It’s time for me to tell you how Wilberforce Academy is helping prepare them as Christian nation-builders, to use a term that my friend Vishal Mangalwadi has often used. To explain how we do it, I must first highlight the 21stacademic backdrop: Our academic institutions are graduating cynical secular postmodernists, on the one hand, and, inadvertently and indirectly, fueling radical Islamism, on the other (as I suggest when I address the case of Sayd Qutb below). At the Wilberforce Academy, by contrast, we believe God wants us to help shape men and women filled with hope, skills, and commitment for redemptive change because they follow Jesus Christ.
Our good friends at William Carey International University, founded by the late Dr. Ralph Winter, recently carried an article about the work of Wilberforce Academy on their website. One of our earliest and oldest mentees, Kisongo Mbeleulu of Congo, is highlighted, in particular because he has recently graduated with his Masters degree from WCIU.
It wasn’t just New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof who told the world that evangelicals have something positive to offer society. Word is slowly seeping out of ivory towers and old and new media outlets: Following Jesus doesn’t just involve Culture War negations; much of the time Jesus’ disciples are laying awake nights dreaming about how to find solutions to pressing human needs. They aren’t just about enlisting draftees for Heaven; they are working for human flourishing.
Wilberforce Academy is all about training international (and a few American) students and visiting scholars to creatively, courageously, intelligently, and skillfully apply a Christian worldview to challenges facing their societies and workplaces. And just this past week, five of the students enrolled in our Spring 2014 thirteen-week Politics After the Fall course demonstrated how to find redemptive solutions to pressing problems.
Ameido explained her quest to find out why Togo’s best-educated 18 to 30 year olds lack an entrepreneurial mindset. The very people with an abundance of training, skills, and potential solutions, are waiting around their parents’ homes for government jobs that rarely materialize. What can Ameido and her friends do to arouse an entrepreneurial mindset? Stay tuned for some potential answers sometime in early 2015.
Pastor Dave is crafting a remarkable piece of historical fiction---crafted around a phenomenal and little-known incident in World War II---that may become one of those page-turners like the bestseller Unbroken. Dave dares to believe that our cynical, crumpled populace will more likely discover the Gospel in a great piece of literature (think C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia) than most of what passes for Christian literature today.
Debbie’s academic background has prepared her well for writing a book about a Christian understanding of the idea of equality. Articulating and expressing that vision takes enormous research. She shared with us one of her latest chapters where she exposed the tragically weakened secular foundations for equality. In fact, says Debbie, the foundations may well not exist, and that leaves Westerners, for whom equality is a foundational assumption, exposed on an international stage where there are massive crosscurrents working against the idea. Ultimately, equality will have to be re-grounded in a Christian worldview.
Then there is Jordan’s modest but important effort to help a local Christian ministry face up to serious internal management problems. A biblical perspective on reality infuses Christ’s followers with the passion to make a positive redemptive difference in society, but also counsels a sober analysis of the ways humans, even some Christians, project and maintain power at the expense of human flourishing. Among other truths, I regularly remind Wilberforce Academy Fellows that the measure of our organizations and institutions is the degree to which they foster the development of the image of God in their constituents. Heavy-handed, close-minded management does not foster the image of God among colleagues and workers. That is the blunt and simple truth.
Finally, Abigail shared with us her project, which is to win a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives. A millennial herself, Abigail is determined to create a millennial “take back” strategy that is both politically shrewd but also deeply Christian in its vision. She notes how many millennials have dropped out of all American institutions, a fact duly noted in the very recent Pew Research Center report Millennials in Adulthood: Detached from Institutions, Networked with Friends. Abigail will not only knock on 4,000 doors in her district but she hopes to simultaneously arouse a powerful, but currently immobilized group of conservative millennials to help her.