Monday, May 11, 2015

An ICM Announcement

Friday, May 8, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

I am writing to you from Bakersfield, CA where the office of the International Christian Ministries (ICM) USA is located.  This is my third time in this city since joining ICM two years ago.  I'm writing to let you know that I was asked to take the position of Executive Director of ICM, and after a period of prayer and consideration with wise brothers and sisters in Christ, I have decided to accept that appointment.

So what does that mean?  Good question.

But let me first share about what it does NOT mean:

For those with whom I've shared with information, the first response has been, "So that means you won't be working in Africa as much."  No, it does NOT mean that.  This position does not affect anything in terms of my current work.  I will continue the work of Discipling Marketplace Leaders (DML) as I ave been doing.  It does not affect the launching of DML in Egypt and in Ghana in June.  It does not affect the work on the book that I am doing.  I will still be traveling as much as I have been and probably more, both domestically and internationally.

The second response that I have received is, "So this means you don't need to raise your own support." No, it does NOT mean that either.  It does not change anything regarding my funding needs.  All staff of ICM USA have to raise 100% of their support, including executive staff.  So I do not need less funding with this appointment - I actually will need more, as I now need to fly to Bakersfield CA on a quarterly basis to spend time in the office, with the Board of Directors,the staff, and to meet with people in this area of the US.

That is what it does not mean.  Here is a bit of what it DOES mean:

The negative way to look at it would be to say, "Hmmmm...This sounds like there will be more work and responsibility, when your plate is already full.  Additionally there is no more money or increase in salary - you actually have to raise more when you are already, what is the point?  Glad you asked.

First, I will be able to use the gifts and talents that God has given me to work with this organization at a critical time.  ICM USA is thirty years old and is undergoing some transitions. They seem to think I can assist in this.  I happen to be a firm believer not only in the work of ICM, but also the way in which it is done.  I have become the Executive Director of ICM USA.  I am not the Executive Director of all the countries where ICM works  .  That is because ICM is independently run in each country.  ICM is composed of an International Council, of which ICM USA holds only two seats, just like every other ICM participant country (Members of the International Council are Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, DR Congo, and Canada; strategic partners include Egypt, Liberia, and South Africa).  That is crucial for true development to occur with partner countries, partnering shoulder to shoulder.  I love that about ICM!  ICM is also about building the Global Church.  ICM looks at this work holistically, which includes Discipling Marketplace Leaders.  I believe two years ago that God called me to help building His Church by renewing its mission to the marketplace.  If I can contribute to that through this position, than I am honored and humbled.

Second, once the book and my masters are completed, which will hopefully be this year, I will have more time freed up Stateside to do this work.  The job of Executive Director can be done remotely, from Grand Rapids or Kenya or Egypt or Ghana.  Fortunately the central office is quite efficient and supportive, which makes this possible.  Dr. Phil Walker is a visionary leader, and he remains President of ICM giving me the opportunity to work closely alongside him.

Third, and most importantly, the callings of God on my life have NEVER made mathematical sense from a human perspective.  They have never been logical from a "this is good for me and my financial future" perspective.  Moving to the inner city, Bob losing his job at Calvin so Hannah and Noah could go to the neighborhood school instead of a Christian school, moving to Africa, leaving Partners Worldwide, and so on - almost every life or calling related decision has been questioned by people asking "how sane is it?"  In fact, such questioning has almost become the standard for me to know that I am on the right track.  [Just kidding.]  One of Bob's and my favorite verses comes from 1 Corinthians 15:19 which reads: "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied."  We are to be pitied because we made decisions that were contrary to what the world would say is good or wise or prudent because we believe in Christ and his resurrection.  I remember Bob preaching a message on whether or not we are living pitiable lives.  I believe, and have seen, that God will provide for His children when they seek to do His will and serve Him with their lives.  So I am going forward with confidence in that thought.

Will you join me in prayer for these new responsibilities?  I am naturally nervous about this - both in terms of my being up for the task, as well as having the time and energy necessary to rise to the challenge.

I continue to value and appreciate the body of Christ as it works together to fulfill the calling of the Church.  Thank you for joining me.