Last night’s New Year’s Eve services presided over by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome is sure to be a memorable one. The celebratory spirit was palpable, and the festivities were elevated to new heights by the special attendance of Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo. The announcement of the Future Africa Young Leader (FALA) nominees gave overwhelming pride to all of Africa.
The New Years’ service is one of the most anticipated events for parishioners of the Christ Embassy and followers of LoveWorld’s President Pastor Chris Oyakhilome. Over the course of this last night’s event, the much anticipated 2019 theme was announced, the Future African Leaders winners were bestowed with prizes and gospel music ministers performed.
The event was broadcasted across all LoveWorld networks (Loveworld Plus, Loveworld SAT, Loveworld TV, Loveworld USA), reaching millions of people across the globe. Conversations on king’s chat echoed the excitement that reverberated in the Love world stadium throughout the night.
The former Nigerian President Obasanjo would no doubt have been impressed by this year’s Future Africa Leaders Award (FALA), the sixth ceremony to date, which included nominees from Nigeria. The awards ceremony is an initiative sponsored by the Future African Leaders Foundation (FALF), which is run and founded by The Love World President Pastor Chris Oyakhilome. Pastor Chris Oyakhilome announced 10 winners last night, including the Star Prize Winner announced by Nigeria’s former president.
This year’s Star Prize winner was Isaiah Deng, a 20-year-old youth leader hailing from South Sudan. Isaiah’s accomplishments are lengthy. He has organized inspirational conferences on nation building for teachers and students alike. He has also devised training and development programs for youth. Other projects of his, such as the “Youth Donor” and “Stop Hunger in Sudan” bring youth together to deliver critical resources to those in need.
Particularly noteworthy is Deng’s commitment to imparting youth skills that both allow them to succeed in the workforce, while also positively impacting their community. Over the course of the “Acquire Skills for Your Future” training program, Deng trained 20 youth on computer optimization and solar electric installation.
A participant of the “Acquire Skills for the Future” program explains. “…the program did much more than broaden my skill set. It gave me dignity. It gave me tools that allow me to feel confident in my ability to navigate this world. For that, I am forever grateful.”
Pastor Chris Oyakhilome and Christ Embassy Welcome A Bright 2019
In addition to the FALA awards, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome announced the 2019 theme as the Year of Lights. Thunderous claps and cries of zeal from the audience filled the LoveWorld convocation Arena, as the congregants welcomed the announcement.
A hush filled the stadium once more as Pastor Chris magically described the essence of the theme:
“There are different kinds of lights. Some are for illuminations, some are for leadership, guidance, some are for empowerment some are for signs and wonders, signs and seasons. What’s about to happen through the church of Jesus Christ, the Bible tells us as the days get closer and closer to the return of Jesus Christ, gross darkness will cover the earth, he says thick darkness will cover the earth. He’s talking about spiritual darkness -but in the midst of this, your light will so shine. The darker the darkness the more brightly you shine”.
The Pastor’s words aptly apply to the contenders of the FALA awards, each of whom who have brought light and will continue to bring light to their communities. Choosing a winner from the nominees was likely no easy task for the Pastor, which is attested to by the bountiful accomplishments made by each nominee.
A notable contender of the night included Chris Iyama, a 24-year-old United Nations Ambassador for World Peace. He is the founder and Executive Director of the Centre for youth participation and advocacy in Africa (CYPAAFRICA). CYPA AFRICA encourages African youth to take part in political and judiciary processes. In 2018 he helped run the #TheNotTooYoungToRun campaign that facilitated the passing of a constitutional amendment bill to reduce the voting age limit in Nigeria.
Another notable runner-up was Dahaba Daniel Sakho, a 22-year old computer engineer that wants to bring innovative disruptive technologies to his hometown. He created a transportation app that could potentially modernize transportation in West Africa by enabling commuters to determine accurate arrival time. In addition, he created a medical app that can be used as a platform to secure pharmaceuticals for those most in need.
Plenty of other nominees deserve mention: Maame Yaa Addae-Mensah from Ghana developed a communication device for the deaf and blind; Deliwe Makata from Malawi is founding leader of Woman Inspired an organization committed to engendering females with skills and confidence to impact their community; Godwin Egba from Nigeria holds seminars and mentorships programs that facilitate Academic success ; Lantane Barthelemy Doumongue, from the Niger Republic, organized motivational conferences and training programs; Ngassa Merlin worked with at-risk youth and established entrepreneurial programs; Taonga Ngoma carried out several initiatives including seminars for orphans; Yusuph Nyamuhanga developed a number of campaigns to create awareness for sickle cell foundations.
The names of these nominees now join the growing list of individuals who have participated in the Future Leaders of Africa Award. Many of these individuals have gone to create further impact in their communities, attend Ivy League schools and most importantly inspire potential leaders across Africa.
The Pride of FALA Future Africa Leaders Award
Seeing the accomplishments of these youth, last night’s proceedings held special meaning for Obasanjo who is celebrated for implementing the Universal Basic Education Program in 1999 to enhance the literacy level of Nigerians. The goal of the program was to provide free, universal and compulsory basic education for every Nigerian child aged 6-15 years. To date, it is the most successful education program in Nigeria. In fact, some of tonight’s nominees are beneficiaries of this program.
The positive sentiment was further perpetuated by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome’s own prophecies for Nigeria which had a hopeful ring and was likely well received by former Nigerian president Obasanjo. Reading from Lamentations 3:22-23 King James Version, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome declared “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” The merits of the FALA Future Africa Young Leader Award participants ensure that 2019 will truly be a Year of Lights for all blessed to witness.
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