On 16th March, 2017, I turned 39. I give thanks and praise to God! Yet barely 24 hours prior I was a little discouraged. No, not a midlife crisis 🙂 My disappointment came from discovering a negative CAD 4,839.01 hole in my ministry account. I’ll tell you why.
THANK YOU FOR 38TH
All thanks and praise to God, last year around my 38th birthday we launched a campaign to raise $10,000 between March and June for all the Lausanne Movement assignments thrust upon me in 2016. And guess what? WE DID IT! Thanks to people like you, we raised slightly more than the $10k target and I was not only able to fulfill all the Lord’s tasks in Europe (Czech Republic), North America (US/Canada), Africa (Ghana), Asia (Indonesia), and Latin America (Panama) but was even able to do a couple of these missions with my dear wife and partner for life, Anyele. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! The seeds sown from those initiatives are still blossoming and bearing fruits.
As I enter my 40th year of life this week I’m already thinking LEGACY—how you and I will be remembered after we’re long gone. How will our lives continue on, even though we are dead? Martin Luther King Jnr. died at 39, at my age today, shot in the jaw while readying himself to lead one of his characteristic civil rights marches. What if Luther King had said, “Life begins at 40?” His short life but long legacy is still celebrated today, decades later, all over the world.
For a 40th year legacy project, my aim is to raise CAD 40,000 ($4,000 for every decade of my life) over the next 24 months, from 16th March 2017 to 15th March 2019 for what I believe is the greatest legacy you and I can ever leave: godly, effectual global servant-leaders deeply transformed to transform nations and generations. This means raising only CAD 1,667 each month for the next 2 years. Will you contribute to the President’s Scholarship for Global Leadership?
One of my favourite leaders, Peter Scazzero, author of The Emotionally Healthy Leader, puts this task bluntly: “We must train the next generation for leadership. The world population is now 7.2 billion people. It will be 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion people by 2050. Think about that: We will add 2.5 BILLION people in the next 33 years! Who will be the apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists to equip these additional 2.5 billion people?” And to think that even today there are 3.5 billion people in our world still to be transformed with the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Each of us will need to reevaluate our lives and adjust our “wineskins and priorities to meet this acute need.” WHO will you contribute to this task?
STARTING WITH ME
I am offering the ‘second half’ of my life as a living sacrifice to God and you for this task. Half of this CAD 40,000 will be an investment in Yaw Perbi towards academic rigour, deeper spiritual formation and reflective praxis so I may ‘reproduce after my kind’ for the task unfinished.
It has been nine years since surviving that fateful accident in Cote d’Ivoire (above) after which I felt the Lord calling me to fully devote my life to preaching the gospel and raising younger leaders. And “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” Thus far, there has been no formal academic training in theology, missiology or leadership. There surely has been a lot of on-the-job learning and doing from a place of clear calling, vision and pure passion. It is now time for critical reflection of self and praxis, solid biblical theological training to undergird my call and academic rigour to complement what is already natural and supernatural about this calling.
AM I WORTH THIS INVESTMENT?
So, a few months ago I took the plunge and was accepted into the prestigious Fuller Seminary’s Master of Arts in Global Leadership. Having been pouring and pouring into others, it was refreshing to put together a comprehensive Learning Plan for myself. It has been a rich soul-searching experience for one who is more of a doer than a reflector. My transformation is affecting everything about me including slowing down for loving union with Jesus and leading out of the strength of my marriage. The organisations I lead are on the path of deeper discipleship and emotionally healthy leadership as a result.
And you know an investment in Yaw Perbi affects tens of thousands more. Only last week, a reflection I did on “When Life Doesn’t Make Sense” based on some of my MAGL learning so far reached over 30,000 people on FaceBook and over 26,000 hits on my personal website! You decide; if investing $20,000 in me is worth it or not. With the aforementioned example alone, that’s less than $1 investment per person impacted!
QUALITY EDUCATION IS COSTLY
Fuller is no doubt ‘the Harvard of seminaries,’ with a 70-year record of producing great leaders of our time like Rick Warren. With 4,000 students enrolled online and on 7 campuses from 90 countries and 110 denominations, Fuller is the largest multidenominational seminary in the world!
A course at Fuller costs USD 1,200; it isn’t cheap. I have negotiated a deal for ISMC so that any of our staff could get a 30% discount, bringing this amount to USD 840. Unfortunately, the drop of the Canadian dollar to the US dollar by about 30% sends us back to paying nearly the same USD 1,200 still. The MAGL consists of 9 core courses taken in sequence with the rest of my cohort from around the world and 9 electives, resulting in a total of USD 15,120 or CAD 19,656 (not counting books and travel and lodging expenses over the two years).
So far, I have invested nearly CAD 5,000 having taken 3 courses (including one on-campus session) and scored A+ in each! Praise God! That largely explains the gaping -$4,839.01 hole in my ministry account from which I serve the cause of international students globally and from which I get paid!
THE ASK—A GIFT THAT KEEPS GIVING
The other half of this legacy project is to provide SEED to invest in other staff and international students towards their leadership development including setting up a Global Leadership Incubator and a Leadership Institute. The task unfinished is great and urgent!
I invite you to give to the President’s Scholarship for Leadership. If 17 people sign up to give CAD 100 monthly we’ll meet the full target in 24 months. You may also decide to sponsor me for a whole course (CAD 1,200). If you have access to a foundation or other scholarship scheme that can offer grants of multiple thousands of dollars that will be awesome too. Please let me know.
Whatever you do, please make some contribution to the day of my birth and the birth of many multiple global leaders as a result–a gift that keeps giving towards the task unfinished.
Thank you for investing in hundreds of thousands of lives to begin and flourish before 40! Give HERE.
When it comes to calling/vision, I used to erroneously say things like, “Don’t listen to what other people have to say. After all, they weren’t there when God spoke to you.” How wrong I was. I repent.
“TO BE OR NOT TO BE?”
As I celebrated my birthday last week somehow I found myself going through some old emails dating back to 2008. I almost got ordained as a pastor that year. Almost. God spared me inflicting this upon myself… and on y’all 🙂
Back then I was still practicing medicine as a military captain with the United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire and had survived a fatal road traffic accident, in which I lost two of my colleagues, barely three weeks into our peacekeeping operation. The miraculous circumstances surrounding my deliverance convinced me beyond any shadow of doubt that GOD had spared me, yes, but for a purpose beyond Medicine. I wanted to give the rest of my life totally to the preaching of the good news and the good life in Jesus Christ and raising younger leaders to do same. If my fervour for God and His kingdom had been a 7/10, it cranked up to 9.5/10 after the accident. Understandably, after such a near-death experience I became crazier for God, with white-hot intensity and with such a sense of urgency about life and mission.
In the midst of all the crazy schedule of doing my medical and military duties for the U.N., I would go to the Universite de Bouake at least twice a week to teach, go into the community to minister–like visiting someone the rebels had captured and jailed, seeing to the total transformation of the dignity of Salimata (picture on left) by getting her dentures, raising capital for business for an AIDS patient etc.
My favourite thing was to preach during our Ghanmed 5/Ghav 10 church services and at local churches. It is little wonder then that the head pastor of one of these churches strongly felt I should be officially ordained as a pastor. After all, I was doing the work anyway—perhaps even better than those who had the official recognition as such.
Everyone was excited—from my Commanding Officer to ‘the least of these.’ A date was set, preparations and decorations were made; my clerical collar (that stiff, white dog collar that reverend ministers wear) was procured, my measurements were taken for my special-collared shirt to go with it… refreshments for the party…
Everyone (and everything) was ready except the most important people in my life: my wife, my best friend and one of my pastors. It is their emails I referred to earlier. These three people had no doubt God’s hand was upon my life and that God had a calling for me but none of them was convinced it was either the time or the place for ordination as a pastor. I was deeply conflicted. On hindsight, they saved my life—and by extension, that of many people.
I must confess I’m a skeptic when it comes to Western Christians’ understanding and practice of anything communal. Unfortunately having been schooled in Western ways and lived in North America myself I have become even more individualistic than my home (African) culture. So I longed for a breath of fresh air when I picked up Mark Labberton’s book, Called, but I was cautiously optimistic. “What does an American writer, from a generally individualistic society, have to authentically and practically offer toward communal calling?” I wondered. I was not disappointed.
The author not only clearly agreed with my observation about individualism but also my concern regarding how community is needed to accurately decipher a call of God on one’s life: “Community should be a natural cornerstone of life as a Christian disciple; we’re meant to be a part of the community of God’s people. After all, Christian disciples can’t live faithfully by themselves, and we seldom hear the call of God alone. Biblically, the call of God is inextricable from the community of God’s people, yet the church in the United States is rife with evidence that the church seeks and avoids community, just like the culture around it” (80).
DON’T TRY THIS ALONE
“We seldom hear the call of God alone?” Wow! Indeed, this is the way Sherwood Lingenfelter puts it in his work, Leading Cross-Culturally: “To have effective, compelling vision for ministry, the kind of vision that will motivate people to follow, the Christian leader must have a deep and intimate walk with Christ and listen to and be filled with the Holy Spirit. But even more importantly, this vision must be tested in the community of the body of Christ, refined by the participation of the body in shaping it, and then mobilized by the body in prayer and action.
Back to Labberton: “The process of understanding the Spirit’s guidance is best done in community. It isn’t a private act of discernment but one that emerges as we live in relation to brothers and sisters who help lead us to listen to our own hearts and to listen for God’s. To do so wisely and not self-servingly or distortedly, we need friends in Christ who share in this process of listening and trusting. Together we are the dwelling place of the Spirit” (140).
Oh! How many people, especially young people, would’ve saved themselves, and myriads more, heartaches, disillusionment and destruction had they tested their ‘calling’ in the crucible of community. Man, don’t try this calling thing alone without a discerning community. And community is “where two or three come together in Jesus’ name.” That may very well be just you and your spouse. If I sense a ‘call from God’ that my born-again, Spirit-filled wife strongly disagrees with I will have to take a serious pause for profound prayer and further consultation. And how much better when my spouse, plus my accountability friend and my spiritual director are all in sync!
Strong ‘Type A’ personalities like me find this assertion that calling is best discerned in community very hard. But that is the way to go, God’s way. I’m eager to share what else God’s word, Labberton and others have to say about this in my next blog. For now, go ahead and tell me what you think so far.