July 25, 2012

E’s Update: Work & True Fasting

One of our own, E, serves in Central Asia. We support his work as a community developer, English teacher, cycling advocate, and Jesus follower as he lives and shares the gospel to his friends.

Greetings from the big city in Central Asia during the month of fasting (i.e. nightly binge-eating) that is Ramadan!

Work News

The issue of a consistent role for me in the NGO has finally been resolved. To make a long (as in 9 months) story short, I am now working full-time with the literature department, called Safari. This role utilizes my main skill-set and training (language, grammar, theory, literature, editing, writing) as well as my main interests in a work environment: human development, strategic decisions and social change.

It’s a major relief and answer to prayer to be working with my Central Asian colleagues (who have become good friends) in a capacity that utilizes what God’s given me toward a goal that I strongly believe in—the provocation of individual heart change, and thus gradual but genuine social change, via excellent literature that promotes a positive civil society with themes such as honesty, integrity, respect for others, and care for the poor … not to mention just sheer imagination in a culture that is plagued with walls, distrust, indoctrination, limits, fatalism and the seemingly endless smashing of hope.

My role in Safari is that of a technical advisor, and my responsibilities are: helping with translation problems from English into Dari and Pashto; re-editing all English texts for future reprints; handling marketing and sales to English customers countrywide / internationally and all customers in my city; developing inventory and sales tracking systems for the distributor; developing tools for basic market research; gathering feedback from schools, learning centers, booksellers, government officials and NGOs who read or use our books; publishing Safari’s first e-book; exploring the possibility of audio books; and holding book-based English-language discussion / practice groups for students at the many local English learning centers.

My Central Asian colleagues practically begged my boss to let me move to the capital, but instead I will base out of my home city but regularly and frequently travel to the capital for more intensive work sessions.

Please thank God with me for this answer to prayer, and please pray for good results to what seems like an excellent fit.

True Fasting

Thank you for the role you play in my life and, in a circuitous way, in the lives of people here —- my colleagues, my teammates, my friends and neighbors, those whose minds may be affected by Safari books, those mothers and babies whose lives ARE ACTUALLY BEING SAVED because of the information in our ongoing Pregnancy Health Trainings and Books.

One last request: Please pray for the blindness related to Ramadan to be lifted. Fasting in itself is not wrong, but the kind of socially enforced fasting that produces nothing but a thirsty mouth, a weak mind, premature labor in mothers (this happens often during Ramazan because of dehydration-related issues), higher incidence of kidney stones, the constant fear and judgment of one’s neighbors, higher tempers, lazier workers and even literally death—but which does not produce life-change in a meaningful way—is just an absurd and tragic violence. I pray for more of Isaiah 58-style fasting:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter —
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Isn’t that exactly what this dry, ruined, poor, oppressed land needs? Pray with me.

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