From Going Short-term to Staying Long-term by Shane Bennet ([email protected]).
I'm writing this month from southern Kazakhstan where I'm visiting a long-term work my new church is involved in. I feel so honored to finally visit this country. Through Caleb Project and this church, I've had some connection with Kazakhstan for more than 15 years. It's great to finally show up and see the place myself. I've also been blessed to see encouraging signs of Kingdom growth.
Of course, being here has also brought to mind some puzzling questions, such as: "Were horses primarily invented for transportation or food?" "At what ratio do you stop saying, 'This road has a lot of potholes,' and begin saying, 'These potholes seem to be joined together by a bit of road'?" And, "Will there be a lovelier group than the Kazakhs standing before God's throne in eternity?" My tentative answers to these questions are: "Seems like both," "80/20," and "likely not."
In the past couple of days a more serious question has come up. It has to do with raising up career workers from within the context of a local church. Our fellowship has sent about 350 people to Kazakhstan over the past 15 years. Of those, maybe a dozen have served in a long-term capacity. Our current number of long-termers here is three. Because we could easily put ten people to work here, I'm wondering how to invite more of those 300+ short-termers to consider a career assignment.
(You might be thinking "Hey, maybe it is time to hand things over to Kazakhs and move on." Let me ask you to assume with me that we have some discernment about that and believe God wants us to continue. I'm not saying we can discern that, but it's a big question, requiring significant treatment, and is not the question at hand.)
So, how have you seen short-termers transformed into long-termers? I'm thinking of good examples in which sharp people end up in significant, well-fitting roles. I'm imagining non-manipulative methods in which people are invited to recognize their gifts, are provided with proper stepping stones to long-term commitment, and are shepherded into a successful cross-cultural career. If you have ideas or experience in this, please pass it along.
From Matt: Feel free to send your ideas along in a comment to this posting. Thanks!