Over the past two or three years a friend of mine, Mathews Manaloor, have had numerous conversations about growing presence of Christianity in what is now referred to as the “majority” world. As Christianity struggles to find its place in the post-modern West, the message of Christ has found its way into cultures and peoples in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Mathews and I share an interest in preparing young people to effectively convey the message of the Bible to new generations throughout the world and, as a result of our dialogue, Mathews asked me to come to India to experience the indigenous Christian movement in his home country and to develop partnerships that might lead to student and faculty involvement in India. It did not look like the trip would come together, but thanks to the efforts of Mathews and Missy Terry, Ruth and I were able to spend five days in India in the middle of July.
Most of you probably do not know Mathews, but he and his wife Sisy live in Beaverton and have three daughters. They are natives of India but moved to the United States more than 30 years ago in order for Mathews to take a position at Intel where he served as an engineer – eventually helping lead as a project manager for the 486 PentiumPro Microprocessors with Pat Gelsinger (Pat introduced Mathews to me). Mathews now owns his own software company, Trivium (offices in Bangaluru and Beaverton), and he and his family are active members of a church in Beaverton. Like Pat, Mathews is a creative business leader who also has a deep love for the gospel and the church.
I often talk about the importance of globalization for our students and the future of George Fox University. I believe we are clearly living in “revolutionary” times. We all know the story. Over the past 100 years, technological innovation in the developed world has dramatically changed the way the human community interacts. Previous to this era, geographical isolation and simple distance enabled cultures to retain unique languages and cultural norms that had developed over millennia. First, the development of ships, railroads, cars and airplanes brought us closer together and more quickly than ever before. The technological innovations associated with the Internet have now joined our cultures and communities virtually so that very few cultures remain isolated from the impact of outside social forces.
While it is also certainly true that the change that we see around us may be inevitable, it brings challenges to families and cultures that were previously impossible to imagine. In conversations with one pastor in northern India he noted that many rural parents (perhaps urban as well) feel disempowered today as their children look to the mobile phone, the Internet and the city for information and conversation. How does a community maintain its cultural and family commitments in the emerging technological and global world?
At George Fox we have chosen to describe our hopes for students with the phrase “be known.” It is an important phrase in that it carries with our dream that education is ultimately about personal and spiritual formation. Education must lead to the acquisition of knowledge, but George Fox is successful at the undergraduate and graduate level when our students are “known” in such a way that we together form a wisdom community that develops students that bring kingdom values into the world around us. I suppose that is why the “global” conversation is so important to me. Our world is a connected world and therefore it is vital that our students get outside “their” world in order to more effectively “know” the people of God’s world.