Friday, April 25, 2008

Offer of Teaching Time and Gifts

Why is it that Old Testament teachers offer themselves through ‘Theologians Without Borders’ at a rate of 3 to 1 over New Testament teachers, teachers of theology…??

While you’re figuring that out, I am happy to post the offer of another Old Testament teacher for a period in 2009 (specific dates yet to be finalised).

This teacher is greatly experienced in teaching people in different cultures, especially in Oceania and the Middle East.

He is an experienced pastor and is qualified in a number of theological disciplines.

His specialty is in the books of Genesis and Deuteronomy.

His vision is the exploration of the gospel in the Old Testament and discovering Christ in continuity with that gospel.

Do send me an email if your seminary or Bible School would like to take up this offer from this OT lecturer next year.

Dr Geoff Pound
(Chair, Coordinating Committee of TWB)

geoffpound@yahoo.com.au

Postscript
Let me know if you have an answer to my first question or drop it in as a Comment.

Image: “My father was a wandering Aramean.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Theologians Without Borders Redefining ‘Retirement’

Theological teachers who retire have a great opportunity to reinvent the word ‘retirement’ and provide the greatest contribution across international borders. Finishing in a permanent appointment does not necessarily give one lots of surplus cash but this is usually a time when retirees are rich in time with greater flexibility.

One retired teacher undertaking ‘theologian without borders’ responsibilities, is author and historian, Dr Richard (Dick) Pierard.

Dick taught history for many years at Indiana State University and then was Professor of History at Gordon College on Boston’s North Shore. But throughout his teaching career he broadened his research fields and teaching responsibilities by undertaking international assignments at the Liverpool Hope University (U.K.), at the Universities of Frankfurt/Main and Halle-Wittenberg in Germany when he was a Fulbright Professor and through serving as Visiting Professor at the University of Otago, New Zealand.

According to Gordon College provost Mark Sargent, "Dr. Pierard has been one of the boldest and most distinguished Christian historians of his generation, and has given generously of his time and energy to helping mentor young scholars."

Dick spoke about the challenging teaching experiences he enjoyed in Russia and India:

Helping in Foundational Period
My first trip to the Moscow Theological Seminary took place when they were in their beginning phase and greatly needed help from the West since there simply was no solid cadre of instructors in place. I worked up a course from scratch on the church, politics, and religious liberty in Christian history.

I began in 1997 and even participated in the first graduation ceremony, and I was invited back four subsequent times. In time they had developed a faculty and the seminary was reorganized with a new director and I was no longer needed. The Russian Baptists have no money, so I agreed to pay my way over, and they would take care of me at no charge while I was there.

Little Lost in Translation
I had to work through an interpreter so I actually wrote out each lecture and gave it to her before hand. This way she could discuss with me concepts that were unclear, and this helped to forestall interminable questions of definition that would get us sidetracked.

Invitation to India
I went on a study tour to India in June-July 2006 run by the Boston Theological Institute and SAIACS (the South East Asia Institute of Advanced Studies) was one of the places we visited. I got into a conversation with the acting principal, Dr. Hrangkhuma and he asked me if I would be interested in coming back to teach a course on the same basis--I pay for my flight and they would take care of me.

Intensives
I came in July 2007 to teach a four-week module on general church history for their M.A. students. They seemed to like me so I was asked to come back in March of this year (2008), where I did a seminar in the history of Christianity in India for people in their Th.M. program. I have been requested to return next March to do the general church history course again.

Teaching with Study
During my stay this time I made a visit to Serampore College, just outside Calcutta, where I gave a lecture and communed with the spirit of William Carey. As a result, the Serampore principal asked me to come there as well next time and do a course on the history of the ecumenical movement.

Teaching in India
The advantage of working in India is that I teach in English and the students are expected to have competency in the language. Thus I don't have to use an interpreter, but I do try to keep the lectures conceptually simple and I speak slowly and clearly.

Short-Term Teaching
Undertaking a teaching stint rather than being based for a long term is clearly a different way of doing things. One has to operate under the handicap of not having a good library and adjusting for that situation.

Lifting the Lid
I felt I had a good relationship with the students. I think they realized I was coming as volunteer labour and would receive no material gain. I tried to act as a servant who had come to share what I had with my brothers and sisters whom I treated as equals. That was especially the case with the faculty members, some of whom were not as well trained as I. I would not allow them to feel intimidated by me, and we all operated on a first name basis. For the Indians they liked being able to call me Dr. Richard because my last name was hard for them to pronounce. (That is real irony, considering some of those Indian names!) I did what I was asked to do and did not give gratuitous advice on how they could do things better unless I was specifically asked (and that was very seldom).

Rich Learning Experiences
I appreciated very much learning from my students and expanding my own knowledge of different cultures and practices. I felt I gained a great deal this way. I tried to get to know something about each of them personally, although that is extremely difficult in a short time period.

It was hard to stuff a lot of material into a short time period, but the course probably had more coherence since they were less likely to forget so much from the early part of the course, like the situation usually is back home.

I lived on campus and ate with the students, which may have helped to narrow the social distance between us. Of course, understanding what people are asking me can be very difficult because of all the different accents they have, and I would have to ask people to repeat themselves more than I would have liked.

I found especially invigorating the idea that the students I was teaching were planning to go directly into ministry (and in fact many already were), and so I was not working with a bunch of future academic wannabees and/or people trying to find themselves by studying theology.

And More…
I almost always got asked to speak in chapel and I could have had many other preaching opportunities if I wanted them…I often was invited into peoples' home and got to know folks on an informal basis that way. I tried to talk with students on an informal basis as much as I could, but my age and social position was undoubtedly a barrier.

Other Tips
I have been contacted from time to time by other people wanting me to do something abroad, but most of the time they do not follow up on their off-hand requests. Of course, I can't afford to be on the road all the time at my own expense as I have other things to do and editors to satisfy.

RSVP
Some practical ways of responding:

* If you are thinking about serving through TWB, adapt for your situation the ‘Expression of Interest’ as a first step.

* Tell your colleagues, students and church members about TWB (give them this link) and the way that their service could make a tremendous contribution.

* Feel free to reproduce (just acknowledge the source) this summary of TWB in your seminary or church magazines and newspapers. Here is another statement you may use.

* Bookmark this site as a ‘favourite’ and subscribe to these postings.

* Make TWB a link on your seminary and church web sites as well as on your own personal site.

Dr. Geoff Pound
(Chair, Coordinating Committee of TWB, a ministry of the BWA)
Contact address: geoffpound@yahoo.com.au

Image: Dr. Richard Pierard

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Theologians Without Borders: World’s Needs Intersecting with Deep Gladness

Discovering Your Deep Gladness
The most Googled quote that brings people to my new online workbook—Making Life Decisions: Journey in Discernment—is the statement by Frederick Buechner in which he says, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Here is the link to his reflection.

Deep Gladness/Deep Hunger
Theologians Without Borders has started in a small way but it is already proving to be a movement and a vital intersection where deep gladness and deep hunger is meeting.

Enormous needs for help in theological education are being expressed by leaders in a Karen Refugee camp in Thailand, a Bible institute in Vietnam, a seminary in North East India, to name just a few.

Going to serve in such situations for different periods of time has been evoking wonderful expressions of gladness—the joy of serving where the needs are great, the stimulus to their faith in worshipping with new friends often in difficult places and some unexpected challenges to they way they teach. Read the stories by George, Keith and Tim.

Virtual Megaphone
TWB is a way of putting up a virtual megaphone to the lips of people who are saying, “Come over and help us!”

Add TWB to your Seminary Offerings
If you have a week or more (timing is often flexible) to offer an intensive, this could be a fantastic gift. If you teach in a seminary, why don’t you come with some of your students and turn it into a Missions Exposure in which your students can also gain credit towards their degree?

Multiply the Experiences
If you are a pastor like Russell from Melbourne, consider the benefits of crossing new borders with some people from your church.

Moving Forward
* Have a look at the type of people needed and if you discern a match, fill out the ‘Expression of Interest’ template by adapting it to your situation and send it to me as a way of getting going (without any commitment at this stage). If this is not your cup of tea, you or your group might sponsor someone who does fit the bill.

* Tell your colleagues, students and church members about TWB (give them this link) and the way that their participation might both address the world’s deep hunger and meet their deep gladness. Feel free to reproduce (just acknowledge the source) this summary of TWB in your seminary or church magazines and newspapers. Here is another statement you may wish to use.

* Bookmark this site as a ‘favorite’ and subscribe to these postings.

* Make TWB a link on your seminary and church web sites as well as on your own personal site.

Dr Geoff Pound
(Chair, Coordinating Committee of TWB, a ministry of the BWA)
Contact address: geoffpound@yahoo.com.au

Image: “TWB is a way of putting up a virtual megaphone to the lips of people who are saying, ‘Come over and help us!’”

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Intensive Teaching in North East India

A request has come through today asking for teachers who might be able to teach in a seminary in North East India.

The idea is of a different teacher each semester coming for 10 days to 2 weeks (length of intensive to be decided).

The President has written:

“Areas of our need are New Testament, Missions, Old Testament and Church History.”

“Our Spring Semester runs from February to May and Spring from August to November. Any time during the working semester that is convenient from your end is alright with us.”

“We will not be able to pay up for travelling expenses but we will take care of hospitality and the cost of the Protected Area Permit.”

Do write to me for more details at geoffpound@yahoo.com.au

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: The states of N E India.