Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Anniversaries

Today, the 6th of January, 2009, is the 1 year anniversary of Leaders 4 Life. I want to take a moment to look back over this first year and thank two people who've been key-leaders in year one.

It was on January 6th, 2008 that I was commissioned at Holy Trinity, St. Andrews to head to Sierra Leone for the first time. It was on this trip that I learned of the significance of this date for the country--a day when rebels entered Freetown and wreaked havoc on so many (see my early post here: http://leaders4life-sierraleone.blogspot.com/2008/03/january-6th.html). When our son James was only 6 weeks old, I headed to West Africa for the first time, beginning to live out this dream which God had placed in our hearts several years ago. I returned home from Africa three weeks later only to move our family into another house a few days after my return, just in time to host Tom & Ninie Hammon of Young Life. Needless to say, it was a whirlwind Winter. Much of the rest of the year has been spent bearing down upon my thesis in an effort to finish the Ph.D. In the Spring, however, I did have the opportunity to present our vision for Sierra Leone a number of times, including speaking at Paradise Valley Community Church in Phoenix where we began receiving diamond rings in support (See this post: http://leaders4life-sierraleone.blogspot.com/2008_05_01_archive.html). God has done some amazing things ... not bad for year one!

Lisa and I also celebrated 12 years of marriage a few weeks ago. Over the years as this committment to Sierra Leone snowballed into a life's calling, I had long forgotten much of how it all began. As an anniversary gift, therefore, Lisa did some sneaky fact-finding in order to recover which documentary I first watched about Sierra Leone. She discovered (or re-discovered) that it was a well-known Canadian rap group called the Rascalz which travelled to Sierra Leone in 2000 and produced a documentary about their journey which was aired on MTV in 2001. You can see short clips of the program here: http://www.getloud.ca/en/gpi_av.asp?ID=4. It was this program which God first used to inform me about Sierra Leone and through which He began calling us to this country. Yes, God can even use MTV and a rap group to call people as missionaries! I guess it is fitting that God would use a rap group to call us to this country since the rap culture has always been big in Sierra Leone. I have to admit, being able to watch the documentary where it all began for us eight years ago was pretty nostalgic. Besides providing great memories, Lisa has also been key in helping keep Leaders 4 Life organized. As many of you know, Lisa is amazingly gifted with names, dates, and details. And of course, she keeps our busy household running smoothly by wiping noses, changing diapers, teaching colors, and helping with homework. She is an invaluable member of our team. Thanks for who you and and all you do, Lisa!



I also want to highlight another member of our team who has helped us tremendously over this first year. My long-time mentor Danny Golich travelled with me to Sierra Leone back in January. Danny has no Ph.D. nor does he hold a seminary degree. Danny is not a pastor, nor a big name in the Christian community. But it's for these and many more reasons why I like him. Danny helped start and run six different businesses in his years. But it's not his business experience per se why he is so valuable to me and to Leaders 4 Life. For the things Danny has gone through in his years have been, in his words, merely "preparation for promotion." You see, God has been working on Danny's heart to use his wisdom in leadership for God's kingdom, and we are blessed to have him as a part of our team. As I have read leadership books over the years, I have always found something lacking. They weren't practical enough; they didn't show the reader how to actually lead, how to actually do it. Experience is, of course, the best teacher and Danny has plenty of it. But not all gifted leaders have the ability to translate their experience into teachable insight. But God has not only given Danny tremendous insights into leadership, but also the ability to communicate these insights in ways which cut straight to the heart of the matter. Over the years Danny has coached me on creating "consistent consistency" and a sense of "team." I have learned about prioritization, organization, and delegation. While I have focused upon the big vision, Danny continually reminds me of "all the little steps in between which nobody thinks about when they're starting out." But most importantly, Danny has taught me about patience, faith and balance and has helped me to order my life in a way which honors the calling God has placed upon me. Danny is another invaluable member of our team. Thanks for who you are and all you do, Danny!




This has been a year of learning for us. We have learned that balancing a Ph.D., 3 children, beginning a ministry, along with other committments of Christian service can be challenging at times. We have been learning how to "clear away the clutter," and stay focused upon the single mission and calling God has placed upon our lives: Sierra Leone.

As Lisa and I continue to process the years ahead, Danny will be right there guiding and helping us along the way. And I look forward to the future as we sharpen our vision and begin taking, in Danny's words, "all the little steps in between," to get where God is leading us. At the finish of year one this is just the beginning folks, this is just the beginning ...