Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Adele's Update: May 2012 (from Korea)
Today, I sent this update to people to whom I used to send regular updates. It explains a little bit more about the changes in my world...
I’ve been waiting 40 months to write you the good news about my new role with Compassion International. Forty months. That’s how long it has been since I left Kenya. When I left Kenya, it was with peace that God is leading me—where, I did not know.
The journey from point A to point B is rarely a straight line, they say. My journey from Empowering Lives to Compassion International took me back to Taiwan, where I deliberately wanted to work in a non-Christian setting. My original intention was merely to gain first-hand experience in what it’s like to be a Christian and see any work as your calling. God opened the research door even wider, giving me an opportunity to see what it’s like being in a job that’s not necessarily in line with what I believe I’m best at. Working as a preschool teacher, I sought to still be a positive member of my team and my school environment, and sought to be the best teacher I could be for my class of 3- and 4-year-olds.
Needless to say, I learned a ton, not only from the children, but also from my colleagues. After completing my assignment at Taipei American School, I wanted to apply that which I had learned and took on another assignment, that time, teaching 4- and 5-year-olds in Jakarta. Again, I learned much from my wonderful colleagues and kids, but I wasn’t making as much leeway on my dissertation. I accepted the opportunity to get out of my contract with my school in Indonesia, and went to Iowa to spend time at different friends’ homes with the intention of writing. At first, it was tough. I knew I was doing my dissertation on “theology of work,” but wasn’t sure of the exact approach.
My approach became clear when I visited a former professor of mine in California in August. He introduced me to a concept he called “serious play,” explaining that it was “loving what you do so that work becomes play, but you are also making a positive contribution to society.” By the time I left for South Africa in December, my dissertation proposal had been completed and I was working on case studies of serious players around the world. The academic affairs committee gave me the green light to take a different approach to my research and present the bulk of my findings as a manuscript that I hope to get published.
In the meantime, while I was in South Africa, a good friend at Compassion told me about a position that they were looking to fill. I started the application process and had my first phone interview shortly after returning to the US mid February. In March, I flew to Colorado for a panel interview and was offered the job. I could’ve started right away, but had the last chapter to wrap up on my book, and still needed to do the oral defense of my dissertation. Compassion graciously allowed me to start my role in mid April, right after I had passed my oral defense.
So, who is Compassion International, and what is my role with the organization? Compassion’s motto is “Releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.” The bulk of the organization’s work focuses on children from poor families in 27 countries around the world, providing sponsorship for them to attend school and have their basic needs tended to. Currently, there are about 1.3 million kids being sponsored through Compassion. They also have a program focusing on pre-birth through age 3, providing assistance to mothers. These programs are offered through local churches. And there’s a program focusing on additional needs such as disaster management, HIV/AIDS, malaria, clean water etc.
I don’t work directly with any of those programs. My role, instead, is with the Leadership Development Program (LDP). Students who excel in schoolwork, have gotten into a local university and stand out as promising leaders can apply for the LDP program, which is facilitated through our local offices. That’s where I come in. I work closely with the facilitators in our offices throughout Asia. I am there to help them solve any challenges, to mentor them in their work, to pray for them, to provide resources they might need.
I cannot think of a role more suitable for me! Early on in my studies, I thought of what the purpose of having a doctorate is. Typically, it is so that you can teach at a university. However, being a professor has never been my desire. I knew well that the bureaucracy of academia would drive me insane. My heart has been to be involved in change at a global level, not lecture at one university. In fact, 10 years ago, while at Azusa Pacific, I wrote a paper in which I stated that I see myself working with a global ministry doing leadership development…
My role specifically has me working throughout Asia. Although Compassion’s working in six countries in Asia (Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines), the LDP is currently only in the last four of these countries. I will call Chiang Mai, Thailand, home, but will be traveling a lot, visiting not only the specialists in our offices, but also the students in different areas, seeking to understand their unique challenges so we can adjust the program as need be and pray for them.
The goal is to raise up a generation of servant leaders who will shape the history of their nations. The leaders of Compassion Asia are men and women who are seeking not to be religious and do good work, but who seek God’s heart for their nations. I consider myself honored to be part of their team! In fact, we as a leadership team are currently at a prayer center in the mountains in Korea. We’ve had two speakers who have challenged us not to be busy doing God’s work, but to seek God first every day, and to seek his direction as we step into the roles which he has entrusted us with. We’ve had plenty of time for solitude and reflection. Later this week, we’ll go to Seoul for planning meetings. From there, I’ll go to Chiang Mai to find an apartment, after which I’ll go to Seattle for my graduation, and Colorado for corporate orientation. And then I move to Chiang Mai.
What a journey this has been! I am convinced, though, that the journey has just begun, agreeing wholeheartedly with C.S. Lewis saying, “There are far, far better things ahead than what we leave behind.”
I cannot begin to describe to you the deep excitement I have for to the things ahead!