When I first joined TEN3 nine years ago, we were a bustling team of six missionaries, one missionary-in-training, about a dozen heavily involved volunteers and many more lightly involved volunteers. We were preparing to continue growing our central team as we branched into Africa nad the Carribean, looking to have 350 affiliate schools and to be the largest publishing house for Africa. By the end of this year, we will be down to three part-time missionaries and our church networker, and a handful of volunteers who help with specific duties. Anthony asked us how we feel about that. Ken, who will retire this year and has been with TEN3 since near the beginning, reflected wistfully that he didn't know. Our team started strong, and stayed strong for a long time, but somehow in recent years, we've steadily lost people faster than we can add them.
My thought was, maybe this is, after all, exactly what was supposed to happen. TEN3 was always supposed to be an African organization, with a handful of missionaries supplying key areas of labor, resources, and perspective until the African members are ready to take full ownership. Well, Nigeria, Zambia, and Tanzania are forming and training their teams to do this ministry, and it's really now or never. If they persevere in their training and get others involved in learning and implementing the TEN3 model, then Anthony and I will continue consulting in a supporting role for them. I may yet end up asked to live in Africa for a while to work with teachers on our 5-area degree that we've planned for years, or on a primary school curriculum based on transformational principles. We will rejoice to see them take off with their knowledge and disciplines, and grow this ministry in ways we could not even have envisioned.
And if not?
Anthony admitted that he would have a hard time if he reaches the end of his life having seen no results of his decades of hard work. But he acknowledged that has been the lot of countless missionaries--fruit may well have come of their work, but often it's happened decades after their death.
Me? Well, I'm still only 31 and have plenty of other things I want to do with my life. So I'd have little cause to grieve for myself, though I certainly would regret to see all the potential that I still believe is in God's people in Africa wasted.
But Christie ... oh, Christie. She wasn't in that part of this meeting, which I'm thankful for. It's for her sake that I can't bear the idea of failure. In the last twenty years she has invested thousands of hours in passionate prayer, in meetings, in logistics and speaking and record-keeping, hours away from her family, several times ill, rarely rested. She's pressed on running a computer school on an electric grid that is sometimes off for ten days at a time, through skyrocketing fuel prices, through regulatory hoops that multiply like hydra heads. She persevered when terrorist attacks were making everyone afraid to leave their homes in her city, and traveled through even more dangerous parts of the country. She's put untold amounts of her own family's low income toward her ministry expenses. She's kept on through betrayal of people she's discipled, who not only left the ministry but falsely accused her and stole from her, and through times when we her partners have been insensitive to her struggles.
She does all this because she believes that this is what God has for Africa, that through Christ-centered education, her people can overcome the rampant systemic problems in their country, build systems with integrity that make a better world for her children, and send the Gospel forth powerfully to those still in darkness.
Lord, I think I can bear seeing no fruit from nine years' service. But please let Christie see it and know she has not labored and sacrificed in vain. Do it not for me, but for her. Do it not for her, but for the people You are calling to Yourself in Africa. Do it not for Your people, but for the sake of Your name.