Monday, October 15, 2007

What do you think?

On Wednesdays at ANCC, we split up into small groups in order to discuss a case study or topic relevant to missions. This past week was very interesting. We were given a story to read and then asked to discuss several questions. I will give you the story summary, and then tell me what you think by clicking on the "comment" link immediately below this post. If you do not want your comments publicly posted, just write that in. Case Study: A highly respected, degreed older man named Graham and his wife agree to serve as missionaries within an African mission. Upon arrival, Graham is told that the position he expected to fill has instead been filled by a very young African man named Geoffrey. Apparently, there are very few African men with qualifications, so the candidates have a great deal of power in selection and in keeping the position even if they do not perform their duties well. The older missionary is placed under the young candidate and given teaching assignments far below what he would ordinarily be expected due to his years of teaching experience. The younger candidate asks to see the older man's teaching materials and then "borrows" them without asking, declaring that he will not need them for his duties. The young candidate does not do his duties well at all while the older missionary is relegated to duties such as arranging the coke drinks for the Bishop meeting coming to town. The Africans do not seem appreciative or even concerned with Graham. Graham's wife is offended that these people are treating her husband like this. Why doesn't someone do something? Graham patiently endures and ploddingly serves, doing as he is requested. The young candidate grows worse in his teaching duties and still no one does anything. Eventually, Graham health fails and he has an incident with his heart. Doctors tell him to go back to his homeland. Suddenly, the church arranges a wonderful party with gifts and the Bishop even comes to tell him goodbye. Why are they behaving so differently? The Bishop explains that normally within African culture an older, more experienced man is respected; however, Graham's humble attitude under mistreatment during the entire term spoke loudly to everyone. Graham had taught everyone much by the way he lived. Why didn't the Bishop deal with the young man who was shirking his duties? The Bishop said that confrontation is not acceptable within the African culture. It is not their culture. They wait for the Holy Spirit to confront a person. In fact, the younger candidate just resigned on his own a few days ago and returned all of Graham's books to the main office. The end. Questions: Was Graham's family right to be defensive of him? How would you have handled the change of role if you were Graham? Was the Bishop weak? Do you think he could have handled it better? Should he have confronted the young candidate? How do you feel when you are passed over or sidelined? What motivates you for your mission (or goals)? How does your culture define success? How does the Bible define success? Are you ready for disappointments? Do our motivations require us to have success as the world defines it?

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