Sunday, November 16, 2008

Theologians Without Borders and Some Qs and As

A friend from the USA wrote to me this week with some questions:

His Questions
“I've been meaning to ask you about TWB: Now that you've been at it awhile, how have you seen the ratio of opportunities to resources developing? Do you have lots more opportunities than teachers to fill them? "

"Lots more teachers than great placements for them? Or about equal numbers of both, but not enough money to bring willing teachers and opportunities together? "

My Answers
About the ratios, it is weighted according to the old saying, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.’ (with the emphasis on the plentiful harvest). See below about my sense of ‘Encouragement’.

There have been many expressions of interest that have translated into worthwhile assignments by quite a few teachers but there are lots more requests especially from China and Vietnam at the moment. Some new schools are depending heavily on outside teachers because they do not have trained people from within their own country.

Here are two main challenges:

Communication
The first is getting the word out about the vision and opportunities—getting beyond the use of email and web postings and speaking one to one and to groups.

I am doing some teaching at Carson Newman (USA) in Spring 2009 and will be available to visit churches, seminaries and Pastor's groups in the USA and Canada to share the story. Let me know if you think of occasions where I could plug in.

I am also going to Lima in April to share with a gathering of theological educators and the annual meeting of Latin American Baptist church leaders (UBLA) to urge them to think of how the TWB vision might translate in Latin America.

Finance
A second challenge is financial. I think the financial downturn will cause many Americans and others to maintain the status quo, ‘batten down the hatches’ and not take on anything extra. Teaching in a needy country will quite possibly be seen as an extra.

As indicated previously there are quite a few people who have got the teaching talent and the time but not the cash to pay for an airfare. I would love to challenge those who do not have the time and/or are not equipped to teach to help pay for an airfare to send a teacher.

Encouragement
I am greatly encouraged by the increasing number of enquiries and people offering to teach. People at the moment are looking at opportunities for India, China, Sri Lanka etc but often for between 12 to 24 months from now. Some are planning a long way in advance because they have a sabbatical due in late 2009 or in 2011, because requesting seminaries plan for teachers a long way in advance or because they as teachers know that these international visits (especially where visas are required) can take a while to tee up.

RSVP
If you’d like to get in touch with me (re questions, information, expressing an interest etc), send an email to me at geoffpound[at]gmail.com

Dr Geoff Pound