The one thing Solomon asked for when he could have asked for anything imaginable was for God to give him wisdom. Proverbs 9:10 tells us “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” God has given us his word as one way of finding wisdom; he has also given us each other. The people who impact our lives the most are usually those who share their wisdom with us. They help reveal God to us in new ways, they help us see the world in a different light, they help us grow and mature as believers. Edify is blessed by the wisdom of many people; partners, clients, employees, board members, etc. One man who stands out among them is Luis Sena. Señor Sena oversees the Esperanza-Edify program in the Dominican Republic. He has been working in international development for over 20 years and I have had the opportunity to spend the past six months working alongside him and learning from the wisdom he shares. Even in this short amount of time Luis has opened my eyes up to better understand the Dominican culture, international development and what it means to truly live out the gospel.
As a partner, Esperanza has been a blessing to Edify. Their commitment to the gospel and to spiritual transformation is apparent throughout their programs, departments, and leadership. Along the way I have written down some of Luis Sena’s words and compiled some of the thoughts revolving around spiritual transformation and international development together to share with you.
I have learned that one of the main challenges of true spiritual transformation is that it doesn’t occur in some spiritual compartment separate from the rest of our lives. Rather, it requires a complete restructuring of who we are, of how we see the world, and of how we live, which most people are not willing to embrace. True spiritual transformation requires a change not only in our worldview, which is very important, but in our practices as well; not just what we say, but how we live. Luis is often talking about the issue of dualism that we face today, and he encourages us not to view our spirituality as a separate piece of life’s puzzle. We shouldn’t view our organizations as being part microfinance here and part spiritual transformation there, rather we need to put all of who we are in a blender and mix spiritual transformation into everything we do, it should be apparent in all aspects of who we are as an organization. Luis reminds us that spiritual transformation is just not part of a program to be implemented; it is already taking place because God is present. Luis encourages us to acknowledge God’s presence and join in. One example for instance, is that spiritual transformation should start at the core of our relationships. We should be asking ourselves what do our relationships with partners look like? How are our agreements written? How do we view our supporters and our clients? How do we view capital and who do we see as the “owner” of that capital? Is it the supporters who give financially or is it God who owns it? Not only that but how do we define capital? Is it money alone, or do we also acknowledge other forms of capital: spiritual, intellectual, human capital, etc.?
Not enough of these questions can be asked in one blog post, perhaps not in the next two years, or even in this life. The challenge, like Luis said is the restructuring. Isaiah reminds us “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8) I appreciate the ways Luis pushes people to think more profoundly about things, to search the Bible for answers, to live out the gospel in all that we do. He asks hard questions, such as, are we living like clay; are we being molded and restructured by God, or are we calling the shots? I hope these thoughts and questions challenge you just as they do me. I pray that we all continue to seek God’s truth and wisdom in this life because no matter how much we learn or attain there will always be a new lesson tomorrow. Living here gives me the opportunity to witness the wonderful impact being made in the lives of directors, teachers, and students in the schools we work with. Apart from that, I am also moved by the ways I can see the people around me both within Edify and also within our partner organizations seeking God and his truth. To see this genuine commitment is one of the many things that gives me confidence in the work Edify is doing. I know at the core of it all our hope is to know God and his goodness and to live differently because of it.