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Sunday, May 02, 2010


Thursday and Friday we spent two solid days of worship, prayer, planning, dreaming, listing, listening together as a team.  A time of recognizing what God has done since our last retreat time of January 2009 . . and a time to officially hand over team leadership to the Johnsons . . and a time to look ahead.  My favorite aspect of this retreat was the "asset-based" approach we took, influenced by a great book gift from Rick Gray:  When Helping Hurts, how to alleviate poverty without huritng the poor and yourself, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert from the Chalmers Institute at Covenant College.  Instead of beginning with NEEDS, which are generally so bold and obvious and overwhelming they bowl us over, we began with "assets", the gifts and resources God has placed in Bundibugyo, the redemptive work He is already doing.  This is a theme of God's teaching for us this year, and fits with the theology of Don Richardson and Eternity in Their Hearts, the reality that God has placed aspects of His truth and image here in African traditional religion (as well as strengths in the society) which serve as doors to the Gospel.  

So, some Bundibugyo assets:  a culture of breast-feeding, which enables our motherless baby program to facilitate surrogates.  A culture of goat-keeping, which enables the Matiti project to thrive with the technical inputs from BundiNutrition. An assumption of spiritual reality, which allows all our programs to be fully holistic.  A culture which places ultimate value on progeny, which has a positive affect on openness to education and health care.  A universal dependence upon agriculture and passion for cocoa production, which enables the Christ School Farm to have hope of becoming an income-generating idea.  A desire for identity and value in a marginalizing world, which drives the translation project, and the coming together of the new Semliki Presbytery within the PCU.   And mostly people, the young ones God has raised up through relationships with missionaries, the hundreds that are coming out of Christ School, the dozens of professionals whom God has brought into partnership with us.

We also took time to verbalize our personal passions as a team, the gifts He has put in Bundibugyo through each person.  That encourages me, too.  I have hope when I see Travis' enthusiasm for "work hard, play hard", his glow of being able to encourage others, to truly build up; when Amy is able to take rats in stride and write a funny poem about them, when she grasps the organizational challenges of the next few months with competence.  When Anna speaks of her friendship with a local young m'lim woman, or comes up with hands-on-cool school projects, or reports that orphan sponsors have risen from 18 to 32 (more than half way there!).  When Loren laments the plight of local women, and tenderly weeps over her own longing to reach more. When John is able to offer the fruits of his hands-in-the-soil, and to facilitate the skills of our agriculturally gifted friends.  When Heidi touches the least of these day by day with nursing care, or keeps us on track behind the scenes with service.  We anticipate the arrival of Chrissy and Jessica; and hope for more.  These are precious gifts.

But few.  In today's sermon Kisembo spoke from 1 Cor 1:27-30 as he preached on Paul's trials in Acts 25.  God delights in bringing good for thousands out of our five loaves and two fish, in showing wisdom through our weak foolishness.  So we balance a healthy respect for our assets and a healthy realization that they are completely inadequate for ushering in the Kingdom unless God miraculously multiplies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you read The Tipping Point? by Malcolm Gladwell. I have been listening to it, and thinking of you all often. Praying for your own "tipping point" to be obvious to you all in the near future... an "epidemic" of God's goodness, love, mercy, justice, restoration and redemption. Praying that your upcoming transition will be part of that.