We got a grant!

In my line of work, as is the case in life generally, you often have to sew seeds for many years before seeing any fruit. I sometime pursue a ministry or personal connection on nothing but a sense of God’s leading and don’t see anything come of it for a long time. Then suddenly, bam. You have a new partner, supporter, connection, or whatever. It’s beautiful to watch from a bird’s eye perspective. In the present case, a one-time supporter of our work told me (probably 5-6 years ago) that his family had a private foundation and that I should apply. I did – three times over the course of several years – to no effect, until now. In fact, my most recent application was in November, and it wasn’t before April that they gave me the good word.

As I have written about a number of times, I have been developing my own training curriculum over the last four years to raise up “leadership communities” in Russia. The size of the project has only grown over that time frame, not only owing to the volume of material I have written (now at 5 major courses and 2 seminars), but also because of the complications of writing for a Russian audience. First, there is the fact that, although I am a fluent Russian speaker, I don’t pretend to know how to write like a native. So all material has to be translated. This is not only expensive, but it necessitates several layers of work, first to get the idea, then to express it like a Russian would.  Moreover, I tend to write with sophisticated language, and so the ideas need to be simplified, which is actually good for me to have to do. Then there is the issue that the project is constantly a work in process. Every time we lead a training (in some cases now dozens of times), we revise the material based on feedback, and our own growing understanding of the concepts. I say “we” because even though I am the primary author, I have involved the Russians at every step of the way, not merely to edit and express the ideas well, but to help me improve the very concepts themselves and how best to teach them to my target audience. The result is a very robust curriculum that had a high degree of integrity, internal consistency, and – most importantly – is getting wonderful feedback on the results. Nonetheless, full readiness for “prime time” seems to elude us.

Along comes this incredible opportunity, where now we will be able to finalize the production of the first third of the material in both English and Russian. This will include:

  • final versions of the written material of the first three trainings (the Real Talk seminar and two subsequent courses)
  • training videos for the above, including live demonstrations of all the skills being taught
  • the development of an online strategy and presence (in Russia) for promoting our trainings, and some initial promotion work in the US (for the English material)
  • the development of a board game called Table Talk, a companion tool for the Real Talk seminar that I am very excited about.

Table Talk will be a way – eventually – for people to not even have to take the seminar but learn the skills and the values of biblical conversation and relationships in a fun atmosphere.

This August will be very busy here in Russia as we get all this work going with the aim of having most of it in place by October. Simultaneously, I am working with a partner in the US who is developing the written material and will also be doing the filming with a live group I have recruited to train in Richmond in September. Yes, it’s a little overwhelming.


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