A personal reflection on a doctoral intensive that significantly re-shaped the Kwiverr paradigm and praxis.
By Dr. Yaw Perbi, Founding International Director
Do you remember the movie, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids?” You won’t believe what I shrunk. Let me tell you. In Amazon best-selling Thinking Outside the Window, I share how
in 2007, I was invited to join a handful of Lausanne leaders in a meeting in Budapest, Hungary, where there were a lot of discussions, especially idea generation and planning for Cape Town 2010. In these gatherings, as far as I’ve experienced, there is a subtle “Who’s Who of Christianity” that goes on. We may not even like to admit it, but there’s a bit of Christian elitism when it comes to those who have been to the Christian “Ivy Leagues” like Gordon-Conwell, Wheaton, Fuller, or Moody.
I followed up this observation with a strong exhortation. Come the fall of 2022, I found myself needing the very caution and counsel I freely dispensed to these leaders, a whole fifteen years later.
THE LEAD TO THE FALL
When I resigned as the president of International Students Ministry Canada (ISMC), it was not to abscond the world of international students but rather to accentuate the work. One goal was to set up Kwiverr, with a mission to drive deep reflection and radical research into paradigms and praxes that catalyze ministries among international into movements to leave no people or place unreached. In other words, catalyzing movements of internationals in a research-informed manner, as reflective practitioners.
Another goal was to, complimentary to the first, personally take up a doctoral programme at my alma mater to facilitate the above mission. One of the tenets of the Master of Arts in Global Leadership (MAGL) at Fuller Theological Seminary that I really took to heart and adopted personally was “life-long learning in a diverse community.” That has served me well as I have learnt a lot from the diversity of both faculty and students, there and elsewhere. Although demanding and often having to play ‘catch up’ as a result of other equally pressing life engagements, I returned to Fuller for a Doctor of Global Leadership (DGL).
Of all the organized assignments and program components of the DGL, what I’ve enjoyed most so far has been the in-person intensive in Pasadena, California. No wonder, for in my Akan language of Ghana, we have a saying that transliterated into English would be, “Humans are tasty.” There were eleven of us from and/or serving in Canada, Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, and the United States of America. They all made my life tastier and more enjoyable in the fall of 2022 at the Fuller campus in California. Our cohort is also unusually blessed with an Australian-American, father-daughter duo as professors, Dr. Robert L. Gallagher and Dr. Luisa J. Gallagher Stevens. The deepest impact from my time at Fuller is the reason for this article.
HONEY, I SHRUNK THE ‘S’
Prof. Gallagher Senior is a Luke-Acts specialist. When he gave us the liberty to do a theological reflection paper on any biblical motif of our choice from any of the four Gospels I felt deeply impressed upon to go for Luke. Soon my thesis would be formed as a strong wind blew at me from the first four chapters. Consequently my research thesis statement was as follows: “There is no significant missional movement without God first specially empowering its point-persons by His Spirit.”
I noticed that, “As many as four point-persons in the advent of the worldwide Christian movement are empowered (in-filled, moved and/or overshadowed) by the Holy Spirit in the first chapter of Luke alone. They range from a baby in the womb (John) and a youth (Mary) to a nearly retired couple (Zechariah and Elizabeth). And the Spirit doesn’t seem to gender discriminate, for half of them are female.” Then there’s Simeon and Anna and Jesus himself in the remaining three chapters, all animated by the Holy Spirit. The full paper is available upon request (firstname.lastname@example.org).
What I began to realize, to my surprise and shame, was that I had been working over the last number of months with my team at Kwiverr to launch a leadership incubator for forming international students from unreached people groups (UPGs) to launch disciple-making movements and church planting movements among these UPGs and in all of that had been totally mute on the place of the Holy Spirit in the paradigm and praxis of this endeavour. What? My theological paper basically said to me, “Shame on you.” “Honey, I shrunk the Spirit!” I tucked my tail in between my legs as I ate humble pie.
I did share this with the Kwiverr team and already changes have occurred and you can see from the Kwiver Konstant (below), which summarizes our training and coaching philosophy that ‘Spirit-empowered’ has been added to the base, besides ‘Biblically-informed’ and ‘Research-based.’
BACK TO BUDAPEST
So, what was the strong exhortation in Budapest that I had not heeded myself?
“Guys, no one went to a better Bible school than the disciples.” They were not just studying the Word, they lived with the Word Himself; the Word made flesh! They did not just believe that Jesus died and rose again—they were there, they saw and felt the danger of death—as a matter of fact, did they not all run away on the night He was arrested? They did not read a story, someone else’s account; in fact, I love the way John the Beloved put it in his first epistle. He says, “We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the word of life.”
So I continued babbling, “Yet He told them not to go about preaching, teaching, leading, healing, whatever, until they had received the power of the Holy Spirit from on high.”
It’s true these trainees of ours may have encountered Jesus personally in the spiritual, it’s true they may have been discipled and trained in leadership. Now they have the authority/right to be leaders in their contexts, communities, and countries, but they still don’t have power! It’s like laying out all the electrical wiring in a house one is building; but until the house is connected to the national grid and electricity kicks in, there’s no power!”
Now, whether or not you do remember the movie, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” you probably are dumbfounded about what I shrunk and shirked: the Holy Spirit in Kwiverr incubator for forming disciple making and church planting movement leaders from and to Unreached People Groups! Thank God St. Luke’s words 2,000 years ago convicted me and my own words a decade-and-a-half ago condemned me. I’ve repented in sack cloth and ashes, never again to make such gargantuan error of omission. And our trainees are the better for it!
 Yaw Perbi. 2015. Thinking Outside the Window. Maitland, FL: Xulon Press, 194-195.
 Yaw Perbi. 2022. “The Stuff Supernatural Shakers are Made of.” Unpublished paper as part of the Doctor of Global Leadership course. Pasadena, Ca: Fuller Theological Seminary.
 Yaw Perbi. 2015. Thinking Outside the Window. Maitland, FL: Xulon Press, 195.