Some people have read the information about Theologians Without Borders and have asked for further details as to the qualities of people who might teach and minister in different places where there are opportunities and needs.
When I have asked this question of people who have hosted visiting teachers in the past I have quickly heard stories of the sort of people who are not wanted! Reports like these:
“We had a well known theologian who came to us and then recommended that his friend come and teach in our seminary. He had the qualifications… the resume looked impressive but he was unusual. Relationally he was a disaster with our students and it left us embarrassed and picking up the pieces for months.”
“Our seminary invited a teacher who had a long record of serving in a Theological College. He just wanted to teach. He wasn’t interested in eating with us, fellowshipping with us or even meeting us to talk about the situation we were facing.”
If we have hosted a visiting teacher or preacher, we might all have one horror story of our theologian from hell.
The two snapshots highlight the importance of visiting teachers and preachers being people who are good relationally—wise with students and warm with their new colleagues. All this in addition to a lively relationship with God.
Even though Theologians Without Borders is about the giving of oneself voluntarily rather than going on a paid assignment, this does not imply that we offer people who are second-rate or do a second-rate job.
As at the Cricket World Cup, the teams representing their country are those who have proved their giftedness on their home soil, not those who have played in a mediocre fashion. Therefore, we are looking for the very best people who will give of their best to serve in another country.
We are looking for people who are not only able teachers and speakers but people who can foot it well in another culture—people who are adaptable, happy to do the unexpected, good listeners and are pastoral with those who are wanting to share their lives.
Sometimes the overseas stint can be seen as an escape from the difficulties we are currently facing. Harry Emerson Fosdick once gave an address entitled, ‘The First Mile.’ He said that while going the second mile seems to be the honourable and the exemplary, such a journey is only worthy if it follows the walking of the first mile well i.e. doing the basic tasks well and fulfilling those primary responsibilities at work and at home faithfully.
If you think you fulfil the requirements for a theologian who crosses the borders to serve elsewhere, do let us know of your expression of interest through sending us some information about you (questions will be listed in the next posting), a photograph and the name and contact details of two people who know you well and can give you a fair and honest commendation.
Please note: The information that you send or the name of anyone who is available or thinking about a possibility will not be advertised in public mail outs or posted on this web site. The material you send will be treated confidentially as it is shared with seminary and church leaders seeking assistance.
The pro forma with questions for you to cover in your letter will follow this posting in the next day or so.
If there are any questions you have about this process don’t hesitate to email me.
Chair Coordinating Committee for Theologians Without Borders.
Image: We are looking for “those who have proved their giftedness on their home soil.” Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist looking pleased after representing Australia well on West Indian soil, after clinching a convincing win against Bangladesh. [This illustration does not betray any bias as I was born in neither Australia nor Bangladesh.]
Love this part Geoff. I travel to China and the Philippines each year. Took me four years to get their trust in China. Now I teach non stop for three to four days in the underground Church. It’s amazing. The Philippines is amazing to. I live with the Pastor and his family, eat their food. It’s just incredible what these people are doing. The Church has about 800 turn up on a Sunday. We spend most of our time in the villages speaking to small groups. I feel like it’s my second home. The people I have taken with me are never the same when they return home.
Many thanks Russell for sharing your story with all the extra spin offs.