Have you been on a team? Most of us have, perhaps for sports, or an academic or work project.
What was your experience?
Medical Ambassadors International (MAI) deeply believes in collaborating with others in accomplishing God’s work. We believe God’s plan for us all includes partnerships. He wants MAI to be players on his team, and he wants the members on his team to be known for their love for each other.
When I first arrived in Africa in 2005, discussions were already underway with New Covenant Foundation (NCF) in Spokane, Washington, to begin a major series of Community Health Evangelism (CHE) programs in the coffee-growing Gedeo Zone in Southern Ethiopia
NCF had developed warm, trusting relationships with key Christian leaders in Gedeo through its coffee business. They also had learned enough about CHE to believe it would be a great fit for the needs of that region. What NCF did not know was that implementing CHE would require using me to give advice when I had very little field experience at that point.
I did my best to keep Dr. Gil Odendaal, my boss at that time, involved in conference calls, but when planning began in Ethiopia, Gil was diagnosed with tuberculosis and could not travel.
I knew the basic plan of how to start one CHE program at a time. However, the expectations of local churches in Gedeo called for starting CHE outreach programs in over 400 churches in a relatively short time. To make matters worse, no one had much money to pay the key trainers, either in the short or long term, though NCF was willing to raise part of the start-up costs if MAI would provide the training expertise.
When the time came to make final plans, the two key people in the room with me were an Ethiopian denominational leader, Werku Golle, and the New Covenant Foundation planner, Buck Frymier. Werku knew the limits of what was possible in Gedeo, and Buck knew that without plans upfront for transferring financial responsibility, the funding of the CHE programs would stay with Westerners until those programs died.
I proposed one unworkable idea after another. The three of us needed to come up with an idea together; we needed teamwork. The final design called for a transition to total self-funding over a six-year period. This forced both low-cost objectives for community development and high use of volunteers.
The local denominational leaders, led by Werku Golle, chose twelve trainees as full-time, paid “master trainers.” They also chose a number of others who would work within their own churches as volunteer trainers. These men would be taught by experienced Ethiopian MAI staff who would also continue to supervise and mentor them.
One of those chosen to be a volunteer was also named Werku, so we called him “Little Werku.” Werku Worera was clearly more gifted and eager than many of those chosen as fulltime workers. He had excelled as an evangelist among an isolated Ethiopian tribe, but he had less formal education than the others chosen for paid positions.
God solved this dilemma for us when one of the selected full-time trainers suddenly resigned. “Little Werku” stepped into his place. The churches “Little Werku” trained did so well they set the standard for CHE programs in all the other churches.
When all the other churches copied “Little Werku’s” model, latrines were dug, water sources were cleaned up, new roads were built and families learned new ways to stay healthy such as washing their hands or sterilizing their dishes in the sun.
As neighbors visited neighbors with these fresh ideas, they also shared God’s good news. New disciples of Jesus by the thousands began to mature in their walk with Christ. In time over 300 churches were involved, and the process is still spreading.
None of this would have happened without partnership; MAI teamed up with New Covenant Foundation, the Ethiopian church leader, and of course “Little Werku.” Many people had a part in the team’s success including those that pray and financially support the work of MAI.
I am sure partnership is a natural result of the love for each other that Jesus commanded in John 13:34-35 (NIV)
We know God has called us at MAI to love the people we serve. But he has also called MAI to love the other organizations with whom we serve, such as New Covenant Foundation.
With whom is God calling you to serve? Are you part of a team?
Working alongside the “Werkus” of the world at the village level has been a major source of joy for me personally, as I’m sure it would be for you.
The more effective God makes MAI’s many partnerships, the more we need individuals like you to stand with us. Your ongoing encouragement through your support means more than words can express. You are a valued link in the chain between all the partners around the world. Thank you so much for your faithful gifts to MAI. Great is your reward in heaven and many are the accomplishments that have been made because of your support.
There are other ways you can partner with MAI along with your gracious support. Here are three:
If you are not already a member of the monthly prayer team would you consider joining this group? You will be sent an insiders’ list of prayer requests monthly. We can mail it or email it to you. Your choice.
Be an ambassador for MAI. It’s so simple. Are you on Facebook? Be our friend and then like, comment, and share the MAI posts for your friends. Be an MAI Facebook team member.
Recommend us to your friends. MAI depends on God to use his people to support the work he has called us all to do.
Please take a moment to consider if there is a new part on the team God may be encouraging you to take.
I will give generously for:
We appreciate your prayer and financial support. Without you as a member of the team, this ministry would not be possible.