Leading missional innovation throughout Uganda and Zambia

Emmanuel Indigitous #HACK Uganda

Emmanuel has been a key part of Indigitous leadership in both Uganda and Zambia over the years. He helped lead Indigitous #HACK events in Uganda from 2017 through 2019. Upon returning to his home country of Zambia, he then helped lead events in 2020 and 2021. This week, he is helping the #HACK Lusaka local team lead the event once again.

Over several years of giving leadership to Indigitous events and the local community that grows from them, Emmanuel has learned the importance of listening as well as sparking conversations about faith, technology, life, and missions. He’s found that a lot of the people he encounters struggle with balancing life, work, and faith. How can they balance serving God as well as their regular life?

“People often want to know how they can serve God best,” Emmanuel says.

God made each person unique, with our own talents, passions, and personalities. So there is no one way to serve God. For some, it’s through our social media presence, making sure we share the Good News, listen to and love our connections, and show the love of God online. For others, it’s through our gifts for strategic thinking and how we plan outreach strategies. 

For some, it’s about using their talents in development, design, or some other technical or artistic skill to work on projects of missional value. One of the ways that such people can do that is through an event like Indigitous #HACK. “The hope that we always talk about is to gather people for the sake of the Kingdom in a way that has never happened,” Emmanuel says.

2020 forced innovation

In 2020, when the global COVID pandemic put most of the world on lockdown, we didn’t know if #HACK would happen. But as we asked around, we found that there was great demand for it. Emmanuel had the same experience in Zambia. As the lockdown went on, he started receiving calls from church and missions leaders. 

Those leaders were interested in doing #HACK again, but they also needed more. “They also wanted training in how to engage in online church and online evangelism while most countries were locked down,” Emmanuel says.

“One thing that’s really important to me is bringing people together in ministry, bringing them from all different professions, different domains, to come sit at the table and see how we can use our influence, how we can use our expertise, to serve the global Church,” he says.

Emmanuel loves how the hackathons combine professional skills and mindsets with missions. If missionaries had a product in demand and deadlines for delivering it, that might change the approach. One of the #HACK attendees said to him, “What if the Great Commission had a deadline? What if we had only one year to do the Great Commission? How would that influence how we aggressively start engaging with the mission?”

Indigitous #HACK Uganda

Fond #HACK memories

In 2017, Emmanuel brought #HACK to Uganda and it was the first time launching such an event in the country. When advertising and promoting #HACK at churches, tech companies, and other places, they didn’t get much of a response, so he didn’t think many people would show. 

Instead, they had a good turnout not just from Uganda but also from neighboring countries to participate and learn more about digital missions. “One thing that is really amazing is how we’ve kept that community from that day up until now,” Emmanuel says.

For Emmanuel, a favorite #HACK project was the Electronic Visibility Gauge project in 2017, which was done in partnership with Mission Aviation Fellowship. One of his teams collaborated with a team in Boise, Idaho to prototype an automated hardware solution for calibrating HF radio to assist pilots when landing on airstrips in poor visibility. 

“In sub-Saharan Africa there are challenges landing,” Emmanuel says. “That’s one project that I’ve seen that’s been used in MAF locations around the world.”

Excited about the future

This year, Emmanuel is helping the leadership team that is bringing Indigitous #HACK to Lusaka on October 18. He’s excited to see what God will do this year. “It’s an adventure for God,” he says.

A lot of the people who attend the #HACK events have backgrounds in development or IT. Emmanuel is the same way, having worked in the tech sector prior to going into missions. So Emmanuel understands the excitement people get when they catch the vision for using their talents for God. “We’re in the 21st century and everything is digital,” he says. “Coming from an IT background, it excites me to use my professional skills.” 

But it’s not just about the technology and the exciting projects. For Emmanuel, it’s important that God remains the focus of the event. “We’re trusting God to move throughout the weekend,” he says. “I’m looking forward to God being the single focus during the weekend and even after. I also want to see the projects come to life.”

With the Lusaka event getting underway soon, Emmanuel is trusting that God will bring the right people and that He will lead them on projects that will help share the Gospel. “This is a huge opportunity for us to unleash technology to use it as a tool to preach the Gospel and grow the disciples of Christ,” Emmanuel says.

As for who should come to the event, Emmanuel is clear. “I call anyone who is willing to create, to use technology to advance the Gospel,” he says.