“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).
Who sees that I set the bar high for myself and was off to the next level, engaging in a doctoral-level professional learning community alongside ministry colleagues who also set the bar high? We are ready to embark upon practical application of history, economics, religion, social science, and theology, crossing cultural barriers and developing knowledge and skills related to understanding the context of the Word of God. What would be the price of involvement in an action–reflection process designed to review character, ministry call, and direction of a program that integrates enhanced competency in pastoral analysis with skills that would lead me to an advanced understanding of the nature and purpose of ministry and the calling of God upon my life?
I was thankful that I had been accepted and was entering such a great school as George Fox Evangelical Seminary, the “Leadership & Global Perspective” DMin program. It was only a few years earlier that I whispered these words to my Lord … “Lord, forgive my sin. Cleanse me so I can walk before you with integrity.” That was when I learned that one of the Lord’s names is El-Roi, the God who sees everything. There are things we might like to hide, but I know he sees them. So, I named my “2016 First Year-End Review,” of my DMin program experience “Who sees” … it is El-Roi (The-God-Who-Sees).
2015 International Advance … Hong Kong
The Leadership Global Perspective DMin program Advance 2015, established a framework for international cross-cultural learning experience in ministry. The Hong Kong Advance increased my awareness of the international perspective of the program. I gained respect, awareness, knowledge, and skills, to interact effectively across cultures; as a result of the experience, I am now better able to appreciate people of different cultural backgrounds, adapting to a new society, understanding the general community and accepting the people living there.
Marvelous is the word that describes the leadership of the Global Persctive DMin program …. To marvel means to regard with awe and astonishment. The excellent spirit of servanthood leadership demonstrated by our mentors made meeting and greeting easier at the 2015 Advance for the cohorts participating in the face-to-face learning experiences. The twelve members of the LGP6 cohort met with our mentor and advisers through formal and informal communication. We experienced copious encouragement while developing friendships. Prayers were at the forefront, which provided an atmosphere for learning and growing within the spirit of unity.
First Semester, Fall of 2015
On my long flight home, I begin my conversation with God; I prayed and asked for wisdom and a word to keep me focused. However, he already knew because he sees all. He gave me the word persistence as a traveling companion and wisdom came later and has been by my side like a little child ever since.
The first few weeks after the advance, I was literally stuck on how to approach my dissertation. I was unable to work on my Module Learning Plan (MLP), Academic Essay and Personal Learning Development Plan (PLDP), and did not have a clue about the direction of the dissertation. The struggles within me were heightened when I learned we had lost our adviser. I felt the void, lacking clarity and understanding of the assignments. I found myself alone in the valley of despair. It reminded me of Hagar when she was alone, frightened and sure that God was nowhere around. Yet, in her trial, God knew exactly where she was. He saw every move she made, and He came to her to offer comfort and hope.
Story of my Cry for Help
I cried out loud to God and asked Him,
Do you see …? Knowing thou God see my struggles.
They are great; they discourage me. Come help me
Get through this day. Lord, look at my talents;
they are few. O God, see my ability; I am weak.
How can I ever serve you the way you are leading me
without understanding how to follow the direction?
How can I enter such a vineyard to perform, such
mighty ministry work?
A few days later, a new adviser was appointed and we finally met, with some opposition on my part; I was reluctant to connect to a new adviser because I had reached a self-pity stage. There were feelings of being cheated, I began to think my opportunity was now a disappointment, but quitting was not an option because persistence was there to push me on; the Holy Spirit began to work within me, and I surrendered to Him.
Answer to My Cry
Because I knew the Lord is El-Roi,
His ever-seeing presence encouraged me. Just as
Hagar had to return to face conflict and problems,
I could not run from my troubles and
I cannot keep problems out of my life.
But the good news is we can solve our problems.
El Roi will help us through them.
We must face the difficulties
from which we run. So, I called upon
the Lord El-Roi to help me and be with me in
my difficulties. I began to say, “Lord, you see me
and know my weakness. Come to me and help me.
Give me strength to face my problems and wisdom
to solve them. Let me get victory from your presence. Amen.”
It was clear that George Fox University had provided the tools and the framework and foundation on which to build. Yet, I was refusing to allow the people God had placed in my life to mentor and direct me. The Holy Spirit began to bring to my memory the things that I had learned, studied, and pondered. Little by little, progress began. So many times, I might have wandered had the Lord not placed people and events in the proper places for me.
Reading and Blogging
Our reading materials were carefully planned to help us broaden our reading and writing skills while expanding our imaginations. Ironically, our first reading was a book by Adler, How to Read a Book; it set a pace and created a new way of reading. Thereafter, we read a book a week for blogging, along with our additional research reading, which made researching easier. Our first-year reading helped us explore the whys of the institutions’ cultural challenges and understand their importance. The books, for the most part, supplied the history, which gave answers to how. For the why, we needed a greater imagination. We are now better able to discern how our desire and imagination shape our habits; it is through our habits that we navigate life.
The idea of blogging books we read is brilliant. Suddenly, our classmates can be in conversation with us, even when we are not in the classroom. For me, that is what made this experience distinct, since it is based on the concept of choosing one’s own path or constructing one’s own story, which helps us develop our critical thinking, writing, and source-documentation skills. The weekly reading was followed by a weekly chat, the classroom setting on the World Wide Web, with conversations profoundly orchestrated by our lead mentor, Jason C.
The chats with our mentor and cohort allowed me to see the brilliance of each member, their wit and knowledge. Each one appears to be the smartest person in the cohort! I felt like I was on a runaway train because my computer was old and needed more time. By the time I could answer or make a comment, the issue had gone to three different levels and a different subject. I said, Oh Lord who sees my problems and helps me the same way he saw Hagar in the wilderness and came to her aid. So He gave me the thought to compile all the chats neatly in a booklet and to go through them during my free time to stay current on everything. Organizing is my strong suit, and I began to capitalize on it carefully, planning every little detail by ordering all the reading materials and research articles, planning ahead of the school schedule and completing assignments before the scheduled time to allow for errors or misinterpretation.
Summary of First-Year Learning Experiences … 2015–2016
In my summer semester, my boundaries were expanding and my skills were increasing, my assumptions about ministry, my theological foundations, and my spiritual identity were enlarged. The learning community of my DMin program started with a base foundation of questions to build and expand upon for my PLDP. The journaling process of this plan is helping me develop my personal leadership skills. In essence, each cohort charts its own personal development. The DMin program has given me great insight. I am beginning to understand integrating doctoral-level work, how it affects servant leadership and pastoral spirituality, and how the program is designed to help cohorts acquire as well as refine our skills in ministering to those whom God has called us to serve.
Using the metaphor of the butterfly for transformation to illustrate my growth, I am living in a “constant state of change.” I am in the chrysalis stage, the old body parts of the caterpillar are undergoing a remarkable transformation, metamorphosis, to become the beautiful parts of the butterfly that will emerge. This is evidenced by the physical, mental, and social growth and changes I am undergoing.
So, today I can answer, the “2016 First Year-End Report Review Experience Question,” “Who Sees?” by assuring my cohort that God sees and cares about us in our DMin program. He has not only seen our first year but the entire duration of the process of our learning. He understands how we celebrate ourselves with all our flaws, difficulties, and perceived inadequacies. However, we have to drop our armor and begin to reveal our true humanity—which becomes an expression of our individual greatness. Ironically, this act of acceptance increases our authentic connection with each other and diminishes our attachment to form and status. The learning will enable us to expand our imagination far beyond its limits while bringing forth our God-given potential within our unexplored possibilities … our minds.
It has been a great year … filled with growth. I am grateful and thankful that God sees it all! Tomorrow looks promising because God has placed a rainbow in my sky.
James, William. The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature. Springfield, MA: Seven Treasures, 2009.
King James Bible Online. n.d. The Bible: The King James Version. http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Genesis-16-13/ (accessed April 23, 2016).
Purnell, Dick. Experiencing God by His Names. Eugene: Harvest House, 2015.
Temple Baptist Church. El Roi. The God Who Sees Me. Genesis 16. http://www.templebaptch.com/NEW%20WEB%20FILES/Printed%20Sermons/Series/Names%20of%20God/03%20-%20El%20Roi%20%2812-05-10%20Sun%20PM%29.pdf (accessed April 23, 2016).
. King James Bible Online, The Bible: King James version, Genesis chapter 16, http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Genesis-16-13/ (accessed April 23, 2016).
.William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature (Springfield, MA: Seven Treasures, 2009).