David Johnson, DAI Regional Director for Latin America, recently visited Brazil to facilitate several DAI workshops. After the first workshop in São Paulo, November of 2012, Dave’s most recent trip to Porto Alegre commenced the second part of June this year. So many exciting improvements and challenges are being addressed after the completion of the course. DAI CEO Jane Overstreet’s connection with a Methodist bishop opened a door for a second workshop to be housed in a nunnery that sits on a hill looking out at the main part of the city.
DAI currently aids in leadership development for pastors under the United Methodist Church. Right now, a need for strong leadership constitutes the main issue within the denomination globally. About a year ago, the United Methodist Church saw DAI influencing African leaders. UMC partnered with DAI to develop leadership within the denomination in Latin America. Coping with change, growth, and implications of both hold in a nutshell the challenges UMC faces. The disintegration of the family and burnout in church leaders are also real concerns in Latin American communities.
All that said, David saw some encouraging improvements since his last visit when coming to help with the second part of the DAI workshop held in Porto Alegre, which means “Joyous Port”. Mainly pastors attended both times. Many clearly use all the DAI resources and already taught them before the second workshop. About 40 people participated in total. A principal of a Methodist high school, a women’s ministry pastor, a men’s pastor, and a pastor over a church (that sits on the border between Uruguay and Brazil) attended as well as a fashion designer!
Americo Saavedra helps with DAI teaching and works with David Johnson in Latin America. Several important applications both Americo and David communicated to the DAI leaders included three main focal points. The first is in understanding leadership styles. DAI helps show leaders the importance of understanding their staff and how God wants to use them in ministry. Second, is the importance of planning. Many did not understand the importance of a mission and vision statement for their church. Also, imparting skills in strategic planning helped get many of their churches moving. Thirdly, both Americo and David shared the necessity of servant leadership as a Christian. One of the primary things learned focused on discovering the styles of learning and gifts of their staff and to see that flourish. An emphasis on people, not tasks, shifted their mindsets in a paramount way. Many gained a revelation that all people are created in the image of God making everyone valuable.
An increase in camaraderie impacted David the most during his second trip out for the workshop. He felt everyone connected better and the facilitators were included more than before.