I had an unusually heavy teaching load last week. On Sunday and Tuesday, I taught Perspectives Lesson 2, The Story of God’s Glory, in two churches each about three hours from my home in Spokane. On Thursday and Saturday, I taught twelve hours of World Religions at Whitworth University. Sixteen hours of instruction and twelve hours of driving. I also graded a number of assignments, responded to questions from students, etc. So, I ended the week feeling like a real professor.
As I reflect back on the week, I realize my greatest satisfaction as an instructor comes when there is clear evidence that the students understand.
For example, there was a moment at Tuesday’s Perspectives class when one of the students looked directly at me and proclaimed, “I get it!” She went on to describe how her greatest motivation for past mission work was her own pleasure. She was motivated to help children living in poverty because she loved “kissing their dirty cheeks.” As we approached the end of class, her perspective shifted. She now realized that her greatest motivation should be to glorify God. She should first seek to know, honor, and obey God. That is our first responsibility and highest motivation. Flowing out of that comes our desire to love and serve others.
Similarly, I have enjoyed hearing several of my World Religions‘ students say that their eyes are being opened to people of other faith traditions. After interviewing a Jewish lady, a student said, “I enjoyed our time together. I felt like I gained new insights into the Jewish faith as well as my own.” In a reflection paper regarding one of the texts, another student wrote, “With this book our course has an added level of usefulness and importance because it is helping to equip us as leaders of the church and this world, so that we can be respectful of other’s cultures, while still communicating effectively.”
I am grateful for the opportunity to teach and for the privilege of seeing my efforts bring growth in other people’s lives. May this be to God’s glory!
Last June an American businessman, Fred, and I traveled to Central Asia to help a church planting organization understand and implement “best practices” in their management procedures. The organization’s leadership is particularly interested in implementing financial procedures that will enable better reporting and transparency. Fred and I were delighted to see their hearts for the Lord and their desire to act with integrity. These people live in an environment that is hostile to their faith and face a constant threat of persecution. For example, one of the people in the training event spent three months in jail on trumped up charges last fall. As a result it is even more difficult to run their organization in a way that meets the standards assumed in the West. Nevertheless, that is what they are attempting because they believe it is right.
I am not an accountant and not able to assist them with the practical steps of setting up their accounting system. However, I was able to connect them with a friend of mine, Karen, who is an accountant and has demonstrated a wonderful capacity to design an appropriate accounting system and patiently train them to implement it. It is a delight to watch, via email conversations, Karen create homework exercises for the bookkeeper she is training and watch the Central Asian bookkeeper take deliberate steps to understand. It has been a slow and somewhat laborious process, but clear progress has been achieved. I hope that soon the organization will be able to transition to the new system.
I am also excited about this story because it wonderfully illustrates how someone from the West with specific training and experience can help an initiative in one of the oppressive parts of the world. Fred and Karen are using their abilities in ways that are advancing Christ’s Kingdom and freedom in a hard place. I am grateful for their abilities and availability.
If you would like to find a place to use your abilities to provide a hand up to those who can use it, let me know. I would like to help connect you to an opportunity to serve.
Last November, my colleague Laura and I spent a week in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe meeting with business and church leaders. We were invited to the city to explore the possibility of connecting businessmen and entrepreneurs there with experienced people from outside their context. We hope these connections will provide valuable input that will increase business success and, more importantly, provide opportunities for dynamic relational and spiritual interchange.
The people we met are transparent about the difficulties they have been through during the past five years. Their wealth and businesses were wiped out during the time of hyper-inflation and dollarization. (The country now uses the US dollar for its currency.) However, there is an optimistic view of the future. People hope that the situation is stabilizing. They believe things are getting better and their fortunes are improving. Some are waiting until after the election which is expected to happen sometime this year to take more risk and others are not waiting. The braver ones are moving forward now and they want help. They are very interested in receiving input about how to improve their businesses, leadership, management, etc. For example, they desire the kind of input that we talk about at Anda Leadership.
Laura and I are delighted to continue working with the wonderful people we met. By God’s grace we were able to encourage them while we were there. Our hope is to continue to serve them by linking them with people and resources that they need, but are scarce in their immediate environment.
Would you or someone you know like to join us by giving a hand up to the leaders in Bulawayo? We can use people with various expertise and experience. For example, people in the clothing, rubber, and finance industries specifically requested help. We could also use business and management consultants who have experience with re-launching businesses that have been devastated by external trauma. Finally, we were asked to help them launch a leadership conference. Would you like to help organize that?