Little did I know when I went to Bangladesh as an eight year old missionary kid – fifty years ago this month – that my preparation for future leadership roles had begun. It shouldn’t be a surprise to any of us that God is orchestrating our lives in such a way that his will is accomplished. But God does surprise us, as Jesus surprised Peter, Andrew, James, and John when he walked up to them and called them to follow. They obeyed Jesus’ call when they heard it, but it was no surprise to God.
I started my MA in Intercultural Studies with Fuller while serving as the Executive Director of WMPL’s LAMB Hospital in Bangladesh in the mid-1990s. One of my courses was Lifelong Development, a course developed by Dr. Bobby Clinton, who was recognized as a leadership development expert. His book The Making of a Leader (2006) used much of the material from our course and was transformational for my development. As I look back at the various stages of my life, from my parents Ed and Karen Scott’s decision to answer God’s call to Bangladesh to my latter professional career with YWAM, Habitat for Humanity International in the Asia Pacific region, USAID in Afghanistan, then back with LAMB Hospital, and now at the WMPL Home Office, I see how God has been meticulously orchestrating events as my wife Lois and I walk in obedience to him. Many times, we see he opens doors despite us and our weaknesses to prove that it is he who is doing the work by choosing us in his mission. It’s not about us; I’m eternally grateful for his grace.
Last month, Paul Gossman and I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya to visit our workers serving there. I was very grateful to learn from Paul’s expertise in missiology and his vast historical and contextual knowledge. We were blessed by seeing firsthand the work among the Samburu and the sacrificial efforts of our workers to get the Word of God to the illiterate tribal people and others who have not yet heard the gospel’s Good News.
While in Northern Kenya, I excitedly woke up early on my birthday to witness a ceremony that occurs every 14 or 15 years when Samburu boys become warriors. It was enlightening and colorful, from the ornaments, clothing, headdresses, chanting, and dancing.
In his book Transforming Worldviews: An Anthropological View on How People Change (2008), Dr. Paul Hiebert (anthropologist and missiologist) speaks of “Rites of Passage,” which are essential rituals in all cultures in some way or another. He states, “Without living rituals, we have no appropriate ways to affirm our deepest beliefs, feelings, and morals, which lead to new lives and a new community and the world.”
It was a privilege to witness this rite of passage, which was a cultural first for me. It made me think of other rites of passage in my own life, such as my decision to be a disciple of Jesus at an early age, my confirmation declaration, my commissioning in missions, and my marriage to Lois, my fellow missionary kid and helpmate, that propelled us into a life of cross-cultural ministry in Asia. I was also reminded of the importance of gaining knowledge and perspective in preparation for what God has for us. I was thankful for the chance to study Intercultural Studies and Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary to understand some of the cultural nuances in front of me. My learning before and during the trip to Kenya was significantly enhanced by our WMPL workers and believers there.
Upon our return from Kenya, I was excited to participate in another type of ‘rite of passage’ when our new Discipleship House residents were commissioned at an event in our Mission Home in Minneapolis. We provided an opportunity for each participant, including those being commissioned and those who will participate in our shared community of faith and mission, to affirm our most profound beliefs as they relate to knowing Jesus, prayer, living commissioned lives, and making him known as part of the Great Commission.
Lois and I will participate in another rite of passage as I am installed on Sunday, October 8 at Trinity Lutheran Church of Minnehaha Falls at 7 pm. We’d be honored to have you present for that time of dedication. We are also grateful that Vision of Glory Lutheran Church in Plymouth will host our commissioning on Sunday, October 15!
I understand it is just another phase of much learning and more personal development as a servant and disciple of Christ. As I assume this responsibility that is too great for me alone, even with my wonderfully supportive wife Lois by my side, I praise God for each WMPL worker and member. We ask that you commit to praying that God would use all of us to make lifelong development a personal goal, making the most of every opportunity to develop new knowledge, skills, and attitudes to glorify God in who we are and what he calls us to do together. To God be the Glory!