This article is from the issue: Volume 5, Issue 1: Children and International Development

4. Child Development: A Hinge in Crossing Culture with a Healthy Self-Esteem

May 19, 2016

Does a child’s psychological development determine how successfully he/she will cross cultures later on in life?  Certainly it does, even though it is not the sole determining factor.  In this short article, I will contend that child development is one of the major factors contributing to a cross-cultural workers ability to cross cultures well.  In so doing, I would like to highlight that the process of uprooting a person from one’s home country and familiar support system, leaves a person feeling extremely insecure.  With the additional difficulty of language acquisition and dealing with culture shock, the whole process shakes a person to the core. And it is precisely the challenge to one’s identity and worth that makes self-esteem such an important variable in being able to handle the changes and adjustments required in crossing cultures.

Read the whole article here.

This article is from the issue: Volume 4, Issue 2: Transformational Business

1. A Note From the Editor, Spring 2015 Issue

Jun 15, 2015

Ralph D. Winter observes:

Every society needs many basic functions and services. They need a banking system. They need fully reliable channels of raw materials and finished products. Curiously, they need guidance in the production of many things they have never seen and for which they can see no use…Yet in all of this there is absolutely no substitute for honesty and reliability. Honesty is so rare that the absence of integrity alone is the chief drag in many societies. There will always be room for integrity and good will, for the one who keeps his word (2005, 113-14).

Thanks to all our contributing authors who represent university academia, scholars and practitioners in international development, with each presenting a unique perspective from his/her area of expertise and research, thus adding to our understanding of transformational business in international development. In this issue on Transformational Business, we have included articles representing both biblical/theological reflections of how business brings transformation of lives within the kingdom framework and contextual case studies of church/community based business, including research in contextual business leadership dynamics.

Tom Steffen, Professor Emeritus of Intercultural Studies of Biola University, examines the lives of seven biblical figures in an attempt to define the interrelationship between the Great Commission and the Great Commandment found in both Testaments,” thus providing guidelines for the Great Commission companies.

Brian Albright, Associate Professor in the College of Business and Management at Hope International University, uncovers business leadership dynamics through his case studies of faith-based business leaders in Sub-Saharan Africa and addresses important issues concerning the relationship between spiritual and social goals in business.

Young Kook Park, WCIU Ph.D. associate, seeks to establish a biblical foundation for BAM that, he thinks, is important for holistic cross-cultural ministry. 

Alvin Mbola, lead consultant of Micro Finance and Livelihoods at Kileleni Africa Limited, recognizes the failure of many current microfinance models to “appreciate the complex relationship that exists between men and women within the household,” which often results in “power and financial conflicts within households thus jeopardizing the well-intended goals of microfinance.” Through cross-section studies of five microfinance organizations in Kibera slums, Alvin identifies “disempowerment components” of women in the household that requires a “reconciliation based model” to serve as a warranty for the empowerment of financial wellbeing and gender equitability.

Norman Soo, WCIU Ph.D. associate, contributes a reflection in Chinese on the interrelationship of faith and personality factors of decision-makers to transformational business. He highlights the faith factor in business leadership as essential to the vitality of transformational business.

We are also republishing an article written by the late Dr. Ralph D. Winter, founding president of William Carey International University, in which he addresses the issue of business in international development: “When Both Business and Mission Fall Short.”

As always, you are welcome to join the dialogue, discussion, and debate through commenting on the articles and blog postings, and sharing insights on your own social networks.


Winter, Ralph D. 2005. “When Business Can Be Mission: Where Both Business and Mission Fall Short.” IJFM 22:3, 110-17.

Read the whole issue here.


This article is from the issue: Volume 4, Issue 1: International Development and Global Health

A Note from the Guest Editor

This issue of William Carey International Development Journal includes papers from the Christian Journal for Global Health, an initiative of the Center for HIM. It reflects a broad and expanding collaborative movement involving a large number of individuals and organizations globally. There is a rich history of efforts in health care by people of faith with courage to change with the times. This has inspired the concept of a Christian journal to explore global health issues in a manner that reflects scholarly excellence and scientific credibility.

We seek to capture, catalogue and distribute Christian thinking and practice that has been forged in real-time service among those in need. These experiences, and the motivations underlying them, warrant expression in an open access format, available world-wide and without cost. We hope to bring a scholarly approach to global health problems, marked by critical analysis and practical application to the world our readers inhabit. This journal will give voice to Christian workers, in every area of the world seeking best practices combined with common values. Few journals have as integrative an approach to health and mission, science and faith, policy and practice as we hope for this multidisciplinary resource. Our aim is to maintain a missional call to bless the nations and promote the power of the gospel to heal the whole person, community and society. With interdenominational global contribution and distribution, we hope to create new conversations using the comments feature and social media platforms. Cooperating with WCIDJ is part of advancing that conversation.

To make this project sustainable and effective, we are calling for papers from around the world with a broad scope including Public Health, Health Care Service, Organization, Mission and Health, and Conditions of Special Interest. Following the Scriptures which guide our work, we value strength in weakness, humility over bravado, evidence over superstition, honest appraisals over self-serving anecdotes, values over expediency. Recognizing the value of the perspectives of our colleagues of various world views, we hope true wisdom can be applied to express in writing cohesive knowledge for the good of others. As the source of all good gifts, and the reconciler of relationships, God will be glorified, and the Church’s role in healing the whole person and all nations will be enhanced.

The tides of change in global health must include people of faith who retain and express the wisdom of God with a relevant Grand Narrative. By letting this light shine, as Jesus taught, it becomes a testimony to the presence and glory of God among the peoples of the world.

Our articles include one that describes a successful contextualized intervention for HIV prevention among the Massai in Tanzania; a report on the challenges facing the Catholic Church in India in the provision of healthcare for the aging population, especially those with neurodegenerative illness; a study of the potential of a Christian mindset to influence community health workers in providing cost-effective maternal health services in rural Kenya; a unique effort to network organizations toward greater synergy for health development in Kenya. A moving final field report gives a window on the West African Ebola outbreak from the standpoint of a Nigerian physician who contracted the virus and her struggle to survive, testifying to the presence of God through suffering.

By promoting intelligent scholarship we aim to see improvements in quality care, revealing God’s heart for the healing of the nations, and to articulate theological reflections that inspire a new generation of service in a broken world.

Read the whole issue here.

This article is from the issue: Volume 3, Issue 1: Transformational Development Part 2

A Note from the Editor: Transformational Development Part 2

Feb 28, 2014

Our current issue continues the theme of “transformational development” — a concept that evolved from the earlier notion of holistic development or cross-cultural ministry in the 1970s, and has been widely used among Christian (development) circles, though it often encompasses somewhat nuanced field of change. We seek to provide a platform for engaged review and discussion based on studies and reflections from the global community, to inform one other, and to broaden our understanding, through which, hopefully, a shared conceptual framework may eventually surface. A heated dialogue is already underway in our blog revolving around “What Is Transformational Development?” Many readers may be aware of Bryant Myers’ book, Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development, which provides insightful perspectives that help illuminate the concept. He sets some signposts for transformational development as “seeking positive change in the whole of human life materially, socially, psychologically and spiritually” (2011, 3), a journey with God involving all “those who are on it” (16). He articulates the two goals of transformational development as “changed people and just and peaceful relationships” (17), and identifies, as essential in transformational development, the rediscovery of “human dignity and identity” and right relationship with God, self, community, those who are “other,” and the creation (180).

On WCIU’s website we recognize that “the roots of human problems lie deep within socio-cultural, socio-economic and political systems, and science and technology systems.” To address these root problems effectively, one needs to “understand these systems, to identify the roots of pervasive problems associated with human need (economic, political, cultural, mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual).” We also affirm development as a dynamic process of change and growth, and is most transformative when generated from within a socio-cultural system. “Development that aims at transforming societies provides not only options and resources for physical and social betterment, but also hope and answers for spiritual questions and needs. Only through such development practices can lasting change be achieved.” The Hebrew concept of Shalom, right relationship with God, with other humans, and with God’s creation, is foundational to transformational development as we explore the various aspects of it surfacing in local contexts across the globe.

This topic has obviously generated a lot of interests from scholars and practitioners. I would like to thank all the authors whose works have (or have not) been selected for publication. Because of the amount of quality submissions for this issue we have received, we have decided to devote two issues, the current Winter 2014 Issue, and the previous Fall 2013 Issue, to the same topic of transformational development. For this issue, Transformational Development, Part 2, we are publishing several articles on this topic. I invite you to join the dialogue, discussion, and debate through commenting on the articles and blog postings, and sharing insights to your own social networks.

Read the full issue: Volume 3, Issue 1: Transformational Development Part 2

This article is from the issue: Volume 2, Issue 3: The Problem of Evil

A Note from the Editor: The Problem of Evil

Jul 31, 2013

The problem of evil - one of the most persistent objections to God’s existence and one of the most debated topics within the Church - continues to be explored. How can a loving, omnipotent God allow so much evil and suffering in the world?  Throughout the ages, theologians and philosophers have attempted to provide answers to these questions. At the founding of Roberta Winter Institute (RWI) in 2001, Dr. Ralph D. Winter passionately committed himself to the cause of “bring[ing] glory to God by ending our apparently neoplatonist truce with Satan in the realm of all his ingenious and destructive work” and “rectify[ing] our understanding of a God who is not the author of the destructive violence in nature and who has long sought our help in bringing His kingdom and His will on earth” (2008:177). Dr. Winter was not only concerned with the theological response, but also a practical one: Who is the author of disease pathogen, God or Satan? Are we called to eradicate diseases?

Greg BoydThis current issue is based on the Ralph D. Winter Annual Lectureship held on campus in April, 2013, which focused on “The Problem of Evil.”  The keynote speaker was Gregory A. Boyd, a prominent Christian scholar who has proliferated a number of books dealing with topics concerning the problems of evil and spiritual warfare, including God at War (1997), a book that was much appreciated by Dr. Winter. This year’s lectureship was co-sponsored by RWI. The RWI, on its website, “seeks to mobilize believers to discover and address the origins of disease, thereby destroying the works of the devil and glorifying God.” You will be able to enjoy, in video format, some key sections of the lectureship presentation by Boyd and panel discussion with Charles Kraft, Brad Cole, and Brian Lowther. At the same time, this issue seeks to expand perspectives on the topic, to include studies from other biblical scholars, medical professionals, cross-cultural practitioners, WCIU faculty and students:

“What is the Ancient Near Eastern Combat Myth and What Difference Does it Make?”
by Joel Hamme.
“Where Darwin Scores Higher than Intelligent Design,” by Ralph D. Winter (reprinted with permission from IJFM)
“The Big Picture of Scripture,” by Beth Snodderly (originally published in The Goal of International Development, WCIU Press, 2011).
“Scary God or Scary People?” by Brad Cole (used with permission from the author).
“Plagues, Priests and Demons: A Critical Book Review,” by Steven Youngren.
“From Historical Drift to Necessary Return: A Book Review (从历史的漂移到必然的回归——书评),” by Norman Soo.

You can download the full issue here or click one of the links above to read each article individually.

I invite you to join the dialogue, discussion, and debate through commenting on the articles and blog postings, and sharing insights to your own social networks.

Ralph D. Winter. 2008. “Roberta Winter Institute.” In Frontiers in Mission, 177-80. Pasadena, CA: WCIU Press.

This article is from the issue: Volume 2, Issue 2: The Importance of Orality in Learning Methods

A Note from the Editor: Orality

May 09, 2013

In “Communicating Gods’ Message in Oral Cultures” Rick Brown comments on the differences between print and oral communicators, 

Unfortunately it is often happens that a print-oriented community wrongly expects that the oral communicators in his or her audience will understand logical, analytical, and abstract ways of thinking, or he expects that sermons and radio programs designed for a print-oriented audience can be translated and used effectively with an oral audience. But this is not usually the case. (Rick Brown, 2004)

Brown’s article highlights the lack of understanding and concern for oral communicators in cross-cultural ministry.  What is true in the field is also reflected in theological education in the West in which a significantly large proportion of the student body is represented by oral learners.

During one of our faculty forums we talked about the article by Dr. Jay Moon, “Understanding Oral Learners,” a research project focusing on the learning preference of seminary students of various cultural backgrounds. The study actually shows that “the slight majority of contemporary seminary students studied are oral learners” (Moon 2012). This immediately became a heated topic for discussion among faculty members as it was closely related to the issues that needed to be addressed here at WCIU. How could we best serve our students who come from oral learning tradition and empower them to bring wholeness and human flourishing to their own communities? This interest led to our decision to sponsor a Winter Institute on the topic on Feb. 11, 2013, when key advocates in the field of Orality, Dr. Jay Moon of Sioux Falls Seminary, Dr. Bill Bjoraker of William Carey International University, and Dr. Tom Steffen of Biola University shared perspectives on oral learners as well as conducted a workshop to engage more closely in their relevancy to theological education.

You will be able to read in this issue a paper by Jay Moon on the Winter Institute on Theological Education for Oral Learners, detailing some of the outcomes of the survey and the workshop. Some of the other papers in this issue include:

“The Case and Call for Oral Bibles: A Key Component in Completing the Great Commission” by Rick Leatherwood
“Objections and Benefits of an Oral Strategy for Bible study and Teaching” by Larry Dinkins
“The “People of the Book” are the People of the Story: Storytelling in Contemporary Jewish Ministry” by Bill Bjoraker

Through the publication of this issue, we invite readers, especially our faculty, students, and alumni out there serving among oral learners/communicators, to reflect on issues related to theological education for oral learners, including some of the following:

• how oral learners learn
• how we can affirm and empower oral learners
• how we can adapt our curriculum for oral learners
• what assessment tools we can develop to facilitate oral learners

Like William Carey International Development Journal? Sign up for the WCIDJ email list, or follow WCIDJ on Facebook or Twitter to be notified when new blog posts or articles are online. Thanks for reading!

This article is from the issue: Disease Origins

BLOG: Gene Therapy for Inherited Eye Disease

Oct 12, 2017

NPR reports that an FDA panel has endorsed gene therapy for a form of childhood blindness. A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee endorsed the first gene therapy for an inherited disorder — a rare condition that causes a progressive form of blindness that usually starts in childhood. The recommendation came in a unanimous 16-0 vote after a daylong hearing that included emotional testimonials by doctors, parents of children blinded by the disease and from children and young adults helped by the treatment.

“Before surgery, my vision was dark. It was like sunglasses over my eyes while looking through a little tunnel,” 18-year-old Misty Lovelace of Kentucky, told the committee. “I can honestly say my biggest dream came true when I got my sight. I would never give it up for anything. It was truly a miracle.”

The treatment, which is called voretigene neparvovec, involves a genetically modified version of a harmless virus. The virus is modified to carry a healthy version of the gene into the retina. Doctors inject billions of modified viruses into both of a patient’s eyes.

In a study involving 29 patients, aged 4 to 44, the treatment appeared to be safe and effective. More than 90 percent of the treated patients showed at least some improvement in their vision when tested in a specially designed obstacle course. The improvement often began within days of the treatment.

Read the full article here.

This article is from the issue: Education

3. From India: The Integrated Learning Experience

Oct 10, 2017

This article was originally published in Vol 2, Issue 1: Winter 2013: Integrated Education.

Our modern education systems are mostly based in fragmented and disintegrated learning models. We study science, then history, move into philosophy and all these are in their compartments with little or no connection. In recent years, the relevance of these educational systems has come into question.
What is education?
Why are we doing what we are doing?
What kinds of products are we delivering?
What effect are our educational packages having on students within their own local contexts?
Are we really preparing men and women for effective service within their contexts? 

Experts are questioning the traditional system fi gures must be poured, without consideration for what must happen inside. Some educators even made a parallel between traditional teaching and a packed suitcase—students pack in material into their suitcase and merely “unpack” for examinations. (Both John Dewey and A.N. Whitehead made such comparison.)

If examinations are based on reproducing lectures from classrooms, then preparation for such evaluation methods is purely dependent on rote learning. The smartest student is the one with the sharpest memory. While it may be required to memorize certain excerpts from poetry, scripture, or the classics, the problem is that there is no application of those passages to real life situations. It seems the most successful students within our current educational systems are those with the clearest reproduction of the notes and lectures.

Early African and Asian educational methods tended to be far more integrated and drawn from real life. Even when formal learning forms were employed, these traditional systems had clear objectives which followed a particular path. Traditions had to be preserved, harmony in community was to be sustained or religious practices were to be observed and passed on to the next generation. Some had very noble aims. For example, Confucius aimed to reform society and the government and his goals for education were to place those capable to serve in government in decisive roles. His system aimed at producing people of character, or “chun tzu”, by using observation, study and reflective thought. In the first chapter of the Analects Confucius asked, “Isn’t it a pleasure to study and practice what you have learned?” In a later saying in this chapter he commented: “If you would govern a state ... you must pay strict attention to business, be true to your word, be economical in expenditure and love the people.”

For good or bad, even Colonial educational objectives were aided by colonial policies, as familiar within Asia and Africa. Lord Thomas Macaulay, for instance, who served in the House of Commons and a member of the Supreme Council of India, presented his case to the British Parliament to produce a class of people who would be “interpreters” between the colonial rulers and the millions they governed. They were to be “Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect.” There was no desire to educate the masses, only to raise up “Indian gentlemen” who would fall in line with colonial policies (Macaulay 1835).

Rather than attempting to provide education for everybody, the British colonialists chose to educate the chosen few who would “refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge” (Macaulay 1835). The goal was to propagate Western or even more specifcally British culture. A minority of Indians and Africans benefited from this policy and enjoyed the goodwill of the colonial rulers. Although this could be a negative insinuation, the reference to the power of education to accomplish stated goals is clearly illustrated.

Education Today

It seems that within our global context, the problem does not lay so much with the content of our educational models, but more with placing this content into an appropriate setting for real learning. Such a setting must be rooted in reality but sadly, most modern educational systems are found wanting. From childhood learning to higher levels of research study, most students are floundering with unfamiliar concepts firmly set in unfamiliar worlds. A child is immediately introduced to the alphabets or numbers, with no concern for how these relates to the life around them. Children are pushed into reading and writing, books and libraries and all this does not seem to connect with the real world.

Even our teachers have become frustrated by overloaded syllabi, course materials and the pressure of examinations that allow little time to enable critical thinking and application among their students. In fact, questions are often discouraged as the teachers themselves are not fully informed. No wonder some students ask, “why mathematics?” Or “why geography?” There is very little effort from teachers to set these subjects within a real life context. Haven’t many of us wondered the relevance of trigonometry and calculus and how it will be used within our life? Education will only become meaningful once the subject matter is integrated with the real life setting around us. This applies even more to the way biblical and theological subjects are taught, and in recent times these have become more and more cerebral.

In such a setting, it is encouraging to know that today’s educators are becoming interested in integrated learning. While most discussions focus on primary education, there is a growing interest in the interdisciplinary, integrated curriculum from higher education experts. Even higher levels of research are being encouraged to integrate the very fabric of socio-economic structures to make the learning more meaningful. I am encouraging researches to make every effort to show how their research applies to real life and will rejuvenate their own ministries.

It is shocking to review the state of theological education. Take for instance some dissertation titles such as “The Concept of Wheat and Tares in Matthew,” or “Jesus’ Response to Pontius Pilate’s Question,” or the countless theses on “Justification by Faith.” Not that these are bad in themselves, but with researchers investing as much as five years for such investigations, the question is—how much relevance is this to their future teaching positions in a Bible college or preaching in a church? How much more useful would such studies be if they integrated concepts from the Old and the New Testaments, not just from academic points of view, but for application in the actual socio-economic and cultural ministry contexts? If the Bible is not presented in a relevant manner in theological training, then it becomes nothing more than a lifeless text from our past with only academic value to the present. The Bible is not merely words, but words that must become continue to become flesh in the everyday actualities of life. In this sense, the world is the real classroom and we must engage students within this wide environment through integrated learning.

Some Background Insights

I have used the word “integration” frequently, and so pause for a definition. Integration comes from the Latin word “integer”, meaning whole or entire. It has become an integral part of conversations at various levels and disciplines within education. No longer do professionals approach problems from a narrow perspective. Psychologists and psychiatrists treat the personality as being closely bound together with events that seem far apart in time but impacting any given action. Integrated approaches have become the basis of treating various human disorders. Even ecologists will argue that deforestation, population, pollution and a host of other factors over centuries are all contributing in an interconnected manner to the crisis we face at present and need to be studied as wholes.

We have inevitably moved to discussing “holism”—the relation of the parts and the whole. We speak today of holistic mission. The important thing to note is: the part can only be understood in the context of the whole. This is an important aspect of any hermeneutical approach we take to understanding and interpreting our scriptures. Meanings are discovered only within their contexts—the parts become meaningful within the whole. In short, integration refers to making connections between constituent elements in order for their real meaning to be explored. In education, integration relates to how the various components of the institution—the subjects, teacher, classroom, student and real life, etc.—are held together.

The term holism is no new find in the 20th or 21st century! An understanding of the whole and parts has been around ever since the Greek philosopher Aristotle but the concept has been revived widely in recent times. The great philosopher defined it as “The whole is more than the sums of its parts” (Metaphysica). The basic definition summarizes what was generally believed to be the essence of holism, but the concept has emerged more influentially in recent decades. The term is derived from the Greek word “holos” meaning “whole”. The Oxford English Dictionary defines holism as “[the] tendency in nature to form wholes that are more than the sum of the parts by ordered grouping.” The theory, therefore, emphasizes both the whole and the interdependence of its parts.

Accepting the importance of holism leads us to the concept of “synergy.” It comes from the Greek, “synergia,” meaning joint or cooperative action. Synergy must be understood in relationship to holism, in that combined forces produce much more than individual efforts. For instance, two people can work separately and add their individual efforts. However, the outcome will be much less than what could have been accomplished if they combined their energies. In simple terms, one plus one normally equals two, but in the theory of synergy it equals three, four, or much more. (There is an inspiring discussion on “synergy” in Stephen Covey’s popular book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

We can see the relevance to educational systems. Synergy can refer to various faculties work-ing together and discovering that there is greater effectiveness in fulfilling our learning goals and outcomes together. Integrated programs may be developed that interconnect two or more or several subjects to discover greater effectiveness. If all we needed was to produce pure engineers, doctors, community workers or pastors, then specialized isolated environments would be appropriate for each. However, we need professionals with integrated holistic perspectives, and faculty and departments must interact frequently to establish connections and explore real world applications. Energies must operate together. Such integration will bring synergistic results multiplied several times over rather than merely adding up strengths together.

What, Then, Is Integrated Learning?

The question now arises—how does all this discussion on integration, holism, and synergy apply to learning and education? We must underline that the first goal in integrating learning with real life is to maximize the learner’s experience. It was Maria Montessori, an Italian educator, who demonstrated that children are capable of learning the things that they need to know as long as they have the right environment. Her bold claim that children learn more directly from their own environment and relatively little from listening to a teacher talking to a class, led to the Montessori education method which is characterized by self-directed activity on the part of the child and
deliberate observation on the part of the teacher. The emphasis is on the importance of adapting the child’s learning environment to his/her developmental level and on the role of physical activity to acquire knowledge and gain practical skills (Dr. Montessori Quotes).

A second area of integrated learning is to integrate theoretical knowledge and concepts to real life. Here, we can look at theological education and the theologies that our students are required to learn. Most of this tends to be conceptual learning; however, such theologies are not only learned better, but remembered longer, when they are related to real contexts. When liberation theologians took theories and concepts and applied them to the poor, this integration into real life made theology come alive.

A third area of integration is for learning to be related to the particular gift of the learner. Not all of us grasp concepts, and similarly not all of us enjoy accumulating facts and figures. The Theory
of Multiple Intelligences, proposed by psychologist Howard Gardner, suggests that each individual possesses varying levels of different intelligences. The theory first appeared in Gardner’s book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, in 1983 and has been further refined in subsequent years (Gardner 1983).

Gardner’s theory argues that intelligence, as it is traditionally defined, does not consider the wide variety of learner abilities. He originally identified seven core intelligences: linguistic, logical-
mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal. In 1999, he added naturalistic as the eighth intelligence. Basically, Gardner suggests that a student who masters math is not necessarily more intelligent than one who excels in words or colors, and that a traditionally uniform curriculum and syllabus severely limits our identification of the true talents within learners.

A fourth area of integration is the relation of one area of learning with another to break down the walls we build in our artificially segregated curriculum. Students will learn better if they connect what is learned within one particular situation or discipline to another. There are some obvious natural connections, while others can be created. For instance, one may be learning Geography with natural references to mathematics, biology, language etc. and seeing this could enhance learning appreciably. The Minor Prophets could be studied along with related areas in ethics, sociology, economics etc. Required knowledge can be acquired far more easily when developed and integrated into more than one area of study.

Fifthly, integration must employ various modes of educational deliveries. Such modes may transcend the classroom for total learning to take place. We have erroneously confined the learning experience to classrooms and in doing so have focused solely on the teacher as the giver/conveyor and the student as the receiver/container. Learning is much more complex and may take root in a variety of environments. All kinds of formal and informal, on-campus and off-campus, on-line and off-line methods must be utilized to fully maximize an integrated learning process.

Where Do We Start?

We must start with the actual content matter of our teaching—curriculum and syllabuses. The following provides a definition of an integrated course which will reflect this integrated approach
we are advocating:

  • An integrated course is one that is organized in such a way that it cuts across subject-matter lines, bringing together various aspects of the particular subject in an interaction with other areas of study in order to achieve the stated objectives and outcomes of the program. It views learning and teaching in a holistic way and reflects on issues in the real world making courses meaningful within their particular as well as wider contexts (Shoemaker 1989, 5).

  • Integrated courses will therefore be cross-curricular and the curriculum interrelated. Teachers see outcomes become far more observable and therefore more accurately measured. We not only
    need to look at integrated courses, but an integrated curriculum as well. The integrated curriculum, and the learning experiences that are planned accordingly, not only provide the learners with a unified view of all that he/she is learning, but also motivates and develop the learners’ ability to apply this learning to newer studies, models and systems. Everything learned becomes a tool for further learning and the integration into real life.

    Another way to look at this is through an interdisciplinary curriculum. In an interdisciplinary curriculum,

  • the planned learning experiences not only provide the learners with a unified view of commonly held knowledge (by learning the models, systems, and structures of the culture) but also motivate and develop learners’ power to perceive new relationships and thus to create new models, systems, and structures (Dressel 1958).

    The Learning Experience

    As we begin to consider some facets of integrated learning, for me one of the most essential aspects will be learning within experience. This is what ministry training should be. John Dewey, although not very sympathetic of the Christian faith, became known for criticizing the authoritarian, strict, pre-set knowledge approach of traditional education of the 1920’s and 1930’s. The system was preoccupied with transferring knowledge and not concerned enough with understanding and influencing the students’ actual experiences. Integrated learning brings in such a questioning approach as was anticipated by Dewey decades ago. In his book, Experience and Education, he integrated “real life” into learning by suggesting practical links and activities. For instance, he suggested that math could be learned by studying cooking proportions or by studying how long it would take to travel a particular distance by mule. Dewey also suggested that history could be studied by experiencing how the people lived within a particular era, their geography and climate, and what animals and plants were present (Dewey 1910). (Also see John Dewey’s Philosophy of Education.)

    Educators are now seeing that most learning begins with experience. All of us have seen how a child learns, step by step, building experiences with the family and soon with peers. Basic lessons are learned and then applied. On a higher level, when learners become an integral part of an experience it leads them to deeper reflection, and this eventually leads to some form of meaningful action and eventually changed values. Even further, any knowledge or skill that is acquired from direct participation in events or activities is learning that not only transforms the individual but goes on to influencing those around them. Such learning is technically referred to as “experiential learning”—the process through which a learner acquires knowledge, skills
    and values from direct experiences.

    We are discovering the urgent need to integrate education into real life. Dewey stressed experience as being essential to education so much that he wrote,

  • I assume that amid all uncertainties there is one permanent frame of reference: namely, the organic connection between education and personal experience; or that the new philosophy of education is committed to some kind of empirical and experimental philosophy. But experience and experiment are not self-explanatory ideas. Rather, their meaning is part of the problem to be explored. To know the meaning of empiricism we need to understand what experience is (Dewey 1938, 12f ).

  • We need, however, to underline that Dewey did not advocate that all education is obtained completely through “experience”. “The belief that all genuine education comes through experience does not mean that all experiences are genuinely or equally educative. Experience and education cannot be equated to each other” (Dewey 1938, 12). He was also careful not to suggest that the classroom itself was devoid of experiences. “It is a great mistake to suppose, even tacitly, that the traditional schoolroom was not a place in which pupils had experiences” (Dewey 1938, 12). 

    The plea is for the teacher to liven up the classroom and provide students with genuine learning experiences. The challenge for teachers is to make learning an exciting experience by making it a part of experience itself. This ought to be an urgent task for ministry trainers. The classroom itself must be converted into a conducive place for experiencing learning rather than merely stimulating the cerebral side of humans. We need to make every attempt to transform education into an experience in life. Life is an array of rich and diverse experiences and integrate learning will help us hold them together in one big picture that is framed within real life.

    A Learner-Centered Approach

    Another characteristic of learning that will enhance integration is where the learner is himself/herself engaged in the process of education. In fact, this is one of the hallmarks of integrated learning—learner-centered. Paulo Freire is the one who provides us with some helpful insights, but not without a caustic criticism of our prevailing systems (1970, 54). He challenges the familiar description of our present education system in most systems of the world—“...the teacher teaches and the students are taught; … the teacher knows everything and the students know nothing!”

    To begin to understand Freire’s concern we must start with his fundamental attack on Western education. He wanted to reach down to the “oppressed” people, but found the prevailing model
    unsatisfactory. Most educators will know Freire for two important concepts—“banking education” and “problem-posing education.” What does he mean by “banking education”? It is a parody of
    our present educational system, where students are the receivers and the teachers are the givers—the “depositories and the depositors” (Freire 1970, 54).

    This is an uncomfortably familiar picture to many of us. Most of our teachers come armed with stacks of well worn text books to pass information on to students. Facts come in static forms and all the student is required to do is memorize these. Facts and figures are transferred from the teacher to the student, and these facts are transferred back to the teacher in the examination papers. Students are graded according to the quantity of this body of knowledge reproduced, rather than the critical application of knowledge to their individual contexts. But real education is much more than the accumulation of facts, even biblical facts.

    The attack on the “Banking style” of education and the call for a “problem posing” approach must prompt us to understand Freire’s far more interactive dialogical method. Prevailing forms of teaching, for him, were flawed. This may be an uncomfortably familiar picture to most of us, and Freire graphically puts it as follows:

    (a) the teacher teaches and the students are taught;

    (b)  the teacher knows everything and the students know nothing;

    (c)  the teacher thinks and the students are thought about;

    (d)  the teacher talks and the students listen meekly;

    (e)  the teacher disciplines and the students are disciplined;

    (f)  the teacher chooses and enforces his choice, and the students comply;

    (g)  the teacher acts and the students have the illusion of acting through the action of the teacher;

    (h)  the teacher chooses the program content, and the students (who were not consulted) adapt;

    (i)  the teacher confuses the authority of knowledge with his or her own professional authority, which she and he sets in opposition to the freedom of the students;

    (j)  the teacher is the subject of the learning process, while the pupils are mere objects” (Freire 1970, 53).

    Efforts must be made to improve teacher-student interaction within our classrooms. This by itself will make the classroom a lively experience rather than a dull academic detention. Students
    must get engaged in the learning process rather than being passive observers of the teacher’s performance. Questions must be encouraged. Discussions must become part and parcel of every class. The whole “teaching” environment must get converted into a “learning” experience.

    The Seamless Coat of Learning

    We come to an important aspect of integrated learning. Subjects, thoughts, curriculum and all that concerns learning must flow from one into the other. An apt description comes as “The Seamless Coat of Learning,” the subtitle of a book by A. N. Whitehead. His philosophy of education appropriately highlights his view of the essential unity in all learning (Evans 1998). His stress on the integration of knowledge and application sharply contrasts with educational practices that continue to demand academic exercises within isolated gymnasiums.

    Whitehead (1929) provided the richness of harmony and color to make learning a multicolored experience rather than colorless classroom occasion. The “rhythm of education,” as he put it, is a sequence of three stages—romance, precision, and mastery. The progression provides the scope to view education as a growing adventure in a wide world and not a singular pursuit pressing towards a termination with degrees and graduation. Integration must prepare the learner for an exploration of life in all its multifaceted challenges.

    Whitehead was concerned with practically training a child in an integrated environment that did not lead to “mental dry rot.” We are guilty of contributing to a child’s aversion to school and studies with lifeless concepts that does not bring out any of this rhythm and romance from within. Students must begin to enjoy and love what they are learning for life and not merely for examinations. We need to ask a very pertinent question—How much of what we teach is really appealing to the child? Whitehead wrote against “inert ideas”— “ideas that are merely received into the mind without being utilized, or tested, or thrown into fresh combinations.” He wrote:

  • Education with inert ideas is not only useless: it is, above all things, harmful—corruptio optimi, pessima. Except at rare intervals of intellectual ferment, education in the past has been radically infected with inert ideas. That is the reason why uneducated clever women, who have seen much of the world, are in middle life so much the most cultured part of the community. They have been saved from this horrible burden of inert ideas. Every intellectual revolution which has ever stirred humanity into greatness has been a passionate protest against inert ideas. Then, alas, with pathetic ignorance of human psychology, it has proceeded by some educational scheme to bind humanity afresh with inert ideas of its own fashioning (Whitehead 1929).

    Rabindranath Tagore

    Our discussion on facets of integration concludes with a look into Rabindranath Tagore’s educational philosophy. This outstanding Indian Nobel Laureate was known for his experiments at Shantiniketan, a model school set in a pristine open environment. Critical of the over-emphasis on the classroom and with the dissemination of theoretical facts and lifeless knowledge, he primarily underlined a form of education that was deeply rooted in one’s immediate natural environment. Learning must be natural and the child must feel at home. The child’s personality had to be totally developed and therefore Tagore called for creativity, freedom, and cultural awareness in curriculums.

  • From our very childhood habits are formed and knowledge is imparted in such a manner that our life is weaned away from nature and our mind and the world are set in opposition from the beginning of our days. Thus the greatest of educations for which we came prepared is neglected, and we are made to lose our world to find a bagful of information instead. We rob the child of his earth to teach him geography, of language to teach him grammar. His hunger is for the Epic, but he is supplied with chronicles of facts and dates. … Child-nature protests against such calamity with all its power of suffering, subdued at last into silence by punishment (Tagore 1917). 

  • Narmadeshwar Jha’s summary (1994) of Tagore’s educational philosophy indicates that his genius lay in the way he integrated the child’s total being rather than merely feeding the mind. A holistic approach looked at the child as a total personality. Tagore recognized children as spiritual, social, and individual beings and that their education should be set within the right environment. He proposed that instead of burdening the memory with plain knowledge, the student should have contact with living nature. He believed that children, with the freshness of their senses, had an intimate relationship with the natural world and he taught that they must never lose the vigorous, life-giving energy that it produced. Formal teaching with its mental stress was limited. Rather, the influences for mental and physical growth were far more significant.

    Rabindranath Tagore exposed a glaring problem in our school education. Children “mug-up” dates and disconnected cold facts in history or even mathematical theorems. There is no real life or
    integration into life. There are no interconnections seen. Instead, if history could be studied from the perspective of various interesting facts and issues, there would be real life that will motivate the child to pursue other “histories.” Church History could fall into this discussion. Efforts should be made to discuss various facts around the growth of doctrine or a denomination. The actual history of India or Nigeria could find integration into the history of the church in these countries. Various philosophies and thought forms that flourished in those periods could be integrated to show the relevance of the church. History could come alive right within the classroom.

    Most of our seminaries and Bible colleges or Christian universities boast of fairly good campuses. Unfortunately our accreditation systems stress the classroom and the library. Getting students out into the open environment could be just a beginning in discovering the joy of liberation from the four walls of the academic imprisonment we have imposed on ourselves. Books are useful
    tools, but ours is not the objective of producing book worms, but people who will read from the book of life itself. Lecturers can get away from their lecture mode and facilitate students in discovering facts from real life.

    Life-long Learning

    It is in this context that we can appreciate the compelling concept of life-long learning. Once the taste for integrated learning is truly acquired, the learner sets out to integrate his or her knowledge and skills into actual life. We learn to integrate into life itself. When learning becomes an integral part of life, life seems empty without learning. The hunger for learning is something that needs to be inculcated into students who will otherwise hanker after other passions in life if not provided with opportunities for fulfilment.

    Keeping up to date in knowledge and skills has become a requirement for almost all professionals in our world characterized by its phenomenal leaps in learning. Christian ministry training
    programs must also deliberately develop this desire within its students. The majority tend to leave seminaries or Bible colleges with the feeling that they have learned sufficiently. In fact, need I say that many are even waiting to leave as they have had enough! Lifelong learning skills come through properly integrated teaching programs and therefore providing tools for integrated learning becomes essential in our training programs.

    The ACTS Model

    What I write are not mere philosophical ponderings from the stalwarts I have mentioned above, but from actual engagement in integrated learning over the years. The vision God gave me 35 years ago, and the resulting ACTS Institute model in Bangalore, India, has been a fulfilling journey over the past 30 years. The integration of “work, worship, and witness” that resulted from a vision from the book of Acts has begun to prove itself in producing people with a holistic vision. Integrated education has produced integrated people.

    What we have tried to do at ACTS is to teach in a holistic environment so that students receive training for life itself. Whether teaching the Bible or Sociology, we teach them as part of the whole Christian life. Skills are taught with connections to their Christian life, the Bible is taught with connections to socio-economic contexts, and the end product is a well rounded person able to minister in real life rather than just preach from the pulpit.

    ACTS has grown to doctoral level studies and integration is the key even here. Pure theological or biblical dissertations are discouraged. Application to real life, relevance to actual ministry
    contexts with a holistic approach to the mission of God is central to all these theses. Rather than academic approaches, dissertations attempt to discover applications to actual life and mission of the church.

    True Value of Education Restored

    Integrated learning is bringing new life into the meaningless routines of many educationists. This must be expected, as learning is discovering its location in real life, rather than only terminal
    value in the completion certificate at the end of the course. Students must be trained to see every bit of learning as relevant to their life and service.

    Curriculum must certainly change. The content of skills and knowledge we share with students must be integrated to the learner’s real life experience. It is this that will make education a rich “social experience.” John Dewey said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” And I add—Life itself is learning. When education and life get integrated the possibilities are unpredictable. Learning in this sense becomes one’s own possession which soon will turn into an unappeasable passion. And this passion will translate into very meaningful actions.


    Dewey, John. 1910. How We Think. Boston: D.C. Heath & Co.

    –––––––. 1938. Experience and Education. New York: Kappa Delta Pi.

    Dressel, Paul L. 1958. The Meaning and Significance of Integration. In The Integration of Educational Experiences, 57th Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, Part II, ed. Nelson b. Henry, 3-25. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Evans, Malcolm D. 1998. Whitehead and Philosophy of Education: The Seamless Coat of Learning. Amsterdam-Atlanta, GA: Rodobi.

    Freire, Paulo. 1970. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder.

    Gardner, Howard. 1983. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books.

    Jha, Narmadeshwar. 1994. “Rabindranath Tagore.” Prospects: The Quarterly Review of Education 24, no. 3/4, 603-19.

    Macaulay, Thomas B. 1835. “Minute on Indian Education,” 2 February.

    Shoemaker, Betty Jean Eklund. 1989. “Integrative Education: A Curriculum for the Twenty-First Century.” OSSC Bulletin 33, no. 2 (October), 5.

    Tagore, Rabindranath. 1917. My school. In Personality. London: Macmillan.

    Whitehead, Alfred North. 1929. The Aims of Education. New York: Macmillan.

    This article is from the issue: Education

    4. From Africa: The Unique Role of Theological Education by Extension in Equipping Churches

    Oct 09, 2017

    Diversified Theological education[Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from “Theological Education by Extension in Zambia” by Kangwa Mabuluki in Diversified Theological Extension: Equipping All God’s People edited by Ross Kinsler. We’ve written about theological education several times in the Journal, and this excerpt provides an interesting insight into how it looks in the country of Zambia.]

    The Unique Role of TEEZ (Theological Education by Extension in Zambia) in Equipping Churches to Respond to Issues of Society

    Focus, Mission, Aims and Structure of TEEZ

    The main focus of TEEZ is theological training. This training happens at the local church. To facilitate this, TEEZ trains local tutors, and produces course materials for the various subjects. These subjects cover such key and critical areas as Preaching, Counseling, Teaching, Leading Church Meetings, Church Constitution, and Worship. The course material is translated into local languages to ensure that it reaches those who need it in the local churches. The training provided by TEEZ is critical for the churches in Zambia because of the need for lay people to know and understand the theological stand as well as the governance and polity of their churches. The courses are also provided in prisons. The training is affordable and does not require the learners to leave their work and local situation to go to theological school or college. Because of the relevance and great demand for the training, there is need to ensure continuity and improvement through training of more tutors, providing refresher training for those already trained, as well as improving the course material.

    ALL God’s People—Beyond Prison Walls

    TEEZ has added a feature to its ministry that emphasised the training of all God’s people. This involved the extension of the training to prisons. Like most areas where TEEZ is involved, the initiative came as a response to a request from an organization, Prison Fellowship of Zambia, whose main focus is Christian witness in prisons. Prison Fellowship had constant requests from prisoners for substantive Bible study or Bible course material. Their effort to meet this need with Bible correspondence courses from Europe and America was not fully satisfactory. Their discovery of the availability of TEEZ courses proved a more adequate response to this need.…

    The philosophy behind the acceptance to extend TEEZ ministry to prison, namely to participate in making prisons places of reform and also lessening the stigma of prison, demanded that TEEZ go beyond just offering courses to help with other areas. Thus as part of the program supplies were provided at least once a year, and, more importantly, a significant contribution towards reforming and making prisoners more self-supporting was initiated.

    In Kamfinsa farming inputs were given each farming season to help the prisoners extend their farm to the level where it could produce sufficient income to sustain itself. After support for four years, the Officer in Charge reported that this target had been attained. In Mukobeko support was given for prisoners doing various skills training in carpentry, brick laying and tailoring to undergo trade tests so that they could obtain a trade certificate.

    The support involved paying their exam fee and buying the material required for them to sit for the exam. The prison courses have had acknowledged impact on the life of the prisoners, the Officer in Charge of Kamfi nsa Prison acknowledged that “The behavior of those taking TEEZ courses evidently became less aggressive than before their involvement in TEEZ”. The Prison Ministry also provided an opportunity for wider ecumenical involvement. While outside prison, TEEZ is confined to member churches; in the prisons any prisoners can take the course irrespective of which church they come from. When they come out of prison, they take the good news of TEEZ to their churches, some of which are indigenous Zambian churches very much in need of the training provided by TEEZ.

    A Unique Model of Ecumenical Cooperation—Increase in Church Participation and Joint Tutor Training and Committee

    The ecumenical composition and potential of TEEZ makes us constantly declare that TEEZ is not just a training program; it is evidence that ecumenical cooperation among churches is possible. Ecumenical cooperation gives us the possibility to jointly address key issues such as HIV&AIDS, prisons, the maximum use of resources. Resources accessed by TEEZ may not be accessed by one single church but should benefit a wider constituency. Through TEEZ churches with no significant links to partners and little capacity to raise lay training resources are afforded a chance to have these resources in order to their people trained. As already noted through work in prisons, more churches are being reached and benefitting from the relevant training provided by TEEZ.

    A Real Tool for Empowerment—Role and Participation of Women and Rural Churches (Rural Promotion)

    Although the climax for many of the students is to receive their certificate of achievement at the end of each of their courses and eventually a Basic Certificate in Church Ministries or Advanced Certificate in Church Ministries for those that complete the five courses at basic level and six courses at advanced level, it is stressed that TEEZ courses are not just for academic advancement but are meant to train and impart skill that is of immediate and relevant use to the churches. In this regard the struggle has always been to ensure the courses in content and methodology are formational and outcome based. Because of this approach, the TEEZ courses have been a tool for empowerment, because the effect of those who go through the courses can be visibly seen and experienced.

    Increasingly in many of the member churches, TEEZ is mentioned as a possible solution in identified areas of lack, especially preaching, teaching and worship. This empowerment is seen more among women. In most churches leadership and key functions of the church are not the domain of women, even in the case where such women are more able than the men. With TEEZ training such women have both the proof and the ability to be given the opportunity to exercise their particular ministries.

    The other area where this empowerment element is valued most is in rural areas. In a country as poor as Zambia, resources in the form of literature are very scarce, even in urban areas. Many ministers have to struggle to get literature in the form of commentaries, etc., to help them in their work. This is worse for lay leaders, especially those in rural areas. TEEZ course material is of high quality and adapted to the use of lay leaders. So the members are not only empowered with actual course material but also with trained people among them to whom they can turn for support and consultation.

    This article is from the issue: Education

    2. From Asia: Education for Economic Transformation

    Oct 05, 2017

    This article was originally published in Volume 2, Issue 4: Transformational Development, Part 1

    Economic transformation is perhaps the most important aspect of societal transformation, given the fact that the market dominates the agenda of our globalized world today. This was popularized by Francis Fukuyama’s book, The End of History and the Last Man (1992) that built on his essay “The End of History?” (1989), which asserted that capitalism in liberal democracies is the “ultimate” global ideal henceforth.  Yet poverty has persisted if not increased, and the gap between the rich and the poor regionally and globally has continued to widen. What is the biblical vision and mission for the economic order in local communities, in national plans and among nations?

    As those involved in Christian higher education, we are called to equip leaders who can lead the church in fulfilling the “cultural mandate” of missio dei, based on our biblical theology and Christian worldview. This paper seeks to describe the framework and curriculum by which CHE institutions can best equip our students to bring about “economic transformation.”

    This paper assumes that we are already convinced that the Bible teaches very clearly that God desires “social and economic justice,” especially for the poor and oppressed, who are called “the poor” in the Bible. (See Lim 1992; Hanks 1983; Elliston 1989; Myer 1999; and Wolterstorff, 1983.) The issue addressed here is no longer why we should be concerned, but how we can institutionalize this concern most appropriately in the curriculum so that our students and graduates are best equipped to communicate and implement this concern in our globalized world, especially in contexts characterized by mass poverty and social injustice.

    This work also assumes that we affirm the importance and necessity of evangelism and discipleship in the holistic approach to any transformational ministry. (See Lim 2004; Garrison 2004; Boff 1986; Coleman 1964; Simson 2001 and Zdero 2004.) Yet we have to teach on how to evangelize with utmost care, lest we either produce “rice Christians” (i.e., converts who disappear once our help is stopped) or get accused of using our work of compassion and justice as self-serving (i.e., our aid to the poor serve as “baits” to get them hooked to our religion).

    With these assumptions, this paper proposes a curriculum for effecting economic transformation, specifically its objectives, content, and pedagogy, along with its implications for institutional change to maximize its effectivity. How can Christian higher education effectively equip our students to do effective works of compassion and justice in the various contexts today? The problems of the poor are rooted in educational and economic deficits. People who are illiterate and poor are locked out of the global economy, so the challenge for Christian higher education is very basic: Can we really produce more graduates who can lead and manage economic transformational ministries that will truly empower the poor? The writer shares as a reflective practitioner, as the Executive Trustee/CEO of a Philippine-based Christian higher educational institution called Asian School for Development and Cross-cultural Studies (ASDECS) that specializes in training teachers, leaders, and managers of ministries that seek to affect economic transformation.

    Curricular Objective: Towards Solidarity Economy

    In recent years, Christians have come to recognize that the church’s missio dei to “make disciples of nations” includes “teaching them to obey all that Christ has commanded us” (Matt. 28:18-20). “Transformation” is the favorite term that has surfaced, especially among evangelicals, to denote this goal of proclaiming this “whole gospel” of the kingdom of God. “Societal transformation” means the restoration of peace/shalom in the world through the establishment of Christ-centered communities of love, righteousness, justice, and peace (Isa. 65:19-25; Rom. 12:1-15). It brings about harmony and reconciliation whereby people are invited to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, and then incorporated into faith-communities that seek to build right relationships with God, their neighbors, creation, and their own selves (Matt. 22:37-39; 2 Cor. 10:5), in partnership with those who do not believe. By God’s grace, every person and community/people group will have been enabled to their fullest possible potential as God intended each of them to be (Eph. 4:17-24; Col. 3:5-17) — in caring and sharing communities where no person or group is poor and oppressed (cf. Deut. 15:1-15; Acts 4:32-35).

    The goals of Christian higher education should thus include both personal and societal transformation, especially economic transformation. Whether the person or the community turns to Christ or not, we hope that each individual in the populace will have been empowered to become mature and responsible (not dependent) citizens who can make dignified and wise decisions for their individual and communal life (including to be for or against Christ). They would be active participants (not passive or marginalized spectators) in tackling issues that affect their lives and destinies in the light of God’s Word.

    Can Christian higher education lead in realizing God’s agenda for societal transformation, including economic transformation? Can we lead in breaking the vicious cycles of poverty and injustice so that new opportunities and more access to earth’s resources are made available to the lower classes of society? Such lofty economic transformational goals seem impossible, and indeed they are, humanly speaking. Yet the Bible reveals that our God is more than eager to have all peoples and nations redeemed and transformed (1 Tim. 2:3-4; 2 Pet. 3:9; Rev.21:24-27), and His Spirit is at work to make the “fields ripe unto harvest” (John 16:7-11; cf. 4:34-38). In fact God will not end world history until this harvest is reaped (Matt. 24:14; Rev. 7). God must have intended his mission (including economic transformation, where “no one is poor” and everyone enjoys “abundant life”) to be achieved, though not without cost and sacrifice. Even the countries represented in the United Nations look quite optimistically on the possibility of halving poverty in the world through the eight action points in their Millennial Development Plan. Pope Benedict XVI told the participants to the 34th General Conference of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), “The time has come to ensure, for the sake of peace, that no man, woman or child will ever be hungry again.” He highlighted “the relentless spread of poverty in a world that is also experiencing unprecedented prosperity, not only in the economic sphere but also in the rapidly developing fields of science and technology;” obstacles such as “armed conflicts, outbreaks of disease, adverse atmospheric and environmental conditions and the massive forced displacement of peoples should serve as a motivation to redouble our efforts to provide each person with his or her daily bread;” and “today more than ever, the human family needs to find the tools and strategies capable of overcoming conflicts caused by social differences, ethnic rivalries, and the gross disparity in levels of economic development.” (World Mission, January 2008: 8).

    Perhaps Christian higher education can play a leading role in overcoming the causes and effects of social and economic injustice among peoples worldwide. Of course, there are many signs of intensifying social problems that are leading to increasing marginalization of the poor. Due to climate change, rapid urbanization, and overcrowded slums, there is increasing poverty, underemployment, and lack of basic services. Recent news include water shortages, food crises, poor sanitation, routine corruption and deteriorating public education systems, among many other forces that will lead to worse marginalization and injustice. Yet solutions can surely be found, for no modern society has totally collapsed from social problems (not even Somalia or Mali, but of course, it is by God’s common grace!) The challenge for us is to equip the next generation of leaders to be competent in economic transformation to address the challenges raised by the expected larger poor populations in growing cities and in struggling villages of most nations in the world, especially in Africa and Asia.

    Is there a sustainable alternative system? Is another global economic order possible? Seeds of this alternative anti-injustice “solidarity economy” are already being planted and nurtured in many sectors in the world today, including They are trying to evolve a people- and eco-centered way of governance over the production, financing, distribution and consumption of goods and services, in order to generate sustainable conditions for self-managed development of every member of society. Among its objectives are: a democratic decision-making process that implies the necessary participation of consumers and producers; priority is given to people and work over capital in the distribution of revenue and surplus; and its activities are based on principles of participation, empowerment, and individual and collective responsibility. (Among similar Christian initiatives are Micah Challenge, Bread for the Hungry, Evangelicals for Social Action, and Asian Forum for Solidarity Economy.)

    Our schools should aim to share leadership in pursuing shalom through economic transformation to help build this new economic order with these initiatives and enterprises. Working towards the eradication of social injustice may be achieved through the establishment of caring and sharing communities, where people are freed from fear and want, and are enabled to develop their potential and participate in decision-making. The human dignity deficits in the world today has led to campaigns for fair trade policies internationally and economic sustainability domestically. This is done through the use of locally available resources, production catering to basic community needs and respect for the environment. In Asia, this includes promoting gender equity through recognition of the work of women (who constitute the majority of the poor) and stronger participation of women in decision-making. In the face of the increasingly exclusionary outcomes of economic liberalization in most Asian economies, there is a great need to advocate for fair and balanced participation in development processes as well as equitable distribution of opportunities, resources and benefits. May we educate our students to be leaders in developing this alternative “solidarity economy” clearly in mind.

    Curricular Content: Towards Organizing Social Enterprises

    With the above objective (which can become a course on the “Biblical Theology of Economic Transformation” or the like), what courses and skills must be included in this Economic Transformation curriculum? Each Christian higher education school must strive to develop courses and study programs that will equip its students to effect economic transformation. Addressing the needs of the poor entails at least five skill sets, hence each attempt to curriculize ministry among the poor must include training in the processes and skills that can effectively empower the poor:
    • emergency relief
    • economic development
    • political action
    • community organizing
    • social entrepreneurship.

    Emergency Relief

    This is the easiest and the most popular. It is expressed by alms-giving, collecting goods for the disaster victims, donating blood to the Red Cross, providing free feeding and medical services, leading disaster relief and rehabilitation, etc. The objective is to help someone who is threatened by death due to lack of basic necessities in life. This is good and helpful, but for desperate people and bad situations only. If “helping the poor” stays on this level for a longer period of time, alms-giving and relief operation become “dole outs” — unhelpful and detrimental to the person’s and their community’s growth.

    Recent works have highlighted the fact that in spite of good and noble intentions, much of “foreign aid,” including (and perhaps also mainly) those in Christian ministry, have contributed to worse situations, particularly the perpetuation of paternalism (for donors) and dependency (for donees) wherever such relationships occur (Schwartz 2007; Corbett & Fikkert 2009; Greer & Smith 2009; Rajendran 2010; cf. Everist 1989). In political circles, foreign aid has corrupted governments, and enriched and empowered dictators (Easterly 2006; Moyo 2009; Wrong 2009). The recipients and their community became fixed in their dependent and mendicant condition, unable to even help themselves; hence another level of intervention must follow as soon as possible.

    Economic Development

    Economic development aims “to teach the person how to fish,” rather than just “to give him the fish” regularly. The objective is to help the poor get out of poverty through the provision of job and/or business opportunities. This can be accomplished through job placement bureaus, skills training programs, scholarship aids, capital loans, formation of credit unions or cooperatives, and other activities which will enable the poor to help themselves. Although this requires more expertise and investment resources, this is a more effective means of helping the poor.

    The economic development skill set involves not only approaching communities holistically, but also doing so in as contextual and empowering way as possible, so as not to create dependency but rather to help the whole community grow together to its fullest potential. (For secular models, cf. Andres 1988; Schumacher 1984. For Christian models, cf. Bobo 1986; Lim 1992; Linthicum 1991; Myers 1999; Samuel & Sugden 1999; Suderman 1999; Yamamori et al 1995 and 1998.)

    By holistic, we mean that the point of intervention and eventual development should cover the entire range of cultural and social life of the people group or community. Any field worker can enter through any entry platform (read: area of expertise) that serves the community, either as professionals (like medical personnel, teachers, managers, engineers, etc.), as businessmen (like setting up computer or language schools, travel agencies, beach resorts, etc.) or even as skilled workers (caregivers, drivers, seamen, community helpers, etc., which any college student can do)! The work among the poor can indeed be joined through any role, as long as the worker has CO perspective and skills.

    By contextual, we mean that the needs or is-sues to be tackled are derived from the local situation of the target group itself. Every people and community has their own unique sets of problems and aspirations, thus rather than going among them with a pre-conceived message and a pre-packaged strategy, we must be willing to learn from the populace, be appreciative of their culture (except perhaps the 5% that’s sinful (such as idolatry, individualism (pride), personal immorality and social injustice, which has to be transformed!) and be flexible in his/her ways (cf. 1 Cor. 9:19-23).

    By empowering, we mean that the worker should identify her/himself as a servant-leader and work with (not for) the people. The key is for one’s intervention to have a clear commitment to encourage the local people themselves to be responsible for the welfare of their own people and community life, so no one will be poor and marginalized any longer. In the end, the people should be able to say, “We did it ourselves.”

    Socio-Political Action

    Nevertheless, there are more obstacles for the poor to overcome, so a third level of action must be done. Political action is to provide the structural framework by which the poor can be free to use their vocational skills, by taking away oppressive mindsets, traditions, and systems that keep the poor poor. Its goal is to put as much resources (like land, fishponds, technology, capital, etc.) as possible in the hands and control of the poor, so that they have direct access to the various means of production themselves. This means working for a new societal order like working for the legislation of effective agrarian reform and urban reform programs, monitoring the implementation of government programs for economic development, reforestation, encouraging rural industrialization, decentralization of the bureaucracy, organizing and empowering grassroots groups, etc. To effect and learn from this kind of involvement, our schools may have to encourage the creation of departments that offer study programs that aim to equip students to generate faith-based and experience-grounded models and innovative approaches to community transformation, economic development and political governance. These departments in turn will help the entire academic community (including those who major in the humanities, physical and biological sciences, ecological studies, business management, etc., in all fields of study indeed), in working and reflecting on the effectiveness of multi-disciplinary service among the poor.

    Even in business education, corporate social responsibility should be integrated into the curriculum, especially in core business courses, such as strategy, finance, and accounting. Basic corporate social responsibility topics like socially responsible investment, cause-related marketing, ethical supply chain management, and employee volunteerism could be covered in finance, marketing, operations, and human resource courses. The relevance of corporate social responsibility in these subjects is beyond doubt, considering that these are growing trends in the market today.

    Community Organizing

    In order to empower the poor to lift them-selves out of poverty and oppression, the key skill set is that of community organizing, so that they will be enabled to work for their own economic transformation. Everyone involved in economic transformation must become an expert in only two very important community organizing skills: (1) immersion or integration, which is to spend time with the people to learn about their culture, including their language, social structure, values, beliefs, leaders, etc. It is best to learn basic field research techniques before entry. And (2) core group formation — while working with the people to discern a local need or issue to tackle, the worker facilitates a process by which a leadership core is formed to tackle their problem or attain their aspiration. (For more details, see Andres 1988: 5-23 and 35-43; cf. Alinsky 1969; Bobo 1969; and Linthicum 1991.) Local resources are tapped and maximized before any external help or funds are considered.

    Hence, the ideal of an indigenous movement that is self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating is easily achieved. Even from the beginning, local leadership is developed and empowered to lead a caring and sharing community. Community Organizing also gives at least five more advantages: (1) It becomes possible to befriend and reach community leaders (the influencers!) from the start, thereby hastening the process of societal transformation. (2) It shows Christianity’s relevance to any local need or issue. (3) It avoids creating dependency, since local leadership and resources are considered first and foremost. (4) The organized communities, usually in the form of cooperatives, serve as the socio-economic safety nets to empower the poor to withstand the forces of globalization. And (5) the programs and activities are contextualized and sustainable; thus the worker can leave as soon as the foundations for organizational development have been laid. Such are the wonders of community organizing. Wherever possible, we should aim to have long-term sustainability in mind as we get involved with poor communities. The community organizing approach has already proven to be effective indeed in Cambodia (Sluka & Budi-ardjo 1995, 47-78) and Sri Lanka (Stephens 1995, 103-15) among many others.

    It would be best for our schools to make community organizing experience (in our field work, practicum, or internship “courses”) a graduation requirement for their students. Perhaps requiring students to volunteer in community service may be established in our study programs and even some course syllabi. A kind of mentoring program by our personnel and senior students in doing community organizing would be ideal, too. This will ensure that all the young people trained in our schools will have real expertise in doing economic transformation effectively anywhere.

    Social Entrepreneurship

    Perhaps the best structure by which the poor are organized to empower themselves in the market economy is social entrepreneurship, usually in the form of cooperatives and social enterprises that are built on the savings of the poor, owned and managed by the poor, with profits shared among the poor, who will no longer be poor. This is now being built on the experiences and models of successful stories of sustainable transformation/economic transformation organizations that have specialized in micro-finance/credit for micro-entrepreneurs. So if our schools are serious about economic transformation, we should require all our students, faculty, and staff to learn these two skill sets: community organizing and social entrepreneurship. In our economic transformation study programs, the final requirement for graduation must be the development of a social enterprise/business, as is now done in many such schools today.

    Curricular Pedagogy: Towards Dialogic Learning

    Yet to be truly effective, our educational philosophy for implementing this economic transformation curriculum must be “Transformational (or Integral) Education,” which calls for a fully holistic or integrated approach to the educational process. (“Transformational” emphasizes the end result,  while “Integral” focuses on the nature.) In transformational education, what is the pedagogical
    methodology that will produce the effective workers for ministry among the poor? What is the best training paradigm (pedagogy and programs) by which we can train our students into servant-leaders who will be able to effect economic transformation? For transformational education to be truly transformative, just as the curriculum has to be holistic, contextual, and empowering, its pedagogy should be emancipatory through dialogic learning that is simple, relational,  practical, contextual, and participatory.


    My theological premise is: Since the Scriptures reveal our God to be desirous to redeem the whole world (1 Tim. 2:3-5; 2 Pet. 3:8-9), we may assume that He designed His redemption plan to be spread with a simple (rather than a complicated) strategy and methodology. In order to attain transformational education, the classroom dynamics and teaching methods have to be simple, so that even non-literates (which are the majority of the poor) can do and replicate. Our students should learn to help the poor understand and work in their daily struggle to survive and thrive in their contexts of deprivation with their dignity intact towards self-reliance and communal sharing lifestyle.

    Even the teaching of economic transformation may be done in simple strategies to train people (if possible, every person, not just our students) to gain the basic skills in interpersonal and cross-cultural relationships, leading small group discussions, transformational biblical hermeneutics and theologies, dynamics of social change, learning styles of the poor, etc. Transformational education must explore and develop non-violent means (not just a Christian value!) to challenge oppressive structures. The choice is not between the status quo and change; it is between violent change and peaceful change. J.F. Kennedy said, “They who do not make peaceful change possible make violent change inevitable.” We must seek new ways to resolve conflicts, injustice and underdevelopment. All this must be done within the context of actual field ministry programs where the mentors are economic transformation workers themselves. The simpler the method, the easier and faster the multiplication potential — to maximize impact. No need of major external funding, for it has often led to the slowing down, if not the death, of economic transformation work.

    For economic transformation, simplicity in all aspects of ministry and training is also required in order to maximize people empowerment. Even among the poor masses, indigenous leadership for community transformation can be developed from the beginning. Ten each community engagement can be a rapid self-organized and self-sustaining movement that hardly needs much external input and support. With simplicity in transformational education, the school may be able to be involved in as many marginalized communities as their personnel and students choose to engage in. Why? Because once an economic transformation work is effectively done, the organized community will be able to do better (read: more contextualized) replication of economic transformation and transformational education among their people.


    The second major mark of transformational education is its people-centeredness and people-orientation. People need to see concepts and principles lived out in reality before they can accept and learn from them. Hence transformational education requires this in two ways: the relationship of the teacher to the trainee, as well as the training focus in the approach.

    Firstly, following a recognized educational principle, transformational education requires that each teacher should be a role model of economic transformation as a practicing Christian, a justice advocate, and/or development agent working with a team of co-workers. This may be more popularly called the discipling or mentoring method, and in this paper, transformational education facilitators are referred to as “servant-leaders.” “Values (and skills) are better caught than taught.” Thus, while committed to the study of facts and truths, transformational education workers need to learn that their calling involves relating openly with people. In embodying and modeling their teaching, the transformational education teachers should approach their students with love and respect. Hence the best way to teach and train others is to relate with them as persons, as friends, in as close a personal relationship as possible.

    And secondly, people-centeredness must be shown in the views and attitudes that are modeled before the trainees, particularly in relation to our target people. For instance, the issue in transformational education is our relationship with the poor themselves. “To love them as they are in all their complexity and not just to love anthropological, sociological, theological ‘formulations’ of brothers and sisters is the command of God whom we have not seen (1 John 4:20)” (Koyama 1999,151). Transformational education therefore emphasizes “discipling” one’s trainees to focus on developing close relationships with people. Moreover, as we serve in a high-tech world, we have to major in “high touch” work. To remain simple, we need to resist the temptation to focus on high-tech, so as not to deflect from “high touch.” Sadly many training programs have not been able to overcome this kind of temptation.


    A close corollary to the relational nature of transformational education is its being field-based and action-oriented, founded on an intimate link between reflection and practice, between classroom and fieldwork. It should be conducted close to real life situations, identifying and organizing learning resources that link the student with the actual milieu through non-formal education and community participation.

    Successful economic transformation ministries have been able to develop on-the-job training programs, which train local leaders and often with emphasis on non-formal leaders. Such “just-in-time training” and mentoring programs aim to develop better-equipped (not necessarily better-educated, which may come later) people who have the capacity to mobilize others to form caring and sharing communities. Of course, this entails a redefinition of what is leadership and leadership training: it is not the accumulation of more knowledge (one can be over-trained!), but the upgrading of actual service skills, which require (just enough) knowledge and wisdom (cf. Elliston 1989, esp. chaps. 4, 12-15, 17, 19).

    Moreover, this apprenticeship model may work very well in various Asian contexts. It fits the traditional training practice, perhaps of most civilizations except the post-Enlightenment Western academic tradition, though it is changing rapidly into post-modern modes today, too. After all, learning occurs best by doing (or through experiencing).


    Further, following the incarnational pattern of God’s redemptive action, transformational education has to use the contextual approach to leadership training. Even modern education has become more and more decentralized through extension centers, correspondence courses, internet modules, and various distance learning programs. Those in economic transformation work have been training among the poor contextually, using their local or “folk” communication media, like story-telling, poetry, drama, etc. This equips the poor to become “trainers of trainers” (technically called “development education”) within their culture and communities, without having to “catch up” with “modern education.”If economic transformation is our goal, then the local context and its needs must be clearly integrated into our educational programs. Why replicate a Stanford MBA or an academically rigorous Cambridge degree for someone wanting to serve in the villages and slums of Asia? (Many do not even come back!). Why train a person in Western philosophies and theologies to come back and train people who will be serving in their own national cultures? There is a great need for Christian higher education to provide the practical skills to help build the kind of transformational communities that we envision in situ. It automatically trains effective servant-leaders out of every person through its free mixture of activities according to the needs and talents of the participants, as set by the leader-facilitators in close consultation with the members. All participants are naturally trained in dialogic learning and hence empowered for servant-leadership.

    Even in leading Bible reflection in group meetings, the transformational education leader facilitates discussion by choosing an appropriate Biblical text (or the like) and just asking two questions: (a) “Which verse (word or story) in the passage is most meaningful for you? Why?” And (b) “How can we apply what we have learned for the benefit of ourselves, our family, our fellow Christians, and/or our community? Once in a while, the group can choose to have guest speakers to help them understand and address family and community issues, or hold joint meeting with other groups. Hence, between opening and closing prayers, each group grows holistically and spiritually together (literally) “as the Spirit leads”. This simple meeting format that emphasizes contextual application is what transformational education stands for, and may be taught and modeled among the poor and illiterate. It has the other added value of our last transformational education indicator: it is also participatory.


    Lastly, to be empowering and replicable, the best transformational education must also be participatory. It is only through discussion types of meetings that all participants are naturally trained to become ser-vant-leaders among the poor. Since Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1971), most educators have come to realize that transformational education must be dialogic and therefore participatory through democratic processes (cf. Ringma 1992, 3-11). Otherwise it will fail to emancipate and empower the people, particularly the poor (yet surely including the rich), to make decisions that truly will benefit them and fit their context. (On a theology of “people empowerment,” see Ringma 1992, 101-97.) People learn best through a series of question-and-answer experiences so that they can use their creative imagination and take responsibility to find better ways to develop a better future. A dialogic I-thou (personal) relationship as partners and co-learners is prerequisite to develop-ing an openness to others and risk changing one’s pre-understandings. This requires transformational education practitioners and advocates to be open-minded mentors and co-learners in community with their students (cf.Ringma 1996, :7-9; Gnanakan 2007, 111-25).

    In emphasizing participatory processes, transformational education becomes “liberative,” which means that students are automatically trained to take a “prophetic critical” stance. This is based on the theology of the reality of sin and the necessity of repentance (Greek: metanoia): everything, except God and His word which are absolute, are to be relativized. Nothing on earth (not even any form of Christianity) should be absolutized, given the tendency of humans and their societies to fall into sin. Hence, transformational education should develop critical awareness which raises new social consciousness (Freire calls it “conscientization”). In a situation of sin, poverty, and injustice, the consciousness of people is submerged in a reality simply adjusting itself to natural and/or super-natural forces. Liberation happens only when they become aware that they are active subjects of their history and culture, through an interactive process that seeks to produce a critical mind, especially in light of the gospel.

    Even in contexts used to rote learning, critical thinking can be introduced and promoted naturally though collective exercises in “real life” case studies by listening to one another’s views as they reflect on life and its realities together in an atmosphere of mutual respect. In areas where religious intolerance, discrimination, and even persecution prevail, economic transformation workers need to model the use of participative strategies that uphold human dignity and freedom. This may include skills on how to resolve conflicts, how to build communities of love, and how to develop sustainable socio-economic pro-grams that fit the local market and global realities. And working in the contexts of religious pluralism requires humility, esp. since most of us in Christian higher education bear witness from the margins of Asian societies. Transformational education workers need to learn to invite without arrogance, and propose without trying to impose. They must allow the strength of the others’ arguments and admit the limits of their own knowledge. All knowledge and truth belong to God, and God has not revealed everything to anyone.

    Further, transformational education must aim at critical discernment which results not just in personal transformation, but also in societal transformation and economic transformation This also means taking the side of the poor. The rich benefit from the status quo, thus are normally conservative if not reactionary. It is the poor who are pressed by survival needs to seek transformation. Sadly, most of our Christian higher education structures have quite an elitist framework, assuming that our education will “trickle down” to the grassroots. Thereby we fail to think on how our education can be relevant and beneficial (in short, transformational) to the marginalized. Failing to be pro-poor, our schools have produced leaders who are best reformist, becoming bureaucrats or even entrepreneurs who are unable to critique our defective culture (i.e., colonial, paternalistic, patronage-based) so as develop alternative transformative structures that liberate and empower people. Only when our Christian higher education institutions become truly the “academes of the poor” can we start to truly train transformational education workers for the Asian majorities who are mostly poor. (On the methodological ingredients for transformational education, cf. Craig 1996, 37-52. On some social agenda items for empowering transformational education, see Carr 1994, 45-67.)

    Institutional Commitment: Towards Modeling Economic Transformation

    Implementing the curriculum with just academic learning in classrooms will be very inadequate to train effective economic transformation practitioners. Thus it is best that each school commits to model economic transformation. It may start by adopting one or two marginalized peoples (like street kids, prostitutes, widows, etc.) or communities (like orphanages, slums, leprosaria, etc.) at a time to model what it represents, or even find some ways by which the whole academic community can be involved in engaging various poor communities, including perhaps those in other nations.

    Transformational education differentiates between socially-engaged and disengaged educational process. If transformational education is to be realized, our students, faculty, and staff must be in touch with and learn from the margins instead of just the sheltered ivory towers and libraries. Students and faculty will be encouraged if not required to participate in field projects, relating their studies to real life. Classrooms and laboratories will be extended to include health clinics, government offices, and community centers. Society, not just our campus, be-comes our “classroom.” Our schools will thereby be known for excellence in building young people who value God’s compassion and justice, which is one of the top agenda of their alma maters.

    Our Governance Boards must review whether our vision includes societal transformation, particularly economic transformation. Academic studies are not just for analyzing social problems and issues, but also for changing our broken world into a better society where God’s love and justice prevails. With compassion and justice as key elements of their Christian commitment, all individuals involved in Christian higher education must be constantly challenged, if not required, to advocate and live out these values in their personal and corporate lives. To pursue the economic transformation vision, our schools should commit to become a role model of being a transformational community that leads in building an alternative global solidarity economy which minimizes if not eliminates poverty and injustice. Our world has been swallowed by the gargantuan forces of globalization that have invaded our way of thinking and influenced our way of doing things. In this price-driven, market-oriented “consumer society,” economic stakeholders are pitted against each other by self-interest. The whole economy is torn by endemic conflicts, so that societies go through constant periods of economic disequilibrium, throwing multitudes into poverty and marginalization.

    The world’s economy is dominated by state and capitalist monopolies that fuel the advance of market-oriented globalization. Sadly this has perpetuated inequity, injustice, and poverty, and the marginalization of millions. In terms of education, most schools uncritically perpetuate the elitist models that enhance subservient attitudes and white-collar skills. The system emphasizes and encourages individualistic instead of cooperative instincts. It also encourages attitudes of human inequality, thereby forming an unhealthy class structure where the educated marginalize the less educated and thus also deepen the wedge between the haves and the have-nots, further alienating those who are already marginalized. At worse, it suppresses the biblical and primal vision of egalitarian societies of peace and love, with minimal gap between the rich and the poor. Hence our graduates could just uncritically enter the global job market, upwardly mobile usually to the West or to the highest bidder, and often ignorant or negligent of the issues that affect the poor majorities. Thus a major economic transformation commitment is for the administration of our institutions to prioritize anti-injustice in their mission and ethos. The Governing Board should be convinced that it is not enough to prepare students for the present global economy (led mainly by university graduates) that has perpetuated and enhanced poverty and injustice. There needs to be a conscious effort and political will to show the clear Christian distinctive of valuing compassion and justice in our educational system. In adopting economic transformation and its vision of a solidarity economy, we will be able to affirm the integrity of being Christian, and gain the credibility in our witness to the biblical worldview that shalom is a just society where those with responsibility attend to the needs of the weaker members, especially those most in need, where those who have more share with those who have less, so that all may live in decency and with dignity as productive members of society.

    This is not easy for traditional institutions to adopt. Many have gone to the extent of providing socialized tuition fees, so that children from poor families can have a chance for education. This is good, but there needs a step further: actual involvement in transforming poor peoples and communities. This will ensure that our theological conviction and educational philosophy is not just theoretical, but practical and realistic. Then the academe’s commitment to the poor is not just in insignificant piecemeal efforts by individuals in Christian higher education, but by the entire campus community participating in the actual transformation of and for the poor in and through its corporate life.

    Since most of our Christian higher education institutions are marginalized ourselves in the midst of big state and private universities in our cities and nations, community involvement provides a good witness of our faithfulness to our mission and our confidence that the poor need not wait for external aid before they can act to fulfill God’s will. Participation in local community activities and events, especially in caring for poor communities, provides opportunities for our constituencies to experience firsthand how a transformational community can ably transform other communities, especially in socio-economic justice.

    In generations to come, may our schools take the lead in developing curricula that produce graduates who have the expertise in transforming poor societies into caring and sharing communities where God’s love and justice prevail!

    Are we ready to adopt this emancipatory philosophy and participatory practice of transformational education? May we dare to come up with radical answers to both truth and structural questions, resulting in individual and social change. Then the next issue is whether we have the moral courage to live out the implications of the answers that we discover. Transformational education should help liberate us from fear, so we can obey God’s call, no matter how radical, in light of our Christian conscience and commitments, particularly for the rapid and effective transformation of poor peoples, so that they can participate in the development of the alternative global solidarity economy.


    So what kind of “study programs” should we develop to achieve the above economic transformation and transformational education paradigm, perhaps with the best use of the least possible resources? May I suggest that it can be done with very low cost, in the form of (non-formal) “servant-leader or mentor training programs.” Even if we cannot offer formal degree programs for economic transformation our Christian higher education schools can organize our students and faculty into groups that can set up small “mentor training centers” inside and outside our campuses that develop the effective economic transformation workers that we envision — getting them involved with specific communities and the marketplace, and without the need for much external funding. The challenge is to mobilize our campus community into an expanding core group of leaders, who will work inter- or cross-disciplinarily to organize empowering structures among the poor (cf. Wanak 1994, 69-97). Seminaries should become major training centers to develop servant-leaders who can transform their churches into such servant-leader training centers. These centers shall recruit and develop teams of “faculty” who can mentor others and develop resources for economic transformation, through non-formal short-term seminars which may offer “certificates of participation.” These would best be monitored and nurtured in (decentralized) “fellowship” structures, each being self-governing, self-sustaining, and self-expanding, yet inter-linked with other Christian higher education disciplines through some coordinating centers in or outside the campus. To be consistent with this educational paradigm, we may have to constantly remain a “mustard seed conspiracy” which nurtures “soft structures” to use the humblest and simplest possible means in the most loving (read: empowering) and the least domineering (read: powerful) way possible to bring out the best from the bottom up (i.e., democratically) and not from the top down (i.e., autocratically), serving alongside with (not
    for) the people. (Seminary graduates should be familiar with the writings of Elton Trueblood, Tom Sine, William Stringfellow, Donald Kraybill, Jacques Ellul, H. Yoder, Os Guinness, etc.) It seems that the Quakers were the most consistent in following this “mustard seed” strategy. They pro-vided the leadership in social movements for slavery’s abolition, women’s rights, temperance, peace, and American Indian rights; and presently in some major transnational social movement organizations (Greenpeace, Oxfam, Amnesty International, etc.). And they were able to propagate effectively without major structures except their meeting halls, and just with seminars among ordinary people led by small teams of committed members!

    This contrasts with the past elitist (read: colonialist) models of Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, and Methodist missions which set out to transform (read: civilize) societies with Christian colleges and universities (which have fast become secularized, and rightly so!). After pouring so much Christian resources, their impact (esp. among the poor) has been minimal — having won some youth, they “succeeded” in turning off their families, clans, and even whole people groups against Christianity. Perhaps they can restore their reputation as centers for quality education when they adopt transformational education to take the lead in empowering the poor not just to become survivors in the present global market economy, but also to become participants in the new solidarity economy. We must veer from maintaining or initiating more educational programs that will produce another generation of workers and leaders in a global economy that will produce another generation of more marginalized peoples. Our educational philosophy and pedagogy must fit our transformational mission — to truly reduce the number of the poor in our economically divided world today and provide them the economic transformation skills to develop productive yet sharing communities for an alternative economy through our graduates who are societal transformation /economic transformation experts. We can really tap the richest resources that are in our Christian higher education institutions right now: the youth in our campuses today. With good resource development schemes, this simple transformational education paradigm may be implemented and financed as a social enterprise that may even be made profitable for the school’s long-term sustainability.

    Perhaps the ultimate test for seminaries who train leaders for churches is whether our education is ready to critique and transform ecclesiastical structures, too: What kind of churches are we going to set up? Are we going to perpetuate the non-liberative Christendom system which has kept the poor poor and the “laity” disempowered to do transformation in the world? Are we ready to teach our students how to transform our churches into transformational communities and “networks of small Bible sharing groups ” (Roman Catholic “Basic Ecclesial Communities” (BEC) and Protestant “house churches”). Note that though the New Testament churches had their problems, they were able to impact their communities and the Empire within a generation, even if they were truly “churches of the poor and oppressed,” not unlike what’s happening in China, India, and other Third World nations today. May each Christian grow spiritually in their respective cells (each serving as a small servant-leader training center), each mature Christian mentor his/her own cell, and each cell discern who are the economic transformation and transformational education workers worth supporting to serve as volunteer coordinators of local networks of people organizations, while others as peace/shalom ambassadors to start “solidarity net- works” elsewhere in the world.

    Now that we have depicted what economic transformation and transformational education is all about to effect rapid and effective empowerment of the poor, the problem remaining is its implementation. It may seem too radical for most of our Christian higher education schools today. It requires a major paradigm shift: not just in our objective (to evolve an alternative solidarity economy) and content (to train in community organizing for social entrepreneurship), but also in our pedagogy (to empower through dialogic learning) and our institutional commitment (to practice and model economic transformation as a school). Following these four action points will position our schools to effectively lead the world in the societal transformation and economic transformation of entire people groups, so that no one person, community, or nation will remain poor!

    May our Christian higher education institutions produce tens of thousands of effective mentors and servant-leaders who will serve as influential models of economic transformation among the poor peoples of Asia and beyond, so that there will be “no poor among them” (cf. Acts 4:34), so that by their good deeds people will give glory to our God (Matt. 5:16) who is the God of love and justice.


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      Stephens, George. 1995. Living a New Reality in Kandy, Sri Lanka.  In Serving with the Poor in Asia, eds. T. Yamamori, B. Myers & D. Conner. Monrovia: MARC.

      Wanak, Lee. 1994. Church and School in Symbiotic Relationship: Toward a Theology of Specialized Institutions. In Directions in Theological Education, 69-97. Manila: PABATS.

      Wolterstorff, Nicholas. 1983. Until Justice and Peace Embrace. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

      Yamamori, T., B. Myers & D. Conner, eds. 1995. Serving with the Poor in Asia. Monrovia: MARC.

      Yamamori, T., B. Myers, & K. Luscombe, eds. 1998. Serving with the Urban Poor. Monrovia: MARC.

      Zdero, Rad. 2004. The Global House Church Movement. Pasadena: William Carey Library.

      This article is from the issue: Education

      1. The Impact of Education on Nation Building: A Western Perspective

      “The university is the most important artifact of Western culture.”

      This was the opinion of the late Ralph D. Winter, noted missiologist and my mentor and friend. Dr. Winter, as his friends called him, often lamented that American evangelicals took a detour away from the university tradition at the time of D.L. Moody, when they began founding Bible Schools, which have only recently become universities. Winter bemoaned that “evangelicals … have not gotten into politics nor into university structures until very recently. How can you go as a professor from a Bible school to a university? You can’t. … That was a mission strategy that went wrong, that refused to contextualize” (Winter 1998). The unfortunate result for other nations of the American evangelical detour is highlighted by Moussa Bongoyok in his paper, “Blessing the Nations through Christian Universities”: “Seminary graduates are not allowed to teach in the universities [of Camaroon]. How are we then impacting the leadership of our nation? There is a lack of training in holistic development, and yet we are to present the whole gospel to the whole world” (Bongoyok 2010). An institution that seeks to understand and integrate all aspects of truth, of the universe, is needed, not just an emphasis on Bible and theology. As Ken Gnanakan has stated, “the parts of any whole cannot exist nor be understood, except within their relation to the whole” (Ganankan 2007, 19).

      In his address at the dedication of the Billy Graham Center of Wheaton College, Lebanese statesman Charles Malik affirmed that university education is crucial for nation building:

    1. The great universities control the mind of the world. Therefore how can evangelism consider its task accomplished it if leaves the university unevangelized? And how can evangelism evangelize the university if it cannot speak to the university? And how can it speak to the university if it is not itself already intellectualized? (Malik 2000, 45).

      Value of the University Tradition

      The University and Worship

      Without a strong university within a society and without believers and leaders who have a strong university education, people will not know how to worship God as he deserves. All God’s works praise him. We cannot fully worship him for who he is if we are ignorant of the handiwork of God and the orderliness and beauty he has built into creation. Astronomy studies the music of the spheres, the orbits and inter-relations and beauty God designed at a macro level. Chemistry studies the music of the spheres, the orbits and inter-relations and beauty God designed, at the micro, atomic level. Without a knowledge of God’s works gained through the university tradition, people cannot adequately praise God for who He is and what He has done.

      The University and Culture

      Without a strong university within a society and without believers and leaders who have a strong university education, people cannot fully appreciate the complexities of the cultures of the peoples God loves. Through the study of culture we can appreciate that people who are different from ourselves can understand and reflect God’s character in ways our own culture cannot, so that in the age to come some from every nation, tribe, people, and language are worshiping around God’s throne (Revelation 5:9; 7:9).
      Without the discipline of a university tradition, people will have blindspots in their assessment of themselves and of their own culture. We will not be able to see that, as philosopher Marilyn McCord Adams terms it, we are all complicit in horrors that are intrinsic to the functioning of any society (Adams 2012). Ralph Winter once asked, “How do you both believe in Christ, following a cultural pattern that you’ve grown up in, and at the same time object to features of that culture that you don’t feel are really very godly?” (Winter nd).

      The University and Biblical Truth

      Without a strong university within a society and without believers and leaders who have a strong university education, people cannot adequately apply biblical truth to daily and national life. With a Christian university education, believers can integrate biblical insights with insights from science, history, and culture. As Ken Gnanakan says, we need to combine these disciplines “so that they work together to form a whole” (Gnanakan 2007, 17). People can learn together to propose theological answers to the questions of their societies. Andrew Walls urges that Africa, Asia and Latin American must become centers of creative thinking so their universities can produce world leaders in biblical and theological studies (Walls 2011).

      The University and History

      Without a strong university within a society and without believers and leaders who have a strong university education, people cannot know and learn from the history of human life on this planet. History teaches us what people have learned from their choices, both right and wrong.

      Ralph Winter used to say, “A person who can draw on insights from history can make better decisions today.”

      George Santayana said in his book, Reason in Common Sense, “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”

      Without a university a society is doomed to repeat its mistakes; it is doomed to perpetuate its horrors; whatever it has overlooked that could benefit its citizens, it will continue to overlook. Without the university keeping learning alive and building upon God’s truth, a society is doomed to repeat the failures of its past.

      The University: A Beacon of Hope

      Universities provide the means of educating both leaders and followers in nation-building values and skills. Universities give the opportunity for people to discover the order God has built into the universe and to learn how to make shalom, bringing order out of chaos, through right relationships with God, with other humans, and with creation.

      Within the academic traditions of the university, right relationship with God is the sphere of theology, the queen of the sciences according to Thomas Aquinas. Right relationship with humanity is the sphere of such disciplines as business, economics, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and history. Right relationships within creation can be discovered through study of the disciplines of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, ecology, engineering, or history.

      In those parts of the world where there is a strong university tradition (America, Europe, China, and Australia [see World University Rankings 2017]) there is less disease and violence. In those parts of the world without a strong university tradition there is often a higher incidence of infant mortality, disease, and violence. Comparison of maps of Under-5 mortality (World Health Organization. 2010) and global violence (Wikipedia Commons. N.d. Violence World Map) with the presence of strong universities shows this strong correlation.

      But societies and nations can learn how to bring order out of chaos, following principles God has built into the universe. In his Confessions, Augustine spoke about a disciplined and well-ordered mind that is able to grasp the truth. Disciplined thinking is necessary to disciple a society for nation building. Order in society allows for the flourishing of health, peace and safety and reflects some aspects of God’s nature, even if seen through a glass darkly.

      But societies and nations can learn how to bring order out of chaos, following principles God has built into the universe. In his Confessions, Augustine spoke about a disciplined and well-ordered mind that is able to grasp the truth. Disciplined thinking is necessary to disciple a society for nation building. Order in society allows for the flourishing of health, peace and safety and reflects some aspects of God’s nature, even if seen through a glass darkly.

      Impact of Universities through the Ages

      The impulse to collect and organize and disseminate knowledge is one of the ways humans reflect the image of God and one of the ways God is able to use humans to restore order to His creation. The institution of the university arose, according to Catholic theologian and scientist, Stanley Jaki, because of “the belief (a belief specific to the Middle Ages) that it is meaningful to search for universal knowledge, precisely because there is a universe, that is, a coherent totality of things and minds” (Jaki 1982, 43). Through the discipline of advanced scholarship, universities have kept learning alive through the ages although at times throughout history, advanced education has deteriorated within a society and has had to be replaced. In the West advanced education had to be reinstated by Islamic and later by Celtic civilizations. Later we will see that Andrew Walls is calling for Africa, Latin America, and Asia to gird themselves now to be the new standard bearers to keep creative scholarship alive as it is deteriorating in the West (Walls 2011).

      We will start our brief overview of the history and impact of universities with the Greek academy, following at first the Western path of the development of organized knowledge, then integrating glimpses of how learning was developing in other parts of the world from the past to the present. Prior to and during the European Middle Ages, flourishing civilizations in China, India, the Middle East were collecting and disseminating knowledge in which faith and practical learning were tied together. It is only recently that faith and learning have been segregated in the Western university tradition, which is one of the reasons for Walls’ pessimism about the Western academy (Walls 2011). 

      The Greek Academy and Early Christian Learning

      The Greek academy, Walls explains, “marks an important phase in human history and at its height, Plato saw philosophy, love of wisdom, not as an academic, but as a moral and religious discipline” (Walls 2011, 238). But, according to a pattern we will see again and again, the Greek academy declined until eventually Justin Martyr “found philosophy and the academic life had become a job, a career, a profession” (Walls 2011, 238). The historical pattern continued with the rescue of a declining civilization by the scholarship of another civilization that integrated the older learning with new ways of thinking. Christian philosopher-theologians such as Origen revived the Greek culture and academic tradition illustrating the assumption that “it is the task of the church to gather the fragments of truth and reunite them to the body of truth as a whole” (Holmes 2001, 21).

      Monasteries and Mosques Keep Learning Alive

      But once again learning was in danger of being lost to the West as Rome declined under barbarian invasions. Libraries were often gutted and the revival of learning took centuries. Monasteries in Ireland kept learning alive during this time by copying biblical manuscripts and other important Christian literature. Also during this time of chaos in Europe, Islamic scholars copied much of the ancient Greek literature and added to the knowledge of mathematics, astronomy, and medicine. The Muslim integration of faith and learning can be seen by the fact that the early Al-Azhar University was originally founded as a Mosque, becoming an Islamic university in 998 (

      African Universities: Beyond “Afropessimism”

      This Egyptian university represents the third of the streams of ancient African university education summarized by an African scholar in his online article, “A Historical Accounting of African Universities: Beyond Afropessimism.” He states:

    3. The origins of higher education in Africa, including universities as communities of scholars and learning, can be traced to three institutional traditions:
      1. The Alexandria Museum and Library [Egypt]
      2. Early Christian monasteries [Egypt; Ethiopia]
      3. Islamic mosque universities [Egypt, Tunisia] (Zeleza 2006).

    4. He goes on to explain that the early universities founded by Western missionaries were in limited parts of Africa and “it was not until the 20th century following the European conquest that colonial universities spread to the rest of the continent.” Zeleza sees university education as “central for training a highly skilled labor force, creating and reproducing a national elite, … enhancing national prestige … [and] helping to manage and resolve the various crises that confront the African continent from civil conflicts to disease epidemics including HIV/AIDS” (Zeleza 2006).

      China’s Wisdom of the Ancestors Gives Way to the West

      In other parts of the world, a similar value has been placed on education for nation building. Ancient civilizations without the revealed Word of God integrated knowledge of what they could observe in the world with their moral and religious understandings. In China the wisdom of the ancestors was important. During the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE), the first civil service exam included the teachings of Confucius as one of the key subjects. Those who passed these exams were then qualified to pass on Chinese cultural traditions and set rules of society for others. But this indigenous, traditional form of education basically ended at the time of China’s humiliating defeat by the British during the Opium War (1840–1842). After that, new educational models from Europe, America and Japan were set up in China, (, including new Christian universities founded Presbyterians and others. Today the importance of universities for nation building is illustrated by the claim of the China Education Center that “higher education in China has played an important role in the economic construction, science progress, and social development by bringing up large scale of advanced talents and experts for the construction of socialist modernization” (

      India’s “Beautiful Tree” of Education Gives Way to the West

      Just as advanced education that integrated moral and practical learning was present in China in the time before Christ, so in India the famous Buddhist center for scholarship, Nalanda University, was founded in Bihar in the fifth century before Christ. “The important subjects were art, architecture, logic, grammar, philosophy, astronomy, literature, Buddhism, Hinduism, law, and medicine” ( But this university is now in ruins, illustrating once again that scholarship rises and falls throughout history. Serampore College was founded by William Carey and his friends in 1818 “to give an education in arts and sciences and to train people for ministry in the growing church in India” ( The present Western system of education in India was introduced and founded by the British in the 20th century. The British government did not recognize the traditional structures and so they have declined. Gandhi described the traditional educational system of India as a beautiful tree that was destroyed during the British rule (

      Western Education Rooted in Spiritual and Societal Reformation

      This British educational system that has by now encircled the globe has its roots in the revival of learning that took place during Europe’s classical Renaissance and the time of the Protestant Reformation. The Reformers “undertook to reform education because they wanted the laity to read and understand Scripture for themselves and to be prepared for their callings in society.” Luther put it plainly: ‘Where are the preachers, jurists and physicians to come from, if grammar and other rhetorical arts are not taught?’” (Holmes 2001, 58). John Calvin called for a college to prepare young people for the ministry and for civil government (Holmes 2001, 64). In Scotland, John Knox’ Book of Discipline proposed a national education plan to provide church and state with qualified leaders. (Holmes 2001, 69). Here at the height of renewed emphasis on university education, the integration of faith and learning is prominent, along with the importance of education for nation building.

      Western Education Polarized and Declining

      With Francis Bacon, however, the door was opened to the polarization of religious and secular learning. His intentions were no doubt good when he spoke of God’s two books, his Word and his works. Unfortunately Bacon advocated that these be studied separately, as theology and science. In addition, Bacon shifted the focus further from the university as a place for the study of all truth to a focus on what can be done with education in practical ways (Holmes 2001, 76-77).

      By the time of the 21st century these trends have solidified to the point where Andrew Walls sees secularized universities serving political and financial interests rather than the integration of all truth as God’s truth.

    5. As with the Greek academy, scholarship has in many quarters ceased to be a vocation and become a career. … The Western academy is in peril. It may again be time for Christians to save the academy. And it may be that salvation will come from the non-Western world; that in Africa and Asia and Latin America the scholarly ideal will be re-ignited, and scholarship seen as a vocation” (Walls 2011, 239).
    6. The Future of the University in the Majority World

      Avoiding the Mistakes of the West

      Ralph Winter warned Christian leaders in the majority world not to repeat the mistakes of the West as they continue to develop their educational systems (Winter 2007). In his article, “The Scandal and Promise of Global Christian Education,” Winter described three common mistakes of the West that he saw being repeated in the rest of the world:
      1. Wrong students. He urged that proven leaders be given opportunity to advance their education through accessible delivery systems. “Most of the students in pastoral training are not the seasoned, mature believers defined by the New Testament as candidates for pastoral leadership” (Winter 2003, 3).
      2. Wrong curriculum. “God has given us two ‘books,’ the Bible and nature/Creation. He does not want us to slight either one. But the scientific community is studying the second while despising the first, while the church community is studying the first and ignoring the second” (Winter 2003, 4).
      3. Wrong package. “It is a missionary principle to speak the language of the native.” Winter urged that universities be formed, rather than seminaries and Bible schools, that can present courses and diplomas in a format the world understands and values (Winter 2003, 4).
      Winter concluded, “Joel Carpenter’s recent study, ‘The New Universities,’ demonstrates that if the missionaries are not going to establish university institutions, national believers will” (Winter 2003, 3-5). Since Carpenter’s 2002 study that Winter referred to, a more recent study shows that “over the past 30 years at least 178 [universities around the world] have come into being, with 46 arising on the African continent alone” (Carpenter 2012, 1).

      Nation Building and the Conversion of Cultures

      In an article about global theological education, Walls highlighted the biblical mandate: “We are called to disciple the nations” (Walls 2011, 24). Carpenter notes the parallels to a value on nation building in modern global Christianity with the time of the Second Great Awakening in the United States in the 19th century. During this time multiple social institutions were founded, including universities, as “American evangelicals, led by the Methodists, were ‘organizing to beat the devil’” (Carpenter 2012, 5). Today, revived and committed believers in many parts of the world are finding ways to fulfill the “second half of the gospel mandate, after spreading the good news of personal salvation … what Walls calls the conversion of cultures. The mandate is to teach the nations about God’s larger plan of redemption” (Carpenter 2012 5).

      What elements are needed in a university committed to nation building and culture change? Clayton M. Christensen lists these traits of innovative education, among others, in his book, The Innovative University:
      • Increased attention to values
      • Cross-disciplinary, integrated education
      • Emphasis on student competence vis-à-vis learning outcomes
      • Student involvement in research
      • Mix of face-to-face and online learning (2011, 386-87).

      Carpenter adds the element of biblical worldview as a necessary component in the curriculum for global culture-changing education:

    7. It is difficult to see how the new evangelical universities can sustain a Christian outlook without offering a curriculum that pushes students out into the broad realms of nature and culture that the Bible claims for the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and that equips students to bring a “big picture” Christian perspective to bear on the principalities and powers of this age (Carpenter 2003, 99).

    8. This echoes Winter’s plea to keep Francis Bacon’s “two books” in dialog with one another and Ganankan’s emphasis on holistic integrated education. But an off-setting trend in Western education since the time of Bacon, being imitated globally, is toward a focus on practical and technical education for jobs, leaving out the big picture of history and God’s purposes in it. Carpenter asks, “How about course offerings in the new Christian universities—is their main idea of how to help ‘build the nation’ pretty much confined, like the secular privates, to supplying more business workers and computer technicians?” (Carpenter 2012, 6). He notes that the new universities also “show other signs of fairly shallow educational development as well, such as very little evidence of a research emphasis. And frequently their libraries and laboratories are scantily equipped” (Carpenter 2012, 6). “And yet,” Carpenter notes, “there are resources available nearby… to help these uncommon [global universities] become agents for thinking Christ into the entire cultural framework of their lands” (Carpenter 2003, 101).

      Steps Forward: A Global Consortium

      Resources for a solution to the worrisome state of Western and global education might be found in a virtual consortium of universities, a clearing-house for education. Carpenter commented, “What a powerful thing it might be for like-minded Christian universities to make common cause, side-by-side, worldwide” (Carpenter 2012, 8). Recently, WCIU hosted a series of focus groups on the topic of global educational networking with representatives from Africa, Latin America, Asia, India, and North America. This group suggested that library resources and curriculum content might be supplied through schools sharing online learning resources through a secure social network.

      The advantages are unlimited of combining resources and expertise from all parts of the globe. Multiple courses can be posted online, created by outstanding professors from around the world, not just from the West. Participating universities, or a virtual umbrella organization such as ICHE, would agree to give credit for those courses that meet their standards, with degrees granted for completion of the right assortment of course work.  Online electronic book and journal collections owned by partner institutions can be made available to other schools in the virtual consortium who have not been able to afford their own library resources. A small university, such as William Carey International University (WCIU), could partner with other small institutions that have specialized research collections, such as Kwame Bediako’s African Christianity collection, to list this special collection in their World Cataloging system. This would make known to scholars all over the world that the valuable African documents exist and where they are located. Dissertations in the mission world, from all over the world, need to be scanned and made accessible, and at least a summary of the dissertation should be available through the world cataloging system in English, so that, as Andrew Walls advocates, people can know what is being researched and written, and scholars can learn from each other (Walls 2011, 240).

      Charles Van Engen, veteran missionary scholar and Fuller Seminary professor, hopes to see this type of virtual consortium become a reality. He compared this approach to a consortium of Boston seminaries in which students can choose to get credit from courses from any of the participating seminaries. “A school determines the requirements for the degree and students select from the consortium courses. A global consortium for leadership formation would be a great contribution to the Kingdom” (Van Engen 2012).


      William Carey International University values global leaders empowered to lead their communities to wholeness and human flourishing. Universities are needed for integrating nation-building skills, character, knowledge, and truth. Augustine felt that “the disciplined, well-ordered mind is better equipped to grasp the truth” (Holmes 2001, 30). Roland Allen continued that line of thinking when he talked about the preparation of men’s minds, through Roman and Greek civilizations, to receive St. Paul’s teaching of the Kingdom of Christ (Allen 1912). In our missionary strategy today, might we need to plant universities to empower leaders within a society to work toward nation building through education, building toward security of travel and strong laws in order to prepare a place for the Kingdom of God to flourish and spread? The good news is that the Body of Christ contains people with the gifts to “do” or “make” shalom in many different areas: justice, peace-keeping, skill-building for economic independence, health, fighting and eradicating disease, etc. All of these peace-making and nation-building activities can potentially demonstrate the character of God and the values of the Kingdom and bring shalom into the lives of troubled people and societies.

      The development of a society, including reduction of poverty, violence, and disease, requires both leaders and followers who value discipline, order, and the pursuit of truth. These are results of higher education. In this sense, the Christian university is an important artifact of Western missionary culture.


      Adams, Marilyn McCord. 2012. Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God. Lectures presented at the Cosmic Conflict Lab, 28 April, in Loma Linda, California.

      Allen, Roland. 1912. Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours? Online. Available from Internet,, accessed 19 January, 2012.

      Bongoyok, Moussa. 2010. Blessing the Nations through Christian Universities. Paper presented at a WCIU Symposium, 13 November, in Pasadena, California.

      Carpenter, Joel. 2003. “Part II: New Evangelical Universities: Cogs in a World System or Players in a New Game?” International Journal of Frontier Missiology 20:3 (Fall), 95-102.

      ––––––. 2012. New Christian Universities and the Conversion of Cultures. On-line. Available from Internet:, accessed 5 May, 2012.

      CIESIN (Center for International Earth Science Information Network). 2006. Where the Poor Are: An Atlas of Poverty. Palisades, NY: Columbia University. On-line. Available from Internet:, accessed 29 December, 2011.

      China Education Center. 2004. History of Education in China. On-line. Available from Internet,, accessed 29 December, 2011.

      Christensen, Clayton M. and Henry J. Eyring. 2011. The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

      Clark, Burton R. 1986. The Higher Education System: Academic Organization in Cross-national Perspective. Berkeley: University of California Press.

      Gnanakan, Ken. 2007. Learning in an Integrated Environment. Bangalore: Theological Book Trust.

      Holmes, Arthur F. 2001. Building the Christian Academy. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

      Indianetzone: Education. 2008. History of Indian Education. On-line. Available from Internet,, accessed 29 December, 2011.

      Jaki, Stanley L. 1982. The Universe and the University. In Freedom, order, and the university, ed. James R. Wilburn, 43-68. Malibu, CA: Pepperdine University Press.

      Janczak, Jamie. N.d. The Origin of Universities. On-line. Available from Internet,, accessed 29 December, 2011.

      Jeynes, William. 2012a. Character Instruction in Protestant Education Throughout History. In International Handbook of Protestant Education, ed. William Jeynes and David W. Robinson, 3-24. New York: Springer.

      ______. 2012b. Email to author, 27 April.

      List of Oldest Universities in Continuous Operation. Nd. On-line. Available from Internet,, accessed 30 December, 2011.

      Map of Medieval Universities. Nd. On-line. Available from Internet,, accessed 29 December, 2011.

      Malik, Charles. 2000. The Two Tasks. Wheaton: EMIS. 

      Marsden, George M. 1994. The Soul of the American University: From Protestant establishment to established nonbelief. New York: Oxford University Press.

      Origin of Universities. Nd. On-line. Available from Internet,, accessed 30 December, 2011.

      Ponmelil, V.A. 2010. History of Education in India. On-line. Available from Internet,, accessed 29 December, 2011.

      Van Engen, Charles. 2012. Comments in a Focus Group about Virtual Universities at William Carey International University, 11 May, in Pasadena, California.

      Walls, Andrew F. 2002. Christian Scholarship and the Demographic Transformation of the Church. In Theological Literacy for the Twenty-first Century, ed. Rodney L. Petersen, with Nancy M. Rourke, 167-72. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

      ______. 2011. “World Christianity, Theological Education and Scholarship.” Transformation: An International Journal of Holistic Mission Studies 28:4 (October): 235-40.

      Wikipedia. N.d. Islamic Contributions to Medieval Europe. On-line. Available from Internet,, accessed 1 January, 2012.

      Wikipedia Commons. N.d. Violence World Map. On-line. Available from Internet, Accessed 5 May, 2012.

      Winter, Ralph D. 1998. The Future of the University. Paper presented to the Frontier Mission Fellowship, 7 December, in Pasadena, California.

      ______. 2003. “The Scandal and Promise of Global Christian Education. Mission Frontiers, Special Edition, 3-5. On-line. Available from Internet,, accessed 29 December, 2011.

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      Zeleza, P.T. 2006. A Historical Accounting of African Universities: Beyond Afropessimism. On-line. Available from Internet,, accessed 29 December, 2011.


      This article is from the issue: Women and International Development

      Blog: The First Great New Testament Theologian was a Woman

      Oct 05, 2017

      Missio Alliance posted this article by Carolyn Custis James on October 3, 2017.

      Jesus took Mary to a deeper level of trust through her dark night of the soul. Theology isn’t academic. Theology is life and the fuel that feeds our faith when our world collapses in on us and we are struggling to trust God. Mary learned through struggle that no matter how dark things got or how depressed she felt, the safest course of action was always to trust him.

      You can read the full article here.

      This article is from the issue: Disease Origins

      Blog: Links from Mike

      Oct 04, 2017

      1. A recent article from AFP (a global news agency) that has application to the root causes of disease: “40 percent of US cancers linked to excess weight.” Carrying excess weight has been shown to boost the risk of 13 types of tumors. The US Centers for Disease Control find that 71 percent of adults in the US are either overweight or obese.

      2. From the medical journal, The Lancet on Infectious Diseases, “Spread of a single multidrug resistant malaria parasite lineage (PfPailin) to Vietnam”: “The spread of artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum and the subsequent loss of partner antimalarial drugs in the Greater Mekong subregion1 presents one of the greatest threats to the control and elimination of malaria.”

      3. An article on global health from The Guardian: “Shadow of leprosy falls again as experts claim millions of cases go undiagnosed.” Widespread belief that disease was all but beaten may have bred complacency, specialists warn, amid fears that number of cases is 50% higher than reported.

      4. “Mutant malaria back with vengeance!” reports an article from India. “The parasitic infection was lying dormant after mutating, but it has made a comeback after a gap of five years at a time when Delhi is already reeling under the scourge of dengue and chikungunya.”

      5. Big Pharma Spends More On Advertising Than Research And Development, Study Finds
      A new study estimates the U.S. pharmaceutical industry spends almost twice as much on promotion as it does on research and development, contrary to the industry’s claim. The U.S. pharmaceutical industry spent 24.4% of the sales dollar in 2004 on promotion, versus 13.4% for research and development, as a percentage of US domestic sales of US$235.4 billion. The study’s findings supports the position that the U.S. pharmaceutical industry is marketing-driven and challenges the perception of a research-driven, life-saving, pharmaceutical industry.

      6. “There are diseases hidden in ice, and they are waking up” reports Earth. “Long-dormant bacteria and viruses, trapped in ice and permafrost for centuries, are reviving as Earth’s climate warms.”

      7. “Achieving A Polio-Free World.” The HuffPost reports that since the World Health Assembly announced a commitment to eradicate polio, the crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease is now on the brink of extinction. Only five cases have been reported worldwide so far this year – three in Afghanistan and two in Pakistan. The reason for this remarkable accomplishment: widespread polio vaccination.


      This article is from the issue: Community and Societal Development

      Intentional Student Involvement in City-Building and Development in Cambodia

      Oct 02, 2017


      “How can a rose bloom in the midst of a garbage can?” In 1953, three years after North Korea invaded South Korea, with 5 million people killed or wounded and more than 16 countries involved in the fratricidal war, the entire country was in ashes. Beggars and orphans crowded ruined streets and Koreans were overcome with a heavy sense of shame, asking, “what can a brass coin do?” (A brass coin = a small Korean nose compared to Western noses).

      However, in the following six decades, the flower of the Republic of Korea (also known as South Korea or simply, Korea) has bloomed beautifully. Modernization through industrialization of the entire country has led South Korea to become a great economic power ranked 10th place in the world as well as being a country of political democracy. How was this miracle even possible? Is it possible for other ruined countries to have this experience?

      My Encounter with South Korea’s Resurrection Experience

      About 20 years after the end of the Korean War, at the age of 28, I went to America to study. Twenty years later, as a successful architect, I returned to visit Korea. It was like being in a different country from the one where I had grown up. A friend who taught economics explained that what Korea had experienced in the past 2 decades was equivalent to 200 years of changes in European countries. Moreover, he said, even though the economic policies Korea had implemented during those 20 years were terrible from an economist’s standpoint, still, the whole situation had turned evils into blessings. Even non-Christian economists called the situation unexplainable without God’s intervention and help. The first President, Dr. Seung Man Lee, confessed his Christian faith in the public. Just as the Puritans went to the New World to found a country with Christian principles and freedom of religion, the Republic of Korea was established by Christian leaders with good faith.

      However, Korea was facing a huge food problem back then as a result of the Japanese occupation and then the Korean War. America and the United Nations provided emergency aid and food supplies and as a result, many Koreans were able to receive precious and timely help. Our country also received a great deal of assistance in the area of education. After the outbreak of the Korean War, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) built a printing factory to supply textbooks to many students. They offered guidance for Korean education by submitting a report of “Agenda for Korean Education Reconstruction” and established many technical institutions and schools to help Korean people live a self-supporting/sustaining life.

      What about Developing Countries Today?

      South Korea has established and achieved outstanding breakthroughs as a result of being led by leaders with a Christian worldview and with help from the international world. However, the countries that need international development today are not in the same position that Korea was in, with a new Christian leader who established a whole new country. Also, current developing countries would like to receive advanced knowledge and information necessary for them to live a sustainable life, rather than unilaterally receiving one-way provisions from developed countries.

      To apply the lessons of Korea’s development to countries in need of development today, two things are necessary. International development needs to focus on conveying advanced knowledge and information to enable people to live independently, and there is a need to nurture local future leaders to have a Christian worldview from childhood, so that when they grow up, they will be able to work in various aspects of their country to bring about needed internal core changes.

      We believe that we can experience Jehovah Rapha (God our Healer) and the grace of God when serving the needy with a pure heart, putting Christ first, gathering believers to be part of a fellowship, developing the community, founding a college, and finally developing a whole city.
      In this regard, the mission I have implemented in South East Asian countries has passed through five “C Stages”:

    9. 1. Christ Centered
      2. Church
      3. Community
      4. College
      5. City Development

    10. 1. Christ Centered

      In order for the ministry to be the work of God, as Jesus said, we have to believe in the one he has sent (John 6:29). We have to put Christ at the center of what we do. Handong University in South Korea trains students through the integration of faith and learning to live out their faith through application of knowledge. A good example of the integration of faith and learning in the field of architecture is the work of Anoti Gaudi. A great Spanish architect, his faith was reflected in his architectural pieces that served the needs of local people. When I taught my students at Handong, I trained them during the semester and let them practice in outreach during vacation by using their talent as architectural students in relevant works, such as helping with the reconstruction of ruined countries struck by a natural disaster, providing pre-fabricated houses for victims of a tsunami in Myanmar, and implementing their project called “eco-city.”

      At the beginning, the NIBC ministry did not have such a large city-building vision. It started with missionary Yang Byeong Hwa who set out to serve the least of brothers (Matt. 25:40), going to Thailand in 1982 to search for Hansen (leprosy) patients. The plan was to serve not only Hansen patients, but also drug addicts and AIDS-infected patients by building a general care center. Eventually NIBC was able to establish a hostel to provide daily food and a place to sleep for the patients’ children and homeless street children. In a hostel, we grouped not more than six children in each room according to their age, and assigned a leader to train the children to follow Christ in character and spirit. When the children became adults, they went back to their home towns to share the gospel.

      2. Fellowship of Christian Faith (Church)

      When deciding where to first start the hostel, we purchased land in a main city where there were already local elementary, middle, and high schools. Children were sent to these schools during the daytime, and then after school were trained in character and spirit through community life when they came back to the center where the hostel was located.

      In addition to the hostel, it was also necessary to have a place where all the Christians in the village could gather for worship and fellowship. With support from the Onnuri Church in Korea, where church members are Hansen patients, church buildings were built.

      3. Social Services (Community)

      From education and church planting, we were able to expand our mission to social services covering homeless ministry, a nursing home for elderly, and rehabilitation ministry for drug addicts. In a drug rehab center we used our own healing method to contribute to regional development. The healing method used in the first month is clearing out the drugs in the muscles by exercising and showering often. In the process, there may be withdrawal symptoms such as twisting of the body. These symptoms were cared for in love and touch by giving massage therapy. The next step was to inscribe Bible messages in the hearts to fight the drug in faith. Then lastly, we test the patients by letting them go outside, to see if they try drugs again and decide whether they can be released to go home. The advantage of this method is that the patients often don’t do drugs again because of experiencing the pain of severe withdrawal symptoms.

      4. College

      Developing countries unable to provide adequate social services such as these, are more in need of knowledge and information support rather than physical supplies. Therefore, sponsorship through a university can be effective. The problem, however, is that the secular mass production education system of the industrial era can be unsuitable for teaching Christian values and worldview.

      In order to establish a Christian college, the potential students need to have grown up with a Christian worldview and values. So NIBC established kindergarten and elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools to educate students until they are ready to go to college. The hostel in Bangkok has successfully nurtured thousands of students with Christian values. After graduation, some of these students have been able to study abroad, as in the United States.

      Connecting the successful experience of education for children in Bangkok and Handong Global University’s educational philosophy of “integration of faith and knowledge,” NIBI (New International Bethany Institute) was established in Cambodia to provide a Christian environment for college-age students that integrates spiritual and character training with intelligence and skill training. NIBI aspires to develop global leaders to have exceptional abilities within their professions as well as a servant heart, who will serve the nations and the peoples of Southeast Asia and Cambodia. All students are required to go through an Education Enterprise Program that provides practical work experience and prepares them for life in the working world. NIBI is linked with companies, NGOs, and schools for internship programs not only in Cambodia but also outside of Cambodia.

      The Institute provides programs in ESL, General Education, Business (in management, marketing), Graphic Design, Early Childhood Education, and Computer Skills. NIBI believes that a firm foundation of character, integrity, and organizational leadership skills are important attributes required for all servant leaders. A moral-based living and study environment is critical in the training of leaders with a conscience and a heart for promoting justice, particularly in the developing countries where the practice of morality and just leadership is seen as impractical to attaining wealth, status, and position. NIBI seeks to show that the long-term consequences of corruption and crime thwart the best interests of national development and positive change. At NIBI, honesty, zeal, and compassion are practiced through community life, work duty, social service in the community, and the Honor Code. NIBI is training men and women to stand upright before God and make a difference in the development of their societies.

      5. City Development

      For a developing nation, even the poor must serve as a resource for economic development. In Cambodia, this calls for the following factors that have been taken into consideration in NIBC students’ eco-cities projects.

        The prioritization of developing quality education. Efficient farming practices so Cambodia can be self-sufficient. Development of an environmentally sustainable tourism that preserves, protects, and promotes Angkor Wat human heritage sites and Khmer culture Institution of Information Technology and English Language education to minimize the socio-economic gap between Cambodia and other countries and to globalize local education.

      Food Determines the Fate of City Development

      Historically, cities were developed near the mouth of a river where food could be easily obtained. This phenomenon naturally led to an agrarian society. As a society enters into an industrialized era, cities are developed around transportation hubs where foods products are carried around easily. As the cross-border trading becomes active, cities are developed around port areas. These become the central area of not only economics but also politics and culture.

      City development will be delayed if the everyday food supply for urban residents is not circulating smoothly. An example of this is the need for North Koreans to have their desolated land healed in order to produce enough food to sustain development. Its fertile topsoil has been swept away by frequent floods and needs to be cultivated through the development of new agricultural technology using local enzymes. This is one way NIBC is preparing to serve North Korea when reunification takes place.

      Relationships Determine the Fate of City Development

      Therefore, the problem of the city will be solved when we understand the relationships between the Creator, God, nature, and people. Confucius, the wise man of Asia, replaced the relationships between humans and nature, and between humans and God, with teaching that was only about human relationships. “The three Bonds” (allegiance to father, king, and husband) shaped the ethics, law, and society of traditional Asian societies.

      HHow can we understand the blueprint of future cities? The tourist city of Siem Reap is an example of our students’ research and proposals that illustrate how NIBC is trying to demonstrate what God’s will can look like in a city that needs development.

      Siem Reap

      Water Supply and Sewage System of Siem Reap

      Since there is no sewage system in Siem Reap, all the sewage and drainage water flows out to the waterway, and the unpurified water heads to Siem Reap River and Tonlesap Lake. The filtering of sewage at the soil layer is very important to the people of the village who use the underwater resources. The only sewage pipe, that is 4km long, was made in the 1950s and it only goes through the center of the city.

      The first water supply system used from 1930 to 1960 was a French system operated by filtering the water of Siem Reap River. From 1960 to 1995 the old French system was changed into an American system that has the capacity of 300 m3/day and it was used until the function of the facility declined. In 1999 a system was installed that can provide 1500m3 underground water, however the price is a little bit expensive for the local residents. Due to the development of large sized hotels, the use of underground water is rapidly increasing. This is resulting in lack of water for agriculture and is causing sinking of the Angkor Watt Temple site, so strategies for protecting the water resources and finding new water resources are needed.

      Energy Situation of Siem Reap

      In addition to an inadequate water supply, Siem Reap does not have a power plant, and is drawing electricity from Phnom Penh. The supply of electricity is unstable, so big hotels and hospitals use their own generators. Due to a radical increase of tourists in Siem Reap City, the number of hotels is increasing and the use of electricity will also increase. Developing a sustainable energy source is an urgent problem.

      Economic and Traffic Situation of Siem Reap

      The economy of Siem Riep is based on tourism. New hotels are being built, which provides employment and affects the regional economy in a positive way. During 2000 to 2020, the population of Siem Reap Province is estimated to show an annual increasing rate of 2.6%. The daytime population is estimated to increase from 134,000 to 275,000 people due to tourism.

      The increase of hotels and tourists coming to the Angkor heritage is resulting in an increase in traffic. A rapid increase of traffic and the climate of Cambodia is making it hard to maintain and conserve the roads. Traffic accidents are frequent because of diverse forms of transportation all mixed up in the roads such as motorcycles, bicycles, cars, and tuktuk are.

      Summary of NIBC Efforts in Cambodia

      NIBC students have taken these and many other factors into consideration in their proposals for improving the water and power supplies, road systems, urban grids, ecological agriculture and more. But most of all, for Cambodians to find the right way to develop their country, they need worldview education, biblical values education, and attitude or character education. NIBC has started many schools from kindergarten through college in order to provide a fresh start for the people recovering from the psychological and physical destruction caused by the Pol Pot regime and the killing fields. Through the love shown to the people and the knowledge offered and examples shown, perhaps Cambodia can become a nation that honors the Lord and bases its development on biblical principles, as Korea did when it began to recover from its disasters.

      This article is from the issue: Women and International Development

      Blog: Women in Cross-Cultural Leadership

      In Darrell Guder’s book, The Continuing Conversion of the Church,
      this quote indicates to me a need for women in leadership:

        “This [Kingdom] community must also move against the current of its culture in its relationship to the exercise of domination and power” (p. 137).

      Since women are not normally part of the Western male-dominated culture of power, they have the potential to set an example of a counter-cultural approach to leadership that does not seek to dominate and control.

      I used to say that I thought it was very appropriate for me to be serving in a particular leadership role in the broad field of international development because as a woman I could relate on more or less a peer level with non-Western NGO leaders. On the other hand, a man in a similar leadership role is too often seen as someone to defer to, and leaders from historically dominated cultures may not feel their ideas will be seen as being as valuable. The result could be that their valuable and culturally-informed ideas may lie dormant, or else they may try to go ahead with their own ideas without the synergy and assistance that could have boosted their effectiveness.

      Either way, it seems to me that Western women can empower male as well as female leaders in non-Western contexts. And this can demonstrate biblical principles, such as “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

      This article is from the issue: Women and International Development

      2. Wisdom from the Early Evangelicals: Why Women’s Leadership is a Primary Issue

      Christian history of the 19th century includes women. A few years ago I heard Mimi Haddad, President of Christians for Biblical Equality, speak at Fuller Seminary on “Why Women’s Leadership is a Primary Issue: Wisdom from the Early Evangelicals.” Mimi Haddad has a PhD in Church History from the University of Durham and specialized in women of the 19th century. Some of the points she made are included here.

      Currently, many young people see Christianity as oppressive and a religion that labels women as inferior. In fact, Wicca is the fastest growing religion in America. Women appreciate being part of a spiritual experience and having positions of leadership. Barna did a 20-year study on women’s relationships in church; since 1991 women’s attendance has decreased 11%.

      However, Mimi Haddad points out that it has not always been this way, and highlighted the many 19th century women who were in positions of authority and leadership and respected for it. For example, Moody Bible Institute was actually started by a woman, Emma Dryer, and many female graduates preached around the country. Ethel Ruff, of the Baptist General Conference, was ordained in 1943 and preached for Moody Bible Institute on the radio. Esther Sabel was a professor of Bible at Bethel.

      There was a note of sadness that the same respect and recognition of women in spiritual leadership is not found in evangelical circles today. However, the speaker did not explore why these women had such extraordinary opportunities in the 19th century, or why they suddenly stopped having these opportunities. One possibility is that the Civil War killed hundreds of thousands of men, and women, by default, had to assume leadership. But when the country recovered from the war, evangelicals became a white male-centered religion.

      Mimi Haddad travels to schools and goes straight to the archives to investigate what involvement women had in the history of the school. Through her research, she realized how women have exemplified each of the four main traits of evangelicalism (as described by David Bebbington in Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s).

      1. Conversionism:

      The passion to see everyone know Christ. This trait pressed the church to allow slaves and women to share the gospel. Some examples of this trait are:

      Women’s Christian Temperance Union

      Minneapolis Bible Institute: Women pastors were held in high regard in the mid-West and admitted freely to this school.

      Amanda Smith: She was a freed American slave, who lived from 1837–1915 and became well known as a compelling preacher who traveled around the world sharing the gospel.

      2. Activism:

      The Gospel in word and action. Christian women greatly influenced the abolitionist and suffrage movements. Some examples of this activism are:

      The Salvation Army had shared leadership of men and women. Catherine Booth, the wife of founder William Booth, was a powerful preacher and played a large part in the founding of the Salvation Army.

      Frances Willard, 1839-98. She was a well-known preacher; some considered her the second most popular woman of her day, second only to Queen Victoria. She was president of the women’s temperance union, and was involved in the founding of Evanston Ladies’ College.

      Pandita Ramabai 1858–1922 was a poet, a scholar, and a champion of improvement in the plight of Indian women and their emancipation.

      William Wilberforce (1759–1833) and Hannah More (1745–1833).  They worked at the Clapham Sect Community for 18 years to end slavery.

      Over and over again Mimi emphasized that these women had a passion for leading people to Christ, and that belief was not separate from their desire to make the world a better place.

      3. Biblicism:

      A High view of Scripture. Catherine Booth and Katharine Bushnell both exemplify this trait:

      Catherine Booth said: “If commentators had dealt with the Bible on other subjects as they have dealt with it on this [women having a right to teach] - taking isolated passages, separated from their explanatory connections, and insisting on a literal interpretation of the words of our version - what errors and contradictions would have been forced upon the acceptance of the Church, and what terrible results would have accrued to the world.”

      Katherine Bushnell, a medical doctor said: “It was Satan, not God, who inspired the domination of men over women.”  There is an older biography, God’s Word to Women, in which she did an “anatomy” of every verse in the Bible related to gender. She said Paul affirmed the authority and leadership of women provided their leadership was not domineering and not disruptive.

      4. Crucicentrism:

      A focus of the work of Christ on the Cross. Jessie Penn-Lewis is the best example:

      Jessie Penn-Lewis, 1861–1927 was involved in the 1904-1905 Welsh Revival, and wrote the book War on the Saints.

      Women realized that the truest meaning of the cross shapes not only our soteriology (we are made new) but also our ecclesiology: how we are reconnected with God and with each other. Christ on the cross broke down the wall between men and women. We retain our ethnic and gender uniqueness; however the cross gives us new life together. We are a new humanity, and so our gender or background do not shape our service.

      This article is from the issue: Women and International Development

      1. Blog: Women and International Development

      Sep 27, 2017

      Here are some of the names that come to my mind when I think about women who have inspired me with their impact in the field of International Development:

      Mother Theresa (recently canonized as a saint) who modeled compassion for the dying lepers on the streets of India and worked to show the dignity and value of each human life.

      Amy Carmichael, who stole and rescued children out of the Hindu temples in India where they were being used as sexual slaves and then raised these precious ones as her own children.

      Gladys Aylward, a parlormaid who desired to go to China but was rejected as unfit by organizations but went anyway. She found great opportunity in accepting a role later as a foot inspector to travel to different villages to help shift people from the recently banned practice of foot binding.

      Ellen White was a foundational thinker and voice for the Seventh Day Adventist movement, which has had far reaching impact in the world with medical missions and hospitals, education, and development projects.

      Heidi Baker working with orphans and “the least of these” in Mozambique and around the world through the organization she helped found, Iris Global.

      Laura Richards, who gave up her supported position with an organization as an international nurse in China so that she could take in abandoned babies, starting an orphanage that ran purely by faith.

      Aimee Semple McPherson who started the Foursquare Denomination and also befriended and discipled a motley crew of Crow Natives when her car broke down on a trip across the country, eventually transforming the Crow Nation into a nation of Jesus followers.

      This article is from the issue: Community and Societal Development

      Part 2, Why We Still Debate If “Culture Matters”: A Way Forward

      Sep 21, 2017

      In Part 1 of this article, explanations were proposed for why the debate continues on the role of culture in relation to development. Quantitative data from international indices of cultural variables were given on the following topics: Gender, Education, and Critical & Creative Thinking. In this second part data is given on the broad topics of Faith Pluralism/Social Hostilities, Corruption Perception, and Sense of Community.

      For improved readability of charts go to the full article at this test site.

      Figure 4: Critical and Creative Thinking - World Press Freedom Index (2017)

      Since 2002, Reporters without Borders has measured press freedom in 180 countries. The index measures the level of freedom available to journalists. The data is collective from journalists by pooling their responses to a questionnaire. The questionnaire measures pluralism, media independence, censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure supporting the press. The five countries with the highest press freedom are all in the top 12% of HDI. Four out of five countries with the lowest press freedom are in the bottom 40% of HDI.

      COUNTRY           RATING                 HDI (2016)

      Norway                 #1 (7.60)                  #1

      Sweden                 #2 (8.27)                  #14

      Finland                 #3 (8.92)                  #23

      Denmark               #4 (10.36)                #5

      Netherlands           #5 (11.28)                #7


      China                   #176 (77.66)              #90

      Syria                     #177 (81.49)            #149

      Turkmenistan       #178 (84.19)              #111

      Eritrea                   #179 (84.24)            #179

      North Korea         #180 (84.98)              N/A

      * Source: Reporters without Borders

      Figure 5: Faith Pluralism - Social Hostilities Index (2014)

      Since 2007, The Pew Research Forum has measured restrictions on religion in 198 countries and self-governing territories. Their focus is on two different dimensions: government restrictions and social hostilities. The table below only focuses on social hostilities: the violence and intimidation between people on the ground. To measure social hostilities, Pew Research uses 13 indicators on a 0 to 10 metric. The 13 indicators include religious hate crimes, communal violence, active terrorist groups, religion-related armed conflict, honour killings, religious displacement, hostility over proselytizing, etc. Unlike other indices, Pew Research does not attach exact numerical rankings to the countries because of numerous tie scores. Three out of five countries with the highest social hostilities are also in the bottom 30% of HDI. Three out of five countries with the lowest social hostilities are in the top 7% of HDI.

      COUNTRY           RATING                 HDI (2016)

      Pakistan               #1 (7.60)                  #1

      Afghanistan           #2 (7.2+)                  #169

      India                   #3 (7.2+)                  #131

      Somalia               #4 (7.2+)                  N/A

      Israel                   #5 (7.2+)                  #19


      Hong Kong             #194 (<1.4) #12

      Iceland #195 (<1.4) #8

      Belarus #196 (<1.4) #52

      Cameroon #197 (<1.4) #153

      Canada #198 (<1.4) #10

      Figure 6: Ethics - Corruption Perception Index (2016)

      Since 1995, Transparency International has measured Corruption Perception Index (CPI). It focuses on perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys. CPI defines corruption as the misuse of public power for private gain. The five least corrupt countries are also in the top 12% for HDI. Four out of five most corrupt countries are in the bottom 20% for HDI. The only exception, Libya, has massive oil fields which may help account for the high HDI despite high corruption.

      COUNTRY RATING (2016) HDI (2016)

      Denmark #1 (90) #5

      New Zealand #1 (90) #13

      Finland #3 (89) #23

      Sweden #4 (88) #14

      Switzerland #5 (86) #2

      Sudan, Libya, Yemen* #170 (14) #165, #102, #168

      Syria #173 (13) #149

      North Korea #174 (12) N/A

      South Sudan #175 (11) #181

      Somalia #176 (10) N/A

      * Tied with Sudan, Libya, and Yemen

      ** Source: Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index

      Figure 7: Sense of Community - World Giving Index (2015)

      Since 2010, The Charities Aid Foundation has measured World Giving by using data gathered by Gallup, covering 140 countries. The World Giving Index measures three aspects of giving: helping strangers, volunteering time, and philanthropy. Philanthropy is measured by asking people if they have donated money to a charity in the past month. Four out of five top countries for philanthropy also in the top 7% of HDI. Four out of five countries rated least philanthropic are in the bottom 50% of HDI.

      COUNTRY           RATING (2015)            HDI (2016)

      Myanmar               66%                          #145

      USA                     61%                          #10

      New Zealand         61%                        #13

      Canada                 60%                        #10*

      Australia                 59%                        #2


      Palestine               17%                          #114

      Lithuania               17%                          #37

      Yemen                   15%                          #168

      China                   12%                          #90

      Burundi                 11%                        #184

      * Indicates tie

      ** Source World Giving Index (WGI) published by Charities Aid Foundation using data gathered by Gallup, includes 140 countries.


      Culture is not the only factor in development, but it is a factor that, by many accounts, has suffered “comparative indifference” among development economists and policy makers (Sen, 2004, p. 37). There are good historical reasons that it has been treated with caution. But today there are good reasons that it may be handled differently. Today, unlike thirty years ago, there are more than thirty proxy measures for cultural variables. There is nothing stopping development scholars, policy advocates, and policy makers from analyzing the statistical relationship between culture and development in ways that were not possible a generation ago. It may prove that culture matters more than one thinks – or less. It may show which cultural factors matter most and which matter least, through correlation studies. (Causation is impossible to prove in this case.) It may lead to a more comprehensive approach to development policy and initiatives. Ultimately, it all aims to contribute its part in the shared goal of development: human flourishing for all cultures.


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      This article is from the issue: Community and Societal Development

      PART 1, Why We Still Debate If “Culture Matters”: A Way Forward

      Sep 18, 2017


      In 1992, economic advisor to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Robert Klitgaard, posed this question: “If culture is important and people have studied culture for a century or more, why don’t we have well-developed theories, practical guidelines, close professional links between those who study culture and those who make and manage development policy” (Huntington 2000, xvi)? In short, if “culture matters,” then why don’t development initiatives reflect it? The answer is that the “culture matters” thesis is still debated. This article examines two reasons why it is still debated and proposes a possible way forward.

      The term “culture matters” comes from the landmark book, Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress (2001), edited by Samuel Huntington and Lawrence Harrison. The book comes from a long tradition of economists, historians, and sociologists who have argued that “culture matters.”  In 1759, Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, wrote The Theory of Moral Sentiments which recognized the role of cultural values for society and laid the foundation for his future economic works such as The Wealth of Nations (1776). In 1835, the French diplomat, political scientist, and historian, Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote Democracy in America lauding America’s cultural morality and attributing America’s success to its cultural values (1851, 335). In 1904, the German sociologist and political economist, Max Weber, correlated an ascetic work value with capitalistic wealth. Building on the work of Adam Smith, de Tocqueville, and Weber, new economic sociology arose in the 1980s. This new economic sociology sought to marry the “long-alienated disciplines” of economics and sociology (Zelizer 2010, 1). More recently, Harvard historian David Landes argued that while no mono-causal explanation will suffice, yet “if we learn anything from the history of economic development, it is that culture makes all the difference” (1999, 516). So why is culture still debated? Why has the cultural dimension of development analysis suffered “comparative indifference” in the last forty years (Sen 2004, 37)?

      Reason #1: Fear of Repeating Past Mistakes

      The answer is that the “culture matters” thesis is still debated. Development theorists and practitioners are concerned that they not repeat the mistakes of history, as expressed by the shortcomings of modernization theory in the 1960s (Brinkmann 2012). Modernization theory arose as an alternative to a Marxist theory of development. It focused on technology, industrialization, and “modern” values. It was popularized by economist Clark Kerr et al. (1960), sociologist Alex Inkeles (1960), and economist Walt Rostow (1960). However, in the 1970s, dependency theory arose and exposed some of its shortcomings (Frank 1975). Three of these shortcomings, expressed as concerns, are described below.

      Concern: Culture Treated as Enemy

      The first concern is that culture is treated as the enemy. One example comes from economic historian Douglass North who is simultaneously praised for his “coherent theory that links culture and development” and criticized for his conclusions (Rao and Walton 2004, 98). North (1981, 1990) treats “traditional culture [as] a dead hand that blocks development” (Rao and Walton 2004, 100). Therefore, if traditional culture is standing in the way of development, eliminate it—or so is the concern.

      Concern: Culture Treated as Static

      The second concern is that culture is treated as static and therefore deterministic. Swedish economist and sociologist Gunnar Myrdal’s Asian Drama is critiqued for being “unduly pessimistic” (Lankester 2004, 292). Myrdal believed that Asia’s chances for economic take-off were “slim” due to cultural factors (2004, 291). Myrdal’s intellectual heirs have been similarly criticized. For example, the Indian economist and philosopher, Amartya Sen, has criticized the work of former USAID mission director Lawrence Harrison and Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington for being too static in their view of culture (2004, 20). Sen argues that history teaches the opposite: Cultures are malleable (2004, 20). Fifteen years earlier, Indian scholar Yogendra Singh argued the same thing: Cultures do change (Singh 1988), as did sociologist William Ogburn in his theory of cultural lag originally published in 1922 (Ogburn 1966). So are cultures static or do they change? British sociologist Anthony Giddens’ structuration theory says they do both (Giddens 1984). Viewed through structuration theory then, cultural mores, norms, and structures are always being changed or reinforced as society participates or deviates from them.

      Concern: Culture May Be Trampled Upon

      The third concern is that culture may be trampled upon. In their chapter in their edited volume, Culture and Public Action, Vijayendra Rao and Michael Walton highlight a positive and negative case study in this regard. The first follows a case study of development interventions in Sudan. Unfortunately, the policy interventions ignored culture and the intended results failed. The second case study took place in Kolkata, India and paid “careful attention to the culturally conditioned processes” already in place.” The result was a “highly successful project” (2004, 4). This approach to development has been called participatory development since the 1970s, to distinguish it from earlier top-down approaches to development. Historically, these concerns and mistakes have made culture and development studies controversial.

      Reason #2: Lack of Concrete, Quantitative, and Internationally Comparable Data

      The second reason “culture matters” is still debated is less obvious. For the past 250 years, the majority of studies that culture matters are based on country-specific data, or else they are qualitative or theoretical rather than quantitative. As a result, these studies have difficulty penetrating to the level of policy-making. Typically, policy-makers want large-scale, multi-country quantitative data in order to rationalize their decisions. This is understandable; they have to justify their policy to the public and citing a handful of ethnographies (no matter how scholarly) is hardly as defensible as cold statistics. Most culture and development studies do not provide this.

      However, there are a few exceptions to this trend. Dutch social psychologist Geert Hofstede (1991), American political scientist & economist, Francis Fukuyama (1995), Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel in their book, Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy (2005), and economist Matteo Marini (2010) all sought to marry culture with large-scale, international, quantitative analysis. However, these are the exception and not the norm. Max Weber (1904) was a masterful economist and sociologist, but his work, Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, remains a largely theoretical work. De Tocqueville (1851), Anstey (1929), Banfield (1958), Kapp (1962), Sherman (1997), Harrison and Kagan (2006), and Nkechinyere (2014) are first-rate studies of culture and development but are each bound to a single country. This makes the leap to policy formation more difficult to justify for policy makers. What is needed is concrete, quantitative, internationally comparable data.

      Getting international quantitative data is notoriously expensive and time-consuming. But what if development scholars were able to access existing cross-country data? Does such data exist, which would enable development scholars and policy-makers to analyze the relationship between cultural values, mindsets, and worldviews with development data? Yes, but the database has not yet been created.

      A Possible Way Forward: Create a “Culture Matters” Statistical Database

      International Indices

      If the problem is a lack of quantitative, internationally comparable data for policy makers to refer to, then the solution is to create a “culture matters” statistical database. It would show the statistical relationship between cultural variables and development indicators with statistical significance. Matteo Marini has already modeled the way. Marini uses the World Values Survey for cultural factors and compares it against economic development indicators, governance quality, natural resources, human capital, and institutions (2010, 22).

      While this is a way forward, it also comes with limitations. Turning a concept as complex (and qualitative) as culture into a number is, inevitably, reductionist. Many complexities and nuances will be lost. Also, by isolating cultural factors from the whole, it tends toward mono-causal explanations. This would be a simplistic, inaccurate reduction. Ideally, the database might have a mix of qualitative and quantitative data, but step one is to create a quantitative database.

      How will development be measured? Should it be Gross Domestic Product, Gross Happiness, or something else? It could be all of them. However, the starting point for policy advocacy should be the Human Development Indicator (HDI). It is simplest, holistic, and universally available development indicator available. The data is already available without requiring more funds or researchers to collect it.

      The more challenging question is how culture will be measured. If one is limited to data that is already collected and internationally comparable, a surprising number of options emerge. In the last twenty years, dozens of international indices have been developed to measure different aspects of culture. Each should be considered a proxy measure of culture, the closest alternative to a variable that is otherwise unobservable. The following table shows eight cultural variables, based on the work of Argentine sociologist Mariano Grondona (2000) and professor of global studies, Thom Wolf (2010), and indices available for each.

      Figure 1: Proxy Measures for Cultural Variables

      At least 35 different proxy measures exist to study cultural variables internationally. Most have been developed in the last twenty years.


        Gender Development Index (b. 1995) by UNDP
        Gender Empowerment Measure (b. 1995) by UNDP
        Gender Equality Index (b. 2004) by Social Watch
        Global Gender Gap Index (b. 2006) by World Economic Forum
        Gender Inequality Index (b. 2010) by UNDP
        Global Trends’ Gender Rights Index (b. 2014) by Ipsos
        Gender Parity Index by UNESCO
        Female Entrepreneurship Index by GEDI



        School Enrollment Percentages (b. 1990) by UNESCO
        PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) (b. 2000) by OECD
        Merit: By favors or merit?
        Global Competitiveness Report (b. 2004) by World Economic Forum
        Index of Economic Freedom’s Labor Freedom Score (b. 2005?) by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal
        Social Mobility Data by OECD



        Locus of control (b. 1966) by Julian Rotter
          Index of Economic Freedom (b. 1995) by The Heritage Foundation
          Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (b. 1999) by GEM Consortium
          Press Freedom Index (b. 2002) by Reporters without Borders
          Global Entrepreneurship Index (b. 2012) by GEDI
          Global Trends’ Tradition Index (b. 2014) by Ipsos
          OECD Self Employment Rate
          Social Progress Index’s Personal Freedom & Choice (Social Progress Imperative



          Religious Tolerance Index (b. 2002) by Gallup
          Global Peace Index (b. 2007) by Institute for Economics and Peace
          Social Hostility Index (b. 2007) by Pew Research Center
          Government Regulation Index (b. 2007) by Pew Research Center
          Social Progress Index’s Tolerance & Inclusion by Social Progress Imperative



          International Country Risk Guide (b. 1980) by The PRS Group
          Corruption Perception Index (b. 1995) by Transparency International
          Worldwide Governance Indicators (b. 1996) by World Bank
          Trust Barometer (b. 2002) by Edelman
          Global Trends’ Trust Index (b. 2014) by Ipsos



          The State of the Global Workplace (b. 2010) By Gallup
          Global Trends’ Work Fulfillment question (b. 2014) by Ipsos



          World Giving Index (b. 2010) by Gallup and Charities Aid Foundation
          Global Trends’ Inequality Index (“Success” questions) (b. 2014) by Ipsos


        International Comparisons

        Step one is to upload the raw data from available indices into the database: Gender Development Index, World Giving Index, etc. Step two is to compare that data with its corresponding level of development, measured by HDI. The purpose of this paper is not to conduct the statistical tests but to issue a call for such tests. The tests would provide a more robust foundation for the “culture matters” thesis to inform development policy and initiatives. The following figures highlight several dimensions of culture and their relationship to HDI.

        Figure 2: Women - Gender Gap Index (2016)

        Since 2006, The World Economic Forum has published the Global Gender Gap Report, which today covers 144 countries. The index measures four areas of inequality: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment, and health and survival.  Four out of five countries with the best gender equity are in the top 12% for HDI. Four out of five countries with the worst gender equity are in the bottom 25% for HDI. The only exception, Saudi Arabia, has massive oil fields which may help account for the high HDI despite low gender equity. 

        COUNTRY               RATING (2016)                HDI (2016)

          Iceland                           #1 (.874)                        #9
          Finland                           #2 (.845)                        #23
          Norway                           #3 (.842)                        #1
          Sweden                           #4 (.815)                        #14
          Rwanda                           #5 (.800)                        #159
          Chad                             #140 (.587)                      #186
          Saudi Arabia                 #141 (.583)                      #38
          Syria                             #142 (.567)                      #149
          Pakistan                         #143 (.556)                      #147
          Yemen                           #144 (.516)                      #168


        Figure 3: Education - Primary School Enrollment (2016)

        Since 1999, UNESCO Institute for Statistics has measured internationally comparable data on education, science, technology, culture, and communication. It covers more than 200 countries. Its data is used by other development agencies such as the World Bank’s development indicators, UNDP “Human Development Report”, and UNICEF’s “State of the World’s Children”. Three out of five countries with the highest school enrollment are also in the top 10% for HDI. Four out of five countries with the lowest school enrollment are in the bottom 10% for HDI.

        COUNTRY                   RATING                   HDI (2016)

          Japan                           #1 (99.94%)              #17
          Canada                       #2 (99.92%)              #10
          Iran                             #3 (99.85%)              #69
          Marshall Islands         #4 (99.71%)              N/A
          Netherlands                 #5 (99.67%)              #7
          Liberia                         #184 (40.62%)            #177
          Congo                         #185 (36.21%)            #176
          Eritrea                         #186 (32.94%)            #179
          Afghanistan                 #187 (27.96%)            #169
          Somalia                       #188 (15%)                N/A

        * Source
        UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

        Figure 4: Critical and Creative Thinking - World Press Freedom Index (2017)

        Since 2002, Reporters without Borders has measured press freedom in 180 countries. The index measures the level of freedom available to journalists. The data is collective from journalists by pooling their responses to a questionnaire. The questionnaire measures pluralism, media independence, censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure supporting the press. The five countries with the highest press freedom are all in the top 12% of HDI. Four out of five countries with the lowest press freedom are in the bottom 40% of HDI.

        COUNTRY                   RATING                   HDI (2016)

          Norway                         #1 (7.60)                  #1
          Sweden                         #2 (8.27)                  #14
          Finland                         #3 (8.92)                  #23
          Denmark                       #4 (10.36)                #5
          Netherlands                   #5 (11.28)                #7
          China                           #176 (77.66)              #90
          Syria                           #177 (81.49)              #149
          Turkmenistan             #178 (84.19)              #111
          Eritrea                         #179 (84.24)              #179
          North Korea                 #180 (84.98)              N/A

        * Source: Reporters without Borders 

        Figure 5: Faith Pluralism - Social Hostilities Index (2014)


      This article is from the issue: Community and Societal Development

      A Model for Sustainable Transformation

      Sep 18, 2017

      You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).

      Our Start

      We stumbled into cross-cultural work late in our lives. Our initial efforts were targeted at the AIDS pandemic because of Carolyn’s medical background and experience in treating people with this disease. It seemed clear to us that the Church is the logical institution to lead the way in dealing with this pandemic. We now believe the Church is the best possible agent, in fact, to do development of all sorts. But today’s Church seems far from doing this, except in a token way. We now believe that only a very different kind of Church will accomplish the radical transformation of vulnerable people that God yearns to bring about as part of his kingdom’s coming.

      I (Ron) was teaching engineering and computer science at an Ivy League university while Carolyn was working as an internal medicine physician. She and other members of our church community founded Esperanza Health Center in a Latino community that was a center of drug abuse in our city. This experience taught us important lessons we could not have learned otherwise. We came to grips with the fact that God is interested in healing whole persons—body, soul, and spirit. Such ministry is best done by a Christian community, not just by individuals even if they work together.

      Such ministry should be directed by those receiving ministry, not just imposed by outsiders. Our most important lesson was that God directs and provides for his work in ways far beyond the capacity of the weak and flawed individuals he chooses to use so that he receives the glory.

      This experience also made Carolyn, and all the other staff, experts in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, which was prevalent in that community. One day a number of years later, Carolyn came across a flyer advertising a team going to Ethiopia to teach pastors about AIDS. “What would you think about my going on this trip?” she asked Ron. “Sure, go!” I tossed back, never dreaming of the adventure this would begin for us.

      Carolyn arrived in Ethiopia a few days before the rest of the team to get first-hand information about how HIV/AIDS was affecting the country and what was being done to stop its spread. During that time she visited the head of infectious disease at Addis Ababa University Hospital. He had just been notified that the government was soon going to start providing anti-retroviral drugs and that he had been designated to head up this new initiative. None of the doctors there, including him, had any experience with these drugs. For the next two days Carolyn found herself lecturing the medical residents and staff on the use of these drugs. The professor told Carolyn, “God sent you.”

      The seminar with pastors was also a success. Two years later the Evangelical Churches Fellowship of Ethiopia (ECFE) asked Carolyn to return and give another training to AIDS workers from all their major denominations. Though the Church had been mostly on the wrong side of this epidemic, stigmatizing and rejecting people living with HIV, it was beginning to become open to change. She would have 40 hours in five days with which to equip these workers.

      A day or two into her seminar, Pastor Siyum Gebretsadek, at that time General Secretary of the Evangelical Churches Fellowship of Ethiopia, dropped by to see what she was doing. His organization, which was sponsoring the seminar, encompassed almost all Protestants in Ethiopia. “We Ethiopians are great at evangelism—better than you Americans,” he quipped to me, “but we are not doing well with discipleship.” A few days later we met with his senior staff for an animated discussion. They invited me to return to develop our community-based discipleship model in Ethiopia.

      Frequent short trips proved to be cost-effective because they allowed us to keep our Ethiopian overhead low (we didn’t need a long-term home) and we could maintain our income-producing jobs in the USA. The frequent short trips had another advantage: we could not do any projects ourselves, but were forced to work through our Ethiopian colleagues. The fact that we did not have very much money to give away proved an additional blessing in that we quickly learned which Ethiopians really wanted our friendship, experience, and mentoring and which ones only hoped for financial support.

      Tackling HIV/AIDS

      At first, we worked separately. While Ron worked with churches that wanted to improve their disciple-making, I (Carolyn) pursued the many opportunities for AIDS ministry. I helped the university hospital develop protocols for treatment. I gave many seminars on AIDS. I encouraged and mentored workers in numerous AIDS ministries. I was able to facilitate a process through which 16 denominations prepared a unified curriculum on HIV for pastors and Bible school students.

      This all reminded me that AIDS is a particularly challenging disease. It is inherently multi-faceted. It involves dysfunctional families and societies, economics, education, relationships, caregivers, legal issues, stigma, transportation, and even food availability. To make progress in one aspect of AIDS work requires simultaneously working on the other areas or forming strong partnerships with others who are doing so.

      It seemed clear to Ron and me—and to many others of that era at the International AIDS Conferences I attended—that religious bodies are in a unique position to help control the epidemic for several reasons: they are the most cohesive social structures in the country. They have wide geographical reach and a potentially large volunteer base. They could provide education and social support. They could shape worldview and behavior. Churches have a particular mandate to show compassion and heal the sick.

      Unfortunately, despite hundreds of thousands of dollars of donor money intended to help churches do this, and despite all the church leaders who attended my seminars, we saw relatively little action from churches. (The small Ethiopian Catholic Church forms a notable exception to this. Far out of proportion to their numbers, the Sisters of Charity, the order started some years ago by Mother Theresa, has done outstanding and very inspiring work with people living with HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia. The same may be said for the Catholic Relief Services of Ethiopia. We do not here attempt to comment on the HIV ministry of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which has some bright spots even though their impact on the AIDS epidemic has not been in proportion to their 47% of the population.)

      What we did see was that most churches did not see this as part of their mission and were only peripherally involved at best. Part of this was a narrow view of the gospel; only spiritual things were important—and only those doing spiritual ministry were worthy of financial support. Part was the lack of discipleship that allowed interpersonal conflicts and ethical breaches to tear apart the good efforts that churches did make. And part was the financial dependency that Western organizations had helped create which made many Ethiopians conclude that HIV/AIDS was a problem for Westerners to solve.

      In other words, though the Ethiopian Protestant Church was growing numerically, it was as a whole poorly equipped to tackle the big issues of society. It was often not even equipping its members to face their personal challenges in a godly way. We saw that our own HIV/AIDS ministry, in spite of its many activities, was failing to produce long-term results. If we were serious about expecting churches to create social change such as defeating AIDS, we needed a new model of Church— one that produced true disciples in larger numbers.

      When we looked at the Christian parachurch organizations working with HIV—including the church-owned “development” organizations, we did not see much better results. Though many had more comprehensive programs, they were forbidden by Ethiopian law to do spiritual care. They often did not work well together. We found in one building two Christian AIDS organizations that did not know about each other. Furthermore, the short-term nature of their funding often kept them from doing long-term follow-up. When one grant was finished they had to scurry for another, and shift gears to whatever activities the new grant would underwrite. Despite much talk about sustainability, CFO’s of two large NGO’s in Ethiopia told us that when grant money expired their projects inevitably stopped. We have strong doubt that the work of most NGO’s in Ethiopia has had great long-term impact. They engage in many activities. But donors are usually unwilling to pay for real data to track long-term results and are satisfied instead with a few heartwarming anecdotes that may not be representative. It began to dawn on us that something was fundamentally wrong not only with the way AIDS work was being done, but with the whole development model as it exists in Ethiopia—and perhaps many other developing countries as well.

      The Search for an Alternate Model

      By now we had friendships with leaders from a variety of Ethiopian denominations and organizations that had invited us to work with them. They shared our concerns. As we and these Ethiopian colleagues considered these facts, we realized that there would be no quick fixes. Not only would churches need significant re-thinking and re-formulation to become centers of people development, but an entirely different model of transformational discipleship would have to take root. We spent many hours discussing with these brothers whether the decentralized model for discipleship and ministry that we had seen in the USA could work in Ethiopia. How would it need to be contextualized for this country?

      The model had several fundamental elements: a theology of the kingdom of God, an emphasis on small interactive discipleship groups, a shepherding network that provides for ongoing supervision and training of everyone leading a group, and the concept that kingdom ministry is wholistic ministry.

      A Theology of the Kingdom of God

      The kingdom of God has become a kind of buzzword that many Christians talk about and claim they are working toward. But there is more to it than many of us realize. The Good News of the kingdom is neither primarily about how to get our sins forgiven in order to go to heaven, nor primarily about solving social problems as many activists advocate.  The Good News of the kingdom of God is that through Jesus, God’s reign on earth has begun in a new way. The power of the age to come has entered our present world to bring it back to what God originally intended it to be, a process which will culminate in Jesus’ return as King of Kings.

      Most specifically, it means that God is creating a new redemptive community from people of all ethnic groups through which he will establish his kingdom in the midst of this present dark world, otherwise dominated by Satan, the prince of this world. He invites us all to live in this community now under his rule and covenant. It is redemptive to its members because they are learning to obey Jesus’ commands and share their lives and abilities with one another in loving ways. Through their interaction with each other and the power of the Holy Spirit God restores them to the persons they were created to be. It is redemptive in the world because every member is mobilized to bring God’s shalom (his peace and reconciliation) to those around them.

      By the witness of this community and the quality of its life together, the presence of God’s kingdom becomes visible to the surrounding world. By its vocation, it changes the world and increasingly brings it under God’s rule and blessing. Those in it are the salt of the earth, the city on a hill that can’t be hidden, whose good works are seen by earth’s people. These good works are what causes others to glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16) and what speeds Jesus’ return (2 Peter 3:12). On the other hand because most people on earth love darkness more than light, those living in the kingdom are also despised and opposed, even by families and by many traditional churches (Matthew 10:34-36). To be in God’s kingdom, therefore, also means to follow Jesus to suffering and death (Matthew 10:37-39), although even this suffering turns out to be life giving (John 12:24-25, 2 Corinthians 1:5- 11).

      God’s kingdom in its present manifestation does not come on earth all at once. It is like a mustard seed which, though seemingly insignificant, grows into a large tree which will dominate the landscape, or yeast in a lump of dough that gradually leavens it all (Matthew 13:31- 33). This is because it is not a kingdom imposed by force. It depends on winning the hearts of free people so that they voluntarily submit to God’s rule out of love, not compulsion. This is why it takes time to advance. But from Jesus’ time till now it has been advancing steadily, despite persecution and setbacks, until now those who claim to follow Jesus make up the world’s largest religious block.

      We have found four ideas helpful in explaining how the kingdom of God works:

      1. First is the idea of reconciliation. At its center, to those who accept it, the atoning work of Jesus on the cross achieves our reconciliation with God. But reconciliation is not limited to that. It works its way out to the restoration of the other three harmonies that were broken in the Genesis fall: harmony with ourselves, with each other, and with the world. The latter includes not only harmony with nature, but also harmony with or an ability to live with and purify even the existing, deeply distorted world systems. We come into this reconciliation through repentance, faith, baptism, and the indwelling, empowering Holy Spirit.

      2. The second big idea inherent in God’s kingdom, one that is almost completely neglected in today’s individualistic Western culture and churches, is community. It is into the community of God’s people that we are baptized (I Corinthians 12:13). Churches are not intended to be audiences, but networks of relationships in which we all learn to be reconciled with people including some that are very unlike ourselves. Unfortunately, the “fellowship halls” in our buildings are usually just places for social connection over refreshments—not bad in itself. But they rarely produce New Testament koinonia, a deeper growth- producing sharing of ourselves and our life experiences. That kind of sharing can only take place in small, conversationally-sized groups. True community does not take place unless the “one anothers” of the Bible can actually be lived out and, as in 1 Corinthians 12–14, the gifts of all members can be shared. In fact, visible love between Christians is, in Jesus’ view, the one mark of discipleship (John 13:34, 35).

      3. Third, within the context of community, transformation ought to happen (Romans 12:1-2). Only a profound transformation—not merely a minor touch-up of our ethics and ways of thinking—will allow us successfully to live together as the community of God’s people and be empowered to do the work of the kingdom. Many of us underestimate the need for such transformation because we do not see how different the culture of the kingdom of God is from the cultures we have grown up in—including the cultures in many evangelical churches. Though all cultures have elements of richness which can contribute to the expression of the kingdom of God, every earthly culture also has many areas in which God’s rule requires a very different way of thinking and relating—which most of us learn slowly and often painfully. It involves a deep inner breaking of our in-born selfishness that is often hidden from us under a cloak of respectability. Such transformation does not happen primarily through theological study or any kind of academic teaching alone—not that these aren’t useful. Such training informs but does not necessarily change our habits or character. This transformation is spiritual formation that proceeds best—by far—through personal interaction with peers and qualified mentors, those that have gone before us and been deeply transformed themselves.

      4. The final dynamic in this summary of the kingdom of God is deployment or finding God’s particular calling for us. We are citizen-soldiers in God’s kingdom, not merely spectators. His kingdom is in a titanic battle with Satan’s, which resists it fiercely. Everyone has a unique contribution to make, and everyone needs to be mobilized. There is no room for slackers or nominal combatants. We are on the front lines and that has great implications for all of our lives. It is not a question of whether we should become involved, but where.

      If traditional evangelicals major on the first part of the first aspect—reconciliation with God—social activists often major on this last step. They may therefore wind up deploying individualistic, un-transformed people. They may not see the importance both for them and for the people they are helping of participating in a visible community of God’s people. They may not see their own need for deep inner transformation—nor the same need in those they are helping. Without these, their development activities become essentially secular. In fact, rightly done, the spiritual part of development is the part that changes worldviews and makes progress permanent. Without it, developmental activities are limited in their effectiveness. Furthermore, without roots in a community of faith, such activities tend to be done by small numbers of dedicated but inadequately supported people, resulting in burnout, or by paid professionals, resulting in dependency and results that evaporate when funding is withdrawn.

      One further word: the gospel of the kingdom is not a triumphalistic gospel. Though Jesus has really begun to reign, powers exist that do not yet acknowledge his reign, and their battle against his rule is fierce. It will grow fiercer as the day of his return grows closer. To belong to Jesus is to participate in this battle. But finally he will indeed return, defeat those who oppose him, and establish his victorious kingdom forever.

      Transformational Small Groups

      Built on this theology, the most important structural element of our model is a network of small groups that are interactive transformational kingdom communities, not just small church services or even merely Bible studies. We try to keep these groups no larger than 12 people so that everyone can participate in the conversation. Though we encourage regular larger meetings for teaching (Acts 2: 42), we try to get church leaders to view the weekly small group meetings as the most important events on their church calendar.
      These groups have five main activities:

      1. Koinonia fellowship as the groups become safe places for sharing and real community is cultivated.
      2. Inductive Bible studies (not sermons or long teachings)— teaching people to think for themselves about what the Bible says.
      3. Prayer, both listening prayer as well as intercession.
      4. Mission, with every small group finding ways to reach out to people in need both spiritually and practically.
      5. Accountability for personal growth and ministry.

      Shepherding Networks

      Not all small groups are transformational, or even healthy. To help them become so we rely on a network of supervisory relationships such as Jethro recommended to his son-in-law Moses early in Moses’ career as a nation-builder (Exodus 18). Jethro recommended that the entire nation be broken down in to units of 10, with each leader of a small group himself being accountable to a fellow leader. We have adopted this model. Each leader at each level receives training, oversight, and accountability for both his personal life and his ministry from some other leader who has more experience and has demonstrated success as a pastor-coach. In turn, these leaders are themselves supervised by more experienced leaders. No one leads alone. No one leads who is not being continually encouraged and further trained. And no one is responsible to provide this kind of intense pastoring for more than 10 people. We have seen this kind of structure produce healthy groups on a large scale, significantly transforming both the individuals in the groups and their communities.

      To keep everyone in a group of 12 or less people when a church is growing requires generating at least 1 new leader for every 11 people who join the church—a major challenge. However, ongoing training and mentoring makes it possible to mobilize new leaders quickly. They don’t need to know too much to get started if they are constantly coached. Furthermore, monitoring and evaluation can take place throughout the shepherding network. Problems can be detected early and gifted people who can be developed can be discovered.

      The growth of such networks is based on the concept of emerging leadership. Leaders in such a structure do not advance by election or even by academic credentials alone. They advance through proven effectiveness. We don’t imply that leaders who have the gifts of facilitating discipleship growth are the only gifted people in the body. But the most effective disciple-makers are the ones that should be chosen to lead what is essentially a disciple-making network.

      Wholistic Ministry

      From the very beginning of any outreach we and our colleagues teach that salvation involves not just restoration of harmony with God, which is fundamental, but restoration of all four harmonies—with God, with ourselves, with others, and with the world. As a friend said to us, “God doesn’t save souls, he saves people!” We seek to make sure that this view of salvation gets incorporated early into the DNA of any group we work with extensively.

      When people grasp this early in their discipleship process they often create their own imaginative wholistic ministries, often with no further specific encouragement.
      We always begin with basic discipleship as a foundation. We do not introduce more organized economic development until after it has become normative for people to be in a discipleship group that is part of a well-functioning shepherding network. If these are not solidly established first, then wholistic community development tends to replace this kind of community life and discipleship, rather than build on it. People can only assimilate things at their own pace. We try to do things in the right order, and not teach more than can be integrated into people’s lives and practices without compromising what went before.

      What Our Implementation of This Model Looks Like

      Our role in Ethiopia has mainly been to work with and mentor the leaders that God has brought into relationship with us over the years. We have established close relationships with ten such men, all but one of whom speaks English. Each is a man of high integrity and significant giftedness who works in a different organization or movement, often supervising large numbers of churches. Each sought us out in one way or another, mostly early in our Ethiopian adventure, because we had done something in the USA that resonated with them and seemed relevant to their own ministries. They liked our teaching but loved our stories, both those about our successes and those about our failures. As we have served their ministry goals, we have become friends.

      These men are giving us the opportunity to do something transformational, not just incremental. Our experience with them argues that mission agencies might do well to send seasoned Christian leaders abroad, as well as young people. It also argues for focus on relationships, not just programs or ministry. Together with these colleagues, we have seen God work in the following areas.


      The evangelical Church, forced underground by the Communist regime that ruled Ethiopia for 17 years, grew rapidly during that period and continued growing when that regime fell in 1991. In their great joy at being able to worship publicly, most denominations immediately dropped the underground house churches through which persecuted believers had found fellowship, strength, and growth. However, though the large celebration services were exciting, they began to professionalize ministry. Most people who attended such services were essentially passive spectators. Furthermore, as these services were more impersonal, increasing numbers of people became less tied to a particular church through relationships and have felt free to migrate to whatever church is having the most exciting meetings. This trend has accelerated even during the past year, during which many prosperity-gospel churches have sprung up. Without relationships and without accountability for obeying what was preached, more and more people have begun to get their inspiration for the week without making any life-style changes. Even over the time we have been coming to Ethiopia, church leaders have told us that spiritual fervor among Protestants has been sliding badly and shallow Christianity has been expanding. They are very concerned about this. (It is not so different from what happened in the fourth century when Constantine made Christianity legal and started building cathedrals.)

      In this context, small and mid-sized churches or groups from perhaps a half-dozen Protestant denominations have asked for our help in “becoming renewed” through small groups. This work has been moderately successful. We have seen that long-term mentoring is important to this because discipleship ministries typically go through various stages, in their development, each with its own opportunities and risks.

      After several abortive beginnings, we have also seen four megachurches from three denominations make major changes in their structure in order to implement this model. In one, a small group consisting of 9 top-level pastors gave birth to 9 small groups, each with 7 members, who in turn began to lead 63 small groups of 7 members, many of whom now lead one of over 250 small groups in that church and another. The church no longer will marry anyone or provide recommendations to anyone who does not participate in a small group.

      In a second church, the entire congregation is now divided geographically into small groups led by a network of shepherds who are providing personal pastoral care to those immediately beneath them. A third large church is gradually converting their traditional small groups (with meetings like miniature church services) into interactive times in which each person has the opportunity to share his or her ideas, joys, and problems and both give and receive ministry. A fourth church, prepared over years by the relationship one of our colleagues had cultivated with the senior pastor, is now making rapid strides to train enough small group leaders so that each member of the entire 15000member congregation can be in a small group. In each case, the senior pastor has been vocally and visibly leading this change, a factor that seems crucial. The importance of these transitions in these churches is not only in the numbers of people that now have a better chance of being more thoroughly discipled, but that these churches are widely known and promise to be models for others.

      People Movements

      An even greater joy has been to work with some “people movements,” groups in which many people choose to become followers of Jesus within a short period. We are now working with three such movements, all in areas nominally Orthodox or Protestant but still under the influence of animism (traditional African religion). These movements were already growing when we met them, largely due to local leaders whose passion, persevering prayer, and costly labor deserve our honor. However, unlike most church planters, early on they structured their movements around small groups with shepherding networks. One association of 7 churches 8 years ago now has 65 churches and 695 small groups containing 15005 members. Another group, started a decade ago by a new convert barely out of his teens, now has 23 churches, around 200 small groups, and above 5000 members. A third group of 40 churches is just beginning on this path with great urgency, aware that once new converts get used to just listening passively to preaching, it will be hard to wean them from that into a more demanding but more fruitful kind of discipleship. We have been invited to work with these movements to help them improve the effectiveness of their groups and to train them to raise up more leaders.

      What is significant about these movements are the enormous gains in education and social progress which the small groups are achieving, without outside subsidy or a lot of outside input. The movement cited above that is a decade old consists of very poor farmers. Now all of their children are now in school (and three have Master’s degrees), all their children are wearing shoes, women are being treated with respect, female circumcision and alcoholism have been eliminated, farming methods have improved, and a number of people are saving and starting small businesses from their own savings. Their pagan neighbors even call upon them to mediate conflicts within their villages. This movement is by no means problem-free, but it demonstrates the transformational power of the gospel when ordinary people are helped to discuss God’s Word among themselves. Our challenge in all of these movements is to raise up enough local mentors to train and oversee leaders for the large number of new small groups that are forming.

      The Ethiopian Catholic Church

      Fifteen or more years ago, Getachew Yosef, a Catholic high school student, came into a vibrant relationship with Jesus through a Bible study with some Protestants. To their disappointment, he refused to leave the Catholic Church, believing that God had spoken to him to “stay in his house.” Over time he became a catechist, responsible for training priests and other workers. Eventually there were 40 priests throughout southern Ethiopia joyfully bringing their parishioners into living faith. When the official hierarchy heard what had happened, they managed several times to get him jailed.

      But they couldn’t stop the little group from telling what they were experiencing. About 7 years ago Pastor Getachew approached a major Protestant ministry in his area. “We are Catholics who love Jesus, but we don’t know the Bible well. Can you help us?” The leader of that ministry referred him to one of our colleagues, who scheduled us to meet with him and his team of 40 leaders. Not quite sure what we had gotten involved in, we asked them to tell us their stories. Only then did it dawn on us why God had selected us, out of all the Protestants in Ethiopia, to meet with them. Forty years previously through some unusual circumstances, we had become involved in the Catholic Pentecostal movement in the USA. When one small group within that movement lost their meeting place, the priests, nuns, and dedicated lay Catholics that were part of it moved into our living room. When I (Ron) told these brothers and sisters our story, they practically gasped. “You understand! You know what we are going through! Are we Catholics? Are we Protestants? What does God want us to do?”

      We encouraged them to remain culturally Catholic as much as possible, and to maintain relationships with their Catholic family members and friends. “It is not a sin to make the sign of the cross when you are in church,” I told them, a bit tongue in cheek. “If you become Protestant, you will lose many opportunities to share Good News with other Catholics. God has raised you up to bring light to your families and friends in that Church.” They were elated. We also taught them about small groups as a means of discipling the many people who were coming to them.

      A few months later we met with them again. “We have discovered something!” they told us. “We thought small groups were for helping others. But we have found through our small groups that we are sinners too! We also are learning to repent and change!” It did not surprise us to hear that the small groups springing up throughout their movement were transforming the lives of many as they cared for and taught one another, prayed for the sick among them, visited one another, and shared what they had. Many people were becoming evangelists. In one of our meetings I asked them what they considered their biggest challenges. They replied that it was the influx of Protestants who were leaving their dead churches to participate in their groups. However, they have been acting with great integrity about this, discouraging newcomers from leaving their previous churches and informing their pastors when they nevertheless choose to join them.

      This movement now consists of 31 prayer houses (called such to minimize competition from official Catholic churches) and about 123 small groups. Though their relationship with the official Catholic Church has improved to the point that Pastor Getachew got married in the same parish church whose leaders had previously jailed him, the renewed group members still experience pressure from the official Church to leave this movement. They are not eligible for jobs within the Catholic establishment, nor for subsidy of a variety of sorts funded by the Vatican.20 Given their poverty, this has been a serious problem.

      After a great deal of discussion, Pastor Getachew made the courageous decision to commit the movement to becoming self-sustaining—if we would help them achieve that. We are currently in an extended process of strengthening their shepherding structure, helping them teach about tithing, and helping them collect the financial and other data that will help them create policies that will lead to sustainability As they complete these stages, we will also help them with economic development as we are able through self-help savings groups and other means.

      The Ethiopian Orthodox Church

      The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which claims as members 47% of the population of Ethiopia, is the second largest Orthodox Church in the world, smaller only than the Russian Orthodox Church. Dating from the third century, it has helped Ethiopia maintain Christian values for over 1700 years and resist the tide of Islam which has swept over much of northern Africa. Unfortunately, many monks and priests are poorly educated (and equally poorly paid), and legends, myths, and honor to saints have often overshadowed the good news of Jesus. This has made much of the Church vulnerable to syncretism or mixing of Christianity and paganism. (In some parts of Ethiopia priests who teach in churches on Sunday serve as witchdoctors on Wednesdays.) Because much of the growth of Protestantism over the last couple of generations has been at the expense of the Orthodox Church, relationships between these two groups have often been tense, even resulting in violence at times. However, we have seen God at work in this Church on several levels.

      Thanks to the work of the Ethiopian Bible Society, a joint Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant venture, the official Orthodox Church has recently taken a cautiously positive stance toward Protestants and Bible study. This official Orthodox stance, unfortunately, is not implemented uniformly throughout the country, and persecution of those who advocate Bible study still occurs. We know hundreds of people in many areas of Ethiopia who have felt forced out of the Orthodox Church because of what they have discovered on their own through such Bible study. In some cases they have sought to retain the cultural aspects of Orthodox worship. In other cases they have formed themselves into new church movements and have associated themselves with a Protestant denomination. . Several such movements that are rapidly growing have asked for our help in discipling their members and have responded eagerly to our trainings about small groups and shepherding networks as methods for teaching good citizenship in the kingdom of God.
      Others have chosen to stay within the Church, despite opposition, in order to try to help seekers there come into a living relationship with Jesus. This can be delicate work, depending on the local situation. In addition, some of these newly ignited believers tend to start by attacking the things they believe are wrong with the Church, rather than building bridges with things held in common. One brother we work with has trained over 600 Orthodox clergy in how to develop their own personal relationship with Jesus and help others do the same. We are trying to help him develop networks of such clergymen within the Church who can encourage and strengthen each other, who can utilize the small group structures already present in the Church for Bible study, and who can allow people to discover what the Bible says for themselves without their having to preach against the teachings of the Church. This has been slow and painstaking work both for him and us, but we are encouraged by some recent progress.


      Few pure animists remain in Ethiopia. Those who do are rapidly being reached with the gospel, most often by indigenous missionaries. Anyone able to cast out demons and heal sick people can plant churches quickly among them. What happens to their converts thereafter, however, is an open question. Often the evangelists are not as well trained in disciple-making as in initial church planting, and many such churches do not survive—or else produce little lifestyle change in their members. When such missionaries are supported by agencies who promise short-term funding, say for only three years, with no plan for the future after that, such churches are often not able to become spiritually mature. We have seen entire movements of rapidly planted churches slide back into their previous belief system when there is inadequate follow-up.

      One brother we work with, however, has taught small group discipleship to a large movement of newly converted animists. The 40 indigenous missionaries whom he has overseen (funded by another American agency) has within the past three years started 81 churches, with over 1000 small discipleship groups overseen by 235 coaches. The lifestyle changes among them have been substantial already.


      In our many extended times in Ethiopia we have seen God do amazing things. We have seen that the Church can become an important instrument of transformation not only of individuals but of entire communities, affecting major social issues. We have also seen that many evangelical churches are not doing this effectively—and in fact are losing ground numerically and spiritually. But we have begun to see a model of church life rooted in the theology of the kingdom of God— small groups, shepherding networks that oversee all leaders, and wholistic ministry—beginning to be implemented in several demographic segments in Ethiopia, with promising results. It has given us hope for the Church in Ethiopia. Perhaps this model could also help the Church elsewhere become more of an agent of transformation as well.


      Cardone, Michael. 2009. Business with a Soul: Creating a Business Rich in
      Faith and Values
      . Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

      Klaus, Carolyn. 2008. Prescription for Hope. Bristol, IN: Restoration Press.

      Lupton, Bob. 2015. Charity Detox. New York: Harper Collins.

      This article is from the issue: Cross-Cultural Communication

      2b. Additional Responses to Jim Harries’ Article

      Aug 28, 2017

      Allen Yeh, Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies, Biola University:
      Let me start with this: I recently presented the plenary talk at the EMS Southeast conference at Columbia International University, about what language to use when self-theologizing in an East Asian context. I pointed to the Africa Bible Commentary and the South Asia Bible Commentary as examples, and wondered if we could write an East Asia Bible Commentary. One of the things I wrote is: One major problem is language. Now that English is the lingua franca of the world, it is self-perpetuating (i.e. the “rich” continue to get richer). Because Africa and South Asia have had a large history of being colonized, ironically English ended up being the commercial language that unifies all their different countries. This also made their Bible commentaries easily readable and accessible to the world. (This is not without biblical precedent—the reason the New Testament was written in Koine Greek rather than the Jewish holy language of Hebrew is because it was the commercial language of the day, and meant to spread to as many people as possible.)

      Not so with East Asia: English does not dominate the region as it does Africa or South Asia. At Cape Town 2010, there were almost no mainland Chinese or Korean speakers on the platform which initially seemed baffling. But it probably was the language issue: all the East Asian speakers on the platform were from English-speaking Asian regions like Hong Kong and Singapore and Malaysia. The same was true of the African speakers: almost all were from Anglophone, rather than Francophone, countries in Africa. Universities are the same way. All the top-20 ranking universities worldwide according to the three major ranking systems (QS Shanghai Jiao Tong, The Times, U.S. News & World Report) are English-speaking. No matter how strong Beijing University, or Seoul University, or Tokyo University, become in teaching or research, they will not attract non-Asian-language speakers unless they can somehow learn Chinese or Korean or Japanese, all of which are quite challenging. Whereas, plenty of East Asians will enroll in English-speaking universities in the West. So, ironically, the skill of non-Westerners to be multilingual means that they always end up adapting to the West and the West never has to adapt to them because they just assume everyone will just learn English.

      So basically, we are trying to come up with what is the modern-day equivalent to Koine Greek back in the first century—a simple language that is easy enough for widespread use that also can convey non-Western thought. I do think that Chinese has the ability to convey the “excluded middle” in a way that English does not. However, though Chinese is the most dominant mother tongue on earth (in terms of absolute number of people), it is not the most widespread—nor do I ever think it will be—because it is just too hard to learn for non-native speakers, and it is the only non-alphabet system of writing still extant today (which contributes to its difficulty, because it is not phonetic, plus it is tonal when spoken). I think, in order for a language to be universally acceptable by Majority World cultures, it has to have something beyond familiar thought patterns in order to be used universally. The mechanics have to be familiar to people. English, in contrast, is the most dominant secondary (or tertiary) language on earth because it has a simple system of writing and influences from many different cultures (Greek, Romance, Germanic). So here’s my thought: maybe Arabic (aside from its Islamic connotations) would be easier as a lingua franca today, because it already is fairly widespread (northern Africa to the Middle East to South Asia to Southeast Asia) and though it is not the first-most widely spoken tongue today, it is the fourth (after Chinese, English, and Spanish). But of course the Islamic ‘baggage’ that comes with it makes it very difficult for many people to accept. Or maybe something like Swahili which is a hybrid language—part Arabic, part indigenous African languages, and has been a commercial trade language for a long time, just like Koine Greek was.

      However, if there is an intent to get rid of colonial language, that is a much more difficult problem. I think of how theologian Robert McAfee Brown famously gave his speech at the 1975 World Council of Churches general assembly in Spanish (rather than English) in order to prove a point: he did not want to be hegemonic. However, I thought with irony, Spanish is just as much a colonial language as English. If he truly wanted to use the language of the people he would’ve spoken in some indigenous tongue like Mayan (but even the Maya subjugated their neighbors, so… where does it end?). I think it’s inevitable that any lingua franca will have colonial implications, because that which dominates is that which spreads, almost by definition.

      Anonymous Respondant:
      1. First, if God wanted us all to use the same categories in order to facilitate understanding, He would not have scrambled the languages at the tower of Babel.
      2. The author makes some bold statements without considering that all Western societies do not just focus on the material. There is the excluded middle Hiebert spoke about, but most in western societies recognize the supernatural as well as the natural world.
      3. In the first paragraph he seems to be saying that Western societies do not recognize the relational; that in Western societies it is business before relationships, while in Africa and Latin America it is relationships before business. But all societies recognize the importance of relationships.
      4. The author makes several assertions that seem to be “straw men” to shoot down. For example, he states, “If cause and effect mechanisms explain everything, some Western people ask themselves, then what is the need for God, fear of witchcraft, and spirits?” But one is asserting that cause and effect mechanisms explain everything. The world is more complex than this. In secular Western scientific discourse, scientists seek how far they can go without postulating the supernatural, but I hear that most astrophysicists and many others believe in the supernatural.


      This article is from the issue: Cross-Cultural Communication

      2a. A Response to Jim Harries Regarding Western Hegemony in Africa

      Aug 18, 2017

      Paraphrased Summary

      If I understand it correctly, the author expounds that the Western worldview tends to regard the material world as the only world, nothing else. The concept of a spiritual world is not in their mind; neither is it their concern. It seems to suggest the way to progress is to be able to master the material world.

      Meanwhile, the African worldview sees life as a complex dynamic of personalities, involvement of the invisible world with spiritual and ancestor’s interventions in life, and personal pursuit of the invisible world. The author claims that in the African worldview, there are two foundational forces that are responsible for the disruption of life’s sanctity: envy and shame. It seems to me, therefore, the author is saying that in the African worldview, envy and shame are not only human emotions, but are felt as spiritual forces residing in the human spirit.

      In summary, we see two categories of peoples in the world: materially oriented people (Westerners) and relationally oriented people (Africans). And it seems that the author sees these worldviews as exclusive of each other. It is impossible for them to share any commonality.

      What happens when the two worlds meet? It seems to me that the author is saying that peoples in both worlds want to prosper. Since their orientations of worldview are different, their priorities for how to achieve prosperity vary from each other as well. Each one’s priority relates to their worldview orientation.

      In the discussion of re-examining intercultural intervention, it seems that the author uses the reality of the globalization of western education to emphasize the same theme—the two worlds are simply different. They cannot communicate with each other simply, especially if we try to use English as a media for conceptualization among the relationally oriented people.

      In the discussion of Christian communication, the author points out that the spiritual dimension in today’s Western education has diminished. Christ and the Kingdom of God are concealed. The same phenomenon happens in international development. The author contends that the existence of multiple languages and multiple cultures is the wisdom and design of God as seen in Genesis 11.

      In conclusion, the author points out that European languages should not be imposed on non-English speaking peoples, as it is today in many African countries. Such use of European languages assumes non-Western people have same worldview as the Western materialistic one. It leads to the consequence of negligence of the “African wisdom” in the relationally oriented people, particularly to the two disruptive forces in life, shame and envy. It also leaves out “God’s unique role as cross-cultural arbiter between societies.”

      Comments and Inquiries

      I appreciate the enthusiasm of the author in pointing out that the Western hegemony neglects the relational and spiritual dimensions of life. However, I may not agree totally that Western cultures per se do not understand the importance of human relationships and preserving face and avoidance of shame.

      Since the title of the article is called, “Resolving Western Hegemony in Africa: Distinguishing the Material from the Spiritual/ Relational,” I would like to learn more about what the author would regard as the resolution to such a problem. Is “distinguishing the material from the spiritual/ relational” the resolution? Instead of assuming that it is impossible for the materially oriented peoples to be ignorant and unteachable regarding other worldviews, could there be a way to train Westerners to be bi-cultural and to achieve cultural sensitivity? Might we even promote the wisdom of a relational worldview to materially-oriented people? And should the relationally-oriented people be encouraged do the same—be willing to discern what wisdom they should derive from their counterpart? Instead of saying let us leave each other alone, can we take on the role to promote humility so that we can learn from each other and make a wise integration? 
      Moreover, it is not clear to me what role the author is taking on as he writes this article. Is he writing it from the perspective of an intercultural communicator, as an anthropologist? Is he writing it from the perspective as an international educator? Or is he writing as a missionary whose goal is to spread the kingdom of God? I would recommend cultural anthropologists continue to expand their efforts to be involved in systematic education in societies globally (for example: exposing children to other cultures) and in international development (for example: encouragement to develop communities to discern the wisdoms and downfalls of various cultures). And who would be a better person to even play the role of a mediator in integrating both the two worldviews and apply such integration than a spokesperson for the kingdom of God?

      I would like to learn more what the author regards as “God’s unique role as cross-cultural arbiter between societies,” as he mentions in the concluding sentence of this article.

      I agree with the author we must learn from history of Western hegemony in Africa that it obstructs and even damages, the flourishing of the wisdom of indigenous relationally and spiritually oriented cultures. No one should perceive one’s culture as the sole valuable worldview. And cultures are ingrained in languages. Global diversity of cultures should be guarded. There are valuable perspectives in life (what we call worldview) that are unique in various cultures.

      I find that as a Chinese, who grew up with Chinese as my mother tongue but yet having been educated much in English, I am blessed to be given a chance to integrate a biblical worldview that is composed of both collectivistic and individualistic cultures. Having received a master’s degree in my own Chinese setting (with many American professors), then another master’s degree and a Ph.D. from two seminaries in the States, and having served in three countries in Asia and currently serving in the US, has been a very enriching experience for me. I would contend that isolation of cultures is not the way to develop the human race. Humility is needed by the people of differently oriented cultures along with discernment of what we can learn from each other’s worldviews.

      Figuratively speaking, we do not want to be a frog at the bottom of a well, seeing one tiny piece of sky. Nor, should we make others to do the same, no matter which piece of sky it is in perspective. Ultimately, the kingdom of God would compose of various peoples who can communicate well with each other in heaven! 

      This article is from the issue: Social Justice

      1. Popular Approaches to Anti-Racism Are Influenced by Secularism and Are Self-Defeating

      Aug 18, 2017


      Much evil has been perpetrated in the name of racism. It has brought about discrimination, marginalization, hatred, and other outcomes of essentialist thinking.
      Public figures, including scholars, usually support contemporary Western and globalized policies that intend to outlaw racism. Racism being an evil does not however mean that today’s strategies for countering it should necessarily simply be accepted as “good-by-default.” This article points to what may be unhelpful or even dangerous flaws in today’s anti-racist policies. Pragmatically, a central concern of this article is to point out that measures intended to counter racism are preventing sustainable development in Africa. More generally, the prevalence of the condemnation of forms of racism can very effectively conceal the work of God, while promoting Western secularism.

      A History of Racism

      My major purpose for including this brief history is to make it clear that racism has a history. There was a time when racism, as it is known today, did not exist. A key reason for its absence was the power of “religion.” Oludamini Ogunnaike, assistant professor of Religious Studies at the College of William and Mary, argues that “the decline of religion
      in the West was a necessary condition for the rise of modern conceptions of race and racism” (Ogunnaike 2016, 785). From later antiquity down to the close of the eighteenth century, most philosophers and men of science and, indeed, most educated men, accepted without question a traditional view of the plan and structure of the world. The concept of “the Great Chain of Being” extends from God at the top, to the humblest beings and things way down at the bottom (Lovejoy 1950). This understanding became “normal” to Western Christian culture well into the early modern period (Ogunnaike 2016, 787). Schirrmacher correctly identifies, in agreement with Ogunnaike, that it was Christian teaching that historically deferred the onset of racism in Europe” (Schirrmacher 2013, 50) since the Church, for many centuries, took all races as fellow human beings and therefore of the same value before God.

      By modern times, however, so-called rationality had undermined a lot of Christian thinking. Secular people began to perceive of God as an invention of the human mind. God’s role at the top of the Chain of Being was displaced. Western man took his place. A hierarchy that had been of God, angels, and people, became instead one of Western man at the pinnacle, with other races of men subordinate to him (Ogunnaike 2016, 791). With the rise of humanism, the concepts of race and racism became deeply ingrained in Western thought (Young 1995, 28). The racist claim is to a “natural or God-given immutable system of domination [that] serves to justify discrimination, exclusion, oppression, persecution, or annihilation of people groups” (Schirrmacher 2013, 12).

      But after the horrors of institutionalized slavery in the US, Nazism in Europe, and apartheid in South Africa, by the twenty-first century, we find global secular reactions against racism to be very strong. Thomas Schirrmacher, professor of the sociology of religion at the State University of the West in Romania, articulates the classic case for “anti-racism.” The core of the evil of racism that Schirrmacher is countering is the belief that “what is different in the other person is based on the individual’s biological ancestry and is, therefore, unalterable” (Schirrmacher 2013, 12).

      Counters to Racism Carry Thinly Veiled Secular Assumptions Regarding Normalcy.

      To counter such attitudes, Schirrmacher asks us to “treat people who look and live differently with the same normalcy” (Schirrmacher 2013, 12). That statement, perhaps, should make us think. What normalcy, exactly, should we treat people with? Is there just one global normalcy, and does that happen to be the one followed by contemporary Western people? Are there not alternative normalcies? Who decides whose normalcy is to be the hegemonic one? (Flikschuh, 2014, 1). If racism is based on the belief that what is different in the other person is based on other’s unalterable biological ancestry, then surely attempts to counter racism should start with the conviction that differences can be altered. Surprisingly though, perhaps, I will show in this article that contemporary secular society does not seek to address cultural differences so as to alter them, but chooses instead to ignore them. Efforts at addressing differences that appear to be cultural, easily result in criticism that what is being addressed, typically because it is associated with people of a particular skin color, is biological and therefore unalterable. Instead of addressing what is wrong (in Judeo-Christian religious beliefs, at least) in the character and behavior of sub-sets of a dis-favored group (that is driving some people to disassociate with them), a secular anti-racist approach ignores problematic matters of behavior and thinking that lie within the culture of the people group in question. More on the reasons for such below.

      Anti-Racism International

      By the time the West made an apparent turn against the racism it had previously implicitly believed, the world had changed. Technological changes particularly opened up options of travel and communication, leading to the kinds of globalization and diaspora communities that we have in the early 21st Century. Whereas in the past migrants typically had little choice but to adjust to the ways of life of their hosts, globalization enables minorities to maintain links with home and native ways of life even when in a foreign country. As globalization seems to be increasing at an accelerating rate, an important impact has been to broadcast American ways of life around the world. This includes the English language, which is in many people’s eyes fast becoming the global language. It also includes the dissemination of contemporary American policies designed to counter racism. (America’s role in undermining apartheid was apparently heavily encouraged by African-American participation (Klotz 1995, 462).

      American policies endeavor to treat non-Western people in a normalized way. That is, they condemn considering or assuming that people’s origins, genetics, or color can render them different from a particular norm. In the USA that means, in practice, treating everyone as if they are culturally a White American. The same White American who is (as we have seen above) at the top of the chain of being—something that I will come back to below.

      One does not have to look far to find evidence of internationalized anti-racism. Examination of the United Nation’s position on race should make this very clear as these excerpts show (

      • “The differences between the achievements of the different peoples are entirely attributable to geographical, historical, political, economic, social and cultural factors,” states the ‘Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice’ of the UN

    11. (The UN apparently does not concede that “religion” might also explain differences in people’s levels of “achievement.”)
    12. • “Racial prejudice, historically linked with inequalities in power, reinforced by economic and social differences between individuals and groups, and still seeking today to justify such inequalities, is totally without justification.”

    13. (If only such were being implemented. My experience of living in Africa tells me that racial prejudice is enormous and very deeply ingrained. White people are in many circles treated very differently from Black people. In my estimation, such racism is created by international efforts, promoting the “racial norm” as being a White Westerner. The latter person, who actually fits what should be the norm, the white man, is exalted. It is he who, in a sense, everyone aspires to be.)
    14. • “Any restriction on the complete self-fulfillment of human beings and free communication between them which is based on racial or ethnic considerations is contrary to the principle of equality in dignity and rights; it cannot be admitted.”

    15. (My experience in many African countries is that it is very difficult to acquire the knowledge of African languages one might need to enable “free communication.” Kenya encourages its citizens to use English for engagement with foreigners, but Swahili for communication between Kenyans (Bambgose 1991, 113). I am not aware of any insistence from the UN that foreign workers in Kenya use a Kenyan language.)
    16. • A state should “combat prejudices that lead to racial discrimination, and eliminate the barriers between races, through the use of education and information.”

    17. (Here I would like to ask, education in which language? It seems in English. Education on what basis? It seems secular.)

    18. • States are to be “convinced that any doctrine of superiority based on racial differentiation is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust, and dangerous, and that there is no justification for racial discrimination, in theory or in practice, anywhere.”

    19. (There seems to be no thought here on who is to provide the standard against which one should not discriminate? I suspect because it is implicit: it is the White Westerner. In other words, there is no justification for treating anyone as if they are not a Westerner.)
    20. Following all that rhetoric, we do however have a provision known as “special measures” that allows for special protection or advancement of disadvantaged groups or individuals as necessary to ensure such groups enjoy equal opportunities, rights, and freedoms and this is not to be considered discrimination against the more privileged group.

      The norm taken by the UN policy on racism is not clearly articulated. This is presumably because it is pre-supposed. The supposed anti-racist norm is non-religious, then somewhat left blank. Given the global dominance of English, English-speaking countries would certainly interpret the norm for treating others to be the norm that applies to them in their context of Anglo Saxon White Western secularism. The white Westerner is the global norm.

      Globalized Anti-racism Policies as Disenfranchisement

      This norm may seem to be very natural in the USA, where a predominantly white Anglo-saxon people are looking at a context in which they are welcoming “others” from around the world into their midst. What if, however, as is happening in today’s globalizing world, the USA’s anti-racist policies become globalized? Increasingly around the world, the “global norm” is becoming the standard of behavior expected of a typical White American. To assume that other people are other-than-that-norm, is to risk being accused of being racist.

      There are many examples of “other-than-that-norm” that are easily taken by the West as negative. For example, it should ring warning bells that one will likely be accused of being racist if one claims that people “of color” are not familiar with and have not appropriated the West’s contemporary values. Surely it should, on the contrary, be expected that people “of color” who did not share in the West’s history might not have appropriated its values? Implicit here is an ahistorical view of human society that contemporary values are genetic, and not historical, in origin. Other examples of group differences that, if discussed result in accusations of racism include:
      • these people can’t handle democracy
      • they believe that the sun goes around the earth and not the earth around the sun
      • they practice witchcraft
      • they are not good at IQ tests
      • they do not know how to handle money
      • they believe in animal sacrifice
      • they are illiterate
      • they like polygyny
      • they are dishonest and deceptive
      • they use corporal punishment on their children
      • they punish people for being homosexual.

      The latter two examples are particularly informative as these are practices that were, until a few decades ago, fully accepted in the West but are now seen as primitive from the point of view of Western legal systems and widespread public opinion. Accordingly, accusing other people of continuing such practices can be considered racist. Prohibition of racism is being promoted on the basis that there is a means of universalizing Western values, which ignores their historical origins. (This expectation that people groups can change their values and behavior is akin to acknowledging that “converting” to biblical faith is both a valid possibility and potentially transformative [Robbins, Bambi, and Vilaca 2014, 587]).

      It is, I suggest, a very strange thing that has happened: policies designed to avoid racism against Blacks in America, have been transferred, one could say lock-stock-and-barrel, into Black people’s own homelands, in Africa. The assumed and required normal citizen in the typical African state is therefore the White American. Within Africa itself, in formal and official circles if not always in practice, any departure on the side of African people from the “norm” of behavior of a North American is considered an aberration. Policy formulations of all types in Africa are under enormous pressure to be identical to those of the USA, to treat African people as if they are Americans. One example is that the suggestion that “African people do not know English” could be considered racist. To suggest that Americans do not know Swahili is of course not racist. Another example: suggesting that African people do not understand science may be considered racist. To suggest that Americans do not understand witchcraft, is not racist. Anyone who would like to do other than treat Africans as if they are Americans is at risk.

      This is what I suggest is seriously disenfranchising African people. African countries that are run as-if they are the USA, end up being run by Westerners, even if these days (unlike in colonial days) covertly so. The African has become a stranger in his own homeland. He is assumed to have values and skills that are needed to run his country on American design but, in fact, he often does not have those values and skills. For anyone to say, however, that he does not have them, is to risk being accused of racism. (Readers may at this point recall the story of the emperor who had no clothes

      Anti-racism Conceals Cultural Issues

      The reasons for a typical African’s lack of the skills needed to run an education system, a government, or commercial structures along Western lines brings up the old debate on nature verses nurture. The ways in which one’s cultural heritage and one’s genetic makeup interact is complex. Isolating a particular aspect of someone’s behavior as being “cultural” as against “biological” remains, as a result, difficult. So then how much are anti-racist policies making the recognition of cultural differences between African and American people illegitimate? Expressed in a different way, someone pointing to peculiar (i.e. unlike “normal White people”) types of behavior by Black people, whether in Africa or in the USA, is at risk of being accused of racism. This risk is likely to cause many to desist from such pointing. As a result, even very negative cultural traits, that Black people themselves may find negative, and that they would like to be addressed, remain unaddressed and even sometimes unrecognized.

      This is obviously closely related to the above issue of anti-racism as disenfranchisement. It means that African leaders, when it comes to designing and initiating policy for their own countries and people, have their hands tied and their mouths gagged. They can be forced to implement what are in local context ridiculous policies, and prohibited from practices that in local context make enormous sense, because of the globalized anti-racist rhetoric. It remains to add that it is very hard here to give many examples, because examples I choose could quickly and easily have me condemned as being racist. That is, even if I choose examples that draw on differences between American and African people that seem to me clearly to be cultural, many people might quickly draw the conclusion that I am taking them to be biological. They will draw this conclusion on the basis of a denial of the agency of history, as mentioned above.

      Difference Made by Religion

      It is differences in people’s behavior, values, and culture that are forced underground as a result of anti-racism. Identification of differences in the physical realm do not risk accusations of racism. To say either that Africa suffers from low levels of rainfall, or that Africans have a high degree of vulnerability to kidney failure (Tarver-Carr et al. 2002, 2363-70) is not to be racist. Add to this the general shunning and denial of the impact of “religious faith” on people’s lives in the secular world, and we should become aware that anti-racist policies conceal differences made to people’s lives as a result of their becoming Christian. (In this essay I confine myself to consideration of Christianity and not other so-called “world religions.” For more on the status of “world religions” see:

      The secular-world is using anti-racist policies to perpetuate a great deception, It is concealing the work that God is able to do and is doing in people’s hearts and lives around the world. If people feel they cannot acknowledge and address cultural evils for fear of being called out as “racist,” the work of the church is rendered invisible to the world. This is why, it seems to me, Christians should be particularly wary of anti-racist strategies. Anti-racism is a bulwark for secularism. Were anti-racism to discontinue, secularism would be at risk of collapse.

      To say that Christians should not be anti-racist, is not to say that they should be pro-racist. It is rather to say that the category of “race” as a means to distinguish between people is faulty. Choices based on contemporary understanding of “race” are destructive. A replacement for racist prohibition needs to be sought. This replacement may be found in the Christian faith, history, and Scriptures. This proposal is in line with Ogunnaike’s observation that “the decline of religion in the West was sine qua non for the rise of modern racism” (Ogunnaike 2016, 785). I could add to this my own thesis, that “the decline of anti-racism would be sine qua non for the rise of Christianity.” Anti-racist policies are false affirmations of Western superiority. They are the world’s efforts at shoring up belief in the absolute supremacy of the system of “Western secularism.” They support the supremacy of the modern Western liberal post-Christian White person. That person is the “god” of our age (Ogunnaike 2016, 792). The transforming work of salvation in Christ and the love of God for mankind are concealed. Any notion that Western man’s peculiar achievements are due to his adherence to the Christian faith are obscured by anti-racist rhetoric. (Indian scholar, Vishal Mangalwadi makes the case for Christianity being at the root of Western prosperity very effectively. See [Mangalwadi 2011]). God needs to be put back on top of a “Great Chain of Being,” taking his place back from Western man. Contemporary anti-racism may otherwise be as great an evil as is racism.

      Reverse Racism

      Designers of anti-racist strategies in the West rarely (or never) seem to consider what might be the impact of their policies in the so-called “global south.” Few have opportunity to subjectively experience such. Perhaps being a White Brit who has lived amongst Africans in sub-Saharan Africa since 1988, I am one of those few? Officially in a country such as Kenya, its citizens, think like and behave like Americans. That is the basis on which the country is run—one could add that it is the basis on which the country is run by outsiders. Increasingly, it seems, globalization is enabling, and harsh economics are determining, that African countries be run from the outside. David Bronkema talks about the profound influence NGOs, many rooted overseas, have on the majority world (Bronkema 2015). Similarly, Paul Gifford sees the Catholic church alone as providing vast amounts of funds to Africa (Gifford 2009, 93).

      The official system dictates that these outsiders assume African people to be identical to American people who happen to find themselves in a non-American context. Outsiders may try to adjust to the physical contexts, but out of fear of being thought racist they are not likely to want to adjust to the people, should they turn out to be different from the expected American norm. No plausible reason is given for the evident necessity of African countries being run by Westerners, because to give such reason would be to risk being accused of being racist. One hears murmurs of “everyone knows African countries are corrupt.” But at the same time, unless someone is the president of a country, he is unlikely as an individual to be accused of being corrupt—through fear of racism. But the cultural reality is that Africans may be victims of the honor/shame society of which they are a part. Jayson Georges (with experience in Central Asian communities) and theology professor Mark Baker consider so-called “corruption” to be an outcome of an honor / shame structure to society (Georges and Baker 2016, 51).
      The above illustrates just a small part of the topsy-turvy world of the implementation of global anti-racism in Black people’s homeland. The overall impact of anti-racist strategies is, I suggest, often unhelpful. Westerners engaging with Africa have a level of realization that African people are through their decisions contributing to Africans’ plight. Implicit in that is the suspicion that African people are making “bad decisions.” But they are likely to be determined not to draw such conclusions, and will by all means avoid doing so in the face of much evidence! Fear of racism allows the secular view to prevail—that differences between people can be found in their contexts, and not in their hearts.

      Spiritual Realities

      African people are very self-aware of their own weaknesses. If they were not so then they would not be crowding into churches (Jenkins 2002). They also, of course, know themselves. What they are typically much less aware of, is how they might communicate who they are in a way that would make sense to the White man, who has a status like that of a god in their community (Ogunnaike 2016, 787). This is the case despite the fact that “officially” they know the White man’s ways intimately, as he is supposedly merely following a “natural default” for humankind, which is what they are taught for decades in school.

      There are many aspects of African ways of life that African people themselves might like to change. They are working on those in their relationships with God and through churches. These are the issues that the secular world, in the name of anti-racism, is refusing point blank to see. Secularism, by insisting on differences being ignored, is keeping African people in poverty. Hence, secular movements against racism are keeping people in poverty.


      Contemporary measures used to counter racism are frequently taken as if they are good-by-default and logically necessary. This article points to some more insidious apparent impacts of such assumedly good measures. I have listed several of these here, by way of conclusion:

      1. Racism is being countered in a unidirectional manner. It is racist to consider non-Whites to be substandard to the West. But no one is considering if the West itself may be substandard with respect to others. The standard of normalcy which must be assumed so as not to be considered racist, is that of secular Western people.

      2. In well-meant attempts to combat racist attitudes, anti-racists have to deal with accusations against a disfavored race that their behavior or character is sub-standard (lazy, ignorant, violent, hateful). But instead of addressing what is wrong in the character and behavior of some members of the dis-favored race, a secular anti-racist approach ignores problematic matters of behavior, feeling, philosophy, and thinking that lie within the culture or sub cultures of the people group in question.

      3. Efforts to oppose racism conceal the impact on people’s lives made by the Christian faith. This is because the differences that faith in God make in people’s lives, are differences that must be concealed to avoid being accused of being racist. Any observation, for example, that faith in Christ has benefited Western people in a way not shared by African people (who have a different history) would put one at severe risk of being accused of being racist. Hence anti-racism conceals the ongoing role of “religion,” historically and in contemporary life. This explains much of the contemporary perception that religion is in decline.

      4. It is unrealistic to expect Black African communities to appropriate Western philosophical presuppositions within a matter of a few generations (or less). Western history spanning hundreds or thousands of years is not a piece of computer software that can simply be downloaded into the minds of people who have not shared that history.

      5. The same policies designed to avoid segregation on the basis of skin color in the West can strait-jacket African leaders, if they are also misleadingly required to assume their populations to have Western values, language, and history. Any actions by African governments intended to respond to features of their population that are non-Western, can invite criticism as being racist.

      6. Caution resulting from fear of racist accusation results in cultural differences being interpreted as if they are inherent biological realities which has the unfortunate effect of reinforcing the views of white supremacists, fascists, and other “blood and soil” extremists.


      Bambgose, Ayo. 1991. Language and the Nation: The Language Quest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

      Bronkema, David. 2015. Flying Blind? Christian NGOs and Political Economy. In Christian Mission and Economic Systems: A Critical Survey of the Cultural and Religious Dimensions of Economies, ed. John Cheong and Eloise Meleses, 211-45. Pasadena: William Carey Library.

      Flikschuh, Katrin. 2014. “The Idea of Philosophical Fieldwork: Global Justice, Moral Ignorance, and Intellectual Attitudes.” The Journal of Political Philosophy 22, no. 1: 1-26.

      Georges, Jayson and Mark Baker. 2016. Ministering in Honor-Shame cultures: Biblical Foundations and Practical Essentials. Downers Grove: IVP Academic.

      Gifford, Paul. 2009. Christianity, Politics and Public Life in Kenya. London: Hurst and Company.

      Jenkins, Philip. 2002. The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

      Klotz, Audie. 1995. “Norms Reconstituting Interests: Global Racial Equality and U.S. Sanctions against South Africa.” International Organisation 49, no. 3: 451-78.

      Lovejoy, Arthur. 1950. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (Orig. publ. 1936.)

      Mangalwadi, Vishal. 2011. The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. 

      Ogunnaike, Oludamini. 2016. “From Heathen to Sub-Human: A Genealogy of the Influence of the Decline of Religion on the Rise of Modern Racism.” Open Theology 2: 785-803. Accessed August 17, 2017.

      Robbins, Joel, B. Bambi, and Aperecida Vilaca. 2014. “Evangelical Conversion and the Transformation of the Self in Amazonia and Melanesia; Christianity and the Revival of Anthropological Comparison.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 56, no. 3: 559-90.

      Schirrmacher, Thomas. 2013. Racism: With an Essay by Richard Howell on Caste in India. Trans. Richard McClary. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock.

      Tarver-Carr, Michelle E., Neil R. Powe, Mark S. Eberhardt, Thomas A. LaVeist, Raynard S. Kington, Josef Coresh, and Frederick L. Brancati. 2002. “Excess Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease among African-American versus White Subjects in the United States: A Population-Based Study of Potential Explanatory Factors.” Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 13, no. 9: 2363-70.

      Young, Robert, C. 1995. Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race. London: Routledge.



      This article is from the issue: Cross-Cultural Communication

      3. Cross-Cultural Conflict Management

      Aug 17, 2017

      Interweaving with stories of her cross-cultural experiences in three countries, Cheng contends that the context of conflict management is the emotional wholeness of a cross-cultural worker. One of the two starting points of cross-cultural conflict management is self-awareness of the impact of one’s national character in their personality, especially in relevant to individualistic and collectivistic cultures. The other one is the understanding of the conflict dynamics and the issues in cross-cultural conflicts. For cross-cultural workers from an individualistic cultural background, the core lesson is to move their social life and conflict management from a self-centered orientation towards more of a communal life orientation.

      How Does Spirituality Connect with Conflict Resolution?

      The approach of spirituality in cross-cultural conflict management must be psycho-spiritual. The keys to spirituality amidst various conflicts are: self-awareness and guarding of one’s own heart, intimacy with God, biblical self-esteem and social boundary, humility and meekness, gentleness and calmness, fear of God instead of fear of human being. They will be able to rejoice that they belong to God and that they are worthy to suffer for Christ. Resilience in intimacy with God is the very key to growth for the cross-cultural workers during and after conflicts.

      Continue reading Clara Cheng’s article in PDF format.

      This article is from the issue: Cross-Cultural Communication

      Multi-cultural Teams: Book Review

      Aug 17, 2017

      This book was written to help members of a multicultural team recognize and understand why cultural differences exist among members of their team and to apply biblical truth to cultural differences. Silzer starts this book by stating that we are all created in the image of God. The image of God is presented in three views: substantive, functional and relational. The substantive view of the image of God describes the image of God as the ability to make decisions by using human will. The functional view of the image of God explains the image of God as the function of taking responsibility of creation. The relational view of the image of God addresses the image of God as the ability to make relationship with God, other human beings and creation. The image of God in us is distorted, however, by following cultural practices rather than biblical truth.

      To explain how the image of God is distorted, Silzer introduces the “Culture-based Judging System” (CbJS) which is the way people decide what is right and wrong based on their culture. Silzer uses Mary Douglas’ concept of Grid (structure) and Group (community) and categorizes cultures into four types: individuating, institutionalizing, hierarching and interrelating. Individuating culture has both weak structure and community, and promotes individual rights. Institutionalizing culture has strong structure and weak community, and is governed by rules and regulations. Hierarching culture has both strong structure and community and places high value on obedience and loyalty to the authority and group. Interrelating culture has weak structure and strong community and fosters egalitarianism. Based upon cultural types, a society prefers doing things in a certain way and rejects doing things in different ways. Without any bad intention, people believe their way is the right and biblical way. Cultural norms are practiced at home as people grow up, which influences people’s worldview and behavior.

      Silzer takes the reader through a journey into a childhood home and family tree to show how one’s upbringing shapes culture. The cultural practices of visiting, eating, working, resting, and cleaning are reflected to show how these behaviors reveal the values of one’s culture. The reader is challenged to look at his or her own cultural practices and biases in such a way that it will lead to better understanding of not only his or her own culture but also the culture of others. How to apply biblical truth to cultural differences among multicultural teams is examined by explaining CbJS at the end of the book. The answer is putting the cross in the middle of cultural differences.

      At the end of each chapter, exercises help the readers to understand their walk of life in their home culture. Questions are prepared to understand a reader’s CbJS, and reflection questions examine how CbJS has shaped people and what the Bible says in order to align CbJS to biblical truth. Individuals can gain a deeper understanding of the cultural impact of his or her life by doing these exercises. It will be even more helpful to share the exercises and questions with people from different cultures to broaden cultural understanding.

      The personal stories of the author offer a glimpse on how CbJS had harmed her life and ministry when she worked as a cross-cultural worker for over 40 years as a Japanese American and how understanding culture redeemed and restored her. A reader could easily concur with her experiences and have a deeper understanding of how culture, not necessarily biblical truth, could dictate his or her life.

      This book is rich in anthropological examples and Bible verses to help a reader to understand cultural differences and biblical truth. Various aspects of culture are explained in a practical manner, which helps one to understand his or her own culture. That understanding can be expanded to understand other cultures.

      This book is a welcome addition to the few resources about multicultural teams that are currently available. It could be used in training for a multicultural team, which is becoming increasingly important in the 21st century. If an organization is seriously looking for resources to handle multicultural team issues or if someone wants to understand cultural struggles, this book is a good choice.

      This article is from the issue: Cross-Cultural Communication

      1. Resolving Western Hegemony in Africa: Distinguishing the Material from the Spiritual/Relational

      Aug 16, 2017


      Few deny that communication between cultures is today a necessity of escalating importance. In this article I consider a Western “ideal type” ( and compare it with an African equivalent. Western people are believers in the material, world who have, by sleight of hand, de-legitimised the divine / spiritual ( African people’s thinking, on the other hand, is rooted in the relational and “spiritual.” How can mutual respect and appropriate levels of understanding can be achieved in the face of such divergent beliefs?

      This article finds that cultural differences are reflected in different conceptualizations that are implicitly communicated intra-culturally, but are lost inter-culturally in translation to English. Conceptualizations are the templates for thought that are designed, then constantly renegotiated, by communities of language users (Sharifian 2003, 187). Indigenous people’s languages will only function effectively with their own indigenous conceptualizations. This situation threatens the prospects of universal-global secular education. The new, although at the same time very old, alternative universal I propose in this article is Yhwh, who self-identifies in the Christian Scriptures as the only God of the whole world (Ephesians 4:6). This article discusses detailed strategies for intercultural engagement that might bridge the diverse starting points of African as against Western peoples.

      The Western Story of the World

      The Western world can be incredulous over so-called “spiritual” worldviews. Many Westerners cannot understand how other people around the world can fail to perceive the cause and effect mechanisms that are to them very clear. If cause and effect mechanisms explain everything, some Western people ask themselves, then what is the need for God, fear of witchcraft, and spirits?

      The same Western people may acknowledge that their ancestors have not always understood as they now understand. They consider their ancestors to have been ignorant, pre-enlightened people. They consider enlightenment to have in recent centuries slowly dawned on the West. This enlightenment is assumed still to be advancing, albeit slowly, as every generation improves on their predecessors’ understandings. There is a clear relationship between this view and evolutionary ways of thinking that have long dominated Western academia. Slightly less clear to some, is the way that this idea of “progress” is rooted in Christian teachings. Traditional people tend to see life as cyclical, whereas the Bible talks about a beginning, progress, and an end.

      Westerners wonder how it could ever have been different. How could people ever have credited illness to demons, they ask themselves, in the light of conclusive trials that prove it to be of bio-medical origins? Were people with such beliefs to re-appear today, they would presumably be easy to convince of their prior ignorance. How were people duped into offering animal sacrifices, when it is clear to Westerners that prosperity can be had without them? They may even ask themselves, why did people ever bother praying to God, when they can get by just as well without doing so? Why did people in the past take so much trouble to build churches which have little contemporary value, except perhaps as venues for weddings?

      The Western world seems to have thought that by misinterpreting God they have gotten rid of him! Things for which in the past they thought they needed his help, they no longer do so. For many in the West, following the secular trend, they see no role for God in their life at all. What they see instead are physical material things, made of atoms and molecules, that work satisfactorily by themselves. This is on the lines of the clock-maker story: God “created the clock, wound it up, and let it go” (

      For others there never was a clock-maker. Instead, the credit for what we have today goes to chance—a way of thinking very much underscored by the theory of evolution. If everything runs on the basis of natural processes, then nature is sufficient. For Westerners, everything does indeed seem to run on this basis. That which is not understandable through natural processes, is in the West referred to as being super-natural.  This category, super-natural, is of the things that people used to believe in before they became enlightened. It is a residual category, when everything else has already been explained, that is up-for-question. It is “residual” because “nature” is defined in such a way as to explain everything that people want explained.

      People who conclude that everything can be explained by “nature” do have doubts and hesitations. Such hesitations arise from their humanity. Being sure that they have explained everything that is to be explained does not stop them getting depressed. While they are sure that there is no supernatural, as they have explained everything with recourse only to the category of “natural,” they are at times strangely enthralled—perhaps by a magnificent sunset, perhaps by the joy of parent-hood, by a song, perhaps by moments of incredible peace. They are troubled by what they see around them: Why do people fight and fall out? Why do other people not see the sense that they do? Why can people not put aside feelings of envy or fear of shame? All these hesitations are there: but do not discredit, to them, the discovery that everything can be explained by natural causes. That is important, and has become, in their minds, the basis of everything else, hesitations aside.

      Thought Processes of Others, Including Africans

      Many other people, meanwhile, have come to observe and see humanity differently. These “others” include Africans who have done and do things differently. For example, some variations of African English make use of the term “supernatural,” but speakers load the term with conceptualizations quite different from those often supposed in the West. Following their different understanding they have followed different strategies and different directions in their efforts at helping mankind. They have different “start-points” from which to discuss everything else.

      African people have observed a certain unpredictability and variety in human life. They have observed for example, that some people get sick, while others do not. Some people live relatively fulfilling and happy lives, others do not. Some women are fertile, others are not. Some people are by nature hard working, others are not. Some people are caring and seek to help their neighbors. Others, however, are more selfish and primarily interested in meeting their own desires. Certain people can have a destructive impact on others. They end up stealing, maligning, falsely accusing, misappropriating, and abusing others. The more there are of certain kinds of people, and the more powerful and influential they are, the more the pleasantness of life is likely to be disrupted for others.

      It is not easy to predict just how or when the outcome of community life (for life is always about community) will turn out the kinds of undesirable characters we have noted above. Certain patterns do, however, emerge. Successful or happy people are not clueless regarding the origins of their successes. They hypothesize and theorize. Certain habits, certain ways of doing things, certain ways of relating to others, even certain ways of conducting war, herding animals, or cultivating, yield prosperity. It is considered advisable for other people and subsequent generations to follow those ways. Hence customary laws are born.

      It is not hard to observe certain powers at work in human community—even if it is harder to precisely predict them. Their unpredictability renders these powers mysterious. To a degree in traditional Africa human beings can be understood as akin to machines, needing inputs like food and producing outputs like children; but actual reality is more complex. Two forces seem to be foundationally responsible for disruption of life’s sanctity. One of these is envy. People are not happy to see others doing better than themselves. Envy drives people into averse and perverse behaviors (Harries 2012). Through shame, people conceal their envy, yet still it acts. Both envy and shame result in behavioral responses. Hence envy it is mysterious; all people have it, few accept having it, yet it is powerful, and frequently destructive. The other mystical power is shame. There are certain things that people would rather not be known about them. There are things they do not want to be seen doing. There are ways in which they would rather not be approached, spoken to, or handled. These things are beyond logic. Everyone must defecate, but being seen defecating is shameful. Words seem to be only sounds, but calling your father by his name instead of by “dad” is shameful. Being found talking to yourself is shameful. Being found to have envy, is shameful. Being bossed around by your wife in public, is shameful. We have already discovered that there are “customary” ways of doing things that are considered to bring success. Not following those ways is considered to be attracting misfortune. People’s divergence from correct ways to be known, is shameful, because of the implication that they are contrary to the common good.

      Following the above, life is a complex process of perceiving concealing and avoiding in order to achieve prosperity. Ways of doing things that bring success are elusive, hidden, enshrouded in mystery. People conceal their feelings of envy and what they do out of envy. They may react very antagonistically to avoid shame, even while unable to articulate just what brings them that shame.

      These processes are far from the objectivation of understanding of people that is intended in the West. By way of example, we can look at gender. I have mentioned above that a man can be ashamed if seen to be being ordered around by his wife. Presumably so also can a woman re. her husband. Yet the course of centuries has shown men to rebel under the kind of treatment under which women continue to thrive. Hence customary prohibitions designed to avoid shame are more concerned about the undermining of the male than of the female ego. (Readers may not appreciate the use of this kind of logic, which is a key point that this article is making.)

      Wise and successful people have negotiated these types of complex processes, but the problem is that people grow old, and eventually die. Once dead, in oral societies, a person’s deeds and wisdom can only be known through recollection and re-telling. Their stories can thus be transformed. Wise people can re-appear in dreams. Contact with them may bode well. But on the flip side of the same coin, people who had a problematic role in community can also reappear in dreams, portending trouble (such as girls who are unhappy/envious of others as a result of having died before experiencing the fulfilment of marriage). Such “jealous spirits” must be dealt with. Strategies for dealing with them, such as slaughtering animals to appease them, have proven effective over centuries and millennia. Other strategies, such as recourse to witchdoctors who endeavor to understand and overcome mystical forces, are desired to counter the envy of others and protect oneself from the horrors of shame. Different countervailing forces always seem to be involved. In due course, one or other of these forces is translated into English using the term God.

      Meeting of Worlds

      I want to consider what happens when people from the above two “worlds” meet. One “world” prioritizes what is material, where only what is material qualifies to be considered “real.” In the other “world,” material things are not as important as relationship. Material things are an example of just one reward arising from spiritual success. The former is the West, the latter much more closely describes the Africanmuch of Africa. The West has come to Africa. Materially oriented people meet relationally oriented people. What happens?
      African people and Western people all want to prosper. Westerners see material means, while Africans see relational means to this desired prosperity. We must remember that relationally oriented people are desirous of material things, and materially oriented people are also desirous of relationship. Materially oriented people (Westerners) may be even more desirous of relationship than are relationally oriented people (Africans). Relationally oriented people may be even more desirous of material things than materially oriented people. We are not discussing whether people desire material things or relationship, but the perceived means of acquiring prosperitythem. To be more accurate, both see material means to relationship and relational means to material, but in the West the material has epistemological priority, while the priority in Africa is by relationship.

      In a materially oriented society, people endeavor to articulate the relational as if it is material. Western people try to put social, psychiatric, and other relational issues on a material, i.e. scientific, foundation. Hence we get social sciences, and other disciplines like psychology and anthropology that seek to be “scientific” (Atran 2015). The search for a credible identity as “scientific” follows a denial of subjectivity and spirituality.

      The opposite applies to relationally oriented people who understand the origins of “material” in the “relational” realm. They might choose labels in the reverse of those used in the West. For example, instead of “social science” (in which the social is made out to appear scientific), relationally oriented people might use the term “science social” (in which the material is made to appear relational). What might appear from the West to be materially oriented activities are in Africa understood through a “social/spiritual” grid. That is to say, nothing bad can happen without a “relational” cause (Mbiti 1969, 271). Because relationship goes beyond physical presence, when those relationships that are beyond physical presence are articulated, one gets that which is often translated back into English using terms like spirit, mysterious power, and witchcraft.

      Because English, the language we are using here, is built on a materially oriented worldview, all our terminology, especially in defining the relationally oriented, is contingent. To use Sharifian’s terminology, the conceptualizations of English that are material “develop among the members of a cultural group over time” (Sharifian 2003, 188). Conceptualizations take “the form of cultural schemas, cultural categories, and cultural metaphors” (Sharifian 2017, 31). However we attempt to use English to describe relationship oriented approaches to life, it will always be inaccurate, an approximation, in some ways misleading. While English is what we have, given that academia is dominated by the UK and the USA, we should remember that terms that might seem simple to us in English may be translating concepts very foreign to the worldviews of English speakers. For example, a term like “spirit” is used to represent an extraordinarily complex relational reality. The term is sometimes used to represent ancestors who can also be given other labels, such as “fallas,” in Aboriginal English (Sharifian 2017). So also witchcraft is used to describe certain impacts of the prevalence of envy (see above), and so on. Here is one reason why it may not be appropriate for a Western person in English to say that spirits or witchcraft do not “exist.” These terms are only labels, for things that are beyond English conceptualization. They “exist” beyond the realm of English.

      Intercultural Intervention Re-examined

      While European languages like English, that are rooted in (conceptualized by) a material orientation, cannot hope to closely articulate relationally oriented understandings, much of Africa borrows its languages and its educational systems from the West as a complete package. Imposing Western systems, is comparable to imposing advice about playing better football onto people playing a game of tennis. ( I draw my example from within the materially-oriented view, in the hope that it will illustrate something of the difference between the materially oriented and the relationally oriented view.) Such advice will make little sense. Enforcing it will mostly perpetuate confusion. We could say that the more African people adopt Western educational systems, the more confused they can become.

      One could say that we are a bit stuck! Western educational systems have been globalized on the basis that their take on the real material world is universal. On that basis African and other people would only have to see the light, so to speak, in order to draw the benefits of the Western education. That was really the secularizing hypothesis, that is somewhat “dead in the water.” The term “secular” has been re-conceptualized beyond the West to mean something very different from its use in Western Europe (Madsen 2011, 266). It was at one time understood that the secular worldview would become the new norm. That required religion to be universal, then to decline. Such is not happening. These days many scholars question that there even is such a universal thing as “religion” (Nongbri 2013, 2). If there is not, neither can there be universal “secular.” If there is no universal secular worldview, then on what is “secular” education founded?

      Sharifian considers issues of education in his outlining of cultural linguistics. His focus is on Australia, and especially the situation of indigenous Aboriginal people. Sharifian realizes that simply teaching Aboriginals to be good at standard Australian English is for various reasons unsatisfactory. “International languages do not have expressions that can … capture [local] conceptualizations” Sharifian tells us (2017, 168). Sharifian realizes that “varieties of English may be distinct from each other mainly at the level of cultural conceptualization” (2017, 193/4). For Aboriginal people “English words such as family, home, and shame evoked cultural conceptualizations ...  quite different from those of Australian English speakers” (Sharifian 2017, 194). This leads to miscommunication (2017, 197). The kinds of variety in conceptualization that Sharifian finds and refers to are those we have already mentioned above. For example, Aboriginal people consider the land to be a living being (Sharifian 2017, 55), and “use words such as spirit and spiritual when talking about ... their worldview” (Sharifian 2017, 42).

      Sharifian roots some of his work in revelations brought by cognitive scientists like Lakoff. Hence he builds on the view that the body (and the context of the body) shape the mind. This “implies a rejection of Cartesian body/mind dualism” on which Western notions of “the secular” have been built (Sharifian 2017, 65). Foundations on which the West has been building are not either universal, or easily universal-izable.

      I do not have the space here to give a more detailed undermining of modern Western society’s foundations. I have done so more systematically in my book, The Godless Delusion: Europe and Africa (Harries 2017). A pertinent question that I want to raise at this point though is: where to from here? Following the undermining of the foundations of the modern era, I suggest there is only one place to go: that is God, or “religion” in terms of its original meaning as dedication to Christ (Cavanaugh 2009, 64). Faith in Christ was the foundation stone on which Western society was originally built. See for example Berman (1983). Masuzawa indicates that the ways in which Europeans’ historically high value on the church was lost, “constitute …s an intriguing historical conundrum in its own right” (Masuzawa 2005, 23).

      Layers of deception have been built up, one on top of another over many decades, that have created superstructures of secularism that many have assumed would permanently hold water. Academics have for over 100 years assumed Christianity to be just one of so many “religions” (Masuzawa 2005). That is now being revealed as wool-over-the-eyes. The sooner prominent leaders in the global community, come to realize this, the better, at least for the sake of the non-West. I almost feel I have to apologize to academics who have been told that accepting the claims of Christ is irrelevant for serious scholarship. I do not make this suggestion lightly. I am aware that it may be taken as harsh criticism by some readers.

      Christian Communication

      The priority on the secular has, in Western communication with Africa, concealed the priority of the Kingdom of God. The reasoning behind advocating secularism suggests that this avoids conflict between “competing religions.” That reasoning is nullified if we do not have “competing religions.” The roots of secularism are in Christianity. Because secularism is a product of Christianity, in the interests of the benefits of what is nowadays considered to be secularism, Christ should be advocated.

      I would like to look at how, in the light of the above discussion, Christian teaching should be engaged by the West. Western discourse tends to assume the existence of a spiritual vs material dualism that is not valid outside of the West. Engagement by the West with people in the majority world who are relationally oriented has assumed that they are materially oriented. This is a source of great confusion.

      Much ink has been spilled discussing just how the majority world (our focus is on Africa in this article) is to become “developed.” Development strategies devised by the West, as with Western discourse in general, assume African people to have a perception of the material akin to that of the West. Westerners expect to be able to build on such perception. But what if we are correct that this presupposed foundation for development is absent? In the interests of development, we need to introduce people to an appropriate distinction between the material and the spiritual. Once grasped, this distinction will enable relationally oriented people to build their own development. The result of not taking this distinction into account is unhealthy dependency. This is the nature of almost all “development” practice today. If development strategies are designed by the West or to please the West, they cannot meet the needs of the majority world, even though the majority world may not object, since the subsidy that comes with Western knowledge makes it attractive.

      As with development education mentioned above, the same is true with Western models of discipleship training. The paradigm of training that “succeeds” in much of Africa today is determined squarely by the quantity of funds that can be raised in the West. Theological education is valued for links that it provides to the West. The same process continues and will continue as long as new and old initiatives thrive only on Western money. Any indigenous program of education has almost zero chance of getting anywhere, so hegemonic and so relatively materially attractive can be the subsidized foreign version. Yet it is the indigenous program running in an indigenous language that just might allow the local church to grow on its own foundation. Foreign subsidy of Western non-contextualized education ends up hammering the lid ever more tightly against any efforts at indigenously powered development, inside or outside of the church. (See Harries 2017a.)

      Educational programs, theological and other, will not in today’s world be able to escape Western influence. Sharifian advocates, it seems, stretching standard Australian English so that it incorporates Aboriginal English (2017, 223). Because one language used by one community cannot represent two distinct worldviews, the resulting English would as a result have to forgo its material orientation, which action would impede communication with other global native English users. We are left with a catch 22. What is absolutely necessary also seems to be impossible. We might be wise to take a leaf from Genesis 11 and the account of the Tower of Babel regarding the advisability of multilingualism where we have multiple cultures. Use of English makes it nigh-on impossible to take indigenous non-Western conceptualizations and categories seriously. Saving a language can be saving a people. Majority world governments may be right in their efforts at terminating certain benevolent programs that may seem to the West to be faultless, but are designed using Western languages. (A good example of this is the opposition being met by African governments to Bridge schools []). Western educational conceptualizations do not fit relationally oriented contexts. An ongoing dominance by English will, I suggest, leave everyone else dumb and only original native speakers understanding and in control of global governance, never mind Christian theology.

      The apparent impossibility of the above task shouldn’t deter champions from bucking the trend (White 2009, 217-18). How many non-Aboriginal Australians are fluent speakers of Aboriginal languages? Let there be more. How many Westerners in Africa are fluent in African languages? Far too few. The scarcity of serious engagement on the side of the West with non-European languages is close to theoretical suicide. The absence of even one global language whose categories make sense to the majority world, i.e. non-Western, categorization and conceptualization, is inexcusable. In Africa at least, there is enormous dominance over African languages by European languages that do not make sense of indigenous worldviews. It seems that almost the only witness left to Western Christians engaging with African people is that of their prosperity. Reese points out that declaring of the prosperity Gospel may be totally inadvertent on the part of the Western Christians (Reese 2010, 63). Witness to biblical faith should be through one’s life, lived transparently and demonstrating God’s holiness, in a way that people can understand, i.e. by engaging their categories and conceptualizations. This can result in bringing people to be disciples (apprentices) of the Kingdom of God, led by and into what they can understand.


      This article has critiqued the ways in which English has been imposed, onto non-Western people. I hope readers will understand that for many of his the above insights this author isI am drawing on interactions I have had with oral non-literate communities for many years. The global hegemonic use of European languages is preventing the development of the academic literature in indigenous languages from which he I should be drawing. Hence the appeal in this paper, as from the margins, to curtail such hegemonic oppression.

      Many Westerners believe that their wisdom—that only material things are really-real—is superior to that of others on the globe. African wisdom is focused on ways of avoiding shame and negative impacts of envy. There is no level playing field on which materially oriented (Western) and relationally oriented (African) people can meet. Attempts to engage inter-culturally on a foundation originating on one side, e.g. on the assumption that secularism is a basic to human existence, leave endless contradictions in place. As once widely acknowledged, so here again proposed, this article advocates for recognition of God’s unique role as cross-cultural arbiter between human societies.

      For Further Reading

      Jim Harries related articles:
      “African Development and Dependency in the Light of Post-Modern Epistemology”

      “How One Scholarship in One Language Cannot Cross Continents: between Europe and Africa “


      Atran, Scott. 2015. Psychology, Anthropology, and a Science of Human Beings. Social Evolution Forum. January 25. Accessed April 6, 2017.

      Berman, Harold Joseph. 1983. Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition. Vol. 1. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

      Cavanaugh, William T. 2009. The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

      Harries, Jim. 2012. “Witchcraft, Envy, Development, and Christian Mission in Africa.” Missiology: An International Review 40, no. 2: 129-39.

      Harries, Jim. 2017a. “Enabling the Majority World to Benefit from ‘Superior’ Western Theology.” Currents in Theology and Mission 44, no. 2 (April): 1. Accessed August 11, 2017.

      Harries, Jim. 2017b.(in press) The Godless Delusion: Europe and Africa. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock.

      Madsen, Richard. 2011. Secularism, religious change, and social conflict in Asia. In Rethinking Secularism, ed. Craig Calhoun, Mark Juergensmeyer, and Jonathan VanAntwerpen, 248-69. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

      Masuzawa, Tomoko. 2005. The Invention of World Religions: How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism. London: University of Chicago Press.

      Mbiti, John S. 1969. African Religions and Philosophy. London: Heinemann.

      Nongbri, Brent. 2013. Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept. London: Yale University Press.

      Reese, Robert. 2010. Roots and Remedies of the Dependency Syndrome in World Missions. Pasadena: William Carey Library.

      Sharifian, Farzad. 2003. “On Cultural Conceptualisations.” Journal of Cognition and Culture 30, no. 3: 187-209.

      Sharifian, Farzad et. al. 2012. “Understanding Stories My Way: Aboriginal English Speaking Students’ (Mis)understanding of School Literacy Materials in Australian English.” A project of the Two-way Literacy and Learning.

      White, Robert A. 2009. “Research on Communication for Development in Africa: Current Debates.” African Communication Research 2, no.2: 203-52.

      This article is from the issue: Strategy and Innovation

      Blog: Crowdsourcing: Innovation or Myth?

      Jul 30, 2017

      Gilles Gravelle, Director of Research for The Seed Company greatly believes in the power of crowdsourcing because he has seen it work many times in his work doing Bible translation. The crowdsourcing process can be a way to bring together the many unique insights, skills, experiences and giftings in a community to solve an issue or project. This is done instead of traditionally relying on one expert who comes to a community and imports his or her knowledge into a certain situation.

      Of course, there are plenty of critics. One article, “The Myth of Crowdsourcing” says:

      For the past 10 years, the buzz around open source has created a similar false impression. The notion of crowds creating solutions appeals to our desire to believe that working together we can do anything, but in terms of innovation it is just ridiculous.

      There is no crowd in crowdsourcing. There are only virtuosos, usually uniquely talented, highly trained people who have worked for decades in a field. Frequently, these innovators have been funded through failure after failure. From their fervent brains spring new ideas. The crowd has nothing to do with it. The crowd solves nothing, creates nothing.

      The author of this article is a high-ranking employee and editor of a research firm, so I’m sure that influences greatly his perception of this process. Crowdsourcing can be a threat to those in a position of power and authority, because it seeks to give that very authority to the wider group, instead of concentrating it at the top. However, what do you think of his comment? Do you agree?

      Gilles focused mostly on ways of doing this through technology, such as using social media or web platforms to gather large amounts of information. We have seemingly limitless ways to use technology to gather the many insights and intellect already in a community for ministry projects, or international development projects around the world. How do you imagine you could use crowdsourcing and technology to accelerate the innovation and creativity in your project?

      Image credit: Graphicstock

      This article is from the issue: Strategy and Innovation

      Blog: Crowdsourcing and Development

      Jul 30, 2017

      Confucius once said to his disciples, “Amongst three people walking, one can be my teacher.”

      “Crowd Sourcing as a Model for Localization” is a seminar taught by Gilles Gravelle, Director of Research & Innovation at The Seed Company. This is an organization working to accelerate the rate of Scripture translation around the world. One point he made is that “Research has shown that groups (the crowd) made up of smart agents (e.g. experts) and not-so-smart agents (the people at large) always did better than a group made up of only smart agents.” Gilles proposed a fresh use of an old idea, crowd sourcing, and described how the third millennium has created a context for the pervasive use of this methodology. He explained how the crowd, or the community, represents collective intelligence in a variety of aspects: insights, skills, experiences, giftings, desires, and special knowledge. It was especially interesting when he shared the case study on Bible translation through web-based social networking; that is, he shared how the indigenous community from all walks of life participated in the project, commenting, discussing, translating, and critiquing each other’s translations. As he stated during the seminar, “The intelligence of the crowd grows as people inform and learn from one another.”

      It reminded me of RYE’s article on “Wyclipedia” published earlier this year in WCIDJ’s special edition on William Carey. The author finds inspiration from William Carey’s methodology in Bible translation (a prototype of crowd sourcing?), and, combining the “wikipedia format and Wycliffian purpose,” proposes Wyclipedia, which, as a wiki, “could allow volunteers to easily contribute their biblical and linguistic gifts towards the cause of Bible translation. Those from similar language groups, those who are currently students, those who have health issues, etc. can actively help others read God’s Word in the language of their hearts” (RYE 2011).

      What are some of the ways that you can adapt crowd sourcing in what you do?

      This article is from the issue: Disease Origins

      3. Genetics 101

      Jul 22, 2017

      When we consider genetics there are at least 2 (to 3) major different types that geneticist usually refer to in genetic disease:

      1. Classical Genetics:

      This is what most people (especially old-school) are aware of, such as Sickle Cell Anemia, PKU, Hemophilia etc. These are usually inherited genetic disease. And then there are several types of such: Dominant, Recessive, Linked (such as X-linked) and other variants of these. Two very important subgroups we can consider as related to what is being said regarding Autism are:

      (a) Predisposition:

      This is a “minor mutation” that may be found in the genome of the person but may never show up as a full-blown disease unless they are exposed to other factors- such as environmental factors. A good example is those who carry the (mutation to) BRCA genes for breast cancer—we know that the carriers have an increased chance of getting the disease, however, some will carry the BRCA I or II gene mutations but will never get the disease. 

      (b) Carriers (such as X-linked):

      In these cases the carrier may not show the disease at all, but their progeny may have it full blown. A good example of this is Hemophilia- and one can look at the whole pedigree of the European families related to Queen Victoria to see how it is passed down either as a carrier gene or as a full-blown disease. By the way, Queen Victoria would have been the first in the Royal Pedigree to get this since there is no one in the previous generations to have it- but she passed it along to nations. That means it was a genetic (mutation) event occurred in her genes to the extent that it got passed down through her germ line cells. Only males are affected and not females. So Alexis in the Romanov’s family had it and but his mother did not and was only the carrier of the mutated (X-lined) gene.

      2. Molecular Genetics:

      Mol genetics has to do mainly with modern DNA related disease. A good example is cancer. Most people know that cancer is a “genetic” disease but the truth is only less than 10% cancers are inherited. SO why do we call the disease Genetic if +90% of cancers re not inherited? It is “genetic” because cancer is a result of mutations to DNA that occur in “somatic” cells (these are not sex cells) during life (mainly in adults). This gives rise to cancers. For instance most melanomas are a result of DNA mutating in skin cells due to deleterious UV rays from the sun. Of course that is an environmental effect- not something that a person can blame his/her parents for… Nor can they pass it on to their progeny- sex does not occur in skin cells!!!

      This article is from the issue: Disease Origins

      Blog: Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2017

      Jul 21, 2017

      A team of scientists jointly led by co-senior author Julie Williams, a professor at the University of Cardiff in the United Kingdom, set out to examine the DNA of more than 85,000 individuals in an attempt to identify the genetic variants associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

      The findings were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2017, held in London, U.K., and the study was published in the journal Nature Genetics.

      While presenting the results in the plenary session at the AAIC conference, Prof. Williams referred to the research as a “massive undertaking,” due not only to the large number of study participants, but also to the collaborative efforts of more than 450 authors who made the study possible.

      As Prof. Williams and colleagues explain in the study, late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) has a strong genetic component. In LOAD, patients typically experience their first symptoms at around the age of 65, and most people who develop Alzheimer’s tend to have the late-onset form of the condition.

      Almost 30 genetic locations are known to raise the risk of LOAD. However, these loci offer only a partial explanation for why some people inherit the disease. So-called rare genetic variants also contribute to the risk of inheriting LOAD, and Prof. Williams and colleagues set out to identify precisely such rare variants.

      Read the full article in MedicalNewsToday.

      This article is from the issue: Social Justice

      Blog: Isaiah 32 and 34: Societal Chaos

      The need for international development exists because societies and their land are in chaos to one degree or another. In Isaiah 32 societal chaos is being overcome by the intervention of God’s Spirit. In this chapter we see a metaphorical image of the consequences for societies whose people practice ungodliness, who use wicked schemes to leave the hungry empty, and who destroy the poor with their lies: “The fortress will be abandoned, the noisy city deserted; citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever” (Isa. 32:14).

      Destruction and desolation are inherent in a person or society rebelling against God. Evil choices are the evidence of a mind in opposition to God, and that mind or society can be characterized by the physical metaphor of tohu wabohu— destroyed and desolate. It is destroyed because it isn’t working the way God made it to work—it is twisted, turned to wrong purposes, therefore purposeless from God’s perspective. It is desolate because the Spirit has withdrawn from that life or society. Ezekiel’s vision of the Spirit in the wheels leaving the temple and the land (Ezek. 10:15-19) serves as a visual metaphor of what happens when a person’s mind or a society is twisted and turned to wrong purposes. Evil choices result in the Spirit leaving (“My Spirit will not contend with humans forever” [Gen. 6:3]), and the withdrawal of the Spirit of God leaves behind a desolate person or society that will self-destruct without the intervention of the Spirit. “God will stretch out over Edom the measuring line of chaos (tohu) and the plumb line of desolation (bohu)” (Isa. 34:11).

      When the people of God, in whom the Spirit of God dwells, are absent, the Spirit of God is also absent, resulting in desert-like conditions in the physical, social, and spiritual realms. But when Spirit-filled people of God bring the light of Christ into a society and enough people respond to the outpouring of the Spirit, then we see real development in that society:

      [Destruction and desolation] ... till the Spirit is poured on us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest. The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. The fruit of righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest (Isa. 32:15-18).
      Isaiah is describing shalom: the goal of international development. (See the WCIU Press book, The Goal of International Development: God’s Will on Earth as It Is in Heaven.)

      These verses in Isaiah 32 give an attractive description of the results of the Spirit’s outpouring: flourishing, peace, and safety. What might Isaiah have had in mind that would bring about the outpouring of the Spirit on a chaotic and desolate society? In the first verses of the chapter, the prophet seems to be saying that leaders’ deliberate choices to follow God’s ways, the opposite of the ungodly ways being practiced, will bring the presence of the Spirit. The description at the beginning of Isaiah 32, of a group of rulers collaborating to do what is right, harmonizes with Jesus’ saying, “where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” [through the Spirit] (Matt. 18:20). “See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert…. No longer will the fool be called noble nor the scoundrel be highly respected ...” (Isa. 32:1, 2, 5).

      This article is from the issue: Social Justice

      Blog: Poverty and Justice

      Jul 16, 2017

      I’ve been reading a book by Ken Gnanakan called God’s Word: A Theology of the Environment. I’ve found Dr. Gnanakan’s book to be an excellent overview of this topic. The description of the book says, “it succeeds in making available to students a wide range of thinking on this crucial subject for today, covering biblical teaching, a theology of creation, and an examination of eco-feminism, as well as a history of environmental thought. But central to the author’s approach is the idea that theory must lead to action, in environmental theology as much as in any other area.”

      It does not seem like there are many books out there on “environmental theology” and if anyone knows of some, please let me know in the comments! In my experience at least, this has been missing from my theology and perhaps that is why I appreciated his book so much. I encourage everyone to check it out if you are interested in this subject.

      One section stood out to me from Chapter twelve, “Equity and Justice,” that I thought I’d share.

      “Poverty comes under added scrutiny with the environmental crisis. Wherever there is poverty it is directly or indirectly linked to the perversion of justice…whether it be inhuman living conditions with disease and malnutrition or ad degradation of their environment one could trace the roots down to unjust practices that have deprived people and the environment of basic rights and privileges…

      Not only is poverty unjustly exploited by the exploiter, but this leads to similar exploitation of the environment. The poor, when exploited, exploit their environment to alleviate their poverty. Many poor farmers sell their lands to rich industrialists or urban estate developers, causing environmental complications on the one side but rendering them poorer in the long run…in other cases, there are people who in their poverty are compelled in their desperation to strip their surroundings of all natural resources that could help them survive.”

      What do you think about the connection between poverty and environmental injustice? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

      This article is from the issue: Social Justice

      Blog: The Beatitudes and Social Justice

      The Beatitudes in Matthew 5 give us Jesus’ inaugural address about the Kingdom of God and show us what international development and justice should look like.

      One way to hear the Beatitudes through the eyes of 1st century oppressed people is to read them in “chiastic” order, a common rhetorical and memory device in the Old and New Testaments. In this reading, the first four Beatitudes represent the condition of the oppressed. The second four represent the powerful or influential people of society who are the means by which God intends to bring blessing and justice to the oppressed. Those who are the means of blessing others, in turn, receive the same or similar blessing. For instance,

      Oppressed: Blessed are the poor in spirit For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven
        Powerful: Blessed are those who are     For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven
          persecuted for the sake of justice,
          (because they championed the poor)
          (In the past the prophets were persecuted because they championed righteousness)

      Oppressed: Blessed are those who mourn For they shall be comforted
        Powerful: Blessed are the peacemakers For they shall be called the children of God

      Oppressed: Blessed are the meek   For they shall inherit the land
        Powerful: Blessed are the pure in heart   For they shall see God

      Oppressed: Blessed are those who are   For they shall be filled (with justice)
        hungry and thirsty for justice and   (Amos 5:24: Let justice roll on like a river)
        Powerful: Powerful: Blessed are the Merciful For they shall obtain mercy

      The people of Jesus’ day were hungering and thirsting for political justice. Jesus showed how their felt need for social justice would be met by the righteousness and shalom of God.

      This article is from the issue: Social Justice

      Christianity and Social Justice

      Jul 16, 2017

      This is a paper originally presented at the Religion and Justice Conference held in Alhambra, California, in July 2013. The conference serves as a platform of scholarly discussion of topics related to Christianity and China. Among invited speakers were representatives of the academia in China, with their research reflected through a spectrum of perspectives - biblical, theological, philosophical, and cultural. 


      There is a Chinese idiom saying, ‘See injustice on the roadside, lend a hand.’ It basically depicts the meaning of social justice, which means setting the record straight, speaking out against injustice and intervening against wrongdoing. Justice is to fight against injustice. Therefore, ‘fairness’ is the center of concern of justice.

      What is ‘fairness’? It means equality and justice. In this world full of inequality, how can we achieve equality? People often say that men are created equal. However, in a society where second-generations of wealthy people and government officials monopolize opportunities and resources, people are born into inequality. To understand equality, we will need to look at this in a bigger picture, and in a more transcendent perspective.

      Christianity believes that God is the creator of all things, including man. It means all men are created by God, which leads to a very important and meaningful idea that everyone is equal under God. Therefore, the existence of God becomes a foundation and frame of reference for equality. Leaving God out of the picture leaves no meaning to equality.

      Read more:

      Zhongxin Wang’s article on “Christianity and Social Justice” [in Chinese]
      Read the full issue on Transformational Development Part 2

      This article is from the issue: Disease Origins

      6. The Theology of Disease and Our Role in Its Eradication

      Jul 14, 2017

      This article was presented on October 10. 2014 at a Roberta Winter Institute symposium.

      Today I would like to discuss the theology of disease. There are several ways this topic can be approached, and I do not intend to touch on all of them, but merely touch on two aspects: what we believe about God’s design of nature in relationship to disease, and what we believe we should do about disease as a result.

      All of the life forms on our planet appear to have amazing built-in mechanisms both for ongoing growth and for the replenishing of damaged or old cells. They also have mechanisms for correcting things that have gone wrong and, to some extent, for fighting off the invasion of destructive micro-organisms.

      Read the rest of this article here on page 7.

      This article is from the issue: Disease Origins

      Blog: Alzheimer’s: Genetic Origins and Possible Cure?

      Jul 14, 2017

      Here are a few excerpts from this New York Times opinion column:

      Dr. Trumble was trained as an anthropologist, and his field — evolutionary medicine — taught him to see our surroundings as a blip in the timeline of human history. He thinks it’s a problem that medical research focuses almost exclusively on “people who live in cities like New York or L.A.” Scientists often refer to these places as “Weird” — Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic — and point out that our bodies are still designed for the not-Weird environment in which our species evolved. Yet we know almost nothing about how dementia affected humans during the 50,000 years before developments like antibiotics and mechanized farming. Studying the Tsimane, Dr. Trumble believes, could shed light on this modern plague.

      Dr. Trumble was particularly interested in the ApoE4 gene, often called the Alzheimer’s gene. Americans who carry two copies of the gene are more than 10 times as likely to develop the late-onset form of the disease. Dr. Trumble found something startling when he looked into the Tsimane data: Many of those with a copy of the gene seemed to perform better on the cognitive tests.

      At least 70 percent of the Tsimanes are infected with parasites — worms in their guts, invaders burrowing into their skin — at any given time. The same was likely true of our ancestors. He began to wonder: Could these infections change the way that genes affect our bodies?

      Perhaps the ApoE4 gene provided a survival advantage in ancient environments. Today only about a quarter of us have a single copy of the ApoE4 gene, and only about two in a hundred carry a double dose. But DNA analysis of ancient bones shows that thousands of years ago, the ApoE4 genotype was ubiquitous in humans. The gene — which helps to generate cholesterol — might have been a crucial step in the development of our big, energy-hungry brains, and it may have played a key role in defending those brains from pathogenic invaders.…

      Read the full article in the NY Times here.

      This article is from the issue: Disease Origins

      Blog: Cancer and Epigenetics: Cancer’s Epicentre; from The Economist

      Jul 14, 2017

      The Economist reported back in 2012:

      “The biggest conceptual breakthrough in the war on cancer was the realization by the 1980s that it is always a genetic disease. … Unlike other forms of gene regulation (those involving transcription factors, for example), epigenetic changes are passed on during cell division to daughter and granddaughter cells until they are actively erased. Once erased, though, they do not return. It might therefore be that epigenetic therapies can effect changes which stop a cancer growing without having to kill all its cells.”
      Read more at a technical level here.

      This corresponds with the very recent endorsement by the advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration of an approach to gene therapy for leukemia that had its first trial in 2012. It has had more than a 80% success rates since then with young patients who would otherwise have died. The short term side effects of the therapy are worrisome, but the trials point toward cancer origins within the genetics of cells.

      This article is from the issue: Disease Origins

      Blog: Gene-Altering Leukemia Treatment

      Jul 12, 2017

      The New York Times reported on July 12: A Food and Drug Administration panel opened a new era in medicine on Wednesday, unanimously recommending that the agency approve the first-ever treatment that genetically alters a patient’s own cells to fight cancer, transforming them into what scientists call “a living drug” that powerfully bolsters the immune system to shut down the disease.

      To use the technique, a separate treatment must be created for each patient — their cells removed at an approved medical center, frozen, shipped to a Novartis plant for thawing and processing, frozen again and shipped back to the treatment center.

      A single dose of the resulting product has brought long remissions, and possibly cures, to scores of patients in studies who were facing death because every other treatment had failed. The panel recommended approving the treatment for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia that has resisted treatment, or relapsed, in children and young adults aged 3 to 25.

      Read the full article here.

      This article is from the issue: Disease Origins

      Blog: Insight into Autism and Genetic Links

      Jul 12, 2017

      Another study of the genetic underpinnings of autism gleaned insights from the way a person’s eyes look at faces and social scenes. How we look at other people’s faces is strongly influenced by our genes, scientists have found in new research that may be especially important for understanding autism because it suggests that people are born with neurological differences that affect how they develop socially.

      The study, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, adds new pieces to the nature-versus-nurture puzzle, suggesting that genetics underlie how children seek out formative social experiences like making eye contact or observing facial expressions. Experts said the study may also provide a road map for scientists searching for genes linked to autism.

      “These are very convincing findings, novel findings,” said Charles A. Nelson III, a professor of pediatrics and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, who was not involved in the research. “They seem to suggest that there’s a genetic underpinning that leads to different patterns of brain development, that leads some kids to develop autism.”

      Dr. Nelson, an expert in child development and autism who was an independent reviewer of the study for Nature, said that while autism is known to have a genetic basis, how specific genes influence autism’s development remains undetermined.

      Read the full NY Times article here.

      Read the original full article in Nature here.

      This article is from the issue: Leadership

      7. Mentoring Insights from the Book of Titus

      Jul 10, 2017

      The epistle of Titus is a letter from a mentor to a mentee, from the Apostle Paul to one of his reliable and trusted companions, written from Macedonia towards the end of Paul’s life after his first Roman imprisonment (cf. Acts 28).

      Titus was one of Paul’s converts, spiritual sons, mentees, and companions in ministry (Titus 1:4). Like Timothy, John Mark, and Philemon, Titus had accompanied Paul to Jerusalem when he went there to defend his gospel (Gal. 2:1-3). Titus seems to have worked with Paul at Ephesus during his third missionary Journey. From there Paul sent him to assist the church at Corinth (2 Cor. 2:12-13; 7:5-6; 8:6). Following Paul’s release from his first Roman imprisonment (Acts 28), he and Titus worked briefly in Mediterranean area. At this time Crete was a morally depraved city. The dishonesty, gluttony, and laziness of its inhabitants were legendary (Titus 1:12). To be described as Cretan was to be described as a liar. After their brief work at Crete, Paul left Titus there to properly organize the church, appoint leaders for them, and to ensure that the church had firm footing (1:5; 2:15; 3:12-13). When a replacement arrived, Paul asked Titus to join him at Nicopolis (on the west coast of Greece) (Titus 3:12). The last thing we read about Titus was his mission to Dalmatia (modern Yugoslavia), following in his mentor’s footsteps to take the Gospel to Europe.

      Like mentor, like mentee. In this paper, I explore the qualifications of mentors, the profile of mentees, and the duties of mentors and mentees that we can see in the epistles to Titus.

      Qualifications of Mentors/Profile of Mentees. Titus 1: 5-16

      Paul and Titus had been together in Crete. They had evangelized the city but had not been able to organize the churches when Paul had to leave. He therefore left Titus behind to complete the work of organizing the churches. Part of the organizing Titus had to do was to appoint leaders for the churches which was consistent with the usual Pauline practice in his mission work (cf. Acts 14:23). Paul gives Titus guidelines as to the qualifications for those leaders (v.5):
      - Blameless—having no grounds on which he can be indicted
      - Husband of one wife—marital faithfulness
      - Believing children—has been able to lead the children to become believers in Christ and God fearing.
      - Not overbearing or arrogant—not a man who obstinately maintains his own opinions or asserts his own rights and is reckless of the rights, feelings, and interests of others.
      - Not quick-tempered or habitually inclined to anger
      - Not given to drunkenness—the drunken worship of the god Dionysus was well known on the island of Crete. The leader in the church must not be confused with a worshipper of this pagan god.
      - Not violent—not a fighter or hasty to strike an opponent
      - Not pursuing dishonest gain—not engaging in questionable trade, or perhaps adapting one’s teaching to the hearers in the hope of making more money from them
      - Hospitable—a lover of strangers, loving what is good—devotion to all that is best
      - Self-controlled—self mastery, controlling passionate impulses and keeping the will loyal to the will of God.
      - Upright, holy, and disciplined—in view of the moral laxity of crete
      - Holding to sound doctrine and being able to refute those who oppose it—must hold to sound doctrine and have the ability to teach it as well as to refute those who oppose it (vs. 6-7).
      These are the qualifications for effective leaders/mentors of God’s people. We have been called to be mentors to others. That is the mandate of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). The full potential of the pastoral ministry is not realized until it is approached from the perspective of mentoring.

      Duties of Mentors: Titus 2:1-15, 3:1-15.

      Paul not only articulated the qualifications of leaders and mentees in God’s house, he also went ahead to specify their functions both for the benefit of Titus and the benefit of the leaders he was going to appoint.

      1. Teach Right Living—Titus 2:1-5, 9-10; 3:1-2

      Paul instructed Titus on the need to teach the various groups in the church to be good ambassadors of the gospel—the kind of believers that will transform their society. He was to be creative, conscientious, and intentional in his teaching or training ministry.

        A. The older men needed to be taught to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith in love and in endurance (v.2). B. The older women should learn to lead reverent lives, not slanderers or addicted to much wine, so they can train (mentor) the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, busy at home or industrious, kind and subject to their husbands, so no one will malign the word of God (v.3-5). C. The young men are to be encouraged to be self-controlled (v.6). D. Slaves must be subject to their masters, trying to please them and not to steal from them, showing they can be trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God attractive (vs. 9-10).

      In all, Titus was to remind all the people to be subject to rulers and authorities to be obedient to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show humility toward all men (3:1-2). 

      2. Be an Example—Titus 2:6-8

      In instructing Titus on what to teach the various groups, Paul did not simply stop at what to teach, but went on to indicate that a leader’s life ought to provide them an example. Being a young man himself, Titus was not only to encourage the young men to be self-controlled, he was charged to let his life be a model of who a Christian young man ought to be. Paul urged Titus to show integrity, seriousness, and healthy speech that are beyond reproach (v.7).

      3. Teach Right Doctrine—Titus 2:11-15; 3:3-11

      A great concern of Paul’s was that Titus and the leaders he was to appoint should be familiar with what is sound Christian doctrine and be able to teach it. Paul speaks of the gracious salvation which we have received and its ability to generate within believers a godly life. Those that will be mentors in God’s house must possess the sound doctrine of the faith and be able to teach the same to God’s people, especially in the uncertain times in which we live.

      Our hope for producing a viable pastoral team for the future is in doing what Paul and the early Christian leaders did so well—discipling and mentoring the youth for ministry and for church membership.


      This article is from the issue: Leadership

      4. Servant Leadership in Times Like These

      Jul 10, 2017

      Most whose lives are transformed by the saving work of Jesus the Messiah want to use the best of their time, talents, and abilities to advance His purposes. Our understanding of the path to such service, however, is highly influenced by the prevailing wisdom of our culture. According to popular leadership teachings, we must use the majority of our talents in order to attain star power and success. Daily we are confronted with media-made celebrities who purport to have found fulfillment by discovering and utilizing their giftedness. As a result, many Christians believe that if they could just find that place of service where their gifts are acknowledged and talents fully utilized, they too could be fulfilled and great in the Kingdom.

      This personal fulfillment formula, however, stands in stark contrast to the servant leadership models most frequently noted in Scripture. God took delight in using the foolish and the weak to confound the wise and the strong (1 Cor. 1:27). Moses found that his inadequacies were the means for accomplishing God’s greatest purposes (Ex. 3 & 4). The psalmist was content to be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord (Psalm 84:10).

      John the Baptist knew that he had to decrease so that Jesus might increase (Mark 1:7).
      Peter realized that only after his own resources of strength, freedom, and determination were exhausted could he travel the highway to his ultimate destiny (John 21:18–19).
      Paul, whose resume begins with a chief of sinners’ confession (1 Tim. 1:15), knew that his weakness was perfected in Jesus’ strength—that earthen vessels hold life’s greatest treasure so others will realize that the power and the glory are God’s alone (2 Cor. 4:7).

      Paul’s words challenge us with the promise that we, too, will receive the crown if we run and complete the race not in our own strength, but relying on the One who declared, “It is finished” (John 19:30). All who cross the finish line receive the victor’s crown and the Father’s “Well done!”

      No portion of Scripture has provided me with deeper insights into the mind, heart, and will of servant leadership than Phil. 2:1–11. While reveling in this Pauline hymn, I believe the Holy Spirit asked me a sobering question: “Whose needs are you meeting as you lead—your own or those of the ones I entrust to you?”

      The opening stanzas of Philippians 2 confront the motivations of the heart, emphasizing the “why and who” of serving, rather than the “what, when, where, and how.” Those who desire to serve like Jesus must unite around a commitment to humility, self-denial, and other-centeredness. Actions and attitudes, for those who would be like Jesus, must be without selfish ambition and prideful arrogance. 

      While much of our effort is motivated and evaluated by what we get from the experience, our Lord was driven by the desire to be what we needed so that our greatest good might be apprehended. Laying aside His glory and privileges, He humbly moved from Creator to the created, taking on our state in order to identify with those He came to lead. He came to serve and save and not be served or saved (Matt. 20:28). The Son identified with what we were, so that we could become all that the Father intended—heirs and joint heirs with Him for eternity (Rom. 8:17).

      I believe we could be on the verge of one of the greatest moves of the Holy Spirit since the Day of Pentecost. And those who will take up the call to a Jesus model of servant leadership will be ready for whatever that move demands. Are you willing to serve whomever and wherever with whatever God entrusts to you? If so, let me suggest some steps that could make you available for such a calling.

      1. Explore and give thanks for the unique person God is making you. Take advantage of the many strength-finder tools and wise counselors available to help you better understand your giftedness. However, do not be afraid to uncover your limitations—His strength is made perfect in your weakness.

      2. Surrender the hurts and disappointments of not being fully utilized or recognized.  Use these inactive times to celebrate God’s work in you, examine your driving motivations, and support His work in others.

      3. Look for opportunities to serve where needs are greatest even if you do not possess the skills and talents normally required. Get outside of your cultural and performance comfort zones. Mother Teresa had one thing to give—compassion—for those who needed it most.

      4. Soak up the character of Jesus. Spend time in Philippians 2, the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:1–12) and the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:16–26). What we do has its greatest value when it plays a primary role in conforming us into the image of Christ.

      If Jesus is the gold standard for servant leadership, then we will obey Him by serving faithfully those He has entrusted to us. Often we will work within the strengths He has provided. Like Moses, the skills and experiences symbolized by the shepherd’s staff can become the “rod of God.” However, we must not be surprised or unprepared when the Master asks us to minister out of frailty and discomfort. Being forced to cast down our rods of ability and stability periodically ensures that we are operating not by our own power and might, but by the Spirit’s (Zech 4:6).

      And be prepared to be set aside from time to time. The stops, as well as the steps of the righteous, are ordered of the Lord (Isa. 40:31, Psalm 37:23–24). For it is primarily when we have nothing left but Jesus that He becomes everything. When Jesus is our only thing, as well as our everything, the excellence of the power is seen by all to be of Him and not of us. In the end, the only star will be Christ Jesus the Morning Star (Rev. 22:16). Such is the servant leadership needed for times like these.


      This article is from the issue: Cross-Cultural Communication

      Blog: Oral Learning Strategies

      Jul 09, 2017

      Eighty percent of the world, and nearly 100% of the majority world, are from primary oral learning cultures. This means the people— whether non-literate, functionally non-literate, or even semi-literate—prefer to learn in ways other than through reading printed matter. Even listening to Western literate analytical forms (such as lectures, lists, etc) is foreign to their way of thinking. The importance of this is that in societies other than Western cultures, most people are oral learners.

      Oral strategies are also more participative than traditional learning approaches. These include storytelling, audio materials, diagrams, visual portrayals, and verbal discussions. Strategies also include the use of more “right brain” literary genre like metaphor, imagery, folk proverbs.

      Here’s an example of an oral strategy that fits well with the integrated approach to history of our Global Civilization MA specialization: “The History of Our World in 18 Minutes.”

      This article is from the issue: Cross-Cultural Communication

      The “People of the Book” are the People of the Story: Storytelling in Contemporary Jewish Ministry

      Jul 09, 2017


      At the conclusion of the Fall Feasts of Israel, the Jewish High Holy Days, is the feast of Simchat Torah (“Rejoicing in the Law”), when traditional and Orthodox Jews passionately celebrate the gift of God’s Word. To witness the exuberant dancing and singing while carrying the adorned Torah Scroll at the Western Wall in Jerusalem shames the paltry expression of devotion to the Word that characterizes most of us late moderns.

      Yet it is clear that the Word of God is in three forms: 1) The Living Word (the “Memra” in Hebrew; or “Logos” in Greek), 2) The Written Word (the final authority and judge for all faith and life), and 3) The Oralized Word (Scripture brought to life through human communicators, words made flesh).

      This article will highlight the vital role of oralized Word, for our moment in history, and especially for Jewish ministry. The Hebraic tradition, though holistic, involves the hearing ear more than the distancing
      eye. The article will explore the various ways an understanding of oral learning methods is essential for working for, and with, the Jewish people.

      Read Bill Bjoraker’s article “The “People of the Book” are the People of the Story: Storytelling in Contemporary Jewish Ministry”

      Read the full issue on “The Importance of Oral Learning Methods”

      Like William Carey International Development Journal? Sign up for the WCIDJ email list, or follow WCIDJ on Facebook or Twitter to be notified when new blog posts or articles are online. Thanks for reading!

      Keywords: Judaism, Jewish ministry, orality, storytelling, Christian ministry, cross cultural ministry

      This article is from the issue: Cross-Cultural Communication

      Objections and Benefits of an Oral Strategy

      Jul 09, 2017

      Don’t miss another article by William Carey International Development Journal! Sign up for the WCIDJ email list, or follow WCIDJ on Facebook or Twitter to be notified when new blog posts or articles are online. Thanks for reading!


      Larry Dinkins oralityAfter participating in over thirty orality or storytelling workshops in the last few years, the author became accustomed to a general skittishness that many people have concerning Bible story telling. Since he consistently encounters objections to oral strategies, he thought it would be helpful to address for our readers some of the main concerns that are voiced and balance those concerns with the major benefits. In this article, he will go through many common objections to an oral strategy, and then present some benefits to this strategy as well.

      Read Larry Dinkins’ full article, “Objections and Benefits of an Oral Strategy”

      Read the full Spring 2013 issue: “The Importance of Orality in Learning Methods”

      You may also like:

      Theological Education for Oral Learners
      “I Love to Tell the Story”: The Shift to Oral Strategies
      The Transition between Orality and Literacy

      Keywords: orality, oral learning, teaching methods, learning methods, Christian ministry, cross cultural ministry

      This article is from the issue: Leadership

      3. Christian Mentoring: Its Significance and Implications for Leadership

      Jul 06, 2017

      The Practice of Mentoring in Nigeria

      In the Bassa society, one of the tribes of central Nigeria, parents use music/songs, proverbs, wise sayings, folktales, and riddles for character development of the young ones. The following story was told to me by my grandfather:

      In a distant past, cats and hawks were once friends. They lived in the same village, inter-married, and hunted for food together. There were to notable Cat and Hawk friends. One day, they went hunting. In the bush, Cat saw a dead animal a short distance away from where they were resting. Just then the Hawk also saw it. Before the Cat could reach for the meat, Hawk dived swiftly and picked it up and went and perched on a nearby tree. Cat became very annoyed, and thought of what to do. An idea came to him that he should cause Hawk to be proud. Cat went near the tree where Hawk was perched and said to him, “I heard that you sing very well. Please sing for me to hear so that I can also bear witness.” Hawk was puffed up with pride and very excited as he opened his mouth to sing. The meat that was in his mouth dropped down where Cat picked it up and ran away. Hawk realized that “pride begets foolishness.”

      This story is an example of mentoring younger person in character development. This concept of mentoring, through practice in the traditional and family settings, can also be practiced in the Christian setting. The example of Jesus’ life during His earthly ministry cannot be over-emphasized. He chose twelve men with whom He shared His life by way of words and actions so that they could become like Him even after He was gone.

      The problem in Nigeria is that leaders seem to have little concern for mentorship. During the course of their service in their organizations, leaders often have not developed others to become leaders, and when they leave, there is a problem of getting leaders to replace them. 

      Why is it that in Christian settings in Nigeria, the leaders prefer to lead on for “life” even after they have lapsed from usefulness? Then when they eventually leave, their organizations are stranded, as very few or no people are eligible to take on the mantle of leadership. This is a very grave problem in Nigerian Christian leadership today.

      History and Concept of Mentoring

      The concept of mentoring has significant historical roots. The notion of mentoring dates back to classical Greek mythology. In Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey, as Odysseus ventured out to fight the Trojan war, he entrusted his home and his son, Telemachus, to an older, wiser, and more experienced person named Mentor. For the following ten years, this guardian served as teacher, advisor, surrogate father, and friend to Telemachus. Upon his return, Odysseus discovers that his son had matured in all ramifications, courtesy of the wise tutelage of Mentor (Murray and Owen 1991, 6-7).

      It would seem from this story that mentoring has something to do with the maturation process, enabling people to develop their potential.

      Biblical Mentoring

      Although the word, “mentoring,” is not in the Bible, the concept is found in both the Old and New Testaments.

      Jethro to Moses

      In the book of Exodus, Jethro advised his son-in-law, Moses, in these terms: “What you are doing is not good. … Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you” (Exodus 18:17ff). Mentoring includes giving good advice. Jethro advised Moses to delegate his duties so that the people of God could have peace in their hearts and go home satisfied.

      Moses to Joshua

      Before he died, Moses gave clear guidelines to Joshua on how to lead God’s people: “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deut. 31:8). In this passage, mentoring is the process of preparation of emerging leaders to take over leadership. Christian leaders are not necessarily to be admired on the basis of their business administration skills, but on the basis of their capacity to produce their successor.

      David to Solomon

      Before he died, David also gave instruction to his successor, his son Solomon, on how he should lead Israel. “Be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires. … Walk in obedience to him … so that you may prosper in all you do (1 Kings 2:1-4).

      Elijah to Elisha

      Elijah and Elisha were in close companionship until the day when Elijah was taken by God to heaven. Elisha asked for a double inheritance so he could be a good successor of Elijah and carry on Elijah’s ministry

      Jesus to His Disciples

      In the New Testament, Jesus spent three years mentoring the twelve disciples. He told his disciples, “The Son can do … only what he sees his Father doing. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed” (John 5:19, 20). Later Jesus told his disciples, “Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). After equipping them, Jesus delegated to his disciples the responsibility to cast out demons, to heal those who were sick, and to make more disciples.

      Paul to the Churches

      The apostle Paul spelled out mentoring as his leadership model very simply: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9). He confirmed this by saying, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). In other words he mentored the Christians of Corinth and Philippi by telling them, “let me be your model.” Example and modeling are the tools for developing emerging leaders and transmitting good leadership from one generation to the next.

      Paul to Timothy

      “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Tim. 2:1, 2). This passage illustrates the importance of giving instruction and endeavoring to equip and nurture leaders who will be able to in turn minister effectively to others. Paul mentored Timothy by offering special time to teach him.

      Leadership Development through Mentoring

      Mentoring is tasking, time-consuming, and energy consuming, but it is a powerful tool for leadership development. Leadership and spiritual growth are natural by-products of one-to-one discipling, equipping, and mentoring relationships.

      Great men and women recognize that it is a leader’s obligation to model what they expect from their followers. The mentoring relationship requires a commitment and often sacrifice by both mentor and mentoree. Unless both parties are committed to making it work, the relationship will not grow and develop into full fruition. One of the contributing factors to the lack of mentoring practice is the lack of humility in both mentor and mentoree. But good mentoring relationships produce joy and fulfillment as life-long virtues and values are being built into someone’s life. Although the mentor has a role to play in the process, God causes the change and growth in the mentoree.


      For mentoring to have significance, both mentors and proteges must have good listening and communication skills.
      1. Value your mentoree’s opinions and let your mentoree know that he or she is being taken seriously.
      2. Be open and committed to the relationship.
      3. Be willing to sacrifice self for others.
      4. Work together to build trust.
      5. Be willing to meet when needed and keep the door open as often as possible.
      6. Respect each others’ personal views and values.
      7. Show kindness and love.
      8. Integrity is a crucial part of the mentoring relationship. Without it, the relationship will be merely a veneer with no substance.
      9. Be flexible. There is not one program that fits all.
      10. The mentor should prayerfully and carefully select those who are willing to learn and be accountable to him or her.
      11. The organization needs to have training policies and send those involved in mentoring relationships to workshops and conferences as a reward for service. Training is a form of recognition and also serves to keep the mentor and mentoree motivated, committed, and performing the quality of service expected by the organization.

      Reference Cited

      Murray, Margo, and Marna A. Owen. 1991. Beyond the myths and magic of mentoring: How to facilitate an effective mentoring program. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.


      This article is from the issue: Leadership

      6. Biblical Models for Christian Leadership

      Jul 06, 2017

      The majority of to-day’s faith-based organizations are the offspring of dynamic founders whose personalities, passions, and dedication focus energy and enlist followers. Their compelling presentation of vision, and call to sacrifice in order to achieve it, are the driving forces God uses to address the selected needs of society. Organizations usually prosper in addressing their specific mission as their CEOs remain active, effective, and focused. By contrast, when these leaders leave, die, retire, or most significantly fail, the organization’s ability to sustain its mission can falter.

      As organizations mature, their significant dependence on leaders to create, project, and maintain identity, particularly in faith-informed organizations, remains strategic. The quality, passion, and character of leadership casts vision, creates structure, and drives the staffing of mission, as well as the effective marketing and successful fund raising required to fulfill the mission. While without a vision the people perish (Proverbs 29:18), it is clear that without the visionary, the people needed to perform and fulfill the vision soon lose sight of and commitment to the mission. And as leadership goes, so go funding, service impact, and the effective performance needed to deliver on the organization’s promise.

      However, faith-based organizations have an amazing resiliency – a factor that should not be surprising to those who understand the nature of God’s sovereign call on, provision for, and protection of these entities conceived to incarnate His love for a needy world. As an organizational and leadership researcher, consultant, and educator, I am challenged by the fact that many of these entities, though aerodynamically unsound in terms of systems, structures, operations, and even leadership, are like the bumblebee that flies despite the inherent limitations. Something is at work that moves beyond reason, science, and systems that can only be attributed to a loving Heavenly Father who likes to remind us that our thoughts, as well as our ways, are not always His (Isaiah 57:8-9).

      One of the mysteries of faith-based leadership is that God often chooses champions that illustrate that it is not by might nor by power but by My Spirit (Zechariah 4:6) that His work ultimately is accomplished. I remember well the counsel I received from a senior leader in an international ministry who served as the right-hand to the organization’s founder. Painfully aware of the limitations, as well as being in awe of the talents and capabilities of the founder, he reminded me that all leaders are human with feet of clay. He went on to celebrate and illustrate God’s wisdom in deploying leaders who hold the treasure of their calling in earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7) so that in the end it is clear that the excellence and the power belong more to God than to them. Those insights informed my own attempts to lead, as well as follow, through the past four decades of service to intentionally Christ-centered organizations.

      It has been helpful, in my goal to understand the impact of Christian leadership on organizational mission and identity, to explore four basic Scriptural models, or what I characterize here as motifs, of leadership style and motivation. It is important, however, to underscore that models are almost always artificial and as a result incomplete. No leader fits fully into any one of these characterizations due to the raw materials of personality, experiences, motivations, and skill sets each individual brings to the specific situation. Current institutional needs and emerging opportunities also influence the tailoring of these off-the-rack suits to fit the person with the place.

      It is my experience that effective leaders understand their preferred motif of leadership and work from these positions of experience and disposition. However, the most effective leaders willingly adapt their leadership preferences to changing conditions as required. With those caveats, we consider four biblically illustrated models of leadership – prophets, priests, kings, and apostles – in an attempt to better understand leadership predispositions and their impact on institutional identity. We can only provide here a cursory overview with an emphasis on those qualities and characteristics of the motif that influence organizational mission and identity. I have found these categories helpful in my executive coaching activities to better match individuals and organizations as well as effect positive transitions from one leader to the next.

      The Prophet

      The prophet motif is the one most characteristic of founder leaders. The prophets of the Old Testament stood as emissaries on behalf of God declaring in compelling, and often convicting as well as correcting, tones His plans for His people. The missions of organizations led by such prophets tend to be focused, specific, and targeted in their ministry objectives. The fingerprints of the leader are evident with the organization taking on the personality and characteristics of the leader. These leaders have an urgency to their vision believing that time is short, needs are great, and this cause is worth both living as well as sacrificing for in terms of commitment and resources. Often their mission takes on a militaristic, confrontational tone – a culture wars characterization – that positions them in the forefront of the battle between good and evil, right and wrong, in apocalyptic proportions. For such leaders their mission has world-changing, culture-shaping implications and their identity is driven by a conviction that they have a unique and distinctive call from God to be His John the Baptist voice to and for this generation. Theologically there is often an emphasis on God’s power and presence with a particular focus on the authority of God’s Word and/or the infilling power and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

      The Priest

      Where the prophet motif speaks to the people on behalf of God, the priest motif speaks to God on behalf of the people. Here the mission is one more of comforting the afflicted in contrast to the prophetic motif of afflicting the comfortable. Peace, grace, compassion, mercy, reconciliation, and caring are the foci of institutional mission. Pastoral tones and perspectives shape the identity of the organization where care for the least, the left, and the lost dominates the nature and as a result the identity of the organization. As with the prophetic motif, the organization reflects the style, dispositions, and character of the leader usually with an emphasis on God’s love, forgiveness, mercy, and compassion. 

      The King

      The king motif distinguishes itself from prophet and priest primarily in its approach to getting God’s work done. While prophets cajole and reveal, and priests comfort and revive, Kings tend to create structures and issue the commands necessary for the implementation of the vision. In this motif, measurable evidences of success drive the leader. Growth and expansion are highly valued rubrics for determining God’s blessing. Loyalty to the leader and the mission are expected – there is little tolerance for those who do not embrace the mission as identified and projected by the leader. In these organizational cultures, followers implement mission as directed by the leader and are rewarded for their effectiveness in fulfilling the CEO’s expectations. This is a top-down culture very dependent upon the leader for mission interpretation and communication.

      The Apostle

      As we move to the apostolic motif of leadership, there is a decided shift from the earlier models where the focus primarily is on the leader to create identity and determine mission to a cooperative, collaborative, and facilitating leadership disposition. Prophets cajole, priests comfort, and kings command, but apostles coordinate and facilitate, as well as course-correct and nurture the vision and mission at the heart of institutional identity. The first three motifs operate in an independent fashion assuming the final authority for decisions and direction. Even if they have Boards, these function more as ratifying and advisory councils rather than as governing accountability-based entities.

      While elements of the prophet, priest, and king can be present in the apostle’s calling, much of the functions are building, as Paul described the mission of the Church, into the body of Christ with each part functioning in mutual support and submission under the headship of Jesus as its Lord I Corinthians 12. Mission and identity emerge out of the collected and cooperative collaboration of those called to serve the vision of the organization. The leader facilitates the crafting of the organization’s identity rather than creating or primarily controlling it. And in this motif the leader has a clear sense of responsibility to some governing and guiding force such as a Board. Paul, for example, submitted his teachings and plans to the Jerusalem Council for advice, validation and direction.

      In my service at Asbury Seminary, and later Asbury University, I became aware of the quilting bees so characteristic of the creative work of Appalachian women. Each would come with the knowledge that the goal was to make a quilt. Together they discussed and decided on the overall design – double wedding rings, pomegranate, double propellers, and several other historic patterns were among the many options. Each quilter brought what scraps of fabric they could afford or had available. And under the coordinating eye of the queen of the quilting bee, they decided together where their scraps best fit. Each woman’s contributions of fabric, as well as skill sets, were valued and then employed to create a whole that was always greater than the sum of its parts. While usually there is a recognizable pattern, depending on design choice, each quilt is distinct due to the fabric contributed and stitching techniques of its individual participants.

      In a similar fashion, the apostolic approach to leadership involves and invites the key stakeholders into the process of identity formulation. While the leader remains the primary catalyst for developing, communicating, and resourcing the vision, those who implement and support it are elevated to a higher level of involvement and responsibility. In this motif, followers are co-creators with leadership rather than just tools of leadership. Given the increasing rate of turnover in senior leadership positions, institutional memory and stability are enhanced by spreading the responsibilities of organizational culture and identity to those who carry the day-to-day workload of the mission. Leaders then serve as quilting bee conveners encouraging and making room for the specifics of the vision to be revealed through the contributions of those God calls to serve.

      Paul, as you might expect, is the New Testament example for the apostolic motif. However, he was an interesting blend of all four motifs as he addressed the various start-up and course corrections needs of his churches. Nehemiah is an Old Testament illustration of the apostolic motif working to serve under authority while involving and facilitating participation across the various categories of key stakeholders needed to achieve the objective of rebuilding the walls. I find Cyril Barber’s Nehemiah and the Dynamics of Effective Leadership (Loizeaux Brothers 1999) a very insightful study of leadership that reflects much of what this particular motif brings to organizational mission and identity.

      Paul, in Philippians 2 provides an excellent insight into the Jesus model of leadership that I continue to explore in my own search for effectiveness. He suggests that the ultimate characteristic of Christ-like leadership adapts the chosen or preferred leadership style to the needs of the led rather than to the needs or preferences of the leader. While it should be obvious that my predisposition is toward the apostolic motif, there are times and circumstances when what is needed for the good of the mission is one of the other leadership styles. The needs of the led dictate the style of leadership chosen. Any of the four motifs can be appropriate and effective when driven by this simple but profound insight. With such a servant leadership priority, each of the four styles has the potential to sharpen mission and project an identity that is consistent with our understandings of the Jesus model of leadership we long to appropriate.


      This article is from the issue: Cross-Cultural Communication

      4. What Do You Mean? Why Communication Breakdowns Happen

      Jul 06, 2017

      George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Shaw’s irony is apparent when two people from the same language and culture converse over a seemingly simple topic, yet they interpret what is said differently. His irony is especially apparent when two people from different culture and language backgrounds attempt to communicate using a shared language. So often there is a communication breakdown.

      A breakdown happens simply because language in general and word choices in particular are influenced by at least two things: experience and environment. No two experiences are exactly alike. Environments may be the same, but experienced in different ways. People from vastly different cultures have vastly different experiences which influences how they process or make meaning.

      Western rationalism operates on the idea that we have shared inborn knowledge. Experiences can activate this knowledge but experiences do not provide knowledge. Knowledge has “somehow” always been with us.

      The belief in innate knowledge led to linguistic structuralism (Saussure, 1857-1913). Simply put, all languages operate on a core set of universal linguistic structures and devices. On the surface at least, words are understood according to the structures and devices used to communicate them. There is predictability, so communication should be somewhat seamless when words within linguistic structures are understood. If we know the structure of a target language, then we can export meaning to that language and the recipients should understand things the same way we do.

      However, we now know that language and meaning making is not so predictable after all. On the contrary, from a cognitive linguistics perspective, “language is motivated and grounded more or less directly in our bodily, physical, social and cultural experience” (Rojo and Ibarretxe- Antuñano, 2013: 11). As Ricardo Muñoz Martin explains, “Natural language structures are taken to reflect cognitive features and mechanisms influenced both by experience and the environment” (2013: 75). Thus meaning making represents contextualized interpretation (Croft and Cruse 2004: 98). And contrary to rationalism assumptions, “Meaning creation is not deterministic or mechanical: it is human in every regard” (Halverson, 2013: 48).

      Two Models of How People Try to Communicate

      John Fiske presents two models of communication. The Process school is one modern translators are more familiar with. It views communication as a process of transmission involving encoding and decoding.

      Read the full article:

      This article is from the issue: Leadership

      1. A World-Changer’s Profile

      Jul 05, 2017

      Christ-Centered Leadership that Serves the Present Age and Beyond

      In attempting to be a Christian leader I must be constantly centering my mind and heart on the supreme and authoritative person of Jesus Christ. Christ is no philosophical system or static methodology; he is a living person who calls us toward living discipleship. When we as leaders begin to follow him in our own leadership, we will begin to exhibit his patterns of leading.

      The following list forms the core of what I have come to recognize as the profile of a leader who has his or her heart set toward the person of Christ. Each accompanying reference helps guide me in a greater understanding how the living Christ is the active center of each attribute. 

      Christ-centered leaders are connected intimately to the purposes of God in relation to creation and particularly humanity. (See Eph 1:9-10)

      Christ-centered leaders are holistic—achieving their full potential in body, mind, and spirit. As such, their potential for both personal and societal transformation is unlimited. (See Col 1:15-20)

      Christ-centered leaders embrace the Christian perspective as reflected in God’s Word. They are empowered by the Holy Spirit’s gifts and graces to initiate a positive, practical, and respectful dialogue with the world about the implications of such a perspective. (See John 14:26)

      Christ-centered leaders move beyond cognitive learning and skill acquisition to intentional discipleship as their ultimate objective. Through the conscious integration of faith, learning, and living, Christ-centered leaders examine their academic and professional disciplines, asking how the events and theories studied relate to the purposes of God. Christ-centered leaders not only analyze the learning event, but also explore its implied morality. (See Rom 6:17,19)

      Christ-centered leaders embrace a Great Commandment motivation that compels them to address poverty, illness, exploitation, discrimination, and oppression in the world. They possess a burden for those who—for reasons of culture, social position, political oppression, economic condition, race, gender and ethnicity—are denied the basics of life’s opportunities. (See Luke 4:18)

      Christ-centered leaders’ learning and serving reflect the major biblical themes of justice, mercy, and humility (see Micah 6:8). All three of these are evidence of the transformation that comes when the mind is challenged to see and serve the world like the Christ.

      Christ-centered leaders, ultimately, are driven by the Great Commission mission and Great Commandment motivation of Christ’s Church—to address and resolve human meaningless and suffering by understanding, going, teaching, serving and loving.

      Christ-centered leaders think clearly and deeply love serving with excellence, creativity, and self-sacrifice.  This Christian leadership serves the present age and changes the world’s future.

      How to Use This:

      This profile and accompanying Scripture references could be useful not only for personal reflection, but also for discussion at an upcoming meeting of your leadership team.  Among the questions you could discuss are these:

      • To what extent do you agree with this profile? 
      • What other qualities of Christ-centered leaders would you add to this profile? 
      • Which qualities are most apparent or most lacking in leaders in your organization? 
      • What will you do to refrain from drifting into “business as usual”?


      This article is from the issue: Leadership

      Blog: Servant Leaders as Change Agents

      For this blog I did a word study a couple of years ago on the words used for “servant” in the New Testament. One of those words is used only once in the New Testament, applied to Moses, therapon. But this word is used quite a few times in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, also speaking of Moses.

      Moses was called:
      • a servant-therapist (Greek: therapon; Numbers 12:7, 8; Hebrews 3:5)
      • a nursing father (see Numbers 11:12) (but he didn’t like this role of being nurse to a new-born, fussy nation!)
      • meek beyond anyone else (Numbers 12:3)

      Moses illustrated the Beatitude, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the land” (Matthew 5:5).

      Even as a meek servant, Moses became a political leader, guiding a new-born nation toward the land God promised to give them. In this leadership role he had to be a nursing father and a servant-therapist, dealing with a bunch of complaining, disorganized slaves to bring them up out of chaos and darkness. He was a change agent. He was faithful (Hebrews 3:5).

      These are the qualities I would look for in a servant leader today.

      This article is from the issue: Disease Origins

      4. Beyond Caring for the Sick to Disease Eradication in God’s Name: A 3-Part Article

      Jul 03, 2017

      PART 1

      Many earnest believers in Jesus are working to overcome poverty, illiteracy, political corruption, spiritual darkness, and other works of the devil. Down through history believers have displayed a remarkable willingness to tackle the great world problems of the day. This is especially true in the case of disease.

      Following Christ’s example, believers have devoted tremendous efforts and genuine compassion to treating and caring for the sick. Think of the many hospitals established by believers since the time of Constantine, or the health clinics and medical missionaries spread all over the globe today. Believers are even involved in disease prevention work, as in the case of the many groups who distribute anti-malarial bed nets,1 or denominations that have produced educational materials addressing HIV-AIDS.2

      But there is a relatively new reality in the fight against disease and it is the conviction of the Roberta Winter Institute that believers can play a significant role. When the late Ralph D. Winter’s first wife, Roberta, contracted multiple myeloma, he began a frantic pursuit for more information about the disease. In his research he discovered a fact that wowed him: in comparison to the truly enormous amount of money and human resources that are devoted to disease treatment, very few resources go toward disease eradication.

      Or course, this fact is understandable. As Winter pointed out, “the load of healing the sick is such a burden there is no time or energy left over to delve into the eradication of disease pathogens.”3 It’s a case of being so busy mopping up the floor that we can’t turn off the spigot.

      Now, you may think I am trying to raise awareness about nutrition, exercise, or avoiding stress. While these preventative lifestyle principles are essential, Winter considered them defensive measures. He often used the following analogy:

      It’s like walking through a sniper’s alley with a bulletproof vest on. The vest (prevention) will protect you from the sniper, but only so much. If a bullet hits you where your vest doesn’t cover, you’ve got to get the medic to remove the bullet and stitch you up (treatment/cure). But the most crucial objective is to eliminate the sniper (eradication).

      “All of these are important, but the third is the most urgent and crucial.” Winter explained. “You can fumble the ball in treating the wounded and dodging bullets, but you can’t win the war without the offensive.”4

      Winter decided that if believers could summon the necessary resources and resolve to mount an offensive counter attack against eradicable disease, not only would it be dramatically helpful in alleviating suffering, it could also “radically add power and beauty to the very concept of the God we preach, and thus become a new and vital means of glorifying God among the nations.” 5

      The eradication of smallpox in 1979 has been called “one of the greatest accomplishments undertaken and performed for the benefit of mankind anywhere or at any time.”6 Just consider all the suffering that immediately stopped the moment smallpox entered the archives of human disease. Think of the truly enormous amounts of money and human resources that are no longer necessary to treat it. What would be said and believed about Jesus if his followers teamed-up to eradicate other diseases? How much more would God be glorified if it were clear that it was done for that very reason? To demonstrate, consider the passages where healing revealed God’s character or resulted in people glorifying him: Mt 15:30-31, Mk 2:12, Lk 5:26; 17:11-16;18:43, Jn 20:30-31.

      As Richard Stearns, President of World Vision said about believers combating massive world problems like disease in his book The Hole in Our Gospel:

      [it] would be on the lips of every citizen in the world and in the pages of every newspaper—in a good way. The world would see the whole gospel—the good news of the kingdom of God—not just spoken but demonstrated, by people whose faith is not devoid of deeds but defined by love and backed up with action. His kingdom come, His will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. This was the whole gospel that Jesus proclaimed in Luke 4, and if we would embrace it, it would literally change everything. 7


      1 On-line. Available from, accessed 18 August 2011.
      2 Alex, Mwangi, 2005. “Orthodox Church Launches An AIDS Eradication Strategy.”  On-line. Available from, accessed 31 May 2011.
      3 Winter, Ralph D. 2005 “Editorial Comment.” Mission Frontiers,  July-August 2005.
      4 Ibid
      5 Winter, Ralph D. 2008 Frontiers in Mission: Discovering and Surmounting Barriers to the Missio Dei. Pasadena: WCIU Press, 221
      6 Oldstone, Michael B. A. 2010. Viruses, Plagues, and History: Past, Present and Future. New York, Oxford University Press, 84.
      7 Stearns, Richard, 2009. The Hole in Our Gospel. Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 219

      PART 2

      1John 3:8 as the Biblical basis for disease eradication

      I Jn 3:8 states, “For the Son of God appeared for this purpose, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” As scripture portrays it, the foundational reason that Christ appeared and the purpose behind all of his activity—his teaching, his exorcisms, his healings, and the cross—was to conquer the devil and his death-dealing works (Heb 2:14).

      Given the prevalence in the New Testament of the assumption that sickness and disease are a work of the devil (Mt 9:32, 12:22, 17:14-18, Lk 13:10-16, Act 10:38), plus the absolute finality implied in the word eradication, the cause of disease eradication seems to resonate quite profoundly with Christ’s purpose of destroying the works of the devil.

      However, Ralph Winter once noted,

      There is absolutely no evidence I know of in all the world of any theologically driven interest in combating disease at its origins. I have not found any work of theology, any chapter, any paragraph, nor to my knowledge any sermon urging us—whether in the pew or in professional missions—to go to battle against the many disease pathogens we now know to be eradicable.1

      Can it be true that there are no believers attempting to eradicate disease?

      Truth be told, there are scores of individual believers who are at work in the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other public health entities. Their contributions are to be applauded and emulated. But the question is, can the world count on any coordinated, theologically motivated endeavor to eradicate the roots of disease?

      A pattern to follow

      A little known fact is that Rotarians have been at the forefront of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative since it began in 1988. Rotary clubs have contributed huge amounts of money and volunteer hours to immunize children around the world against polio and to raise public awareness about the disease. In that time the number of polio cases worldwide has decreased by more than 99%.2 In spite of this remarkable progress, tackling the last 1% of polio cases has proven to be difficult and very expensive. The greatest threat to this program’s success: a $665 million funding gap.

      To help address this gap, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated half of the amount needed.3 Rotary International responded by challenging its clubs to raise $200 million in three years. Amazingly, after only two years, Rotarians have raised 88% of that amount.4

      The Rotary Foundation raised this impressive sum by challenging each of their 34,000 clubs to raise $2,000 per year, for three years. For comparison sake, there are about the same number of Methodist churches in the United States and three times as many Baptist churches.5 The Hartford Institute for Religious Research estimates that there are roughly 322,000 religious congregations (Protestant/Catholic/Orthodox) in the United States.6 If each of these congregations followed the Rotarian pattern and raised $2,000 per year, for three years, $1.9 Billion would be generated.


      1 Winter, Ralph D. 2008 Frontiers in Mission: Discovering and Surmounting Barriers to the Missio Dei. Pasadena: WCIU Press, 7.
      2 On-line. Available from, accessed 18 August 2011.
      3 On-line. Available from, accessed 18 August 2011.
      4 Ibid.
      5 On-line. Available from, accessed 18 August 2011.
      6 On-line. Available from, accessed 18 August 2011.

      PART 3

      “Disease eradication, because it takes the globe as its clinic, faces monster-sized…complexities. The facilities are worse, the money scarcer, the sun hotter, the cold colder, the workers harder to find and to train, and the results harder to verify.”1 This cause requires a kind of zeal that is reminiscent of the dedication that has propelled missionaries around the globe for centuries. The trouble is that we as believers have never considered a coordinated disease eradication effort within the range of our responsibility.

      One explanation for this may be because our theological way of understanding how to deal with disease begins to stumble at the question of eradication. We feel responsible to prevent disease because we see a model in the dietary and hygienic laws of the Old Testament that protected Israel from communicable diseases. We feel responsible to heal disease because we see Christ healing the sick throughout his earthly ministry. But the Bible doesn’t say anything explicit about eradication. After all, Jesus didn’t eradicate disease, nor did he give us a clear verbal mandate to do so, as he did with the Great Commission.

      A good parallel to the cause of disease eradication is the movement to abolish slavery in the 19th Century. William Wilberforce in England challenged the injustice of slavery based upon deeply held moral convictions and a biblical understanding of innate human value and freedom. These same convictions propel those today who fight human trafficking in the name of Christ. But note that these convictions are NOT based on a few isolated verses or passages. In fact, not one verse in the Bible explicitly prohibits slavery.

      In other words, Jesus didn’t abolish slavery, but he modeled an understanding of human value. In this same way, Jesus didn’t eradicate disease, but he modeled sensitivity to suffering and compassion for those who were sick. We can do likewise on a global level and for all future generations through eradication. After all, eradication can simply be thought of as healing every human being on earth of a given disease for the rest of history.

      Does scripture have anything to say about eradicating disease?

      One biblical concept that approaches an answer is the Hebrew term shalom. Shalom is understood around the world to mean peace. But to think of shalom as simply a state of affairs where there are no disputes or wars does not begin to describe the full meaning of the term. Shalom also denotes completeness, health, safety, quietness, rest and harmony. It implies a process, an activity, a movement to restore perfect wholeness.2

      This fuller sense of shalom brings new meaning to Christ’s title, “Prince of Peace/Sar Shalom” (Is 9:6). This is why when John the Baptist asked if Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus pointed to the shalom he was manifesting, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”(Lk 7:22)

      When Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt 5:9), he was describing the role believers were to have as sons of God, taking over the family business in bringing shalom to this broken, diseased, war-torn world.

      Given this understanding of shalom the Bible has quite a lot to say about disease eradication and how it fits within the scope of responsibility of the body of Christ.


      1. Needham, Cynthia A. and Canning, Richard, 2003 Global Disease Eradication: the Race for the Last Child. Washington DC: ASM Press, 2.
      2. On-line. Available from, accessed 18 August 2011.

      This article is from the issue: Leadership

      Blog: Psalm 15, Leadership and International Development

      Psalm 15 is one of the “Royal Psalms,” a ritual for installing a king, patterned after Ancient Near Eastern rituals. It serves as a template for leadership under the rule and reign of God. Those who demonstrate the conditions of godly leadership in Psalm 15 will lead societies and organizations that will flourish. The central climax of this Psalm shows that a godly leader recognizes evil and turns away from it. When this guideline is followed, those under that leader’s influence will be better able to experience transformation and development according to God’s will. Societies and organizations with leaders who are corrupt, undependable, untruthful, will demonstrate the opposite of the stability and righteous living described in Psalm 15.


      1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
      Who may live on your holy mountain?


      Positive Conditions:
      2 The one whose walk is blameless,
      who does what is righteous,
      who speaks the truth from their heart;
      Negative Conditions:
      3 whose tongue utters no slander,
      who does no wrong to a neighbor,
      and casts no slur on others;

      4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised,

      Positive Conditions:
      but who honors those who fear the Lord;
      who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind;

      Negative Conditions:
      5a who does not put out his money at interest;
      who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

      5b Whoever does these
        will never be shaken.
      (NIV and ESV)

      This article is from the issue: Leadership

      2. Discovering Servant in Servant-Leadership

      Jul 02, 2017

      In this paper, Kevin Mannoia explores Jesus’ example of Servant Leadership as a model for leadership today. There is a substantial rise in interest in servant leadership in the business world, education and Christian organizations.  Leaders hear the ideas and are naturally drawn to the apparent selflessness of the paradigm that puts others first. But the genius of servant leadership is really not in its skills or in its outcomes.  The result of learning servant leadership is not merely changed behavior – or it shouldn’t be.  Servant leadership is not so much a style of leadership as it is a condition of the leader. In this paper, the author explores why servant leadership is not a formula, but rather a mindset, and how leaders can develop these qualities in their own lives.

      Read the full article on page 33 of the Fall 2012 Leadership issue:

      Download the entire Fall 2012 Leadership issue.

      Note: this article was originally published in the book Servant First: Readings and Reflections on the Practice of Servant Leadership, published by Precedent Press. Republished with permission from the author.

      This article is from the issue: Leadership

      Blog: Leaders with Deep Influence and Emotional Health (EQ)

      Jul 02, 2017 posted their blog and podcast #47, “How to be a person of deep influence with guest T.J. Addington.”

      A quote from T.J. Addington’s newest book, Deep Influence:
      “The preponderance of books on leadership focus on what good leaders do, how they act, or the strategies they implement. Some of these books provide real insight into good leadership principles. But these are not the most important issues in leadership, nor are they where leadership starts. Great leadership starts deep inside and the best leaders belong in a category set apart. Their uniqueness lies not first in their ability but in a set of intentional practices that they nurture. Those practices combined with leadership ability make the difference between the average leader and a leader with deep influence.”

      The blog goes on to say: “What’s inside is what comes out. Good leadership comes out of a deep reservoir of their hearts and minds. Poor leaders, on the other hand, lead out of insecurity and their own personal agendas. To become a leader of deep influence, you must pay attention to this inner world. … The level of our emotional health (our EQ) determines how much influence we can have with others. If we are defensive, we shut down dialogue. If we have to have our own way, we are less likely to lead teams that learn to work together. We become aware of our EQ through interaction with others. When we open up with others and discuss how we interact with them, we learn how to improve our EQ.”

      Read more.

      •, T.J. Addington’s blog site
      •Deep Influence, T.J. latest book, and the others, are offered at a discount at his author site


      This article is from the issue: Leadership

      5. Who Decides and How? The Challenge of Decision-Making in Intercultural Ministry Teams

      Jul 02, 2017

      Sean wasn’t only frustrated, he was very upset! He has just received another email from team leader Ramón with another list of directives.  It seemed like every time he turned around, Ramón had another idea and simply announced what they as a team were going to do.  Initially he had liked Ramón and respected him for his experience, vision and the initiative he brought from his native Ecuador.  However, it irritated him every time Ramón assigned him a task without consulting him first.  Sean didn’t expect things to work like he was used to in the United States but he didn’t like Ramón’s style of assigning tasks and micromanaging everything.

      The other members of the team were also annoyed.  Hans and Iris, who were from Germany, didn’t like the fact that Ramón seemed to make up his own rules as he went along.  Jonathan, who was Australian, was vocal about the need to decide on things together as a team.  He said that making decisions by consensus was the best way to get people to all feel like they were are part of the team.  Sean wasn’t sure the team could ever reach a consensus.  In his opinion, the best way was for the team vote on decisions like they did in the U.S! 

      The only person that liked the way Ramón did things was Ruth.  She was from Korea and said that since Ramón was the oldest, had the most experience, and was the appointed team leader by the agency, they should do as he said and things would go better.  It appeared that she was setting herself up as Ramón’s lieutenant.

      Sean was beginning to think there was quite a bit he could do just working alone.  He sat down and began to make a list of what it would take to start his own project.


      What is happening to this team?  Why is it happening?  Why are people reacting the way they are?  Is it because of personality differences or is there another reason there is so much discord? 

      Members of intercultural teams bring with them their cultural preferences or biases about many things, including leadership styles and how decisions are made.  Misunderstandings and conflict were nearly inevitable when team members operate, often unknowingly, from their cultural preferences.  Their different ideas about what they consider the correct way to make decisions is a key indicator of their cultural type.  Considering some fundamental aspects of culture and how it affects the members of intercultural ministry teams, especially in the area of how decisions are made, will be helpful to understand what is taking place in the story. 

      Recounting the Story

      Cultural differences quickly rise to the forefront when people from different cultures meet. The encounter provokes an emotional response as people react positively or negatively to the differences (Silzer 2011. Kindle location 771). A positive reaction can be a sense of peace or joy, being patient, kind, and helpful.  A negative reaction is identified by emotions such as being shocked, surprised, or angry. Depending on a person’s cultural preferences, they may experience both types of emotions as they interact with people of other cultures. Either way, their reactions show a great deal about their own cultural formation and cultural preferences.

      In the narrative, Ramón is from Ecuador and Ruth is from Korea. Both countries have Hierarching cultures. In their cultures the leader has a great deal of authority and people are to defer to the leader in making decisions, who in turn rewards them for their loyalty.  Ruth feels comfortable with Ramón’s leadership style.  This sheds light on why Ruth is so supportive of Ramón. Ruth also believes everyone has a defined position in society. She enjoys a high social position in her country and this affects her expectations concerning her role and position on the team.

      On the other hand, Hans and Iris are from Germany which is an Institutionalizing culture. They believe leaders are to make decisions according to established rules and policies. They react with frustration when someone does not follow the rules. However, in this case no one seems to know the rules that the group is to follow. They show surprise when Ramón seems to make up the rules as he goes along. 

      Jonathan, is from the Interrelating culture of Australia and feels most comfortable with a leader that is low-key and who uses their role primarily to facilitate a decision made by consensus. Since Ramón is hierarchical in his leadership and decision-making style, it generates tension in Jon, who reacts negatively. At the same time, Jon probably appreciates Ramón’s strong sense of community and inclusiveness in the team.

      Finally, Sean, originates from the Individuating culture of the United States. Though he has a sincere concern for others, he believes that he has a right to make his own decisions and stands by his opinions no matter what the other members of the group think. Although he says that he doesn’t expect things to work like they do in his home country, he finds it difficult to work closely on a team with a group of people that think so differently than he does. He reacts positively to Ramón’s sense vision and personal initiative, both cultural values that he shares, but he reacts negatively to Ramón’s hierarchical decision-making style that clashes with his individuating style. 

      The Influence of Culture

      Leadership styles and decision-making are strongly driven by culture and is reflected in the actions of team members. While people make multiple decisions every day of their lives, they are mostly unconscious about the way they make decisions or why they make them the way they do. 

      People and leaders do not live and lead out of a vacuum. They respond to their cultural foundations they learned in their society, beginning as small children on their mother’s lap. These cultural foundations become cultural preferences, the way that people prefer to do things, and are considered as the correct and best way to do things. People react emotionally when they encounter cultural differences. The greater the difference, the greater the emotional response. If the person likes what they experience, they will respond in a positive way. If the difference conflicts with their preferences, they respond negatively by being upset, shocked or surprised. Individuals who have become leaders learned from their cultural surroundings about how leaders are supposed to act. This often happens informally by observation and experience at home, school, church or at work and includes learning about who makes decisions and how they make them. 

      It is no surprise then that when people of different cultural backgrounds come together as a team that they find it difficult to not only determine how things should be done but more specifically, how it is decided what should be done. Foundational ideas of what is important, how people are to act and react as well as to communicate and work together are intricately connected with cultural preferences. 

      Cultural Foundations

      Cultural studies can help us understand some of the differences and show us a way to not just avoid difficulties but to benefit from the differences that members bring to an intercultural team. Hofstede uses several terms as descriptors for cultural values that define how cultures see important issues of life. This involves understanding who makes decisions and how they are made. He shows that power distance, uncertainty avoidance and the individualism versus collectivism can explain a range of cultural values that determine cultural responses (Hofstede 2010, Kindle page 31).

      Power Distance

      Hofstede denotes the gap between people who are considered as unequal by society, such as a boss and a subordinate, as power distance and evaluates its proportion as being from small to large (Ibid.). Power distance can be described as the degree to which a leader and follower are separated by a sense of authority or power that may be reflected in titles, rank, positions or less visible elements of organizational culture (Sagie and Aycan 2003, 456). The less social distance between an authority figure and a subordinate, or small-power-distance, the more participatory the decision-making style. The opposite is also true. The more distance between the person in authority and the subordinate, or large power-distance, the less participatory the decision-making style.

      Uncertainty Avoidance

      Every decision involves some level of risk. Uncertainty avoidance affects decision-making because the less tolerance a person senses towards uncertainty, the less risk they are willing to take in making decisions. The less assurance there is that a decision will have the desired result, the higher the sense of risk. Members of societies are formed by cultural values to feel comfortable with different levels of risk or uncertainty.  The more risk that is involved in the decision, the more a person’s cultural background influences their willingness to be involved in making the decision (Waragarn and Ghazal 2008, 20).

      Collectivism Versus Individualism

      The cultural dimension of collectivism versus individualism affect the making of decisions because the two social views of this cultural dimension are completely opposite. Collectivism versus individualism is the degree to which a culture encourages its members to sense responsibility primarily for themselves or for the group and to act accordingly in the issues of life (Sagie and Aycan 2003, 456).

      Collectivism emphasizes the group or community and its well-being while individualism encourages individuals to take care of themselves.  Collectivism strives to maintain group cohesion while individualism seeks to maintain an individual’s independence. As these views are played out in daily lives, it become evident that collectivistic groups will make decisions that consider the whole group while individualistic cultures will expect individuals to personally make many of the decisions that affect their life without regard for others around them (Silzer 2011, Kindle location 708).

      The Influence of Structure and Community on Decision-making

      Further studies by Silzer based on the cultural theory of Mary Douglas, a British anthropologist, defines culture on the two axes of Structure and Community, each on a scale from weak to strong. Structure shows how individuals are defined within a culture whereas Community shows the degree to which people are bonded together by culture. Cultures that display a weak bond of community have a tendency towards Individualism while those that display a strong bond of community have a tendency towards Collectivism.
      The following chart shows some of the main features of the two axes of Structure and Community. 
      Moon chart 1
      Main Features of Structure and Community (Silzer 2011, Kindle location 596).

      Silzer notes that in Strong Structure communities, decision-making is accomplished according to the rules of the system that have been developed over a time and result in an established way of doing things. On the other hand, in Weak Structure communities individuals are given priority and they find their own sources of information make decisions independently (Silzer 2011, Kindle location 629).

      The Douglas/Silzer approach to cultural theory reveals four major cultural types which include Individuating (Weak Community, Weak Structure), Institutionalizing (Weak Community, Strong Structure), Hierarching (Strong Structure, Strong Community) and Interrelating (Strong Community, Weak Structure).  Decision-making plays out differently in each of the cultural types, reflecting both the way decisions are made, who makes them and who wins in conflict situations. The main points of the cultural preferences of decision making according to the cultural type is reflected in the following chart.

      Moon chart 2
      Decision-making Styles as related to Silzer/Douglas Cultural Theory (Moon 2013, 7).

      Decision-Making Styles

      Decision making is a basic human function. The human capacity to make decisions reflects God as the ultimate authority (Silzer 2011, Kindle location 425).  However, decisions are made very differently by different cultures. The four primary decision making styles are Authoritarian, Consensus, Consultative, and Individual. Each one is distinct and is appreciated as the cultural preference by the majority of the members in the cultural type that embraces it.

      Authoritarian decision-making is primarily found in Hierarching cultures and largely rests on an individual leader who is trusted by the members of the society. The leader is expected to understand the needs of the members of the society or group and make decisions accordingly that are considered to be in the best interest of the group. As a leader they are expected to be knowledgeable of the traditions and rituals of the culture and respect them when they make decisions so that order is maintained. 

      Consensus decision-making is practiced in Interrelating cultures and relies on the entire membership of the group to make a decision. Group leaders do not make decisions but rather are tasked with making sure that every viable member of the group has the opportunity to give their opinion. The role of the leader is to manage the process, construct a synthesis of the various views and build a consensus that results in a decision made by the group. The priority is that harmony of the group is maintained rather than seeking for efficiency in the process or effectiveness in the decision. In the mind of the group, if harmony is maintained and relationships are respected, then whatever decision is made is the most effective one. 

      Rule-based decision-making is used in Institutionalizing cultures and focuses on the rules that are established and followed by the group.  In this case, the institution is the larger society and not just one entity. People in general have a sense that the rules are made for a reason and are to be followed. They appreciate the order that rules bring to society and to their personal lives. As a result, decisions are expected to be made according the rules. Therefore, having rules and following the rules is valued in the culture and extends from the areas of government, business, and institutions to include the family and the individual. 

      Individual decision making is based on the individual which is foundational to the Individuating culture. In this style, each person has a strong sense of opinion and a feeling of entitlement to make a decision that is favorable to them or reflects their opinion no matter what the other members of the group think.  The leader has to shape his or her role as a leader and cope with the criticism and opinions of the members. Therefore, while this method allows for extensive personal expression and builds a strong sense of personal responsibility, it is very difficult to manage in a group. 

      The Challenge of Decision-Making in Intercultural Teams

      When these different decision making styles are brought into the context of an intercultural team, the consequences can be devastating. Each member feels comfortable with the method that they have known and unconsciously adhere to it as their cultural preference. Cultural preferences are deeply embedded in the psyche of the individual, making it difficult for them to accept any other method.  Foreign methods are viewed as inferior and thus likely to result in faulty decisions that are ineffective and produce undesired results. Therefore, the method that each person is accustomed to in their culture is seen as the best method and the correct way of going about making decisions.

      The challenge for an intercultural team is to find their way forward in the midst of such obstacles. One strategy may be to try to blend pieces of each cultural background to try to satisfy all the participants.  However, it is unlikely to succeed because the cultural values are fundamentally different and in many ways incompatible. Another strategy may be for one person to take control and operate the team according to their cultural preferences while consciously or unconsciously attempting to train the others to operate according the method they impose. This is most likely to happen if the team leader is appointed by a higher authority rather than selected and recognized by the team itself. This too will fail as members chafe under the direction that espouses values different from their own. Members may be willing to accept minor differences in behavior but they will likely adamantly defy what they deem to be a violation of their values, whether or not they are conscious of those values. 

      A better strategy is to create a new team culture that is based on mutual values. However, the values have to transcend culture or the team will quickly become mired in the contest of cultural preferences which reflect the values of the different cultures. 

      Silzer proposes that values should be identified from a study by the team of the image of God, looking at the Substantive view of God’s image which results in choosing to depend on God, the Functional view which results in taking care of God’s creation including humanity, and the Relational view which results in loving one another in community (Silzer 2011, Kindle location 355).

      In gaining an understanding of the image of God and how they are created in His image, the team can identify foundational values that are borne out of God’s Truth through His Word. When members seek to know God’s truth and to choose God’s will over human systems of rules and methods, they will find commonality and unity as they walk together.  Team members will not look to their own cultural preferences for satisfaction or security but rather seek to live in ways that glorify God by depending on Him rather than on themselves or others, by honoring and respecting the other members as creations in His image, and building relationships built on love. This is opposite of relying on ourselves or our community for security, to feeling superior to others because of race or culture, and to demeaning others or neglecting them so that our own needs may be met. 

      Silzer comments, “When we are aligned with God’s will, we make decisions based on the truth of God’s Word that reflect God’s character in our actions and relationships. We demonstrate a life of holiness that is not limited by cultural interpretation; a life that transcends culture” (Silzer 2011, Kindle location 441). This should be the goal of both leaders and members of intercultural ministry teams. Teams that follow this path will find that they function better when aligned with what they mutually understand to be reflective of God’s truth and character rather than being guided by their preferred cultural values. They have a much better chance at succeeding in making effective decisions, building team unity, and being effective in ministry. When these elements are a part of the team context, everyone is much happier. 

      Reference List

      Hofstede, Geert and Gert Jan Hofstede, Michael Minkov. 2010. Cultures and organizations: Software for the mind: Intercultural cooperation and its importances for survival. New York: McGraw Hill. Kindle Edition.
      Moon, Donald L. 2013. Decision-making in Latin American contexts. Unpublished paper.
      Sagie, Abraham and Zeynep Aycan. 2003. A cross-cultural analysis of participative decision making in organizations. London: Sage Publications. (accessed May 15, 2013).
      Silzer, Sheryl. 2011. Biblical multicultural teams: Applying biblical truth to cultural differences. Pasadena: William Carey International University Press. Kindle Edition.
      Waragarn, Pannavalee and Ghazal Rafique. 2008. How is decision-making in project teams influenced by national cultures? Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden. 2008 . (accessed September 18, 2010).

      Recommended Reading

      Lingenfelter, Sherwood G. 2008. Leading Cross-culturally: Covenant Relationships for Effective Christian Leadership. Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.
      Plueddeman, James. E. 2009. Leading Across Cultures: Effective Ministry and Mission in the Global Church.  InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.
      Silzer, Sheryl Takagi. 2011. Biblical Multicultural Teams: Applying Biblical Truth to Cultural Differences. William Carey International University, Pasadena, CA.

      The Root of Cancer and the Ethics of Ebola

      Jun 30, 2017

      These links and comments were compiled by Emily Lewis, granddaughter of Roberta and Ralph Winter. Originally posted on the Roberta Winter Institute’s page.

      From the Independent Cancer Research Foundation, here’s an interesting and easy-to-read explanation of what might be the root cause of cancer. This is the microbe theory of cancer and the article explains in some detail how the tiny terrorists, also called “microbes,” turn a cell cancerous, and what we can do to kill the microbes that cause the cancer in the first place.

      Oncologist David Agus, who believes inflammation to be the root cause of cancer, also attests that the key to beating it is to address the problem before it starts. “I want doctors to treat toward health and not toward disease.” Read his five tips for prevention.

      Yet another theory for the root of cancer: infection. The BBC reviews Lancet Oncology’s report that two million cases of cancer a year could be prevented with proper use of vaccines and antibiotics.

      But cancer is not the disease most people are talking about today, in the global fight against disease Ebola is the star of the hour. As we shared on Facebook and Twitter earlier this week, Bjorn Lomborg at the Guardian questions what we should be prioritizing, “It may sound cold-hearted to set health priorities based on cost-effectiveness, but it’s actually the best way to do the most good in the world with limited resources.”

      The truth is, there are a lot of complicated ethics involved in tackling disease. In this thought-provoking article from Forbes Matthew Herper discusses the ethics of ebola vaccine trials.

      At the beginning of his article, Herper contends, “Ebola virus and other emerging infectious diseases for which we don’t have effective treatments are the reality in public health. And they’re expected to keep on coming.”

      What do you think? If this is true, how should the people of God respond?

      This article is from the issue: Disease Origins

      Blog: Polio Global Eradication Initiative: Another Conversation with a Medical Doctor

      Jun 24, 2017

      Mike Soderling, M.D.:
      I’m curious whether or not the Polio Global Eradication Initiative is something ISOD would support/encourage:

      Beth (D Litt et Phil in Biblical Studies):
      This is certainly an example of active efforts to finish the eradication of a particular disease by going after its origins. It also demonstrates the deviousness of an enemy’s work—strains of viruses mutating in order to avoid eradication.
      My biblical studies of the Johannine Epistles, which were written in the same tradition as the Gospel of John, have led me to apply to disease issues the position taken in 1 John 5:19, that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” I believe the free will choices of both humans and fallen angels are responsible for diseases such as polio.

      God’s enemy can take something humans mean for good (e.g., polio vaccines) and cause harm to come from it (namely, rogue viruses mutating and causing the disease to recur in a population). This is the evil one’s distortion that is the opposite of God’s way of working in the world. As Joseph explained in Genesis 50:20, God took something evil men had intended to harm Joseph but turned it into something good, “the saving of many lives.”
      This report is from a part of the world where evil human choices have resulted in extremely difficult situations both socially and physically—prime ground for the enemy to take advantage and cause increased disease. And this was in an under-vaccinated area (note the social dangers in the area making it very difficult to insure that children could be vaccinated against polio). All of these choices result in innocent children suffering.

      I’m amazed at the dedication of the workers who probably risked their own safety to discover and start eliminating the mutated virus as well as caring for the victims. That is something that followers Jesus need to be known for doing, following Jesus’ example in the Gospels of caring about sick people and healing their diseases.

      This article is from the issue: Disease Origins

      5. Phyto-Bioactive Food Pyramid©: A Healthy Dietary Plan for Preventing Certain Common Cancers

      Jun 22, 2017

      Originally published in WCIDJ Volume 3, Issue 4 (Fall 2014): Agriculture, Food and Health



      Prostate and breast cancer are the most prevalent cancers among men and women, respectively, particularly in the United States. Their pathogenesis includes multiple genetic and epigenetic mechanisms, including effects from environmental factors. The progression from a low-grade lesion to an aggressive adenocarcinoma takes several years. Therefore, both prostate and breast cancer typically have a very long latency period that provides a window of opportunity for intervention by cancer-preventive agents.  Accumulated scientific evidence suggests that certain cancers, particularly those that have hormonal origins such as prostate and breast cancer, are more likely to occur in people  with unhealthy diets, low physical activity, and obesity ( Also see these websites:

      In fact, an increasingly large body of epidemiologic and medical literature demonstrates that as many as 30-40% of all cancer cases are related to unhealthy dietary habits (Donaldson 2004, 319). Increasing evidence substantiates the fact that a prudent diet has protective effects against various cancers. Dietary patterns with higher intake of sweets and fast foods have been associated with higher risk of colon, breast, prostate, and several other cancers (Thorogood et al. 1994, 1667-70). On the other hand, a healthy dietary pattern with higher intake of fruits and vegetables, which contributes to higher intake of dietary phytochemicals and increased levels of antioxidants, has been associated with lower risks of many cancers (Kushi et al. 2006, 254-81). These are important cues that link nutritional aspects with cancer. Foods that are abundant in phytochemicals include various fruits and vegetables, including whole grains and green tea.  Although the relationship between health and diet is complex, there are some dietary phytochemicals that seem to offer protection based on their specific bioactive configuration and their concentration levels. Several molecular targets and biochemical signaling pathways that are affected by phytochemicals have been discovered. These targets could be certain DNA sequences, enzymes and their cofactors, and transcription factors such as the nuclear factor kappa B. Studies have shown that dietary phytochemicals play an influential role in breast and prostate carcinogenesis by influencing biological processes such as cell-cycle control, programmed cell death (apoptosis), inflammation, and DNA repair. Inflammation is closely linked to tumor promotion. During chronic inflammation, the tissues experience an increase in biochemical markers of inflammation, resulting in a state of oxidative stress. Overproduction of oxidants or oxidative stress causes damage to DNA and other cellular proteins, resulting in increased risk for cancer. Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals help inhibit or reduce the oxidative damage induced by free radicals. In this study, we organized healthy foods that contain phytochemicals that have been shown to provide chemo-protection. This protection includes inducing apoptosis (self-destruction) of cancerous cells and inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. Several other cancer preventing/protection criteria are also taken into consideration based on their molecular and cellular mechanisms. Using a computer program, we have ranked each food via a hierarchy-based point system ranging from most beneficial to least beneficial for cancer prevention.  We have found eight cancer preventive properties of 49 dietary phytochemicals that play a crucial role by affecting fundamental cellular processes involved in carcinogenesis. From this data, we have designed an interactive Phyto-Bioactive Pyramid© (PBP) useful to consumers for selecting bioactive foods. The addition to a daily diet of fruits and  vegetables containing these 49 phytochemicals that have cancer/disease preventive properties can play a vital role in increasing the body’s natural defense mechanism and thus lower the risk of many cancers. Our study demonstrates that each of these healthy foods in the Phyto-Bioactive Pyramid will be particularly useful for people who are genetically prone to certain cancers such as prostate and breast cancer, and it provides a useful tool for human nutrition.


      Data Analysis: Cancer-preventive Properties of  Phytochemical Bioactive Molecule (PBAM)
      Phytochemicals are natural chemicals found in plants. Studies suggest that there are more than 4,000 phytochemicals that have been identified ( Research indicates that dietary phytochemical bioactive molecules (PBAM) induce numerous cancer preventing/protection mechanisms by directly or indirectly influencing several cellular and biological processes involved in carcinogenesis.  To identify phytochemicals bioactive molecules (PBAM) active in the protection and prevention of cancer, we isolated bioactive compounds containing 8 cancer-preventive properties and were able to identify 49 cancer-preventive phytochemical bioactive molecules (PBAM): 1) Allyl methyl trisulfide. 2) Caffeic acid. 3) Capsaicin. 4) Carnosol. 5) Chlorogenic acid. 6) Coumarin. 7) Curcumin. 8) Diallyl sulfide. 9) Ellagic acid. 10) Ferulic acid. 11) Gallic acid. 12) Limonene. 13) Perillyl alcohol. 14) Phytosterols. 15) Salicylic acid. 16) Secoisolariciresinol. 17) Ursolic acid. 18) (-)-Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). 19) Ajoene. 20) Allicin. 21) Alliin. 22) alpha Carotene. 23) Alpha-Tocopherol. 24) Apigenin. 25) Beta Sitosterol. 26) Beta-Carotene. 27) Cyanidin. 28) Delphinidin. 29) Epicatechin. 30) Genistein. 31) Gingerol. 32) Hesperidin. 33) Indole-3-carbinol. 34) Lutein. 35) Lycopene. 36) Naringenin. 37) Nobiletin. 38) Pectin. 39) Phytic acid. 40) Quercetin. 41) Resveratrol. 42) Rutin. 43) Saponins. 44) Selenium. 45) Sinigrin. 46) sulforaphane. 47) Theaflavin. 48) Vicenin-2. 49) Zeaxanthin.


      Increasingly, data from the scientific literature and medical  journals on diet, nutrition, and cancer-preventive phytochemicals, supports the role of an unhealthy diet in the formation and progression of both breast and prostate cancer.  Although the link between diet and health is extremely complex, research indicates that consumption of fruits and  vegetables with cancer-preventive phytochemicals plays a crucial role in lowering risks of many cancers. To identify dietary sources beneficial for prostate and breast cancer protection and prevention, we used a computer program based on an algorithm to isolate the foods containing the eight cancer-preventive properties in 49 dietary phytochemical bioactive molecules (PBAM). We restricted our research to foods containing cancer-preventive phytochemicals that are particularly useful in lowering the risks of both prostate and breast cancer.

      To see the following tables, click here and go to page 11:

      TABLE 1:

      List of foods with cancer-preventive properties beneficial in both prostate and breast cancer protection:

      TABLE 2:

      Summary of list of foods with cancer-preventive properties showing the relationship between each fruit or vegetable and its effect on breast (B) and prostate (P) cancer protection. Foods with cancer-protective properties beneficial in both prostate and breast cancer protection are indicated by the shaded color in this chart.


      Phyto-Bioactive Pyramid© (PBP) for Prostate Cancer
      FIGURE 1: Phyto-Bioactive Pyramid © (PBP) for prostate cancer. Distribution according to color and hierarchy is as follows: Green, most beneficial level; Blue, moderate beneficial level; Yellow, lowest beneficial level. Foods with cancer-preventive properties specifically beneficial in protection and prevention of prostate cancer are evaluated based on their statistical value generated through a computer program point system based on their final concentration, the total benefits from phytochemicals, and the total numbers of cancer preventive phytochemicals bioactive molecules (PBAM).

      Phyto-Bioactive Pyramid© (PBP) for Breast Cancer

      FIGURE 2: Phyto-Bioactive Pyramid © (PBP) for breast cancer. Distribution according to color and hierarchy is as follows: Green, most beneficial level; Blue, moderate beneficial level; Yellow, lowest beneficial level. Foods with cancer-preventive properties specifically beneficial in protection and prevention of breast cancer are evaluated based on their statistical value generated through a computer program point system based on their final concentration, the total benefits from phytochemicals, and the total numbers of cancer preventive phytochemicals bioactive molecules (PBAM)

      TABLE 3:

      Summary list of foods with cancer-preventive properties showing the relationship between the fruit or vegetable and its effect on prostate (P) and breast (B) cancer prevention or protection. Foods with cancer-preventive properties specifically beneficial in protection and prevention of prostate and breast cancer are evaluated based on their numerous preventing/protecting cellular and biological mechanisms. We restricted the foods containing cancer-preventive phytochemicals in this pyramid to those with both protective and preventive properties. Those with preventative and protective properties for both breast and prostate cancers are indicated by the dark shaded color in this chart



      Donaldson, Michael S. 2004. “Nutrition and cancer: A review of the evidence for an anti-cancer diet.” Nutrition Journal 3, no. 1. Accessed August 18, 2014.

      Kushi, L. H., T. Byers, C. Doyle, E. V. Bandera, M. McCullough, T. Gansler, K. S. Andrews, and M. J. Thun. 2006. “American Cancer Society guidelines on nutrition
          and physical activity for cancer prevention: Reducing the risk of cancer with healthy food choices and physical activity.” A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 56: 254-81.

      Thorogood, M., J. Mann, P. Appleby, and K. McPherson. 1994. “Risk of death from cancer and ischaemic heart disease in meat and non-meat eaters.” British Medical  
          Journal 308: 1667-70.


      This article is from the issue: Disease Origins

      Blog: Fighting Back against Disease in God’s Name

      In the Gospels Jesus always regarded illness, sickness, and disease as either the direct or indirect result of satanic oppression. Acts 10:38 says that Jesus “went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” Apparently everyone he healed was under the power of the devil because of their sickness or infirmity. He always treated illness and suffering as a result of this world being in an oppressed state. Never once does Jesus come upon somebody with an affliction and say well, this is the mysterious will of God. Or, this is just the natural law of cause and effect, and unfortunately it happens to go bad for you. Rather than passively accepting these conditions, he gets mad because creation was never supposed to be this way. A scientist could explain these afflictions by natural laws, but that should tell us that the natural laws operating right now are not operating exactly the way God intended them to. So now “natural laws” can produce things like leukemia and cancer—not that there is a specific demon behind every occurrence of disease, but there is a corruption in nature (Boyd 2009, 290).

      Care for creation was our first command: “Fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Genesis 1:28). Fighting back against the evil effects on this war-torn creation is a means of obeying this original command and demonstrating God’s will on earth as his representative (Boyd 2009, 292).

      We are doing spiritual warfare when we fight disease. This is more than just prayer. Anything we do to push back the harmful effects of nature is a step toward reclaiming nature, toward rebuking the curse. We have a spectrum of viruses and diseases that we have to fight against: AIDs, Ebola, leprosy, malaria. There have been times in history where large segments of the population were wiped out by the plague. In the Middle Ages, 30-40% of the world’s population was killed by the plague (Boyd 2009, 292).

      When scientists … discover ways to fight diseases and discover their origins, that is spiritual warfare. … Anything we do to reflect God’s ideal for creation is a form of spiritual warfare. By these and other means we are fighting back against the curse of death that is not God’s will (Boyd 2009, 293).

      We are called to partner with God in … overcoming evil with good, in bringing good out of evil, and ultimately in transforming the earth to become a domain over which God alone reigns (Boyd 2009, 145)


      Boyd, Gregory A. 2009. Evolution as Cosmic Warfare: A Biblical Perspective on Satan and “Natural” Evil. In Creation Made Free: Open Theology Engaging Science, ed. Thomas J. Oord, 125-45. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publishers.

      ______. 2011. A War-Torn Creation. In Evangelical and Frontier Mission Perspectives on the Global Progress of the Gospel, eds. Beth Snodderly and A. Scott Moreau, 286-93. Oxford: Regnum.


      This article is from the issue: Disease Origins

      Blog: Genetic Origins of Autism?

      Jun 19, 2017

      As a biochemical geneticist, I’m very interested in two recent reports about genetic research into the origins of autism. The first one comes through a professional email list, with permission from the sender to quote her in this blog:

      1. Email report:

      In recent years, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has garnered growing interest in the genetic research community. One initiative that is targeting the genetics of ASD is SPARK (Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge). SPARK is a research partnership in which 150,000 participants are being sequenced and genotyped to help identify new genes associated with autism.

      In order to maximize compliance and access to donors, SPARK’s researchers are using Oragene to collect DNA from saliva at participants’ homes and GenoFIND services for custom collection kits and direct to donor shipments.  For further details on the study, read “The SPARK project – Fueling the fire on autism research.”

      2. A report from Vox Media:

      Today, about one in 68 US children has autism — a rate that’s remained unchanged since at least 1990, though there’s been a steady increase in awareness and diagnosis. And it’s the parents of some of these children who are among the most vocal proponents of the vaccine-autism link — in Minnesota and elsewhere. Many are frustrated, confused, and desperate for an explanation for why and how their children got the disorder.

      It doesn’t help that doctors have long struggled to explain what exactly causes autism if vaccines don’t — many medical theories have been debunked and then replaced by new ones.

      The medical community is getting closer and closer to finally zeroing in on the cause. I recently talked to half a dozen researchers on the cutting edge of this work to find out what they see as the latest and best evidence for what might trigger autism. They were excited about their new understandings of the genetic basis for autism — what they view as the most promising area of research on the disorder right now. They also talked about recent advances in grasping how particular genetic mutations change the biology of the brain in ways that cause autism symptoms.

      Read the full article here.


      This article is from the issue: Disease Origins

      Blog: Phyto-BioActive Food Pyramid app

      Jun 17, 2017

      Phyto-Bioactive Food Pyramid©: A Healthy Dietary Plan for Preventing Certain Common Cancers
      by: Richard Gunasekera Oct 22, 2014

      My team has designed a food pyramid based on phytochemical bioactive molecules (PBAM) that will provide consumers, survivors, and cancer patients with information on bioactive foods that contain PBAM for cancer prevention. Ranked via a hierarchy-based system, the pyramid will inform users about which healthy foods contain phytochemicals that have cancer/disease preventive properties. The pyramid is created electronically linking data mined from the scientific literature, epidemiological databases, and medical information on diet, nutrition, and cancer-preventive phytochemicals. It is structured to help an average consumer make an informed choice of foods, based on good nutrition, specific to their subjective needs. Consumers will be able to buy foods based on rankings ranging from most beneficial to least beneficial for cancer prevention. Each food is ranked via a point system based on an algorithm that includes the concentration of the phytochemical and the amount of PBAM it provides. This phytochemical pyramid will give consumers the assurance and confidence to choose foods from grocery stores and restaurants that will help fight cancer and certain other diseases. It will be particularly useful for people who are genetically prone to prostate and breast cancer.

      An announcement was made on Monday, May 18, 2015:
      Phyto-BioActive Food Pyramid app
      Now In Prototype Form: Phyto-bioactive Food Pyramid App

      This prototype was first discussed in the following article in the William Carey International Development Journal, Fall 2014 (Oct):
      and was a Poster Presentation at Texas A&M in Feb. 2014

      This article is from the issue: Disease Origins

      12 Book Reviews

      Jun 17, 2017

      Never Be Sick Again: One Disease, Two Causes, Six Pathways, by Raymond Francis. 

      Thesis: The basic thesis of this book is that all diseases at the foundation are due to cellular malfunction. When cells malfunction, body systems become disrupted. Cellular malfunction arises from two causes: deficiencies (cells not getting what they need) and toxicity (cells poisoned by something they do not need).  We are healthy when all of our cells are functioning optimally. We become sick through deficiencies and toxicity which come through six primary pathways: 1) Nutrition, 2) Toxins, 3) Psychological responses, 4) Physical activities, 5) Genetic assault, 6) Medical intervention. To prevent or reverse disease, and to restore health, regardless of the trigger, toxins must be removed from the body and nutrition must give the cells what they need. Infectious agents (bacteria, mold, etc) almost all kill by toxins. 

      Author: The author, Raymond Francis, chemist and graduate of MIT, turned to research of the basis of health, after almost dying and suffering years of debilitating heart and health problems. He decided to work with the body’s amazing capacity to heal, and get rid of anything that worked against that. He has a website called Beyond Health News:

      Curing the Incurable: Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins, by Dr Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD

      Thesis: Dr Levy reviews over 60 years of scientific and medical studies, and promotes the thesis that healthy cells require a full and free flow of electrons, and illness exists whenever this flow is significantly impaired. He proposes that by far the most effective molecule that the body uses to keep the electron exchange flowing is Vitamin C. He also argues that all known toxins, natural and man-made, including the many associated with infectious diseases, damage the body through robbing electrons from body tissues and thus damaging and inflaming them. Vitamin C is capable of denaturing or detoxing all known toxins (even spider, bee and snake bites) if it is present in high enough amounts commensurate with the level of toxins and damage present. Since human bodies, unlike most of the animal kingdom, cannot daily manufacture their own vitamin C from glucose, nor store it effectively, megadoses are required to reverse illness or fight off infectious assaults, to counter exogenous environmental, or endogenous toxins during times of stress. Vitamin C in cells is further depleted by high blood glucose which competes for cell entry with Vitamin C. Much of the book is devoted to the long history of studies showing specific cases of curing, reversing and preventing infectious diseases or death due to toxins with megadose Vitamin C, for example: Polio, hepatitis, encephalitis, pneumonia, influenza, rabies, pertussis, tetanus, tuberculosis, strep, typhoid, staph, etc. etc. Other chapters discuss the antidote properties of Vitamin C to alcohol, pesticides, mycotoxins, venoms, species specific toxins, etc., and Vitamin C in relation to cancer, kidney stones, immune system disorders, etc. 

      Author: Dr Thomas Levy, graduate of Johns Hopkins (1972) and Tulane University (1976), was board certified in internal medicine and cardiology. He worked on the health impact of dental toxicity, writing Roots of Disease, concerning the connection between tooth decay and heart disease in particular. Other books he has written are Primal Panacea (also about Vit. C), Stop America’s #1 Killer (about heart disease), Optimal Nutrition for Optimal Health, and has a website:, and articles at: 
      Youtube video talks available.

      Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills by Russell L Blaylock, MD

      Thesis: This book asserts that a category of common flavor enhancing food additives (MSG, aspartame, cysteine, hydrolyzed protein etc.) is a major factor in causing progressive neurological destruction of brain neurons, especially in the hypothalamus, citing numerous animal studies, and some human studies.  Especially damaging and probably irreversible is the destruction of excitotoxins on the developing brain in utero and during childhood through adolescence, heavily impacting everything from behavior to hormones, leading to delayed puberty, obesity, hypothyroidism, infertility, and gender bending side effects. There are also chapters on neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and other neurological disorders, from seizures, to strokes, dementia, etc.. Things that help to minimize or reverse destruction by excitotoxins, like magnesium and anti-inflammatories, are also covered.

      Author: Dr Russell Baylock is a board certified neurosurgeon (Louisiana State University School of Medicine), practicing neurosurgery for the last 16 years, and is a member of the Congress of Neurosurgeons, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, and several other Societies. He has studied among other things the effect of lead and mercury on the brain.  An evangelical Christian, in 1989 when his father died of Parkinson’s disease, he began studying the origin of neurological deterioration of the brain more diligently. He has written a number of other books on nutrition and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. Youtube video talks available.

      The Germ That Causes Cancer by Doug A. Kaufman

      Thesis: Going back to the early 1800’s many studies are reviewed of diseases associated with fungal infections or which have fungal characteristics. Then the association to cancer is drawn, showing similarities in growth patterns, impact of anti-fungal drugs on cancer patients, the gene altering capacity of mycotoxins, especially aflatoxin (“the most carcinogenic substance in the natural world”) a by product of aspergillus mold. The consistent association of invasive fungal infections in cancer patients is explored. Much of the book is devoted to understanding the mechanism whereby molds can turn cells cancerous, and how to combat or reverse this process. I came upon this book because of getting cancer within a couple months of a lung and systemic aspergillus mold infection.

      Author: Doug A. Kaufman was a U.S. Navy Medical Corpsman in the Marines who, after getting very sick, discovered his multiple allergies and leaky gut was related to fungal infections. He has been studying the fungal link to many modern disease for many years and written 9 books on the subject. He has his own website: He seems to be a Christian.
      Youtube video talks available.

      The Environmental and Genetic Causes of Autism by James Lyons-Weiler PhD

      Thesis: The neuroinflammation, altered inflammatory responses and immune abnormalities are a result of a combination of environmental assaults and genetic and epigenetic risk factors. This book pulls together more than 50 years of autism research into chapters covering phenotypes (cognitive, motor, seizure, sensory, immunological, gastrointestinal and renal, etc.) as well as neurotoxin-induced autoimmune-mediated neurological damage, comorbidities, vaccine-autism studies, causal research, etc. With autism and other neurodegenerative diseases increasing at exponential rates, this book is invaluable in tracking down important studies on the subject, particularly of autism.
      Author: James Lyons-Weiler has a BA in Biology, Masters in Zoology, PhD in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation and post doc degree in computational molecular biology. 

      Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic, a Medical Controversy, by David Kirby
      Thesis: Significant amounts of research has been done on the kind of mercury in vaccines, concluding vastly different things. This book with extensive documentation goes through not only what studies have been done but records a play-by-play summary of the battle between opposing perspectives, even on a global scale. The riveting records of people’s attempt to get answers to their mercury poisoning and conditions ranging from autism to Gulf War Syndrome gives unique insight into how difficult it is to be heard when vaccine and drug makers have their products at stake. Also interesting is his review of a number of other studies on non-vaccine sources of mercury poisoning and the result on autism rates and other neurodegenerative diseases.
      Author: David Kirby is a former New York Times writer on health and science issues. His book, which gives voice to a number of parent’s stories, has been criticized by the mainline medical community. 

      Racing to the Beginning of the Road: The Search for the Origin of Cancer by Robert A. Weinberg (1996)

      Thesis: Cancer is largely genetic and a result of dual damage to cells, to both the oncogene and tumor suppression genes, that together allow the cell to become cancerous. Most cells in the body are robustly resistant to becoming cancerous because multiple gene mutations are required before the cell can become cancerous. This book does not discuss adequately causes of the damage to the genes of cancer cells. However, this book is largely a recounting of the historical advances, controversies and rivalries that have been involved in cancer research. A NY Times Notable book for 1996, it is still useful by revealing the history of certain branches of research into the cause of cancer.

      Author: Robert A. Weinberg, founding member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Professor of Biology at MIT.

      Tripping Over the Truth: The Return of the Metabolic Theory of Cancer Illuminates a New and Hopeful Path to a Cure by Travis Christofferson (2014)

      Thesis: The “gene theory” of cancer proved to be a long dead end in seeking the source and cure for cancer. Over 100 years of research have led back to an earlier theory involving dysfunction of mitochondria. This book covers the history of theories of cancer origin and failed cancer treatments, spiraling costs without appreciable improvements in survival rate. The book ends by proposing various mitochondrial enhancement therapies, while not adequately getting into WHY the mitochondria are malfunctioning in the first place.

      Author: Travis Christofferson, M.S. received his undergraduate degree in molecular biology from the Montana State University Honors Program and a master’s degree in Material Engineering and Science from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Today, he is a full-time science writer and founder of a cancer charity. 
      The organization dedicated to metabolic cancer cures:

      Other Books on This Subject:

      Cancer as a Metabolic Disease by Thomas M. Seyfried, PhD

      Living Downstream: A Scientist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment  by Sandra Steingraber (1998)
      Thesis: Cancer is much more prevalent in areas where the environmental toxins from human industry are highest. Told in the form of her personal story, Sandra shows how toxic chemicals in water, food and air can alter gene expression in both human beings and animal. She complains that a medical obsession with genes and heredity is blinding people to the environment roots of cancer. The book is well-documented and has a good index.
      Author: Sandra Steingraber has her PhD in biology from the University of Michigan

      Books on the Environment:

      Altering Eden: The Feminization of Nature by Deborah Cadbury (1997)
      Thesis: Chemicals and medications that we are dumping into our environment are not degrading as expected instead they are affecting the gender of all kinds of species, threatening to lead to mass extinction. In some places, up to 80% of the alligators studied (having survived since the time of the dinosaurs) have abnormal reproductive organs. Adult are infertile; eggs produced are dead. Gender-bending chemicals, byproducts of plastic production etc, and steroids and hormones, increasingly used for everything from birth control to fatting up of animals, are used with little thought for their long term impact on species in our environment. Fish are becoming so feminized in our rivers that extinction is inevitable. Polycarbonates, phlthalates, alkylphenols, estrogens from birth control pills, estrogenic pesticides and herbicides, hundreds of common chemicals are now shown to alone and in combination cause significant gender distortion of species. These chemicals are not removed by water treatment plants and so end up in both bottled and piped water from these plants. No mention is made on gender confusion in humans, now a widely recognized phenomenon. 
      Author: Deborah Cadbury is an award winning British author and BBC producer. 

      Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival? by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumansoski, and John Peterson Myers (1996)
      Thesis: Recognition that synthetic chemicals can disrupt hormone messages in the body, not just sex hormones by thyroid etc as well, may have even more profound implications than global warming concerns. Some chapters discuss in detail how the chemicals in question disrupt the hormonal system of animals and humans, and how several in combination are even more dangerous. Several chapters consider the effects on human health, everything from mis-shaped reproductive organs, to infertility to cancer. 
      Ongoing news found at:
      Authors: Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumansoski, and John Peterson Myers, preface by V.P. Al Gore. 

      Hell’s Kitchen: The Cause, Prevention and Cure of Obesity, Diabetes, and Metabolic Syndrome by J.D. Wallach, Bs, DVM, ND and Ma Lan MD, MS, LAc
      Thesis: Based on the studies of a zoological veterinarian, who spent 20 years curing zoo animals with nutrition, Hell’s Kitchen proposes that our food supply and soil began to exponentially deplete in nutrients when wood ash (which has over 90 nutrients) was substituted by chemical fertilizers containing as few as three ingredients (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium), as cooking moved from wood to gas and electricity. Hence, though over fed we are still undernourished. It is a very oddly written book with lots of random history of dietary experiments sprinkled throughout, and other of unrelated scientific historical trivia. It covers deadly diseases found to be nutritional in origin (like scurvy, beriberi, etc) and how we have forgotten the insight these provided about the severe effect on the human body of improper nutrition. The book shows when the pharmaceutical company veered away from research into nutritional causes of disease to management of disease symptoms. 
      Author: J.D. Wallach is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and a Naturopathic Doctor and has spent 47 years in biomedical research, and wrote a 1000 page book on The Diseases of Exotic Animals published by W.B.Saunders. Ma Lun received her medical training, specializing in transplant immunology, in the People’s Republic of China, and is also trained in traditional Chinese medicine. She has many years of clinical experience both in the Chinese Air Force and in the USA.

      This article is from the issue: Disease Origins

      2. A Growing Awareness about Disease

      Jun 17, 2017

      Tuesday, December 31, 2002

      NOTE: Although Ralph Winter died in 2009, his legacy lives on in his writings and with the Institute he founded in memory of his wife, Roberta, the Roberta Winter Institute:

      1. For years I became increasingly puzzled by the amount of pain, suffering, tragedy and death in the world. From the smallest animals to the largest, all seem to live lives fearful of predators whether animal or human or bacterial. Did God devise vicious animals, destructive parasites, and deadly germs?

      Lesson One:

      The beauty of nature we often sing about in church is massively compromised by the harshness and brutality and danger that is ever present as an obstinate fact, which is commonly overlooked because we become accustomed to it.

      2. Then my wife contracted terminal cancer. I immediately turned a great deal of energy and study into this new situation. I noted the perfectly enormous expenditures society is making in the medical world. However, I was surprised to discover that this enormous expense is almost entirely focused on healing the sick not seeking the source of the sickness. Of course, that figures, since the only heavy money readily available is from people in pain and sickness.

      Lesson Two:

      Neither in the practice of medicine (doctors and hospitals) nor in the pharmaceutical world is there—nor can there be—significant concern or focus upon the origins of disease. Why? People pay to be cured. They don’t readily offer their life savings to attack the roots of diseases they do not yet have or already have. Only in the universities and in government is there substantial possibility of non-remunerative foundational research, and even there much of what both the government and universities do is driven by pharmaceutical funds.

      3. Then, I discovered that our well-intended FDA, designed to give approval of helpful medicines, has developed a process of approval which costs, supposedly, from $400 to $800 million. This not only forces very high prices on what is approved. Even more ominous is the bald truth that no product inexpensive to manufacture or that can easily
      be sold by anyone will ever justify the enormous expense of that approval process. For example, if selenium is helpful to prevent cancer it will never be an approved prescription. It is too inexpensive! It can’t be a money maker, ever. No patent, no monopoly is possible. Take aspirin for example. Had it not been widely used before the FDA came into existence, it, being inexpensive to produce, would never have been submitted for FDA approval and would now be illegal as marihuana to prescribe.

      Lesson Three:

      Thus, a vast spectrum of inexpensive remedies cannot be approved because the cost of approval could not be recovered once approved. Only the most expensive, urgent, and patentable products can Americans expect to be approved by the FDA. Is the FDA directly or indirectly the child of pharmaceutical economics?

      4.Then, I discovered that while the causes of many well-known chronic illnesses (heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and schizophrenia) are commonly attributed to life style and environment (diet and toxic environments), a totally new development in the university world is the strong suspicion that all of the mentioned chronic diseases are being produced basically by infectious agents, either viral or bacterial. In these cases, as with duodenal ulcers, where for centuries stress and spicy foods were considered causal, the enormous energies of doctors and pharmaceuticals have busied themselves with palliative solutions for the sick rather than with the primary causal agents.

      This new and almost incredible reorientation of perspective was publicly voiced in the cover story of Atlantic Monthly in February of 1999. The specific case of heart disease was astoundingly reported in the May 2002 cover story of Scientific American. Here are the first few words of that article:
      ”Atherosclerosis: the New View,” by Peter Libby (pp. 46-55).

      It causes chest pain, heart attack and stroke leading to more deaths every year than cancer. The long held conception of how the disease develops turns out to be wrong. As recently as five years ago, most physicians would have confidently described atherosclerosis as a straight plumbing problem: Fat-laden gunk gradually builds up on the surface of passive artery walls. If a deposit [plaque] grows large enough, it eventually closes off an affected “pipe,” preventing blood from reaching its intended tissue. After a while the blood-starved tissue dies. When a part of the cardiac muscle or the brain succumbs, a heart attach or stroke occurs. Few believe that tidy explanation anymore

      Lesson Four:

      The case study of duodenal ulcers shows how slowly a new understanding of disease origins takes hold. Origins will not be discovered if neither doctors, pharmaceuticals, nor university researchers are not looking in the right direction.

      5. Perhaps the most unexpected and tragic discovery was the fact that Christian theology since the fourth century has been greatly influenced by neoplatonism in the respect of ascribing all evil to God, not Satan. In this respect it is equally surprising to note that of the 17 occurrences of the Hebrew word satanas in the OT, only in Job and I Chronicles does it refer to a significant spiritual Adversary to the work of God. Only in the NT do we see the word used many, many times to remind us that disease and evil in general are the work of an intelligent evil Adversary.

      Has our scientific orientation to nature also blinded us to the evil intelligence therein? Do we tend to discount NT passages about Satan just because we now know of many intermediate factors in evil? Is it unlikely that we can seriously fight disease at its origin if we continue to be fuzzy about whether it is of God or Satan?

      The famous case of Jonathan Edwards attempting to fight smallpox with cowpox vaccine reveals that the nearly unanimous perspective of pastors in his day was that to do so would be to “interfere with Divine Providence.” He killed himself in testing vaccines. No Christian rose to fight smallpox in his place. In fact, it would be over two hundred years before smallpox would be eliminated by a World Health campaign, not in the Name of Christ.

      Lesson Five:

      Our inherited theology allows us to fight “terrorists” that can be seen with the naked eye but not to fight tiny terrorists that can only be seen in a microscope.
      That tiny world we assume is amenable only to God and to our prayers. We have no formulated mission to intervene.

      6. I began to think about the effect of this theology upon our efforts of evangelism and mission. Over the years quite a few serious believers have “lost their faith” due to the troubling presence of harsh and arbitrary evil in this world. Philip Yancey tells of five visitors to the hospital bed of a newly married woman named Claudia who was dying of cancer.

      One church deacon courteously but firmly stated that God does not do things like that to people unless He has seen unconfessed sin in their lives.

      The second visitor was an ebullient woman with an armful of cheery cards but who would not listen to Claudia’s feelings.

      A third woman, hearing about the first visitor, said, “Hasn’t he read the Bible? God hates sickness, and all you need to do is be believe He will heal you and He will.”

      A fourth visitor urged Claudia to see herself as kind of a hero, an athlete for God, an important example of joy in spite of pain and death, and that God must have chosen her to witness to the transforming power of faith even in the midst of the shadow of death.

      A final visitor was the pastor. He insisted that we do not know all of God’s purposes but that we need to be able to say, “Thank you God for this disease.” The challenge is to believe without knowing all the answers.

      In somewhat the same way, James Dobson’s book, When God Doesn’t Make Sense skirts this issue. It seems clear that God will NOT make sense if we attribute to Him what Satan does.

      Lesson Six:

      The thing that struck me was that in all of these cases there is the assumption that God not Satan is the source of the disease. In no case did anyone say, Satan is behind this. Evangelical leaders are not constantly promoting the destruction of Satan’s works in general, much less in the area of disease. The Bible would urge us not to blame God for Satan’s endeavors. Is not God asking us to fight disease in the Name of Christ?

      This article is from the issue: Disease Origins

      1. Evaluating Approaches to Discovering Origins of Diseases: A Conversation with a Medical Doctor

      Jun 17, 2017

      Mike Soderling, M.D.:
      I think we need to be very careful about what we become convinced is the truth of a subject of interest to us. Chalk it up to my being a western trained allopathic physician if you wish, but remember my most important education came from the long-time mentorship of Dr. Dan Fountain who was a fringe thinker. But what we buy into must be proven and valid, not anecdotal. Believing in the anecdotal is a huge problem. It’s kind of like the problem of gossip. Once that juicy bit of half-truth gets out there and believed by a few it becomes in the minds of many, a full truth.

      One topic that was near and dear to Dr. Fountains heart was the effect our spiritual state can have on our physical health. What does it do to our immune system if we believe we are under a curse that is intended to kill us? What does our mental and spiritual health have to do with auto-immune diseases becoming more prevalent? What might it have to do with DNA mutations and the development of cancer? Can this even be tested/measured?

      Rebecca Winter Lewis, Strategist:
      I think we will have to do a lot of evaluation ourselves, unfortunately. Given the 100-year concerted effort by the rich “philanthropists” to call any form of medicine that did not use their own chemical drugs as “quackery,” including their taking total control of the medical schools, AMA, and JAMA. Studies have to be actually evaluated on the basis of their independent research, not judged by pharma-funded “quack finder” websites.  
      Even lack of Vitamin C causing scurvy would be laughed out of court if it had been discovered a bit later and not abundantly proven before the rise of modern scientific medicine. Likewise with beri beri or even Cretinism, which I am sure today would be under consideration as a genetic problem, though iodine during pregnancy easily prevents it. Nutritional and toxin causes of disease are regularly attacked as quackery and “unscientific” no matter how many scientific studies have been done or people cured. In fact, we may find that most of the inflammatory and autoimmune diseases today have nothing to do with either genetics or with lack of pharmaceutical chemicals, since they neither have existed significantly in former generations (as would be expected with genetic problems) nor are they being cured by synthesized chemicals.

      Rather than simply treating/managing chronic ailments (many fatal) with synthetic designer chemicals, the whole point of getting to the root causes of disease is to prevent them from happening at all, like scurvy or death in childbirth due to unwashed hands of doctors. Most of these insights have not come from the mainstream in any generation, unfortunately.  

      Mike Sodering, M.D.:
      I think you will find that I am very critical of the way in which “modern” medicine functions nowadays and am a strong advocate of local churches being significant players in caring for the whole person. I am all for exploring and exposing whatever it is that leads to human suffering but to focus too much of our energies on painting all that has to do with vaccines (which have saved MILLIONS of lives) or organized modern medicine is to take that energy away from what is really important. That is the human sin (putting one’s own desires to do as we please – eat unhealthy food, live a life of relative inactivity, pursuing “happiness” through mind altering drugs, etc.), and the works of Satan that destroy God’s intended order. Even modern medicine has a very significant role to play in what we seek to see happen. Remember, one of the greatest scourges in history, Small Pox, was eliminated (the whole purpose for which ISOD exists as I recall) by a vaccine!

      This article is from the issue: Volume 5, Issue 2—Women in International Development

      6. Short Biographies of Women in International Development

      Nov 01, 2016

      My Journey as an Agent of International Development and Shalom

      May Nor Clara Cheng, Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies, William Carey International University

      I would like to share with you the story of what led to my ministry in person-formation. When I was studying at my first seminary, I was trained to be a local pastor. I was not equipped to be a cross-cultural worker. After having pastored a local church for four years, I joined an international agency and was sent overseas cross-culturally for five years. By the end of my first term of service, I was badly burned out.

      My personal experience in this first cross-cultural assignment was like a bottle of water with a layer of mud at the bottom. The layer of mud was the damaged emotions I carried from my past to the country where I was serving. It handicapped my cross-cultural adjustment and also my social wholeness in dealing with my assigned roommate. When the bottle was standing still, the water was clear. As it was shaken up from being transported, from challenges and frustrations, the water became muddy. It took much pain and time to filter the muddied water.

      It is out of this background that I was motivated to devote myself to advocating preventive care for cross-cultural workers. Ten years after the burn-out, I underwent a thorough process of personal counseling during doctoral studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. When one of my professors, Dr. Edgar Elliston, and I were discussing what I would like to focus on in my doctoral research, we coined the term “person-formation.” A definition for person-formation, extracted from my dissertation, states that “person-formation” is the development of people, in this case [cross cultural workers], in the well-being and wholeness of their hearts. It is the process by which people gain spiritual, emotional, and social strength and maturity.

      To enhance the process of the … students’ person- formation … trainers incorporate in their training program a deliberate effort of spiritual formation in the students’ development of intimacy with God and sound spiritual wholeness. They aim at equipping prospective [workers] to lead their social life with cross-cultural skills and personal security by enhancing the awareness of their own national character and integrating spiritual and emotional wholeness in their social life (Cheng 2001, 12).

      After doing these studies I rejoined the agency I had worked with before and I was assigned first to the Philippines and then to Taiwan. In both countries, I taught person formation to national and international students who were engaged in cross- cultural work. I also observed how my sending agency conducted international development in those two countries. I continued to grow in maturity in my spiritual life, as an international worker who had to adjust to various living environments. From time to time, I offered an intensive course on the subject in my home city of Hong Kong. Eventually my health condition did not allow me to be on the front lines anymore. I started to be concerned about who would continue to teach my material in person-formation. I returned to the U.S. and joined the faculty of William Carey International University. I am very privileged to have this unique opportunity in contributing to the nourishment of international development workers in a much more permanent form through the university. It is my aspiration to help students mature in their spiritual, emotional, and social wholeness (Cheng 2001, 6).

      Cheng, Clara. 2001. “Person-formation of Chinese Cross-cultural Women Missionaries from Hong Kong.” PhD diss., Fuller Theological Seminary.

      God’s Image-Bearers as Agents of Transformation: How God Shaped My Thinking

      Lois Ooms, Consultant and Trainer for MTW

      Many people have asked me how I came to the thinking in my workshops in which people from over 20 countries are discovering a biblical worldview that offers them the hope and dignity to find for themselves solutions to their problems. It has been a process spanning over 25 years as the Holy Spirit has shaped the thoughts of people who have interacted with me during the workshops or individually. The process continues on as each time I lead a workshop or class I find new insights to add.

      This process has deep roots in my early years being taught a biblical world and life view, even though I didn’t “understand” what it meant in the messy reality of life. The roots began to grow while I was working in the inner city in the mid 60’s during the race riots—seeing people respond to the Gospel as we built relationships with their children—giving them an opportunity to enjoy and hope for something more than the dangerous streets of the city.

      By profession I am an “antique” Biology and Chemistry teacher—studying as DNA was being discovered. After teaching in rural Kenya for 8 years, I began working with young people. Later, when a health center was started in 1980, I found that the women with whom I had worked as young people were spending scarce finances on health care for preventable sickness in their children. I began leading a small group, teaching them the importance of washing their hands, building pit latrines, and using safe drinking water to prevent 70% of the sickness with available resources. As I taught I discovered that many of the “unhealthy” practices were not the result of “ignorance” but were deeply rooted in cultural beliefs and worldview that had to be dealt with before seeing real change. The neighboring villages began to ask that I come to teach their women and by 1985 I was committed to community development.

      I took a few seminars on Community Health Evangelism from MAP (Medical Assistance Program) and Life Ministries, learning some of the basic principles. As I tried to implement, I found some things didn’t always work so well. One of my mentors, Dr. Roy Shaffer, said, “Change it so it works.” I enjoyed creatively modifying programs to fit the situation as well as holistically integrating Scripture and health lessons. I continued learning with summer courses at Wheaton College Grad School and a multicultural one that was held in Nairobi.

      My biblical understanding of holism and development deepened as I began to see the implications of man created and crowned with honor and dignity (Psalm 8) and how that affected my approach to change—focusing on people and their resources rather than “needs” and programs. I continued learning how to give people dignity by involving them in making their own decisions, designing their own programs, and implementing them in their own way.

      Slowly, I put together some simple lessons to train Kenyans to carry on the work. In 1995 the pieces were in place, and I left Kenya and moved to Eritrea to begin again in a community that had more than doubled in size with refugee camps of those returning after Eritrea won the war for independence from Ethiopia. In that context, I found that training for Reproductive Health Assistants (formerly Traditional Birth Attendants) was crucial among women with very low self-esteem.

      After two years the government asked us to leave Eritrea but I was invited by Litein Hospital (an all-Kenyan Hospital of the Africa Inland Church) to pick up the pieces of four community programs that “died” when the finances and leaders left. They asked me to design a program that they could carry on without outside resources. Joshua Tonui, the Kenyan hospital director, became a mentor to me on sustainability. After five years of trying, adjusting, changing, seeing how at the end of the day “incentives” greatly hinder sustainability, etc. Joshua was confident they could carry on the programs on their own. After that, the Africa Inland Church Kenya asked me to be the director of community development with the goal of multiplying what had happened at Litein to health units all over Kenya. As HIV/AIDS issues rapidly increased, the program shifted to HIV/AIDS prevention, and home care for the sick, orphans, and widows. In the process, Kenyan church planters discovered transformational development was a great tool for planting churches. I continued to learn. The Chalmers Center in Chattanooga Tennessee taught me about micro finance from the same biblical perspective I had. Micro finance savings groups became a powerful tool in giving hope to the hopeless.

      Attending the consultation on Health and Wholeness for the 21st Century in Thailand in 2003, I met nationals and ex-pats from more than 15 countries using the same approach.

      Reflecting on Darrow Miller’s and Vinay Samuel’s talks on the biblical basis for holism, implications of being created as image bearers of God, and the challenge to deal with worldview, I adapted my teaching to these new insights. I found people responding and implementing on a deeper level.

      As missionaries saw what self-sustaining programs looked like, I began receiving requests to travel to neighboring countries. At the same time a team of Kenyans began taking “ownership” of the material, growing in facilitation skills as they taught the basic training material to others.

      In December 2007, the time came for me to leave Africa, with the blessing of my Kenyan colleagues, to explore multiplying the model to other countries in Africa. As I write this there are people trained in more than 17 countries of Africa, as well as S.E. Asia, and Central America. A new challenge is emerging – how to apply the principles in North America on Native American reservations, in deteriorating and changing neighborhoods, refugee resettlement programs and among upper middle class people. Each place has a unique story of how the Lord opened the door.

      The Kingdom continues to grow in ways that I never imagined. My thinking has been profoundly molded by my African colleagues as well as learning from mistakes. I am deeply grateful for the Lord’s forgiveness. The Kenyan team has adapted the workshop material to work toward peace and reconciliation between warring factions of the post-election violence and between tribes that are traditional enemies. A colleague is exploring palliative care and transformational development in a sensitive area. Kenyan missionaries are adapting the principles to church planting. In Lesotho pastors/farmers are incorporating biblical concepts in their sermons about farmers. Their people have filled in huge gullies and found ways to prevent erosion with “Farming God’s Way.” In Madagascar a team is working with University students of the Christian Union, broadcasting lessons on the radio, training groups to go into unreached areas. A team in a creative access country is exploring teaching English using the principles of transformational development. A couple of churches in the U.S. are asking the question, how can this material help in dealing with an entitlement mentality?

      My thinking continues to be shaped by interacting with people in new areas of the world: discussing the theological foundations with Gerrit and Judy Veenstra; reflecting on the challenging “how’s” of John Rollo, my supervisor at Mission to the World; learning from Margaret LeMaire, who kindly volunteered to help with editing and insights from her experience in Africa and the U.S.; being challenged by Eleanor Protheroe who helped to clarify thinking for those who are beginning to understand the concepts and got me focused on teaching others to facilitate; gaining insights from Judi Troutman and her passion to see dependency unraveled and transformation thinking applied to institutions like Bible Schools, hospitals etc. People like August Basson and his Basotho pastors taught me how to integrate transformational thinking with “Farming God’s Way.” Brian Fikkert and those at the Chalmers Institute taught me micro finance. Then there are the whole “cloud of witnesses” that are not aware how a small remark or question has opened new reflections.

      All glory and honor belong to the Lord as we are all His Image Bearers, reconciled to Him through the blood of Christ and led by His Holy Spirit who molds our thinking.

      An Autobiographical Sketch of my Works as an Agent of International Development and Shalom

      Lois Semenye, Kenyan Scholar and Educator; Board member, International Council for Higher Education

      Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt. 19:14).

      Immediately after coming to know the Lord while I was in high school, I became interested in teaching Sunday School. In the process, I noticed the need for relevant and authentic Christian materials that would address the needs of my Kenyan students. Specifically, the illustrations in the materials were foreign and difficult to understand. Sometimes it was easier to just explain the Bible passage without the foreign illustrations. I knew I needed more education to be able to help in this.

      I was very fortunate that some missionaries decided to invest in my education and helped me secure a sponsor who paid my way to a Christian University in the USA. At Covenant College, I further developed my love for teaching felt a strong desire to promote Christian education in my home country. Upon my return to Kenya, I helped set up a Christian Education department in a local church. The more I taught and train others the more I felt the need to further my education. In 1980, I joined the Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson Mississippi through the help of the missionary organization. I was awarded MCE in CE in 1982. This opened up more opportunities for me in Kenya. I was not only serving in a local church but also I was asked to help in developing a Christian University in Kenya.

      At the University, I was able to promote Christian education and particularly the integration of faith and learning and living. Again, I felt the need to pursue further education, so between 1987 and 1990 I attended Biola University and I was awarded PhD. Upon my return in Kenya, I continued to teach at Daystar University. As the head of Education Department, I was able to conduct seminars for faculty that encouraged integrative teaching of faith, knowledge, and living. However, the need to develop relevant Christian curriculum for our churches was still there.

      In 1997, Christian Learning Materials Centre (CLMC) invited me to head the organization and oversee the development of Christian materials across Africa. CLMC is a project of Association of Evangelicals in Africa that produces Christian materials that are relevant to the African culture.

      Besides production of materials, there was also a great need to train the teachers on how to use them. This made me trek across Africa training teachers and holding seminars for Sunday School teachers and pastors to challenge them to take children’s ministry seriously. I wrote a book targeting the pastors on children’s ministry—Let the Children Come. The book included the following chapters:

    21. 1. Introduction
      2. What the Bible says about Children Importance of Children’s Ministry Defining the Child
      3. Social Factors Influencing Children Characteristics and Needs of Children Organizing a Children’s Ministry in Church Teacher Commitment
      4. How to Teach the Children Who should Teach Children Teaching Methods Teaching Aids
      5. Recruitment of Children’s Teachers How to Lead a Child to Christ Discipline
      6. Characteristic of Children Living in Poverty Characteristic of Children Living in Affluence

    22. I was able to hold seminars in different churches and denominations and in some of these churches the ministry to children increased dramatically. In 2003 I joined the faculty of International Leadership University where I taught in the department of Christian Education and Formation. God was able to use me to influence a number of pastors to invest in children’s ministry. I can think of one who started a ministry to children in a slum in Nairobi. This pastor was so motivated that he did not only improve in teaching children on Sunday in the Sunday school but also started a primary school where he engaged Christian teachers to teach the pupils. The ministry is growing and the children are learning to fear the Lord.

      I have been presenting papers and writing articles in the area of Christian education including, “The Theological Context of Children in Africa Today,” “Christian Worldview: Implication for Educational Curricula,” “The Challenges of Christian Higher Education in African Context,” “Spiritual Formation of Christian Leaders,” “The Challenge of Literature in Africa: Analytical Study of the Production, Distribution,” and Effective Use of the Written Word in Evangelism and Missions in Africa.” I was among the 72 African Theologians to contribute to the African Bible Commentary. I wrote an article on Christian Education in Africa and wrote a commentary of the Book of Esther.

      These papers and articles have given me platform to speak to various leaders and consequently influencing them and in return they influence their own constituents to the glory of God. I have been discipling, mentoring, and coaching many young people throughout my Christian faith. Some of those I have mentored have even named their children after me. Wherever I am I believe I should have a young Timothy that I am mentoring in the importance and methods of Christian education.


      Alem’s Story

      Carolyn Klaus, M.D., Hope in View, Ethiopia

      The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40).

      Alem is a volunteer in our child sponsorship program here in Addis Ababa. By day Alem sweeps streets with a broom and picks up garbage, 7 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is a job for which she gets paid the equivalent of $40 per month. With this and a bit more when her husband can get work as a day laborer, she and he support two children. She is not exactly on the highest rung on the social status ladder.

      By night she mentors a group of 21 people, all living with HIV, all of whom must attend the group as a requirement for their children to be sponsored in our program. It is a job for which Alem has never been paid a birr. She began working with some of them more than 10 years ago when Genet, the leader of her basic discipleship group and our child sponsorship social worker, taught her and her friends that to follow Jesus is to serve people in need. Little by little, thanks to Genet’s example as minister to people living with HIV and her personal mentoring, Alem has picked up leadership skills. For the last 4 years she has met with this group every other week, coaching them on how to parent well, how to stay healthy, how to maintain good hygiene, how to handle money, and how to love each other. Though they are all from non-Protestant backgrounds, she has also taught them to learn from the Bible together and pray for one another. Between meetings she walks to visit up to 9 of these families every week in their homes to see how they are really doing and encourage them personally. When she has left-over cleaning supplies from her job she breaks them down into small parcels and shares them with the group members. Following her example, the group members now visit one another regularly, providing food or money or childcare or transportation to the hospital or simple camaraderie when one of them is in difficulties.

      In 2013, under Genet’s tutoring, she began to teach her group to save money together. Each time they met, every person would contribute five birr towards their group savings plus one birr to meet social needs of the group. Gradually the money accumulated. Over the past year six of the group members have taken small loans from this fund, from which all six have started profitable small businesses. All of these loans have been or are being paid back on time with interest. The others all want their turn to get loans now. She told us today that their attitudes toward work have changed drastically. “They want to work hard and produce their own income, rather than get handouts—and they believe they can do it!”

      They have also become healthier. Alem attributes this to five things (none of them, I notice, medical): Their previously dirty homes are now clean. They know and are practicing good health habits. They are far less stressed, knowing that if they die, their children will continue to be sponsored. They love one another deeply. And they pray for one another.

      And oh yes, Alem has a third job: in her spare time she’s attending a distance-education program to enable her to complete 9th grade.

      This article is from the issue: Volume 5, Issue 2—Women in International Development

      5. Mary McLeod Bethune: An Agent of Change and Leadership

      Nov 01, 2016

      Introduction of This Lady

      Considering the universal Christian church, it is very important for us members of the Christendom to recognize and acknowledge our great servant and contributor. This is a lady that should not only be remembered for her work in the social/economic development within the United States of America, the African American community/civil rights, or women’s rights, but also for her heroics and inspirational advancements as a vocational minister. Her groundbreaking achievements are a cornerstone of how a person can use Christian faith as the foundation of using vocational trades to share the Gospel. This research will highlight this lady that is also known as “The Black Rose” and her contribution to the Christian community in America and her inspiration for people across the world, especially women.

      Between 1933 and 1945, Mary McLeod Bethune was arguably the most powerful African American person in America. According to her own testimony, this was due largely to the exercise of her religious faith. Her devout Christian faith was a faith planted within the environment of a devout Christian home and nurtured during its early stages within the fellowship of an all-African American Methodist Church. However, she would not officially affiliate with Methodism until she was nearly fifty years old. For the better part of her life she practiced her faith under the banner of Presbyterianism. Mary Bethune emerged as one of the nation’s foremost leaders, barring race and gender, during the first half of the twentieth century (Newsome 1992, 7-8).

      She was the first African American lady to establish a four-year institution of higher learning—in the world. As Bethune-Cookman College. She is the first African American lady to found a national organization to lobby the federal government primarily on behalf of black women and children, the National Council of Negro Women; and, as director of the Negro Division of the National Youth Administration (NYA) during the Franklin D. Roosevelt presidency, she was the first African American lady, and also the first African American person to hold such a high-level federal appointment. Over the course of her career she was an advisor to three presidents (Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Harry S. Truman) and the recipient of many of the nation’s most coveted awards, including the NAACP’s prestigious Spingarn Medal (Newsome 1992, 7-8).

      Mary McLeod Bethune was born in a farming environment of Mayesville, South Carolina, on July 10, 1875. As the fifteenth of seventeen children, her parents were freed slaves who depended upon employment from their former owners for financial stability. Her parents converted to Christianity during the period of their enslavement. Both her father and her mother, Samuel McLeod and Patsy Mcintosh, belonged to men who were regarded throughout the community as being God-fearing, Christian, church-going gentlemen. During their enslavement Bethune’s parents were often forced to attend church with their owners.  The McLeods were serious about their faith as they felt entirely the racial discrimination, political disfranchisement, and economic deprivation that damaged the environment. Despite all the disadvantages one could endure, including being of female gender, Bethune overcame the odds and credited the Lord for this.

      An Agent of Change

      Historically, it has been a phenomenon for many years that African Americans were largely excluded from American history. This doesn’t mean that they were not officially mentioned in American history. Rather, they were mentioned, but not so much as agents and contributors but more so as objects and as an annoying population that should have only been serviceable for laboring and pleasing the White American majority in whatever way possible. We should also remember that there were several laws placed against African Americans, and those laws denied them the equality with their White American contemporaries.

      Usually, African Americans’ presentation from the White American majority excluded their origin in Africa. It was also not usually emphasized that they greatly contributed something productive or productive enough to American customs. For example, an elder African American lady once told me that she didn’t know that African Americans had such inventions to their credit or accomplished such great achievements until she studied in college. This was a late study for her because she claimed that she wasn’t taught this historical information as a student in grade school. Currently, this elder lady is barely over the age of 60. Imagine how much more historical information was excluded during Mary McLeod Bethune’s generation.

      Historically Black Colleges were important in developing the study of African American history, not only by introducing courses in the subject but also by having faculty members that devoted themselves to teaching the subject matter (Early 2004, 30-32). We recognize Bethune-Cookman College, now known as Bethune-Cookman University, as a Historically Black College because it was founded by an African American person, Bethune. We also recognize it as a college/university affiliated with the United Methodist Church (Hawkins 2012, 14-15). As founder and president of Bethune Cookman-College, Bethune gave many African Americans an opportunity to learn how to read & write and definitely a chance to learn how to read the Bible. Interestingly, while attending college, even though Bethune wanted to become a cross-cultural worker in Africa, she never became one. Instead, she established a school for African American young ladies in Florida. Eventually, this school would partner with an African American boys’ school. As a result, Bethune-Cookman School was established. It became the first fully accredited four-year college for African Americans in Florida (Hanson 2003, 35).  Bethune would have many opportunities ministering to her students on her own college campus. 

      Before Bethune established Bethune-Cookman College, she relocated to Palatka, Florida with her husband Albertus, and gave birth to a son, Albert. In Palatka, she opened a Christian school, where she taught for five years. She later moved to Daytona, where crime, prejudice, ignorance, and inadequate educational facilities prompted her to make a difference. Thus, opening the Daytona Normal and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls in 1904. Beginning with five young students, these young ladies were instructed in Christian piety and self-reliance. The young ladies were to rise early in the morning for Bible study. In 1905, Bethune campaigned to outlaw the local scale of liquor. This launched an evangelical campaign for restraining alcoholic drinks among African Americans that lived in the lumber companies’ work camps near Daytona. Over time, this offered academic subjects and expanded to include a farm, high school, and nursing school. By its second year of enrollment, the school consisted of 250 students (Gates 2000, 42-45).

      Bethune was known to be deeply religious, firmly believing in the power of prayer. Whenever there was difficulty, she would say, “Let’s go have prayer.” While in her office, she would pray out loud, prompting others to get on their knees and bow their heads. She also repeated hymns, “Oh what a fellowship, leaning on the everlasting arms.” Her faith gave her confidence and direction (Height 1994, 102).

      It is obvious that Bethune was a very busy person as president of the school. She did not stop there. Bethune also served as an overseer of local women’s organizations. This work peaked into her founding of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) in 1935. The NCNW would eventually aid the African American community in social welfare programs. After joining Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal administration, she served on FDR’s “Black Cabinet” advising the president on race matters from 1936-1945. From 1939-1943, she was director of Negro Affairs for the National Youth Administration. Bethune fought towards securing state and local government positions for African Americans. Bethune’s heroic commitments reflected her religious sensibilities, combining her faith with shrewd intelligence (Gates Jr. & West 2000, 42-45). 

      It is clear that she resented racism, sexism, chauvinism, and cared for the people that shared her ethnicity. Through her lifestyle, Bethune was even more distinct that her motives and intentions reflected her faith in the Lord. With all of these accomplishments mentioned, it is safe to presume that she would not have embodied such diligence and sincerity if she did not remember the Lord first. Dr. James Melvin Washington writes that the absurdities of racism insinuate themselves in conscious and unconscious ways in the lives of Black people. Religion has been a central way for us to maintain our sanity (Washington 1994, xxviii). 

      Bethune served in vocational ministry for decades. These decades of her service consisted of some of the worst ordeals in American history. Ordeals that involved too much negativity both inside and towards the African American community. Dr. James Melvin Washington also wrote that demons thrive best in the dark intervening time periods of human history, and the parentage of real power lies in the sinister womb of negativity (Washington 1994, xxxvii-xxxviii).  Bethune was not only a fighter, but a champion. A hero of the faith. Why would she not be considered as An Agent of Change in International Development?


      We understand Christendom as the worldwide Christian community. Mary McLeod Bethune’s legacy in the Christendom is vast. As mentioned earlier, she was the first African American lady to establish a four-year institution of higher learning in the world, and this institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Today, there are several Historically Black Colleges that are affiliated with the United Methodist Church. This is not to say that Bethune is the main reason for the development of Historically Black Colleges’ affiliation with the UMC, but it is to say that she might be the first woman to lead a higher education institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It can be agreed that Bethune’s faith, leadership as a woman, and partnership with UMC carried over to other Historically Black Colleges and colleges for women.

      Currently, Bethune-Cookman University, Bennet College for Women, Claflin University, Clark Atlanta University, Dillard University, Huston-Tillotson University, Meharry Medical College, Paine College, Philander Smith College, Rust College, and Wiley College are affiliated with the United Methodist Church (Hawkins 2012, 14).  As mentioned earlier, in 1904 Bethune opened the Daytona Normal and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls in 1904. Beginning with five young students, these young ladies were instructed in Christian piety and self-reliance. A similar establishment happened in 1915, when Katharine Drexel, a Philadelphia heiress turned Catholic Nun and later honored as a saint, used her inheritance to open a high school for Black and Native American children in an American southern state. Drexel wanted to give Black and Native American children the Catholic-oriented education she thought they lacked. Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament added Xavier University of New Orleans, a four-year college, in 1925. It remains the country’s only Black Catholic University (Hawkins 2012, 15).

      While gender inequality exists in the United States between men and women in nearly almost all social classes and all racial and ethnic groups, the form and meaning of this inequality varies among different groups and classes. The challenges and problems faced by working-class women are different from the challenges and problems faced by middle-class women. African American and Latina Women are confronted with different problems and different forms of gender inequality from those faced by White American, Non-Hispanic women. Considering gender, ethnicity, and labor force participation, one way these experiences have been different is the extent to which the role of women has been linked to the home as opposed to work outside the home. Middle-class women brought about the housewife role. The expectation was that the husband would be the one that earns the money to support the family, while the wife remained at home, raised the children and cared for the house (Farley 2000, 436).

      Bethune overcame the odds of being a woman, being African American, and being a descendent of slaves. She was not a typical housewife; she was not a working-class woman. Yet, she’s considerably one of the hardest-working women in American history and an outstanding, recognizable contributor in the Christian community. Bethune died on May 18, 1955. As we remember women as agents of change in international development, let’s remember Mary Mcleod Bethune.


      Early, Gerald. 2004. “African-American History.” American Heritage 55, no. 6 (November/December): 30-32.

      E. Farley, John. 2000. Majority-Minority Relations, 4th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

      Gates Jr., Henry Louis and Cornel West. 2000. The African American Century: How Black Americans Have Shaped Our Country. New York: The Free Press.

      Hanson, Joyce A. 2003. “Mary McLeod Bethune: Race Woman.” New Crisis 110, no. 2 (March/April): 34-37.

      Hawkins, Denise.2012. “Echoes of Faith.” Diverse: Issues in Higher Education 29, no. 12 (July): 14-15.

      Height, Dorothy. “Mary McLeod Bethune.” Essence 24, no. 10 (February): 102.

      Newsome, Clarence. “Mary McLeod Bethune and the Methodist Episcopal Church North: In but Out.” The Journal of Religious Thought 49, no. 1 (Summer-Fall).’s URL:) (accessed April 16, 2016).

      This article is from the issue: Volume 5, Issue 2—Women in International Development

      3. Leading Development at Home: Dr. Mabel Ping Hua Lee (1896–1966)

      Nov 01, 2016

      A Bold and Bright Voice

      In the early 1900’s “suffrage” was a word to be eschewed in polite company, much the way that “feminism” today would be looked upon askance in certain circles. Undaunted, a bright, Hong Kong-born Christian by the name of Mabel Ping Hua Lee championed the cause. While her name is often overlooked in the annals of the movement, she was a voice and model for women’s empowerment in her adopted city of New York.

      For Mabel Lee, women’s rights flowed out of a Christian worldview that she viewed as foundational for America’s government and the key to China’s reconstruction. With her doctorate from Columbia University in hand, Dr. Lee eagerly anticipated returning to China to use her background in economics, education and political science to support the building of the young Republic. A combination of forces, however, led her to a different decision. Instead of entering into development on the international scene, she chose to focus on the ministry at her doorsteps in Chinatown. As the director of the First Chinese Baptist Church of New York City (1926–1966), she built up a church that also served as a community center for many Chinese immigrants.1 Not only did the church cater to Chinese worshipers2 but from the moment a person stepped through the doors, they could choose to take English classes, enroll their children in Sunday School in English, or attend a Bible study and prayer meetings in Chinese. In addition, annual Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts, cooked by church members, made people feel more than welcome, it made them feel at home.

      The Making of a Scholar-Activist

      On January 1, 1912, Sun Yat-sen overthrew the last emperor of China, ushering in the Republic of China and bringing to an end over three thousand years of dynastic rule. Four months later, half way across the world, on May 6, 1912, Mary Louise Wright reports, “Chinese Girl to Ride at Head of Suffrage Parade.” In a loose newspaper clipping found in the archives of the First Chinese Baptist Church, Wright details that a sixteen-year-old Mabel Lee, the daughter of a Chinese minister, led the suffrage parade in New York City. At the time Mabel was still a student at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, one of the special schools designed to accommodate the new influx of immigrant children.3 While many Americans avoided publicaly showing support for suffrage, the Lee family embraced the cause – Mabel’s mother with her bound feet quietly participated, and her father was proud that he had invested in his daughter’s education as much as he would have any son. Consequently, Mabel was able to remain a filial daughter, honoring her parents, while adopting progressive ideals that were permeating cities across the nation and the world.4

      In 1913, Lee applied to and was accepted at Barnard College, one of the Seven Sisters colleges, and was the first woman to receive a Boxer Indemnity Scholarship. From the start, she threw herself, heart and mind, into her studies and promoted women’s rights. A confident and articulate leader, she defended her position in the Chinese Student Monthly (1914), gave an award-winning speech entitled “Chinese Patriotism” (1914), spoke on “China’s Submerged Half” (c.1915), gave a speech at the Suffrage Workshop (1915), and even ran for president of the Chinese Students Association (1917).
      Majoring in history and philosophy at Barnard, Lee often cited examples of women’s oppression in China and America in her writings and speeches. In her article on “The Meaning of Suffrage” (1914), she summarized the history of women’s education as girls proving their mettle from the 3 R’s to secondary school to university (Lee 1914, 3). By contrast in “China’s Submerged Half,” Lee compared the plight of China’s daughters, remaining confined to their homes, subservient to their husbands, and often with bound feet. In 1700 years, rarely was any thought given to Chinese daughters receiving an education. Crediting Western cross-cultural workers with opening schools for girls and women in China for the first time, Lee now called on her Chinese classmates to help further empower their sisters in China who were “half free, half shackled,” needing laws to be enforced to safeguard their rights (Lee 1915, 5).

      Addressing the Roots of Women’s Rights

      Lee saw suffrage as an outgrowth of democracy and both rights as expressions of Christian values. In describing the progression of democracy, she wrote, “true feminism” is “the extension of democracy or social justice and equality of opportunities to women” (Lee 1914, 531). If properly extended to women, democracy would demand that women receive the same opportunities as men and be held to the same standards as men. While acknowledging that independence for women in China would necessarily look different from independence in America, Lee nevertheless affirmed democracy in any country unfolding along common lines, a process involving “four stages”: moral, legal, political and economic. The first stage is moral, which could also be characterized as spiritual or religious, and is “represented by the early Christian movement” with its call to treat the servant and the ruler as equals before God. The principal is embodied in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (1914, 527). The second stage is legal and refers to equality before the law, which originated with the Magna Carta (1914, 527). The third is political and entails the right to choose those who govern, a fundamental right established in the Declaration of Independence, which women were currently seeking and Lee noted was compromised by the “negro question” (1914, 527). Finally, the fourth is economic, which promises “full reward of labor” to all workers. In protest of the great disparities of income that she saw, Lee actually advocated for government ownership of the means of production. While the idea is borrowed from the Communist Manifesto, Lee still saw a socialist outworking of economic equality as integral to a truly democratic society (1914, 527). As the twentieth century unfolded, Lee’s vision of democracy paralleled the four stages of development in China more closely than it did in America.

      Lee elaborated on the relevance of economics to women’s empowerment:

    23. The history of this economic phase [of democracy] divides itself into three … conceptions. First, there is the old conception that woman, single or married, should remain at home. Then there comes the industrial revolution, taking the industry out of the home and consequently taking the woman out with it. In order to meet this new condition, there arises a second conception, that woman must choose from the two prerogatives of either getting married or going out to business, and that as soon as a woman gets married she must leave her profession and stay at home. The second conception is the one we are living under, but there is a third conception on its way which says that woman whether married or not should have economic freedom. (1914, 529)

    24. In direct rebuttal to anti-suffrage arguments in China that believed women’s nature and abilities made her predisposed to stay at home, Lee argued that educated, professional women offered far more to their families than homemakers, who focused exclusively on domestic chores. Rather than remaining “distinctly inferior to man intellectually,” a woman could actually gain from having employment outside the home (1914, 530). The mental stimulation would enrich her marriage and could make her intellectually more compatible to her husband, lessening the chances of him “rush[ing] to his club or other congenial society (1914, 530). Lee contended that “if they [husband and wife] both can be self-supporting,” and a woman “does not marry for mercenary purposes,” there would be a greater degree of mutual respect in the marriage, which could only benefit both partners (1914, 530). Finally, Lee suggested that a child turns to a mother most for “sympathy and confidence” and if a mother “has some intellectual interest to occupy her for a part of the day,” she could then return to her childrearing duties “fresher” (1914, 530).

      Implicit in Lee’s arguments is the fact that a woman is human; therefore, her growth and well being are important. Dr. Louise Edwards, a professor of modern Chinese history, has observed that the women’s movement in China prioritized the Enlightenment value of “natural rights” over “natural order.” Those who advocate for natural rights seek equality on the basis that men and women are created equal and therefore should have equal rights; whereas those who insist on “natural order” adhere to a social order based on the belief that men and women each have a different essence and therefore their roles in society necessarily differ. Adherents of the natural order even occasionally argued that women were “equal but different” (Edwards 2005, 118-21). From a biblical worldview, however, what is our common humanity and equality rooted in, if not our being created in the divine image? As Lee clearly upholds a Christ-centered worldview, it would be fascinating to explore whether in her sermons or other writings, she develops the theme of imago Dei or another line of theological argumentation in support of women’s empowerment.

      Addressing the Roots of Nation Building

      Lee connected the full rights of women to nation building, which was strategic. By the 1920’s it was a foregone conclusion in China that to establish a constitutional form of government would require change, and much of the educated class regarded the change positively. In Lee’s own words, “the feministic movement is not one for privileges to women, but one for the requirement of women to be worthy citizens [who] contribute their share to the steady progress of our country towards prosperity and national greatness” (1914, 531). To support women’s rights was a step to a brighter future.

      In “China’s Submerged Half,” Lee opens with a personal plea.

    25. I plead for a wider sphere of usefulness for the long submerged women of China. I ask for our girls the open door to the treasury of knowledge, the same opportunities for physical development as boys and the same rights of participation in all human activities of which they are individually capable [italics provided by author].

    26. Lee’s allusion to education and even political engagement would not have been lost on her Chinese or American audience. Her appeal to “usefulness,” however, was a distinctly nineteenth century Protestant theme that appeared in correspondence and writings of Christian women working cross-culturally. Education, for instance, was not intended as a reason for boasting or self-improvement, nor was it meant as an outward adornment to make one more attractive to a suitor, but the goal of female education was to equip women with the skills to make them “useful” (Robert 1997, 33-35). Standing on the shoulders of a century of women cross-cultural workers, motivated by a deep desire to be “useful” in God’s vineyard, Lee was similarly calling on twentieth century Chinese Christian women to demonstrate their “usefulness” as both a sign of genuine conversion and a mark of Christian discipleship.

      In the nineteenth century, there was not as sharp a divide between social reform and evangelism as a means of reaching the world for Christ. According to the religious historian Rev. Dr. Timothy Tseng, “[Lee’s] father’s generation never questioned the social usefulness of Protestant Christianity for modern China” (Tseng 1996, 3). Lee’s father, Rev. Towe Lee (1861–1924) benefitted from both the educational and evangelistic arms of the church. While at a school in China established by cross-cultural workers, Towe converted to Christianity and learned English. Building schools, establishing hospitals and training leaders as well as evangelizing the nation were all part of the Christian legacy of the nineteenth century. Not surprisingly, many Americans and Chinese assumed that in the diplomatic service as well as ministry, Christianity would continue to be useful in the as the new Republic embarked on the road to a more democratic form of government.

      Part of what made women’s empowerment appealing in the beginning of the twentieth century was that it was not couched in self-serving terms but as part of a larger discourse on nation building, as attested to by Dr. Edwards. “During these early decades of the twentieth century China’s suffrage activists emerged as self-sacrificing, loyal political workers whose goal lay not in wresting power from men for selfish political gain. Rather, their goals were to modernize the nation, to rebuild the nation and to win international respectability for the nation” (Edwards 2005, 109). Identifying the motivation of pioneers in the women’s rights movement as “self-sacrificing” was key, because it reflected the traditional values of a virtuous Chinese wife, mother and daughter while simultaneously stretching their roles to include care for one’s nation. To depict the transformation for women, not as a radical departure from tradition, but as part of a continuum, allowed a Confucian vision of womanhood to extend into the modern era insofar as “self-sacrifice” was simultaneously at the heart of the Confucian ethic and the core of Christianity (Edwards 2005, 109-110).

      A Decisive Turn in Lee’s Career

      During the 1920’s and 30’s, after years of study, preparing to contribute to the reform efforts in China, Lee yearned to return to China. In 1921, the same year she graduated with a doctoral degree from Columbia University, her dissertation The Economic History of China, With Special Reference to Agriculture was published. Her book provided a technical recounting of the agricultural policies from the beginnings of Chinese civilization through the establishment of the Republic of China. Her fluency in Chinese and English proved an enormous asset as she was able to read all the Chinese sources in the original and provide her analysis adeptly in English.

      Lee was part of an elite coterie of Western trained, Chinese scholars, many of whom would exert enormous influence on the world stage in the decades to come. Lee’s friend Hu Shih (1891-1962), for example, had received a Boxer Indemnity Scholarship and was sent to Cornell University as an undergraduate to study agriculture but in 1912 switched his major to literature and philosophy. He then pursued his doctoral studies in literature at Columbia University, where he graduated in 1917, just as Lee was beginning her doctoral program. Later Hu became the ambassador of the Republic of China to the United States (1938–1942) and chancellor of Peking University (1946–1948). In 1929, as she would later write in a letter, “It seems that China is run by my personal friends. One is head of this University and another of that; one is in charge of all the railroads in China, and another of Finance or Education” (as quoted in Tseng 1996, 5).

      The October 1921 issue of the Christian China journal announced that, “Miss Mabel Lee received the degree of the doctorate of philosophy from Columbia University, New York” and that she “is planning to return to China in the near future” (Christian China 1921, 89). In 1923, The Metropolitan Baptist Bulletin of New York City reported that in March of that year Lee set sail for France to study “European Economics, in fuller preparation for her life work, in her native land, China” and anticipated that “a position of great trust and signal honor awaits her arrival in China” (Metropolitan Baptist Bulletin 1923, 10). In fact, Lee was offered a position as the Dean of Women students at the Amoy University, but she declined, preferring to enter into business with an export firm in Hong Kong (Gee 2001, 14-15).

      Although only blocks away from Wall Street and a short distance from the Upper East Side, the dilapidated streets of Chinatown seemed worlds away from the rich, gilded community of New York City. While a member of the privileged Chinese American upper class, Lee, was still a non-white immigrant who had to rely on the goodwill of American benefactors to travel abroad or even within the United States. Prejudice was a reality. She experienced blatant American affronts and endured the racist policies embodied in the Chinese Exclusion Acts of 1882, prohibiting Chinese laborers from entering the country, and the Immigration Act of 1924, that outlawed all Asian immigration.

      Then tragedy struck on Sunday, November 23, 1924, four days before Thanksgiving. Rev. Lee Towe, suddenly died while arbitrating in a tong (gang) war. The heart attack or stroke that took away Mabel’s father’s life interrupted her career path, but when duty called, she responded with alacrity. On the first day of the new year in 1925, Lee who was still in her twenties accepted the appointment to be the Superintendent and Minister in charge of the Morning Star Mission by the New York City Baptist Mission Society and the American Baptist Home Mission Society. Galvanizing volunteers from her network of associates from Columbia University, Chinatown businesses and her denomination, she led a school for young immigrants, age fifteen to twenty, from Monday through Friday from seven o’clock to nine o’clock in the evenings, concluding with a daily devotional (Quan 2016, 6). Then on Sundays, she led worship services and other special gatherings at the church. The Metropolitan Baptist Bulletin recorded Lee’s reflections. “I can think of nothing more attractive than our work of shaping these young lives into the stature of Christian manhood. What a privilege to look into the face of a growing boy and have his faith and confidence and see him grow in Christ and Christ in him!” (as quoted in Quan 106, 6). Within a year’s time, seventeen openly confessed Christ and were baptized. As Lee was not ordained, she invited a minister who was, to officiate (Quan 2016, 6).

      Although Lee operated at a distinct disadvantage as an unordained, Chinese woman overseeing the church, she did not let these handicaps deter her. Her father had won the trust of Chinatown leaders and residents, becoming the president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and the chairperson of the Lin Sing Welfare Society. Consequently, she did not hesitate to call upon these groups to donate to a memorial fund to honor her father, despite the fact that these organizations were dominated by male leaders who probably did not share the same progressive ideas about women that her father did. Growing up under her father’s tutelage would have nurtured Lee in a robust evangelical faith; at the same time, during her adult years, she would have been exposed to the Social Gospel that was emanating from bastions like Union Theological Seminary. Located across the street from Columbia, Union ordained its first woman in 1897. Regardless, Lee never expressed any interest in attending seminary, rather her goal remained to contribute her expertise in education and economics to China’s reconstruction.

      On July 3, 1925, the same year Lee assumed the leadership of the church in response to the anti-imperialism fomenting in China, she wrote a circular letter to her congregation, still preserved though not collated in the church’s archives. She urged her hearers not to blame all of China’s woes on foreign powers but to respond as Christians “by putting Christ within” their hearts.

    27. It is not the nationality which counts. Not all Chinese are to be trusted, and not all foreigners are anxious to crush us. We have many foreign friends who are very anxious to help us win our rights. The difference lies in the fact that they have Christianity in their hearts. . . Christianity is the salvation of China, and the salvation of the whole world. (Lee 1925)

    28. She insisted that Christian faith and practice held the solutions to humanity’s problems. It was not only doctrine, but principals put into practice that would bring about the necessary transformation of society. She saw Christian values as central in replacing imperial rule with democracy in China and no less so in bringing about the passage of the nineteenth amendment in the United States.

      Lee’s idealism and faith, however, did not shield her from conflict within her denomination or weariness from long days of ministry. The path began happily enough. In 1926, the congregation officially incorporated as the First Chinese Baptist Church. Congratulations poured in from the Consul General, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, the Lin Sing Welfare Society, and Chinese churches throughout the United States and even Canada. Gifts and donations were given both to celebrate the opening of the church and to commemorate the death of Rev. Lee Towe, the founder of the Baptist outreach in Chinatown. Lee and Dr. Charles H. Sears, the Superintendent of the New York City Baptist Mission Society, collaborated to collect monies to build her father a memorial (Tseng 1996, 6).

      Initially the American Baptist Home Society purchased the building at 21 Pell Street in Chinatown (the current location of First Chinese Baptist Church), but afterwards it was deemed inadequate for the community center. Aided by a substantial contribution from an E.L. Ballard, however, Lee was able to purchase a building around the block at 7-9 Mott Street, the location of the restaurant where Rev. Lee Towe was killed. The hope was then to use the money from the sale of 21 Pell Street to pay for renovations for the building on Mott Street, a decision for which Lee was able to gain Sears’ support. After the Depression, however, when real estate prices plummeted, the New York City Baptist Mission Society desired to sell the Pell Street property. Knowing how essential it was for the church to be free from denominational control, Lee was willing to invest all of her family’s savings and business income to buy the property. Her only stipulation was that the title be transferred to the church. After successful negotiations, the mission society went back on its promise. For two decades Lee persisted in her efforts to try to obtain the title, so convinced was she of the importance of the church owning its own property and not being beholden to the denomination. But all she met with was frustration and disgust. The denomination refused to relinquish control. It was only in 1944 after the death of Sears, that Lee was able to seize the title, but it would take another ten years before the title was legally vested in the church (Tseng 1996, 8-11).

      In truth Lee may have made her most important decision with respect to the church back in 1937, when she made her final trip to China, carrying a letter of endorsement from Sears. It was this trip that sealed her decision to remain in the U.S. China and Japan were at war, and Nanjing and Shanghai were in ruins. The level of violence, political turbulence and hazardous road conditions made it unwise to relocate to China. In the end, she would not fulfill her dream to contribute to the modernization of her country of origin, but her long and arduous battle with her denomination had secured an independent identity for her congregation as a Chinese church. Finally, First Chinese Baptist Church would no longer be regarded as a denominational outpost.

      By the mid-1950’s, Lee was the uncontested leader of the church. No longer embroiled in the fight over the property, she could turn her attention to building up the congregation. Unfortunately, at age sixty, her energies were limited and the membership of the church had declined, but she nonetheless focused on the educational and spiritual empowerment of her congregation. She taught English to immigrants and mentored a younger generation of Chinese American students. Deacon Steven Gee (1925–2001) who grew up under her mentorship graduated with a degree in engineering and was the first Chinese American to be hired by AT&T. Mrs. Rose Eng, who remained active in the City College of Chinese Alumni Association, remembered Lee taking her family and her to visit the campus of Columbia University. Similarly, Deacon Gary Quan, who is currently still active in the church’s leadership, recalls how Lee drove him up to Columbia University when he was still a youth and how she quipped that he could go through the school in one day while it took her years. Lee invested in so many young lives, helping them to apply to college and to aspire for more for themselves (Quan 2016, 5-6).

      Lee endured the fall out of the fundamentalist-modernist controversy and the changing demographics of Chinese immigration. With more relaxed immigration policies in the 1950’s and 1960’s, Mandarin-speaking Chinese and Taiwanese started entering New York City. While Lee never joined the ranks of liberal Christians, like many Protestants in her generation, she adhered to an evangelicalism that valued and encouraged civic involvement. The church was intended to be a place of nurture, which included assisting immigrants to adopt to their new home, whether that was by helping them acquire fluency in English or insuring that their children received an excellent education. In contrast, a new breed of independent Chinese pastors who focused almost exclusively on piety and evangelism were reaching America’s shores. Converted through revivalist preaching by independent Christian preachers, they represented a separatist stream of evangelicalism that tended to be more theologically conservative than mainstream, denominational Protestantism. As a result, those seeking a more theological conservative church left the congregation while other younger members of First Chinese Baptist chose to go to congregations with more people their age. Deacon Quan captured the essence of Lee’s beliefs: “Dr. Mabel Lee espoused the godly virtue of being faithful or doing one’s duty on the personal level individually and on the corporate level to society” (Quan 2016, 5). Civic responsibility was elevated to a sacred duty, or as Hu Shih elegantly put it, Lee’s goal was to build a church with a vision to promote justice courageously (captured in the four-word Chinese proverb jian yi yong wei).

      During Lee’s last years of ministry, Lee chose to preach on different hymns of the church and their authors. Three of her favorite hymns embodied her convictions: “Rise Up, O Men of God,” written by William Pierson Merrill; “I Would Be True,” written by Howard Arnold Walter; and “This Is My Father’s World,” written by Maltie B. Babcock (Quan 2016, 5). Rev. Merill (1867-1951) was a Presbyterian minister, a graduate from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, a pacifist and the pastor of the prestigious Brick Presbyterian Church on the Upper East Side of New York City. In the very first stanza of “Rise Up, O Men of God,” Merill calls for undivided devotion, “Give heart and mind and soul and strength to serve the King of Kings.” Then with confidence he calls for “the men of God” to “bring in the day of brotherhood and end the night of wrong,” for “the church doth wait … rise up and make her great.” The call for an elite corp of Christian leaders echoes Lee’s belief that democracy is actually a meritocracy, where those who have made the most of their opportunities and talents earn the right to govern (Lee 1914, 528). The belief in progress and the ability to usher in a better world, rings true in the hymn “I Would Be Strong,” especially in the line, “I would be brave, for there is much to dare.” The future envisioned by both of these hymns reflected a post-millennial belief that God would usher in a reign of peace and harmony before Christ’s return. In light of a glorious future, it was the Christian’s duty to be “true,” “pure,” “strong,” “brave,” “giving,” “humble,” and “faithful.”  In keeping with the optimistic spirit of these hymns, many Protestant congregations in the 1950’s enjoyed numerical growth and participated in expansive building campaigns. Rev. Walter (1883–1918) actually wrote “I Would Be True” as a poem for his mother while teaching as a YMCA missionary at the esteemed Forman Christian College in India (now relocated to Punjab, Pakistan). His sacrificial life, cut short by a bout with influenza, would not have been lost on Lee, who journeyed to a far off land and invested her life in planting a community center in Chinatown. Finally, despite extolling the beauty of the created order “This Is My Father’s World,” Rev. Babcock (1858–1901) had to remind himself “O let me ne’er forget that, though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet” and reassure himself, in lines that are most often left out in today’s hymnals, “Why should my heart be sad? The Lord is king; let the heavens ring!” Lauded as a great orator, the young pastor of the Brick Presbyterian Church, nevertheless, struggled with depression and ultimately succumbed to suicide. During Lee’s long, drawn out struggle with the denomination while she was single-handedly shouldering the burden of the church, the hope is that the lives of these hymnists might have comforted her, letting her know that she was not alone in her suffering or devotion.

      Lee passed quietly from the scene in 1966, but not without leaving a legacy. She had fought and won on so many fronts. As a college student she advocated for women’s rights and participated in the move to extend the suffrage to women in 1920. She earned a doctorate in political science at Columbia University, leaving an inspiring example for a younger generation of Chinese American men and women. The daughter of a beloved pastor, she led the congregation of the First Chinese Baptist Church for over forty years despite the lack of support from her denomination. Her commitment to education as a means of social advancement continues to the present through the summer youth program led by Deacon Robert Gee, the son of the Deacon Steven Gee, while her mission to the Chinese community is embodied in programs led by the current pastor, Rev. Bayer Lee (Quan 2016, 5). In recent years, the church continues to open her doors for Sunday worship services and Sunday meals; showcases films, concerts and exhibits by Asian Americans; and serves as meeting place for a Christian women’s empowerment group. Like his predecessor, Rev. Lee is a graduate of Columbia University, a Fulbright scholar, fluent in Cantonese and English who values the independence of the Chinese church.  A simple commemorative stone with the words “Memorial” inscribed in Chinese by Dr. Hu Shih still adorns the front entrance. While the original intention was to honor Rev. Lee Towe, it is also a fitting testament to Dr. Mabel Lee. For it was her conviction that Christian faith leads to service that provided a unifying vision of development that applies as much to the world around the corner as it does to distant lands.

      End Notes

      1. Like Mabel Lee, Donaldina Cameron at the age of twenty five became superintendent of the Presbyterian Home in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Whereas Lee focused on young immigrant men, Cameron committed herself to rescuing young Chinese immigrant women from indentured servitude. Both Lee and Cameron’s work could technically be considered “domestic missions” because their work, though rooted in American soil, was seen as cross-cultural work from an American missions stand point, and was funded by their respective denomination’s mission societies. See Twelbeck 2012, 135-163.

      2. Services were conducted in Cantonese, because the primary group of Chinese residing in the United States during Lee’s lifetime were from Hong Kong and Guanddong Province and spoke Cantonese.

      3. Between 1900 and 1904, student enrollment in NYC public schools increased by 132,000. By 1911, at Erasmus, a second phase of construction made space for an additional 1,451 students with much of the increase due to immigration. Accessed October 20, 2016.

      4. On April 11, 1912 in the Portland Hotel, seven Chinese women attended a special luncheon sponsored by the College Women’s Equal Suffrage association in Oregon. Racial lines were suspended for an afternoon while Chinese sat side by side with their American counterparts. Dr. S. K. Chan, a physician and the president of a local suffrage league, gave a brief address, “We Chinese women have much to be thankful for. You sent your missionaries . . . and they told us about the destiny and equality of man . . . But we have taken one step ahead of you. You have brought us the truths of the rights of man and we have put them into practice by granting our women the ballot” (Oregonian 1912, 16). Dr. Chan extolled China as surpassing the United States by granting the franchise to women earlier, apparently assuming that the new constitutional government, established in 1912, would immediately confer the right to vote on women, but China’s daughters waited until 1947 before they could vote. Meanwhile, in November 1912, Oregon’s Equal Suffrage Proclamation was signed. Unfortunately, Dr. Chan, still could not vote, because according to U.S. law her race disqualified her from citizenship. How often race and gender have conspired against human rights.

      5. Inflamed by expanding foreign spheres of influence and the extraterritoriality rights of foreigners, a group known as the Righteous Harmonious Fists (“the Boxers”) wanted to re-assert Chinese sovereignty by ridding China of foreign powers. European forces united and responded by bringing 20,000 armed soldiers to squash the “Rebellion” (1901) and exacted an indemnity of 450 million taels of silver—exceeding China’s annual tax revenue. America used a portion of the payment to establish the Boxer Indemnity Scholarship to pay for the tuition of Chinese students who qualified to study in America. Since Lee was still a Chinese citizen, she was able to receive a scholarship for her studies at Barnard.

      6. Lee was active in the Chinese Christian Students Association, but she apparently felt confident that her credentials merited recognition across the Chinese student body. Although she lost to T.V. Soong, some believe he may have tampered with the ballots (Tseng 1996, 5).

      7. In contrast, the Mount Holyoke model represented a different cross-cultural strategy, where the preeminent goal of female education was to make women better wives, so that their husbands and children could be won over by their godly example. The intent was to make women “useful” (Robert 2005, 110) in their given cultural context and not to introduce English, western clothing, foreign manners, or other potential barriers to the gospel (Robert 2005, 111).

      8.The Morningstar Mission was started by the Woman’s American Baptist Mission Society in 1892 and then merged in 1912 with the Methodist Work in Chinatown under the New York City Baptist Mission Society.
      The Moody’s Manual of Railroads and Corporation Securities of 1918 records an E.L. Ballard as the Treasurer of the Automatic Record Co., incorporated in Delaware in 1910.


      “Chinese Girl for Suffrage: Miss Mabel Lee of Barnard is Speaker at Meeting.” 1915. New York Times (January 30): 4.

      Christian China. 1921. “Personal Notes.” Christian China 8, no.1 (Oct.): 89.

      Edwards, Louise. 2005. Opposition to Women’s Suffrage in China: Confronting Modernity in Governance. In Women in China: The Republican Period on Historical Perspective, ed. Mechthild Leutner and Nicolar Spakowski, 107-82. Munster: LIT Verlag.

      Gee, Steven. 2001. “Highlights of Dr. Mabel Lee’s Life.” First Chinese Baptist Church 75th Anniversary Commemorative Journal, 14-15.

      Lee, Mabel. “China’s Submerged Half.” c. 1915. Unpublished Speech. Files in First Chinese Baptist Church (“FCBC”).

      ________. 1914. “Chinese Patriotism,” Winning Oration Amherst Conference, The Chinese Students Monthly.

      ________. 1925. Circular Letter to Congregation. July 3, 1925. Files in FCBC.

      ________. 1929. “Dr. Mabel Lee: On a Visit to China Writes Interesting Letter.” The Metropolitan Baptist 1, no. 1 (Sept.): 3.

      ________. 1921. The Economic History of China, With Special Reference to Agriculture. New York: Columbia University Press.

      ________. 1914. “The Meaning of Woman’s Suffrage.” Chinese Student Monthly (May): 526-29.

      Metropolitan Baptist Bulletin. 1923. 2, no. 10 (December): 10.

      Metropolitan Baptist Bulletin. 1927. 6, no. 1 (January): 3.

      Oregonian. 1912. “Chinese Women Dine with White.” Oregonian (April 12): 16. Accessed October 20, 2016.

      Quan, Gary. 2016. “My Tribute to Dr. Mabel Lee’s Sunset Legacy.” First Chinese Baptist Church 90th Anniversary Commemorative Journal: 4-6.

      Robert, Dana L. 1997. American Women in Mission: A Social History of Their Thought and Practice. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press.

      Tseng, Timothy. 1996. “Dr. Mabel Lee: The Interstitial Career of a Protestant Chinese American Woman, 1924–1950,” Organization of American Historians. Paper presented at the Palmer House Hilton, Chicago.

      ________. 2002. Unbinding Their Souls: Chinese Protestant Women in Twentieth-Century America. In Women and Twentieth-Century Protestantism, ed. Margaret Lamberts and Virginia Lieson Brereton, 136-63. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

      Twelbeck, Kirsten. 2011. The Donaldina Cameron Myth and the Rescue of America, 1910–2012. In Chinatowns in a Transnational World: Myths and Realities of an Urban Phenomenon, ed. Vanessa Knnemann and Ruth Mayer, 135-63. New York: Routledge.

      Wright, Mary Louise. “Chinese Girl to Ride at Head of Suffrage Parade.” Files in FCBC.

      This article is from the issue: Volume 5, Issue 2—Women in International Development

      1. A Note from the Editor: Women in International Development

      Sep 01, 2016

      The editorial team of William Carey International Development Journal are pleased to publish the 2016 Fall issue on “The Role of Women in International Development.” We started out inviting papers in the areas of biblical/theological reflection of the role of women, case studies and biographies of women as agents of change in various historical and geographic contexts, and we got just what we wanted. This issue features three original articles that deal with the topic from these perspectives.

      Reflecting from an “overarching biblical theological” perspective, Dr. Junia Pokrifka identifies prototypes of extraordinary women in the Bible and shows us how they serve as agents of God’s redemptive work and “evidence of the measure of shalom that God brought to women as members of his redeemed people.”

      Dr. Grace May traces the life and ministry of Dr. Mabel Ping Hua Lee, immigrant to the US from Hong Kong in the early 20th century, who later became a scholar activist and Christian leader, advocating women’s rights in China through her writing and teaching, and promoting educational and spiritual nurture to the congregation of the First Chinese Baptist Church in New York City.

      Namarr Newson, WCIU Ph.D. associate, presents the extraordinary case of Dr. Mary Mcleod Bethune, descendant of former slaves, as an educator and agent of change. One of the most influential African American women in American history, she integrated her Christian faith with vocation, leaving a great legacy to the Christian community in America and beyond.

      We are also including, from Agents of International Development and Shalom, a WCIU Press publication, some autobiographies of women in various roles and contexts, as well as an excerpt on Marie Monsen, a Norwegian cross-cultural worker to Henan, China in the earlier 20th century. All of these together make a great issue that we wish to inform, encourage, and inspire.

      As always, you are welcome to join in the dialogue, discussion, and debate through reading and commenting on the articles, and sharing insights on your own social and professional networks.

      This article is from the issue: Volume 5, Issue 2—Women in International Development

      4. Marie Monsen—Norwegian Cross-Cultural Worker to Henan

      Sep 01, 2016

      One of the cultural tendencies of the Chinese is the emphasis on the past—historical figures and events. The experience and wisdom of an authoritative person in the past often serve as great reference for the present. This is naturally reflected in how Christians in Henan remember Marie Monsen. Obviously the Spirit of God can make use of the cultural traits for his own purposes when we look at Marie’s life and ministry in perspective of the dynamic Word of Life (WOL) movement. In conversation with believers about the history of the WOL church, Marie Monsen is often and commonly mentioned with appreciation and respect, as someone who dedicated herself to cross-cultural Christian service in central China as well as a role model in ministry that has had significant impact on the WOL movement. She is part of the story, and continues to be remembered as the spiritual mother of the Christian faith tradition in Henan.

      Who was Marie Monsen? The Norwegian Journal of Gender Research has this to say about Monsen,

    29. One prominent Scandinavian woman missionary who became a successful religious authority in her own right was Marie Monsen (1872–1962) in the Norwegian Lutheran Mission. Her Christian calling and personal religious experience legitimized her own roles as a preacher for men as well as for women and children in China, and as spiritual counselor for male Christian leaders (Okkenhaug 2004).

    30. Marie Monsen was born and grew up in Bergen, Norway. Her mother was among the advocates in the popular movement led by Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771–1824), which inspired women in ministry and an evangelical missionary movement (see Soltvedt 1999, 1-4). Marie responded to the missionary call and joined Norwegian Lutheran Mission (Det norske lutherske Kinamisjonsforbund, later called Norsk Luthersk Misjonssamband) (Mikaelsson 2003, 121). She went to China in 1901 and was stationed in Nanyang, Henan Province. She engaged in educational ministry there, running a girl’s school and training Chinese Bible women. In the later part of her time in China, because of evacuation of the Norwegian Lutheran Mission (NLM) from Henan due to social and poli