I was on a call this morning with co-workers from around the world and we were discussing the role of mission workers in our communities. Entrance points and long-lasting transformation was a theme that came up. A guy from Central Asia gave a really interesting insight in what kind of entrances we have in our communities and how fast we often try to develop projects. He said that often times missionaries try to go extremely quickly, have a lot of ambition but this almost always leads to dependency. We provide the building, the funding, the timeline . . . .all the while we do not have the relationships or trust and we end up doing everything ourselves. You fast forward a couple years and those same determined, task-driven missionaries are whining their butts off about locals not joining them in the work. In a nutshell, we aren’t really doing much good for the very people we serve. Patience and going slow is difficult but the sort of slow transformation that last is beautiful.
 
I can often complain about more things than I cheer about. But I do have to pause and be thankful for the slow, steady growth that we are seeing. The Nepali church where we are involved has completely released us to speak into and work side by side with them in seeing God’s Kingdom grow around here. With every visit to a home, road trip, or ministry function, that trust deepens. We often like to think of resources in regard to money, buildings, or education. Those are certainly helpful. Yet, in so many places of the world, we see all these things being provided but there is no social networking or relationship to make any of it last. There is so much richness among Nepalis – social networking, helping each other out, hospitality. Today’s session with my co-workers this a.m. was a good reminder that slow and steady does win the race and the beauty of trust, transparency, and encouragement is a wonderful thing you get to experience along the way. 
 
For the last couple months my 21 year old neighbor has kept bothering me about starting a higher level English class for students in their late teens and early 20s. I have helped several students with writing essays, conversational English, and other sorts of issues but I kept pushing back on my neighbor’s suggestion. I asked him what would make an initiative such as this any different than any other program in the community. Typically, I’m a sucker for starting programs and running with them. Over the years though, I have learned the lesson that I shared above. When I move really fast, it usually ends up being me alone doing the work, championing my own vision, and then it all blows up in a relatively short period of time. Finally, after much prodding and pushing I agreed to start doing a higher level English deal in the basement of our house.
 
Because I did not initiate this, it just has such a different feeling. There is enthusiasm around the class. Students are already talking about how to grow the group. They are learning in a way they can understand. Time goes by quickly. There is so much potential in all of that. For me, the bigger message is not about this program or whether it succeeds or fails but what it is doing in the lives of my Nepali brothers who are steering it. Just last night my neighbor told me that his vision for the group is to set an example for many students in the community to see that it is possible to improve their English and succeed in college. He said that his dream is for students to turn around in a year or two and say, “Why are these people helping us so much? Why do they give English lessons for free? What is this all about.” And ad that time, we can say, “It is because Jesus has so changed our lives that we do everything possible to serve.” 
 
I have said these things before. I’ve had the very same thought. But man, when it comes from a 21 year old Nepali believer driving Christ-centered transformation in his own community it just makes all the difference in the world. This is the slow way of the Kingdom and we’re learning day by day. This would never be the road that I would choose but I’m thankful that Christ and His patience with me continually teaches me to walk patiently with my friends.
 

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