As aging Americans increasingly grapple with dementia, churches have a growing opportunity to minister to exhausted caregivers and to comfort the forgetful
I used to think that nothing brought me more delight than to hear someone respond to a story or column in WORLD by saying quite simply, “I didn’t know that.” Now I know I was much too easily satisfied. Real gratification comes, I’ve discovered, when someone reads, reflects, agrees—and then, as a result, changes his or her behavior in a significant manner.
Thirteen years ago, I used this space to introduce you to my friend Scott Brinkerhoff. I used him as an example of someone who had taken seriously what he read in WORLD about the needs of widows and orphans in Africa. Scott had for 28 years been a teacher and athletic director at a Christian school. Now, at 52, he was a widower looking earnestly for his next assignment somewhere in God’s kingdom. Energetically and sacrificially, he responded to those needs.
I come back to Scott Brinkerhoff now not because his story offers a magnificent and victorious ending. I come back instead because, from a human point of view, the story’s outcome is so much in doubt.
The qualifications are tough. No medical conditions. No obesity. Ready for 100 degrees in the afternoon shade.
Scott spent many months exploring the details of where he might best serve. After reading in WORLD about a ministry in South Africa, he committed himself to a difficult term there. But it wasn’t a good fit, so he moved north to focus on needs in Uganda. There he learned of a tiny mission outreach on the northwestern side of South Sudan. Two or three families had banded together under the title of “Cush for Christ,” investing several years into planting a handful of small churches. They wanted Scott’s help in launching a radio station, and then a school—both of which seemed strategically necessary to strengthen the churches. He could help widows and orphans along the way. And he could build his own little tin cabin—as mosquito-proof and monkey-proof and snake-proof as possible.
Scott had never in his life touched a task having to do with radio. But he’s the kind of fellow who thrives on such assignments, and “Weer Bei Radio” (that means “Redemption” in the Dinka language) has now been on the air for 10 years. A weekly climb to the top of the transmitting tower gave him internet contact with us at home.
Next, the school. No plan, no curriculum, no staff, no materials, no blackboards, no building, no tables or desks. And no experience. About 30 students showed up for the first day of school four years ago. Some had no schooling at all behind them; those who had a little became his teaching assistants.
Buoyed by report cards (government issued) that showed the highest possible performance by the students, “Cush for Christ School” entered year two with 50 students, year three with 80, and year four with 130. Last month, 174 students registered for classes. Technically—if you count only those teachers who are professionally qualified—the student/faculty ratio this year is 174-to-1. But Scott spends a good bit of his time tutoring his teachers. “All my teachers are qualified for what they’re doing. That makes the ratio more like 15-to-1.”
So is “Cush for Christ School” a success or a failure? Was Scott Brinkerhoff’s response to the column in WORLD wise or foolish? Is there among WORLD’s members someone ready to spend the rest of 2018 helping this fledgling school in the middle of nowhere get its feet on the ground?
The qualifications are tough, Scott says. This man, woman, or married couple has to be in good physical shape. No medical conditions. No obesity. Ready for 100 degrees in the afternoon shade. An adventuresome eater, ready for an unusual diet. Someone ready to learn quietly and not make a big splash. Spiritually and emotionally strong. Sensitive, but not paralyzed with the “need” to “do something.”
If my statistics are right, 200,000 or 300,000 people will read or hear this unusual job description. Out of all those, the people of South Sudan need only one right now to say, “I’m ready!”
Scott Brinkerhoff didn’t fully know what he was getting into. This person is now fully warned. If you want more details, call, write, or email me.