Blueberry pie time

Greg_pieSometimes, you just have to take a break from theology. Blueberry pie is as good (and delicious) an excuse as any!

Baking is relaxing and scratches my creativity itch. I used to be totally nervous that I would add a little bit too much of an ingredient and ruin the whole thing. Now, I’m much more go-with-the-flow. It’s tough to mess things up irretrievably.

Maybe there’s a spiritual application there…

We come to God all nervous, thinking we’ve totally messed things up, and God says: “It’s not so bad.” Then he adds the right proportion of ingredients we needed to balance things out. The end result? Delicious.

To my regular readers…

Sorry things have been a bit quiet here at “Theology in Overalls” lately. Amy and I are only one week away from the movers coming, boxing up our belongings and shipping them to Africa Nazarene University in Nairobi. We arrive there in early August to begin our new teaching (Greg) and editing (Amy) assignments. These have been chocked-full days, especially since we also have a region-wide conference for our Nazarene educators sandwiched in-between, plus two months in the U.S. on home assignment (deputation) during June and July…good but hectic times.

On the other hand, I have been writing. Just 2 weeks ago, I sent off a short manuscript to a publisher, and should know within a few weeks whether it will be green-lighted. Topic? Ecclesiology. We’ll see…

Thanks for reading TIO. May Father, Son, and Holy Spirit shower you and yours today with the divine presence.

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On the occasion of ANU’s 20th anniversary celebration

DSCN6669“Agents of Positive Change”

by Gregory Crofford, PhD

Coordinator for Education and Clergy Development

Africa Region Church of the Nazarene

Transformation is what Africa Nazarene University is all about. For the last four years, ANU has encouraged today’s graduates to resist unworthy habits and – as individuals of integrity – to make a difference in their chosen fields of work, their families, communities, Kenya, Africa, and beyond. Living as agents of positive change is at the heart of the teaching of Jesus Christ. He calls everyone who would follow him to be salt that preserves the earth, yeast that permeates society, and light that brightens dark places (Matthew 5:13-15, 13:33).

The Church of the Nazarene, Africa Nazarene University’s sponsoring denomination, is a holiness church that traces part of its heritage to 18th century English evangelist and theologian, John Wesley. Wesley believed that the people called Methodists were to be different, known for love of God and neighbor. He insisted that the hallmark of a true follower of Christ was their beneficial impact on others. Wesley and his associates inspired people to avoid the compromises that yield quick gains but ultimately damage self and others. Hymn-writer Charles Wesley agreed with his brother, John, that education was crucial for enabling the pursuit of nobler things, pleading: “Unite the two so long disjoined, knowledge and vital piety.”

Africa Nazarene University stands on the shoulders of spiritual giants like the Wesley brothers, bringing to the 21st century their warmhearted approach to the things of God, including education. Yet for the Wesleys and for ANU, faith is never to be quarantined to Sundays. The transformation that the Holy Spirit works in our heart and character is contagious, touching those around us every day of the week.

ANU graduates have become known for their academic proficiency, solid work ethic, and integrity. It is a reputation that is hard-won but easily damaged. May the 2014 graduates of African Nazarene University join the ranks of ANU alumni to be change agents – salt, yeast, and light – to positively impact our world.

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This article appeared in Issue 002/October 2014 of Aspire, a magazine published by Africa Nazarene University.

African voices

African_voices

African Voices, by Mark and Nancy Pitts (Nazarene Publishing House, 2010)

Mark and Nancy Pitts spent 3 years at Africa Nazarene University in educational administration. During that time, they opened up their home to a variety of Nazarene students and leaders from a swath of the African continent.  African Voices (CDs available here) presents profiles of eight leaders and the impact they are having as they serve Christ.

The Pitts did a good job presenting a variety of stories. Two of the leaders interviewed were women clergy (Jackie Mugane and Agnes Ibanda), a reminder that the Church of the Nazarene without apology believes that God calls both women and men to all roles of ministry in the church, both lay and ordained. Other profiles underscored the sacrifices that those whom God calls are willing to make (with their families’ blessing) in order to equip themselves for service. This came through in the story of Chanshi Chanda, who sold his business and for several months lived in humble conditions, awaiting their move to Malawi to begin ministerial studies.

But in all the stories, the emphasis on changed lives and holiness shone through. Sometimes this included the social impact that holiness should have. Ermias Choliye from Ethiopia observed:

“The message of holiness helps in corruption in the government, and it helps in the community to do away with individualism. Some preach prosperity, some preach tradition…but they don’t live like true Christians. When we bring in this living strategy from the teachings, then they accept, [and] the community now opens the door and gives licenses to the Church. So holiness is the full message that we need in life.”

African Voices does raise a question. One leader interviewed (p. 23) claimed 400,000 Nazarenes in a single field. Can this be accurate when the entire Region is composed of just over a half million?

Yet overall, African Voices effectively helps the reader get a glimpse of the passion for Christ that animates many of our African Nazarene leaders. Readers will be inspired to pray for them individually as they push out the boundaries of the Kingdom.