"When I looked at your personality profile, I thought, 'What is this guy doing as the leader of this team? He doesn't have the right characteristics at all,'" a team consultant told Anthony years ago. "But then as I learned about your team members and what they have been through, I understood. They would struggle under a typical leader. But your gift set is just what they need."
We are indeed quite a team of odd ducks, trusting God to use us in our the strengths and great weaknesses He has given us. There is so much about our mission that is strong: our thoroughly reviewed strategy, our well-researched model, the many decades of experience our team members have brought to the table, our training that has lit up so many faces. But we've also pushed forward in the face of a lot that doesn't make sense.
Like, nearly a year ago, when Anthony prayed and sensed God telling him that it's time to move container-loads of equipment to Africa. And mind you, a container is about 560 cubic feet. Anthony's first thought was the same thought he had when he was first asked to start the best computer school in Nigeria, and again when he was asked to help it develop a bachelor's degree: "That's crazy!" This time, the leading seemed crazy because the few centers we have started struggle to recruit students. People want a quick and easy piece of paper, and that's not what we offer. Our prayer is, once we get students through who can show they know their stuff better than all those who got the easy piece of paper, our programs will have value; but for now, what sense did it make to send equipment to start more centers?
The answer our team got was that it did make sense when we consider that we're about discipling educators who will then be able to make whatever education their communities need. We have all the training material we need for that. We have a delivery platform via Moodle. If we can get people discipled and committed to transformational education with this, we can finally see our vision take off.
My reaction was also, "You're crazy," but for a different reason: "Um, Anthony, need I remind you that we stink at fundraising?" No, seriously, we have got to be in the running for the world's worst nonprofit when it comes to getting money. When Anthony was first asked to start the school in Jos in the 1980s, he tried to raise $30,000 for a computer lab. What he got was $300 and six ten-year-old computers. And that's pretty much been the story of our ministry ever since. We make plans to raise thousands of dollars for travel, equipment, communication, etc., and then go on doing our ministry with next to nothing. For the most part, we've accepted that if we're expecting our African siblings to build sustainable schools with their own limited resources, our training, and if they're lucky some secondhand laptops, then it's appropriate that the Lord would have us work with great limitations as well.
Is it time now for us to actually succeed in raising thousands of dollars to equip our partners? Going on our track record, it's wishful thinking, but we serve the God who says His power is made perfect in weakness, so let's see what He will do with us at our weakest point.