LGP Stories

Personal Stories from DMINLGP

VE of Cape Town Advance

December 26, 2017 | no responses

(This was posted in the wrong place, so I am reposting today)


When departing Cape Town, I was processing all of our rich adventures in learning. I was stretched wonderfully by this traveling Advance! I was especially trying to focus in on what I learned about racial reconciliation. I was pleasantly surprised to find this little spot at the CPT airport called the “Reconciliation Room” which was tucked away in the basement. Not sure what exactly the room is for, but a picture popped into my head of two people in an argument being shuffled away to this room to work out their differences. I pondered what a better world it would be if everyone had a little room where anyone with a problem could go to and work out their disagreements. Immediately, I thought to myself, “Why don’t we have more of these rooms around the world?” Like in our schools, at the grocery store, next to the courthouse, even in CHURCH!

If we had these reconciliation rooms scattered strategically, we would need fewer lawyers, for sure. A married couple having a sharp disagreement could go in to the reconciliation room, and would not be let out until they made progress. Ah, maybe there would be less divorces in the world.

Families in crisis could go there, too. I pictured a wise mediator in the room standing by to give assistance. Parents could talk to their children without yelling, and children would be required to check their attitudes at the door.

In a country where racial reconciliation is such a huge deal, South Africa impressed me because someone had the brilliant idea to build a room where folks could try “clear the air” and gain their voice in being heard. Just one more reason to love this amazing country…



We were blessed to hear many moving testimonies and speakers. In one stretching morning, we heard from one, “God is queer” and from another, “Truth and reconciliation are not mutually exclusive.” My world was opened wide and my ears even wider, when Mahlatse “Winston” Mashua, the South African Director of Ravi Zacharias’ Ministries, shared from his deep heart about his conversion to Christianity from Animism.

Are you kidding me? Witch Doctors appearing to morph into serpents, their voices mimicking someone’s Grandma?  Made what little hair I have stand up on the back of my neck! I was sitting on the edge of my seat, riveted at God’s almighty power demonstrated through this brilliant man. At the same time, my awareness of the deceitfulness of God’s enemy was elevated.

In a prior mission trip to a different part of the continent of Africa, I heard with my own ears the deep drumbeats pounding from the high places in Kenya. I was told of Animism, heard vague stories of witch doctors, and of ancestral worship. Somehow and for some reason I could not, or would not, grasp this significant ploy of the Devil. That is, until Winston took the microphone. I could almost picture his Satan induced paralysis and subsequent victorious encounter with the God of the universe.

I had never met a former Animist, but he was so  gracious as several of us gathered around him and pelted him with questions. There was Stu and Pablo, Chris and Garfield, and a tall bald guy from the state of Montana, riveted on every one of his humble answers, amazed at his patience with us foreigners of lesser intellect.

I will never forget it. I must never forget it. God is all powerful!



By far, my favorite time of all the special opportunities we had, was playing with the children outside of Golden the Flowerman’s shop, slapping high fives and lifting those little angels up into the air as I heard their precious giggles. Since I have already shared my favorite picture of this event in a previous blog and since we have already talked about that very same picture during a ZOOM chat, I decided to share a different, but still immediately recognizable, picture from my second favorite event of our time together.

Attending the J.L. Zwaane Presbyterian Church worship service, with our international Brothers and Sisters in Christ, impacted me in tremendous ways. Half a world away, with brightly adorned worshipers on “Heritage Day” singing songs I have never heard before, with many words I barely understood, after two hours, and a screaming sermon–the Holy Spirit moved me! The God of the Bible: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, showed up and although I never felt so different, I never felt so much the same. Thank you Lord for reminding me that the church is not wholly American, it is not totally white, it doesn’t need fancy lights and fog machines, and it certainly makes no difference if it is hymns, choruses or chants. GOD BE GLORIFIED through His church (and in a church that is ministering to the “least of these” in major ways that most of us Westerners cannot realistically imagine).

Now I understand why Bill Hybels from Chicago’s Willow Creek Church at the LEADERSHIP SUMMIT on August 10, 2012 stated emphatically, “The local church is the hope of the world!”


What is privilege?

How do you explain privilege simply to those who don't see it? This video demonstrates.

Posted by Woke Folks on Thursday, October 12, 2017

I was searching high and low for a proper way to respond to people’s questions when I returned to Montana, when they asked, “What was the number one thing you learned in South Africa?” I struggled to put it into words, how could I? A white guy, from a state that is over 90% white, who Pastor’s a church in a county that is over 97% caucasian, talking intelligently about racial reconciliation?

Then I ran across this video. So I shared it on my personal Facebook site with the words, “This video explains what I learned while studying in South Africa. I have been privileged, big time. All of us still have to run the race, and we must all answer for how we run. But because I am privileged, I was handed a big head start. I am still trying to wrestle why God so graciously allowed me to be born into the family he gave me, while others were born into theirs, to no fault of their own…”

It encapsulated exactly what I was thinking and felt. Perfectly!

I was trying to understand critically what I wanted to say without seeming like the “White Privileged” man that I am. I have never missed a single meal while growing up. and  benefited from both birth parents raising me. I was never sexually or physically abused by an uncle, never denied a job because of my skin color. I was not expected at the age of 13 to financially support our family, and certainly received a world class education from age 5 to 25.

Put this video together with the black African American female voices we heard in the group study with the GRANDSON OF THE ARCHITECT OF APARTHEID, Wilhelm Verwoerd, and we have received back in spades every valuable dollar we have sacrificially invested in our Doctoral studies, and this in only the first month of the program!


#5 (some bonus pictures)


Who would have ever thunk that we would be able to see Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robbin Island, and see the stones of former inmates that were piled up years later in an act of healing, as they returned free men to the prison that mercilessly held them captive? One of the stones was from our tour guide, imprisoned alongside Mandiba, tortured with electricity on his privates and through his skull. In a brief moment of alone time with this giant of a human being, I asked him quietly, “How do you forgive?”

His smile lit up the sky. His eyes sparkled with life. His voice immediately responded, “We must forgive! It is the only way to live and move forward.”

Thank you my Brother, and thank you Portland Seminary at George Fox University!

Visual Ethnography of Cape Town Advance

December 26, 2017 | no responses

This is moved from the incorrect place it was first posted, to here.

Please click the hyperlink below to enjoy the Visual Ethnography.

Visual Ethnography of Cape Town Advance




October 23, 2017 | 14 responses

AMERICA the home of the free! All people are equal! Justice for All!  The leader of the World!


My eighth grade English class was a life changer for me. My English teacher told us that we were black and the white man viewed us as low class and ignorant. She told us that we were not ignorant and we had the ability to be great leaders, business owners, and even President of the United States of America. I have shared this with my Co-Horts in previous chats. That class year was the pivotal point in my life that sparked my need to get what I desired from this world. So I set my mind to be the first Negro to attend a White high school near my area. Well, I was among the second group of Negros to attend, because integration took effect the year before my high school year. I was aware of the Civil Rights Movement with Dr. Martin Luther King and the Black Panther Movement.  My Founding Pastor, Rev. Dr. William A. Lawson, was involved with King and ministered to the Black Panthers. (more…)

Prospective: Living in light of the pain & the beauty of Cape Town

October 23, 2017 | no responses

Starting Point (Personal Interests)

As a child, and certainly into early adulthood, I was possessed of a decided lack of tolerance for ambiguity:

  • I distinctly remember my mother often giving me what she called ‘advance organizers’, verbal cues about what was going to happen in the future, so that I could be adequately prepared for whatever was coming next, good or bad.
  • In the Dr’s office, I could never stand to look away when I was about to get a shot – like they always tell children to do – not knowing exactly when the pinch of the needle was coming was far worse than the pinch itself.  (this is still true!)
  • Like many in my generation, the Star Wars saga had a formational place in my childhood: I had a viscerally negative reaction to the Obi-wan Kenobi telling Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back that what he had toll him about Darth Vader killing his father was ‘True, from a certain point of view’.  I remember this still, because I had such a difficult time reconciling what, in my view at the time, was a clear lie to Luke, with my love and respect for Obi-Wan….. ‘How could he lie?’  I really didn’t understand.
  • I was a serious rule-follower as a child and even as a teenager, not mostly because I was so good or morally upright, but because it was physically uncomfortable for me to break the rules. (more…)

Cape Town in Black and White

October 23, 2017 | no responses

The “Cape Town Advance” was a requirement for students in Portland Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry in Leadership and Global Perspectives program.  A group of more than 60 gathered together in South Africa for a wide variety of cross-cultural experiences and seminars.

Photography is a powerful communication tool.  Below are 19 black and white images that are a window into the 2017 Cape Town Advance. (more…)

Chip Stapleton Bio Story

June 8, 2017 | no responses

Chip Stapleton is many things: a husband, a father, a pastor, a coach, a collaborator and an encourager. A native of Western Pennsylvania, he has lived with his wife, Traci,  in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and for the past 7+ years have lived, with their 4 boys (Charlie, Jack, Ian & Henry) in Mansfield, MA where he is the pastor of the Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church.


Told Her Way- Katy Drage Lines’ Bio Story

June 8, 2017 | no responses

In God’s good Kingdom, some people minister like trees, long-standing, rooted in a community. They embody words of Wendell Berry, “stay years if you would know… the genius of the place.” Others, however, are called to go. Katy is one of those pilgrims. A global nomad, Katy grew up as a fifth generation Colorado native, attended college and seminary and was ordained in Tennessee, met and married a guy from Pennsylvania, ministered for ten years and birthed a child in Kenya, served as a children’s pastor in a small church in Kentucky, and currently ministers to college students in a university library in Orange County, California, where she’s also the neighborhood engagement team leader for her local church. She is preparing to make another move this summer; this time to the heart of America, Indianapolis, and hoping to root long-term there. She and her husband, Kip, have two delightful boys, a college sophomore and high school sophomore. (more…)

Expectations and Reality: Thoughts on Leadership and Church from London Town (and Oxford)

June 8, 2017 | no responses

‘My First Sermon’ (above) by Sir John Everett Millais

When we happened upon the Guildhall Art Gallery during a break one afternoon from our meetings in London – ‘happening upon’ an gallery containing both famous works of Art and an Roman archaeological site, is the kind of thing that you see in movies or hear in other people’s stories, but it really happened to us this day – I was immediately drawn to the above painting, My First Sermon by Sir John Everett Millais.


London Wanderings

June 8, 2017 | no responses


As I wandered around London, suitcase in tow, sleep deprived and trying to find my hotel, I was intrigued by the culture.  In my wanderings: I wondered at the homes crammed together, marveled at the ancient architecture, and bantered with the 4 taxi drivers who encouraged me to walk instead of taxi since it was “just around the corner.”

When I finally got to the hotel, my roommate, Mary, and I became engaged in a lively discussion about women in church leadership, which ironically we were both studying for our dissertation.  As I met the rest of the team, I was pleasantly surprised by the friendliness and comradery of the leaders and my teammates. (more…)

London/Oxford Advance 2016 — Signs of Life

June 8, 2017 | no responses


“Reflection in its highest form is an oasis from a world filled with noises, voices, colors and distractions.” 

I’ll begin by saying that the advance was a profound and life-changing experience. The lectures were all excellent. Steve Chalk’s concept of being embedded into a community is a compelling idea especially as it relates to the field of church planting. Additionally, Jeremy Crossly exemplified reaching a particular demographic; David Male encouraged that it is possible to work across denominational borders and Dr. Mary Kate Morris’ image of the hand on the door step stirred my heart. It was Dr. Keith Ward’s lecture—actually one small section—that inspired me to look more closely at the signs of life without color and the usual background noises. It is with this in mind that I made my visual ethnographic presentation—Signs of Life. (more…)

Once Upon a Time: a visual ethnography

June 8, 2017 | no responses

[click link below, to view]

Liminality: A Poem

As she stepped through the doorway onto the Virgin Atlantic plane, she imagined crossing the wardrobe threshold into Narnia. While she’d travelled internationally, and even lived overseas, she’d never flown across the sea by herself. What was she doing? she asked herself. Why did she dare embark on this adventure? Should she grab a fur coat as she walked through the wardrobe into the forest, as she moved down the aisle to find seat 43E?

Moving into a temporary time and place, especially for the purpose of re-creation, is known as liminality. Explored by Victor Turner in the 1960s, liminality is a threshold, a place of crossing over. Liminality is that in-between place, a time/place of transition; the place between departure and arrival. Liminal is what happens during camps or retreats (or Advances!), as we’re pulled out of ordinary routines into something temporarily disruptive, in order to return changed to our place. Liminality is transformative rituals– baptisms, weddings, which move us from one reality to a new reality.[1]


Year-in-Review – Colleen Batchelder

May 8, 2017 | no responses

In the midst of political turmoil, religious upheaval and economic uncertainty, I’m brought before the presence of God – I’m brought to a place of identity – a place of surrender. As the world spins and my generation convenes on the steps of cathedrals and coffee shops, I’m challenged to lean into the cries of my culture and understand their heartbeat. Steven Bevans, author of Models of Contextual Theology, reveals, “Christianity, if it is to be faithful to its deepest roots and to its most basic instinct, must continue God’s incarnation in Jesus by becoming contextual.”[1] In the midst of societal degeneration, leadership deterioration and church failure, I have been challenged to be the contextual incarnation of Christ. (more…)

How a Trip to England Gave Me More Than an Education

March 8, 2017 | no responses

Anticipation. Excitement. Trepidation. Anxiety. These are a few of the things I felt when I boarded the plane headed to London to join my cohort of 10, two previous cohorts, professors, administrators, and our lead mentor for the Doctor of Ministry in Leadership and Global Perspectives England Advance 2016. That’s a huge title, isn’t it? Normally I shorten it to DMin LGP Advance 2016, which makes it a little easier to set aside the future and compartmentalize why we traveled to places like London and Oxford just a few weeks into our program. (more…)

Being in a liminal place…

July 15, 2016 | no responses

We often say that life goes by too quickly. This past year has been a challenge in terms of time and capacity, but it is also an opportunity for growth and discovery. We all enter any program of study to move forward in our life journey. Most of us entered this doctoral journey not knowing how the program would shape us, but understanding that change would be involved. When I began the program, I knew that the Lord was moving in my life and the life of my family. One of my favorite new words that I learned this year is “liminal,” which indicates the state of transition or being both in the old realm and at the threshold of something new.  I know that my doctoral journey is shaping and sharpening me, and I can see that the Lord is molding my skills and knowledge for His work. (more…)

2016 First Year-End Review … “Who Sees”

June 21, 2016 | no responses

He sees every person’s heart and even understands why we live the way we do. El-Roi (You-Are-The-God-Who-Sees)

“The Lord looks from heaven; he sees all the sons of men; from His dwelling place He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works” (Psalm 33: 13-15). (more…)

Year in Review – Phil Goldsberry

May 6, 2016 | no responses

Anticipation” is rather healthy word to describe embarking on a DMin.  “Guarded Anticipation” is more descriptive of the reality of beginning a DMin at a school that you have never visited in person but only spoken to a few of the professors.  “Ecstatic Anticipation” is present reality after one year of being at George Fox Seminary and a part of the LGP6 cohort.

Every time you change institutions you have to “feel out” what the expectations for you as a student and what are the expectations of the staff back to the student.  Will this be experience be strictly academic and sterile or will it seek to embrace a holistic approach to the whole person – spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and educationally? (more…)