From Papua New Guinea to West Africa
Written by Alex Bjergbæk Klausen
Do coincidences exist? Maybe we define them as “coincidences”. But I think they are often “God-incidents”. There are certainly meetings that are not by coincidence, where people are almost brought together at the right time and place. That was what happened, when we met Brian and his daughter Grace for the first time. They had taken the long journey from Papua New Guinea to the Netherlands, where we met during a Christian conference on mission and technology/media. During our conversations, it became clear that Brian actually has exactly the skills we need in Relay Trust. He is specialized in e-learning and development of teaching materials and curriculum, – and he has many years of experience, both from the university world and from the mission field, where he has worked for MAF’s (Mission Aviation Fellowship) Department of Learning Technologies since 2006. In 2015 He traveled with his family to Papua New Guinea, but they already knew that they could only stay for 4 years, because the organisation had decided to close their Learning Technologies Department. When we met in the Netherlands, they were preparing for their return to Idaho in the United States. It is hard to let go of your calling, and Brian didn’t know what was going to happen after their return to the US. We realized that Brian could be an important piece in our giant jigsaw puzzle, and our conversations eventually evolved into a kind of “job interview”. Our dialogue continued after the conference, where we met his wife, Christy, via a Zoom connection. Suddenly it all became more seriously. E-mails and more conversations were followed up by Brian visiting us in Denmark last December. He decided to sign a contract with Relay Trust and became a full team member from January 1st.
Brian and Christy recently celebrated their silver wedding (25 years of marriage). They have six children, three of whom are still living at home. Christy works with home schooling, used by many in the US. But she also spends time helping refugees and missionaries. They both have a great heart for mission. In the Relay Trust we are all missionaries, no matter what we are doing in the organisation. Being a missionary is an attitude to the task that lies ahead of us. It is a lifestyle.
Brian went to Sierra Leone in February to spend a few weeks with Mette and me. The purpose was to get an impression of the church through a wide range of conversations, – but also to have time for conversations with Mette and me in the context, in which we will work together in the future. Brian is planning to go to West Africa four times a year for two or three weeks to work on curriculum development and teaching materials.
Presently, we are in the process of rethinking our teaching strategies and methods. It is a huge task. But we are pleased that we now have a team member who has a lot of experience and a large network. Both are needed if we are going to succeed in our task, which is to create life-changing teaching materials for the grassroots and priests of the churches.
We want to welcome Brian and his entire family to Relay Trust.