Monday, August 24, 2015

Cut back, but pressing forward

"Why God? Why?"

Sound familiar? Probably, though it may sound surprising from me, since I'm usually so bubbly about what I get to do. But the fact is, TEN3 faces quite a share of setbacks and disappointments that don't make sense to us.

We've always been setting up TEN3 to grow. We've had dreams of becoming one of the biggest publishing houses in the world, of consulting and certifying hundreds of schools, training and certifying teachers in all those schools. After all, we're wanting to serve needs prevalent throughout the world's second-most populous continent! We have to grow, right?

Yet we lose vital people. Matt Sabo, who did such an amazing job with our communications, could only serve a year or two before returning to a job at a for-profit company. The same happened to E, who was our communications manager a few years ago.

And now Joe, one of our longest-serving and most-gifted members who has been our CEO, is likewise having to step down from most of his TEN3 responsibilities and look for outside work. Just when the centers in Nigeria are getting started, just when Tanzania and Zambia are starting the consulting process, we have to lose someone that important? Why, God?

The LORD said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained. And the LORD said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.”
Judges 7:2-4

Sometimes I wonder if we'll ever make it, if all the thought, discussion, writing, travelling, and workshops we've been doing will finally come together into a sustaining and growing system that serves students as we've envisioned for so long. We just never seem to have enough people and resources for the task. But if we did, would we really relate to our brothers and sisters we serve who live in constant difficulty and lack? And would the Lord really get the glory for what He did through us?

Please pray for us as we make adjustments so that we can continue to move forward:

  • For Christie Dasaro and Isaac Tanam as they oversee schools, including three startup centers, in Nigeria amid all their struggles.
  • For an official treasurer for TEN3, and for grace for me to learn what's needed to serve as Acting Treasurer until we get that person.
  • For Joe to get the right job to provide for his family.
  • For Anthony as he now must take up CEO responsibilities in addition to his full-time job as a network administrator and his recording his work to make curriculum for us.
  • For us all to be attentive to the Lord and abiding in Him, that we may do His will and He get the glory.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wanting what we need

Perhaps one of the biggest struggles in long-term ministry is the conflict between what people want and what they need. It's a conflict with more than one layer. For example, sometimes when missionaries prioritize what the people "need," they do it with a superiorist attitude that doesn't look at the people's needs from God's perspective, but from their own. Many mission fields have suffered from this mistake.

But in our case, we developed exactly what our African partners told us they need, what God had shown through His word, experience, and research is needed. All the Christian teachers and leaders who examine it have affirmed, "This is wonderful." Yet, as they try to implement it, they find it's not what students want. We've always known that as educators, we are offering a most curious commodity: so often, the more people pay for it and the less they get, the more pleased they are. In other words, they want the prestige and power that comes with education, but they don't actually want to take the time and effort to learn. If you know a teacher, you've probably heard how true that is. We don't want what's really best, we want what gratifies us quickly.

That's the most recent struggle our partners in Nigeria face: students become impatient and drop out because they don't want to take the time to learn the computer well; they want a few quick courses that will certify them for a tech job, even if they won't really understand it, much less be able to do it well.

That frustrated me when I heard Christie's discouragement--we've put so much effort into making the CTO the very best education, and she put so much effort into making it available, and people don't want it. But then I thought, "How much more grief does God feel, that He sent His Son to die for our salvation, and so many people don't want it!" And yet God did it knowing how many wouldn't want Him. He keeps sending the offer, rejoicing over those who do receive Him. We hope for that joy too, encouraged because even the impatient students love our Bible course that draws them into the message of redemption.

Therefore, my prayer, in which I ask you to join me, is for God to work in the hearts of people all over the world to desire Him. I pray that it start with me, that He reveal and change those ways in which I desire the quick relief rather than His patient and faithful work, however difficult I may find it. I pray also that He connect us with the people whose hearts He is already working in to desire to learn to be wise and discerning servants of God as they use technology.