Singapore

One of the things that I appreciate about working for the Wycliffe Global Alliance, is the recognition that my family gets for the part that they play in me being able to do what I do. It’s tough for them, as they are the ones that get left behind when I get on a plane and fly off to meet people for different meetings.

To show love towards them and to recognise that, in enabling me to do what I do, they are a part of this team too, the Alliance has an annual Leadership Retreat. A time to refresh in the company of colleagues and their families.

Prior family in the Botanical Gardens, Singapore

Now, we are a little unique in this team. Most of the other families, in this context, comprise husband and wife. Where there are still children at home, they usually have to stay behind because of school. But our two are pre-school, so we got to take Amy and Sophie to Singapore for this year’s Retreat.

Prior family at the southernmost point of continental Asia, Sentosa Island, Singapore

We had three days of holiday before the main gathering. A chance to get over jet-lag and allow the family to acclimatise. We had a couple of early morning walks, made more bearable by the warmth of Singapore at 3 am, and the safety of the city. The kids spent part of every day in the hotel swimming pool, and we visited Sentosa Island, twice. Enjoying the beaches, waterparks, visiting a giant aquarium and riding on the cable car.

Then it was off to a different hotel, out of the city, to join my colleagues and get to know them a little better. We had some formal presentations, but mostly we had time to share, reflect, catch up and pray for one another.

Kirk Franklin, Executive Director, Wycliffe Global Alliance, presenting at the Alliance Leaders Retreat – February 2017

It was a little different doing this kind of thing with kids in tow. They did brilliantly at playing by themselves while we adults sat talking around tables. Tany and I, along with another parent, took turns at taking the kids swimming (the hotel didn’t have a proper pool, but the underused spa tub was big enough for them) for at least some of the day.

It was a wonderful week all round, and especially good for Amy. She now has an idea of what it’s like when I go away to work. My colleagues also have a better idea of the chaos we have at this stage of life, and how we are trying to balance work, raising the kids and functioning as a family.

One prayer, that I keep reflecting on, is that this journey God is taking us on with Wycliffe would inspire Amy and Sophie to grow up following God where ever it may lead them, rather than hating everything to do with faith.

The kids at the hotel window, Singapore

You can see more images from our trip in this Google album.

Alliance Communications Team meetings

This is my team. Well, most of them, plus some invited guests.

We spent a week together at a hotel in Bangkok getting to know each other and discussing the way we are going to work in the future.

The agenda I planned for the week had two simple objectives, for the team to understand who we are and then to work out what this means for the way we work.

Some basics about who we are

I’ve been working in the communications industry for more than 12 years now. A core element of communications is to know inside out the organisation/cause/thing you are trying to represent.

It works like this:

I’m a Christian. I believe in God, his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I believe Jesus died, and rose again, paying the penalty that was due for me and others, and as a result, I have a new life, freedom, joy, hope, that goes with me every day. That’s a huge claim and it has, as it should do, an impact on the way I live my life. It changes the way I treat others and this world. It motivates me to do things I wouldn’t automatically choose to do and stops me from making other choices that don’t fit with what I believe.

What I believe impacts what I do, how I act, the way I live.

As does being a fan of Liverpool Football Club. Yes, I’m a red, and as a consequence, I believe that the only right result in a game where Liverpool are playing is for Liverpool to win. I think that footballing order will be restored when Liverpool are, once again, sitting at the top of the table and European Championships (even if they are a shadow of the original European Cup) return to Merseyside.

As a result, I don’t cheer so much for other football teams, and it’s a rare weekend when you’ll find me rejoicing over a Manchester United, or Everton win.

What I believe impacts what I do, how I act and the way I live.

The same happens in communications work. If we know and understand the core of what we are trying to represent – in our case, theWycliffe Global Alliance – then it will automatically come out in what we do, how we act and the way we live.

So, we spent the week looking at the core elements of what it means to be part of the Alliance.

What it means for our work

Of course, all this theory means nothing if we can’t work out how it applies in practice. To continue the illustration of Jesus, he died for us, so what?

Look at a Bible. The amount of time given over to the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection is pretty tiny. There’s a whole lot of back story and then a whole chunk is given over to telling the story of people working out what it means to follow Jesus.

So, once we’d thought through the core principles, we gave over a chunk of time to discuss what this means for us.

I was surprised by some of the outcomes. People being challenged as much personally about their lives and relationships before even getting down to how they take photographs, write stories and relate to colleagues.

Celebrating and handing over

There were some other things that shaped our week.

Friendships

We’ve never met together as a whole team before. That’s a problem when community and friendship is a core value of your organisation. You can do work via virtual tools, but it’s not so easy to make friends that way.

To address this, we spent time together. On our first day, we spent the afternoon visiting Jim Thompson’s house. We took public transport and walked and talked. It wasn’t so much about the visit, as interesting as that was, but about starting the week getting to know one another.

Celebration

We celebrated too. We aren’t very good at celebrating, instead we are quick to move on to the next thing and keep the production line moving. But, for this week, we took a few minutes to stop and recognise that over the years that this team has been in place some really good work has been done.

On Monday our celebration was with cake. On Friday it was with communion (pictured) as we remembered that our celebration is rooted in the freedom we have because of what Jesus did by dying and paying the price that we should pay.

Handover

The other key element of the week was Susan’s farewell and my greeting.

Susan has been heading up the communications team since it was developed. She’s worked incredibly hard to get this group together and to help them understand the Alliance and the context in which we serve. It was important for her to have the time to say goodbye.

Then I had to say ‘hello’. To set out what I saw as important for us and tell people what it would be like working for me. I want this team to know and understand the Alliance, but we also need to know what it means for our work in the long-term. Beliefs and identity are important for us being able to do our jobs well. They aren’t separate from communications, instead, they are the core elements that inform all we do.

Twitter connections

Last week I was hanging out in London, meeting with mission leaders who face challenges in how to communicate about their work and using Twitter to pass comment on the local skyline.

My observations lead to the following conversation…

I was genuinely interested in visiting The Globe Church, having stumbled upon their website a few months back. I was curious to see what a church plant, close to the centre of London, was like. They’ve only been around for a year or so.

I wasn’t disappointed. The evening meeting was busy with a crowd of what looked like, young professional people from across the city. There was food, good conversation, and I was given a few minutes to share something about Bible translation, which was kind of them considering I was just a random visitor.

The most exciting thing, for me, aside from seeing a young church plant in action, were the conversations we had around the table. Praying for the places where people work and the small office Christian gatherings that were happening and for one person to have the opportunity to talk to her colleague about her faith, as they were both away from home on a training week. Honestly, the missional zeal for what was going on in the city was energising and I loved it.

Thanks, people of The Globe Church, that was a great evening.

A new blog

Time for a new blog.

Not out of choice exactly. The one I’ve been writing for the last 10+ years disappeared in the move from one host to another, and I wasn’t quick enough at rectifying the error. Oh well, it’s annoying but not the worst thing to happen.

Having to start again is a bit like getting a new school workbook. All the scrapes, tears and errors of the past have been erased and I get the chance to start making a new mess.