When reflecting on my time in Hong Kong, the first thing I noticed upon arriving was the incredible multitudes of people in a very small space. From the subways to the 50 story high-rise apartment buildings, people were stuffed into every nook and cranny of the city. The interesting part was the fact that everyone living there seemed perfectly fine and comfortable with the situation. I actually enjoyed being able to experience these crowded situations to better understand and experience a little of what life in Hong Kong is like. (more…)
Most of my days are spent finding ways to more efficiently move data from one place to another. In website development we live and die by the reality that if our site doesn’t start to load within 3 seconds people move on to the next site. In this light processing data faster becomes an obsession. Complexity slows things down, so programming is all about making a complex thing as simple as possible, but not too simple, to get the job done. The computer scientist David Gelernter is quoted as saying, “Beauty is more important in computing than anywhere else in technology because software is so complicated. Beauty is the ultimate defense against complexity.”1 (more…)
I have always found that low and slow is the best way to explore a new city. Eschewing the well-trodden paths to the shopping centers or tourist attractions I prefer to discover a place by bicycle. So, while others are negotiating their way around purchases to take home to loved ones or visiting popular tourist locations I am using Google Translate to negotiate renting a bike, getting directions, and ordering food in a place unaccustomed to English speaking tourists. I find in these adventures are opportunities to experience people and places in the midst of everyday life, going about their business, not pandering to my needs as a guest in their city. These initial experiences frame the remainder of my time regardless of what other pursuits I take up in the ensuing days.
I have travelled to several parts of Asia but never to China or Hong Kong. I anticipated hordes of people, immobile traffic, high rise offices and residences, and limited green space. What I found both met my expectations but also surprised me. Yes, there were lots of people, apparently the most densely populated city in the world, and long shadows cast by tall buildings, but traffic flowed surprisingly smoothly and there was ample green or recreational space if you knew where to look.
Catching up with my roommate, Jay, and other members of the cohort was a blessing. The past year has been personally challenging and I doubted that I would even be in Hong Kong. Were it not for these amazing people I am certain I would have given up. I was reminded that this group of people, scattered all across the globe are there for me even when I feel isolated.
The Cape Town advance dealt with issues about which I am particularly passionate – justice and racial reconciliation. The theme for Hong Kong was ‘Finance, Democracy, and Mission’, things I felt less certain would resonate with me. However, right from the beginning there were presentations that challenged my preconceptions, demonstrated new ways to be in ministry, and helped me reframe and reevaluate some of my own biases and personal challenges.
Rev. Stephen Miller opened my eyes to a ministry that I had never considered when he shared about the Mission to Seafarers. A crucial mission to men and women who spend the bulk of their time at sea and away from family and friends at home. Most people frame ministry in terms of relationship and discipleship yet, here was a ministry that was geared toward meeting the needs of people in the brief time they are in port. There is no opportunity for meaningful long-term connection, but the mission provides a respite from the routines of sea life while some of their physical, social, and spiritual needs.
Alex Fung opened my mind to business as a means of ministry. Alex uses his medical manufacturing business as a means to positively influence laborers, giving them the opportunity to work in a caring environment while also encouraging their spiritual growth, all occurring in areas closed to missionaries. He was a man full of grace and humility and helped me reevaluate my notions of what constitutes mission and ministry.
It was also interesting to hear about and experience some of the tension between Hong Kong and the mainland. The nervousness about the end of the 50 year commitment to ‘1 Country – 2 Governments’ and the evident disdain many of the native Hong Kong residents feel toward those coming from the mainland. They have had two very different experiences in relating to government as demonstrated in Jung Changs book ‘Wild Swans’.Yet, they still know how to throw a party, celebrating China day in Hong Kong which retains a very different memory of Mao and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, still embodied a sense of pride if possibly mixed with uncertainty.
Hearing from church historian Philip Wickeri about the history of the Christian church in China provided another context from which to understand some of our earlier readings. It informed the theological foundations as initially explained in ‘Grassroots Asian Theology’and reminded of the sometimes tense relationship between Christian missionaries and the people of China that was demonstrated in ‘Boxers and Saints’.There is a complexity to Eastern theologies and practices that is often dismissed by those in the West.
Upon returning from Cape Town I was inspired to develop a course at my University addressing issues of race and reconciliation. At this stage I have no plans to utilize experiences in Hong Kong in such a tangible way. However, I have spent the past 10 months unsuccessfully applying for new jobs. I know that I cannot remain in my current situation and since I am recently ordained I assumed that the positions I should be seeking would be in some form of full-time ministry. However, my personal circumstances have left me feeling incapable of working in that context presently. For too long my identity has been tied to helping and serving others out of a ministry context. (An unhealthy 2 on the Enneagram.) But, my time in Hong Kong with the LGP helped me reframe contexts for work and ministry. People like Alex Fung, David Wong and those working at Linklaters provided a glimmer of hope that I need not always be in full-time ministry and yet can still find ways to serve others. This may be a much healthier place for me at this point in time and relieves some of the pressure I had been feeling.
It remains to be seen what else may come of the experiences of this Hong Kong advance. I continue to be surprised at how these things often influence in unexpected ways, even long afterward. It has already provided me with fresh perspectives on what constitutes ministry, reminded me how God continues to use the people in my cohort to care for me and given me some hope in searching for a new job. Plus, I discovered that I was born in the year of the snake. Nana said that people born in a snake year are known for their wisdom, wit and humor. Maybe I’ll work on developing those as well.
Chang, Jung. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China. William Collins, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2016.
Chan, Simon. Grassroots Asian Theology: Thinking the Faith from the Ground up. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2014.
Yang, Gene Luen., and Lark Pien. Boxers & Saints: Boxed Set. First Second, 2013.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain
Arriving in Hong Kong is a bit like stepping onto a moving sidewalk. Things flow at 1.5 speed and it’s a great place to watch everything and everyone going by. As I arrived in this amazing city, I was awe-struck by the sweeping views of the harbor, the glittering towers and the hum of activity all around. The sheer topography and physical parameters of Hong Kong make it appealing just to look at, even from a wide-view lens. (more…)
Mary and Steve have four adopted children and seven grandchildren. Visiting with the grandchildren is one of the chief delights of her life. She also loves reading, gardening, and cooking. Mary is a member of Seed Saver’s Society, a group committed to preserving heritage varieties of vegetables and flowers.
Though busy with a tree farm, a vineyard, various commercial real estate, and family timber company, Mary has been able to realize her dream of attending seminary. Mary graduated with a Master’s degree in Bible and Theology in 2015. Mary knows that it is a privilege to be able to study about God, but she began to wonder how she could use her education to serve others.
There is so much suffering in the world and Mary knows that she can’t solve every problem, but the Lord put a passion in her heart to work specifically in the area of encouraging women who have been physically, emotionally, or spiritually abused.
In his book on Visioneering, Andy Stanley said that your vision is what makes your heart break. Witnessing the suffering of women who feel trapped is what breaks Mary’s heart. While waiting for God’s specific direction in her life, Mary is actively involved in many ways to pursue her goal of becoming involved in helping women.
More Training in Leadership Skills:
Because of her love of research and writing, Mary originally wanted to pursue a PhD. At this time in her life however, she felt God’s call to be more actively involved with ministry. Many different seminaries have great programs, but Mary found that one of the top seminaries in the country, Portland Seminary, was nearby. She feels very blessed to be part of Portland Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry program in the Leadership & Global Perspectives track. This education is equipping her to gain knowledge, understanding in a global society, compassion, lifelong friendships in this Cohort-based program, and leadership skills that will enable her to serve wherever God is calling her.
Ongoing Ministry in Everyday Life:
In order to encourage women in their daily lives, Mary has been posting stories weekly about women in the Bible and history for over six years. On her blog there are over 300 stories of women of courage who faced great challenges to follow God. Other practical ministries have included helping to fill needs at the local food bank, prison ministry, and speaking on the topic of Human Trafficking.
Support from Others:
Without the loving support of Steve and the rest of the family, Mary would not have the energy to pursue her vision. She also receives affirmation about her goals from a caring church and a committed staff at the Seminary. Daily spiritual exercises combined with emotional support help to keep her on track.
Even Jesus took His disciples off once in a while to rest. Nothing is more enjoyable for Mary than to get away for a weekend of racing with Steve. No TV. No phone. Just fast cars and lots of fun. It’s called Vintage Racing and the drivers are old like the cars!!! Yes, she does know how to change oil and check tire temperatures!! Steve and Mary have found a great community to recreate with. Occasionally they even get to serve Christ by participating in fund-raising races where the money raised goes to charities such as Children’s Hospitals.
Since the day that God met Mary, sitting on a playground wall in Kindergarten, she has loved nothing better than to study about Him. What a joy and a privilege to be able to go to Seminary. But Seminary is just a means to an end. People are what matter. Following Christ means to serve as He did – meeting physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Mary’s prayer for the future is that God will show her where she can work as she follows her Savior in love and gratitude for what He has done for her.
The end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started,
And to know the place for the first time.
This has been a year of intense spiritual exploration and discernment for me, and as I continue to walk the road on which I am walking, the feeling is that of a homecoming—a sort of discovery process of myself that is both new and old. This past year, my personal exploration and “journey home” (think Luke 15) has included body, mind, and soul.
We were on the tram lift in Cape Town heading up to the top of Table Mountain when Mary Pandiani and I struck up a conversation about my research. Then, she invited me to share my personal spiritual and vocational story. She expressed such gratitude and a sense that there has been a big part of my life story that has been kept hidden, and that is very useful for God’s project of healing of the world. She invited me into a deep place of authenticity, where I began to accept the likelihood that God is calling me to a different vocational space that has occupied my time and attention for the past fifteen years. She helped me to discover the constraints that suburban church ministry has been placing on my soul’s journey to be who God made me to be. Essentially, she invited me to become the wounded healer that is truly who I am because of my story and my personality profile.
The PLDP was one of the most enriching experiences of my entire formal educational journey. I learned much about myself and my passions and my loves and my multiple vocations. This is one of the most exciting parts of the program for me—to create a spiritual and vocational roadmap or compass that points me in a direction that is authentic, right, and good for who I am. Accepting my limitations and re-prioritizing my family has been one of the gifts of this process, for which I am very grateful.
The focus of my research at the intersection of xenophobia and spirituality has led me into readings that opened me up to new vocational opportunities. I find myself both invigorated by the readings that Jason has assigned, as well as what I have been reading for my research proposal, as well as bored in my job. This past year, with the doctoral program being one strong contribution, has deepened both my passion and my frustration – my longing for racial reconciliation and integration in our society, and my longing for children of under-resourced families to find pathways to flourish in my life.
Now that I have said “yes” to leave my post as Senior Pastor of John Knox Presbyterian Church to serve as Executive Director of my family’s foundation, I’m looking at all these readings with a new context in mind. Leadership in a 60 year old church is quite different than leadership for a social entrepreneur start-up organization. Off the top of my head, I can say that the readings from Jason have instilled in me a desire to be a “faithful presence” in our new space, to carve time each day for “deep work,” to be mindful of my consumer impulses around church, and to keep my spirituality and leadership integrated with one another.
I find myself grateful for having joined this cohort, and grateful that this doctoral program is helping me on my journey to return “home.”
“When I look at you, I see myself. If my eyes are unable to see you as my sister, it is because my own vision is blurred. And if that be so, then it is I who need you either because I do not understand who you are, my sister, or because I need you to help me understand who I am.” Lillian Pierce Benbow, Past National President, Delta Sigma Theta Inc. 1971-1975
Although divided geographically by the Atlantic Ocean with a total of 7,903 miles apart from Raleigh- Durham Airport to the Cape Town Airport, I have come to realize that the experiences and problems faced by so many black Africans in South Africa is very similar to the struggles people of color face here in the United States. When I looked into the eyes of the people within the townships of Cape Town, I didn’t see something other… I saw myself. I saw my life experiences being reflected throughout the culture both expressed and witnessed. I wondered how that could be possible. It weighed very heavily on my heart. How do we shift the sobering reality that exists post-apartheid and civil rights? The injustices that continue to permeate throughout our communities leave us with broken promises spoken by those who only want to get elected but no fulfillment insight. The people no longer want reparations, they are calling for restitution. Where is the hope? As we met with the J L Zwaane Presbyterian Church community, I saw a glimmer of hope. It was the beginning of a new day. An opportunity for us to sit with the tension and not only reflect but feel compelled to respond. It was an awakening of leaders to see the pain and recognize the generational impact of systemic oppression. Furthermore, it was being awaken to understanding how our own power, privilege and race impact our communities, our cities, and our countries. It is true what Nelson Mandela said “Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.”
“Pain which is not transformed is transmitted“-Wilhelm Verwoerd, grandson of former South African Prime Minister, Hendrik Verwoerd who was responsible for the racial policies enforced in the apartheid.
As we work collectively to turn our common suffering into hope, how do we as leaders transform pain and not transmit it? Rev. Michelle Boonzaaier, with IAM.org, in her lecture session exhorted us by reminding us that being a leader means being an embodied presence. We have to be willing to be vulnerable and open. She stated “anytime I find myself uncomfortable to engage with people is a place where I can encounter God”. As leaders a part of our responsibility is to take risks and sit within the tension that exists on the fringes. Our vulnerability becomes transformational through relationships. When we engage in relationships with one another we all bring our truths. As leaders, we must hold our biblical truths lightly within the space we have created to foster our relationships. We cannot force our truths but give room for genuine connection through listening and understanding. It does not mean we make all things permissive but we understand the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to bring Truth and transformation in our lives. Our challenge as leaders is to allow our impact and influence to come through real, truthful and honest relationships.
I found myself, at times, uncomfortable and challenged with what I was witnessing and experiencing at our Advance. Instead of resisting it, I embraced it. Our lead mentor Dr. Jason Clark encouraged us to jump in with both feet. Leaning into these experiences requires our whole bodies and presence. In doing so, I was able to engage others in our program in deeper dialogue about the racial issues and injustices that existed in both South Africa and America. We created a space that made room for us to become vulnerable and uncomfortable in order to grow. I am grateful for those opportunities.
“Honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, pure generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve others – qualities which are within easy reach of every soul – are the foundation of one’s spiritual life.”– Nelson Mandela
As leaders our values are at the core of who we are and how we lead. It is one thing to say what are values are it is another to see how they are shared and applied. When we visited Learn to Earn, I found myself both inspired and challenged. What are the values that dictate how I lead and engage with others? What do those values say about who I am? I wish I can say that I have the answers to these questions but I do not. What I am blessed to have is a wealth of knowledge and experience afforded through this advance opportunity. For that I am eternally grateful. I hope that I continue to look across the ocean and see myself in order to connect our compassion together to establish hope for the future.
 “The Alpha Eta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated,” “When I look at you, I see myself. If my… –
The Alpha Eta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, January 13, 2012, , accessed October 13,
 “Nelson Mandela Quotes,” BrainyQuote, , accessed October 13, 2017,
 Erika Andersen, “15 Inspiring Quotes From Nelson Mandela On Leadership, Change And Life,” Forbes, December
05, 2013, , accessed October 13, 2017, https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2013/08/21/15-inspiring-
My Personal Interests
At the Advance in Cape Town I was interested in seeing how life is for South Africans since apartheid was declared illegal in the 1990’s. It was interesting to compare the situation to the United States. I am old enough to remember the segregation of the mid 20th century. How are the two countries alike? How are they different?
New Knowledge and Synthesis
We had help in preparing for this experience in South Africa by reading from several books – Mark Mathabane’s Kaffir Boy; Matthew Michael’s Christian Theology & African Traditions, and David Welsh’s The Rise and Fall of Apartheid.
I felt better prepared to understand the poverty and remaining apartheid in South Africa.
The experience in Cape Town South Africa turned the ‘book knowledge’ into real life. The encounters with African leaders helped to shape my thinking in the area of justice. In South Africa as in the United States, those in power have an obligation to care for the less fortunate.
My focus of study in the Leadership & Global Perspectives course is on justice for women. In South Africa I found that the practice of hierarchy among those in power is the same whether it is hierarchy over other ethnic groups, the “weaker sex”, or the poor. Interestingly these are the three groups that Paul addresses as he admonishes the church in Galatia on human relations. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” I am currently putting this insight into my writing. My task now is to answer God’s call on my life to minister the Gospel of forgiveness, hope, and peace to all others, no matter what their ethnic background, gender, or economic status.
Several key points were made on the Advance that have helped me to be less judgmental or condescending. Meeting people who lived through the tragic days of murder and torture made me realize that these are real lives that were affected. Most of these people were not bitter, but forgiving, demonstrating genuine Christianity.
At the Learn to Earn ministry, it was pointed out that “relief outside of a crisis is not good”. Though I may feel compassion and desire to give charity, I must be careful how I do it.
A strong emphasis on family values is credited with why some blacks choose to live in the slums. Family members dying of HIV/Aids need their care. Why aren’t more hospitals being built for the black people? Perhaps they are afraid of being isolated and forgotten by those who love them most.
My heart was also grieved when black women were dismissed as they tried to express their feelings of marginalization. I try to be understanding, but I know since I have never been told I can’t do something because of my skin color I can only empathize as best as I can.
For the ethnography aspect I used a slide show of photographs that I took in South Africa. The photographs will reflect what life is like in South Africa today. Those old enough to remember may spot the similarities and differences between South Africa and the United States.
The photos reflect presentations and field trips. The music you hear is “Oh, Happy Day” sung by the famous South African- Soweto Gospel Choir.
Here is the link to my project – https://youtu.be/FV9BwgFjl9o
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
As a small girl I witnessed our own ‘apartheid’ in the United States. We called it ‘segregation’. I remember signs over bathrooms that read ‘whites only’ or ‘colored only’. I remember when Rosa Parks courageously refused to move to the back of the bus. I remember hearing our own “Nelson Mandela”, Martin Luther King Jr. fight against injustice in a peaceful way.
Currently I am at Portland Seminary studying for a Doctor of Ministry degree in Leadership & Global Perspectives. To follow Jesus in His footsteps as leaders we must practice justice, mercy, kindness, and understanding with others.
This semester we studied about apartheid. Our trip to Cape Town, South Africa gave us first hand experience in seeing how well justice has been done for the black people since apartheid was declared illegal in the 1990’s. It is a mixed bag in comparison to the United States.
For example – the slums in Guguletho remind me of the old ghettos in Chicago. Today the Chicago ghettos have been cleaned up.
But that brings up another more important comparison – many of the blacks remain in those slums to care for family members that are dying of HIV/Aids. In the United States we have hospitals, but how many visit the dying? Christian values seem more overt in South Africa.
In South Africa families were moved away from their homes in District 6 to supposedly ‘nicer’ homes. But family ties and traditions are more important. Here in the US we had ‘integration’ forcing children to leave their neighborhoods and go to strange schools.
In the US the laws protecting against racial discrimination, though still imperfect, have some teeth in them. South Africans are struggling to enforce the laws. In Cape Town we saw many blacks working in jobs and enjoying many things that they would not have in the 1970’s. But 87% of the land and wealth of the country is in the hands of 13% of the people, mostly whites.
Both countries had charismatic leaders who gave hope to the people – Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. But today corruption in government is stalling justice for the people.
How will South Africa look in the next generation?
 You can purchase their CD’s directly from them:
http://www.sowetogospelchoir.com/cd/blessed/ They have a CD that focuses on apartheid. There is a tribute to Nelson Mandela and also the African National Anthem.
Jean grew up in Northern Ohio, which is essentially Midwest living at its best – corn fields, dairy farms, pond swimming and ice skating, and the Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Indians. It was a good and simple life…school, church, family, and community. She was fortunate to have two spirit-filled parents who instilled Christian values, encouraged her to seek out her own faith journey, and loved her enough to “set her free”. Her faith, born from weekly church attendance at York United Methodist Church, church camp, God seeking and soul searching, solidified her desire to pursue a bachelors and master’s degree in social work. And to top off the Midwestern experience…she completed those degrees at The Ohio State University where she met her life partner, Ron (at the ice rink no less). Jean views her social work profession as “lived faith.” After all, what better expression of Christ’s commandments then to fulfill the mission of social work:
The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. A historic and defining feature of social work is the profession’s focus on individual well-being in a social context and the well-being of society. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living.
Social workers promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of clients. “Clients” is used inclusively to refer to individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers are sensitive to cultural and ethnic diversity and strive to end discrimination, oppression, poverty, and other forms of social injustice.
As idyllic as Jean’s Midwest childhood was, the mountains were calling. While summer jobs had always been quirky – driving tractor during hay season, babysitting, elder care, driving an ice cream truck for Mr. Barge the high school English teacher – Jean desired an even bigger adventure. In the fall of 1987, one of Jean’s high school friends suggested Jean join her for a summer job at a ranch in Montana. It sounded amazing – “how do I sign up?” A penned letter sent snail mail and a penned response reply closed the deal. Jean was hired at Sweet Grass Ranch in Big Timber, MT. Two days after high school graduation, Jean boarded a flight on her own and headed west (and then returned for multiple summers).
To say Jean’s experience at Sweet Grass was transformative is an understatement. It wasn’t just the beauty and serenity of God’s creation that was life changing – it was the people, the culture, the risks and adventures, and the introspection which resulted in self-discovery, and change. God knew what he was doing by gifting Jean with three years of growth – just one year after college graduation and months after her marriage, Jean’s mom died after a three year battle with ovarian cancer. The strong, independent, faith filled young woman was devastated. As is typical, family dynamics changed – each family member was dealing with their own grief and the family struggled to find their new normal. At the same time, Jean’s new husband Ron had been hired at his dream job and left for four months of training. Once Ron finished his training, Jean left her job, local friends, and church family to relocate to an unknown community, in an isolated part of the state, for Ron’s job transfer. Can you say spiritual crisis? But out of the storm comes beauty…”the greater your storm, the brighter your rainbow.”
Fast forward twenty five years later. Jean and Ron are empty-nesters, parents of two biological children – Seth and Emma – who have been “set free” to pursue their own dreams. One is in Colorado attending a military academy and the other is pursuing her dream to become a physician’s assistant. Over the years, the family hosted two exchange students (in an effort to bring culture to small town Ohio) from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Keira and Stella (respectively) are now members of the family – always welcome and returning for holidays or a weekend get-away from college. Approximately ten years ago, three local girls “officially/unofficially” joined their family by virtue of their own personal tragedy. Through the years the whole family has grieved the death of the girls’ biological mom, celebrated a wedding, and rejoiced at the birth of a new “grandchild”.
The mountains are still calling Jean (and now Ron, Seth and Emma who love the mountains as much as Jean). The family seeks out mountains and wilderness as often as possible, but at the very least each summer. Seth lives in the Colorado mountains – and takes advantage of the hiking, skiing, and snowboarding and Emma will be heading to Sweet Grass Ranch in Montana this summer to live her dream (and ideally have her own experience of discovery). Travel is a treasured family value!
While still in Ohio by necessity, Jean and Ron embrace life in the Midwest. Jean has been consistently employed in social work jobs, living her faith professionally and in the community. Jean currently holds an assistant professor of social work position at Mt. Vernon Nazarene University and is in private mental health practice. As members of the local Methodist church, they frequently host family, the church congregation, and community friends at their old and spacious farm house as a ministry of hospitality. Jean leads a community center for teens and donates her time to community organizations as a committee member. In her “spare time” Jean tends to her farm pets – a horse, two dogs, cats, and lots of wild critters (the critters are not really pets but they become a part of the barn family when you see them daily, i.e. the resident possums or raccoons). In addition to two jobs, family, church, and community commitments, Jean began a Leadership and Global Perspectives doctoral program at George Fox University in 2017 to fulfill a life-long dream of a terminal degree.
Jean would tell you that life is good. God is good. But the mountains are still calling…
As a generation influenced by Bono and U2, my understanding of Apartheid was limited to what might fit on a poster slogan or synopsis under a picture in a history book. The depth of abuse, racism, misunderstandings, sinfulness that can be seen from all sides is enough to make me want to crawl in a hole and pretend it didn’t and still isn’t happening. The stark contrast of studying these complexities in a beautiful city, while staying in an almost waterfront hotel, eating at western restaurants and traveling by tour bus were sometimes distracting in the journey to learn about the social, political and often religious turmoil that is South African history. I was challenged in self reflection and examination which is never an easy process while in foreign land with a group of people you don’t know. Classmates, mentors, support staff all went out of their way to lay the foundation of what we learned.
When the plane landed in South Africa, I came with a metaphorical suitcase empty ready to fill it with all the things I was going to learn. South Africa delivered to me a truck load that was overflowing, gaining more than I planned on, more than I thought I could hold. The Information and experiences piled high within me and will shape and continue to influence my thoughts for many years.
Prison life at Robbin Island for Mandela and fellow prisoners, District 6 and the rights violations, the townships of Khayelitsha, and Guguletu brought to reality the movies watched and the books read about Apartheid. What I know of this area through the JL Zwane Centre, Presbyterian church, Learn to Earn, Golden Flowers Man gave me the impression of simply dipping my toe in the vast ocean that is Cape Town. I was moved by speakers like Wilhelm Verwoerd and Winston Mashua. For both of them the daily reminders of who they were, as a result of their heritage, has shaped their reaction to God, to their family and to the messiness of living in a society that doesn’t see things the way we do. I would have loved to have sat down over a meal with these men and had the chance to hear more of their personal story, their walk with God and how He continues to teach them about the brokenness of the world we live in.
I think because I live in a relationship based society, the connections gained by my cohort will be one of the highlights to this trip. If you told me that you could bring together people from Washington, California, Oregon, Idaho, Texas, Montana, Tennessee, the foreign country of New Brunswick, France, and Asia, throwing them together with a Londoner and some Oregonians leading, I probably would have told you that this would be an interesting social experiment. However, by the grace and leading of God, it works. The respect that is shown, even when we disagree, is telling of hearts that love the Lord and love people. From late night deep conversations in the lobby, walking on the streets talking about what we learned that day, to going to the Afro-Portuguese restaurant, or African dinner with local music, time spent with this group from many life experiences, generations, and denominations has been not only fun but enriching. The conversations that took place after visiting locations and hearing speakers had the most impact as we unfolded what we experienced and began to process how to live that out.
Moving beyond the preconceived stereotypes that exist in all of our lives on how we see other people, in Africa or North America, forces us to look inward without blame or excuse, yet to begin asking the questions of how do we find answers? The philosopher Benjamin Parker said, “with great power comes great responsibility.”1 In this circumstance, our knowledge is our power and we have a new found responsibility to be a part of the solution in this world. As our cohort grows closer together, openly discussing how each of our world views interact with one another, we grow, challenge and are pushed to move our toe from just touching the water to immersing it into the ocean of change. Africa did not scare me away from difficulties, but rather helped me see the complexities that plague every country and every individual, especially me.
1 a.k.a. Spiderman’s Uncle Ben
Dave Watermulder is Presbyterian minister seeking to bridge a life of faith with a love for the world. As a “preacher’s kid”, he saw the importance of a strong church community, especially in times of trouble. He grew up seeing the church as a place that could make a real and meaningful difference in people’s lives. While serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in the West African nation of Cabo Verde, Dave experienced a call to ministry that would bring together his Christian faith with a deep passion for connecting with people across cultures and backgrounds. (more…)
Pleased To Meet You…Let Me Introduce Jason
Jason Turbeville was adopted from a Catholic orphanage at the age of one month in Birmingham Alabama. He grew up, as most military kids, moving every three to four years, Denver, El Paso, Augusta, Oklahoma City, Fort Worth. He played football and baseball but loved being an offensive lineman, a protector and road grader. Jason still loves football, if you are looking for him on a Saturday afternoon, the best place to start is in front of his T.V. watching college football, don’t look for him there on Sundays, he is not much of a fan of the pros at this point. Jason has always been a bit weird. He has a very dark sense of humor that sometimes gets him into trouble. Jason loves dark movies, not horror stories mind you, but movies like Fargo. He also loves vampire and werewolf movies, cannot get enough of them. Jason also has a love for 1980’s metal, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, W.A.S.P. and others, but he also has an affinity for classical music, whether it is symphonic, piano, or guitar. He just doesn’t get rap though.
Jason met his wife Susan in High School and married soon after. His first son, Matthew was born in 1999, and it was through his son that he found God. He also has twin boys, Joshua and Christian, who were born in 2002. He grew up going to different churches, Methodist with his mom, Episcopal with his dad, and a host of others, but never understood the relationship that could be had with God. Shortly after finding his relationship with Christ he found himself drawn to Seminary. If you would have asked him why, he could not have told you, but would have said definitely not to preach.
Fast forward two years and Jason found himself in the unlikely position of being asked to help at a junior high weekend retreat. It was at during this unlikely time he found himself drawn to youth ministry. Jason was asked to help teach 8th grade boys and was partnered with a man who had been teaching youth for 25 years. He learned how to lead a bible study and from others in the group what it meant to be a youth minister. He had found his calling. He spent the next twelve years as a youth minister in three different churches. During this time Jason was also introduced to missions through his first mission trip to Serbia. His love for reaching the lost through missions almost burned as bright as his love for youth ministry. Jason loves to take people on their first mission trip so they can get a better understanding of just how blessed they truly are, and hopefully ignite a passion for others.
In 2015 Jason was at odds with a deacon at the church he was serving and it ended with him leaving his ministry. He was devastated to say the least. He moped around for three months and began to search out God’s will for him. Jason and his family started attending a church with a wonderful pastor who helped Jason move through his transition. Lonnie is the type of pastor anyone would love to have. Through his mentorship Jason moved to a place where he was ready to serve again. Jason thought he would always be a youth pastor. “Adults bore me” was one of his favorite lines. Imagine his confusion when every youth minister position he applied for came up dry. He started to wonder if he was still called to be a minister, with the encouragement of his wife and the support of others he volunteered at a church plant,he was allowed to preach every other week and was given the opportunity he needed. God had changed his calling, Jason thought he would be in youth ministry until he died, but now he knew his calling was as a pastor.
In November of 2016 he became Southside Baptist newest pastor and could not have been happier. He knows God has put him in this position to be a part of people’s lives. He does not approach his position lightly, his job, as he sees it, is as a shepherd. Jason believes his upbringing, through many faiths, including as an atheist, and his battle with his own demons were worth the fight. He is a pastor because he wants to help people heal, from spiritual and emotional hurts. If you were to ask his wife Susan, she would say it is the perfect place for her husband. She sees his joy in serving like it was when he first found Christ. If you were to ask his friends, they would tell you Jason is doing what he was made to be. Jason laughs when he looks back over the course of the last three years, he should have seen it coming.
Jason sees his opportunity at George Fox as more than just schooling. He sees it as stepping stone to be able to be a part of something bigger. The opportunity to be part of the global community, and to make a difference for Christ. In the Leadership and Global Development program Jason has found a home.
Twenty years ago, in a gunfight lasting less than 30 seconds one police officer was wounded, two brothers were killed, and a second a police officer was shot and died at this student’s feet. While serving as the Police Watch Commander that night this student was charged with maintaining public safety, providing lifesaving services, and when necessary leading men and women into harm’s way to protect the lives of others.
Evil takes many forms, and even though a brave young Christian was shot-down in the line of duty, his death was not in vain. Inspired by this tragic event, this student developed a passion to help others learn how to protect themselves from both physical and spiritual harm. Following the Biblical doctrine of the Apostle Paul, this student developed a Holy Spirit inspired passion, wisdom, and discernment surrounding the wearing of Christ as protection against the schemes of the devil called the Armor of God. Fast forward 20 years and this student’s vocation still has him engaged in safety, lifesaving, and leading others into danger through a marketplace ministry. Therefore, for security reasons, this essay introduces Mic Anthony (alias) and provides some limited facts about his location, vocation, and personal hobbies.
First, this student is currently serving in a marketplace aviation vocation in the Middle East. His home is in the North West portion of the United States. His vocations include aviation manager, parcel delivery services owner-operator, foreign mission committee chairperson, and first-responder volunteer chaplain. As a marketplace missionary, aviator, and chaplain, he hopes to be Christ’s salt to flavor, preserve, and heal while carrying Christ’s light to illuminate his love, grace, and presence wherever he travels or responds to the least reached people in their hard to reach places who need help (Matt. 5:13-14).
Second, this student’s passion and love is found through his stewardship of an Armor of God discipleship ministry, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and active around the world for the past 15 years. He believes in showing and sharing Christ through a challenge coin that he designed with the six pieces of the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18). His goal in using this discipleship vocation is to reach and save the lost, teach them how to put on the whole armor of God, and show them how to become victorious when defending against spiritual attack.
Third, the greater human element and need that this student sees are to reach the leaders of the North American church and help them recognize how much they have become desensitized from the threat of spiritual warfare. He wants to inspire these church leaders to action, so they will train and equip their congregants as the body of Christ in how to resist Satan. He believes these leaders can be taught and then teach others how to defend against evil schemes and overcome the forces of darkness by wearing the full armor of God. As Paul says, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood,” but against rulers, powers, and forces of darkness (Eph. 6:12).
This student’s areas of interest include researching and writing about the effects of training youth and adults on how to wear the full armor of God. His thesis holds that the more Christians who follow the armor of God regiment of preparation, prayer, and perseverance will become more spiritually healthy than those who only use prayer or take no defensive action during spiritual attack. His long-term goals include the successful journey through the Dmin Leadership and Global Perspectives degree program while remaining open to God’s additional calls on his life to mission, ministry, or pastoral leadership positions. His hobbies are bow-hunting, worship team acoustic guitar, and taking his wife shopping.
Kyle is in his sweet spot when he is training and launching leaders into vocational ministry. Having been in full-time ministry since he was 17, and ordained by the Assemblies of God at the age of 23, Kyle spent the first decade of his ministry experience working in youth ministry. Serving in Pendleton Oregon for 5 years, one of his highlights of ministry is when his youth group of roughly 50 kids raised $40,000 in 10 months to buy a vehicle for a missionary to Jordan. Kyle served for 3 years in Modesto California and recently transitioned to join the team at Trinity Life Center in Sacramento, California. At this church he is the director of Pathway Ministries which has a vision to see a new generation of pastors, missionaries, and evangelists trained and launched into vocational ministry. Having seen the disconnect between real world experience and theological education Kyle intends to bridge the gap to make more rounded ministers. Most of Kyle’s time is spent time ministering and building disciples and connecting young pastors into mentoring relationships where they can be spiritually fathered and mothered. The most tragic sight to Kyle is the glimpse of unrealized potential and Pathway ministries is a partial solution for that to many student’s lives. Kyle is also the Coordinator for Northwest University’s Partnership Program in Northern California – Nevada. In this role he assists churches in getting their internships accredited so they can receive practicum credit for serving at their local church.
Kyle graduated with his Bachelor’s in Christian Ministries and a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from Southwestern Assemblies of God University. Kyle is currently pursuing his Doctoral degree from Portland Seminary at George Fox University to better prepare himself for what he senses God calling him to do. He hopes to be part of the solution to get cheap and effective ministerial training into the unreached areas of the underdeveloped world. Currently, for his thesis he is studying how to use online delivery to bring practicum learning experiences into leadership & ministerial graduate programs.
Kyle has been married to his lovely wife Anna, for 8 years, and they have two sons, Caleb (3) and Judah (1) and they plan on eventually adopting two more boys. You might find Kyle on the weekends in the backyard gardening, or playing a board game with his family, like Settlers of Catan.
You can more about Kyle and what he has written at his website kylechalko.com
On a trip to Paris to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary, God called Jenn Williamson and her husband David to move to France. While they had never dreamed of becoming missionaries, Jenn and David embarked upon a journey that would change the course of their lives. After spending two years raising support, they left their beloved home, jobs, and church to move to France with their two teenaged boys.
While her official job description is “church planter,” Jenn believes that French people will plant the best French churches. For that reason, she focuses her attention on equipping and empowering young French believers who have the potential to plant churches. She has also served on two French-led church plant projects and teaches in a French-established church planting training center.
With a Masters in Ministry Leadership, Jenn loves to develop leaders through mentoring and coaching. Those that she mentors often go on to make great contributions to the Kingdom work of God. Jenn believes that a leader is not measured by the size of the fruit that grows on her own tree, but by the fruit that grows on the trees of those she serves. For this reason, Jenn likes to think of herself as a runway—she looks for ways to lay down her life so that others are enabled to take flight.
Recognizing that the demand for mentors exceeds her own capacity, Jenn is also committed to the training and development of French mentors for emerging leaders. To that end, she works with her colleague Alain Stamp to launch mentoring communities all across France. Inspired by Leighton Ford, Jenn seeks to raise up leaders who lead like Jesus, to Jesus, and for Jesus.
Though called to serve the church in France, Jenn also has a heart for her fellow missionaries. Having come to the field late in life, Jenn knows first-hand the challenges that missionaries face in adapting to a new culture and establishing effective ministries. Together with other experienced missionaries and French partners, Jenn has launched an association aimed at helping missionaries transition to the field. This association, called Elan (elanmission.org) is unique in that in invites the participation of French partners into the adaptation process, building trust and collaboration between foreign workers and French nationals from day one on the field.
Those who invite Jenn to preach, teach, or speak at conferences often describe her as having a “prophetic voice.” She has a way of bringing Truth to life, making it both relevant and accessible to those who hear it. Transparent, vulnerable, and honest, Jenn embraces both the challenges and joys of following Jesus while eagerly encouraging others to come along.
Though she loves to travel and meet new people, at the end of the day, her favorite thing to do is curl up on the sofa with her husband, David, her dog, Gemma, and glass of red wine. And if a theology debate happens to break out—all the better!
Jenn is an empty-nester, an avid reader, a reluctant swimmer, a beginning knitter, and lover of Ignatian spirituality. She blogs at therhythmsofgrace.com.
Pain is an odd companion. It demands your attention, but seems to increase the more attention it is given. Because of this, a common theme I hear from people in pain is that they have “gotten used to it.” The reality is that pain becomes the filter through which days are evaluated. As Cavanaugh puts it, “Pain is often called ‘blinding’ because it eliminates all but itself from the field of vision.” A “good” day is one in which the pain is somehow lessened, or there is some delight that steps between the person and the pain to mitigate it. A “bad” day is one in which the pain has worsened, been compounded, or the person simply is not able to find another focus to distract.
I left for South Africa in pain and I returned home from South Africa in pain. The pain did not relent, but there were good days and bad days. I asked friends at home to pray that the pain would open compassion in me rather than make me surly and withdrawn. I think maybe it was a draw between the two.
One can hardly experience South Africa without noticing the pain. Even in our luxury hotel nestled on the waterfront of Cape Town, we were surrounded by people living with deep pain as a result of Apartheid and the ongoing effects of a white supremacist structure. Our servers, for example, shared that many of them see their children only every six months or so because they had to leave the West Cape and come to Cape Town in order to find good work. While pain laced their words, their smiling reassurance that they loved taking care of people reminded me that finding joy in daily life mitigates that pain, but the pain does not relent.
The best, worst day of our time in Cape Town was the day we travelled to the District 6 Museum, and to Robben Island. In both places, survivors of the atrocities committed by the government shared matter-of-factly and with a bit of humor stark descriptions of the pain inflicted over and over again by a government determined to subdue and subjugate an entire race of people in South Africa. Fear, pain, starvation, degradation, and humiliation – these were the tactics used by one group of human beings toward another group. What quickly became clear is that, while apartheid has ended, the effects have not. Political prisoners may no longer be housed at Robben Island, but they remain in a prison of frustration and pain because they remain second class citizens in their country. The government may not be perpetrating forced removals as they did in District 6, but neither are they returning the land and restoring the homes to those who were removed. The government of South Africa continues to fail its black citizens.
Traveling to Gugulethu and Khayelitsha Townships, we saw and heard about the effects of this government failure. The beautiful people of JL Zwane church shared their vibrant heritage in dress and in worship on Sunday, and followed with a stark witness to the ongoing pain on Monday. The pastor of JL Zwane church stood, to me, in stark contrast with those government “leaders” who have taken without giving, and promised without fulfilling. Listening to him, I kept remembering Max DePree’s words, “Leaders don’t inflict
pain; they bear pain.” This pastor and his team work tirelessly to bear the pain the government inflicts on its people. In our discussions, we came to realize that our positions are not so different because many things in our countries our not so different. As leaders who follow Christ, we are called to bear the pain, even when it is inflicted on us and our people by our own government.
In my efforts to find compassion through pain, I kept notes in my journal regarding where I noticed pain among my own colleagues during this trip in an effort to pray for them and, really, to know them better. There was so much pain present in this group of 40 or so people. In my own cohort, every person grappled with some sort of pain, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual. Other colleagues suffered pain from illness or injury, the pain of being separated from family, the pain of coming up against their own biases and not knowing how to resolve them, and the pain inflicted by the biases of others. Reverend Michelle Boonzaaier introduced us to the pain she experienced when she realized
that God loves those who hate her just as much as God loves her. God is the God of those on both sides of any fence as well as those in the middle. There is deep pain in realizing that, just because God loves me, that doesn’t make me “right” and others “wrong.”
Looking through my “list of pain,” I realized that there is so much more pain in the grey areas of life, than in the black and white/right and wrong places. Apartheid was wrong, but ending apartheid has not ended the pain. Slavery and Jim Crow were wrong, but ending those laws has not ended the pain. There are many grey, nebulous spaces where pain continues to be inflicted and wounds continue to fester. There is little healing happening while these grey areas exist.
As I said, I returned home in pain – worse pain actually than when I had left. One thing I brought home with me, however, was a sense of community in pain. While the pain I have right now is some of the worst physical pain I have experienced, I am practicing stillness in the midst of it, meditating on the pain of others and praying for mitigation and healing for all of us. Instead of just asking God, “Where are you in this pain?” I am asking, “What pain am I to bear as a leader? Who needs me to come alongside and bear some of that pain?” I wish these practices eased my own pain, but there is something deeply mitigating in knowing that I am a part of a body of leaders, in our DMin LGP family and around the world, who are called to bear the pain of others as we bear each other’s pain and we bear the pain of our communities together.
I would not say I entered my first year in Portland Seminary’s Leadership & Global Perspectives (LGP) program timid, as those who know me know I’m certainly not that. But rather, perhaps, tentatively, not quite sure where I wanted to go with the program, but certain that, wherever I went, my LGP studies would be assets. What I knew as I ventured into the program was that it would stretch and strengthen me. (more…)
DMIN728 Year-in-Review Story Blog Post
The purpose of this post is to reflect on the past year as a George Fox University (GFU) Leadership and Global Perspective (LGP) student and review, summarize, and analyze how my academic experience integrated into my area of research and impacted my personal ministry. The following questions serve as the reflective framework for my Year-in-Review Story.
- What surprised me? I was amazed at how well the LGP8 cohort came together during the Cape Town Advance and successfully continued over the next year during our Zoom face-to-face meetings and asynchronous chats. It was encouraging to see how well a diverse group of ministry servants united and focused on GFU’s strategic initiative and academic theme to improve global Christian leadership.
- How have I been changed? My perspective about how I perceive Christian leaders has changed the most in the past year. I have always respected and even revered ministry leaders as bigger than life spiritual figures who are called by the Holy Spirit to represent the image and presence of Christ and speak the infallible word of God. While that assessment is what I believe Christian leaders are called to personify, the reality is that most of these leaders are just like me; broken by sin, needy for love, and selfish to gain more knowledge of God.
- How do I lead differently? I use the same situational-transformational-servant leader approach that I have been using for the past 30 years. However, the difference in my leadership praxis is that I ask better questions and exercise more critical thinking skills. The past year of academic study, instruction, and interaction with my lead mentor, academic advisor, GFU professors, and my cohort family of 14 other ministry leaders helped improve my personalized leadership model.
- How have the following areas impacted and shaped my research and ministry:
o Assigned readings- Out of all the authors reviewed in the past year I think Bayard and Elder had the most significant influence in my academic research and ministry outlook. Bayard helped release me from the traditional bonds of reading for content and assessing ideas while Elder helped me expand my critical thinking skills. My threshold for knowledge went from book(s) and idea(s) to absorbing libraries and analyzing entire fields of knowledge. I really appreciate the insights and freedom to think multidimensionally, work from the periphery of ideas, and engage knowledge streams from concrete research principles to abstract spiritual perceptions.
o International Advance- The 2017 Cape Town Advance was fantastic! I was academically informed, culturally inspired, and spiritually challenged by the schedule of events for the GFU Advance. Getting to meet, hear from, and interact with the cohort, guest speakers, professors, tour guides, field trip presenters, and local nationals was outstanding. Having the opportunity to share the Armor of God challenge coin ministry with cohort members, GFU staff and professors, and local nationals was spiritually fulfilling. Hearing that the armor of God “coin” could be part of an artifact for my future research and dissertation was both a revelation and an answer to prayer.
o PLDP process- I completed two Personal Leadership Development Plans (PLDP) during the past year. The first one helped me discover my leadership practice by answering the questions: who am I, where am I going, how and who will help me get there, and how am I doing? The second PLDP improved my reflection by helping me focus on my life stories and values. Personal reflection was by far the most difficult part for me to accomplish out of the entire process. Yet, as I look back, it was probably one of the most needed personal breakthroughs to accomplish.
In conclusion, I believe the past year helped me participate in the rigorous process of learning, following, and leading within the global context of human pain and brokenness that the GFU LGP program asked us to navigate. As such, my personal struggle to escape a type of theological cocoon helped me grow new wings that are changing the direction of my theological flight plan. I see more rough air and turbulence coming in the next two years, but at present I am satisfied with my academic airmanship to safely approach and land on my dissertation topic. I also feel more confident and confirmed with my call to market-place ministry. I pray that my LGP8 cohort members and I will be the future laborers for the harvest as prepared by a Holy Spirit. Finally, last year was a tremendous blessing and brilliant journey in self-discovery, academic engagement, theological advancement, and relationship building. Praise the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, who lives in me through the person of the Holy Spirit.