09 Mar

The Risk of Sovereignty

There has been plenty of Nigeria in the news of late and some of the incidents have provoked me to really, frankly… Well, how can I put it? I feel like I’ve had a kick up my complacent backside about why I am here, doing what I do.

Recently I was involved in some conversations that led to some friends looking at moving out here to join our ministry. BRILLIANT! Then I saw this post on facebook. At first, it made me giggle. 

loves her son, last night's take was "so there are no earthquakes, tsunamis or tornadoes in Nigeria" (me – not that I am aware), "so we just have to be careful about diseases and getting shot, that's good"…

It reminded me that everywhere has it’s up and downs. So I replied, twice.

 HAHAHAHA brill. no tornados or tsunamis — not liable to earthquakes.. all good!

 actually getting shot isn't too high a risk either!

Sometimes it just appears like a high risk, because that is all the information we are reading about. Someone else posted a comment in the same conversation

Malaria, mugging, kidnapping, rape and killings of white people are very high, in my stats, so why would you put ur lifes at risk?

My jovial thought about a 7 year old’s mind at work was brought to a resounding sudden halt. I decided that I could give an answer to that, but firstly was it my place to answer?

Then I remembered that of course it was. I am in said country that is being questioned. Maybe I could share my experience and help out.  So after a couple of drafts (yes maybe I should have got someone to proof read it for me!) this is how I responded.

GREAT question! I’m not sure the reality of where we are living is accurately reflected in the news and by other sources – Malaria is a problem everywhere, but mugging and kidnappings, rape and killing of Ex-pats is none- existent in Jos. Yes such things have happen elsewhere in the country and there is a risk attached to living and working here.   Personally for us, God hasn't called us to a safe life.  He has called us to minister in this country of HUGE need.  We believe our lives belong to God and when we pray, 'God let your will be done' we are re-asserting his sovereignty over our lives.  If harm came to us  yes it would devastate some people it would probably affect our ministry here (maybe for the better) – BUT that doesn't change God's status of sovereign. And besides we'd be in Glory with him 🙂  We live with the risk because the people here causing the trouble are exactly the ones who need to know God for themselves, i also appreciate that everyone has different levels of acceptable risk, living out here isn't for everyone and that is okay, because God can use you where you are!  People are in need everywhere.  Hope that TINY insight helps – if not, sorry for wasting your time reading this comment.

As I pondered it even further I realise more and more that my life is not my own and maybe it has taken getting my butt out to risky Nigeria for me to truly give it up.

I’m an aspie (Asperger's). It means there is a control freak in me and it rears its head worse when I am tired or hungry or under stress. But I survive because I maintain control – and so to give up that control is a REALLY super hard, super scary and super tiring. If I give up the control it only works if I completely trust the person I am giving it up to. Gaining that trust is hard. Re-gaining after it has been broken is even harder.

I have learnt that God is trust worthy. His sovereignty isn’t something I can really test, though. God can’t earn that status – it is simple fact of life. God is sovereign.

I got some more info from the original poster and I started pondering some more and eventually replied in a message.

I don’t know what it is like trying to relate to family who aren’t Christian, I can only imagine how ridiculously difficult it must be. I wasn’t trying to stir the water, just give an honest answer to her question. God’s sovereignty is a concept that non-believe (actually many believes for that matter) don’t’ grasp. It is a work his is doing in me at the moment! To live is Christ, but to die is gain – that hard to walk balance between effectiveness and risk.

Since coming to Nigeria I have become more and more aware of 2 things.
1 – The cost of missions goes FAR beyond my comfort level. It is also a cost/potential cost to other people. I have lived far too long ignorant of the cost my decision to be involved in mission is to other people.
2 – I cannot live any longer ashamed of the gospel, not my part in getting it to people who don’t have it. A great verse that has really come out fresh of late 1 Cor 1:18 “The cross is foolishness for those who don’t believe”. They are never going to understand why we do what we do where we do it. They are going to consider it foolishness. That is tough – on them and the result I guess is that they are tough on us.
But damn it, 300 languages without a single word of scripture, I have to do all I can in the time I have here – who knows how long that may be!

 

Right now I am re-ignited about why we are here doing what we do. I’ve been complacent about it. Maybe our lifestyle is too easy-going that I’m not being kept on my knees. But I have never been more convinced than I am now of the need for God’s word to be available – in a language that people can understand.

The only way to build trust is to get to know someone. The way to get to know God is in his word. If people can’t understand his word, they’ll never get to know him any better. How will they ever trust him and rely on him and be prepared to lay their lives down for him?   

Our family is here living with those risks – the instability, the crappy power and everything else – to help make that a reality for the millions of Nigerians in the 300+ languages that don’t currently have any scripture. 

01 Dec

Global Leadership Summit 2012 – Health

Yes, I am a little larger than I need to be. My body is probably not as efficient as it could be. Enough about me and on to organisational health, as shared by Patrick Lencioni.

Patrick claims that understanding your organisational health status could be your biggest competitive advantage. People want to work at a healthy organisation. People are better motivated when part of a healthy organisation. Now, working for a Bible translation ministry, competitive advantage isn’t exactly where we are at. Having said that, I do believe we can still apply some of the principles and get on with our task more efficiently, more effectively and produce better quality work reaching more people with bigger smiles on our faces.

5 things he says we can measure when considering our health status.

  1. Minimise policy
  2. Minimise confusion
  3. High moral standards
  4. High productivity
  5. Low staff turnover

Not sure where we would rank on those things. I think my group has quite a low amount of policy… so much so, that I think there needs to be a bit more in some areas!  But then I have to also consider my aspie nature that is driven by rules and regulations,  a nature that likes black and white, a nature is not happy with uncertainty. (I know, I know, HOW DO I SURVIVE IN NIGERIA!!?!)

Other things that he mentioned along the way…

Strategy should be accessible to everyone. An interesting bit of timing as we were currently looking at Nigeria Group strategy, and International are in the process of re-working theirs. Some call it reinvention.

Over-communicate. It takes a person to hear a message 7 times before it sinks in. I have heard it said that we are an intellectual bunch and so we shouldn’t need a message repeating. RUBBISH. It might mean we only need to hear it 5 times instead of 7, but it still needs communicating multiple times, preferably in multiple styles and mediums.

Reinforce the clarity through human systems. What does our finance system communicate about our core values? What does our membership structure communicate about us? What does out staff manual communicate about us? What does our website communicate about us? If we try to say one thing, but all our systems point to something else, people are going to believe the systems not the words.

It seemed a long-winded way of saying, “Do what you say!” If you have made a decision about something, follow through all the way, to the last man.

So where are we with these things? I don’t think I can give you my thoughts, because there are so many different parts to our organisation. International could improve a few of these things, Nigeria Group could improve a few of these things, and I personally could improve a few of these things…

I might also look up some of Patrick’s other materials.

04 Mar

Aspergers and possession

New place, new environment, new job, new colleagues, new house, new school, new friends, new opportunities, all provide a chance to discover more about myself.
Post discovery of my Aspergers, it freed me to allow myself to be different. No longer do I wonder why I think and react differently, but instead the mission is to curb the over reactions, increase the tolerance and generally better cope with the hard situations.
There are certain things I have discovered that are not ‘normal’ (if normal is defined by how other people expect an adult to react and behave) but linked to how my brain is wired as an aspie (person with aspergers). I appear to have an over developed sense of possession – what is mine is mine – hands off.  It turns out I am not very good at sharing.
I like the familiar, I like having my computer, my phone, my place to sit at the table, my chair in the lounge, my bit of shelf in the bedroom, my blanket or even my jumper! I don’t like sharing food on my plate and I don’t like people reading over my shoulder.

What is odd, is that internally (and sometimes externally), I can react at unexpected things and sometimes I don’t even know why a situation or a request is causing me a ‘struggle’. Most of the time I can resolve the struggle in my head and get on with whatever is happening, occasionally I can’t or don’t and vocalise the struggle – not always bad, but not always good either!  The funny things is that I can have a reputation for those vocalisations, yet if people only realised how many times I don’t vocalise the struggle, I think I do really well – but when I vocalise it can be so unusual and out of the norm for people who don’t experience the same struggles that they can be perceived as outbursts; I guess they are -sorry to ALL those who have experienced such an outburst!
I’m not very good at sharing jobs either. I like to know what is mine and what isn’t mine. When we got married we identified very early on that cooking was a job better done by one of us at a time, not really good for both of us at the same time. If I have agreed and I am expecting to do a job, to find someone else has done the job – even if they are trying to help me. I experience that struggle as if something has been stolen from me, a sense of injustice related to my constant struggle for self-preservation – also known as selfishness.

More later on other things I’ve picked up over the past 18 months.

15 Apr

Aspergers Syndrome, I’m an Aspie and proud!

Initially this whole thing was a relief but at the same time unchartered territory for me and hard to process and understand.   There doesn’t’ seem to be a definitive description of Aspergers.  The most useful I ahve found comes from the Autism Edu website.

http://www.autismedu.com/glossary.html

Asperger’s Syndrome – Is a pervasive developmental disorder that is characterized by near normal language acquisition accompanied by marked delays in the social domain. Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome have normal to above normal intelligence and tend to have restricted areas of interests. Many people/professionals refer to High Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) as one in the same. There is still a lot of controversy as to whether AS and HFA should be two distinct disorders. It is important to note though that some children diagnosed with classic Autism at an early age can gain so much skills that by the time they are adolescents they do not fit the criteria for Autism according to the DSM IV, but Asperger’s Syndrome.

 

Basically, my brain is wired a bit differently – I see things and process in ways other people don’t.  I struggle with things that other people don’t.  But at least understanding that my brain is wired differently, removes the pressure to be something i am not.  Spending so long trying to be like everyone else causes exhaustion, frustration and contributes to depression.     Instead I can put things in place to avoid the frustration or at least recognise the areas that can cause frustration and when those things do happen – (which they will) I can try react in a way that is appropriate.

Imagine computers, on the whole computers at the same they look similar, some look prettier than others, some have better memory than others, some a larger than others.    Having Aspergers is a bit like being a MAC in the world of computers.  Basically we are the same, but sometimes we are hard to communicate with, sometimes we don’t’ respond as expected,  and some things we do exceptional well don’t take that analogy too far though!

I struggle to keep myself in check, trying not to expect people to understand and treat me differently, trying not to fall into the victim spirit.   I do epically fail on so many occasions I am only at the start of this journey and I hope over time I can make more adjustments and observe my behaviour and thought processes earlier.

I’ll some more later down the line about how it works out in my life.

 

 

11 Apr

Depression part 2

Just over a year ago I wrote a blog post about being diagnosed with depression, you can read it here.   Well it is now another year and a bit further on and things and moved and I think they have progressed.  2 things happened that eventually came together at the doctors.

1 –  A rather daft facebook game testing for autistic traits (that I scored a bit higher on that I was comfortable with), a bit more research just to put my mind led to a desire to have a discussion with my doctor about it.

2– One of the things the doc had asked me to do was to try and identify things that triggered ‘down times’.  I had quite a list of things that caused frustration the combination of which can cause downs.

Just before the summer 2010 I was having that review with the Doctor and as doctors do, he asked what he could do to help, I mentioned both of these things.  He started by looking at the list of things I had pulled together, and looked at the list and pulled out a book about aspergers syndrome.  It turns out my list of frustrations were all part of a bigger list of possible aspergers traits.

So with that list and the discussion of the results from silly online games, we had quite a discussion! The conclusion was that I am a high function aspie.  Aspie is the term used to describe someone who has Aspergers Syndrome.

A rather unexpected turn in the scheme of things, but an eye opener and again, great to be able to understand myself a bit more and realise that so much of my frustration in life is simply the result of not understanding before that my brain is genuinely wired differently from most people.   Okay we all work differently, think differently, act differently and behave differently; we are unique just like everybody else!

I’ll write some more later down the line about how it works out in my life, it is an ongoing process I hope to continue to discover as time goes on.

 

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