Blog

Responding to institutionalized corruption

One of my observations from my recent stay in Zimbabwe is the difference between how I first respond to an injustice and a typical Zimbabwean response. Our immediate response is influenced by our cultural background and we can learn from each other. As a product of my...

Has God forsaken Zimbabwe?

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe  This morning I had a serious conversation with several friends who care deeply for Zimbabwe. Each person in the group left a relatively comfortable life and intentionally moved to this country to help improve the lives of the people here. These...

I Love Africa!

Africa grows on you! Of course, there are many problems and issues that are concerning in Africa, but there is more to Africa than what is commonly portrayed. This is my third trip to Zimbabwe in the past twelve months. I come here with the hope that I will be able to...

Workshops in Zibabwe

This reminder of an important African value dominates the wall in front of one of the escalators in the Johannesburg Airport. Nancy teaches a lesson that brings home this same message in her workshops. She engages audience participation to tell about the farmer who...

How US clothing donors harm Zimbabweans

About 40 hours of travel. Spokane, Seattle, Dubai, Johannesburg, and finally Harare, Zimbabwe. My wife, Nancy, and I arrived here Tuesday evening. Except for its length, the trip went smoothly. Even our bags arrived on our flight. We hit the ground running with...

Lessons from a dandelion

I am not generally a fan of dandelions. However, as I pulled the one pictured above out of my lawn this week, I realized there are several lessons I can learn from this plant that tenaciously invades my lawn. First, dandelions survive in the midst of persistent...

Valley of Identity

I feel enlightened by http://thecallingjourney.com. The friend who sent me the link said it helped him put his years of ministry in perspective. I agree. It did that for me too. The website says: The Calling Journey can help you understand how the road you're...

Teaching Integrity: Honesty in Business

The first topic I have been asked to address in Zimbabwe in a little over two weeks is "Integrity, Honesty in Business." This topic is much more than an interesting philosophical discussion in a country that endures corruption from the top governmental officials who...

Sweet tasting humble pie

The first step in teaching our British friends how to shoot guns was a lesson on gun safety and shooting form at Cabelas with the toy guns in the "shooting gallery." Nancy and I met the Green family at Laura and Kagi's wedding last year. Tim, an athlete and servant of...

Building Bridges

During the past couple weeks, Nancy and I have been basing out of my parents' home in rural Pennsylvania. The "big excitement" has been the construction of a bridge over a small stream that runs through their property. Following an extended period of planning,...

My prayer for Jennifer on her wedding day

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for your love for us. Thank you for this beautiful wedding ceremony. Today we are reminded afresh of your amazing love and your acceptance of those who give themselves to you. We praise you as the creator of all things and the lord of...

Is family the most important thing in the world?

"Family is the most important thing in the world," said a respected elder recently. He was not just blowing smoke. He orders his life according to that maxim. He often is the first person to respond to a family member's need.  He does all he can to help with family...

Protestant Work Ethic

I believe in hard work and frugality. Depending on your perspective, that makes me either a victim or beneficiary of the Protestant work ethic. Researchers have linked hard work and frugality particularly with Protestant cultures. It was first observed and popularized...

Rubber Money

Last Friday evening Nancy and I bumped into some friends at Costco. They were eating in the food court as we were heading out of the store, so we sat with them a while to catch up. One of the topics that came up was how the four of us are handling the decreased income...

Current encouragement from last year’s work

 "I have two teachers that I really want to keep in touch with." This was a statement made to an administrator by one of my World Religions students who recently graduated from Whitworth University. It is encouraging to me that of all the teachers she had during her...

I was disappointed with my friends’ advice

During the past several months a Christian organization in Kabul, Afghanistan pursued me to fill its chief executive role. Due to security sensitivities, I was unable to publicly discuss the process as it was happening. However, now that it looks like Nancy and I will...

How I process the news

I'm not sure if there is more to be concerned about in the world or if the ubiquitous access to information makes it seem that way. Either way, I've found that I have to regularly upgrade my information sources and my filtering strategies. Simultaneously, I...

Kudos to Hope International

Last week Nancy and I were privileged to attend Hope International's Leadership Summit in Lancaster, PA. This annual event gathers the entire staff team, including the people scattered internationally. We were guests and enjoyed the organization's hospitality. The...

A tribute to my professor, Dallas Willard

Dallas Willard died today. However, the step he took from this life to the next was very short. He believed and taught that the Kingdom of God is at hand. It is near and accessible for anyone and everyone who wants to take hold of it. His life was a deliberate...

How to win in Afghanistan

In her timely book, Hearts For Sale, A Buyer's Guide to Winning Afghanistan, Farzana Marie boldly asks and answers three critically important questions. - What kind of conflict is this? - Who is the enemy, what does he want, and what is his strategy? - What does...

Marriage building through just hanging out

Nancy, my wife of nearly 30 years, and I are both purposeful people. Our common life purpose brought us together at the US Center for World Mission over three decades ago. We believed the USCWM was the place where we could maximally contribute to the biblical task of...

Like the Tsarnaev brothers, I have failed

This morning, like usual, I woke up before 5, made a cup of tea, and went downstairs to my office. However, unlike most days, the news that filled my computer screen sucked me in. The networks were reporting an active story, with live video, of SWAT and other public...

A Zimbabwean Start

"My sense of your visits was that they were divinely appointed, though initially I didn't know why. From my perspective you were part of an answer to prayer about going global." From one of my new friends in Zimbabwe in this morning's email. Mark is an entrepreneur...

Commercial copy writing projects wanted

One of the companies I consulted with while I was in Zimbabwe last month was Xmpla. This company trains and employs bright young Zimbabwean talent to do commercial copy writing for European companies. Much of their work is for the European Commission and therefore has...

100 days until Jennifer’s wedding!

When my third daughter, Jennifer, was about 7, I asked her to promise she would not turn double digits. Her two older sisters were becoming adolescents and I needed at least one of my girls to remain little. She was my last best hope. So, even though she was aware of...

Your experience is needed in Rwanda

I have not been to Rwanda. However, I have met Emmanuel Sitaki, a Rwandan Tutsi who miraculously escaped the 1994 genocide. Emmanuel now leads a ministry that is equipping the orphans who are quickly becoming young adults to support themselves and generate wealth for...

A decision made, then unmade

During my nearly three decades in executive leadership I felt my primary responsibility was to make decisions. I described my role as clearing the rocks off the path so the rest of the organization could move forward as expediently as possible. More often than not,...

Saving Zimbabwe

During my time in Zimbabwe this month someone gave me a book, Saving Zimbabwe, Life, Death and Hope in Africa. I read it as I traveled home last week. The author, Bob Scott, was intimately involved with the 16 people who were horrifically massacred south of Bulawayo,...

Finishing in Zimbabwe and looking forward

My time here in Zimbabwe is drawing to a close. I am scheduled to fly out of Bulawayo in a few hours. I enjoyed reconnecting with friends I met before and making new ones. I taught in various venues in three cities. I learned more about the struggles the people have...

Pain and Joy in Zimbabwe

I am currently in the midst of my second trip to Zimbabwe which does not make me an expert on the people of this country. However, I have consistently noticed two things. First, these people have suffered more than I can fully comprehend. Every person has a horrific...

By Faith

Tomorrow morning I will leave for Zimbabwe. My bags are packed, the itinerary is planned, the bills are paid, and the people who might need me for something have been alerted. I don't know how I can be more prepared. However, I have an unspecific feeling that I might...

An awkward relationship-building dance

At Anda Leadership we have the privilege of working with leaders in many parts of the world, mostly from countries whose economies are "developing." We notice a recurring theme as we interact with these leaders. At the beginning of the conversation the local leader...

Remember to thank the Sunday School teachers

My wife, Nancy, teaches innovative methods to children's educators. She is traveling to SE Asia this week to lead several national level teacher-training events. She also teaches a class of elementary age boys at our church here in Spokane. Her influence as an...

Back to Zimbabwe

Last November I spent about a week in Zimbabwe. Laura, my Anda Leadership colleague, and I had been invited there to explore the possibilities for us to add value in that context. We asked, "What, if anything, can we do to help expand Christ's Kingdom in that place?"...

Don’t try this if you need an ego boost

I was in pretty good shape last October as I focused on running the Wenatchee half marathon with my second daughter, Allison. However, after traveling for almost the entire month of November and five weeks of illness that lasted into January, I had lost all the...

A teacher’s reward.

I had an unusually heavy teaching load last week. On Sunday and Tuesday, I taught Perspectives Lesson 2, The Story of God's Glory, in two churches each about three hours from my home in Spokane. On Thursday and Saturday, I taught twelve hours of World Religions at...

Fred and Karen are making a difference! Thanks.

Last June an American businessman, Fred, and I traveled to Central Asia to help a church planting organization understand and implement "best practices" in their management procedures. The organization's leadership is particularly interested in implementing financial...

Greg’s 2012 Blog Review

Happy New Year and thank you to everyone who took time to read my blog in 2012. My blog  got about 3,800 views in 2012. If you are interested in seeing a complete report, click here: Click here to see the complete report.  

Central Asian Strongholds are Falling!

Last June I traveled to Central Asia to lead a week-long training event for an indigenous church planting organization. The leaders of this organization refuse to accept the spiritual oppression that characterizes their country. They are standing against cultural,...

Security verses Freedom

As a society, Central Asians willingly give up freedom to gain security. They have been abused by one oppressor after another and they have learned to cope by keeping their heads down and complying with whoever currently holds power. Generally individuals don't make...

The role of Western Christians in Global Mission

In 1987, about six other Caleb Project staff and I attended Singapore '87, a conference geared for younger Christian leaders from around the world. The event proved to be a formative organizational experience, in part, because we invested a significant amount of time...

Training Entrepreneurs in Northern Ghana

I recently spent a couple weeks in Ghana, West Africa. One of the elements in our itinerary was to conduct three days of training with 25 local businessmen in the northern Ghana town of Tamale. I prefer to have a clear understanding of who the trainees are before I...

Cheerful giving in northern Ghana

Before Nancy, my wife, and the rest of her team visited Naboli, a village in northern Ghana, in July 2009, the church there consisted of just a few people. However, that dramatically changed after the team explained to the women who are clustered just outside the...

Fresh hope for northern Ghana’s women!

Through no fault of their own, women, particularly older women, in northern Ghana are in danger of becoming accused witches. When a woman is accused, she is abused and banished from her home and community. Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church (WCPC) and a Ghanaian...

Home

I finally arrived back home last Friday evening after having been gone from almost all of November. I spent about two weeks in Ghana, a week in Zimbabwe, and several days in Monterey, CA. There are stories to tell from each leg of the journey and I hope to share at...

An Election Day Perspective

Tomorrow is election day in the United States. I confess, I am suffering from campaign fatigue. I will be glad when we know the results and can move on. Don't get me wrong, I care who wins. Nancy and I cast our ballots two weeks ago before she left for SE Asia. I...

A tribute to Anne and George Tewksbury

In the spring of 1983, I was earnestly seeking God regarding where Nancy and I would live when we returned to Pasadena, CA to rejoin the Caleb Project team after our wedding in Pennsylvania. The Marengo House emerged from my search. We did not intend to start another...

Budgeting in Central Asia

I consult with a group of Central Asian leaders that desires to adopt and implement organizational best practices. The changes they are trying to make are inordinately difficult  because of the absence of local role models, unsupportive social structures, and...

Half Marathon Review

  My daughter, Allison, and I ran the Leavenworth Oktoberfest Half Marathon last Saturday. I enjoyed the race, but the greater joy was spending the day with my adult daughter. I drove over to Leavenworth Friday afternoon and found a camping spot and set up our...

Guess my half marathon time

Last summer my daughter, Allison, talked me into running a half marathon with her. We decided on the Leavenworth Oktoberfest Marathon. The race is this Saturday, October 6. For fun, do you want to guess my time? Here are some data points that could be important: A...

Foundations of Economics

One of my daughter's former professors at Grove City College recently wrote an economics text book. (Foundations of Economics, Shawn Ritenour) Because of Laura's respect for this professor, I decided to purchase a used copy of the book and read it. I expected it to be...

Looking forward

Last week I received a missionary prayer letter from some very good friends of mine. They shared the following biblical encouragement that is excellently timed in light of events going on in today's world. I hope you will be challenged, as I am, by their words. (They...

9/21 World Peace Day

Today, September 21, is designated the International Day of Peace by the United Nations. The UN is calling for "a total cessation of hostilities around the globe." I share this vision. Doesn't every responsible person dream of a day of no war anywhere? Moreover, I...

The servants are most blessed.

One of the counter-intuitive principles of Christ's Kingdom is that it is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35) We saw this beautifully demonstrated at my daughter's wedding last month. The friends and family who chose to come to Laura and Kagi's wedding...

Do most Muslims support terrorism?

I have met Muslims in South East Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and North America. My experience is that most Muslims are gentle and hospitable people. Why is it, then, that they appear so different in the media? Why do so many of the...

Routine, Risk, and Rest

In his sermon at Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church yesterday, Dr. Keith Tanis expertly communicated the value of healthy routines. At the end of his sermon he foreshadowed that next week he is going to talk about risk. I have already been learning about routine...

Thinking about Retirement

Nancy and I are spending this Labor Day weekend with some long-time friends in Niagara Falls, Ontario. They have been thinking about their next season of life and invited us here to process with them. Even though we are using the term "retirement," it probably means...

Happy Independence Day Uzbekistan

Twenty-one years! It was 21 years ago that the Soviet Union split apart. I was reminded of this while chatting on the phone with a long-time friend and former colleague who continues to serve Christ in Central Asia. He and his family have been there for more than 15...

Blog Assessment

Yesterday I had lunch with my friend David in Denver. Like a number of other people that I've talked to during this month-long road trip, David reads this blog, at least sometimes. I've been surprised and encouraged by the number and diversity of readers. I have not...

Queen of the Meadow

Laura and Kagi were married in a beautiful ceremony August 18, 2012. On the way to their wedding, Nancy and I stopped for a couple days at my parents' home in Pennsylvania. While there I noticed that the Queen of the Meadow flowers were in bloom. That reminded me of...

Working together – Celebrating together

My daughter Laura married Kagiso Phaladi Saturday afternoon. It was an amazing day. Actually, it was an amazing week! Our family has not even begun to slow down in recounting the stories of how the week and the ceremony unfolded. One theme in our stories has been how...

Laura the hospitable

As I think about my oldest daughter during these final days before her wedding, I see certain characteristics in her that are particularly apparent and attractive. In my previous two blogs, I noted her adventurousness and responsibility. Today, I am thinking about her...

Laura the responsible

My daughter, Laura, is getting married Saturday. To prepare for the wedding I have been thinking about her and her character traits that I particularly admire. Yesterday, I wrote about her adventurism. Today, I am thinking about her responsibility. Laura is...

Laura the adventurist

Next Saturday, in five days, my first born is getting married. Laura will marry Kagi Phaladi here in Niagara Falls, Ontario. We are spending this week getting ready for the wedding. Along with the physical preparation, I realize I need to get emotionally ready. I was...

Generosity

Nancy and I left for a cross-country road trip eight days ago. Our agenda is to visit ministry donors and other friends as we travel to our daughter's wedding. So far we have traveled in eleven states and met with numerous people. Simultaneously, we are preparing for...

Summer 2012 Road Trip

Early tomorrow morning, Nancy and I intend to head out on a cross-country road trip. The first three days we are scheduled to drive twelve hours each day. The fourth day is a "short" five hour drive that should take us to Pittsburgh, PA where we will spend a couple...

Battling Evil

This morning before I read today's news about the horrific shooting in Aurora, CO, I completed my daily Bible reading which was Psalms 23-25 and Acts 21. These scripture passages caused me to remember that bad things happen. Psalm 23 talks about a dark valley. Psalm...

Fasting: My journey to date

Last Friday evening, Nancy and I went to an open house reception for a former Caleb Project colleague who is now married and heading to Eastern Europe to minister. We had a wonderful time catching up with Joel and Keturah and Joel's sister, also a former colleague,...

LeMei’s Celebration Service

On Thursday, June 14, 2012, LeMei and Michael Littlefield (US Director of OMF) were informed that the cancer that LeMei had been fighting for months and was presumed gone, was in fact back in force. LeMei died five days later. LeMei's Celebration Service was held June...

When hurting helps

There were hundreds of high school softball players in the Denver airport two Sunday evenings ago while I was there. Apparently there had been a large tournament in Denver that had attracted teams from across the US and our paths crossed as they were departing. As I...

Organizational Development in Central Asia

Last week I had the amazing privilege to serve the Christians in a Central Asian country with an oppressive government. My assignment was to help an indigenous organization become more effective in accomplishing its mission and to become a viable partner with...

CHCC Presentation

This morning I presented Anda Leadership to a group of businessmen at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. I was excited about this opportunity because it gave me an opportunity to share our vision and to clarify my thinking about Anda...

Hiring key administrative staff

Today a ministry leader asked me how to hire a person to fill a key administrative role. This is her concern: "Most of the people who have some great 'downtown' admin experience (which is what we are looking for), don't have the DNA of the ministry/mission. And vice...

Do circumstances change the facts?

Truth. Is truth absolute or relative? After a day of being harangued to change my answer from a simple statement of the facts to a response that people wanted me to give, I realize that there are differences of opinion about this. Here is the situation. Tenants in a...

Which candy bar would you choose?

Culture is a complex topic. It is impossible to fully understand another culture. In fact, it is difficult to understand your own, although your culture is at least comfortable to you. Our challenge in cross-cultural understanding and communication is to suspend...

Laura in Botswana

Laura, my oldest daughter, is in Botswana. She is there to conduct some research for Anda Leadership and to meet her fiancee's family. I enjoy staying in contact with her via Skype. Earlier this week Laura told me about a conversation she had with a pastor in...

Help Wanted: Credit Union Experience

This morning I spoke with a remarkable British couple who has been assisting emerging entrepreneurs for many years. They have developed a training workshop based on the Jesus stories of the Feeding of the 5000 and the Parable of the Talents. From the Feeding of the...

My confession for today

Heavenly Father, thank you for hearing my prayers and all the prayers of your people. Thank you for always being available. I confess that I often act as if I am on my own. Please forgive me for my independence. Other times I urgently demand that you bail me out of...

Rwandan Opportunities

For 100 days in 1994, the world abandoned Rwanda as the country's majority tribe, Hutu, attempted to exterminate the minority tribe, Tutsi. In the midst of the chaos God protected a Tutsi man who has forgiven his enemies and launched a ministry to orphans and...

Who am I looking at?

Yesterday, my daughter Allison and I joined 54,000 other runners and walkers in a 12 kilometer race here in Spokane called Bloomsday. This is the second year we ran in this event. Today, as we were comparing our results and celebrating the progress we made since last...