What Does Excellence Look Like?

10/10/2014 01:32:00 PM sendtheroths 0 Comments

Am I social worker or a missionary? 
It has been our goal to see the kids in our program transformed in multiple areas of their lives: spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally and relationally. It is not enough to just believe for it or to take what they say at face value. Excellence takes time, effort, energy and money to measure results. But it also stops to listen to the sound of the wind, sometimes changing directions when necessary.

We have set a number of goals for what we (both us and our Congolese colleagues) want for the children in our program: reconciliation with their families and communities, higher education, leadership skills and abilities, spiritual formation, etc….

We have also encouraged each child in the program to set a number of measurable goals for themselves.

Why is this important? 
“It is important that we help people set goals for themselves. Goals that they can achieve—or else the goals will become just another thing in life that they always wanted but could never have. It will become oppressive rather than empowering,” said Clarence Tedrow, a short-term team member who works as a Christian counselor.

Our team worked with the caretakers/counselors in our program to develop a case-management matrix that can document the progress of our children. The matrix measures multiple areas of their lives within their context: family relationships, substance abuse, housing, food security, domestic abuse, access to clean water, etc…, and then grades them on 1-4 scale. 1 being in crisis and 4 being stable.

This helps us to better understand the state of each individual in our program and to make informed decisions about walking with them through their journey to healing and restoration. This is essentially social work. We have worked with multiple social workers and child protection specialists, but have found that within our context, this is a very new concept and also an ambitious goal.

Many organizations like to save the world, but take little time to actually measure the scope of their impact. This is sadly even truer for Christian missionary organizations, in our experience. Furthermore, organizations that do measure impact can often avoid listening to the people that they are working with. Let us explain: they make goals for people and villages that the people never even cared to achieve or saw relevant.

Although we know that we are not perfect by any means-- we are also working hard not to repeat some of these mistakes.

Although in French, here is the fruit of our hard work in preparing the case-management matrix that we are using to monitor progress of the young men in the Peacemaker Program and the young women in the Esther Project.

Strategic Planning
We and members of the team have been burning the midnight oil of late to do some serious praying, thinking and strategic planning for next year. We have done this before—but never at this level. The process has taken over a month to complete.

The Listening Cycle
We started out with two days of critical reflection and spiritually discerning the times. It was a time of worship, meditating on the scriptures and sharing what God is doing individually in each one of us and how that affects our role in ministry. We took time to reflect on the times that we live in: what’s happening in the world, in the church and in the country. We also took time to talk about the people we serve, listen to what they are saying and what God is doing in their lives.

It was a refreshing time, something that is necessary for keeping the vision fresh, staying transparent with each other and also seeing what God wants to do in the future.

Putting pencil to the paper
This was the tough part. We created serious goals and objectives for next year along with timelines, activities and budgets. The result was a line-by-line chart three-quarters the height of a person. Dang! It is detailed!

Lastly, we are training our team in some very specific practicalities that will give them the power and ability to seek funding for projects themselves, rather than relying only on us (Andrew and Amethyst) to raise support. This allows all of us to share the workload even more.

Big Partnerships … a risk that we are willing to take
Andrew and I started this ministry being in control of nearly every aspect of it. This is usually necessary when starting something new. But we are slowly relinquishing control of it, delegating responsibilities, dreaming less, talking less but listening more. We listen to the dreams of the people that we work with, listen to how they relate to those that we serve, listen to how they talk to God and about God, listen to how they work together in times of struggle and strife.

It’s beautiful, actually!

We feel very strongly about putting a tenure on our leadership in this organization. Staying too long will hurt the likelihood of becoming a truly indigenous movement. We also know that stepping out too soon will set our team as well as those who depend on us, up for failure. The age-old question of leadership has always been: when does a leader step out and step away? Few people in this world have gotten it right: Nelson Mandela and George Washington are some examples, but there are not many.

It has been in our vision to set a foundation (ironically, we joined Global Outreach Foundation) where diverse people, tribes and nations will unite and walk this nation into her full calling and destiny. Our hope is that this people-centered foundation would be a pillar of peace, where there is not much peace— a pillar of love and transparency that would draw people from all nations to Jesus and His ways.

That said, Andrew and I have been praying about making a pretty large partnership with a Congolese couple. We don’t know exactly what this will look like and we are still working out the details, thus we must remain vague on the matter. But we intend for this to be a covenant relationship unlike one that we have ever had before.

We request your prayers. We are praying for wisdom and guidance in this process for them and also for us. It is a decision that could change a lot of things in our future. We pray that we will not be hasty or over-idealistic.