Just two months ago I would have had no idea that I would be sitting at LAX waiting for a flight that will end in Africa--Malawi to be exact. Two months ago I could not have explained where in Africa Malawi was or told you anything about the country or it people. And yet, here I sit, waiting to go to Malawi and teach discipleship. How can something like this happen?! I believe that God in his great and creative providence has a sense of humor, too.
San Clemente Presbyterian Church has had a significant relationship with ministry in Malawi. Groups and individuals have been going to Malawi for several years. The head of staff was scheduled to go on this trip. But he has received and accepted another call and will be leaving in July. His sense was that good stewardship required someone to go who would be around longer. Enter stage left. Me. I was thrilled he invited me. I have always wanted to go to Africa. However, I was not sure I was the right person. The Mission Committee deliberated and supported my going. Still, it seemed like a significant (and rather abrupt) interruption of what I was developing in discipleship for San Clemente Presbyterian Church. I have been working on developing a discipleship experience--a "boot camp" of sorts--that will be replicable in several forms and eventually change the very culture of discipleship at SCPC. The planned launch of this first discipleship experience was February. It is February and I am leaving for two weeks. So, we bumped the launch for a month. And, we decided it might even be possible to teach the same material in Malawi that I was developing for SCPC.
As the curriculum and plan for the very interactive, very customized, very Spirit dependent discipleship experience came into focus I was amazed. Not only was this trip not going to be an interruption, this trip would be my own personal "boot camp" to test the principles I would be teaching in San Clemente, in a culture in Africa I know nothing about. It will require me to be very interactive with the participants. It will require that I talk with individuals enough to help them figure out how these principles will play out in their context--customized learning. And, it will require me to be totally dependent on the Spirit of God to help me connect with these dear people and to humbly learn alongside of them. Truths (capital T) have to be truth everywhere if they are kingdom of heaven principles and not just cultural adaptations of Biblical concepts. The good Lord is sending me to Africa to teach me to follow and trust him more fully so that I will be better equipped to teach others. Who would have ever imagined. I believe the Lord is sending me to Malawi to prepare for San Clemente!
So here I sit. Thinking about how very much I will have to learn in order to teach. Thinking about how very wise and wonderful and humorous the God we serve is.