November 17, 2017

A taste of Africa

Thanksgiving greetings from… well, today it's Virginia. Last weekend it was North Carolina, and this weekend it'll be South Carolina. It's what missionaries do. But the week before last it was California – for a very intriguing meeting of African Christian scholars hosted by Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena.

Fuller invited a group of African scholars from seminaries in the US and Canada, along with a handful of North Americans who work in the area of African Christianity. We got together to explore the possibility of some sort of African Christian Scholarship program at Fuller as a resource for people studying African Christianity, especially African faculty members and PhD students at North American schools. Plus there’s need for an ongoing network connecting African researchers in North America with each other and with the seminaries and Christian universities in Africa. And I particularly appreciated another value stated in the planning paper: “It is also hoped that the program would be a center for enriching the Global North with the gifts of God from African Christianity.”

So there I was. Not entirely sure how I got invited or what I could contribute, but reveling in the opportunity to immerse myself for several days in this lovely gathering of people who care about the same things that move my heart. I talked with eminent African leaders (Tite Tienou! I’d never met him), reconnected with several colleagues and students I knew from Nairobi, met some gifted emerging young leaders especially among the African PhD students who came from various parts of the US, and got some great feedback and suggestions on my presentation summarizing my ideas about African biblical interpretation. (You can click here to read the article I wrote about this topic in Fuller's magazine.) If I can't be in a classroom in Africa right now teaching students about Jesus and the Bible, this was the next best thing.

Through it all the Lord was reminding me, “Yes, this is important. These young leaders are the way I’m building my global church. This is where I’ve called you to serve.” I came away with my heart filled and re-motivated for the hard work of raising the financial support to stay engaged with this sort of ministry.

And that’s what the rest of my month looked like: visiting churches and small groups to tell people my story and invite them to partner with me in global theological education. Picture me driving my Toyota Camry up and down the mid-Atlantic, with a pile of audio books on the passenger seat, stopping every so often to stretch my legs, fill the gas tank and stock up on junk food!

I love all the visiting and meeting people. And I love helping people understand more about what God's doing in the church worldwide. But seriously, I have no idea how God is going to supply the rest of the funding to get me back to Ireland and my work as Serge’s international Theological Education Specialist – hopefully by March 2018. We’re still hovering at about 70% of the ongoing financial support needed. I just keep reminding myself that my job is to tell the story and God’s job is to supply the resources. Please pray with me that God confirms his call to this ministry by providing everything needed to make it happen – in whatever way he wants to do that, for his own glory. Thank you for praying!

Meanwhile I’m looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving next week with my daughter and son-in-law and their friends and relations. I’m feeling thankful for my first grandbaby, who’s due to arrive in mid-January! And I’m so very thankful for the many of you who’ve prayed, given, and encouraged me in this work all through this year. You are truly a gift from God in my life.


Having way too much fun at Fuller Seminary's African Christian Scholars Consultation - connecting with old and new colleagues and friends...

...and looking very scholarly as I give my presentation!