In this issue….

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OXFORD PROGRAM IN MISSION AND DEVELOPMENT PRACTICE

graduation cap The Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (Oxford, England) is offering a one-year MA programme in “Mission and Development Practice” from September 2001 (8 months of taught courses in Oxford and 4 months writing a dissertation; part-time options available). Designed for development practitioners, missionaries, Christian leaders and NGO workers, the programme will equip participants to reflect on cutting edge issues in development practice from a Christian perspective, and to develop practical responses. For an application form or further information, please contact the MA Programme Director, OCMS, at imp@ocms.ac.uk or apply online at http://www.ocms.ac.uk/main/prospectus.shtml or log onto the OCMS Website: www.ocms.ac.uk. Apply by mail to OCMS, PO Box 70, Oxford, OX2 6HB, UK, or phone +44-1865-556071. (The programme is highly recommended for those engaged in development and holistic mission on the frontiers–contact long-time Brigada fan Dr. Len if you have questions: LBart@oxfree.com). Deadline for applications: July 1, 2001.
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WANTED: RESOURCES ON WORKING WITH AN INTERPRETER

Do you have experience working with an interpreter in a teaching situation? Do you know of any resources that can help? Mike wants to know. Please contact him at mefast@amdg.com.ph or mefast@bigfoot.com. We’ll try to publish any of his bigger findings here.
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THE BACKPAGE: WHAT’S IT LIKE TO FAIL?

glbooksc Those who are long-term readers of Brigada Today will perhaps remember one of my greatest failures (at least in my own eyes): trying for… and failing… my “C” soccer coaching license. (See “THE BACKPAGE: SO HOW DO YOU HANDLE FAILURE?” from the July 30, 1999 issue, and “THE BACKPAGE: TO COMPARE IS TO ERROR&” from the July 9th, 1999, issue.) Perhaps you’ll remember my having observed that it is generally agreed that the “C” license is a fairly difficult license to obtain. The only way to get one, in fact, is to attend a 9-day clinic overseen by United States Soccer Federation national coaching staff, then pass a fairly difficult battery of written essays, oral & written exams, and on-the-field practical coaching evaluations with real teams. In the summer of 1999, I wrote in Brigada Today about how hard I had worked to try to pass the course… but then shared openly about how frustrating it was to be categorized as a failure. In other words, after all the time, energy and money invested, I failed the course.
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HOW TO HANDLE FAILURE

But in my reflection in Brigada Today, I also shared some ideas about how to handle failure. I suggested that we should first make sure that we really failed (an exchange of letters showed that I had indeed not succeeded), then, if the facts are undeniable, try to arrange for a 2nd chance, then try to prepare more effectively and, most of all, never, never quit.

soccer ball Well, last month I tried again.

I figured… hey… now I’ve been playing the game for 4 years in earnest, instead of just 2. And after all, those guys at that first clinic did seem kind of unfair. :-)

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“C” CLINIC, TAKE TWO

And so it was that I arrived in Nashville, TN, last month to invest yet another 9 days to try to upgrade my coaching license to a “C” level. Don’t ask me why I was doing it. I mean… it’s not like I’ll get a raise from the mission organization I lead. And since most of the coaches there were leading teams at high school or college level already, it wasn’t like it would have even been necessary, even if I coached for a living.

Still, I was haunted by having failed at my goal. And to me, that was reason enough.

Well this time, the instructors seemed much friendlier… but just as “tough.” They let us know in advance that not everyone would pass. Gulp. gulp Here we went again. But this time, I seemed somehow calmer… somehow a bit more self-assured… and maybe even, just a bit more prepared.

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THE “BIG GAME”

On the next-to-last day, however, when they chose two teams of 9 players each from among the 25 candidates (to take part in a “big game” that would, in effect, summarize everything we had been studying), I didn’t make the top 18. I was, obviously, disappointed, if not crushed. I wanted so much to play in that “big game.” Somehow I felt that if I could somehow do something… even something simple, it would show the instructors my passion and love for the game. With about 10 minutes left in the first half, I suddenly got my chance when one of the coaches (of Mexican descent) seemed too injured to go on. I was the first sub picked from the sideline. At least I wasn’t the last man chosen.
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RESTING IN THE ASSURING POWER OF GOD

That morning, I had knelt before God to ask, “Lord, it’s just a soccer game… but please… could you somehow help me do something right… something simple maybe… but something miraculous?” A few minutes later, I got my chance. We were down 1-0, when I saw a defender throwing the ball into the keeper. I knew the keeper wouldn’t be allowed to catch the ball (by new rules set in motion just 4 years ago). I rushed the keeper, arriving about the same time the ball arrived. He had to play the ball just as if he were another field player. At the very last moment, I somehow toe-poked the ball through his feet right into the path of one of my teammates. I had set up the tying goal. Everyone cheered. The Scottish forward who had tapped home the goal pointed directly to me as he ran back upfield and said, “That’s your goal, Douglas!” I was elated, to say the least.
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“HELP ME DO JUST ONE THING WELL”

Still, we were in only tied. But near the end of the second half, while running toward the opposing team’s goal, the ball basically dropped at my feet — not more than 6 yards from the goal itself! It was one of those rare moments in soccer where one’s life flashes before his eyes. :-) I knew that if I missed that goal, I would never forgive myself… nor would my teammates! The prayer flashed into my eyes. “Lord, please help me do something simple… something right… but something miraculous.” With one quick swing, the ball was in the net, past a gifted 25-year-old keeper that until last year played professionally in the English First Division. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had just scored what turned out to be the winning goal in the “big game”. God had answered my prayers. We won, 2-1. The toughest instructor walked me off the field saying, “Isn’t it something… the leading scorer wasn’t even supposed to be on the roster.” :-)
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A BURDEN LIFTED

One of my practical field sessions didn’t seem to go as well. The evaluator seemed to write forever. I thought for sure he had failed me. So I honestly didn’t know for sure until this past week, when the packet arrived from the USSF in Chicago. But when I saw the results, I knew that it could only be due to God’s deliverance: I had passed the test. I had reached my quest. Finally, after a long wait (=too long!), I finally had received my “C” coaching license.

In July, 1999, I had suggested “Never, never quit.” Now more than ever before I knew the importance of that advice. And thanks be to God’s determination working in me, victory was mine. I’ve already talked to at least one other coach who attended my clinic. He coaches a Christian High School soccer team in our area. And he didn’t pass. But for some reason, due to God’s nature, I did pass. I’m not a superior player, I don’t have outlandish skills, but … I guess… I didn’t give up.

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NEVER, NEVER, NEVER QUIT

Am I glad I stuck with it? Duh! Of course I am! It was one of those pieces of “unfinished business” in my life. Now, my shoulders seem so much lighter.

But in the end, I feel that my shoulders had very little to do with it. God is the true winner here… and I’m happy to give Him all the glory! Maybe more than anything else right now, that’s the most important part of this training! In the end, God was mighty and victorious in spite of the odds!!! :-)

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