Arrived this morning in Dublin (after a sleepless flight) and, after a quick shower, joined David and Glynda Wesley, alongside Norm Henry, for a trip to Belfast for 365M training with pastors and supervisors from Northern Ireland and Ireland. The trip was a bit harrowing traveling on the “wrong” side of the road but thanks to Norm Henry for getting us to the hotel safely.
We walked downtown to have lunch. Walking reveals an interesting city of old and new architecture, even in the restaurant. We are close to the Titanic “quarters,” home of the original docks where the fateful ship was built.
David opened our training providing an overview of 365 M, the program at NTS that provides students approximately a year in a global setting where they learn, minister, and gain 24 hours of graduate theological education toward a certificate. I was present as one of the teachers of the three “signature classes” that prepare students to enlist partners for their year of ministry, explore their personal development in the midst of the journey, and engage in contextual learning that insures that content and context merge for an authentic learning experience. David explained to more than a dozen ministers how the program works, answering specific questions concerning program design, and policy.
Perhaps the most powerful material occurred when David divided the ministers into small groups to discuss both the qualities of strong interns as well as the traits that often caused students to struggle in a cross-cultural context. The creativity of the small groups, interacting with each other, provided some of the best material of the evening.
- Willingness to learn
- Open to self-exploration
- Accepting of constructive criticism
- A real desire for mission (i.e. a love for all people)
- Self-motivated and disciplines
- Sense of Calling
- Demonstration of maturity, particularly emotional maturity
- Cultural self-awareness
- Good sense of humor
- A willingness to make mistakes
Overall these traits help set a tone for future explorations. The enthusiasm and wisdom of the group was remarkable.
Norm Henry offered key insights both within his small group and for the team at large, often reminding us all of his history and wisdom working with missionaries from the field. I have former students (Sara Voight) and new friends (Stephen Morley) in the group. However, the collective input of everyone proved invaluable. Their engagement merely reflects their desire to minister God’s love.
David also elicited traits that make up good mentors. These ideas set the stage for the beginning of my presentation tomorrow. Glynda Wesley also raised the very practical issues of setting boundaries and ministering responsibly with children and youth.
Tomorrow we begin with round two of the meeting. By the time some of my friends in the US read this posting I will probably be strolling the streets of Belfast, exploring the history and heritage of the city. However, the real power of this city rests with its people, and particularly those willing to invest themselves in the growth of a globally aware, passionate, ministerial team. It is good to be here, and that is no blarney.