UNLEASHING POTENTIAL IN STORYCENTRIC COMMUNITIES

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Trajectory is Critical

Trajectory is Critical

This is Part 3 of a Multi-Blog Series. You can read Part 1 and Part 2.   “One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.” About 600 million people heard these words live from Neil Armstrong when he stepped for the first time onto the surface of the moon. As the iconic news anchor Walter Cronkite narrated this historic moment over CBS News on July 20, 1969, grainy images transmitted over television screens of an other-worldly space capsule touching down made the event seem simple and serene. But NASA engineers at Cape Canaveral were anything but calm as the lunar module and its crew made their final approach and landed safely. Trajectory Matters These experts at Mission Control knew that a slight error in setting the trajectory of Apollo 11 on its launch pad in Florida could have caused the rocket to veer perilously off target by the

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Making a Mindset

Making a Mindset

This is Part 2 of a Multi-Blog Series. Read Part 1.   I am grateful for my church heritage that prioritized disciple-making around the world. Introducing men and women to the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ and cultivating them to become mature, reproducing  leaders have been the privilege of my personal and vocational life. But the church’s penchant for lionizing missionaries and pastors – like myself – because of our status as “full-time ministers” has created a collective myopia in our ranks. This poor lens hinders us from seeing the broader landscape that is richly populated by Christian believers with enormous potential to advance the Kingdom as mechanics, marketers, mothers, and medical technicians. The Roots of a Faulty Perception What are the roots of this faulty perception? This mindset certainly doesn’t reflect the New Testament emphasis on the “priesthood of all believers.” How did the idea that missionaries and pastors

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Higher Calling

Higher Calling

“Children don’t judge their own lives. Normal for them is what’s laid before them day by day. Judgment comes later.” -Charles Frazier, Varina. This is Part 1 of a Multi-blog series A High Calling? The church of my childhood graced me with priceless truths. But in church I also heard a half-truth. It is the notion that people who work in vocational Christian ministry have a high calling, and those who work in secular jobs don’t. This half-truth was more implied than overt, more caught than taught. It led me to choices I didn’t know I was making. Only later did I come to know how much this half-truth shaped my life, and how for countless others it has shut off whole worlds that might have been. The Church of My Childhood My father went to the University of North Carolina on a GI Bill to study accounting. He worked

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These Are Their Stories – Looking Back

These Are Their Stories – Looking Back

Throughout the course of this year, we at Freedom to Lead have been intermittently featuring segments called “These Are Their Stories.” We have been telling stories of men and women throughout Asia and Africa who have been impacted by God’s work in their lives and leadership through Freedom to Lead. We’ve heard about what Owen is doing with his people in Zimbabwe. We’ve heard Stephen’s story of coming out of persecution in Nigeria. It was Matthew’s story that inspired us with his humble tale of he and his wife using the few resources they had to respond to the AIDS crisis of Southern Africa. It was Elizabeth’s story that gave us a glimpse into the experience of women of Ethiopia. We then met our brother Chandra, a story you may have heard before, one that takes Freedom to Lead back to its beginning. Now ten years later, Chandra’s story is

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These Are Their Stories: Malick

These Are Their Stories: Malick

This post goes along with our series called “These Are Their Stories.” Throughout the course of this year, we at Freedom to Lead have been intermittently featuring segments called “These Are Their Stories.” We are telling stories of men and women throughout Asia and Africa who have been impacted by God’s work in their lives and leadership through Freedom to Lead. We only have two more entries for this particular blog series. In January we will start a new blog series. Today we will hear about Malick from Senegal, West Africa. A version of this post was originally shared in Freedom to Lead’s 2019 End-of-Year Giving Campaign. To learn more about this campaign, visit here. When Malick came to Freedom to Lead, he did not think he could be a pastor. Today he is thriving as he leads a congregation that impacts their community for Jesus Christ – thanks, in part,

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These Are Their Stories: Finding Purpose in the Midst of Loss

These Are Their Stories: Finding Purpose in the Midst of Loss

This post goes along with our series called “These Are Their Stories.” Throughout the course of this year, we at Freedom to Lead have been intermittently featuring segments called “These Are Their Stories.” We are telling stories of men and women throughout Asia and Africa who have been impacted by God’s work in their lives and leadership through Freedom to Lead. We have heard from Owen, Stephen, Matthewand Elizabeth.week Then, we heard the story of Chandra and Rick. This week we combine three stories into one.  Samuel’s Story When you first meet him you’re slightly intimidated as he towers over you in height. His square jaw is set and his eyes are piercing. You can’t help notice the scars on his arm, but you try not to stare. But then he offers you a firm handshake and his white teeth smile against the contrast of his dark complexion. He tells you

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The Literacy Conversation – Part 2

The Literacy Conversation – Part 2

In last week’s post we were talking about what I have been perceiving all these years about two camps of people – literate and nonliterate – when the discussion of orality is had. I thought that mission groups were saying that orality works for the nonliterate and not necessarily for literate “book cultures.” I asked if that was really what the orality movement was saying. Because if that is really what people in the movement were saying then I had two choices: I could a) go with something else or b) reclaim the word “orality” in a way that honors all people, both literate and nonliterate. But, over the years, a new question formed in my mind… “Could it be that orality is not about literacy at all?” Six years later, this is what I have learned from experiencing it as a practitioner: “No, orality is not about literacy. It’s

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The Literacy Conversation – Part 1

The Literacy Conversation – Part 1

I think I’ve been getting it wrong all these years. Since that time two millennia ago in Antioch when followers of the Way were first called Christians, the church has carried God’s mission to the world. Evangelism and discipleship methods have varied over the centuries and the local church’s involvement in the advancement of the kingdom of God has looked different from culture to culture and has changed with the times. During the last decade, for example, there has emerged this new term in missiological communities called “orality.” Orality methods are essentially methods of evangelism and discipleship that involve oral-based communication like story, drama, music, and the arts to portray the gospel rather than linear, abstract, literate-based communication that has been done since the invention of the printing press. Missions groups have been recently saying that they would like to begin using orality methods for peoples and cultures that cannot

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These Are Their Stories – Chandra and Rick

These Are Their Stories – Chandra and Rick

  For those of you who have been in the Freedom to Lead family for some time are probably familiar with this story. It’s a good one to tell. It tells the story of Freedom to Lead’s beginnings through the experience of one person named Chandra. But have you ever wondered what happened next? Have you asked for “the rest of the story” ten years later? Chandra’s Story Born into a Hindu family in the state of Odisha in eastern India, Chandra had grown up without running water and electricity. Most of the people in his small village could not read or write. While training to become a Hindu priest, Chandra was miraculously converted to follow Jesus. He wanted to learn more about Jesus, so he left his village and attended a Bible college in New Delhi, many miles away from home. At the Bible college, Chandra immersed himself in

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These Are Their Stories – Elizabeth

These Are Their Stories – Elizabeth

Throughout the course of this year, we at Freedom to Lead will be intermittently featuring segments called “These Are Their Stories.” We will be telling stories of men and women throughout Asia and Africa who have been impacted by God’s work in their lives and leadership through Freedom to Lead. We have heard from Owen, Stephen, and Matthew. This week we hear the story of Elizabeth* from East Africa. *to protect their identities, these are not their real names For forty years she has been a leader in the church as an evangelist and church planter, and also as a minister among women and orphans. For forty years she has labored with various teams and has overseen numerous projects. She has seen a lot of changes in Ethiopia – both in the church and in the culture – since her beginnings. She has a lot of wisdom to share based

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These Are Their Stories – Matthew

These Are Their Stories – Matthew

Throughout the course of this year, we at Freedom to Lead will be intermittently featuring segments called “These Are Their Stories.” We will be telling stories of men and women throughout Asia and Africa who have been impacted by God’s work in their lives and leadership through Freedom to Lead. We have heard from Owen* and from Stephen*.  This week we hear the story of Matthew* from Southern Africa. *to protect their identities, these are not their real names Matthew’s Story Matthew* and his wife are simple people of Zimbabwe who lead a quiet life unto the Lord. When the AIDS epidemic swept throughout southern Africa in the late 80s, Matthew and his wife took in four children from their church home who had recently become orphans. Their heart for these children was due in large part to Matthew’s wife having grown up as an orphan herself. She knew firsthand what

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A False Hope

A False Hope

**The following post is the written text from a Palm Sunday sermon by Rick Sessoms given to a group of church and ministry leaders this past week. These men and women serve Jesus in the hard places of this world. Day of Expectation On a day filled with expectation, Jesus made His way to Jerusalem. His followers believed the Kingdom was about to be reborn. Those marching with Jesus had seen him raise Lazarus from the dead a few days before. You can understand their excitement. Along the parade’s path, crowds were shouting praises and dancing and singing, escorting Jesus on His “triumphal entry.” “Hosanna!” they sang, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Spreading their palm branches along the processional. We celebrate this on Palm Sunday. As parades go, it wasn’t very impressive. But for those who marched into the city with Jesus that day,

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