‘Talking to this woman of God was the highlight of the whole gathering for me’, says Lilian Gitonga, one of the participants of the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering. She left Jakarta with the conviction that mentoring for the next generation of leaders should be encouraged all over the world.
Arriving to Indonesia a few days before the gathering, Lilian felt that she was at a crossroads. Her work contract back in Kenya would end the next month, and she was trying to decide whether or not to accept another offer that would have her traveling 70 percent of the time. How could she possibly balance that with being a new mother and a young wife? Was she to sacrifice her ministry or her family?
So when she learned that younger leaders could book one-on-one meetings with senior leaders at the YLG, she knew it was her chance. She booked a meeting with Narni Wang, who leads an IT (Information Technology) as mission ministry in Indonesia.
‘To my great surprise, a day before our meeting, Narni reached out to me by email to confirm that we were meeting. This was so meaningful for me’, says Lilian. When they sat down together, she wasn’t sure where to start. But Narni helped by sharing her story first, making herself vulnerable. God was already speaking to Lilian as Narni opened up, and this set the stage for many more questions.
The two soon realized how much their life stories have in common, and how juggling family and ministry is a struggle that Narni has also had to grapple with. ‘Although we only booked one time together, we ended up meeting four times, and on the day off, I went to Narni’s church and spent time with her family’, shares Lilian.
Lilian returned to Nairobi with a newfound clarity. After talking to her husband Jack, they decided that she wouldn’t take a job that would tear her away from her young family. Instead, they would trust the Father to provide another opportunity. No sooner was this decision made than her boss called Lilian to ask her to stay at her current position for another year.
Lilian’s story echoes that of so many testimonies from the YLG, showing a deep hunger among younger leaders for mentoring—rather than something the older generation wants to impose on the next. ‘When you look at younger leaders, you might get the impression that we know what we’re doing, but we often don’t. And we don’t look for someone who will tell us what to do, but someone who can come alongside us and ask the right questions that reveal our blind spots’, says Lilian.Lilian and Narni are still in touch via Skype and exchange regular emails. But this is not the end of the story. The generational impact has continued even further. After realizing the value of mentoring through her YLG experience, Lilian also started to mentor younger people in her own church.
Mentoring was central to the YLG in Jakarta, and it’s one of the main aspects of the Lausanne Younger Leaders Generation (YLGen), a ten-year commitment launched at the YLG to further connect leaders for missional impact. YLGen is not just a commitment to younger leaders, but to building connections across generations.
Lilian’s story exemplifies the ripple effect we were so fervently praying for and working towards—we praise God for this early fruit from the YLG!