Sunday, August 17, 2008

“My Bags are Packed, I’m Ready to Go” but...

Since becoming a freelance seminary teacher and conference speaker I have come across many retired seminary teachers and pastors who are exploding the stereotype of a retired lifestyle that is about taking it easy and playing golf five times a week. They are people with whom I have crossed tracks in countries like China, Malaysia and Thailand who undertake short term teaching assignments and sometimes combine this service with relaxation and tourism.

Retirees provide the church and seminaries with the wonderful assets of wisdom, experience and ministry expertise. Such people generally no longer want to run an organization but are happy to come alongside and encourage, equip and do whatever is needed. Often their partners play a significant role when they visit.

Theologians Without Borders represents a useful vehicle through which the ministries of encouragement and training in other countries might be exercised.

Some retired people have a good stock of funds on which to live and travel. However, many others do not possess a sizeable surplus and the erosion of the value in their bank accounts and superannuation funds can be sizeable, thus setting a conservative approach towards doing anything extra.

I thought of this issue when I received this letter a few days ago:

“Thanks for getting back to me. I officially retired from [the seminary] last year but I am still teaching a couple of subjects…

There are a few family health issues that we have to attend to in our clan but long term my plan is to be available for teaching, mentoring, consulting and writing.

I could be interested in teaching in Theologians without Borders – I do not have much capital for travel but I have a wide portfolio of subjects for teaching.”

This man represents a growing number of people. They are rich in time to teach elsewhere, they have plenty of talent to relate cross-culturally, their sensitivity is sharp, their wisdom mature, their health is still good, they could benefit from a new stimulus, the lecture notes are still fresh and their diaries are flexible if not entirely free.

But, having served in Christian ministry for years, many “do not have much capital for travel.”

I’d love to think that people who have got the time and talent to teach could be aided by others who do not have the time or the teaching gift but have got the capital to pay for an airfare in cash or Air Miles.

I have some people on my list who have expressed an interest in teaching a course overseas but who currently are on hold while they save or are given an airfare to make it possible.

I would love to hear from people who have the funds to sponsor teachers to go to needy parts of the world.

I would also like to hear your comments about this challenge and how we might solve this challenge together.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “And I’m ready to go…”