I was laid off, but not by God (a personal update)

I was laid off, but not by God (a personal update) June 27, 2022
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A little over a month ago, I was unexpectedly laid off. Completely surprised, I even laughed and asked if they were joking. They weren’t. It was a financial decision. Over the past year, several people in the organization also left.

Our children had a rough transition back to the States. As full-blown TCKs (Third Culture Kids) who grew up in East Asia, America doesn’t feel like home. Just a few weeks earlier, before getting laid off, I told my son that we’d stay in Arizona even if our organization let me go someday. For their well-being, my wife and I knew they desperately needed stability. Little did I know I’d be unemployed soon.

“So now what?”

“So now what?” I asked. Few places hire missionary theologians. “Should I manage a coffee shop?” “Should I teach math?” The thought of leaving two decades of work and training caused painful grieving. But this was a cost of being a dad; it’d be worth it if this was best for our kids.

To my disbelief, this was not acceptable to my wife and others near us. Everyone close to me urged me to pause and pray for a way forward, even if that means support raising. I reluctantly lifted up this option (support raising) to the Lord. A word landed on my heart,

“You have a lot of theological knowledge, but do you have faith?”

While seeking counsel, I heard from a friend, Paul Madson, the President and founder of Global Training Network (GTN). GTN exists to encourage and equip indigenous pastors from the global church. One day over lunch, Paul invited me to become GTN’s theologian-in-residence, and I said yes.

Same Calling, New Ministry

What will this mean for my work?

I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing, but now with GTN. In addition, Paul asks that I serve as a training catalyst for GTN’s own missionaries, helping them with various theological and contextualization issues they face regularly.

In effect, the Lord has opened a new, expanded ministry opportunity to pursue the same calling I’ve had for 20 years.

Unlike with previous organizations, we will need to raise support. This is a step of faith that we must take. After all, in my opinion, nothing is more strategic than theological training for the global church.

A Theological Famine

Everything the church does stems from its understanding of Scripture. Theological training nourishes the soil for long-term fruitfulness. We want to bear fruit for God’s kingdom that outlasts us for generations to come.

Church leaders in the Majority World are desperate for theological training. Yet so many lack access! While some people attempt to address this issue, so much still needs to be done and improved. For example, …

1. Quality

The lack of credentialed teachers and accredited schools means there is very little quality control regarding what’s taught. Cults pop up everywhere.

2. Contextualization

Indigenous pastors don’t have contextualized theological instruction and resources. Consequently, this encumbers the health and fruitfulness of their ministry.

3. Cross-cultural Missions

Numerous churches want to send missionaries to plant churches among the least-reached peoples of the world, but they can’t do that without training.

What Can We Do?

It’s long been my ambition to help bridge the gap between theologians and practitioners. We need to bring the best of both worlds into conversation so the church’s ministry can be biblically faithful and culturally meaningful.

Once we are fully supported financially, here are three tasks that I’ll focus on.

  • develop contextualized theological training and resources for global churches
  • help missionaries improve their training, especially with contextualization
  • continue building a long-term training program that expands access to theological education for the global church in partnership with global seminaries, Bible colleges, and churches.

At this very moment, until we raise support, I’ve had to put this work on pause.

Become a Partner

Without partnership, none of this work is possible. This is why we need to raise a ministry partnership team who will provide prayer, encouragement, funding, and counsel along the way.

If we want to change the world, …

people have to pray for it.

people have to pay for it.

people have to partner together for it.

Have you or your church benefited from theological training? Will you join our ministry partnership team?

Click here to become a financial supporter and join our prayer team.

To join only our prayer team, click here.

Learn more about Jackson’s resourcespublicationsmedia, and CV.

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