Monday, August 31, 2020

Well, it's official!

I have successfully completed my PhD in Sustainable Development and Diplomacy (proof below!). The process went quicker than I thought it would, but I'm not complaining!

I've been in school for the past 7.5 years (since January 2013), with a small break between my Masters and PhD program.  I've done two extensive research studies in that time, read countless (hundreds) books and articles, and have been exposed to some of the great minds in sustainable development and in the history of the church as it relates to the intersection between faith and work, as well as the church's relationship to creation.  It has been a privilege and a pleasure.

Since there won't be a graduation, let me express my thanks to a few key people here as it relates to this work:

  • My colleague, Dr. Phillip Walker - When I met him in Ghana in 2012, he started pushing me to get my Masters.  When I started it in 2013, it didn't take him long to start talking about when I will "complete my PhD."  I was completely happy doing the work that I was doing with a BA, but he did show me that my audience would be limited (not being able to teach those at a BA level or Masters level) and as a woman in Africa, my voice would be diminished without "proof" that I have something of value to offer, something validated by an academic institution.  I am very thankful for Dr. Walker and his constant pushing...I mean support and encouragement.  In all seriousness, he has been a cheerleader for me in the whole process.  Thank you, Dr. Walker.
  • My mom, Marrie Kranenburg - I talk to my mom every week and every week for the past seven years, she has asked me about my studies and what I was learning.  She told me each week how proud she was of me and encouraged me to stay the course.  Thank you, Mom!
  • My husband, Michael - He gave up many evenings and weekends with me to allow me to study and read and write.  He hasn't known me when I haven't been in school, so this should be a new experience for us!  Whenever I needed information on topic or another, before I even finished my sentence Michael was suggesting books and before I knew it, he was putting a book on my desk.  Thank you, Michael, for your support and patience!
  • My children, Hannah and Noah - During these seven years, even though they've mostly been on their own, they still saw me as distracted and pretty constantly busy, as I worked fulltime the entire time that I was going through these programs.  They supported me and encouraged me as well, and I thank them for their patience!
  • Hopeline Institute in Ghana who allowed for two years of research to be done which gave a significant contribution to the quantitative research, as well as the many who were interviewed for the qualitative research.
But I am most grateful to God who has seen me through these last seven years, starting with ICM, then launching Discipling Marketplace Leaders, now working in ten countries in Africa, while having access to education and great professors.  I know how blessed I am and I am thankful to a God who calls, equips, and blesses.  My prayer that what I have learned can be used to bring glory to God and build His Church.  

One of my favorite quotes, from the many books I have read, comes from Abraham Kuyper, and it says this:

“Wherever man may stand, whatever he may do, to whatever he may apply his hand, in agriculture, in commerce, and in industry, or his mind in the world of art and science, he is, in whatsoever it may be, constantly standing before the face of his God; he is employed in the service of his God, he has strictly to obey his God, and above all, he has to aim at the glory of his God.” 

My professional goal is to help the ecclesia recognize this incredible opportunity, whether in Africa, with Discipling Marketplace Leaders, or wherever God may use me to serve. 

To all of you who have faithfully read this blog and encouraged me on the way, thank you!

Monday, August 24, 2020

Ten Commandments of the Internet or "Netiquette"

Our DML team has a book club that meets monthly, and we are reading through the book, Honorable in Business:  Business Ethics from a Christian Perspective by Annetta Gibson and Daniel Augsburger (publisher is Wipf and Stock, so guess who helped us get these books!  That's right - my husband, Michael!).  It's been a great book to read together and we've enjoyed the discussions.

This past chapter was about privacy, property, and technology, and we were amazed to read the "Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics" written in 1992 by the Computer Ethics Institute because they are still so applicable today especially with social media and the internet!  How often do we not see "bearing false witness" as well as stealing on the internet from Christians and nonChristians alike?  Not to mention the regularity of disrespect for each other.  It's time for a recommitment to these wise words!  It's time to remember "Netiquette!"

  1. You shall not use the Internet to harm other people.
  2. You shall not interfere with other people’s Internet work.
  3. You shall not snoop around in other people’s Internet files.
  4. You shall not use the Internet to steal.
  5. You shall not use the Internet to bear false witness.
  6. You shall not copy or use proprietary software for which you have not paid (without permission).
  7. You shall not use other people’s Internet resources without authorization or proper compensation.
  8. You shall not appropriate other people’s intellectual output.
  9. You shall think about the social consequences of the program you are writing or the system you are designing.
  10. You shall always use the Internet in ways that ensure consideration and respect for your fellow humans.

Several of our teams have started book clubs of their own during this slower time of COVID-19 and these discussions have been rich times of discussing and learning during these challenging times of social distancing.  I hope you have found an opportunity to be in a book club of your own!

Monday, August 17, 2020

More Family Updates

Last week, I shared about my biological family.  The two weeks before that I shared about the DML family.  And I can't help it - I want to share more about the DML family.  I'm so impressed and amazed by how they are allowing God to use them during this time to be creative and thoughtful and forward thinking!  I am so proud to be doing ministry with them!

So let me share about our partner in Burkina Faso, with the Church Mission Society (CMS) denomination of about 1000 churches.   Our leader, Theo, has done an excellent job of working in and through the denomination and local churches as it relates to the COVID-19 response through DML.  They were intentional about reaching beyond their denomination though, and because they reached out to a Muslim area with food support during the first phase of DML's response, they were given permission to plant a church in an area that had no church!  

Our second injection financial support in response to COVID-19 went toward three different types of businesses: four mask-making businesses, five soap-making businesses, and ten farms geared toward artemisia production.  Artemisia is a plant with medicinal plant, especially helpful with malaria.

The masks were made using only local cotton materials, approved by the National Quality Check Committee.

The Mayor being presented with masks for distribution, as our team continues to seek ways to be a blessing.  

Here are some of the soap makers.  With the borders closed, the importation of soap is not an option so more internal soap makers are needed.

And here are the farmers being trained in the growing of artemisia:


Of course, our partners could not be able to do any of this without the support from you!  We are thankful for the broad DML family in North America and across Africa!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Reed-Thomson Family Update

We started a new training of trainers class for DML last Thursday, with more than 100 students from Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon.  So exciting!  These trainers will be prepared to work with small and medium size entrepreneurs and help them grow and develop their businesses.  We are using Zoom and Google Classroom again - it's amazing how we are learning to shift with the new realities around us!

But this week I want to share some family pictures as it's been a while since I have given family updates.  Yesterday was Bob's birthday, the eleventh one that we haven't been able to have with him since his passing.  But we had his favorite birthday meal together and watched some family videos - it was good to hear his voice!

In July, we were able to camp together halfway between Washington DC and Grand Rapids, with my daughter Hannah and her boyfriend, Matt; my son Noah and his girlfriend Hannah; Michael and myself, and Michael's son, Jonathan.  It was a wonderful week with lots of laughter and debates, with the longest debate over whether pancakes or waffles are better!  (My kids love to debate.)  We played our favorite game, Telestrations, well into the dark with our neighbors wondering if we would keep them up with loud laughter, but we quieted down when the camp quiet time set in.  It was good weather and a precious time together.

Noah and Matt met in person for the first time on this trip.  But it wasn't long before they were laughing and working together to grill some chicken over the fire for dinner!

Hannah and Matt
Hannah and Matt

Hannah and Hannah!
Matt photobombs a picture of Noah and Hannah - clearly feeling comfortable with the family!

Jonathan feeling very comfortable driving the rented pontoon!

Noah loving the water and the boat!

Michael and Jonathan, who just turned 26 years old!

So thankful to God for my family and the opportunity to visit together!

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Part II: Gifts That Keep on Giving in Ghana

Last week I reported on the "Gifts That Keep on Giving" in Cameroon.  This week I received a report from Hopeline Institute in Ghana that made me smile, and so with all the bad news around, I thought I'd create "Part II:  Gifts That Keep on Giving" in Ghana to perhaps put a smile on your face as well!

Hopeline Institute has been involved in business development since 2007 so it didn't take much for them to begin working with businesses on producing personal protective equipment to help protect people from COVID-19.  At the bottom of this post, you will be able to watch a brief video of these businesses in action,

But they didn't stop there.  As many jobs were shut down, many people turned to agriculture, so Hopeline Institute also used funds from DML to work with farmers and widows to start or expand their farms.

But they didn't stop there!  They are doing weekly teaching in various places, including in places afflicted with overcrowding and poverty.

We are so blessed to be partnered with an organization like Hopeline Institute and others who are similar in their compassionate yet sustainable and business approach to times like this!

Here is a video of the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) that is being produced by businesses in partnership with Hopeline Institute.

Please pray for Hopeline Institute.  And as the COVID-19 cases in Africa reach one million, we continue to watch, listen, work, and pray for this continent that bears much stress as it relates to economic and health opportunities.  Please pray with us!