Joe Gallop has traveled an amazing path. He was trained as an Engineer but God called him to work with the nomadic people in Niger for about 15 years. Now, he's the CEO of the Transformational Education Network (TEN3), where he's been for about 10 years.
As you can imagine, he's had a wide range of experiences and has a deep wealth of knowledge and perspective. I really enjoyed our conversation and I learned a lot as we talked.
I think you'll enjoy hearing from him, too.
Life in Ministry
After the Lord called Joe to missions, he spent about 15 years ministering to the nomadic people in the Sahara Desert. As he saw the churches grow and mature, he noticed that one of the things they kept asking for was better education.
He now ministers through education; it's very different from his previous experience. But it's rewarding to continue serving with his African brothers and sisters through education.
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians [3:18]
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
How TEN3 addresses challenges
Many people just try to either ignore the challenges they find or simply throw money at them but TEN3 does something different.
[Tweet “Just throwing money at problems we don't understand won't fix them.”]
Some of the challenges
- Christian-run Hospitals that were having difficult times
- Struggling agricultural projects with failing equipment and no local interest in maintenance
- Well-educated leaders struggling to make these institutions work in their culture
What TEN3 is doing
TEN3 starts with education and challenging people to take a hard look at themselves and their values in the light of Scripture.
- Doctrinally, what they believe is the same
- What they value is different
It's the differences in what they value that make all the difference in their ability to run institutions such as banks.
[Tweet “What we value matters…more than we think.”]
Joe challenged us to remember that modern conveniences and institutions aren't absolutely necessary, especially as a Christian. However, if we want to move towards modernity and its institutions, we must look at our values.
Much of the values that drive modernity did come from the influence of the Gospel in Western society. Not that we should push Western culture on Africans. But these institutions struggle against the indigenous values.
As Joe was preparing to enter the Mission field, he went to Columbia Biblical Seminary, did his missions training, and read the materials on how to spread the Gospel.
When he arrived in Niger, he was surprised to learn that the pastor of the church didn't like the strategies that were being taught. He found the focus on people-groups to be divisive.
Why would you want to bring apartheid to Niger?
This was a huge eye-opener and caused Joe to rethink what he was doing. As he discussed it with his superior, he received some excellent guidance.
Just don’t focus on your agenda – what you’ve come to do – but just focus on doing whatever you can to build trust.
[Tweet “Focus on doing whatever you can to build trust”]
As Joe started working with second-generation Churches, he was surprised by the request that he received. The thing that people wanted most for their children and communities was quality education.
One other thing that was revelatory was the result of a multi-year informal poll. Before he left Niger, Joe started asking people what they believed made a good leader. What he heard was a huge insight into difference in culture and values.
We would agree with most of their statement
A good leader is one who takes care of their own…
However, from the African perspective, it goes
A good leader is one who takes care of their own, even at the expense of others.
That was a key to understanding why it's hard to find people who can lead Western institutions like banks, schools, and hospitals well. When they are put into those situations, the cultural and family pull to take care of their own, even at the expense of others, is very strong.
They want to be good leaders. They want to be seen as good leaders. And that they are expected to take care of their family, clan, and village – even at the expense of others.
There's a biblical conflict there.
Joe is excited about the possibility of branching out beyond just computer education. They've had teachers attending their trainings who work in other disciplines. So they are in the process of distilling the core elements of Transformational Education, separate from computer education.
There are many schools in Africa that aren't operating transformationally. They hope to help those schools to become more transformational.
As we seek to glorify the Lord, we need to stay focused on the Gospel. It’s so easy to get sidetracked and focused on other things. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t get involved in the various disciplines. It means that we have the tough challenge of making those disciplines gospel-centered.
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