Day 5. We had a visiting instructor from Mali...which was perfect for the morning topic: Suffering. After learning two hymns from his people group we examined the reality of suffering first from the divine perspective - that our God is a God well acquainted with suffering. When He looked down upon the children of men and observed their sinfulness, it grieved Him...a grief displayed most vividly on the cross. We then looked at suffering from man's perspective and saw that ultimately suffering had a redemptive aspect to it when in the hands of God. It produces repentance and ultimately obedience, both of which are pleasing to God. The question that immediately came to my mind was: is my reaction to my own suffering pleasing to God?
We examined the subject of coping in and with suffering through prayer, faithfulness, and perseverance. As God alone knows when our suffering will end, we must learn to trust Him to take us through it. The instructor reminded us that there are basically three ways of dealing with suffering, namely engage it, flee from it, or avoid it and gave us biblical examples of how one person can respond in all three ways depending on the circumstances and not necessarily on personality. Peter and Paul were two great examples.
But in the end, I think, we must always remember that God alone is sovereign and suffering is His servant not His master or even His nemesis.
After lunch we spent time in our accountability groups (called Ebenezer Groups) and then examined the choppy seas of team work on the field. This was a very practical session involving lots of discussion and brainstorming, which was good as we all had different takes on what it takes to make up a good team. We looked at different personality styles as well as at cultural differences in communication, leadership styles, concept of time and so on. This was a wonderful time of pooling our resources of wisdom and experience and thinking through what we thought would be most important in maintaining cohesion in our respective future teams.
For us the number one principle would be to maintain a team focus on God's glory...the rest of the principles were all important, but would be of no consequence if God's glory was not our collective priority.
But that is true for all of life, eh?