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May 4 / Bill

Part two: Retaking the converged reflections narrative of change and mentors

May 4, 2017

Dear family and good friends, partners in God’s mission, global colleagues within and beyond the international family of the WEA Mission Commission,

So back to the reflections.

Thanks be to God, some five years ago Yvonne and I were led to start a wee ministry-non-profit entity called TGC, which would become the platform to carry us through approaching vocational transitions and into our own preferred future. The calling (life-long-term vocation) upon me now is to increase my role as mentor, to write (finally released to write my own stuff—with three books in separate crock pots, simmering), to consult, and to teach in seminaries as an adjunct prof (thanks be to God, that plate is rather full).  The gracious God opens doors.

One clear implication of this change calls me to reactivate the blog as my primary voice-platform. Facebook postings will primarily refer people to the blog. It is here that I will float some of my reflections, and especially the first pieces of my memoirs–reflections of a global pilgrim. I am eager to do this:

My kids have been at me for some time to write down the stories of my life, and the stories I have told over the decades.  I am eager to engage that project.  I have a great section called “Sayings of my father”, who was great at dropping cryptic statements and never explaining them.  Great wisdom in these cryptic words, with a sample:

“Leave when people want you to stay instead of trying to stay when people want you to leave”

“Leave in a manner that they will invite you back”

“Never skimp on brakes and shoes”

“Your aunt (when she died) permanently changed her address”

“A washed car gets better mileage”

Huh? Why did he NEVER explain his sayings?

I do have the title of two chapters, say Ch. 36 and 37.  Chapter 36: “People I have met that I wished I had never met”.  And the content of that chapter is this: “That’s all I’m going to write about them”.  But Chapter 37: “What I learned from those people”.  Not that sounds like a fun, though delicate, task and you can guess why.

Further thoughts on my time with the MC—a vision, a dream

One central dream, though perhaps inchoate, drove me. Over the years it had been difficult even for me to understand my job (very difficult to explain even to friends, much more on an airplane), but it became a driving, intuitive vision: I longed for the Mission Community to become a global community of cross-cultural servants representing all sectors of leadership, ages, women and men. We would grow and hang together, we would learn from each other, we would stir and stimulate each other, we would become reflective practitioners in a world of extreme bi-furcated specialists.  We called it a community of reflective practitioners.  And while it was very challenging to accomplish, I gave it all I had for it to become a reality, at least in some senses.

The MC became much more, and I am so thankful to God for what it became under my friend and colleague, Bertil Ekstrom, and now under David Ruíz.

And the organic chronos time reached its full kairos reality. So at midnight, December 31, 2016, the clock closed on my three decades of staff with the WEA MC. It was time. It was right. I had reflected on Acts 13:36 and Paul’s sermon in Pisidian Antioch, where he roots the Great Story of Jesus Messiah in history, and references King David.

New International Version: “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed”.

New Living Translation: ”This is not a reference to David, for after David had done the will of God in his own generation, he died and was buried with his ancestors, and his body decayed”.

English Standard Version: ”For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption”,

I had served the purposes of God for the MC in my own generation. Thanks be to God, I have not yet died, so there are new arenas, new frontiers, old dreams to envision anew and bring into reality.

So a formal farewell to my global colleagues in the MC’s different layers of leadership. Stay fresh! Keep your vows to God and your family. Stay young. Be curious. Question. Mentor (why is it that relatively few mission leaders mentor? This befuddles me) while you can. Love deeply and well. Finish well.

A personal note.  In February Yvonne and I participated in a unique study tour in Israel under the capable hands of Shoresh Tours, with a strong focus on the hebraic roots of our faith. From Dan to Be-er Sheva, from the Jordan to Caesaria Maritima, with our singular teaching-guide, Rev. David Pileggi, rector of Christ Church Anglican, Old Jerusalem, with 36 years in Israel and an MA from Hebrew University.

We continue learning, growing cutting new grooves in our brain. Glory!

Back to Dave.

It was my honor to sit at his side that March day in Ft. Myers. As the day went on and he came out from under the drugging of yet another procedure, his memory keen and sense of humor clear, we talked and reminisced. I had taken with me a Spanish Bible and hymnbook (the very old Christian Missionary Alliance translated-adapted one into Spanish that shaped Evangelical hymnology and liturgy—inside the back cover was a characteristic “Order of Service” which was flowed faithfully (slavishly?) all across Latin American in those decades into our own ministry in the 70’s and 80’s.

Dave and I started in 1967, and before leaving home I found the little Urbana 1967 “Missionary Hymns” hymnal (no praise songs in that era!). I left it with him. He in turn gave me one of his old Bibles, significantly a Spanish one (the old Scofield Spanish Study Bible—the first such work of its kind in Spanish and it shaped both Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal streams in Scriptural study), with the notes of his having read that Bible three times. This is one of Dave’s spiritual disciplines that I have never been able to match! The Bible is now treasured in my office next to my father’s prophetic old shoes—memories of life well-lived.

Dave’s request was to read Psalm 46 and then 91 in Spanish. They naturally led into some hymns haltingly sung, some of them from the beloved Guatemalan song writer don Alfredo Colón of fame for his years spent at Christian radio station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador. We prayed, laughed, talked. We shall see each other again, of that I am now sure. The geographic venue of that next gathering may vary, and that’s just fine.

Good news on Dave Howard’s health. The day I was present with him and Janet, March 23, was his last in the ICU, and the next day he was moved to a rehab center next door, and a week later home. It was a delight to chat with them some days later and we pray David is en route to full recovery.

Soon, The Global Pilgrim, aka El Vidente




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