Yesterday was rather calm. No lemurs jumping on me, no bumpy roads, no long travel day, no night fevers. We went to seminars, we ate dinner, and then went home.
At the seminary, another American who is a missionary in Kenya taught and I was a resource person. His name is Dr. Mark Olander. He is originally from Wisconsin, but spends most of the year in Columbia, South Carolina. He was there because a Malagasy student at the University of South Carolina, Nirandra Randria, met him and invited him. Nirandra is a Fulbright Scholar studying hospitality and tourism and wants to strengthen Madagascar’s eco-tourism when he graduates. He also loves American college football. Even though he is a USC Gamecock fan it was fun to have another SEC fan around and talk football with him. Dr. Olander taught on how to teach. These masters students said they needed the training. Nirandra said the Malagasy church leaders only know and use the lecture method of teaching. Dr. Olander taught that plus many other styles that got students involved in conversations, role playing, debates, and others. Very useful.
Kelly taught at the university this afternoon on risk management and when he was done he and I went to dinner with Pastor Kim to the same Korean restaurant previously attended. Again, the food was great. Pastor Kim had an interesting perspective on the present situation in Madagascar. This country is in crisis. Their economic crisis makes ours look non-existent. It is tough in personal and business finances. Pastor Kim said Korea was just like this 60 years ago and now many consider them a first-world powerhouse. He believes it can happen here. The important part is he is a missionary here and can tell his own country’s story to them directly. There is hope for the future. It occurred to me that the bright, young, and eager faces Kelly and I have seen before us in class are the agents of that hope. Their passion, their ethics, their teaching, and their vision for a better future in every way will reach thousands of people they are and will lead as pastors and teachers. There is hope.
Today, I team taught with one of board members of the new Reformed University of Madagascar, of which Pastor Laurent is the Chairman of the Board. I’m telling you Pastor Laurent is a rock star here…such profound respect. The subject was marketing and the church. Pastor/professor Zaka taught marketing concepts with the “product” to be marketed being the message of Jesus Christ we Christians bear through the church (Pastors Zaka, Laurent, and me are having a panel discussion with students in photo above). I taught the practical ways to apply the marketing approach to church life. Pastor Laurent said of me to the students, “This guy is marketing incarnate.” Between the formal questions in class and the ones asked afterward the subject of the day seemed to be effective and useful.
After the seminar, we had a reception with the leaders of the venue, the Institute for Political Studies of Madagascar. This institute is one of about ten institutes formed by the denomination to build the Reformed University. This is where Kelly has been teaching on business skills all week. I asked Pastor Laurent why he and others wanted to establish this university when there were already others in the country. He said there were four motivations. First, the demand is high. There are more students who want to get an education that spots available for them. Second, it will be a Christian university. This is important because there is such corruption in society that he wants to be able to teach students to be leaders with integrity. Courses on ethics will be required every year. Third, this will be an English-based university. Madagascar is a Francophone country since they were a French colony for 60 years. Many want to lessen the ties to France and strengthen the ties to the English-speaking world. Fourth, this university will be accessible throughout the country. Travel here is difficult and expensive. The approach of the university up front will be to develop multiple campuses throughout the country. This university is also part of the hope for the future here.
Dinner was with Pastor Zaka, his wife, and Pastor Laurent.
Finished prepping for my last seminar tomorrow and heading for bed.
Thinking of you.