My daughter, Laura, and her husband, Kagi, were married last August, six months ago. Due to unexpected delays in obtaining visas, they have only been together for about two of those six months. Not knowing the answers to the “If” and “When” questions has been difficult, requiring extraordinary patience for these newlyweds. Nevertheless, they persevered and faithfully communicated with each other. They worked to build a strong foundation for their marriage while living apart. Finally, this morning Laura was notified that she has been granted the UK visa that she needs. She can go to be with her husband!
For the past several months Laura has been living with Nancy and me, giving us a front row seat as the waiting-drama played out. Waiting with the bride reminds me of one of my favorite Bible passages, Revelation 21.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
The waiting for Laura has not been easy. Likewise, our waiting for Jesus’ return is not easy. Nevertheless, we continue to prepare with the hope that when he comes, the wait will seem as nothing.
Laura will soon be reunited with her husband. We, the Bride of Christ, will soon be fully united with him.
Let us not grow weary as we wait!
At Anda Leadership we have the privilege of working with leaders in many parts of the world, mostly from countries whose economies are “developing.” We notice a recurring theme as we interact with these leaders.
At the beginning of the conversation the local leader expects that we have a packaged product that we want to sell (give) to him. His experience with Americans predisposes him to look for us to bring something that might or might not add real value to his ongoing efforts. This causes a dilemma. He wants to partner with us and he hopes that the benefits will be worth the Americans’ request. For example, an American ministry might offer a local leader a training event for his group. It might be a sweet deal for the local leader and his organization because the Americans offer to pay for all the expenses, including transportation, room, board, venue, etc. The local leader only needs to recruit the people. The local leader might find it difficult to turn down the offer even if it is not in line with his organization’s strategic direction.
So, when we explain that we do not have a packaged product and that we will not pay for the local expenses, the local leader might be confused. Generally it takes some back and forth communication before he understands that our agenda is to understand his organizational needs and to help him become more effective in what he wants to do. To increase our confidence that we are adding real value to the local situation, we listen and only respond when we hear the locals express a need for something that we can provide.
The interaction is an awkward dance. Americans are known as the initiators, or the lead dance partner. However, at Anda Leadership we defer to our partner, the local leader. The local leader is not used to this role and it takes some practice for him to become comfortable as the initiator. While he is learning this role, which we all agree is appropriate, it is difficult for us to measure effectiveness. Are we getting a full return on our, and our donors’, investment? It might not look like we are, so we need to take enough initiative to justify the ongoing investment in the relationship.
We work to genuinely serve and follow the lead of our local partners and provide something meaningful to them as we build enduring trust-relationships.
My wife, Nancy, teaches innovative methods to children’s educators. She is traveling to SE Asia this week to lead several national level teacher-training events. She also teaches a class of elementary age boys at our church here in Spokane. Her influence as an international teacher-trainer is extensive. However, her involvement with the local Sunday School class is equally impressive. It seems that each Sunday afternoon I am again impressed with her commitment to those 12 boys and her creativity as she guides them toward Christ.
As she told stories about what happened in class yesterday I was reminded of Mrs. Dobson, my fifth grade Sunday School teacher. Did that patient and consistent lady shape the direction of my life? She wasn’t the only influence, but I’m sure she helped. The fact that I remember her indicates that she had at least some influence.
Even as a child causing her headaches, I wondered why Mrs. Dobson gave up whatever else she could have been doing during the weekly Sunday School hour to spend time trying to reign in unruly children. She probably did it for the same reason Nancy does it. Teaching Sunday School is an assignment from God. Sunday School teachers use the gifts God has given them to shape the next generation of learners, laborers, and leaders.
I am grateful for the women and men who volunteer as Sunday School teachers. They are a hearty group and generally under-appreciated. They are making the world better one child at a time. Good job Nancy! And thanks to Mrs. Dobson, who now resides in Heaven with Jesus. Right where she belongs.
After serving God by mobilizing Christians to complete world evangelization for 27 years, Caleb Project went out of business in February 2007. Six years ago. I served with the organization throughout its entire history except for the final seven weeks. Near the end of December of 2006 the board of directors decided that it wanted to “go in a different direction” and removed me as the CEO. I still don’t know why they removed me or much about what happened during those final seven weeks that brought such an abrupt end. Whenever I think about that time I get an empty feeling deep in the pit of my stomach. I am haunted by the trauma suffered by the 100 staff members and their families. Many unanswered questions remain.
During the past six years, I have inherited most of the organization’s historical records. Not knowing what else to do with them, people sent them to me. I have many boxes and binders full of meeting minutes, sample publications, pictures, etc. These archives tell a wonderful and amazing story of God at work. From the beginning, Caleb Project was an unlikely organization. It started with an anti-organizational bias. In the early days, we were committed to not allow it to become organized. The fact that it survived our youthful zeal and naivete and engaged in effective ministry for 27 years is miraculous.
It’s demise was just as unlikely. The staff was comprised of wonderfully gifted people, we enjoyed a positive reputation, and we were preparing for growth. However, just as God birthed and sustained the organization, he let it die. As always, our appropriate response is to praise him!
Now I am slowly scanning the historical documents into pdf files. Nancy and I decided all the paper was taking up too much space, but we could not bring ourselves to throw it out. So, we bought a scanner which I keep running as I work at my desk nearby. Carrying the boxes of scanned documents to the recycling bin causes me to be melancholic. Nevertheless, the exercise is therapeutic. A chapter of my life is closing.
Last November I spent about a week in Zimbabwe. Laura, my Anda Leadership colleague, and I had been invited there to explore the possibilities for us to add value in that context. We asked, “What, if anything, can we do to help expand Christ’s Kingdom in that place?” The business people have been through a traumatic few years as the national economy went through hyper-inflation which was reigned in by switching to US dollar-cash only. Dollarization is causing a different set of problems.
Even though we did not have a lot of time, we were able to meet with a diverse group of business people, mostly at their businesses. We listened to their stories and tried to imagine what it was like to have your world destabilized and your business destroyed. These people were candid about what had been lost. However, they were also hopeful about the future. They believe opportunities are before them and they want to move forward. They asked us, “What can we do to restore our businesses? What is the best way forward?”
They long for links with the rest of the world. They feel a sense of urgency because the world is moving on and leaving them behind. They are anxious to meet with Westerners because they hope we might have some insight about how they can structure the wonderful human and natural resources available to them to create a better future for their families, communities, and country.
I have been urged to return soon. I am delighted that it is working out for me to go back in a few weeks. I intend to spend much of March 2013 in Zimbabwe. I will again meet with community and business leaders. I am looking for business and professional people to travel with me. Do you, or someone you know, have business or professional experience that you are willing to share with the people of Zimbabwe? They have plenty of resources. They need relational connections and insight. Will you join me in giving them a hand up?
I was in pretty good shape last October as I focused on running the Wenatchee half marathon with my second daughter, Allison. However, after traveling for almost the entire month of November and five weeks of illness that lasted into January, I had lost all the conditioning I had so diligently earned. When I started working out again a month ago, I was at a low physical point. That is when my oldest daughter, Laura, introduced me to Nike Training Club, a free workout app. I am not used to this kind of high efficiency training. In the past, I have stuck to traditional weight lifting and running. This app instructs me to move quickly through a wide range of exercises that build strength and balance while pushing up my heart rate. I started at the lowest level and have been slowing working myself into the intermediate routines. Spending thirty minutes doing these workouts combined with a daily run has enabled me to begin rebuilding muscle tone and endurance.
However, my gain has not come without costs. First, my pride is daily hammered by the fact that I am unable to perform some of the exercises. I particularly struggle with the ones that require balance. Second, this Nike Training Club is geared to women. The instructor’s voice is female and the exercise trainers on the videos are women. When I started I teasingly called the workouts, “girly exercises.” Daily I am getting beaten up by girls. So much for the physical superiority of men over women!
Seriously, I enjoy being in good physical condition. I know that at my age, I have to work harder than ever to stay in shape. Spending thirty to sixty minutes a day working out is worth it to me. The pain is short lived compared to the long-term benefits.
I need to remain just as diligent with my spiritual conditioning. Paul instructs in 1 Timothy 4:7, “… train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
How are you doing with your physical and spiritual exercises? (A good dose of daily humbling is actually an appropriate spiritual exercise.)