Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Viruses that Propel AIDS:
The Social and Economic Structures of
Poverty, Inequality and Exclusion

Presented by Dr. Paul Robinson

The Western response to HIV/AIDS has been to focus strictly on the ways in which the virus is contracted. Thus, the work that is focused on follows the ABCs of prevention: abstain, be faithful, and promoting condoms. Additionally, work is being done with the biomedical side of the issue and there is significant work being done with those affected by the pandemic, namely work with the thousands of widows and orphans.

Dr. Paul Robinson’s main thesis was that this is not the only understanding of what is propelling the spread of the HI-virus. He emphasized the role of social and economic structures that create an environment that leads to the spread of HIV/AIDS. He claimed that Poverty stimulates AIDS and AIDS deepens poverty.

The correlations that Dr. Robinson presented with the use of maps and statistics made a compelling argument that though poverty may not cause the spread of AIDS it does create an environment where the spread of HIV is more likely. This view seems to be more in line with what those in Africa are also emphasizing. That while work on the ABCs is not bad, it is treating a symptom rather then the root cause. The weakness in Dr. Robinson’s argument is that it made it sound as though the Western approach, namely the emphasis on individual behavior is futile if we do not end poverty and turn around the social structures. Surely the ABC approach needs revision in the way that it is executed, but the two are not mutually exclusive problems and through working on one side results can also be seen on the other. It is fair to say that the West needs to spend more time listening and less time running aimlessly, and they also need to remember that it is whole communities affected, not simply individuals.

It is important to ensure that any project that seeks to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS also addresses the reality of the social and economic structures that create the environment that stimulates the pandemic. Depending on what area of focus, both in the issues that are focused on as well as the geographical location, this presentation could serve to inform the decisions that are made.

Theology Through the Lens of AIDS

Presented by Emmanuel Katongole

What can we learn about God in light of the AIDS pandemic? What do we learn about Jesus and God when people are being buried everyday? Life as usual can’t go on because it has been interrupted by AIDS. The three main points that come out of this are that AIDS is an interruption, scripture teaches us that an interruption can be a moment to make God’s grace known, and that after such an interruption a new journey is begun.

Emmanuel Katongole provides an incredibly important, insightful approach to understanding God in the midst of this overwhelming crisis. He provided a strong, well thought out theology with significant backing from the biblical narrative. He looked to the Old Testament on several occasions to show how God worked through the different crisis that befell people. It was in these moments of interruption when life as normal could not continue that God’s grace shown most brightly. Katongole argues that if the church allows this moment to go by without making Christ known by engaging in the issue it is missing out in the worst way.

A second important insight that is presented by Katongole is the way in which we should respond. Here he points mainly to the book of Joel emphasizing our need to lament. Only an African could so delicately provide such a poignant and appropriate critique to the American church. He showed that we miss this part by jumping directly to the question “What do we do now?” In so doing we do not take the time to mourn, and come to an understanding of what is at the bottom of the issue. He also showed our tendency to seek consolation at the first opportunity. Rather, it is important to refuse consolation and comfort. Instead we should be willing to spend time in the difficult place of suffering and in so doing gain insights on the reality of the situation. In the case of AIDS, we learn that it is not only about sex, gays, medicine, money, etc. that drives the pandemic on, but also the social structures.

AIDS and Children

Presented by Deborah Dortzbach

The seminar gave an overall broad-scaled look at the crisis of AIDS as it affects children. Dortzbach explained how every nation has children who are affected by AIDS and every child in sub-Saharan Africa is affected by AIDS. She proceeded to summarize the core needs of these children: to know Jesus, to be in family, to be safe, to learn, and to grow at a proper pace. She then summarized some of the major challenges faced by children. For example, she spent some time discussing the guilt that children carry with them after watching their parents die. She also discussed some of the strategies that are working to combat the negative influences hat affect children.

Much of the presentation was very introductory into the lives of children who have been affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The first two thirds of the presentation provided little new and in depth information. The more informative moments came in the last section where she listed several of the pitfalls that individuals encounter, especially those who are young which was appropriate for the college age group she was addressing. The pitfalls that she listed are: to do nothing, do what the media shows me, do what is in front of me, do what my heart says, do it and be done with it, and do, but fail to be.

The section that had the most application, in addition to the pitfalls listed above, was the list of guiding principles that World Relief (Deborah Dortzbach is in charge of their response to HIV/AIDS) basis their response. It is an important emphasis that we in the church need to always remember and that is in the midst of our response to this crisis we need to practice true religion as expressed in the book of James. World Relief’s emphasis on strengthening the local church and empowering them to have a greater capacity to respond is also has positive and practical applications. The third principle that is worth noting is the organizations emphasis that money is better spent strengthening the capacity of family care rather then building orphanages. This approach, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, is more in line with the culture’s natural response.

World Relief - Urbana Missions Conference 12/06

1. What is the mission statement of your organization? How does this vision materialize through your activities and structures?

The Mission of World Relief, as originated within the National Association of Evangelicals, is to work with, for and from the Church to relieve human suffering, poverty and hunger worldwide in the name of Jesus Christ.

World Relief runs wholistic programs that address basic needs of individuals and communities that are suffering by reaching out, responding in times of disaster, investing in the future of marginalized people and their communities, and through transformational development.

2. What qualifications are you looking for in a person who would want to work for your organization? (Qualities, Skills, etc.) How would a new worker fit into your overall structure?

World Relief tries to hire as much staff locally as possible. There are several job listings on the internet for positions both in the States and overseas. These require a variety of qualifications and skills depending on the specific position. See http://www.wr.org/jobs/ for more information.

3. How does your organization evaluate results? What is success for your
organization?

This is an area that they admit needs more work to be done. They believe that it is very important that they put themselves through rigorous evaluation, but acknowledge that it is a difficult field to evaluate. This is due to the ambiguous nature of what success is when you are seeking to prevent the spread of AIDS, relieve people’s suffering, and alleviate poverty. This is an area that they believe an institution such as Fuller can provide insight.

4. Are there roles within your organization for a seminary-trained person? Might there be ways in which a seminary student could contribute meaningfully to the theological foundation of the organization?

· Practicum opportunities

· Go deeper into an issue and/or region

· Maintain a dialogue on difficult, gritty issues

· Do case studies that are provided by World Relief

· Ensure that there is proper evaluation which is self-critical in order to ensure excellence

· Proposal development work

Additional Information: (ask depending on the time you have)

What internship opportunities are available? How long is this?

Good possibility which needs to be developed.

What denomination are you affiliated with?

National Association of Evangelicals

What is your geographical focus?

Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, China, Congo, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kosovo, Malawi, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, United States, and Zambia


Personal Reflections:

Becoming familiar with the work of World Relief and getting to know some of the staff was one of my main goals upon going to Urbana. After I write this entry, in fact, I will be packing my bags to go to Cambodia and begin research on one of World Relief's projects in Cambodia. Therefore, it was very beneficial to here what some of the staff knew about, and thought about the specific project I am going to study. Equally beneficial was the opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of the organization's ethos and approach to their work. Of all the Urbana connections that were made this will have the greatest immediate effect.

The Salvation Army - Urbana Missions Conference 12/06

1. What is the mission statement of your organization? How does this vision materialize through your activities and structures?

The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

No unit, their term for a church, starts unless it helps SA achieve that goal.

2. What qualifications are you looking for in a person who would want to work for your organization? (Qualities, Skills, etc.) How would a new worker fit into your overall structure?

The man that I spoke with on this topic was unable to give any clear answer. He explained that there were several levels on which a person could get involved. As a volunteer few qualities, skills, etc were required other than a willing heart. Beyond that each level of involvement had increasingly more criteria.

3. How does your organization evaluate results? What is success for your
organization?

Each church goes through an annual evaluation process which is built into the annual life of the church. This is built into the strict hierarchy of the Salvation Army’s organizational structure.

4. Are there roles within your organization for a seminary-trained person? Might there be ways in which a seminary student could contribute meaningfully to the theological foundation of the organization?

The Salvation Army relies on their own seminaries to provide the theological foundation and contribution to their organization.


Personal Reflections:

It was fascinating to here first hand about this very large and highly visible church/organization. The "officer" who spoke with me was very knowledgeable about the inner workings of the SA and shared with me a bit about how the organization functions, how decisions are made, and how a new worker/volunteer fits into the existing structure. Much of the full-time workers are grown up through existing structures within the organization. Therefore, I do not see myself fitting into the valuable work of the Salvation Army. Additionally, the crusader, militaristic language that is part of Salvation Army's culture is difficult for me to appreciate.

Saddleback: PEACE - Urbana Missions Conference 12/06

1. What is the mission statement of your organization? How does this vision materialize through your activities and structures?

The mission of Saddleback is the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. The P.E.A.C.E. program is an extension of this mission. PEACE is an acronym which stands for Plant churches, Equip leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, and Educate the next generation. The purpose of PEACE is to mobilize lay people to do ordinary things and in so doing there can be a cumulative effect that will change the world.

2. What qualifications are you looking for in a person who would want to work for your organization? (Qualities, Skills, etc.) How would a new worker fit into your overall structure?

There are two answers to this question, the first group of people they are looking for require only a shared vision and passion for serving Christ. The second tier are for staff members. In this second group some international experience is sought after in addition to an understanding and ability to communicate the vision of PEACE and Saddleback as well as being a team player.

3. How does your organization evaluate results? What is success for your
organization?

Assessment forms are given to teams returning from the field. The evaluation mainly covers the team leaders and the coaching process which takes place before the team goes overseas. There was little mention of what evaluation is done with those people that they are working with overseas.

4. Are there roles within your organization for a seminary-trained person? Might there be ways in which a seminary student could contribute meaningfully to the theological foundation of the organization?

- 2 year internships program

- Flexibility in working with team leaders for the short-term trips

Additional Information: (ask depending on the time you have)

What denomination are you affiliated with?

Saddleback is pretty much its own denomination now.

What is your geographical focus?

Their current focus is mainly on Malawi, although they are also working in other countries around the world.

Personal Reflections:

Going into the interview with the P.E.A.C.E. representatives, I was excited about the theory that was being presented by Saddleback. I am still impressed with the nuanced approach. However, I was left with a bit of a sour taste as well. It seems that they are trying to reinvent the wheel and have the potential of repeating the mistakes of other organizations who are working with the same issues. I think that as they develop more relationships with existing Christian relief and service organizations their program will gain in strength. In this way an institution such as Fuller, or a student from Fuller has the potential to assist Saddleback.

Interserve - Urbana Missions Conference 12/06

1. What is the mission statement of your organization? How does this vision materialize through your activities and structures?

Interserve is an organization of Christian professionals serving in North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. They seek to use their professional skills to minister to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the people they serve. Through this service they seek to share the Gospel by helping people understand their options in faith believing that many will choose to follow Jesus Christ.

2. What qualifications are you looking for in a person who would want to work for your organization? (Qualities, Skills, etc.) How would a new worker fit into your overall structure?

Those who serve with Interserve must have a professional skill. The gentleman that I interviewed was a surgeon. There are also other doctors, teachers, agriculturalists, veterinarians, etc. The way in which a new worker would fit into the organization depends primarily on the position that the new person is filling. Most positions are available for professionals in more advanced fields.

3. How does your organization evaluate results? What is success for your
organization?

The organizational structure of Interserve is very flat. That is to say that the type of evaluations that are done varies from one region to the next. The informant was unable to give any specifics on how this was accomplished. He worked in a hospital and had some sad stories about the lack of accountability in that working environment, although the hospital was operated by the government, not Interserve.

They were unable to articulate what would be considered success. The ministry is intentionally built through fairly ambiguous relationships, especially considering that most of the work is being done in countries that are less then welcoming to Christians. Success in those conditions is hard for Interserve to define, although the end goal for the organization is to see people becoming disciples of Christ.

4. Are there roles within your organization for a seminary-trained person? Might there be ways in which a seminary student could contribute meaningfully to the theological foundation of the organization?

Interserve has some volunteers teaching in theological institutions in cross-cultural settings.

Additional Information: (ask depending on the time you have)

What is your geographical focus?

North Africa, Middle East, and Asia as well as with immigrants in the USA and the UK.


Personal Reflections:

The ministry of Interserve is an intentional form of a tentmaking ministry. Christians with skills in advanced professions serve in the 2/3rds world and seek to make Christ known through the relationships that are built there. Considering that I do not have an advanced skill I do not see myself working for this organization. Also, their organization's structure is so loose that it is hard to know clearly, without having a clearer direction of where you are going and what you'll be doing, what sort of support structure is given to their workers.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

CRM - Urbana Missions Conference 12/06

1. What is the mission statement of your organization? How does this vision materialize through your activities and structures?

Church Resource Ministries is committed to the centrality of the local church in God's plan for reaching the world with the good news of Jesus. The ministry is committed to values such as: Evangelical Theology, Discipleship, Church Growth, Church Planting, Teams, Servanthood, Risk, an Entrepreneurial Spirit, Accountability, and the Presence of God in all that we do.

This mission is accomplished by developing emerging Christian leaders through ministries such as NieuCommunities (a 42-week missional experience), InnerCHANGE (a Christian order among the poor) among others, all of CRM’s ministries have a leadership development program built into their projects.

2. What qualifications are you looking for in a person who would want to work for your organization? (Qualities, Skills, etc.) How would a new worker fit into your overall structure?

The representative that I interviewed mainly worked with the NieuCommunities division of CRM and so his answer to this question reflected, primarily, what this ministry sought in those who participated in their organization. NieuCommunities seeks young leaders who have demonstrated their leadership gifts in a ministry. They seek emerging leaders who have shown promise for future ministry leadership. NieuCommunities, as well as other ministries of CRM (Church Resource Ministries) find their staff primarily through their own training programs. Therefore, new workers would first be required to go through the leadership training in order to discern where they fit into the organization.

3. How does your organization evaluate results? What is success for your
organization?

Through the year evaluation between the mentor and the student happens on a continual basis. This is most deliberate at the conclusion of each of the six “postures of mission” is completed in the curriculum. Additionally, each ministry team is evaluated annually. The specifics on how the process of this occurred, and what criteria was used was not provided. Therefore, understanding that the goal is to develop leaders provides an outcome that is difficult to measure.

4. Are there roles within your organization for a seminary-trained person? Might there be ways in which a seminary student could contribute meaningfully to the theological foundation of the organization?

Yes, many of the people within CRM have been trained at, are attending, or teaching at Fuller Theological Seminary, including Jude Thiersma Watson who serves with InnerCHANGE in downtown Los Angeles.

Additional Information: (ask depending on the time you have)

What internship opportunities are available? How long is this?

With NieuCommunities it is a 10 month leadership training course that is provided; there are also programs with other ministries that last up to a full year. Also they have “Road Trips” that last only 2 weeks.

What denomination are you affiliated with?

They are within the broad category of Evangelicals.

What is your geographical focus?

NieuCommunities are in Vancouver, Canada, Glasgow, Ireland, and Pretoria, South Africa. InnerCHANGE is located in several major cities around the world.

How do you help your employees manage their student loans/debt?

All financial support is raised by the volunteer.

What is a picture of everyday life for a worker in your organization?

What next steps would I take if I am interested in working for this organization?

It was suggested that the student go on a “Road Trip” (short two week trip) to find out if CRM is a good fit for the volunteer.

Personal Reflection:
Talking to the representative from CRM, specifically from their NieuCommunities ministry gave me a new understanding of one of the more practical examples of the emerging church and how that is fitting into the missiological community. As far as future career possibilities I do not see that this organization will immediately play a significant role in my own ministry.

It has the potential of making a contribution to work done in the classroom. They do some creative work in integrating short-term and long-term missions and so they may be worth doing more research into to see how well this is working. This could also be a place where other Fuller students may be able to do their practicum requirements.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I was wondering if any of you, my fellow Fuller students, were going to the airport early on the December the 27th? My plane leaves at 7:30am and so I need to be there between 5:30 and 6:00. If anybody else is going to be headed that way that early it would be economical of us to car pool. If that doesn't work maybe this discussion could help others find a ride to LAX together at another time.

Hope you have a Merry Christmas wherever you find yourself this year.

Nathan

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Nathan's African Weblog The New and Improved Version!!

Sunday, September 28, 2003

I have grown tired of not being able to post pictures, therefore, I have made a new site. You can follow my continuing story and see some pictures at this new site.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

A Building

Some very exciting things have been happening in Old Naledi. The one that has consumed most of my time has been the 50 meter by 50 meter plot of land across the dirt road from Moruti James Mpopang's house. The rights to this land have been given to Naledi Baptist Fellowship. Since the letter from the government has been received our young congregation has been dreaming of how this might be used. The church has been blessed to be able to use an assembly hall of the Naledi Education Centre since its birth in 1999. In the past year this hall has become too small for the growing congregation. And so we look to build.

It seems to me that any building project is full of challenges. This is the first time I have been personally responsible for such a project. But it is my observation that even churches with large wealthy congregations struggle to build. Our congregation is quite the opposite of "large" and "wealthy." In fact, the over whelming majority of our congregation are still in school and at least one of their parents have passed away. This does not lend itself to large tithes, much less the large amount of money needed for a building. And so our church is making these plans in faith. The project has been steeped in prayer from the beginning.

These plans are moving surprisingly fast. Just this week I have had meetings with architects about what the needs we would like the building to accommodate. They have offered to write up a sketch of what the building might look like and get a price quote for us. This will help us know just how much money we need to raise.

The basic needs are a hall that would seat around 250 people, an office, two classrooms, a small kitchen, a youth centre, and accommodations for one or two people. This is at the beginning of the conversation. We will still, no doubt, have several meetings to discuss more needs, or decide that we do not need some of these things. But the wheels are turning and we trust that God will open the doors we need to enter and close the ones that we do not want to enter.

We will need all the help we can get on this project, and so we would appreciate your prayers in this matter.

Kagiso,
Nathan

On a side note, I had an interesting conversation yesterday and found that most of the kids and youth guess that I'm about 30 years old. They were quite surprised to find that I am only 23 years old.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Quite a Day

It was a good day here. Afrox, a cooking gas company which donates all the gas to the Tlamelo Project sponsored a day outing for the kids of the Project. They took them to the Gaborone Game Reserve. To start things off they bored us all out of our minds. There were speeches from the Director of Afrox Botswana, the Assistant Minister of Lands, and a few others. The fact that their audience was mostly Setswana speaking children between the ages 5-14 didn't stop these folks from giving long winded speeches about what a good thing they (the speaker) are doing for these "needy" children (the audience). It really made me feel a bit ill.

After the speeches they took the kids on a game drive, in the park there are no predators and they feed the animals hay, which they conveniently did just before the kids took their drive around the park, guaranteeing that they saw the animals. Back from the drive we had a braii, better known as a BBQ in the northern hemisphere. It was good food and I ate too much of it, especially as we had a football (soccer) match right afterwards.

And so after we finished off our plates of meat and salads we headed next door to the Game Reserve to a football pitch. The match up was against Naledi Baptist Fellowship and Afrox Gas Company. Naledi Baptist was the younger team and showed it coming out of the gates. Not the inexperience mind you, but the quicker step. Naledi Baptist controlled the ball nicely in the midfield winning every ball and out running their opponents. The result was a 2-0 lead at halftime with their goal keeper (me) having little work to do.

The second half saw Afrox regroup to put up a much better fight. They began to control the ball more and limit the possession time of Naledi Baptist. They had one break away early in the second half leaving me no chance to make a save as they brought the score to 2-1. Naledi Baptist then picked up its intensity on defense and didn't allow the equalizer, although they did require an excellent save (if I do say so myself) to do so. Naledi Baptist was unable to find the back of the net in the second half and the final score gave victory Naledi Baptist FC with a score of 2-1.