Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Inspirational and Challenging Book

People thinking about investing time and money to help those with fewer resources will be encouraged and inspired by John Wood’s story of Leaving Microsoft to Change the World.

A review I have written about this book is posted at Reviewing Books and Movies.

Geoff Pound

Image: John Wood—entrepreneur and founder of Room to Read.

Monday, April 16, 2007

'No Theologian but Usable none the Less'

Russell Drowley resonated with the Theologians Without Borders vision and wrote encouraging me in this new activity.

He has seen what can be done as he has made himself available to cross borders into China and the Philippines.

Even more importantly he has found great excitement and a strategic mission secret, when he has taken others from his church with him to share in Pastor’s Conferences. Thanks Russell for writing up your story. Read on with Russell:

Eleven years ago at the ripe old age of 41 I watched as all my worldly goods were packed into one single shipping container. What have I been doing all these years? For the past eight years my pastoral experience was a country Church in the Latrobe Valley about 140 kms east of Melbourne. Then I received a call to a Church in the inner North Western suburbs of Melbourne. At that stage in my life my most adventurous oversees travels were to Tasmania. A passport was something “other” people had. To my best recollections I had never even seen one. Wow, how things have changed.

Eleven years on I have just received my new electronic passport. Looking at my now defunct passport I counted 8 visa’s to China, one to the US and many other stamps of places in Asia including, Malaysia - twice, Philippines – five, and Hong Kong – five. How had this country guy with five kids now leading a suburban city church manage to do all that on a modest income? God only knows, and He certainly does.

My first trip to China took place in 1997 with a group of five other people. I enjoyed it very much and certainly wanted to return. Two years later I took my ever enduring wife who did not enjoy the cuisine of chickens feet and a fish head here and there. But we made contact with a Pastor in the underground Church in China and here is where my real adventure began. This young Pastor was working hard and my heart went out to him. I wanted to support and encourage him.

I had a dream to take this young Pastor from Hainan Island right down in the south of China to meet Pastor Samuel Lamb in Guangzhou, who is a well known underground Church Pastor. My wife and I had the privilege of meeting him in 1999.

So in 2000 I took Paul with me to meet Pastor Samuel Lamb. It was awesome. Now seven years on I have returned six times to meet with Paul and his Church family. I now conduct two to three days of teaching for him and he host’s other Pastors from neighbouring churches. I would need a book to tell you all the amazing stories about how God has used an Aussie Pastor to minister to these amazing people in China.

In 2002 a door opened for me in the Philippines. For the past five years I have worked in both China and the Philippines encouraging Churches and Pastors. Last year in the Philippines I preached my heart out thirty times in ten days in three different Churches. Couldn’t do that at home!

Every year now I take someone with me. The effect on the people I take is just amazing. They come home energized and so much more excited about their faith in God and all He is able to do in people’s lives. Our Church has benefited. Last year we gave 19% of our total income to missions projects both here and overseas.

If you are considering a trip overseas don’t hesitate. Just get that passport and your Bible ready and away you go. Do you need lots of letters after your name? Letters mean nothing to the people I’ve met in China and the Philippines. Most of all I believe they need our encouragement and affirmation and we are all qualified to give that.

Many Blessings.

Pastor Russell Drowley.
Hope Centre, Glenroy, Melbourne, Australia.

Image: Russell writes: “I have also attached a photo of some of my friends from Cabanatuan in the Philippines. You guessed it. I’m the one in middle at the front.”

Monday, April 9, 2007

Elephants, Theologians and the Bottom Line

I was visiting Thailand recently and was reminded not only of the fact that the elephant is their national symbol but the way this animal is loved. My visit coincided with National Elephant Day in Thailand and as a mark of appreciation the elephants were paraded and served a special ‘buffet’ of fruit and vegetables.

Throughout the world elephants are almost universally admired for their unique appearance, their intelligence and their amazing memory. Some reports of the 2004-2005 tsunami in Thailand noted the super sensitivity of elephants who, “went crazy as they bellowed, broke their tethers and headed upland,” a long time before the waves struck the coast. The number of proverbs relating to elephants is a sign of the qualities humans attribute to them. Writer and preacher, F W Boreham has an interesting essay on the way the term, ‘white elephant’ has come into our language.

An office I used to visit regularly had a sign on the window with these words:

“Getting things done around here is like mating elephants. It’s done at a very high level. It’s accomplished with a great deal of bellowing and it takes two years for anything to be produced.

Some recent research into the plight of elephants has highlighted the stress and grief facing these social animals when their relatives have been killed by poachers.

One of the innovative campaigns intended to raise public consciousness about the evil done to elephants is the [golden!] award winning Great Elephant Poo Poo Paper Company’. Elephant dung is collected and processed into odorless paper. One turd, they state, can be transformed into 25 large sheets of gift paper which they sell with other paper products through their online ‘Pootique’. The news of the award and this poo to gift paper business caused comedian, Jay Leno to get to the bottom line and remark, “I hope they provide self-sealing envelopes!”

Here is one fascinating glimpse into elephant behavior that is used to illustrate the cross cultural insensitivity of some human beings:

A person talking about her experiences of living in East Africa told a group of people what happens when a herd of elephants approach a water hole that is surrounded by another herd. She said the lead elephant of the second group turns around and backs down toward the water hole. As soon as its backside is felt by the elephants around the water, they step aside and make room for it and this is the signal to the others that the first herd is ready to make room and invite them to the water.

And then the person talked of how she and her colleagues had gone to work among a tribe in Eastern Africa and she confessed, “Unlike the approaching elephants we did not back in.”

Geoff Pound

Image: African elephants at a water hole.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

‘Come Over and Help Us!’

I have received a call from a South East Asian location for theological teachers.

This could be for one week (in which you teach an intensive), two weeks or three. It is very flexible.

In trying to pin the request down specifically, I haven’t been successful at this stage as they are ‘grateful for any assistance’.

The need is very great. The students are many. There are opportunities for sharing with a wider number of people in regular worship services.

The medium is English. The grasp of the English language varies from student to student. The students are hungry to learn.

You need to be a good communicator in another culture. You don’t have to be currently teaching in a seminary. You might be serving as a pastor in a church. Women and men are able to teach and preach in this context. You need to be versatile and ready to speak at the drop of a hat.

Accommodation is basic and challenging. Resources on the spot are scarce, although there is a good Internet service. Mobile phones work if you get in the right spot.

Bed, ‘room’ and mossie nets are free and local style food is provided. The nearest McDonalds restaurant is a five hour drive away, if this is important to you. A good coffee shop is a twenty minutes drive from this place.

There is neither pay nor finance offered for plane fares.

This opportunity will change your life.

For good reasons I do not want to put more details on this public notice board but if you would like to know more please email me at geoffpound@yahoo.com.au

Geoff Pound

Image: ‘Come Over and Help Us!’

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

EXPRESSION OF INTEREST

THEOLOGIANS WITHOUT BORDERS: EXPRESSION OF INTEREST

Please copy and use these questions as a framework for writing your ‘Expression of Interest’ in serving as a TWB volunteer and email it to Geoff Pound geoffpound@gmail.com, with a digital photo. Stretch out the template of questions to get the space you need for your reply.

If you would like to serve with a partner or a friend, please make this clear and get that person to answer these questions, especially if they are offering to serve.

WHO ARE YOU?

NAME

AGE

ADDRESS

FAMILY DETAILS

NATIONALITY

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND AND QUALIFICATIONS

MINISTRY EXPERIENCE

CURRENT MINISTRY

PERMISSIONS
If you are currently serving in a church or Theological College please comment on your freedom and permission-giver/s to take time out for an overseas assignment.

THINGS YOU LIKE TO DO OTHER THAN MINISTRY

CROSS-CULTURAL EXPERIENCES

ANY HEALTH ISSUES THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO SHARE

OTHER DEFINING FEATURES

WHAT DO YOU SEEK?

TYPE OF ROLE

PREFERENCES OF COUNTRIES/CULTURES

LENGTH OF TERM YOU WOULD BE LOOKING TO STAY

PERIOD OF AVAILABILITY
Please try and be specific about the window/s of opportunity you have and other periods when you know you would definitely not be free.

WHAT CAN YOU OFFER?

FUNCTIONS
List the functions you think you could or would like to offer—preaching, administration, teaching, consultancy, pastoral care, building, fix it person, agriculturalist, cook, tutoring….

SUBJECTS AND COURSES
If you are a theological/Bible teacher or trainer, list the subjects and courses you could offer.

THEMES
If you are offering to speak at a Pastors/Leaders’ conference, list the themes you would be able to address.

PASSIONS
If the course or conference themes were left completely to you, list the things you would love to speak about at the moment.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO GET OUT OF THIS EXPERIENCE?

OTHER DETAILS
List other details or questions you want to add.

COMMENDATION
Supply the name, role and contact details of two people who can give an honest and fair assessment of your (you and your partner/friend) suitability for service in a cross cultural, voluntary assignment.

WHAT NOW?

After completing this form, please send to me-Geoff Pound (see email address above)-along with a digital photo. I will acknowledge receipt of your ‘Expression of Interest’.

Every effort will be made to keep your details confidential. They will be shared only with the TWB Coordinating Committee and denominational and seminary leaders who are seeking people to help them.

Please recognize that it may take several months to process so get your ‘Expression of Interest’ in early.

We cannot promise opportunities. TWB is about suggesting and recommending names to leaders who are looking for assistance.

Many thanks for your consideration and for making an offer of your service, gifts and time.

Geoff Pound
Chair of Coordinating Committee, TWB.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

TWB: The Type of People Needed.

Some people have read the information about Theologians Without Borders and have asked for further details as to the qualities of people who might teach and minister in different places where there are opportunities and needs.

When I have asked this question of people who have hosted visiting teachers in the past I have quickly heard stories of the sort of people who are not wanted! Reports like these:

“We had a well known theologian who came to us and then recommended that his friend come and teach in our seminary. He had the qualifications… the resume looked impressive but he was unusual. Relationally he was a disaster with our students and it left us embarrassed and picking up the pieces for months.”

“Our seminary invited a teacher who had a long record of serving in a Theological College. He just wanted to teach. He wasn’t interested in eating with us, fellowshipping with us or even meeting us to talk about the situation we were facing.”

If we have hosted a visiting teacher or preacher, we might all have one horror story of our theologian from hell.

The two snapshots highlight the importance of visiting teachers and preachers being people who are good relationally—wise with students and warm with their new colleagues. All this in addition to a lively relationship with God.

Even though Theologians Without Borders is about the giving of oneself voluntarily rather than going on a paid assignment, this does not imply that we offer people who are second-rate or do a second-rate job.

As at the Cricket World Cup, the teams representing their country are those who have proved their giftedness on their home soil, not those who have played in a mediocre fashion. Therefore, we are looking for the very best people who will give of their best to serve in another country.

We are looking for people who are not only able teachers and speakers but people who can foot it well in another culture—people who are adaptable, happy to do the unexpected, good listeners and are pastoral with those who are wanting to share their lives.

Sometimes the overseas stint can be seen as an escape from the difficulties we are currently facing. Harry Emerson Fosdick once gave an address entitled, ‘The First Mile.’ He said that while going the second mile seems to be the honourable and the exemplary, such a journey is only worthy if it follows the walking of the first mile well i.e. doing the basic tasks well and fulfilling those primary responsibilities at work and at home faithfully.

If you think you fulfil the requirements for a theologian who crosses the borders to serve elsewhere, do let us know of your expression of interest through sending us some information about you (questions will be listed in the next posting), a photograph and the name and contact details of two people who know you well and can give you a fair and honest commendation.

Please note: The information that you send or the name of anyone who is available or thinking about a possibility will not be advertised in public mail outs or posted on this web site. The material you send will be treated confidentially as it is shared with seminary and church leaders seeking assistance.

The pro forma with questions for you to cover in your letter will follow this posting in the next day or so.

If there are any questions you have about this process don’t hesitate to email me.

Geoff Pound
Chair Coordinating Committee for Theologians Without Borders.

Image: We are looking for “those who have proved their giftedness on their home soil.” Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist looking pleased after representing Australia well on West Indian soil, after clinching a convincing win against Bangladesh. [This illustration does not betray any bias as I was born in neither Australia nor Bangladesh.]