Monday, May 10, 2010

The Dream Team

Among the many great blessings I experience living here in Rwanda is the joy of working with an amazing group of Bridge2Rwanda Team Members. The current "in country" Team includes Anna Reed, Mark Darrough, Bob Browder, Kat Watson, Kelly Simpson, Griffin Richards, and Peyton Greenwald,… and they are all truly amazing, gifted servants.

Bishop John was the first to provide definition to what we should be looking for in the Bridge2Rwanda "Borrowed Talent Program" when he described Nathan Allen as "smart, committed, and humble," and Bishop John expressly asked that the “Nathan model” serve as a standard to be expected of all volunteers. Indeed, all of our current volunteers fully meet that standard.

Drawing upon our fast growing experiences, I would like to provide some additional definition of the qualities that seem essential for a successful, impactful experience serving with Bridge2Rwanda. In no particular order of importance, everyone desiring to serve in Rwanda should…

Have an articulable calling,… not necessarily a deep, booming Voice from the clouds, but a confident general sense of what they are doing and why they are doing it. This does not require a confidence that "I know what I am doing. I have everything under control." Indeed, it is much preferable that the person genuinely acknowledges his or her inadequacy: "I have no idea what I am doing or how I'm going to do it, but He knows, and He is able. I DO know, with confidence, that I have been called to surrender, trust, go and serve.”

Be a "servant leader," sincerely desiring to encourage, empower and elevate those who are served, insisting that the recognition goes to others, particularly our Rwandan partners and friends.

Be flexible and adaptable. We know from experience that volunteers can arrive and discover that their well laid plans have all vaporized and that they cannot do the work that they so carefully and completely planned and prepared for. So, whadaya do? Get on a plane and go back home? B2R volunteers quickly reassess and discover that great work needs to be done, they roll up their sleeves, and they get on it, and discovering that it was always God's “Plan A” for them.

Learn before teaching; seek to understand more than being understood. Listen. Observe. Listen. Observe. The most predictable, common, almost unavoidable error for the well-intentioned, enthusiastic “newbie" is to charge in "with all the answers," hoping, indeed expecting, everyone to sit and listen attentively "as I teach you how to do it correctly." In other words, it seems “normal” to run short on Bishop John's "humble" requirement, but B2R volunteers quickly check it.

Be a self-starter and self-directed, as there is nobody here in Rwanda who will provide daily direction.

Own one's own attitude. Sure, anyone can get tired, frustrated, angry, cranky. The question is: Shall a nasty attitude be blamed on others, or will the person struggling with it take responsibility for it?  B2R team members believe or soon discover that "Joy is a decision."

Be a gracious and grateful guest. Indeed, B2R volunteers are guests in another country,... free to leave, but not free to demand anything, criticize or complain. The mission is all about consistently dispensing the love, grace, mercy and patience of Jesus, remembering that WHAT is accomplished is secondary to HOW it was done.

Be partial to the "perceived needs" of the community, which are generally to be considered more important than what the volunteer may think the community needs. Serve the agenda of the community, rather than impose an agenda upon it.

Be genuinely egalitarian, as one joyfully and intimately relates to the materially poor, without corrupting that relationship with one’s own "God complex," ever mindful of their own poverty. I often use the term "on both sides of the equation" referring to the Western borrowed talent on one side and the Rwandan national on the other. By definition of "equation," both sides are equal. They may look different, they may be stated differently, one may appear more complicated than the other, but there must be no doubt whatsoever that from God’s perspective and calculation, they are absolutely equal in value,… and that value is inestimably enormous.

Be compassionate, readily allowing one’s heart to be broken by the things that break the heart of God.

Be able to love, to laugh (particularly at yourself) and to cry,… to discuss the brokenness of the world and ourselves, without despair, but rather expectant hope.

Indeed, I love our current Dream Team. They are truly wonderful servants.