The transition from summer to fall brings with it the start of the new academic year. A highlight of the fall semester was the Northwest graduation ceremony, held on October 14, to recognize and honour the 2023 graduates. There were 32 graduates, who are now part of the Northwest Alumni Association.
This past year we started the tradition of welcoming our graduates to the Alumni Association by sponsoring a pre-graduation meal for them and their family, mentors, and professors. This took the form of a fabulous brunch this past October. The program included a brief interview of each graduate, a welcome to the Alumni Association to those graduating, and a prayer of blessing for the graduates. I have included some photos from the brunch for your interest. Thank you to the members of the Alumni Association for helping and working on the brunch and the graduation reception following the ceremony. The Alumni Connect Team is planning to sponsor the Grad Brunch as part of Northwest Graduation each year.
It has been good to hear from a number of alumni since our last Alumni News through the Alumni Questionnaire. The Alumni Connect Team continues working on the Decade of the 80’s reunion. If you would like to be involved in planning this event please email me and I will forward the information. There is a plan to schedule this event in August 2024. More details will be available in the new year.
Wishing you a blessed fall and a blessed advanced Christmas greetings to you and your family.
May God Bless You,
Gwen Reese, Alumni Director
Academy and Agency Partnerships for Intercultural Ministry Training
Mark Naylor (D.Th.) earned the Master of Divinity from Northwest in 2002. He is married to Karen and they have one daughter, two sons, and six grandchildren. They live in Victoria and are grateful to live close enough to the six young ones to invest in their lives.
In the early 1980’s Karen and I explored the possibility of becoming missionaries with the director of Fellowship International, Paul Kerr. He advised me to get an M.Div. through Northwest before submitting our application. This was sound advice, but today mission agencies are no longer depending on the seminary. Instead, they are providing their own “in house” training for intercultural ministry. A number of important and helpful initiatives have been developed by these agencies focusing on practical issues like language and culture adaptation, team building, and interpersonal relationships. What has been lost are the biblical and academic disciplines that ground workers in God’s word and prepare them theologically to engage the narratives of different cultures in order to appropriately communicate the gospel.
Do we have to choose between the practical training of the agencies and academic grounding? What if the better way is to recognize that a true partnership between agency and academy is not only necessary, but feasible? The mentored competency- and context- based Intercultural Ministry Master of Arts in Biblical Leadership (IM-MABL) from Northwest Baptist Seminary is one such innovation that merges theological and academic rigor with practical application. Using Northwest’s platform, mission agencies are able to mentor their personnel towards practical intercultural outcomes that incorporate the academic depth and rigor of an accredited degree.
The IM-MABL has been developed over eight years with Fellowship International candidates and mentors and now is open to mission agencies who want their personnel to develop disciple-making competencies that result in effective intercultural ministry. Together with Ken Jolley and Andrés Rincón, I wrote a research paper, published in NIMER, called “Competency Based Theological Education for Intercultural Contexts: A Cooperative Model Between Academy, Assembly, and Agency” which describes the benefits and impact of this program.
The road to the IM-MABL involved full cooperation between academy and agency. Fellowship International leadership developed a chart of competencies that describes the “ideal” missionary – competent in head (vision and knowledge), heart (character and commitment), and hands (skills and methodology) – who can be sent anywhere and would know what to do in order to make disciples who make disciples. No matter what ministry a person is engaged in, Fellowship International considers the Great Commandment (Mt 28:19-20) to be the primary mandate for all believers and so made this the core competency in the program. Competencies are grouped into 12 “outcomes” through which the student develops or demonstrates their abilities. Students are expected to complete four outcomes each year in a manner fully integrated with their intercultural ministry involvement. A key skill is for the student to work according to a “ministry cycle” through which they develop the discipline of pulling back from ministry in order to engage in social evaluation, theological reflection, and planning before reinserting themselves back into the ministry context.
Partnership between agency and academy is especially evident in the dependence on dedicated mentors. The academic mentor represents the academy and, along with the agency mentor, ensures that the competencies demonstrated by the student accord with the requirements of both academy and agency. The ministry mentor oversees the student to ensure that the competencies are clearly evident within the ministry of the student. As noted in the research paper cited above, “A mentoring team is one of the best things about the program. Personal character growth has occurred, beyond just education. The student is observed from different perspectives, ensuring a more holistic development.”
The future of intercultural ministry training is in the collaboration between agency and academy. Holistic training requires significant investment by both, but the fruit is evident from the development of competencies and confidence through the mentoring process; an investment that will have ongoing impact.
Alumna Interview with Karen Naylor (2002)
Karen Naylor earned the Bachelor of Religious Education in 2002, Mark earned the Master of Divinity in 2002. Karen and Mark have been married for 42 years and have one daughter, two sons and six grandchildren. They live in Victoria and are grateful to live close enough to the six young ones to invest in their lives.
What Did You Appreciate About Your Time at Northwest and How Did Your Time At Northwest Prepare You For Ministry?
I came to Northwest directly after High School in 1977, as did Mark. At that time, it was not uncommon for young people to take a year out to attend Bible School (where many of us met our spouses). Mark had signed up for a year and I had signed up for the 4-year program. We met during our first year and as our relationship grew, we recognized that God was directing us towards missions. Dr. Vern Middleton’s challenge – that few missionaries go to the Muslim world – was a challenge we took on. Mark returned to Northwest for his MDiv after earning a BSC at UBC, and then we left for ministry in Pakistan with Fellowship International. The deep Biblical and theological roots of Northwest and the commitment of the professors to God’s word and to their students gave us a solid foundation for life and ministry. The friends we made there are still part of our lives.
Describe Your Ministries Since Graduating from Northwest.
We lived in Pakistan from 1985 through 1999, where we raised our three children and learned (the hard way) about the grace of God, the needs of the Muslim world, the limitations of our efforts, the centrality of prayer, the wisdom of involving others in our ministry, the grace of God, the weaknesses of our strategies, the importance of learning how to get along with missionaries (a notoriously difficult group – since we’re on the field because we’re tough, motivated, and visionary), and (did I mention?) the grace of God... and then we left Pakistan to return to Canada.
While in Pakistan, Mark began Bible translation work in the Sindhi language. After we left, he earned a Doctor of Theology degree focusing on his translation and cross-cultural experience. He currently teaches cross-cultural workers how to survive and thrive in places with unfamiliar worldviews and different values. Translation milestones along the way we have celebrated include completion of the whole Bible for Sindhi Muslims and the New Testament for Sindhi Hindus. Currently the team has been working on a study of the New Testament and on making sure the completed Scriptures are printed and available.
Because “being sent in no way guarantees effectiveness,”(Richard Flemming), Fellowship International has commissioned Mark to offer ongoing training and exposure in best practices for missions in online cohorts. This includes partnership with Northwest’s competency-based programs as well as a series of modules on cultural sensitivity, contextualization, empowering others, and interpersonal relationships.
Good things are happening in Pakistan - evidence of God’s faithfulness and friendships that are being blessed that began during our time there. There is a growing understanding of what God’s plan for bringing in His Kingdom through discipling the nations looks like in Pakistan. Local colleagues are investing in the fruitful practices of making disciples who make disciples, multiplying efforts far beyond the ability of a single missionary or pastor. Mark spends hours every month coaching and mentoring workers on the ground who are applying disciple making principles and practices. Openness to the gospel and opportunities to make disciples have come about because of generous donations toward relief efforts after devastating floods in Sindhi in 2022. Disciple Making Movements are beginning in Pakistan.
What is a way you have seen God bring good news from a bad situation in your life?
For a western woman, living in the very limiting culture of a traditional Muslim country is hard. Really hard. Over the years I convinced myself that I was tough enough to handle the challenges - until I could no longer do it. During our last term I struggled through a crisis of faith, wondering why God had abandoned me in what I saw as a God-forsaken place. On the advice of the Fellowship International board, we returned to Canada until such time as I was ready to return. That time has not yet come. However, we see God is faithful and is doing far more than we could have asked or imagined among the Sindhi people we served with for 14 years.
What else have you been involved in over the years since graduation from Northwest?
We began involvement with and support of the ministry of Young Life (YL) when our kid were teenagers. Young Life reaches local youth, many with no Christian background, who are discipled and developed as leaders among their peers. We have used our home, our vehicle, and our time to support their disciple-making efforts. Mark also teaches courses to prepare Young Life Leaders to understand Biblical issues and cultural applications.