Before I was aware of the changes we’re announcing, I found myself reflecting on the words from John 21:18, “Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go (NIV).” I wasn’t sure why this passage was speaking to me at first. Of course, it was part of His plan.
To be perfectly honest, when I was first told about my new role, I was filled with fear and trembling. Not just because of the enormity of the job — and it’s a big job. No, my fear was more personal. I love being close to the ground and the people I work with. But this structure gets us closer to the ground with more field leadership exposed to what’s actually happening. I know I want to be where God wants me, so this is a time of surrender and I will do as the Lord guides me. He will put me where I need to be.
When I think of where Young Life is today, thanks to the leadership and dedication of Marty Caldwell in International and John Vicary in the U.S., I marvel at the great team they were and I am humbled by the foundation they’ve laid. We would not be where we are without them, and we owe them a debt of gratitude. As we adapt to the changes going forward, there will be shifting roles and responsibilities, which is to be expected. But as the Lord tells us, while we mourn the passing of one season, we should look ahead with excitement at what’s to come next.
Looking ahead, one thing that has me very excited is the elimination of silos between our U.S. and International teams. Of course, there are nuances and differences everywhere we’re working to reach kids with the gospel, but in the end, we’re much more alike than we are different. I view Young Life and our mission as just one cell in the body of Christ. We’re part of God’s bigger work.
As I move into this new role I will lean more than ever on our amazing Africa/Middle East Division team and in particular on our three new vice presidents: Alexis Kwamy (Africa South), James Davis (Africa West) and Martin Wamalwa (Africa East). In addition, my expanded team will now include Mike Gaffney, senior vice president of the Asia/Pacific Division, with whom I have wanted to work more closely for some time. In time, I anticipate adding divisional leaders for India and for the Middle East.
I’d like to close with a passage from Isaiah because it represents where we find ourselves today. As we enter this new season full of hope and with a clear mission to bring the Word of God to as many kids as possible around the world, take these words to heart, “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.” This is our charge. It’s a new season, and we have much to do. Let’s get after it — I’m ready to go!
Group Senior Vice President Africa, Middle East, Asia-Pacific, India
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