Not a "pregnancy center" worker, medical professional, pastor or other seemingly "qualified" professional? There is a place for you to travel with LIFE International!
A few years ago we were training a team of people who were committed to facilitating The Journey of a Life-Giver workshop in Zambia. None of the team members were familiar with the curriculum but were dedicated to learning it, including Kirsten Swanson, who declared that she was not a teacher! Despite her declaration, Kirsten agreed to take on facilitating a session with 12 women and we were amazed at how skillful she was! So much so that we recently invited her to facilitate a training in South Asia.
Our intention in all our workshops is to make them replicable by participants, who generally include pastors, youth leaders, and lay people—both men and women. Most of the time they are not medical professionals. This is what Kirsten said about her experience as an International Training Specialist:
What did you feel like the first time you agreed to travel and facilitate for LIFE International?
I was excited because it seemed like a great opportunity but I felt anxious about whether I was qualified! When I became a mom I left the business world, and I wondered, "Without any theology training, or medical training, how could I teach the material?"
I learned many years ago that if we are F.A.T.—Faithful, Available, Trainable—that God would use us.
What was the process like for you?
The process was a lot of fun. The LIFE International staff was great—supportive and encouraging. Matthew [Zoller] and Anne [Nelson] were always willing to do one-on-one coaching to help me prepare for facilitating the sessions. I prepared to present by learning the material until I was confident I knew it, and by practicing presenting, as it had been some time since the last time I presented.
You recently went to South Asia but were quite nervous a few weeks prior to the trip. Can you tell us about that and how you overcame that?
I felt that God was encouraging me to go, but I wanted assurance that I would have a female companion to travel with me, in addition to Matthew and our pastor, Mark. I spoke with Fran on the LIFE International staff and though she was not able to go she assured me that the team on the ground would be a great support to me. I spoke with Matthew about my concerns, and he understood and had the staff praying for me as well. I felt God was calling me to do this and I was reminded about the peace I felt when I accepted the invitation to go. I committed to go on the trip and was additionally blessed that Sarah from the LIFE International staff was able to join us, traveling together from Michigan.
What topics did you teach and how did you feel about facilitating them?
I got to team-teach with a medical doctor from South Asia! I taught the opening sections in the Biblical Sexuality and Human Reproduction sessions, and she was really great at explaining the medical portions. She was fun to teach with and we had excellent translators who had prepared by studying the material ahead of the training.
As a relatively new facilitator, there is a lot of comfort in knowing that LIFE International staff and volunteers are there as support. There is always an experienced and available facilitator to team-teach if something comes up.
How has traveling with LIFE International stretched you personally and spiritually?
I feel like it is always good to be stretched and keep growing. It was a good learning experience and fun to meet new people--people who would become a new group of friends.
Spiritually, you don't know what to expect when you go to a new place, so it caused me to rely on prayer and the Holy Spirit. I had a sense of comfort knowing that we were being bathed in prayer by the Global Prayer Shield recipients, the staff of LIFE International, and by our own prayer teams. I relied on those prayers and the truth that God would provide what was needed and carry the team through the event according to His will.
Thank you, Kirsten, for sharing your story with us!