September 17, 2012 · 3:13 pm
My church is running a Sunday School class on missionary activity around the world. 2 weeks ago, the class watched a video about church planting in the countries of Liberia and surrounding countries and this week, I and another couple presented some information about activities in both West (computer training) and East Africa (trauma recovery through scripture engagement).
The leader of the class, Kurt Wood, brought in a map that was drawn by population size rather than geography. He made an off-hand comment that maybe this was a bit closer to how God sees the world, a focus on the people rather than geographical or political boundaries.
What do you think? Check out this link for another example of a population driven map of the world. Which countries are surprisingly large? Small? In Africa, you see that tiny Rwanda is population dense and Nigeria is huge.
I think it is a helpful reminder even if my country of birth is nothing more than a tiny bit of color on top of the USA. There are a number of other population driven maps that can be found on google images.
August 3, 2012 · 9:38 pm
Cover of To Timbuktu: A Journey Down the Niger
I’m a sucker for adventure travel writing. I love all kinds of books. I’ll dabble in a little theology, philosophy, politics, history, and of course a healthy dose of psychological literature. But, when I am full up hearing about the problem of child sexual abuse by Christian leaders, I’ll escape in adventure travel. Right now I am working on To Timbuktu: A Journey Down the Niger by Mark Jenkins. He tells the story of his trip to the source of the Niger in Guinea and then as they kayak down the Niger towards Timbuktu. Interspersed in each chapter are tidbits from early explorers who attempted to locate the source of the Niger. I haven’t a clue how it turns out since I am just to the part where they finally start kayaking.
While there are a few course words in the book, I find Mark’s writing style such that I am right there with him.
Places with no roads and no wires are bigger than other places. Distance hasn’t been distorted. People claim that world is getting smaller, as if ti were some green and blue balloon leaking air. Africans don’t buy this. To most Africans the world is enormous. Why? Because they walk. They have no choice; they are poor. If you must use your own legs–your own blood, bone, and sinew–to travel from one place to another, a mile is a mile…
Places with no roads and no wires are also more mortal than other places. They are so because you cannot escape. Can’t fly away or drive away or phone for help. If you want to leave, you must walk. If you cannot walk, you must have the help of those around you–if they will help you. Thus, kindnesses are not overlooked, mistakes not forgotten, cowardice not forgiven. In such a place, or on an expedition into such a place, what goes around comes around. (p. 56-7)
Or, describing some expats,
Like all expats in Africa, the Olafsons don’t quite live in Africa. They live inside a walled compound with guards and guard dogs and gardeners, servants and chauffeurs, flush toilets and air conditioning. …. Most expats, when they go back to their own country…find it too tame and talk ceaselessly of the drama and wildness of their life in Africa. But then back in Africa they take every precaution to make their lives just as they would be if they lived at home–except for the servants and the cases of expensive liquor …
He goes on to claim that many journalists do the same. I wonder about travel writers too. But then, I don’t care much because it is a good story.
Why do I like these kinds of books? I am amazed at the risks people are willing to take, their perseverance in the face of hardship (when I would have quit a long time ago) and the descriptions of places I might like to see but for the severe difficulty getting there. In this book, I get a front row view of a tiny village and how it operates (at least when white people are in the mix).
March 28, 2012 · 3:13 pm
American Bible Society (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It is my pleasure to announce that I and Biblical Seminary are the recipient of a sizeable grant to launch our new Global Trauma Recovery Institute–training for lay and professional recovery experts in the US and around the world. The grant (from an anonymous donor and the American Bible Society) funds the Seminary’s collaborative program with ABS to provide deeper training for those active in both trauma recovery efforts in the US or in training local facilitators in east/central Africa.
Why collaborate with a bible society?
ABS is involved in a trauma healing/scripture engagement project, focused in Africa but with other works going on around the world. This project has been under the work of ABS’ She’s My Sister initiative in the Congo. The bible societies were founded on bringing scripture to bear on the current issues of the time–specifically slavery. So, it make sense that ABS is interested in helping traumatized individuals recover from wounds by showing how God cares and is active in their recovery. Through connections with a few of my students, I and Diane Langberg have become co-chairs of the advisory council to the above-named initiative.
What does this mean for Biblical?
The generous grant will enable Biblical to do the following
- Commission a research study of the psycho-social impact of trauma in the African context
- in collaboration with Wheaton College’s Humanitarian Disaster Institute
- WHY? We need better understanding of the scope of the problem and what locally led interventions will be the most effective (both in terms of success and sustainability)
- Develop introductory and advanced global trauma recovery courses that enable MA and postgraduate students to develop specialization in training local trauma recovery facilitators here and around the world
- These courses will be delivered in a hybrid format starting late 2012; delivered in hybrid system (on-line and in-person)
- Mental health continuing education credit will be possible
- A hands-on practical experience under the direction myself and Dr. Langberg will be the capstone experience for students who complete the entire training
- Likely 2013 in an African context
- A website providing free and homestudy CE materials for those unable to come to the Philadelphia area
- Consultation groups formed for those seeking help with cases and projects in domestic and international trauma recovery
How is Dr. Langberg involved?
Dr. Diane Langberg is the leading Christian psychologist with expertise in trauma recovery. Her teaching has taken her to South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Her books on sexual abuse remain popular with both clinicians and victims. She joins Biblical Seminary as a Clinical Faculty member (clinical faculty are practitioners who also lecture and train) and will have a leadership role in the shaping and delivery of the curriculum and trainings. It is safe to say that the counseling department has been most influenced by Dr. Langberg’s training and supervision.
How can I find out about these courses and consultation groups?
Until we launch the institute website, the best way to keep yourself informed is to do one of the following: subscribe to this blog where I will be posting updates; keep checking with www.biblical.edu for more information, or email me at pmonroeATbiblicalDOTedu and I will put your name on a growing list of those who want to be on our mailing list.
Filed under "phil monroe", Abuse, Africa, biblical counseling, Biblical Seminary, christian counseling, christian psychology, Christianity, counseling science, counseling skills, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, trauma
Tagged as Africa, American Bible Society, Biblical Theological Seminary, Langberg, Psychological trauma, United States, Wheaton College
March 13, 2012 · 5:49 am
Have you seen the video already? As of Monday, March 12, the youtube counter was at 74 million views. Not bad for 6 days. The video, as I am sure you already know, was created by Invisible Children, and organization designed to advocate for the protection of children in central Africa and programs of help (tracking Kony’s militia, educating children, early warning detection, etc.). Their primary purpose is to (a) educate the world about the abuses and terrorism of Joseph Kony, and (b) keep up the political pressure on decision makers so that they do not drop the ball on the efforts to arrest Kony. If you are not aware, President Obama sent 100 military advisors to the region to support national troops in their search for Kony. Kony2012 is meant to maintain political and cultural pressure to keep searching for him (20 power brokers, 12 politicians= 2012).
Of course, with every good intention, comes criticism and controversy. You can read a number of complaints about the efforts. Invisible Children (IC)
- advocate US military involvement in a foreign country where we do not have significant interests
- spend only some 37% of donations in Africa on programs
- imply in the video that Kony is attacking Ugandans when he hasn’t been there for 6 years
- make no mention of the destruction by Kony in the DRC and the CAR.
- further the idea that the white man needs to save Africa
Do a little homework and you realize that IC is promoting Kony’s capture (not death), is designed to be an advocate and not primarily a service program in Africa, and knows that Kony isn’t in Uganda anymore. I suppose the complaint that has the most merit is that the video perpetuates the idea that white people have to solve Africa’s problem. It might have been helpful to show what Africans are doing already.
So your thoughts? Does the video spur you on to help? Does the recent take downs of dictators fuel our willingness to remove tyrants from power? Should we solve other country’s problems? Given the DRC’s lack of a strong central government, ought we to act first and apologize later?
I would suggest that the video does its job in a bit of education with a focus on action steps. A video that just gives the gory facts (and pictures) often just traumatizes and paralyzes. It could have played up the footage in such a way as to make it seem like Africans are violent people–or corrupt. The film could have talked about the immense forests of the DRC and that finding Kony will be finding a needle in a haystack. Or, it could have played to all that IC has done in a self-promotional manner. Yet it did none of those things. It made mention of the need, the desire of Africans to bring Kony to justice, and the opportunity average people have to help leaders keep their eye on the ball.
My thoughts? Watch the video. Engage in some good conversation about how Christians can speak up about evils done to nameless/faceless people. Debate the merits of propaganda for a good cause. Discuss practical ways to influence power. Decide if IC is a good place for your funds and if not, find another doing the work you cannot do yourself. Speak up for justice. Review the electronic action kit.
PS: Here is a great (bit long) perspective from Drs who have a deep and abiding love for Uganda and Jesus: http://paradoxuganda.blogspot.com/2012/03/on-kony-and-viruses.html