Friday, September 26, 2008

Can Teach, Have the Time but Can Anyone Provide Airfare?

Responding to a Posting
Earlier I wrote an article entitled “My Bags are Packed…” in which I identified the great and growing resource for Theologians Without Borders—retired theological teachers who have the teaching ability, years of experience, flexible schedules to serve in another country but not necessarily the cash for paying for the airfares.

I have had a letter from one theological educator who makes these points [this is my summary]:

“I'd like to respond to your ‘My Bags are Packed, I'm ready to Go’, posting…”

“I am a few years off retirement and eligibility for superannuation.”

“I love working and teaching in non-Western contexts.”

“I may cut back from fulltime teaching in the country where I live.”

“I would love to arrange my teaching work to allow extensive visits to teach somewhere in a needy place overseas.”

“I don’t have the extra cash for spending regularly on teaching trips to overseas situations.”

“If TWB (or some mission/relief agency) were able to offer "ticket scholarships" that could make quite a bit of time available for me to teach in the near future.”

“In short, what I am saying is that the possibilities might not only be among the already retired, but the partially employed.”

Responding
This is a good response for this direction potentially increases the teaching resources that could be made available to needy Bible Schools and seminaries.

I have been pondering my response to this writer and here are my current thoughts:

* If you are like me, you might find it easier to ask for money for other people than for yourself but why not try these possibilities? Why not speak to your local church or the other one that is more highly resourced around the corner, tell them about your vision, your invitation to teach and the cost of the airfare (and visa) and put it to them to consider your venture as part of their contribution to missions?

* Ditto to your national Missions Organization. Sending someone to teach classes in a needy country sounds like a valuable investment.

* This may not work for every cultural group but when I received an invitation to be annual conference speaker with Indonesian churches and also to run some Conflict Resolution workshops, I shared the news of this invitation with an Indonesian Church in Oz and asked them to pay for my airfare. They responded positively and generously, they also committed themselves to pray and when I was next in Oz I visited this church to thank them and report on my teaching and training ministry. Interestingly, this same church has recently sent their pastor back to Indonesia on a Missions trip.

Your Response?
I think the writer is saying that if there was some guarantee of financial help he may be able to confidently cut back his current workload to allow time for an overseas visit or two a year. To make it happen well it would be good to count on the possibility of TWB "ticket scholarships."

If you have been reading my posts you will know that I am seeking to visit countries to encourage churches and conventions to fund an airfare or gift some Air Miles for teachers with the time and expertise to make a visit.

If you have any creative suggestions as to how we might finance teachers like this letter writer (and a growing number of others) do let us know (by leaving a Comment or writing to me) and as always, finance and Air Miles for airfares are gratefully received.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: These people were part of an afternoon group I taught in Nepal recently. They are church leaders from all over the region who come together for a week each month. Why can’t they pay for airfares to enable teachers and trainers to come? Because Nepal is one of the poorest countries in Asia, where the annual average wage for the 20 million people is only US$200.