Coordinator of Field Missionary Teams
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
“One of my main goals in learning conflict resolution skills was to be able to have enough tools to teach people in missionary team settings how to work through the process of interpersonal conflict. It might surprise folks to know that this is as much a needed and critical skill for missionary field workers as for the public in general.
“People who work in mission fields face huge cross-cultural issues; they are often in conflict before they know it, and they don’t even realize why. Additionally, they have difficulties in interpersonal relationships, ‘religious worker to religious worker,’ just as other people do. Since they frequently work in areas of intense human need, they can wind up in conflict with their peers simply by discussing the best ways to resolve these difficult situations.
“I realized several years ago, at a yearly conference with large-church pastors across the U.S., that we were always hearing horror stories about the huge interpersonal difficulties that exist in the church setting, from staff situations to the congregation. That struck me as rather sad — and as needing some attention. As a pastor, I’ve always been involved in conflict resolution of sorts through the years, but I wanted to learn more about the process so I could develop a higher degree of professionalism in dealing with conflict.
“Through El Centro’s program, I got enough tools to feel both comfortable and competent in the process of conflict resolution. Today, when I walk out of a tense meeting that might have ended with unresolved conflict, I like knowing that I not only understand how the process of conflict resolution works but also am comfortable with using it effectively.
“I was impressed with the quality of teaching at El Centro and found when I walked away from the Conflict Management program that I had all the skills I needed to feel competent.”
Dr. Dickens holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and religion from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., and a master’s and doctorate from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. He served as a field missionary in the Philippines with his wife Karr La for 16 years and as a pastor in Dallas for 12 years.
Serving with his wife in his current position as a coordinator of field mission teams since 2001, he coordinates mission teams in North and South America as well as in sub-Saharan Africa in work involving everything from food and water wells to aiding international refugees and victims of human trafficking and sex trade. He earned certificates in Conflict Management and in Marriage and Family Mediation from El Centro.