Six ethnic groups. Four countries. The Wholistic Development Center (WDC) is full of diversity. Any day on campus you can hear conversations in a variety of languages. All of this diversity leads to amazing opportunities for cross-cultural evangelism while also creating some unique challenges.
When students arrive at WDC they come from an array of cultural backgrounds. Some come from Christian homes and others have grown up in villages that are largely animistic and can be very hostile towards outside religions. Then there are the staff. Many of the staff come from backgrounds similar to the students, but some come from completely different contexts having grown up in Europe and North America.
One of the main objectives of the WDC is to raise up godly leaders. In order to do this, the leadership at the center have created an environment that promotes relationship-building where students and staff live life together physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Staff members mentor students through the challenges that they face in life and encourage them in their faith as they learn more and more about what it means to live biblically. I recently asked the manager of WDC how the mentorship model works.
Mentoring happens daily as we live and walk with each other. We are with each other day and night and so we really can’t escape mentoring each other. It happens mostly by just loving the students as we see them struggling with different things in their lives. Since we have a lot of new believers we are having to sift through a lot of different beliefs and superstitions. The biggest challenge is in helping change their worldview into a biblical worldview.
Being such a diverse group there are also frequent communication and expectation challenges. However, these difficulties are quickly overcome. Everyone at the center strives to be humble and willing to hear other perspectives, so they are able to quickly set differences aside to find the best answer for the students.
Despite the challenges that diversity can create, it also creates great opportunities for cross-cultural evangelism. A variety of cultural backgrounds means that students have a variety of mentors that they can connect with. Not everyone communicates the same way, so if there are a variety of personalities around, students are able to find someone that they are comfortable with and relate to.
As a new school year starts at the center, the leadership at WDC is hoping to bring mentoring relationships to a new level. This year they will be formalizing the mentoring relationship slightly. In addition to the daily mentoring that happens as students and staff live together, there will also be specific mentors assigned to groups of students. They are hoping that this model will open up the paths of communication between students and staff even further.
We are very excited to see what God has in store for staff and students this year. Please join us in praying for everyone involved with the WDC–that they would have wisdom, strength, patience and humility as they work together to nurture a loving, Christian community. Please also pray for the new mentoring structure that they will be implementing.