 as I continue to serve as an Executive Advisor under our Posting to South Africa with Hands and Feet International:
1) Director of the Innovation Hub Africa (or iHub)
- As already mentioned, it will be a busy final stretch for the iHub leadership team and students leading up to graduation in early December, which I hope to attend in person by flying up to Johannesburg.
- Our 2024 Intake Program is underway now through end of November and we’re hopeful for over 2,000 applicants from whom we will be choosing the cohort of 50 students to launch the program in February, 2024. Please click on the video inline below which features our iHub Managing Director, Sibusiso Ncala in a recently produced video we’re using to promote the 2024 Intake campaign.
- A key growth element is seeing our new iHub Agency, also branded as [ihda] and launched in July, take shape as a thriving digital marketing agency with an expanded service offering, full pipeline of clients and employing the first two 2023 iHub grads as Junior Developer interns. This entrepreneurial for-profit endeavor will require significant support and steering from the Board in the months ahead. We look forward to [ihda]’s net income to be a growing component of iHub’s financial sustainability over time.
- Our monthly Board meetings along with lots of committee work in-between will keep my weeks loaded up with governance and advisory activities. We’re also focused on setting up a significant fundraising program from SA and global sources to underwrite the 5.5M rand (C$400k) budget for iHub 2024.
2) Coaching an iHub Student – Nadia Mabika
- A highlight of my year has been to take on an iHub student as their professional coach – an integral part of the iHub program in getting them ready for working in the global digital economy.
- I’ll continue biweekly, one-hour coaching sessions with Nadia who aspires to be hired as an intern with one of our Placement Partners following graduation and is currently doing some freelancing – her photo below is from her personal website landing page:
- It’s been very rewarding being part of her learning journey. She’s taken this opportunity to improve her skills very seriously and was one of the students attaining the “Top Achiever” awards from Phase 4 (you can see her holding her certificate in the lead photo above – second student face from the far right, front row)
Nadia’s Linked In Post at the conclusion of Phase 4
3) Strategic Advisor to the ACET
- I’ll be focused on helping Hillsong’s Nairobi Connect church launch as a full “Location” church, Lord willing by end of November.
- I’ve been supporting the current lead pastor, Enock Ngone seen below (bottom right video tile) in a recent Zoom financial planning meeting screenshot:
- Enock and I meet every two weeks to advise him as he builds his local leadership team, develops a launch plan and creates an operating budget for the next 3 years. Launching a major city church such as this will require some “seed” funding to help with start-up capital and subsidize operating costs until tithes and offerings grow to the point of operating net cash positive. In support of these needs, I’ll be working with Lourens Kruger, COO of Hillsong Africa and chair of the ACET to present requests to the Hillsong Global board for the financial underwriting to help support this key Location Launch in Nairobi.
- Once Nairobi is launched as a Location, I’ll be stepping into an additional Board role to provide monthly governance to the new, national non-profit operating entity – Hillsong Kenya, that should be registered by mid-October (another background pre-launch activity I am providing oversight to).
- I’ll also be supporting our local team of volunteers leading the Hillsong Connect church in Lagos, Nigeria. They are about 18 months behind where our church in Nairobi is at. We are working to source a Nigerian couple as lead pastors, help broaden and develop their leadership team, and advance them along on our church planting “readiness criteria”. In the meantime they’ll receive support and weekly service content streamed out of Hillsong in Cape Town, South Africa.
- The Nairobi, Kenya church in East Africa and the Lagos, Nigeria church in West Africa are intended to grow strategically into “regional hub” churches over time as part of Hillsong Africa’s vision of planting 50 churches in the 50 most-influential cities on the continent by 2040.
A key milestone coming up for Sonya will be her second Total Hip Replacement surgery, this time on her left hip which is scheduled for October 23rd. I’ll be refocused post-op helping her through her recovery and rehabilitation for several weeks, and Lord willing with the blessing of good healing without complications, she’ll begin to gain more strength and mobility again as we approach Christmas. Thanks for your prayers for a successful surgery!
That about wraps this update. Please watch this blog for further highlights posted as we round out 2023! As always, your prayers for wisdom and favor as I serve in my roles are very welcomed! And should you feel led to contribute to helping defray the costs of our posting as volunteers, you can do so by clicking here. God bless!