Yesterday I wrote about learning to wait on the often long healing process that people need to go through. Today I’m going to look at the time it takes to reach our ultimate goal of building a transformational leader.
Call me an old fuddy-duddy or a slow learner, but the older I get the more I am convinced that in general, we start people in Christian ministry before they’re ready, and retire them in their prime. Judy and I have been at this business together for 39 years–we first started in 1979, visiting people in a run-down Chicago neighborhood, and teaching Bible to chronic mentally ill folks. And while admittedly we have focused on the harder side of life, we feel we still have so much to learn.
With the folks we work with, there are extra obstacles. Very few come to us with a high-school education. Many have finished sixth grade or even less. Many also work to support children, and sometimes other family, so finding time to learn is difficult. Then there is the sad reality that reading for self-improvement is simply not a valued habit among the lower class. The Thai Bible is generally difficult to read for many, including not only high vocabulary but specialized, royal language.
So I’ve learned to be very ok with leader development taking a really long time. And it has been well worth the wait. We now have some precious, hardworking co-leaders on our team, and some are are beginning to have influence in other places. I have written so far this month about Junie and Prang. Sorn and Gik have M.Div. degrees, and Gik now works with the Thailand Bible Society. Dao and Bpop reach out to others constantly. Onn and Ann are stable mentors to many. Sa has worked tirelessly to keep our non-profit in the good graces of government bureaucrats.
Yesterday one of our alumna, Faang, 28, stopped in to our cafe. She credits her administrative experience, managing our Narimon stock and shipping, for giving her useful work skills. She now is working in real estate, mostly with condo rental and sales. “I made a goal this year to lead two people to Christ,” Faang told me, and I made it. But next year I really want to disciple them.”
Today Faang was back, her two beautiful daughters in tow. She had made an appointment with one of our alumna who has been struggling a bit. Faang was there to teach her how to make a snack food that she could sell for a decent profit. “Next year I hope to start volunteering at The Well three days a week,” Faang told me.