In April of 2015, Matt Millar was living in Chicago, Illinois, when Bishop Oscar Muriu invited him to Africa to work with and learn from NewThing to help plant thousands of churches on the continent of Africa. As Matt started his apprenticeship to become NewThing’s first international Regional Director, there was an agreement between Bishop Oscar, Matt, and NewThing that turned the region over to indigenous African leadership within the first five years.
Gbenga Sanya – married to Folasade and have four children together – joined CovenantLight Church in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2015 under Pastor Nuel Manufor. He served as the personal assistant to Pastor Nuel, then became the church administrator, and then the church’s Executive Pastor. He successfully led several initiatives and teams while navigating these roles.
In June 2018, Matt and Gbenga met during a NewThing church planting training for ten different churches in Lagos, hosted by CovenantLight.
Gbenga planted a CovenantLight church and reproduced the church into four new locations shortly after that. While he was church planting, Gbenga apprenticed as a trainer and facilitator within Sub-Saharan Africa. Gbenga is a gifted leader who soon became the Reproducing Leader for the NewThing for the Sub-Saharan Africa team, helping African churches reproduce at all levels.
The Sub-Saharan team began to grow, and in 2021, Gbenga put a local Nigerian team together and launched NewThing’s first-ever sub-region – the West African team. That team connected with leaders and ran NewThing training throughout West Africa.
After much prayer and conversation with the global team, it became clear that Gbenga has the calling and the gifting to be the next Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa. Gbenga is stepping into that role as the first African leader of the Sub-Saharan African region. Now, NewThing Sub-Saharan Africa is led by a fully indigenous team of leaders from various countries in Africa.
Matt is leaving Gbenga a firm foundation on which to build. During Matt’s tenure as Regional Director:
- A Regional Catalyst Team of 6 members was established
- Nearly 50 trainers and facilitators from 12 different countries were apprenticed
- 1,288 churches and 4,831 leaders were trained
- Training took place within 16 other countries
- 828 new churches planted
- 66% of all churches that sat in a NewThing training in Africa during that period planted a new church
- For every $433 spent in Africa, one new church was planted
NewThing is committed to being a global organization, which means we are committed to leadership from Local Leaders. This is just one more step towards that end, the African Church leading the charge in the African Mission.
The other good news is that Matt isn’t going anywhere. He is now the Global Operations Director for NewThing. Matt’s primary responsibility will be to help the other existing Regional Directors set up systems, structures, and strategies to scale what they’re doing throughout their regions and thus throughout the world. He and his wife, TaLarrya, will reside in Nairobi, Kenya.