Innovation will pay off in Uganda
With a loan of £500 from the DCI Trust,
George Purkweri in Uganda is building 10 rooms on an empty plot of land.
He will then rent those rooms for £5 a month each bringing a total of £50
income a month for the foreseeable future. He will repay the interest-free
loan in 12 monthly payments in the form of providing goats for orphans,
extra capital for the local DCI bank for the poor and in food gifts the
most destitute widow and orphan refugees. After ten months the rental
income will be sufficient to fund the School of Mission that he has opened
for men and women from the many refugee camps in Lira District.
The new training school in Chaing Mai,
Thailand is already a house church before it starts. The building
has an exceptional view of the mountains and good grounds for planting
fruits and vegetables, it's quiet and beautiful. The School is starting
with ten young, ethnic men who will be trained to plant churches and open
new training centres in other towns. The atmosphere is most certainly not
Western, it's very primitive and very ethnic. The students and the pastor
sleep on mats on the floor as they do in their own Karen village. There is
no TV, no music, only worship from guitar and voices, the students have no
distractions, just all the time they need to keep focussed on God and His
word. The students are fully encouraged to grow their own veg and fruits
and to start a small business that will help pay the bill. Each student is
given a copy of all School bills which amount to £1,090 a month and asked
to pray about them and to go out and find a way, anyway, to contribute to
paying them. The students go out to serve the poor, sick and the needy
with HIV/Aids. There is fellowship each evening and others have already
started to come from outside to worship and praise God with us and the
centre is not even ready to officially open yet.
Everything has gone wrong in Indonesia
After that crash that almost took your brother's life, then the earthquake
that caused your Mother's death then another car accident you have a lot
to bear in such a short time, but as you pray you will find the Lord has a
way of restoring the years that locusts eat, of turning mourning into
dancing, and of suddenly coming to visit, and then everything can be
different. We have had some dark and hopeless situations ourselves over
the years with no possible way out, but only a little later, somehow, the
Lord passed by or He sent His word and we found ourselves back on our feet
again wondering how it had happened. May Jesus be the same for you.
Not everything is as it seems at first sight . . .
In these days of rapid expansion with people coming from north, south, east and west and wanting to join us either to be trained or to open new Schools of Mission it will do us no harm to recall the Gibeonite deception of Joshua 9.3-21, the key verse being, verse 14 . . they did not enquire of the Lord. The lesson is that not everyone and not everything is as it first appears to be. Safety is found in taking things easy, going one step at a time together, and in always bringing the enquiry before the Lord in prayer. Then if we (or they) are off the path and going wrong we will hear that voice behind us saying, "This is the way, walk in it." This is from Isaiah 30.21 where the Lord promises that if we will walk with Him then He will either confirm, change or cancel any direction that we are proposing. Many is the time that the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit has saved us.
Learn from the people who know how to survive . . .
On a practical level, you will do very well to keep expenses down to an absolute minimum and never allow them to creep up without very good reason. We are in days when low-cost operations flourish, airlines and outreaches alike, and keep going even in the face of global downturns that affect public giving and spending. Question every expense to see if you really need to spend it and if not - why spend it ? Don't ever try and be like the well-funded western-led operations, go the other way, keep things simple like the people in the villages because they know how to survive when the going gets tough. Do all you can to create the long-term funding for your school from the country you are in.
I think we have
to go back time and time and time again to the example of Jesus in the
gospels, and to the example of Paul in his missions journeys. There were
no monthly gifts in the post and no micro-businesses provided for them by
somebody overseas. There was self-support business for Paul, there were
people who made things possible for Jesus' team, many of these were women.
Somehow Jesus provided enough money for His own needs, enough for his team
and enough to give to the poor, and in such abundance that he needed a
treasurer, Judas. Paul said that he did the same, Acts 20.
I don't like the idea of our network being funded from one central source.
In any event this is humanly very insecure and I feel it goes against the spirit of the New Testament, where local churches and missions are autonomous bodies dependent on Christ alone, while remaining in fellowship with each other and helping each other. Central funding takes us right back to denominations, institutions, control and conditions and even if we start righteous and flexible, by the next generation the structure will be as rigid as concrete with a rule book written by men.
Let's keep things simple, faith-based and with everyone, everywhere looking to Jesus and His creativity for their location and their future expansion. At the same time let's stay in close touch with each other because it could easily be that resources in one part of the network can help someone in another part.
Our way of working was given to us by the Lord back in 1987 after a year
or so of prayer, and part of what He said to us is what we call "Riding
a Three-Humped Camel" as uncomfortable as that surely is.
we teach the full
Well, you can but that hardly gives enough time for the students to do
the written and practical projects. At that speed they will only hear
the lessons which is no more than impartation of knowledge, not
discipleship. Disciples hear what Jesus says and do what Jesus did, then
come back and report how they got on.
The only way to stop
I like the idea of the second School of Mission in the next town, but let me try and take you one step further. It is very good to train the people, there is no doubt about that. However, it is very many times more effective to train trainers who will then go and start their own Schools of Mission. It is they and not you who will go and train the people (or even more trainer-leaders). See 2 Timothy 2.2 for the principle. So, if you could think about doing a special session to train men and women who will go and start their own schools, and equip them with the materials to go with, then through them you could see hundreds of people in training at once, not just one class. See this page for how Nairobi do it so well.
Can a pastor or Bible school
A pastoral local church is very different to an outward-facing School of Mission and a caring pastor is not automatically qualified or called to lead a School of Mission although the Lord can give him the call and the gifting. A theological school is also very different to a School of Mission. Many theological schools often fail to produce results because the students go back to their churches with lots of knowledge and degrees but often with little passion and vision, and often with almost no experience of doing what Jesus did among the lost and the poor. The leader of a theological school may need to go through a School of Mission for himself before he can lead a new school, otherwise he just changes the lessons but does not put the discipleship principles into practice because he has never learned them for himself. It is hard to teach what you have never done. So in reality very little changes. Having said that, some of our best Schools of Mission around the world are being run by men who failed to see results from their theological schools, until Jesus showed them how He personally raised up passionate and envisioned leaders and they changed to His way of doing things.
The principles of discipleship are that the people like the first disciples, spend time with Jesus, they hear what Jesus says and they continually go under supervision and do themselves what Jesus did, and report back. They learn by hearing and by doing, and they learn the value of fellowship, working in team and accountability. Read the gospels and see how Jesus taught His disciples and notice the atmosphere of community and friendship. This is the model we have adopted to handle the harvest in the developing nations and it works as well today as it did for Jesus.
The concept of our Schools of Mission is that poor men and women without prior qualifications can have first-class discipleship style learning, in a safe, community atmosphere, maybe even in homes, where they are known and loved by name, at no cost or for very little cost. This is the very opposite of the traditional Bible School which is great for people who can afford to go there full-time and pay the fees. The School of Mission meets part-time in someone else's property, like Paul's school in Acts 19 where the concept came from, and the students work part-time to maintain themselves and their families while they are spending time with Jesus and learning to live in His grace and provision.
If I were you I would resist all pressure to turn from the low-cost simplicity of the School of Mission concept of discipleship towards having a traditional Bible School with buildings, prestige, staff and so on just because that is the way it is always done.
We pass on our heart, and our attitudes, our hopes, our hurts and wounds, deep calls unto deep as the Psalm says, and it all comes out in the classes, because out of the heart the mouth speaks. If two of your teachers are fighting with each other, what are they going to impart to their students at heart level ? This is the question. It sounds to me like both of them need to attend a full School of Mission themselves before trying to teach it to others. They need some maturity and a much bigger Kingdom vision from the Lord. We are not in competition with each other, we are in a war with the world, the flesh and the devil. Psalm 133 says that when the brothers dwell in unity, there the Lord commands the blessing. So if teachers are in dis-unity you can imagine just how little blessing there is going to be in the school.
Are you as tired out as the rest of us ?
Extra materials for the
Schools of Mission . .
For material to prepare Theology
Lessons: Systematic Theology (500
pages) or Summary of Christian Doctrine (Paperback 200 pages) by Louis
Berkhof, or Foundations of Christian Doctrine by Kevin J. Conner, Bible
Temple Oregon. Nobody agrees with everything in theology but for
simplicity and seriousness combined there is no beating these classic
books, available second hand at bargain prices on Amazon,
Oasis Books and
Facts to make lessons and handouts
on Cults and Sects can be found here:
Reach Out Trust
http://www.reachouttrust.org and Deo Gloria Trust
http://www.deo-gloria.co.uk/links_cults.php For pages on Apologetics; Christian Scientists; Deception; Doctrine; Evolution;
Jehovah's Witnesses; Latter-day Saints (Mormons); Martial Arts; New Age;
Occult and other groups go to:
For the theology and practice of
ministry to the poor,
sick and disabled, the leader of the School of Mission in Russia, Robert Hosken has just
gained his doctorate with a thesis this very subject. You can
get a copy here:
You say that Brazilians don't like reading and because of that always answer your questions from their own personal experience without searching for the answer in the lesson or in a Bible text. People in the west are now very screen orientated and can't live without fast moving images from the TV, videos, games and DVD's. We have a generation who do not know how to concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time and do not like reading because it is "boring" just too slow and non-visual. You will have to persevere to solve this problem and maybe employ some "cool" 21st century creativity like getting the students to download the Bible in their mobile phones, or into PDA's or in PC's. They might like that better than to be seen carrying the black book. One way or another discipleship has to be all about taking people back to the word of God all the time and for everything, teaching them to rely upon God's word and not their personal experiences, their feelings or worse on the fiction from the TV shows. In the long run everything else will fail us except for the Word of God and that is why we all have to be trained to know our Bibles and the God who gave His word to us. Where we keep our Bibles is another question altogether, I confess to having three free versions and a concordance in my phone from http://www.gmpsoft.com
You have some ladies in your project who still have debts to loan sharks and are struggling to repay your project. What you have here is a selection and training issue that we can all learn from. I should have said to you that it is always a mistake to give a loan to anyone who is still engaged with a loan shark, because he will come and take all the money. Watch out also for ladies who have predatory husbands, fathers or sons with drinking or drug habits because they demand the money, sometimes with violence. There is no way that a first micro-business can provide enough money to pay off the loan sharks I fear your loan to this lady is lost because the loan shark has the first call on all her income.
You say that some of your poor ladies have many children and now say they can't make their repayment this week. Here is another selection and training issue. Before you start a project you need to gently teach your ladies that their responsibility is to make their repayments with no excuses for the sake of the whole project. You mustn't be afraid to ask some ladies to wait for a micro-loan if you foresee problems with them. A Yes must be Yes when it comes to responsibilities. But what do you do now ? I would have them repay their loan daily. Later on the business and all the income is theirs so it is short-term pain for long term gain. If you relax gentle discipline you will lose your money. It always happens.
You tell me that several businesses have failed to gain profit due to mistakes in the production process, or the products were hard to sell. These people did not have a good plan before they started, only a good idea. That is why applicants must do good research to see if there is a market for their product or service, calculate some realistic figures and check how much competition there is. And you must check their plans before you give the OK for them to have a micro-loan. Count the cost before you start, that is Jesus said. He was right, as always. I would quickly sell the stocks that remain and re-invest the money in a better business otherwise the client will soon lose everything.
Answering some of your
June - July 2006