|TWIN CITIES — Tabitha Kyambadde had decided to join Toastmasters, the nonprofit organization that helps members develop public speaking and leadership skills. However, she didn’t know that this seemingly innocuous decision would significantly alter her life.
At one meeting, Kyambadde met fellow Christian and author/speaker Betty Liedtke, who was giving a talk on being fearless in life.
Kyambadde listened to her talk and was inspired.
“I have all these things I want to do, but every time I’m asked my answer is ‘I don’t know,’” Kyambadde recalled. After that talk, Kyambadde decided, “this is the last time I’m saying ‘I don’t know.’ I have to know what to do.”
Kyambadde would have no idea how that resolution would change her life—and the lives of many in her home country of Uganda.
An African upbringing
Born in a Christian home in Kenya as the third of four children, Kyambadde spent her early years outside of her home country. Her father worked for the East African Community, which was an intergovernmental organization composed of several countries, including Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. The Community collapsed, however, in the late 1970s.
This was also during the time when Idi Amin was the president of Uganda. During this period, Amin demanded that all Ugandans who lived outside the country return home. Kyambadde’s father did so.
“Half of my schooling was done in Kenya, and the rest was done in Uganda,” Kyambadde said. “I have no college education. I am a high school dropout.”
Kyambadde had the first of her three children when she was 19. Her hopes of pursing an education seemed lost.
“When my youngest would have turned 10, I wanted to go to London and just pursue a degree in communications because that’s what I really wanted,” she said.
However, that didn’t work out.
Moving to the U.S.
In 1999, Kyambadde came to the United States with the goal of going back to school and then returning to Uganda. By this time she had six kids to care for: her three biological children and three adopted kids. Since she needed to pay for schooling for the kids, she was again unable to pursue her goals of continuing her education.
By 2010, Kyambadde thought she was “growing old, and I didn’t think I could ever go back to school because I thought I had run out of time. I am a very good listener of KTIS 900. [After listening], I realized there is so much knowledge here in America that if only my people in Uganda got some of this knowledge, it would be a better country.”
Nevertheless, she felt she “had no way of doing that.”
Yet amidst her despair, God was laying the groundwork for something powerful for Kyambadde and her former country of Uganda.
Lead Like Jesus
During this time, Kyambadde met a couple who had recently gone through the Lead Like Jesus seminar. The ministry, founded by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, helps train leaders “so that God is glorified, people are served and organizations are more effective in impacting the world for the Kingdom of God,” according to its website.
“I attended their first class, and I really, really loved it,” Kyambadde said. “And I said, ‘This is what my country needs.’ Uganda is almost 98 percent Christians, and churches fill on Sundays. But those are the same people who go to work on Mondays, and those are the corrupt officials … I don’t think that the corrupt officials come from outside … If we taught Lead Like Jesus to Uganda—give it to the people—maybe this will help change the way people are … and transform a country.”
Now when the opportunity presented itself to take the Lead Like Jesus ministry to Uganda, Kyambadde couldn’t utter the words “I don’t know” anymore. She had made a commitment not to use those words as an excuse anymore.
Once the decision was made to bring Lead Like Jesus to Uganda and have Kyambadde help direct the trip, things began to move quickly.
“I called my friend,” Kyambadde said. “She works for the government [in Uganda]. She had shared [the Lead Like Jesus course idea] with one of the government officials and they said, ‘This is what we need.’”
Shortly thereafter, Kyambadde received a call from a Uganda government official who said that 100 people there needed to attend the seminar.
“By the end of the week,” Kyambadde recalled, “we had 500 [people].”
In 2011, Kyambadde and a team of 14 others took the Lead Like Jesus seminar to Uganda.
“One of the things that has been close to my heart is that the ministers in my country are not trained,” she said. “I believe that if they are properly trained … and discerning the Word of God, that country would be a very marvelous country.”
During their two-week trip, more than 1,700 Ugandans were trained in leadership, far surpassing the initial goal of 100 people.
“For the first time in the history of Uganda,” Kyambadde said, “we had the Anglicans, the Catholics, the Methodists … together in one room in one accord, without competition, studying the same thing.”
At the end of the program, participants washed each other’s feet in a moving ceremony.
“It’s a really, really powerful ceremony at the end of the program,” Liedtke said. “And just as Jesus washed the feet of the apostles, ceremoniously, we distribute these little shoe cloths and give them to everyone and then have them wash each other’s feet.”
In the years since she has been in the U.S., God has helped Kyambadde see His plan for her life, a plan that involved bringing Jesus and leadership training to her home country.
“In 2008, I had given up,” she said. “I didn’t know why I was here. Nothing made sense to me. Nothing at all. I was here. I was a mother. I was a sister … and I’m here in this strange land; I don’t even know what I’m doing here. It doesn’t seem like anything I came to do is working out. To me I had failed at everything.”
At that time she wanted to go back home.
But she soon found that going back home involved more than moving to a new location; it involved sharing Christ with her home country.
“I didn’t know that God had a special purpose for my life,” she said.
ACTIONPOINT: For more information about Kyambadde’s ministry, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (612) 367-6262. For more information about the ministry Lead Like Jesus, visit www.leadlikejesus.com.