Monday, September 10, 2012

It's Kitale, Kenya!

(title written in the style of our last move:  see

Last week I referred to changes and mentioned that there would be a follow up with more changes in this week's blog post.  In addition to buying a home and moving, as well as adjusting to an empty nest, I decided to also change my employment and accept a position on the other side of Africa.  It's definitely a new day!

After much prayer and consultation, I have decided to formally leave Partners Worldwide at the end of this year and begin working with a ministry called International Christian Ministries (   I will be living in Kitale, Kenya, close to the Uganda border, and will be teaching at the Africa Theological Seminary for portions of the year, and then out in the field for other portions of the year, helping churches begin Business as Mission (BAM) groups.

Having been with Partners Worldwide since 2005, this was not an easy decision.  As I had been mentioning in previous blogs, the last eight months have been a pretty intense soul searching and transitional time for me.  My time in Ghana ended in June - where was I to go next?  The ministry that we started in Ghana was a joint ministry with Bob and now I am alone; the kids are happily adjusting to Calvin College - what do I do?  

As I look back over the last year, I can begin to see how God has worked in and through these questions.  Since this blog is a bit like a journal for me, allow me to take some time to write out the highlights:
  • During my silent retreat last summer (2011), I spent time with the passage from Ephesians 3:16-21.  The words "in the church" from verses 20-21 began to jump out at me:  "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever! Amen"  (emphasis mine).  I began thinking about the work that I was doing in light of the church.  We were teaching Business as Mission (BAM) and commissioning Marketplace Ministers to reclaim the marketplace for Christ, but what did we know about the actual effect on the church?  What were business people doing following the commissioning?  What type of on-going support and encouragement were they receiving?  Was Jesus getting the glory in the work that we were doing?   Was the church being built? We try to follow up with people, hear great stories, but it is difficult to get a real sense of impact on the church.
  • Earlier this year, I began wondering about whether or not this idea of working with small and medium size entrepreneurs (SMEs) was having the "trickle down" effect that we were hoping for in terms job creation and fair wages, or whether the SMEs were increasing their profit for the owner's good.  How do we hold business owners accountable for what they are doing with their increased profit, which was a direct result of our training, mentoring, advocacy, and access to capital?  I remember talking to a colleague from East Africa and stating that this unknown made me want to go back to working with the poorest of the poor - the micro-entrepreneurs.  He reminded of what I already knew - that the SMEs are the foundation of the economy and that real change could best be affected through them.  He stated that what we needed to do was not abandon this group but try to figure out how to hold them accountable, disciple, and encourage them.  As I pondered that over the next few weeks, I realized that the only institution that would be able to do that naturally is the church.  
  • In May, I attended a conference in Accra put on by ICM.  [I had been aware of ICM's work for several years, as Rev. Tutu (the head of ICM Ghana) had been commissioning our Marketplace Ministers for several years and was starting ICM in Liberia.]  The conference was called "Structuring for Excellence" and addressed organizational development as well as leadership development.  At the time, I had been considering various opportunities for service in different locations of the world, but nothing was really speaking to me.  I spoke briefly to Dr. Walker after the conference and the words that struck me were his encouragement for me to move toward my passion.  I went home considering those words and wondering about my passion.  Over the next few days, I refined what I was passionate about and I believe God began to reveal to me a new way of doing this work through the church.
Dr. Walker had encouraged me to stay in touch with him following the conference, as they were particularly interested in Business as Mission for the church leaders with whom they work.  Once conversation led to another, and they proposed that I begin to teach Business as Mission, as well as Community Development, at the Africa Theological Seminary (ATS), located in Kitale, Kenya.   They have other branches in Africa (Burundi, Tanzania, DRC) as well, but Kenya would be the best place to start.   

From their website:  ATS is a non-denominational, post-secondary institution of higher learning whose founders and staff are passionately and faithfully committed to train, equip, and empower Christian Leaders already involved in Ministry.  Therefore, ATS train leaders “in ministry” and not “for Ministry”! It is for this reason that all ATS study programs are designed on in-service model around Block Courses to allow our students to continue serving in their primary ministries as they pursue further studies. ( 

The outline of this position would be that I would teach at the seminary for five weeks, and then go out on the field for three months to help roll out BAM groups in various churches.  I will want to continue to partner with Partners Worldwide in some way as I believe the Partners Worldwide model is excellent and can be especially dynamic within the context of a church, whose leaders embrace Marketplace Ministers as the foot soldiers for the church.  I will still be raising my own support with ICM but no longer for a whole region, so that will provide some fundraising relief.

I will be visiting Kitale during the last week of September and from there will go to West Africa for four weeks.  I will then wrap up my work with West Africa during November and December, and make the move to Kitale, Kenya in January.  I appreciate your prayers during these transition times!  I will keep you posted!

ICM exists to equip African Leaders to solve African problems with God's solutions.