Dr. Sue Russell equips, empowers and encourages students to be leaders in their global contexts. Through her work as a Wycliffe Bible translator and now as Associate Professor of Mission and Contextual Studies at Asbury Seminary, Sue uses anthropology to teach others to love without boundaries and to lead with intentional, incarnational vision.
“A lot of people in ministry lead intuitively,” Sue said. “I love teaching anthropology because it helps make explicit the practices students are doing automatically, so they can understand what they’re doing well and be more intentional about that.”
Sue shares that one of her favorite classes to teach is “Missional Formation: The Church in a Global Era.” This class explores the encounter of the historical gospel with contemporary cultures. Students learn what marginalized, minority and multinational communities can offer the global Church.
While she is a lifelong learner, holding several degrees, her education isn’t solely confined to the classroom. She saw these practices exemplified through her work with the Galot* people during her 17-year stint with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Although a missionary and by default, expected to lead the project, the village leaders mentored her as a new Christian and taught her to contextualize leadership and mission through their example.
The Galot people were one of the last major Christian language groups in that particular area of Southeast Asia to receive the Bible in their own language. Early in the process, Sue tried to form a translation committee to help with the project but couldn’t raise any interest with the villagers. During a time of prayer, God reminded her of a young man in the area who had helped her resolve language barriers in the past. He organized the community leaders, who then re-organized themselves and took over the project.
“I had to learn how to be a facilitator and not be in charge and be okay with that,” she said.