Posts Tagged ‘dai’

Pastor Realizes His Role in Accomplishing Social Justice

Friday, February 20th, 2015


Pradhan faithfully serves as Pastor for Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Eastern Nepal. Only partway through our workshop series on servant leadership, Pastor Pradhan made drastic lifestyle changes. He shared, “I have learned so many things in the DAI workshops. The most important learning for me is to be a leader after God’s own heart.”

Pastor P.“Now I understand that my responsibility is for the whole creation of God. I used to do lots of bargaining with small vendors like vegetable shopkeepers, rickshaw pullers and so on. Paying less made me think that I was a successful person. Now, I don’t bargain with them anymore, rather I want to help the marginalized poor, working for low wages, who need my help.”

“I have been applying this learning in my life , as it is very important for me. The workshop has changed my leadership style and ministry so much.”

Repairing Forgiveness

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Excerpt taken from Duane Elmer, Cross-Cultural Servanthood, 2006 Intervarsity Press pp. 83-88. Used with permission.

Every relationship experiences times of broken trust. Sometimes it’s minor, such as not showing up on time; sometimes it’s major, such as violating the sanctity of marriage. When trust is broken, most want to repair it, especially if the relationship is important. Only one thing can restore broken trust: forgiveness – forgiveness sought and forgiveness received.

Westerners often transact forgiveness through a verbal exchange. One party says, “I am sorry for what I did (or said); will you forgive me?” The other party usually responds, “I forgive you.” With this brief transaction, the relationship is restored and is free to grow again, assuming both parties are sincere. Based on Matthew 18:15-17, many in the West believe the only way to resolve conflict is through direct confrontation, face-to-face; it’s verbal, one person telling another what he or she has done wrong.

In most parts of the world seeking forgiveness the Western way only makes the situations worse.5

Shame, honor, and saving face are core values in other cultures, and when violated, the relationship usually breaks. Forgiveness will repair the damage, but it must be contextually understood.

Forgiveness in Sudan. A few years ago a colleague and I went to Khartoum, Sudan, to teach on forgiveness. After lunch on the second day, laboring under intense heat and watching that glazed look come across the eyes of these dedicated pastors and church leaders, I decided to take a risk. I had to get them engaged – talking – something that would keep this from becoming a forgettable moment. I asked the group, “How do you do forgiveness?” Several responded matter-of-factly, “We say ‘I’m sorry and will you forgive me?’ Then the other party usually says, ‘I forgive you.’”

2013 - South Sudan - Easter under a shade tree

South Sudan: Celebrating Easter Under a Shade Tree

“Does this work?” I asked. Many shook their heads negatively while others simultaneously uttered no. “What do you mean?” I probed. Now the glazed looks were gone and everyone seemed alive in spite of the smothering heat.

One said, “Well, we say the words but nothing changes.” Others supported his lament. “Where did you learn to do it this way?” I asked. “From people like you, Westerners,” came the quick response. A look of betrayal spread across the eighty faces crammed in a room designed for forty.

“How did your fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers respond to conflict situations?” I inquired, hoping this might prove fruitful. The room erupted in hands shooting up to answer the question. Several told their stories. The one I share was from a person of the Dinka tribe in southern Sudan, though most of the stories had common elements.

The Dinka person, now at the front of the room, began to speak with eloquent passion.

His parents and grandparents did forgiveness differently. To begin, people didn’t try to solve their conflict the way the West does, by face-to-face confrontation, speaking directly about what each other did or did not do. Instead, a mediator would be called in, a person of stature, fairness and discernment. The mediator would go first to one part and try to establish a base of understanding from that person’s perspective. Then he would do the same with the other person.6 The mediator would ask questions and continue this process until he began to sense that one or the other or both wearied of the brokenness and now longed for a restored relationship.

The mediator begins to see changing attitudes and signs of openness, and with these comes the potential for embrace. When he senses the spirit of forgiveness in both parties, he calls for a feast. He delegates each family to bring the various dishes. The party that may have been at greater fault will bring the mean, the “ram,” as the Dinka person described it. A neutral place is designated.

The family bringing the “ram” arrives earlier, builds the fire and begins cooking. The other family arrives and all joyously enter the preparations for a great festival – great because it marks the beginning of a new future, a better future. The mediator arrives, and when all is ready he washes his hands in the gourd of water. Others do the same in descending order of importance, children going last. AS they gather around the food, the mood is celebratory and the families mingle in happiness. Near the end of the meal, after several hours, the mediator stands and moves toward the fire. On the way he picks up the gourd of water, dirtied by so many hands, and pours it over the fire. The mediator turns over the stones on the perimeter of the fire to cover the ashes. Then he gives an admonition: “Let him be accursed who turns over one of these stones again.”

Of course, he is speaking symbolically. The fire represented the conflict that had “burned” and destroyed a valued relationship and alienated families. The water represented the forgiveness that emerged in their hearts and replaced the fire of conflict. The stones rolled over to cover the smoldering ashes symbolized the finality of forgiveness; we are not to dig up the old hurts and revisit them. Forgiveness means we never go there again.

In the West forgiveness is a verbal exchange. In the majority of the world, forgiveness is an attitudinal and behavioral change usually by celebration with food. Nearly always the outcome is reconciled relationships that function effectively, often better than before the broken trust.

What a beautiful picture of forgiveness from the Dinka tribe. It reminds me of our great Mediator, Jesus Christ, who restored our relationships with himself and our relationships with each other removing all our guilt and shame so that in reconciliation our relationships would be stronger than before. And it also reminds me of the communion feast, breaking bread in celebration of our forgiveness and reconciliation.

  1. See Cross Cultural Conflict, where I deal with handling conflict at length.
  2. Most mediators in this context would be men.

Author: Dr. Duane H. Elmer (Ph.D., Michigan State U.) is director of the Ph.D. program in educational studies and is the G. W. Aldeen Chair of International Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. In addition to traveling and teaching in over 75 countries, he has provided cross-cultural training to Fortune 500 companies, relief and development agencies, mission organizations, churches and educational institutions. 


What Happens to a Dream Deferred?

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

This poem by Langston Hughes reminded me of the deferred dream of Caleb in the Old Testament. I cannot imagine a better example of a dreamer.

Most often we think of Caleb as one of the 12 spies who secretly explored Canaan and returned with the report that it was an exceedingly good land, and with God’s protection there was no reason not to take it in spite of the giants.

However, out of fear (and as a result of 10 other spies filing a false report), the people demanded new leadership that would take them backwards to what was familiar. And then worse, they voted unanimously to stone Joshua and Caleb to death.

How does Caleb react to the rejection of his report? Does he strike off on his own and wash his hands of Israel? Does he become a burr under the saddle and a cynical critic constantly reminding them of their failure to risk? Does he stir up a revolution?

God said Caleb “has a different spirit and has followed me fully…”

It’s easy to skip ahead 45 years and see Caleb as the old man of 85 who has never forgotten the dream of taking down giants. Waiting until everyone else has been assigned their land, Caleb reminds Joshua of the promise of Hebron to his family: “I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then.”

These are the images we most often have of Caleb. First, the young spy and then the old man as giant killer. But for me, the characteristic of Caleb I most admire is illustrated by the long time in between those two events. Forty-five years.

His life is one of unyielding fidelity – the essence of his different spirit and what it meant to follow fully. Caleb is faithful not only to God but also to unfaithful people.

He wanders with the Israelites for the better part of his life in total obscurity, and he is never mentioned again for the 40 years they are in the wilderness. He fights their battles and puts up with their complaints, their grumbling, their cowardice, their rebellions and faithlessness. Caleb watches a whole generation needlessly die from disease, mass catastrophe and monumental losses. But he stays. He shares their punishment. He is always faithful.

To be faithful is often a long time wandering with fearful, angry and unpleasant people who would rather see you dead – but you do it anyway. In a way, Caleb’s sentence is worse than theirs because the Israelites deserved it. He lived with the dream of one day killing giants while they lived the rest of their lives content with failure and longing for what used to be.

Nobody stays with such losers – but Caleb did. Nobody sacrifices their future for this, but Caleb did because he had a different spirit. It was a spirit that enabled him not only to be unafraid of the consequences of telling the truth or having the courage to ask for the hardest assignments. It was the spirit that allowed him the freedom from the fear of wasting his life on undeserving people. For me, that is what is most remarkable about him.

Is this right for everyone to stay and defer the dream? No. Caleb is not an example for many.  These people are rare and few are called to it.

Still, there are times in life when the dream is deferred but we do our duty – and we wait. Not in resentment, bitterness and regret but in knowing what lies ahead. I have found that fear is usually the reason we choose not to wait on God. Not fear of giants or critics but the fear of wasting our lives.

For some, the real battle is not in telling the truth or conquering giants but in staying faithful in the wilderness, staying focused for decades on “the land is good and the Lord is with us.” Caleb didn’t forget his dream or give it up. He lived a true life.


Author: Fred Smith is a graduate of Denver University and Harvard Divinity School. Fred served as the President of Leadership Network for 12 years. Currently, Fred is the President of The Gathering, an international association of individuals, families and foundations giving to Christian ministries. You can read more from Fred at his blog.

This blog post was originally published here, under the name Semper Fi. It is used with permission.

Measuring Success: What We Found

Friday, January 30th, 2015

UGANDA-2014.11-Turinawe Emmanuel grad (1)The results of the MAOL 10 Year Impact Study are in.

The study allowed DAI the wonderful opportunity to talk at length with alumni, current students, partner university staff and DAI staff across Africa and Asia. They discussed all aspects of the program including faculty, residencies, curricular content and program structure. The responses were overwhelmingly positive in every respect. Here’s the top three:

  1. Students agreed that the faculty are not only quality facilitators in the classrooms, but also model the values being taught.
  2. Students were very positive about the quality and impact of the curriculum. Many became animated as they talked about how this or that particular course transformed their thinking and their lives.
  3. Students believed strongly that the program effectively shaped their character. For example, the idea of servant leadership was commonly cited as a transformative concept, impacting how they treated others. The Spiritual Formation course was also commonly mentioned as having a deep impact on students’ spiritual lives.

The study also revealed opportunities for DAI to improve the quality of the MAOL program in its next decade of operation.

  1. Students are in need of more intensive coaching and support during the thesis stage to ensure they experience the joy of graduation.
  2. We need to more actively assist university partners in the recruitment process to ensure adequate numbers of well-qualified students (Christians with at least 5 years of leadership experience).
  3. The structure for sharing MAOL costs between DAI, university partners and students needs to be reevaluated in each country to ensure affordability for all and sustainability for the future.

DAI staff will want great discernment as we seek to meet the needs of future students in our next decade of operation. Please pray for us as we creatively navigate the opportunities that lie ahead.

Thank you for supporting the MAOL program in 2014 as we were celebrating 10 years of community transformation through MAOL students, such as Richard and Eva. We look forward to the next party in 2024.


Jim Gieser ThumbnailAuthor: Dr. Jim Gieser, Director of the MAOL Program, joined DAI in 2013. Jim manages the enrollment process, curriculum development, academic partnership development and faculty recruitment and training. His new eyes and fresh perspectives are wonderful additions to the MAOL team during their 10 year evaluation process. Jim holds three graduate level degrees the highest being a Doctorate of Education. He has lived and worked in Germany and South Africa.

Influence and Power

Friday, January 23rd, 2015


“Do you think it is possible to have a good leader, someone who will do something besides line their own pockets, expect to be served and not questioned, and control others in the search for more and more power?” This question was recently posed to Jane, a friend and colleague, while on recent trip to West Africa.

How would you answer this question? Do you believe it is possible to have leaders who are righteous and have integrity? Who are servants? Who invite discussion? Who release people into their potential rather than try to control them? Who give away power rather than collect it?

Jane responded to this question by saying, “It is possible, but it would probably have to be a follower of Jesus who has the character and integrity to withstand the pressures of corruption long enough to make a lasting change.”

The African leaders were silent for a while, and then engaged in a conversation where they asked difficult questions. How would each of them respond if given lots of power? Could they withstand the temptations that come with power? Would they be any different than the leaders they had now?

The question these African leaders asked goes to the core of the issue. At the heart of leadership is influence – in fact the primary function of a Christian leader is to influence a group of people to accomplish God’s purposes for that group.

Influence is the application of power. There are many ways to influence. Some are godly – some are not.

Think about your leadership. How do you apply power? How do you try to influence others? Does your use of influence and power reflect Jesus and Kingdom values?

To further explore the issue of influence and power in leadership, read this post: Danger Power at Work.


Karl Mueller (2) - Copy (270x270)Author: Karl Mueller, DAI Senior Consultant for Church and Leadership Services, strengthens international partnerships between ministries around the world and churches in the USA. He joined DAI in 2014 and brings with him 35 years of ministry experience. Karl serves on the boards of African Leadership And Reconciliation Ministries (ALARM) and Community Health Evangelism (CHE).



Danger Power At Work

Monday, January 19th, 2015

PowerAtWorkI recently had lunch with Bill. A few years ago he had been asked to serve on the Board of Directors of a large Christian non-profit working with the poor in an American city. He was the only non-Christian and only non-business leader on the Board. As we talked he shared with me how several of the board members were manipulating their position of influence for their own financial gain. When he confronted them, he was asked to resign.

At the heart of leadership is influence and the power that enables the leader to influence others.

Power comes with the job. Leaders have the power to influence (and often determine) what should be done, how it is done, when it is done, and who will do it.

It is exhilarating stuff – even on a small scale. Power boosts the ego. The leader makes a decision and others implement that decision. The larger the organization, the more people are impacted by the decisions of the leader.

As a leader’s power grows, so does the subtle (and not so subtle) temptation to abuse it.

Privileges come with a rise in status and power. At the beginning leaders are grateful for these privileges, but the temptation to expect these privileges comes quickly. From starting out as a humble servant, the temptation is there to become the abusive boss who expects privilege and obedience.

Power is as dangerous as unstable dynamite – not only to those it is used on, but also to those who exercise it.

Lord Acton, the British statesman is remembered for saying “All power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

History – including Christian history – is littered with the evidence that proves the accuracy of this statement.

The great majority of Christian leaders begin with the best of intentions, but over time many have been corrupted and destroyed by the power they wield. Why is this so often the case? How can leaders continue to be humble servants? We will answer these questions in upcoming blogs.


Blog also available at Frontiers USA.

Karl Mueller (2) - Copy (270x270)Author: Karl Mueller, DAI Senior Consultant for Church and Leadership Services, strengthens international partnerships between ministries around the world and churches in the USA. He joined DAI in 2014 and brings with him 35 years of ministry experience. Karl serves on the boards of African Leadership And Reconciliation Ministries (ALARM) and Community Health Evangelism (CHE).

A Gift for You

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Join Us in Celebrating FBTen years ago, Development Associates International (DAI) launched a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL) in Democratic Republic of Congo, India and Uganda. Before the first 80 students found their seats in their respective classrooms, 18 subject experts from around the world spent hundreds of hours writing biblically-based curriculum that DAI hoped would be both practical and transformational.

DAI designed the MAOL and each course by first listening to leaders of the Majority World and then tailoring the education to the issues they face, their working schedule, their desire for practical application and their need to develop critical and creative thinking skills.


As part of the 10 year ‘birthday’ celebration, we want to give you a party favor: a sample of the MAOL workbook for the course Leadership: Making Human Strength Productive. This excerpt takes you through lectures and reflection questions unlocking your leadership abilities and discovering a biblical view of power.





Dr. Raj Kumar Songa, a student in India, says the MAOL was, “…nothing short of a miracle for me.” Dr. Songa was promoted to be the Director of Center for Migration Medicine for the US Consulate and the Australian, British and Canadian High Commissions. He shares further, “I had not applied for a single one of my promotions…I found it overwhelming as a physician skilled in patient care to be thrust into a role requiring a totally different framework of thinking, wisdom, and skill set. My inadequacy was starkly evident in the context of management. Then along came DAI with its robust course – which seemed to be tailor made for my needs. It is amazingly timely! With DAI I’m ‘required’ to craft, execute, and evaluate program strategy. WITHOUT THESE SKILLS I WOULD NOT BE SUCCEEDING!

The MAOL is about transformed leaders transforming their communities. Eva Mulema, who is the Chief of Party for USAID Governance Accountability Participation and an MAOL graduate in Uganda, says the program both changed her and has great potential to transform communities. Eva explains, “We work in an area where there is a lot of cynicism and corruption…We kept saying how [the MAOL] is so good. IF ALL THE LEADERS COULD HAVE THIS, IT WOULD REALLY TRANSFORM THE COMMUNITIES WE LEAD.

Eva shares more in a video located at

Thank you for joining with us to celebrate the growth and the success of the MAOL, as well as the transformed leadership of Dr. Songa and Eva and many others.




Investing in One, Impacts Many

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Investing in One edited

I grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a community where most families live below the poverty line. In many cases, parents have to choose who goes to school. Political instability combined with civil wars and a high level of poverty make it difficult for parents to pay for a proper degree. In my own experience, I was only able to complete high school.

Through the generous giving of missionaries, I was able to complete graduate studies in Congo and a PhD in Pastoral Theology in South Africa. I usually refer to myself as a “Mission Kid.” Matthew 25:31-46 comes to my mind in connection to donors who have been so faithful to the Lord. The scripture concerns the last judgment where faithful ‘donors’ will be rewarded for “whatever they do for one of the least of these brothers…”

This also applies to DAI in Francophone Africa. Because of financial support from donors, we celebrate the French-speaking MAOL growing from one country to eight and from one university to nine in just 10 years.

When the MAOL started in 2004, I was working as Academic Dean/Provost of Katanga Methodist University. A group of staff members, myself included, tried some of the DAI courses before offering the program at our university. The sample alone blessed me!

The courses have transformed lives and improved ways of leading. For example, two former government Ministers in Central African Republic expressed how happy they were to strengthen their leadership skills and to openly reflect with classmates on what went wrong while they led the country.

Another of the many examples comes from the Vice-Chair of Senate in Burundi. I supervised his thesis this year in which he evaluated the political leadership in his country with a view to build effective leadership. This thesis was highly valued and well received during his public defense of it.

I strongly believe that God is actively at work through DAI in Francophone Africa and I look forward to the next 10 years of the MAOL.


Author: Dr. Jean-Marie NkongeJean-Marie Thumbnail, is the DAI Senior Consultant for Formal Education in Francophone Africa. Since 2007 Dr. Nkonge has provided expert oversight of the operation and expansion of the MAOL program in French-speaking Africa. He also serves on the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

Growing Leaders at Kira Farm

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Kira Farm

In the green hills not far from Kampala, the capital of Uganda, lies the Kira Farm Youth Development Project. Kira Farm provides practical training and education to at-risk youth via a working farm, guesthouse, carpentry and hair-dressing trade schools, all rolled into one. Overseeing the entire operation is Richard Kibuuka, a 2012 MAOL graduate.

DAI recently talked with Richard about his experience in the MAOL. He shared how the program made a direct impact on his leadership skills. “I have more belief in my leadership capacity than ever before,” he says.

“I believe the MAOL program built my capacity for leadership…in a growing international NGO…by using approaches that enable the people I lead to become the people God created them to be, and therefore be [more] effective in His vineyard.”

Richard spoke about the classes that were especially useful to his role, such as Conflict Management and Resolution. He explains, “We have many young people who come with issues and scars, and they transfer those scars to this environment.” What he learned about conflict management helped him compassionately and effectively serve the young people at Kira Farm. Meanwhile, other courses in the program enhanced Richard’s skills in strategic planning, teaching and mentoring.

Richard’s spiritual life deepened as well. The Spiritual Formation course “…was a year that transformed my life,” he said. “Previously, I used to think of spiritual formation as something that just happened,” but through the course, Richard learned that spiritual growth requires forethought and intentionality.

The MAOL equipped Richard to be a more effective and astute leader of Kira Farm’s many activities, enabling him to safeguard the Farm’s influence on future generations of Ugandan youth.


Richard Thumb

Richard participated in the evaluation of DAI’s Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL) program. DAI is so grateful to Richard and everyone else who shared honestly about their experience as students, professors and coordinators of this multinational graduate degree. To read more about the MAOL 10 year evaluation, read this post: Measuring Success: The MAOL at 10 Years.

What Are We Measuring?

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Graduates editedAlthough experimental measurements in a spotless laboratory are out, there are a number of other methods by which to evaluate an academic program. In order to better understand the long-term impact of the MAOL, this summer we conducted in-depth qualitative interviews and focus groups with alumni, thesis-stage students, DAI staff and academic partner staff. For each group, we devised a set of standard questions about key aspects of the program that guided our interviews.

What did we want to know? At its most basic, we wanted to uncover what’s working and what needs improvement. Below is a sampling of the questions we used to get at this information.

For students:

  1. What would you say are the primary strengths of the program?
  2. What challenges are you experiencing in your job that you wish had been addressed – or addressed more thoroughly – during your MAOL program?
  3. What were some of the best educational practices you experienced? Which ones were not so effective?
  4. Did the MAOL help you grow in your spiritual life? If so, in what ways?

For staff:

  1. What are the greatest strengths of the MAOL in your location? What do you think is missing? What would you want more of?
  2. Imagine a time when the partnership between you and DAI is operating really effectively. Can you describe what that relationship would look like?
  3. If you were to recreate the MAOL for future cohorts of students, what would you do?

See Also: Measuring Success: The MAOL at 10 Years


Jim Gieser ThumbnailAuthor: Dr. Jim Gieser, Director of the MAOL Program, joined DAI in 2013. Jim manages the enrollment process, curriculum development, academic partnership development and faculty recruitment and training. His new eyes and fresh perspectives are wonderful additions to the MAOL team during their 10 year evaluation process. Jim holds three graduate level degrees the highest being a Doctorate of Education. He has lived and worked in Germany and South Africa.