Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pray for growth that is both fast and slow

In working with Anthony on our programming course, he had a lesson to teach me. Basically, I had been taking a shortcut that would teach some habits that would lead to problems down the road. He gave me an elaborate exercise defining and changing global, class, and local variables make sure I learned that there's a better way, and we need to make a habit of doing it right from the very beginning. That very much reflects TEN3's overall strategy. There are much faster ways of going about bringing education. Lots of organizations are using them. But they don't bring about lasting results in Africa. Why?

  • They don't advance students to comprehension of the information they absorb.
  • They don't take into account the realities about resources. If a course requires a daily or even weekly internet connection, there are lots of places it won't work. If it requires a library, there will probably not be one available.
  • They don't use pedagogical principles like learning by doing, immediate practical application, and oral transmission, and mastery learning. 

The Lord told us that for education to be truly valuable in Africa, it would have to be built from the ground up. That takes time. Yet we also sense the urgent need for it to spread on a large scale before certain irreversible changes happen that will take over all education worldwide - and which the enemy will be able to use to capture minds across the world.

So fast or slow? Careful or quick? We have a great program in the Computer Training Outreach, but as we try to get it implemented and develop new material, please pray it will be simple enough to spread quickly, but solid enough to endure and enable young people's minds to be rooted and grounded in Christ. Please pray for its implementation in countries across Africa and the Caribbean, that it gives the world an education that is based on the real beginning of knowledge - the fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The #1 deterrent to new missionaries

"How do your mom and dad feel about your going overseas?"
"That must be hard on your parents."

I hear that kind of thing often, especially in church. I find it a little difficult to answer, since yes, I know it's hard on them to think of their daughter across the world. I'm pretty sure it's easier on them when I tell them I'm going to Zambia (probably the world's most peaceful country) than, say, Nigeria, or when I talk about possibilities in Kenya, Uganda, and South Sudan. Wherever I go, they track my flights so they know in real time what longitude I'm at. But it's not as if I'm at odds with them about it. They're proud of my career choice. They wanted to be missionaries themselves when they were young--I got my heart for God's renown from them!

Last night I realized why I hear those questions about my parents' response so much. At Perspectives, it was reported that for young-adult Christians, the number one deterrent from the mission field is Christian parents.
That's sobering to me to realize just what state Christianity is in. Yes, we want to go to heaven, we'll go to church and listen to Air1 and share the "biblical values" memes on Facebook. Just don't ask us to sacrifice.

It's so sad to me that these Christian parents don't know God's heart at all, don't see that when God invites us to pray that He be gracious to us and bless us and cause His face to shine upon us, it is SO THAT we may be a blessing, making Him known among the earth, His salvation among all nations. As Bryan Padgett said last night, being a disciple who loves Jesus means being willing to lay down life and limb, and yes, even family, at the opportunity to make His Name glorious among the nations.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Turtle-herding mad scientist not selling anything

     Now that I'm full-time, what's my job like these days? Well, sometimes I feel like a salesman. I'm visiting lots of churches asking if they'll consider helping acquire and set up laptops. Even though I'm not selling anything or even asking for money – I just want a way to bless churches as they bless Africa – it does have the challenges of "cold calling." But when I get to meet with people who have a heart for the Lord and His kingdom, it's such a delight. I've raised about 15 laptops so far; please pray for many more. Also, please help by making this need known. I have brochures I can send you to share at your church or workplace. You can also help by sharing our Facebook link.
     Sometimes my job feels like herding turtles. That's when I'm running slow processes on several computers at once. While waiting on one, I go to another, and then turn back to the first one, exclaiming, "Wait a second—what are you doing!?"
     Lately I feel like a mad scientist. A mad scientist in the discipline of geekiness attempting to restructure the anatomy of a hard drive, accidentally killing it, and now trying to resurrect it.
     The programming course we've been working on continues to make progress, albeit with difficulties. We're mainly struggling through the technical side now, so please pray that for that as well as the discipleship within the course.
     And what is all this accomplishing? Christie got to share Mothers & Media with 700 pastors' wives recently. She has many requests to teach it to church congregations as well. Parents are starting to sense that technology is taking their children's minds and hearts from them and from the Lord, and are pleading for help to fight back. Please pray for helpers for her to spread this ministry all over Nigeria. She also told us a few weeks ago that she's had five more CTO students give their lives to Christ.
     I am so thankful for all of you who keep praying for me. In the war for the hearts and minds of the millenial generation, there's obviously a call for my work (silly analogies and all), but the vital need is for prayer warriors.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Oh, the interesting paths God weaves.

Have you ever thought that we mainly discover our paths as we walk them? That's the way my life and ministry usually seem, anyway. We've gotten connected with the man who has helped a long time with the International Conference for Computers in Missions. He's now trying to start one in Africa. We've seen here a great opportunity for us to help them get started by helping develop the pedagogy and context side of their content. And from that, we can get a lot of starter material for some new courses, like networking. Anthony was brainstorming this morning that this might get me to Kenya for a little while this April. We'll see what happens ... :)

The programming and databases course is still coming along, though somewhat slowly. It's hard to make good linear progress when it's three people working on it at once, and all of us have a lot of other things on our plates. And Anthony, the one with the best understanding of programming and what we're trying to do, is the busiest of all of us. But it is coming, and we're all enjoying it. One of the high school students I mentioned in a previous post is reviewing it for us, and his input has already been helpful.

Anthony reported a really successful first Mini Mission Trip in Houghton. They had young and old people there, veteran ministers and ADHD kids. I think ten laptops were prepared, and believers were encouraged, and newcomers to church heard the gospel in a very clear and gripping way for them. Please pray I'll be able to do the same in places near where I live.

Friday, September 13, 2013

New volunteers

TEN3 has some new recruits: high school students! Anthony got a part-time job as a network administrator at a high school, and has of course been building some good relationships there. Two students have expressed interest in helping TEN3. We will probably mainly have them review our courses. That should be good to see how these courses, designed for young adults, apply to this age group since we also want to market to them. This should be a really good learning experience for them and for us.

Please pray for us as we develop these relationships and continue to work on the programming/databases course, as well as a networking course now.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How many generations?

Anthony shared something so cool recently I thought I'd share it:
Someone once mentioned to me that "Discipling to the third generation" seems strange to them because in the Bible, third and fourth generations are used for curses and a thousand generations is for blessing. That might be true, but our tagline from TEN3 comes from 2 Tim 2:2 "and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." We are trying to live that out. Besides, TEN3 has the thousandth generation covered too. 10^3 (10 raised to the third power) equals 1,000 ;-).

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Part of required training for all new SIM missionaries is the Perspectives in Global Missions course. I had been putting it off until I actually went active. Now that I'm taking it, I'm wishing everyone would.

The lecture last night, "The Story of His Glory," indicted those churches and Bible studies that treat the Bible as a collection of rules and moral stories. It's not that at all, but one great story of God whose glory pales all else from being considered significant, who reflects it in love among the Trinity and in love has determined to sweep mankind up in it. I love how the speaker said that any religious teaching with the punchline "We should be better" will always come up short; the all-sufficient punchline is "Jesus IS better!" So much better than all our strivings. In the midst of my own struggles with vanity (my most haunting sin), this worthlessness of our own efforts to be better, and the Worth of God's glory, reminded me painfully where my obsession belongs.

Convicting as it was, the lecture was also incredibly affirming because it has been on TEN3's hearts for years that people need the whole story of Redemption, not the piecemeal that well-meaning Christians often offer. To hear it from someone else was a deep joy, and made me long all the more for the whole world to hear this story, and see "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Cor 4:6).

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My mission is now my "day job"!

(I kinda want to subtitle this, "I can haz paycheck?!" LOL if you get it.)

I'm so thankful I just might melt.

To explain why, let me give a bit of summary of what life has been like since I started this path:
August 2009 – I discovered TEN3, and realized this was where God meant for me to serve. I started volunteering as an editor. I also began a part-time job at South Plains College.
July 2010 – I went to Africa with the team for the first time, and fell in love with it. At the end of this trip, I was asked to become TEN3's curriculum department head.
August 2010 – discontinued the job at SPC. I realized I wanted to pursue TEN3 wholeheartedly, and my boss needed someone who could give more than I could.
October 2010 – At SIM's candidate orientation, I was accepted as a long-term appointee. I then began the process of support-raising.
November 2010 – June 2013: continually juggling four jobs: TEN3, support-raising, substitute teaching, and working "rush" periods at the SPC bookstore.
I've been content to have multiple "jobs to pay for my job"*. Content, but not satisfied**. I've been wanting for so long to get my full support so that I could serve with focus, hopefully go to Africa long-term, and no longer be living pieces of a life.
I've been raising support for nearly three years. I'm still at just 43% of what I need monthly pledged to come in. However, there have been precious people who have been giving faithfully, and that money, besides providing for my three short trips to Africa, has built up enough that I could be fully funded for a year. SIM has approved my going active for a year on these funds, starting September 1.
This means that instead of working four jobs and only getting paid for two, I now have just two jobs (TEN3 and Relationship Development Ministry) and can draw a salary for them. Oh, and those benefit things which are supposedly good for me ;)

This has been approved with the goal of reaching 100% support by the time the 12 months are over. With my time and energy less divided, I will be able to focus on visiting people about supporting my ministry, and also running mini mission trips as part of our goal to raise 2000 laptops. That, and the programming/database course we're working on will keep me plenty busy!

And after that? Well, if we get those 2000 laptops, TEN3 will be generating income. With that income, we hope to be able to look into hiring African writers to help us develop curriculum in the other areas that are needed. And if I have full long-term support then, I'll be able to go to Africa long-term to work with them on education that combines technology, the African context, a biblical worldview, and purposeful discipleship to be something truly transformational.

I hope you'll rejoice with me, that at long last I can "go active" as a missionary. Please pray that the Lord make this year fruitful in every way for His long-term plans, for me and TEN3 and Africa.

*An expression I got from the movie of The Freedom Writers Diary
**A lesson Anthony likes to teach from George MacDonald's Thomas Wingfold, Curate

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mini-Mission Trips and a free Puppy!

My priority job over the summer is RDM, which is called Resource Development Ministry or Relationship Development Ministry, depending on in which decade you started missions. ;) What that means in plain speech is connecting with people, sharing with them about my ministry, hopefully bringing them closer to God in the process, and hopefully raising funds and laptops thereby.

I've been trying to raise my support to make TEN3 my full-time job for over 2 1/2 years now. I guess my chief difficulty has been that I consider money to be such a personal thing, it's hard to bring it up with people. Oh, I can bring it up with churches, yes, but except for the few with which I have a really close connection, the response has always been, "You're doing a great thing, but we're already supporting all the missionaries we can afford."

I'm still very much working on RDM with individuals, and don't see that changing, but my visionary leaders have come up with a much better approach for RDM with churches. It weighs heavily on both Anthony (Operations head) and Claude (CEO) that the church in North America is dying. The stats we've read are that only 1% of churches in the USA are growing by baptizing new believers. So while our work is in Africa, we don't want to neglect the Body of Christ in America, either. Thus, we are making RDM with churches truly a ministry. The idea is that the church take on laptop raising as a mission project. (To learn why we're after laptops, see 2000 Laptops.) The people ask neighbors, friends, post it on Facebook that they're collecting used laptops for Africa. They then come to a "4-hour mission trip" in which they set up the computers to send to Africa with Puppy Linux, a free operating system designed to run on old computers. (We have to assure people strongly that they do not have to be experts to do this. If they can read and make a cup of tea, that's enough skill level to set them up with the group!) Cool, right? But how does that help the church?

  • Involvement in foreign missions brings people to know God in new ways. (To read about my experience, see the newsletter dated October 24, 2011 in Newsletter Archives).
  • One of the strongest undermining forces against the Church in North America has been use of technology without discernment. We generally realize that the immoral things propagated with technology are harmful. But even in recognizing this, western Christians have fallen into a trap. We tend to put technology in a tier separate from our spiritual lives and assume that as long as we don't do anything overtly sinful with it, it doesn't affect us. Those who participate in a mini-mission trip will get introduced to the idea of godly use of technology as the first step out of this trap and into a wiser and more effective walk with the Lord.
  • Another serious detriment to Christianity throughout cultures and history has been not knowing the whole of God's story. God gave us the Bible with a variety of literary genres included, but as a whole it tells one great story, of which all the parts are needed to understand Him and His work in the world. Research has shown that we do indeed base our understanding of the world on stories, and that if our minds have only part of a story, they fabricate the missing parts. That has led to great deceptions time and time again. And yet today so many Christians in the US only know the Bible in disconnected fragments. They don't know whether Abraham or Moses came first, much less what Solomon or the priestly rituals have to do with the coming of Jesus. And thus they are spiritually weak, easily led away from the Truth. I can't tell them the whole story in four hours, but I hope to make them want to find it out for themselves.
As always, I'm grateful for your reading and prayers. May this blog make you hungry for the whole story, too.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How did I get here?

I'd like today to share how I ended up with TEN3 in the first place. I sure didn't plan it out!

My story starts with deciding on a college. I was rather anxious about it, as I anticipated that would determine the course of my entire life. Or rather, that it had to be the perfect preparation for what I would do with my life. Except I had no idea what that was. Part of me wanted a career, but doing what, I didn't know. A larger part of me wanted my future to center on marriage, children, and homeschooling, because I saw growing up how precious that is. I was comforted in realizing that, regardless, I would want to go to college just to learn, but again, where to go?
Long story short on that, God told me to go to Wayland. I argued with Him about this-- "I don't want to go to that sheltering local Baptist school my whole family went to! I want to go somewhere to be challenged and spread wings, to really be a light!" Arguing with God is quite an unforgettable experience if you're willing to hear the reply. It came ever so gently, yet still hit me with the force of a speeding cement truck: "I'm God, you're not. You are telling Me how to use you. So I would rather hear you say, 'not my will but Yours be done,' than 'use me.'"

But what was I going to study? Again, I had no idea. I'm very good at almost every subject. I went a year and a half undecided, and finally when the deadline was getting really close when I would have to declare a major, I chose English with a physical science minor. Why? I like them. That's the whole reason. I still didn't know what I wanted to do for a career, so I figured I might as well prepare for it studying something I liked. So whenever I told people my degree, the response was almost always, "so are you going to teach?" My reply was always "no." It was as if there was a wall between me and the education building. There was no explicable reason why, but there was an unavoidable sense that teaching was the wrong way for me to go.

In the next two years I discovered I am particularly gifted at writing, and wanted my job to involve writing somehow. So I thought about working for a periodical, and checked some into freelance and technical writing. Then my senior year, grad school was making a lot of sense. But the more I thought about it, the more frustrated I felt. I didn't understand why, because I loved school, but I did not want to continue on to grad school. Finally, in a conversation with my Mom, I realized why: I couldn't bear the thought of spending the rest of my young, free years pouring more into myself. It was time to serve. I was meant to. The moment I thought I'm going to the mission field was one of the happiest in my life.

Originally, I planned go go with IMB as a Journeyman, but that was 2009, thus the economy had closed that door. I consulted with Dr. Shaw, the missions professor at Wayland, who advised me to look for a way to write for missions. The search tools God gave led me to TEN3. I read one of their job descriptions and thought, I could do that. As I began volunteering with TEN3, I fell in love with the vision. God had been putting long-term service for long-term transformation, detailed evangelism, discipleship, and meeting human needs all on my heart over the previous years, all of which TEN3 does. And all of that I can contribute to with my writing skills and love of learning.

Please pray for my younger sister. She's facing a similar crossroads. Ask that she seek the Lord, and walk in the good and true paths He has for her. May we all trust and not be afraid (Isaiah 12:2).

Saturday, May 25, 2013

To make disciples is to tell stories

I wonder sometimes if, amid all I tell about operating systems and curriculum plans and the pictures of a zillion computer cords, I fail to share the real spirit of our workshops--they are very much discipleship events. We talk about what transformation really means, and what it takes to see that transformation happen. It only happens as we walk with Christ, and we won't see transformed society unless the individuals are transformed. And "it begins with me."

For instance, our second day I think in Ndola, Anthony spent nearly the whole morning talking about sharing the Gospel. He talked about how Jesus taught with stories, because our minds don't work like Greek logic, they work with stories. He talked about how it's important to have the whole story, because psychology studies have shown that if the mind doesn't have the whole story, it fabricates. Anthony told the story of the New Tribes mission, which was trying to share the Gospel with as many new people groups as possible. So they would go in, learn the language and gain enough entrance to tell them that Jesus died so that their sins could be forgiven before God and they could have eternal life, and then quickly move on to a new tribe. Well, they would come back and find that the converts weren't living at all as Christians ought to. They had made up the rest of the worldview they hadn't received. So New Tribes sought the Lord, and He replied, "Tell them My story. All of it."

We've learned from this story, which is why the first course we developed along with the computer course, and require to be taken with it, is one that goes through the whole Bible as the story of God's redemption. God works His way past the defenses of our minds, shows us who He is and how He redeems us, with a story. Let's tell the story.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

2000 Laptops

I never thought I'd need to know how to tell a computer to commit suicide. But that's the way we described the command to write zeros over the entire the hard drive. Apparently John 12:24 can also apply to machines! After wiping the hard drive, we installed Puppy Linux, the operating system we base our computer training on (see Puppies and Gnomes and eternal Truth for Africa as to why). Now that laptop, and the thirty others we took to Africa, will be used to give practical skills and the word of God to a new student every six months with the Computer Training Outreach. The old laptops that someone no longer considers useful now have new life, and give new life to those who through it learn the whole story of redemption God offers through Christ.

So part of our focus this year will be to raise laptops. And the cool thing is, as teachers make disciples and become discipled themselves by TEN3, more laptops will mean they will be able to spread even more. For instance, we have a contact in Rwanda who wants our CTO there. TEN3 doesn't have the people and resources to send somebody from the US to get things started in Rwanda. But Christie could send one of the people she's training in Nigeria to reach villages as a missionary, with a mobile lab, to do just that.

So that's why we're praying for 2000 laptops to be donated to send to Africa this year. Laptops alone won't make much of any difference in Africa. But laptops with accessible curriculum that gives desired skills as it presents the gospel powerfully, as tools in the hands of people who are growing in the Lord and taught by Him to make disciples, can indeed be the tools by which Christ transforms lives and communities across Africa.
I, Gilbert, Anthony, and Christie setting up the systems

Christie, Fanny, Gilbert, and Beevern practicing with our systems and materials

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

GLO with hope

If I were a follower of this blog, I would wonder why it takes two weeks for that missionary to post anything after she gets back from a trip. I hope I would understand when she apologized and pleaded that when one gets back, there are family things to see about, stacks of mail and e-mail to deal with, reports to type, receipts to submit, pictures to share and sort ... it goes way beyond that jet lag thing!

But, enough excuses. JennyBeth, here reporting. A good initial overview from our trip can be found on my newsletter, which I also just finished today (see my newsletter archives page). 

We basically held five seminars in the two and a half weeks we were in Zambia. First was an intro seminar in Lusaka. An "Intro Seminar" is how we acquaint people with TEN3 and how they can offer a CTO to make disciples using computer training. (If you're confused by the acronyms, see my FAQ page.) Then we headed north to Ndola and stayed there for a week and a half to do two intro seminars. Over the weekend, we went to a city called Kitwe where Christie and I gave our first-ever Mothers and Media seminar. The last few days were spent back in Lusaka, where we did some computer setup, meeting with potential partners, and a second Mothers and Media seminar. I'll try to explain more about all those (with stories and pictures!) in separate posts in the upcoming weeks.

But where I'd like to start is the ministry that housed us in Ndola. In the midst of the polluted and historically exploited Copperbelt, there is a ministry that GLOs. GLO stands for Gospel Literature Outreach. It is a seven-month program for students who just finished secondary school. It teaches them servant leadership, Bible, and other topics to prepare them for university and adult life. I really enjoyed eating and worshiping with those kids. They reminded me so much of my own teen years in youth group.
Some pictures from around GLO:

The cabin where Christie and I stayed. We shared the left-hand side of the duplex with Rachel, a lady from Australia.

In addition to classes, morning runs, and service projects, laundry must also be done--by hand!

This is where the guys stayed. That van took us and the 31 laptops everywhere!

Anthony and Christie, the evening we arrived at GLO

These little guys, Ezra and Micah, belong to David and his wife Nana, who administrate GLO. Yes, I am up in a tree with them :)
Dinner was eaten with our hands that night.
Clockwise from left: David, Ray, Gilbert, I, Christie 
GLO didn't just host us. The administrators, David and Samuel, came to our workshops because they want to give their students the CTO. These two really understood our ministry, probably because discipleship education is already what they do. Samuel is eager to help me with material development--he has such a heart to see practical education integrated well with biblical understanding. I pray I'll get to work with him on this. A cool thing is that GLO is basically ready to start the CTO--they already have a computer lab, and they want to be a model for other interested ministries like Youth For Christ and churches to follow.

The nearest guy is Samuel
I think what told us that there's going to be something special about this partnership is when David showed us what a disciple he is himself. At dinner one evening, he came up to Anthony, who had been teaching with stories all day, and told him "You have a very special way of communicating. Very quiet, and yet shouting to the soul."

Monday, April 1, 2013

Technology - good, bad, and ugly

I remember the first online scam I received. It was from a recent professional acquaintance. It said Bill Gates was giving away his money; Microsoft was testing technology that tracks e-mails, so all I had to do was forward that e-mail, and I would get $125,000 for every person I sent it to. And I confess (hey, give me a break, I was in my mid-teens), at first I could hardly contain my excitement, thinking of all the troubles that money would solve for me. But by the time I finished reading the e-mail, I was thinking waaaait... this is too good to be true. I mentioned it to my Dad, who immediately scoffed, "That scam has been around as long as the Internet."

I also remember my first sexual solicitation online. I was even younger then; just twelve or thirteen. It came straight to my inbox, not the junk folder of the account my parents had just recently let me have. Fortunately, the subject line from the stranger was creepy enough that I didn't open it; I just told my parents, who even though they had known this stuff was out there, were troubled to see it reach me.

If you do anything online, you know how much trash is out there, of many kinds. Trash that can destroy your files, steal your identity, scam your friends in your name, addict you to the LED screen, and worse. Technology with all its implications is coming quickly into Africa too, and the parents are largely unprepared for it. Christie, our Nigeria director, has told us several stories to this effect:

An elderly woman came to my house in tears. “Welcome Mama”, I greeted her with concern, “what is the problem”? She narrated her story:
"We have been experiencing this problem of money disappearing in my family for about seven years now. Recently, the problem extended to our bank account. Somebody stole almost all our money in the bank, but after few days, the person texted us confessing that he has been the one stealing our money, even in the house. Christie, How? He said, he has been using spiritual means, using our son’s face to do the stealing. Christie, how possible it is to steal using somebody’s face?"
The woman does not know how ATM cards work because she is ignorant about technology. Apparently, their son stole the money in the bank using their ATM cards, since he was the one that activated the cards for his parents. He later sent this false confession to confuse his ignorant parents that it was somebody using his face in the spiritual realm to steal from his parents. It broke my heart to know that many parents are trapped by their children's knowledge of technology to practice evil. They are watching a lot of junks from the media and are taking advantage of their parents' ignorance to engage in evil acts.

Another incident was when a student stole my colleague's daughter’s cell phone and texted to all the contacts on the phone pretending to be the owner asking people to send him credit. Many people responded by sending credits to the thief, not knowing it was not the real owner that was asking for help.

Parents buy expensive technological gadgets for their children without knowing the uses, some use their expansive smart phones to watch porn movies, and some use theirs for one evil or the other. We were in the church service one day and a young lady was busy watching some dirty movies on her cell phone. Because I have knowledge about technology, I knew what she was doing. I rebuked her and reported her to her parents. They did not know she has been doing that, because she always told them she reading her Bible through her cell phone.

Women in Africa need to know to some extend how technology can help and destroy their children. They do not need to go to school to acquire some qualifications to do that.

With the Mothers and Media seminar, that is just what we hope to do.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

New frontier!

Big news ...

Looks like I'm going to Zambia in April! :D

A long-time SIM missionary to Zambia has followed TEN3 for some time and has even attended one of our workshops. He now has told us he has people ready for our teacher and administrator training, to start offering our Computer Training Outreach. If you're new to my blog, the CTO gives students comprehension-based, multi-platform computer training, and a study through the Bible as a story, outlining God's plan of redemption with an explanation of how to be saved personally. So Anthony prepared to go in April. Then he asked Ray and me if we would consider going. He said it would likely be worth it for me to go just to meet the people, get a feel for curriculum needs there, and record their stories for TEN3. But then I asked if with that I could advance my main job, curriculum, by training writers. So Anthony asked Gilbert, the missionary there, if he knew of people who may be suitable to help us with this. For helping with computer curriculum, he said no, but for Biblical Health and Life Management curriculum, a whole host of people cam to mind.

We just added to that the idea that we could do a test run of Mothers and Media, which would be a technology awareness seminar for mothers in Africa. This is needed because while technology is flooding Africa, especially the youth, their mothers are largely ignorant of technology's capabilities and dangers. A Nigerian colleague has shared with us some heartbreaking stories that I'll try to relate in later posts about mothers being taken advantage of or unaware of what is happening to their children. So, with this seminar, we hope to give women valuable information to be more discerning about the technology that's quickly surrounding them. We anticipate this will also greatly increase demand for the CTO because they will realize they need to be powerful and discerning users of the computer. I am sooo excited about all of this!

Which means that before I get on the plane April 12, I need to republish the Curriculum and Material Writers Guide, get some copies printed, set up any laptops I get to take to the teachers in Zambia, put together curriculum for the Mothers and Media seminar (fortunately, I can draw from some stuff we already have), prepare for the writers training sessions, get anti-malarial medicine, paperwork and travel insurance, continue to seek regular supporters, and of course pray a lot!

Please join me in this:
*Pray for the administrators, teachers, and writers who will join us at the seminars
*Pray for good communication--we'll have an American and Nigerian team coming in to a Zambian audience, and even when everyone speaks English, you're still not quite speaking the same language...
*Pray for me to manage my time well as I get all this ready, and for my support to reach 100% so that part will become a lot more manageable

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Confidence learned through suns and soccer balls.

I wondered last Saturday if any other missionaries use WolfRam Alpha to do their work. If they do, they're probably not asking it if the sun were the size of a soccer ball, how far away Neptune would be.

How the heck is that mission work?

Glad you asked.

In the past few months, the TEN3 curriculum department has decided we need to start writing BHLM materials ourselves. We ultimately want it to be owned and managed by Africans, so we were hoping most of it would be written by African educators. But thus far the unusualness of the program, our inability to pay writers, and severe difficulties keeping up communication with Africa have severely limited progress. So, we've decided that George, Anthony and I will write as much as we can, sending it to African volunteers for review, in hopes that as we students and teachers who go through our CTO catch the vision for transformational education (and communication with Africa improves), we will be able to give more and more of the work to God's people in Africa. We're also hoping to get a grant to have a long "writers retreat" in 2014 to focus on getting the BHLM done. (If you're confused by my acronyms, see my FAQ page.)

So, I decided to work on writing the topic of confidence. That is an important area to me because America has messed it up so much. Our schools and psychologists promote this hollow "self-esteem" concept that cannot give security and confidence, because it's based on self. Confidence comes from knowing God's love for us, and the fact that God wants us to serve Him, feeble as we are. I was using Psalm 139 and Nehemiah 1:9 to explain how intensely and constantly God cares for us. Science actually helps me put those passages in perspective, because when you really think about how big "the heavens" are, how hopelessly lost one could be in them, it's amazing to realize that God has promised that wherever we are, He will guide us. So, I used WolfRam Alpha to look up if the sun were the size of a soccer ball, how far away Neptune would be. The answer is 711 meters, or about 1/2 mile! Imagining being on a little planet in that size solar system already makes me feel small. And then to think that the nearest star is 4.4 light years away, that there are over 200 billion stars in our galaxy, each of which could have a solar system as big as ours, and then that there are around 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe, shows us that we are just in a tiny speck in a solitary star's tiny space, in a tiny corner of the universe. And those verses tell us that if we were lost in the farthest reaches of the heavens, from there God would still be with us and bring us where He desires us. Now that's some blessed assurance.