Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Welcome to what was a part of the Ottoman Empire... Lebanon!

Feeling enormously blessed to be in Lebanon for the next two weeks. This feels completely like a God thing. I did not in any way ask for the job, did not network or anything like that. It just happened. Sort of. Ex-colleague skyped me and asked if I would be interested. Said yes, since I just finished my other consultancy... Glad also to use the skills I learnt from my previous life (was almost impressed with the stuff I came up with so many moons ago!)

I spent some of today reading more about Lebanon and being acquainted with the work I should be doing. Whichever country has a tree in their flag must be a unique country. Lebanon is unique. This land has been part of the action for a while.. It was mentioned in the Bible. As part of the Roman empire, Tyre was one of the big centers for early Christian life. When the Ottoman empire started to invade, unlike their neighbors, some Christians held strong to their faith. Today, there is a a big Christian minority here. Sad though that the different religions form the basis for their civil war, and continue to be a problem today. While at a security briefing, I had a short briefing on the different provinces, the different conflicts, as well as the different places that WV works in. We have refugees tents for Syrian refugees (fun fact: WV disburses Visa cards instead of real food to these refugees to minimize risk), also Area Development projects with Water and Sanitation projects, Child protection, Education projects etc etc. Fascinating. So many new things. Lebanese women are very beautiful too. Men not as in your face like the men in Istanbul, so I am feeling safer :)

So with new work brings new joys and new angsts. Basically lots of emotions! One of the things I am dealing with right now is how small "development" really is. What does it mean to help develop a land (that has been around for a while) Feeling the smallness of this grand ideal had for a moment made me doubt my decision for studying development, or feel sorry for myself for investing most of my working life in this. I need to process this, , else it will fester... else I become jaded, and make this 'just a job'. I will be sad when that day comes...

God's word has always been central to my understanding of development. I respect that this is not the motivation for everyone, but I am just speaking for me. Yay for no need to be logical, persuasive with my arugments. this is a space to just be me (or to figure out what that looks like). Today, I am humbled that God chooses people as his co workers. Not superheros or big institutions. But really just people. He sent his 12 to do his work. I wonder how many people would be pleased with a ministry of 12 at the end of 3 years? But I digress, people. People who are weak, who can be easily influenced by where they come from, who have emotions and are therefore erratic. God chose people. I am in awe.  I am thankful that God chose to use the weak, so that his glory be shown.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2Corinthians 4:7-10
I am convinced that 'development' without the understanding of God as the ultimate savior, is conversion to another worldview. No, I do not mean that development work = Christian Witness. What I mean is that nothing can save another, except God. Sure we can show signs of goodness wherever, whoever we are, but being kind/nice is not the end all of development. there is an element of change from one state to the other. This requires eventually an understanding of God I think. Sadly, I do not even think that institutional faith is sufficient. This faith in God needs to be worked out personally, as well as also for different communities. What does the Bible say about what good is? Do we really know God?

At the same time, I champion the need to call out these goodness in all cultures, and sincerely believe that there are remnants of goodness in all cultures (who consider themselves Christian or not). But ultimately, the Bible, and perhaps theologians as they try to think the different concepts through, is important in the understanding of good 'development'.

We need to think these through intentionally. I am sad that we don't do these enough. In my opinion, our standards of excellence comes instead more from managing consultants or what the external experts say. There is a very real fear corruption ( a million signatures to get anything done) and the fear of budget cuts. The CC person here now reports to advocacy, who reports to the integrated program director, who reports to the ND.. What kind of impact should that bring? What does it take for the conversation of 'development' to be focused more on helping the beneficiary, instead of being hung up with costs, "external goods" as MacIntyre would say?

Going back to the field after a few years also amazes me how much I have grown or hardened. I don't get as emotionally involved as I used to. I do not allow myself (as much) to get tangled with the joy or pain of others. I recognize that this office will continue to exist with or without me. I am just a drop a tiny tiny drop in the work that is done. The challenge then, is to stay motivated and to do my job well, while recognizing that ultimately it is not mine to control.

My thought dump for tonight. The blog/facebook is increasingly the mode of tracking my life/thoughts. It makes it easy for me to remember the goodness of God. Something very important in this journey of life.

Take care world. In this world there will be problems, but God has overcome the world (in a good way ;))

On a side note. ALL theologians should watch/ talk about the Dark knight. Amazing for Ethical discussions. Amazing for Postmodern discussions. For what right/wrong is. If I am ever a professor... this is definitely a must watch. (Which reinforces the need for God.. since we are all fallen)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I am who I am...

I have been meditating on this passage. Remembering that because God is with me, I am enough. Writing woes... 

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you[b] will worship God on this mountain.
13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.[c] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord,[d] the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’
“This is my name forever,
    the name you shall call me
    from generation to generation.