Thursday, March 27, 2014

24 March 2014

Last week we told some about the training we received concerning the principles of self-reliance while in Johannesburg. At a point in the program, the instructors videoed an interview they had with each of the missionary couples and provided them with a copy of it. As we reviewed that interview video, we thought it may be of interest to others to hear us express our feelings about the work that we do. Of course, we were restricted by the clock and therefore, were not able to share but one example of the successes we have had of helping others develop the ability to become self-reliant. Fortunately, we have had many more and are grateful for the opportunity to be part of this work.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

13 March 2014

I think I have mentioned before that the number one challenge for this country’s government and the Church is the unemployment of the people here. Hence, the Church is constantly reviewing methods and holding training seminars on how to address this problem. This past week we were asked to travel to Johannesburg to attend such a seminar that lasted from Monday through Friday. The seminar was enlightening and educational. However, in many ways, it pointed out that the only ones that can help the unemployed are themselves. By that I mean that if the individuals are determined and willing to put forth the effort to be self-reliant, the resources are available for them to do so.
There is a principle called “The Cycle of Self-Defeat” that is prevalent among the chronically unemployed. Contained in this principle is the “Perception of Limited Resources”, the “Perception of Limited Education”, the “Perception of Limited Skills”, and the “Perception of Limited Employment”.  However, these perceptions are all false; none of them are true for the individual who knows who they are and has the determination to succeed. The indoctrination of these precepts has been handed down from parent to child for generations – they are perpetual. Therefore, to breakout of this mind-set requires a total retooling of the way an individual thinks. In the workshops, we begin by helping them to understand who they really are – that they are a child of God and as such they have all the resources that are required to succeed. All they have to is to exercise the freedom to choose that He has given them to utilize the resources, talents and skills He has given them.
As an example of this reality, 8 unemployed individuals (men and women) were asked to participate in an exercise to search for employment. They all had to sign an agreement to preform daily assignments or they were not allowed to participate. The agreement required that they begin each day by dressing as if they were ready for an interview and attending a meeting that began at 8:00. At that meeting they are required to report on what they accomplished on their previous day’s assignments which where to 1) identify 15 new resources (people or places to contact), 2) make 10 contacts (from their list of resources), and 3) set up at least 2 face-to-face meetings or interviews.  The group then discussed together any obstacles they encountered and what they could do to overcome them.  
So the first day they met with their group facilitator and went through their agreement and assignments for that day. The next day they came back to report back on what they accomplished and we were are all amazed. Out of the eight people participating in the exercise, 1 of them came back with a job offer and 2 of them reported that they had job interviews lined up. The remaining 5 had all identified numerous contacts who they would contact to try to solicit an interview.
Statistically, it takes an individual approximately 230 days to get a job in Johannesburg. However, those that participate in the Career Workshop will get a job in an average of 90 to 100 days. But the big surprise was to learn that those who participated in the exercise described above secure a job in 30-35 days which emphasizes the point that if an individual is determined and prepared he or she can become self-reliant.
The key then to success, is determination, preparedness, and the utilization of  the resources the Lord has given each of us. However, generations of unemployment breeds laziness, apathy, complacency and indifference. The government, in an attempt to take care of the poor and needy and the unemployed (not necessarily the same people), introduces them to a dole system which provides them the necessities of life (and in many cases, more than the necessities) without requiring them to do anything to earn it. The dole system then becomes an entitlement, both in the eyes of the giver and receiver. As a result, those who lack vision of the Lord’s resources and His desire for them, become content with life as they know it. On the other hand, those who have a brighter light, or in whom it can be illuminated, begin reaching beyond their circumstances and environment to grasp a far better life. We have included a couple of short videos that demonstrate how people have recognized their resources and become self-reliant; hope you enjoy them. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

2 March 2014

This week has been one of more training individuals to be better prepared to gain employment. However, this was one group that was different than the rest in many ways which is the basis of this weeks comments.

The group referred to is pictured below. A quick glance at the group tells the viewer that these are no ordinary individuals. They are all approximately the same age, they are all dressed in a suit and a tie, and their general appearance displays an air of confidence and demeanor. They are, in fact, missionaries who are within six weeks of being released from their missions and will be going back to their home country. 

The other couple are Senior Missionaries serving in the area where we held the training.

 This release brings with it a mixture of emotions to them (and to those with whom they have served). Some will be going back home to parents and siblings; a home that has security, love and solidarity. They look forward to going to school and beginning a family. The environment they return to is one of peace and tranquility conducive to being able to do these things. However, for others, what they have to look forward to could not be more opposite. They have no parents, and in some cases, no siblings to greet them at the airport or, more than likely, bus station. The environment they will be returning to is one of tin shacks with no running water or any other “modern conveniences” we are accustomed to. The chances of finding employment is dismal. Even worse, some are faced with going back to a war-torn country where fighting and instability is a way of life.

The emotion strings for each of them get strung tight as they reflect on the two years they have been free from the cares of the world. During this time, they have always had a comfortable place to come home to each night and there has not been a day go by when they have not had plenty to eat. Those they have associated with each day have strengthened them in their resolve to serve the Lord – that has been their only concern for two years and they have enjoyed it – loved it and each will be saddened to leave it behind regardless of what they have to return home to.

As we worked with them in class, we immediately understood that they were a cut above the others we have taught. Their ability to grasp and incorporate concepts and principles is quick and perceptive. They quickly understand how they will be able to utilize the training to be better prepared to be competitive in an environment that does not hesitate to trample upon the weak and indecisive. As the class ended, they were still grasping for more knowledge as if there is only information famine to greet them beyond the classroom.

As they departed, we greeted them with a firm handshake and wished them well. However, in our hearts we weep a little as we consider what lies ahead of them as they return to a world of challenges which are unconquerable to those who are not prepared.