Land Disputes

In the Highlands here, land disputes are common. I will describe a
typical one in a moment. From a manager's point of view, land disputes
are the bane of our existence.

Either you want to put something, say a telephone pole or a ditch, to
run cable... on someone's land... and it's a huge hassle.
OR, an employee mysteriously does not show up to work for days on end.

Land disputes can get very violent, very quickly.

A few days ago one of my friends and co-workers asked to go help his
mother, and then was gone mysteriously for three days. His work left
unfinished, and I began to worry. I knew he was going to aid in a land
dispute and when he didn't come back as scheduled I began to pray. My
wife began to pray, my friend began to pray. Because people end up dead.

Sparing too many details, here's a typical scenario.

A man buys land from another man and builds a home there and lives
there. Then the landowner dies, and having married a new wife or having
a young of-age son now, suddenly the new landowners want their piece of
the pie. It wasn't enough to buy the land you live on two decades ago,
because now there are new landowners who don't get any of that previous
money. So they come by and demand money for some reason. Sometimes
claiming you no longer own the land, sometimes claiming you've always
been renting and now owe back rent. Whatever the reason, the new land
inheritors want money. The land occupiers then have to somehow prove
they don't owe it, pay, or things get violent.

What often happens is one party says 'PAY US a LOT OF MONEY!' the other
party says 'NO!' and then they either haggle, or fight. This is a cycle
that unless someone gets smart and documents who owns what, and then
that is enforced.... will repeat itself every time someone dies.

I've seen it happen repeatedly.
Knowing this, I understood that when my employee didn't come back to
work, he could be dead somewhere, or in hiding after having been in a
fight, or... perfectly fine but in a village with no phone or radio to
notify me.

As a manager you have to make a hard call between understanding the
culture, and being left in the lurch by an employee who doesn't show up
to work for several days. It's a hard position to be in. I choose to
err on the side of grace, as do many managers.

Which bites you later. There is the possibility that after several such
instances of applied grace, nothing is documented. Which means at the
tenth instance of this happening, and the employee is let go, there is
no record as to why. So it's no surprise if the employee decides to
turn around and sue for wrongful termination.

So... if you apply grace and forgive, and don't document the instance
because it goes on their employment record as a blemish... then... boom,
later things could really come back to haunt you.

Double whammy.
Being a manager of people in a foreign culture is such a difficult
minefield to negotiate. Especially when you're not using the same
standards as corporate America. The bottom line for us isn't profit,
it's Bible translation, and we invest in changed lives, not amount of
books published. So how do you label yourself successful? What
measurements do you use? And how does that temper your decisions?

Is there any wonder we need a lot of prayer and God's guidance?