We foster global relationships among women encouraging and equipping them to live out their calling.
We envision on every continent women leaders encouraging and equipping others to live out their calling.
Re-connect to the adventure of life
I lost all respect for my father the day he came home and was so angry at my sister for being on the telephone that he literally began to beat her up. I remember just feeling like I was frozen in my chair. I could not believe what I was seeing. When my sister ran down the stairs to try and get away from him, he followed her down the stairs and continued to hit her. In a moment, I was trying to understand the context of what I was seeing. Here was my dad, a man who had been a leader on the mission field in the Belgian Congo for 13 years, a man who had graduated from Moody Bible Institute, got his Master’s degree from Northwestern University, and his doctorate from U.C. Berkeley . . . beating up my sister. I remember going on “Big Sundays” with him out on the African mission field where many were led to Christ. I remember my father getting up at 4:00 a.m. in our little grass hut of a home in the Congo to spend time alone with the Lord before his day started. Where had that person gone?
Years later when he returned to the United States, I remember my father telling me he felt like the Dead Sea. At the time, I did not know what he was talking about. When I later announced that I wanted to go on staff with a non-denominational association working with college students, my dad wanted to meet me in his office. He had no heart for this choice. He felt like I would be throwing my life away. Because his own walk with the Lord had stagnated, my father had become the perfect example of someone who made the choice to plateau spiritually. He had become more captured by his culture than by his faith. He eventually died a lonely, bitter, angry old man. A visual reminder to me of what can happen to any one of us if we choose to disengage from whatever our faith journey has been and leave a vacuum for the enemy to begin to seduce us. The enemy wants to take us back to places God had at one time called us to leave. I am finding myself at a similar juncture as my father’s. I am well aware of the need to make counterculture choices if I am going to be someone who lives a life of integrity in our own enticing world.
We are immersed in a purpose driven culture . . . driven in materialism, consumerism, and individualism. The false values of our culture have become so all pervasive that we scarcely recognize them anymore:
- Possessions – What do I have?
- Performance – What do I do?
- Position – How important am I?
- Appearance – What do I look like?
These have become our image consultants. In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses warns the Israelites before their entrance into the promised land:
Nothing is more dangerous than friendly captivity and yet that is where we find ourselves in the wealthy western world. Captives caught in the poverty of affluence. The “Life After Fifty” culture in the United States has been effectively defined by an article in Mademoiselle magazine:
The challenge of the emerging missional church is how to engage today’s 50-something’s life experiences and energy when they begin to ask themselves, “Who am I?”, “Where am I?”, and “Where am I going?” A cartoon asks a penetrating question, “Are you satisfied now that you’ve reached the top J.P., or will you strive to reach the tippy-tippy-top?” John D. Rockefeller was once asked the question, “How much does it take to satisfy a man?” He answered, “Sadly, just a little more than what he has.”
What becomes challenging is how to deliver “the truth about you” to a people group without them getting defensive. This is the one reason why I have found such value in creating non-neutral learning environments for transformational change to happen in women’s lives. The environment creates the climate necessary to initiate change.
In the early 1990s, World Vision hired me to found and develop Women of Vision. I was asked to take a group of American women to Guatemala and acquaint myself with World Vision’s work. For two weeks we lived with the women in the dumps of Guatemala immersing ourselves in their reality. The night before we were going to fly back to the United States I asked the women, “When we get on the plane tomorrow, do we just pretend that what we have been exposed to over the past couple of weeks does not exist? Do we treat this experience like a child’s Etch-a-Sketch, that we flip and erase from our minds the plight of these women OR do we begin to do something?” This was the mustard seed of faith that gave birth to Women of Vision. What took place in the following months and years were the dynamics of being in “The Middle Time”; enduring . . . changing . . . trying . . . despairing . . . continuing . . . and becoming. All of these verbs define the process of allowing our “theology to become biography” in each of our lives as we become aware of global poverty issues. The necessary process moves participants from being women of vision to becoming women of action, who in turn become women of essence. In an article by the late Rose Kennedy, My Life at Ninety, she shared: “One legacy I wish to leave is that old age need not be feared. It can be rich and fulfilling BUT the qualities of our later life will be determined by the lives we have already shaped.”
THE VALUE OF CREATING NON-NEUTRAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS FOR TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE
Within Global Women in Leadership Network we value helping people re-connect to the adventure of life. We often do this by creating what we call a ‘non-neutral learning environment’. Neutral environments are safe … as in attending a structured class setting sitting and listening to what is being presented. In these environments one is not forced to change. Many scoot through life totally in control of their circumstances. In a non-neutral environment we invite participants to begin what Dag Hammarskjold referred to as ‘the longest journey . .. THE JOURNEY INWARD!
Through specifically focused trips that we call ‘Trips for Transformation’ or inviting participants to join us at any level on our yearly RIDE AND SHINE 500 cycling venues we encourage the participant to focus on the inner journey. Unlike the traditional classroom, the non-neutral environment forces people out of their comfort zones, challenges existing paradigms and provides an opportunity for growth. When we combine action with focused reflection, we provide a process that allows for significant growth and improvement in one’s quality of life.
I’ll never forget taking a group of women into the world of the mysterious Maasi people group in Kenya. The Maasi live in villages called manyattas. Their bomas (huts) are made of cow dung. Cow dung attracts zillions of flies. As our van drove into this Maasi manyatta, a comment by one of the wealthy developer’s wives, who had come as a participant on this trip to Kenya was unforgettable. Beverly looked at me with a look of holy terror on her face as she asked, “Anastasia, do I have to get out of the van or can I just write a check?” Her brutal honesty was a beginning for Beverly of allowing her theology to become biography. She was willing to make the invisible Christ visible by getting out of the van.
For years, I have had the privilege of leading teams of women into developing third-world countries or in assorted cycling venues. Participants learn the value of living with the unpredictable. We learn to say ‘YES’ at the edge of the UNknown. In these non-neutral learning environments one is forced to change and is why I am so passionate about creating transformational experiences for women in the development of Global Women in Leadership Network.