Independence

One of the great strengths of this oral strategy of teaching is empowering the leaders to train the people from their own country. We want those who have been given God’s Word to be independent of missionaries or from western education.  Instead of one missionary spending years learning the language and culture, we want national leaders to have the tools to train their own people.

It is difficult for anyone to step into another culture and understand the nuances of how to communicate. It is far more than understanding grammar or knowing how to communicate a thought. It includes body language, facial expressions, cultural history, and local religious practices. The more you learn about people, the more you realize how much more there is to know. Within cultures are subcultures that think differently from each other. Town and country, old and young, male and female are three simple examples of groups that think differently from one another.

Some who have gone through the training have had the charisma of a dynamic leader but have not been faithful to their commitment. Since the nationals have been entrusted to oversee their own people, they recognize character flaws in their peers through their daily interaction. Someone from outside does not recognize these problems until damage has been done.

On the opposite side, are those that seem insignificant in the worlds eyes but are faithful in the work of God. We have seen a 14-year-old finish the training and begin teaching others. We have seen the illiterate leading churches, starting classes, and leading leaders. The Lord lifts people to carry the work forward to those who would not be chosen by their outward appearance, but those from within the culture that people trust and respect.

I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will. Acts 13:22

Dependence

One of the great challenges of missions is helping people to the point where they can succeed without causing dependence. Generosity by itself is not the most loving, caring, or helpful way to empower people. In fact, it can be the biggest hindrance to the ministry. The ministry will suffer or crash when any portion of a dependent attitude creeps in. It is dangerous anytime people, money, or gifts gets connected to the progress or the success of the training.

Students in more than one country have literally told their friends, “Come to this training and we will get gifts and salary.” In one of those incidents five students who had been prepared to be teachers for over a year walked away from the opportunity because their financial expectations were not met. In another case, leaders tried to sabotage the training by turning the community against the teachers who were bringing God’s Word to them. Too many good leaders have been corrupted by money and power.

It is a fine line to walk. A relatively small gift can make the training possible for those who would not otherwise be able to receive it. That same small gift can set up an expectation that can corrode the potential of an independent ministry. It is vital to empower students to be able to operate with their own resources with their own culture.

Recently two graduations took place in a remote part of Uganda. The students of that area were exceptionally poor because of drought, and failed fishing. Those same students paid their teachers expensive transportation fees for him to come train them as well as hosting an elaborate graduation ceremony. The transportation fees and the graduations were all paid for from their own community. The amount that they raised reflected the value that they put on the training that they received.

Their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave… beyond their means.
1 Corinthians 8:2-3