Friday, September 28, 2007
THE TOM WADDELL INTERVIEW
Tom and Linda Waddell worked in the Bolivian Diocese for a couple of years as SAMS missionaries, before moving on. They helped us understand the importance of building communities through self help and micro enterprise programmes.
Tom introduced me to the issue of development in missions and got me into the writings of William Easterly. I miss his fellowship in Bolivia. He agreed to do an interview with the Bolivian Beat and so here it is:
1. WHEN & HOW DID YOU BECOME A CHRISTIAN ?
I finally yielded to the “Hound of Heaven” in June 1968 at the age of 23. I had been considering the Christian faith for some time, trying to reconcile what I understood Christianity to be and my training in science. I was sitting in at a youth conference when I was struck by the text: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. Let no man come to the Father except through me.” My eyes and heart were opened. I dedicated my life to Christ. And my life has not been the same since.
2. WHO INFLUENCED YOU IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST? WAS THERE A BOOK WHICH MADE A IMPACT ON YOU?
I was particularly influenced by the work of L’Abri, the ministry of Francis Schaeffer. An individual who had studied there walked along side me as I asked questions and pondered the Christian faith with its implications. The books of Francis Schaeffer (e.g. The God Who is There & Escape from Reason) and C.S. Lewis, especially Mere Christianity, were very influential in shaping my understanding and thinking.
3. WHAT GOT YOU INTERESTED IN DEVELOPMENT? WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO SERVE IN THIS AREA?
While pursuing a M.Div. degree in seminary, I took a class in Biblical Anthropology and Missions. In doing research for a paper, I came across literature in the emerging area of Christian Relief and Development. The more I read and studied, the more my heart was drawn to undertaking some sort of ministry in this area. It was only then that I saw how God was weaving together my background in economics and business with theology in preparing me for a holistic ministry (word and deed) to the poor.
God’s compassion for the poor and disenfranchised continues to drive my motivation to help make a difference in building the Kingdom of God.
4. HOW DOES ONE BREAK THE CYCLE OF DEPENDANCY BETWEEN THE DONOR AND RECIPIENT?
This is a very challenging question. Donors first need to see themselves as partners and then understand better the nature of poverty and what it means to be poor, especially the notion of “poverty of being” that typically characterizes the poor. We need to be wiser in how to share our resources. The poor do not want handouts; they want skills and opportunity.
We need to work harder to uncover and harness the gifts the poor bring to the table and seek to build capacity and self-sufficiency. Thus, we need to have the poor participate in any development efforts, not simply be the recipients. We need to understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy dependency.
5. YOU RECOVERED BY GOD'S GRACE FROM A MAJOR HEART SURGERY EARLY THIS YEAR. WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THIS EXPERIENCE?
I learned to think twice before praying: Create in me a clean heart, O God! But really, such an experience reinforced the sense of fragility that characterizes each of our lives. In the final analysis, I was reminded that I am dependent on God for the gift of life each new day and for every breath he allows me to take. It also reminded me about the importance of redeeming whatever time God has provided for me. While I was very much at peace about the possibility of going to be with the Lord in heaven, I am grateful for another season to work in his vineyard.
Thank you Tom for this interview!!