Tuesday, April 2, 2019

What do you do, Zach?

So Zach, we understand that you lead the Scripture Engagement team.  But what does that mean?  And what do you actually do?

What do I do?
I have had people ask me this question several times over the past few years.  What do I do?  Sometimes I even ask myself!

I would answer that I lead a team made of three teams that all have similar goals.  There is the EthnoArts team led by Peter.  They help communities to engage with translated Scriptures through the use of local arts like song, dance, drama, storytelling, and appropriate illustrations.  Then there is the VMS team led by Iliya.  They help communities record Audio versions of translated Scriptures and also dub films into these languages.  Then there is the "General Scripture Engagement Team" led by Princeton.  They have done a lot of Scripture Listening and Reading Group trainings (which you can learn about through Christy's blog, Come and see).  They also are getting ready to help communities in two new ways.  One is through Children's Bible studies translated into their own languages.  Another is through what we call "Faith and Farming."  Many Nigerians are farmers, and we want to help them see that the Bible has a lot to say about farmers and farming... it applies to their lives too! So what I do is I help our team to do many things.  Once in a while I get to do the "fun" fieldwork myself, too.

Wow, that was a long paragraph where every sentence could be a full blog post.  Would you like to know more about these things?  Please, do ask!  (And also, check out the thirteen blog posts on the Scripture Engagement Team)

You noticed that the phrase "helping communities" appeared a lot in the last paragraph?  That is a big theme for me.  I spend a lot of time talking to Peter, Iliya, Princeton, and the rest of the team about this.  How do we really help communities to use Scripture rather than just doing things for them which will stop the moment we leave?  It takes a lot of careful communication and preparation, and often plans get cancelled or delayed, just when things were getting set up.  That is something you can pray about: that plans will go through when they should, and that we'll have good backup plans of important work when our first plans change.

My sister Carol got to see some of what I do first hand!

I also want to ensure that our team is learning from our experience, and from other's experience around the world.  This means we need to be writing up lessons learned and reading up on what others are writing.  That's partly why I traveled for a conference last year.  I had a paper I had written about what we had learned about Scripture Engagement in Nigeria; others needed to hear it.  There is something else you can pray about.  I guess I wrote the paper a little too quickly.  There are over two hundred corrections I need to make by Tuesday next week to get the final version of that paper submitted to the conference proceedings.  Please pray for focus and for this useful paper to be done on time so others can get access to it.

In addition to all the leading that I do, I am also a director, the "Scripture Engagement Director", so I spend time on the day to day details that makes our work run smoothly.  That means looking at budgets, signing off on expenses, planning annual reviews and setting job descriptions for new staff and those that have changed their roles.  Besides all that, I also receive about 250 e-mails every week.  All of this busyness bring up another prayer item.  I don't want to lose my focus of what is really important to do each day!

It also means advising Tom, our director, on new initiatives.  One of the big areas we have spent a lot of time on is trying to make our program for Nigerian Missionary Staff successful.  I think the conversations around planning, fixing, and planning again for the program have been some of the most challenging conversations I have ever been a part of.  There a wide variety of opinions about how to move forward, which sometimes have led to stressful meetings.  Perhaps even more challenging is the way many aspects of this program have felt impossible at times.  Please pray for us as we are about to take another big step on this journey.  We are finally writing down policies about how this whole program is supposed to work. Please pray for unity and for God to guide us on a way that will lead to success! 

Oh, yes.  I am also a part time survey consultant.  This means that I review and approve survey proposals and reports and help other survey consultants in training to grow in their skills.  I love teaching, but for some reason I have not been invited to do that very much.  That brings up another prayer point.  John, one of my colleagues, is preparing to travel to South Sudan to help them do a survey of a language there where they may start translation work. Please pray that John and I will have good meaningful time to prepare for this trip well (including a mock training of the people he will meet there!)

I love being a daddy!
With all that busyness, you might think that I am too busy to hear from you, or too busy for visitors who pop in with questions.  Actually, I love having people drop by.  Many different people come by asking for anything from the Bible in their language, to potential requests for our teams to serve, to random things like supporting a children's Bible TV program.  For each visitor I consider it an opportunity, and intentionally turn away from my computer and give them my attention.  Also, it means a lot when I hear from partners like you who stand with me in this work.  I treasure words of encouragement and especially words from Scripture.  I also love to hear about what is happening in your lives there.  This work that we are all doing together would be impossible if you stopped your praying part.  Please keep praying with us, and let me know how I can help you to pray better!

Oh yes, two last things.  I am also a daddy.  I love that job.  Playing, teaching, loving, and sometimes correcting and watching God make these girls grow.  Finally, as a husband, I am also the number one supporter of any activity you may see that Christy is doing.  It might be tech support, or being daddy, or some other logistics, or being the co-planner.  Whatever it is, whatever Christy does, I am a big part of that.  (You can see a lot of what Christy does in other blog posts, so I won't share more about that here!)  Please do pray for wisdom and peace being a daddy.  There are a lot of choices to make! Sometimes I find it hard to stop worrying that I have made the wrong ones. And pray for me to be a good listener as a husband who supports Christy in the ways she really needs it.

Perhaps you come away from all this merely with a sense that I am really busy, but still not able to picture what I do.  If so, just go back and read the bold bits where I ask for prayer.  That is the most important part of this post!

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