Breaking The Spirits of Entitlement & Poverty through A Practical Application of Theology of Work
I immigrated to this wonderful country, Canada, more than 44 years ago, from Belgium. Five years after we arrived my wife and I decided to take on the Canadian nationality and we always have been humbled and honored that Canada accepted us. However, with becoming Canadian, it also meant that we would become actively involved in positively building this country and to make it even better as it was when we arrived. This is truly the legacy of so many immigrants that made Canada what it is today.
Becoming actively involved meant becoming involved politically and socially both at the community level, but also at the national and international level. It is interesting to note that besides becoming Canadian in 1978, that same year we also became “born again” - so we needed to become involved at that level too. After all, becoming “born again” means becoming obedient to the call of Jesus on our lives. We took this very serious and in late 1989, my wife and I accepted a call to become full-time ministers and God sent us to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Prince Albert is a small city of about 40,000 people (about 35% indigenous) surrounded by quite a number of First Nations and Metis communities.
The move to this Northern city in the Province of Saskatchewan was like God telling us, “John and Hannelore, you need to serve Me among the native peoples of Canada”. And interestingly up until today, He has not given us any indication to leave this city or this part of the country, Canada, that has been so good to us.
Getting involved as a Christian locally we truly needed to get to know the indigenous people God had sent us to. And that is exactly what we did and we learned a lot. We picked up the good and the not so good. We learned, for instance, that Christians in general could learn a lot from First Nations people. One such thing was their inner spirit of sharing and giving without pre-conditions. It is inherent to all the First Nations people we have dealt with across the world. It is almost like Jesus talked to them and really placed it into their hearts. Maybe He did..... But if Christians really want to know what it means to give, First Nations can surely show them. And there are many more “things” I learned from my First Nations friends.
The Spirit of Entitlement
Historically in Canada, the colonizing forces did not treat the First Nations (the original indigenous peoples of this part of North America) very well. In fact, history shows that many times they mistreated, and even worse, violated them. The “Church” which accompanied the colonizing forces did not very much better. In fact, many times, representatives of the “Church” were the colonizers themselves. Not all were at fault, but many left a legacy which is not attractive at all. The real history of that period in Canada will show that the “Church”, in the name of religion, took away First Nations rights, forcing Christianity on them, removing their children from their families, prohibited them to use their native tongues, prohibiting them to practice their native spiritual beliefs, and, even worse, physically/emotionally/sexually abused their children in so called residential schools. Since then, there have been multiple law suits against the “Church” and the “Government”.
The era that followed was not very much better. Gradually the colonizers and the “Church” started to see that what they did was not correct. By this time, they started to introduce “Western” practices which caused damage of a different kind. Just one example was the introduction of “welfare” type of payments to First Nations people – to individuals as well as to whole First Nations. While the sentiments behind these payments (i.e we want to support you in your poverty, we want to pay you as a payment to correct past mistakes, we want to pay you for the land we took away from you, etc...) were maybe honorable and good, in many cases, particularly when individuals received those monies, it caused something which is negative and I call it “the spirit of entitlement” which is attached to another, “the spirit of poverty”. Do not misunderstand me, at times those monies were used appropriately by the recipients, but many times they were not. That “spirit of entitlement” continued to live and was passed on from generation to generation.
Breaking the spirit of entitlement
Therefore, the solution would be to break such spirit and to fully submit to God according to His Word.
In 2008, through some internet surfing, I was informed about the existence of the Theology of Work Grant program through Bakke Graduate University. This was truly a gift from the Lord as I saw the possibilities. I would be provided with monies not only to think about how I would be able to break the spirit of entitlement, but I would be able to develop a curriculum to be used with indigenous peoples that were suffering from such a spirit. That was the beginning of our interesting journey......
While a “spirit of entitlement” is not directly referenced in the Word of God, biblical principles such as appropriate stewardship, God's ownership of everything, and God's own work ethics all pointed out that men's desires to satisfy “self” rather than being obedient to God's Word indeed could develop such “spirit of entitlement”.
USING THEOLOGY OF WORK TO BREAK THE SPIRIT OF ENTITLEMENT
Initially, as a dry run, we tried to present known Theology of Work principles at various workshops and seminars offered to indigenous populations in Uganda, South Sudan, Ghana and Peru (2009 - 2012). Quickly we noticed that the known TOW principles needed to be simplified and delivered in a culturally sensitive way to various peoples groups. Gradually, very gradually, it came all together into the development of the first curriculum, fully described in “God and Work – Theology of Work – Marketplace Ministry 101” (available for download on this web site). The total curriculum was divided into Levels I, II and III (each Level being 2 to 3 day workshops/seminars)
This first curriculum can be described as the “Biblical Foundations of Theology of Work”. It was first delivered in its entirety at a large conference, organized by the Timothy Program International, in Coimbatore, South India in August of 2013.
However, the program continued to evolve and is still evolving.
About Dr John Fryters
Dr. Fryters has also been an addiction therapist for about 30+ years. He is an Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counsellor (ICADC – now retired). He founded a number of addiction assessment and treatment services in Canada and is widely sought after as a specialist speaker and consultant in his field. He has served as a Director on the Board of Governors of the Ontario Addiction Research Foundation, and as the Chair of the International Advisory Board of The Journal (a renowned magazine for addiction management specialists). Until recently, he served as a public representative on the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons.
combining theology of work with business & financial training and micro loan Provision
For the last ten years, we had been experimenting with the provision of small micro loans. Some borrowers were very successful but many of them were not. We identified that the lack of business training prior to receiving the loans caused many of the experienced problems. Moreover, a clear understanding of the Biblical foundations necessary to operate a business or cooperative was also lacking. Consequently, we began to think about ways to resolve those barriers.
The first element we added to giving micro loans to anyone was to complete the Biblical Foundations of Theology – Levels I, II, and III, prior to receiving the loan. This meant that we needed to select micro loan recipients from the group of graduates. This was not very practical as there were more potential good candidates (not necessarily graduates from the program). It also did not take care of the obvious lack of introduction to business training. That made us think to combine the Biblical training (TOW), the introduction to business training (how to start a small business and/or cooperative), some introduction to initial financing training, and then finally the provision of small micro loans. Though the Biblical training – TOW Levels I, II, III – was introduced in the beginning of the package, the principles would be repeated throughout the delivery of the secular training (business, financing, micro loan delivery).
We delivered the first full package in Manchay, Peru to about 40 students. This resulted in a wonderful collaboration with the Jack Neufeld Family Charitable Foundation. This Foundation supported the idea of incorporating the TOW principles in its programming. The results were astounding. Two micro loans were handed out to students with the best business plans. This initial round happened in October 2015 and in March 2016, we were approached by both recipients who paid back more than 50% of the loan. Also, both business owners were fully integrated in the church where the training took place.
By March 2016 we had refined the final model and applied it for the first time in Tablada de Lurin, Peru with about 20 students. This experience is very well described in our second curriculum manual (available for download in English and in Spanish). Again, we selected two students with the best plans. A testimony of one of those students (January 2017) is enclosed in Chapter Nine of the curriculum manual. The second business was temporarily stopped as it ran out of necessary capital.
We also selected a team of two teenagers who took the training and had developed a wonderful plan to start a business. Because of their ages (12 & 13) they were too young to commence and operate a legitimate business. But since their plan was so excellent, we provided the pastor of these two young people with US $ 150.00 to be placed in trust (savings) to enable them to start something in a couple of years.
Testimonio del traductor del manual (Vladimir Lazarte Hayashi)
Para mi fue un proyecto apasionante el poder traducir este manual de Teología del Trabajo. Sabía, desde un inicio, por las constantes comunicaciones que mantuve con el Pastor Jan Fryters, quien es, aparte de un hombre de Dios, un gran amigo y mentor para mi, lo que este trabajo significaba y el impacto que iba a tener en las personas.
Fue un trabajo arduo y de mucho detalle ya que, al ser un documento que iba ser leído en el mundo, tenía que ser entendido en un lenguaje claro, simple y objetivo. Gracias al Espíritu Santo, y después de varios días de trabajo, se pudo lograr traducir el manual, para luego pasar a su revisión final, lo cual me permitía enviarlo al Pastor Fryters para su publicación.
Tengo que agradecer a mi esposa Isabel por haberme apoyado en esta labor, por sus palabras de ánimo y sus tazas de café que me alentaban a seguir buscando los términos más adecuados para la traducción. Asimismo, le agradezco por cuidar de mis dos hijos, Sebastián (12) y Lucía (4), quienes tuvieron que postergar, por unas semanas, salidas al parque, al cine o a comer algo en algún restaurant conmigo. Gracias por su paciencia y, sobre todo, por su inmenso AMOR.
Finalmente, le agradezco al Señor Jesucristo, mi Salvador, por haberme permitido tener esta experiencia y trabajar para su Reino en esta área. Gracias Pastor Fryters por la oportunidad y por su sincera y leal amistad por más de seis años. ¡Gloria al Rey de Reyes y Señor de Señores!
Vladimir Lazarte Hayashi
Traductor e intérprete
Dirección: Calle Soto Bermeo 303, Urb. San Roque, Surco. Lima 33. Perú
I strongly believe that we are well on our way to effectively address the spirits of entitlement and poverty. The curriculum is still evolving and we learn each time we deliver it to indigenous peoples all around the world. Thank you to Bakke Graduate University and the Mustard Seed Foundation for allowing us to make this a true reality. Praise be given to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who has been with us and continues to be with us on this precious journey.
Pastor John Fryters
1643 - 14th Street West
Prince Albert – Saskatchewan
Canada S6V 3N6
Tel/fax : 306-970-8675
Facebook page : Jan Fryters
Final TOW class in Tablada de Lurin-Lima, Peru - first part of the circle (object of Spanish version of second TOW manual)
Final TOW class in Tablada de Lurin-Lima, Peru - second part of the circle (object of Spanish version of second TOW manual)
- Dr. Ruperto Bustamante III's Dissertation: Examining The Link Between Ipra Law (Legislation) And Transformative Development Through A Study Of the Aytas Of Subic Bay, Philippines
- Dr. Dean Johnson's paper: Theology of Community
- Dr. Dean Johnson's dissertation: Addressing The Chasm