Country Directors

Our leadership team and their locations throughout Africa

 
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Tito Iranga

Sudan & South Sudan

From Torit in what is now South Sudan, Tito left home for Juba at a young age and met his cousin who introduced him to Christ and took him to church in 1986. He says he spent the next few years going to church, but he was not a disciple. In 1993, he moved to Khartoum for school but was recruited into the SPLA rebel militia. After escaping, he returned to Khartoum and met a pastor named Joseph who became his mentor. Pastor Joseph soon told Tito that God had called him to ministry and Tito agreed. They began outreaches in Khartoum until they were arrested and put in prison for a couple days.

Tito advanced to seminary in Kenya where he first heard of African Leadership. After graduating and returning home in 2003, he began training new pastors and church leaders with African Leadership. In 2011, South Sudan officially became its own country, but violence soon forced Tito to move his wife and children to Uganda for safety. He then returned to South Sudan to continue his work as African Leadership’s Country Director, as a pastor with Africa Inland Church, and as a board member for the Hope for Sudan Orphanage that he helped start.

In the time since, Tito has moved to Uganda to join his family and begin work in the refugee camps – while still maintaining oversight of his classes in South Sudan and hoping to start back into Sudan. Of the way he sees his work in light of the ongoing violence and refugee crisis, Tito says, “There are so many dark areas in the lives and in the communities of the people in South Sudan. Dark in a sense that they’re smothered, there are killings. But in all of that, God is there and He said so. That even in the deep you cannot avoid me. He is there. He is there to reveal Himself to men and women that he loves and He will always take servants of God to such places and sow the love of God.”

Tito and his wife, Edwina, have four children. They currently live in Gulu, Uganda.


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Allan Knowles

South Africa

From Cape Town, Allan grew up in a large family and in a rough neighborhood. He became rebellious after the death of his father at a young age but found the Lord drawing him in in an unmistakable way. He started learning the Bible and preaching on street corners by the time he was 16 – but was only imitating the untrained preachers he was hearing in the church and feared people asking questions in return as he felt he didn’t have the answers. But his desire to learn and call to preach was so strong that when he received the chance to go to a Bible institute at 24 years old, he went.

In the early 1990s, Allan was exposed to the African Leadership training material and recognized it as a way to equip people like him who come from communities with weak churches and doctrine. “I have a kindred spirit, I can identify with many of my students. So the classes I teach, I see myself in many of them. I see how that through the training and through the Word of God, I can help be a redeeming influence in their lives.”

Today, Allan pastors a church and oversees and teaches African Leadership classes in South Africa. Though he says, “if ever there was an unlikely person, it was me,” Allan is known for his deep knowledge of Scripture and deep conviction of what it calls us to do.

Allan and his wife, Lorraine, live in Cape Town.

 
 
 
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Asrat Gizaw

Ethiopia

Asrat Gizaw was born and raised in southeastern Ethiopia, a Muslim and Ethiopian Orthodox dominated area. After a local evangelical preached the Gospel in his community, he received Jesus as his personal Savior – but his family, staunchly Ethiopian Orthodox, was not happy and expelled him from their home. Asrat, about 18 years old, took up residence in a church compound and soon after sensed God telling him to give his life to ministry.

Three years later, he went to seminary. He has been a full time pastor for almost 20 years now and joined African Leadership as Ethiopia’s Country Director in 2008, moving to Addis Ababa to be in a more central location to coordinate the program.

Asrat and African Leadership Ethiopia typically oversee over 3,000 students a year, making this our largest program on the continent. He hopes to continue expanding his program in the future, not just numerically, but substantively as well. “Sometimes in the church, we are focused only on preaching about God. But we have to address some of the community needs and expand this way, being involved in holistic ministry. Church growth is not primarily impacted by full-time church pastors, but by lay leaders in the church. If you see a church that grows, most people are impacted by lay ministers. So I am very much excited when those leaders who are active in the church ministry get involved in our program.”

Asrat and his wife, Edlam, have four children and live in Addis Ababa.

 
 
 
We have to address some of the community needs and expand this way, being involved in holistic ministry.
— Asrat Gizaw
 
 
 

Denis Hangi

Democratic Republic of Congo

Denis began pastoring in the village of Bambo in 1977 before attending Bible college in Kenya. While in school, he mentored an underclassman named Mezack Nkundabantu, who would later become African Leadership’s Rwanda & Burundi Country Director. After graduating in 1985, Denis was sent to rebuild a church in a local village that was falling apart. The church grew and became a mission church, creating 15 new churches under Denis’ leadership.

The war forced Denis and his family to flee to Goma in 1994. Here, seeing fellow refugees having to live in a school building, Denis was overcome with compassion and began a church in Goma. In 2002, Mezack recruited Denis to African Leadership, and three years later Denis was confirmed as the DRC’s Country Director.

Denis is known for his dedication to reconciliation and trauma-healing outreach. He has helped rebuild homes of his pastors in war-torn areas and has had graduates go on to minister to other countries or start churches of their own in struggling villages. “The war has provoked tribalism hatred, but only God’s Word can heal,” he says.

Today, Denis lives in Goma with his wife and ten children. He is both African Leadership’s Country Director and a senior pastor at his church as he lives out “his work to build the capacity of God’s people.”

See more of Denis’ story here.

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Geoffrey Ocan

Uganda

From Gulu, Uganda, Geoffrey was raised by an uncle who was religious, but also a polygamist. So Geoffrey learned to go to church at a young age, but says he didn’t understand or experience the Gospel much. When he accepted Christ and began volunteering as a teenager with the youth in the church, he came across Matthew 15:14 and realized that he was the blind leading the blind. He set off to seminary in Kenya – where he met South Sudan Country Director, Tito Iranga – and then returned to Gulu after graduating to begin pastoring and planting churches.

Soon after beginning pastoring at Bridgebuilders Church – a small local fellowship that Geoffrey grew into a ten-church community – he realized that his passion and what he felt he could best contribute to the body of Christ was the training of more church leaders. He joined African Leadership in 1998 and became the Country Director in 2000.

Geoffrey’s goal is to address both the social and material needs of communities, alongside their spiritual needs. He has seen his church and the churches of those he trains participate in several initiatives aimed at investing in their communities  -- from mobilizing community health teams to running literary trainings for women to leading savings and loans groups. But what brings Geoffrey “the most joy, is that I have been able to invest my life into the lives of others and they are happy living transformed lives. There is growth and multiplication and even when I’m gone, I have duplicated my life and that’s what God wants us to do.”

Geoffrey and his wife, Jennifer, have six children and two grandchildren and live in Gulu.

 
 
My joy is that I have been able to invest my life into the lives of others and they are living transformed lives.
— Geoffrey Ocan
 
 
 
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Jonathan Titus-Williams

SIERRA LEONE

Jonathan was born into a Muslim home in Sierra Leone and raised by his grandparents. When he reached school age, the school he was sent to required him to attend Sunday church services. It was here that Jonathan became a Christian.

Since 2001, Jonathan has served with African Leadership in Sierra Leone – from the end of the country’s civil war and through the Ebola crisis. With a Bachelor degree in Theology, and a Masters in Missiology and Public Administration, Jonathan also serves as the General Secretary and CEO of Evangelical Fellowship of Sierra Leone while he works on his Doctor of Ministry degree.

Jonathan typically oversees between 100-200 students per year in Sierra Leone and has had great success with our community development course. His pilot of this course led to the successful completion of a water well for a rural community in the Tonkolili District. This was an initiative that not only opened the door to the church in a Muslim-dominated village, but Jonathan also says that it challenged the norm that “pastors are just there to preach.”

His dream for his country “is to make sure it is well evangelized.” With a Muslim population of over 65%, Jonathan believes that as a Christian leader it is “a responsibility God has given to me to make sure that those 65% or more come to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s my heartbeat. I pray in whatever I do that the Lord will use me as an instrument to reach out to the people who do not yet know him.” 

Jonathan and his wife, Mariam, have two children and live in Freetown.

 
 
 

Leonard Chipangano

Malawi

Originally from the Machinga district of southern Malawi, Leonard knew in his mid to late 20s that he was being called into ministry. He initially tried to resist, but says he ultimately “accepted because I knew that the Holy Spirit cannot be resisted.” So he went to be trained at the Zambezi College of Ministry. After graduating in 1999, he was sent to a Muslim-dominated area to do evangelism and church planting. He stayed for six years and ended up planting three churches. He also received further training during this time – completing the Academic and Practical Mission Training Courses of the Missions Apprentice Program with World Mission Centre International and then received a diploma in Theology and Christian Ministry at the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi, validated by the University of Malawi. Leonard was then sent by his denomination to pastor a church with over 1,000 members in Ntcheu.

He began working as an African Leadership teacher in 2003 after meeting former Malawi Country Director, TK Ilesanmi. He organized classes and trainings for several years before making the decision in 2009 to join African Leadership full time, working as Assistant Program Coordinator for TK. After two-and-a-half years, Leonard took over as Country Director when TK moved to South Africa.

Leonard has been at the head of African Leadership Malawi since then and typically oversees about 500 students per year. He says of his work, “The impact of our ministry is huge in our country. The challenge we have here in Malawi is that we have many pastors and church leaders who have had no theological training. African Leadership is bringing a big change -- it is bridging the gap which has been there between the trained ministers and the majority of untrained ministers.”

Leonard and his wife, Josephine, have six children and live in Lilongwe.

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African Leadership is bridging the gap between the trained ministers and the majority of untrained ministers.
— Leonard Chipangano
 
 
 
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Mezack Nkundabantu

Rwanda & Burundi

Mezack Nkundabantu was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo after his parents fled Rwanda. Despite his Congolese birth, he is considered Rwandan and has built his life and ministry in Rwanda. 

 After high school, Mezack attended the Pentecostal Bible College in Nairobi, Kenya. Once he graduated, he returned to southeast Congo to teach at a Bible college. He “inherited” a church in Kalemie and pastored there from 1990-1995. After the Rwandan genocide, he moved to Rwanda. He started a church and served there until 2009. 

 In 2001, Mezack became African Leadership’s Country Director for Rwanda and Burundi. In addition to this leadership role, Mezack enjoys teaching and discipling students in the program. Currently, Mezack pastors a church he planted in 2009 that has over 300 individuals in attendance on Sundays -- 250 of whom are actively engaged in the church.

 Mezack learned the importance of having network and community around him through the relationship he built with Denis Hangi. He met Denis in 1985 when they were both at seminary. Their relationship has developed and strengthened over the years including Mezack recommending Denis to serve as the African Leadership Country Director for DRC. When asked to compare the church in the DRC and that of Rwanda, Mezack is quick to point out that he believes the church in Congo is much stronger. He believes that “where the church is strong, it is strong because all of the troubles make people seek God. Once they are taught the Word of God, the Truth of it, they are transformed.” 

This belief in the need for strong churches and discipleship with the Word of God has lead Mezack to faithfully build African Leadership Rwanda’s program. He has graduated over 5,000 students across Rwanda and Burundi and seeks to foster their ability to shepherd communities in the truth of the Gospel.

 
 
Once they are taught the Word of God, the Truth of it, they are transformed.
— Mezack Nkundabantu