1. What are your new ministries and what countries are included in the Western South Asia region?
After nearly 20 years of serving the Lord and living in South Africa, doing church planting and also functioning as Regional Director for Southern Africa, we’ve recently accepted the role of Regional Director for the Western South Asia region. This region is part of the 10/40 Window and geographically stretches from Bangladesh, west across the Indian Ocean, and into the Persian Gulf area. The position is designed by ABWE to lead our missionary teams and assist our national partners. We also provide soul care or “shepherding” of our missionary co-workers located in the region. This new position includes providing oversight to various ministries such as; medical missions (a hospital), Bible translation, literature development and production, church planting, theological education, camps, agricultural, schools, etc.
2. How did God lead you in this new direction?
God led us to this decision in much the same way as He did when we were first called into missions in the late 90s — through His Word, prayer, entrusted friends/mentors speaking into our lives, and confirming circumstances. We were not unhappy with our lives or ministries in South Africa; we just sensed a Godly “push” and “pull” for something more He wanted us to do. There was a “push” away (the feelings of being freed-up) from all we knew, loved, and felt comfortable with, to a heartfelt burden, or a “pull” toward the unreached, particularly Muslims. We felt like the Holy Spirit was creating in us an irresistible burden, asking us to stretch ourselves and go where there are not many missionaries or workers, and yet billions of lost people. In fact, approximately five billion people reside in over 8,000 distinct people groups in the 10/40 Window. Our South Asia region is home to the largest Muslim countries in the world. We believe God desires us to take our years of ministry, training, and experience to limited access or closed countries. Ephesians 2:10 became even more precious to us in the days of uncertainty and fear, eventually leading us to a willingness to step out by faith and trust God for His next assignment. It was not an easy decision but we have tremendous and unexplainable peace (Phil. 4:7).
3. How is this new role different than what you did before? Will you need additional training?
In many ways our new Regional Director leadership responsibilities will be much the same as in Southern Africa, however, there are also some big differences between the two ministries. Certainly, the variety and complexity of the ministries mentioned above will take some getting used to, however, the main difference will be ministering in Muslim culture. And yes, additional training is needed to better understand Islam and how to live and minister cross-culturally in Muslim majority countries.
4. You’ve been in South Africa for nearly 20 years, how do you feel about leaving?
We love South Africa, our ministries, and our family and friends who are there, but we also knew we needed to obey the Lord, and God made it clear that He was taking us in a new direction. At this point, we are transitioning. All of our ministries in South Africa have been handed over to our teams and their leadership. We’ll return to South Africa for three weeks in late August for an official time of farewell. South Africa, the people, our churches, and the missionaries will always have a special place in our hearts, but we are also very excited for the opportunity to build new relationships and see what God has in store.
5. What do you actually do as an ABWE Regional Director?
An ABWE Regional Director is responsible for the ministries and missionaries in their region. Ideally, they are located in or near their region in order to be available and helpful to their missionaries. The Regional Director’s responsibilities include administration, i.e., recruiting personnel, handling policy and financial matters, opening new countries in the region. We also lead the various teams in the region to implement strategic plans aimed at carrying out ABWE’s vision to “fulfill the Great Commission by multiplying leaders, churches, and missions movements among every people.” More importantly, and the part we like best, is that the Regional Director functions as a pastor/shepherd for the missionaries in their region. We seek to provide soul care, promote spiritual growth and wellbeing, bring encouragement, pursue accountability, and provide counsel when needed.
6. Where will you live in the new region?
We visited our new region in April to meet the missionaries, see the ministries first hand, and help begin a strategic planning process for the region. We’ll head back again in September to continue that planning process and spend some extended time getting to know our missionaries and their ministries. This trip will also give us an opportunity to determine the best place for us to live. It’s a large geographical area, so we are looking for a city that is located in the region, where English is a primary language, housing is affordable, and we can engage in local ministries that suit our gifting, such as, church planting, training and equipping leaders, counseling, etc. We are currently investigating living in the Persian Gulf area. As we’ve been doing, we will continue to come in and out of America, as needed, to fulfill our leadership responsibilities with ABWE, minister in our supporting churches, and recruit/mobilize new missionaries.
7. Why do you speak in generalities or refrain from using names and exact locations?
Controlling the information we share is something we will all have to get accustomed to, as security in this region is much different than we’ve previously experienced. Ministries in limited or restricted access countries require caution. There are new rules and reasons to protect our identity and the identity of those with whom we serve. We will eventually limit and/or discontinue our website/blog as well as implement new social media boundaries. As our partners, we will make the new communication guidelines clear and easy to understand. Thank you, in advance, for honoring our requests to secure any information you receive from us.
8. What does limited or restricted access mean? Will you be ministering in places that are unsafe?
We will be working in parts of the world where traditional evangelical methods of reaching people with the Gospel are not advisable, or in some cases, prohibited. Because these areas are often difficult places to obtain visa or travel permits, they are referred to as limited access countries. Creative and innovative ways to reach people with the Gospel are used with caution, and deliberate measures are taken to protect those who live and work there. ABWE works in many different ways to share the life-saving message of hope through compassion ministries, business, education, healthcare, etc.
9. What does your schedule look like for the remainder of 2019?
We are in the states until mid-August with plans to minister at our home church in Columbus, OH; speak at my Dad’s memorial service, spend a week of vacation with family; minister at a church in Mt. Laurel, NJ that is new to us; participate and teach at ABWE’s Ministry Enrichment Conference in Baltimore, MD; attend security training in Harrisburg, PA, visit our friends and ministry partners in St. Louis, MO; and attend the South Asia Regional Planning Meetings in Portland, OR. From there we will fit in a visit to our churches/teams in South Africa and take a ministry trip to our new region (Sept. –Nov.). We ask for your prayers during this season of growing, adjusting and getting resettled. As you can see, we will be traveling extensively through the end of the year and would appreciate your prayers.
10. Do you need to raise additional financial support?
Every missionary I know hates to talk about money, which is partly why we saved this question for last. However, I have also learned that people want to know so they can help. But and before I pass along our specific needs, let me assure you, even as I preach this to my own soul, we are confident that God will provide all that we need to accomplish what He has called us to do (1 Thess. 5:24). It’s a big assignment but He is a big God! When we took this position, we anticipated the need for additional support funds. Specifically, in the area of monthly support, as traveling and the cost of living in our new region is more expensive than in South Africa. We also have more missionaries to care for and a larger region to reach.
How can you be involved and engaged as you support and pray for us?
- Email: Make sure we have your current email address, as this is the best way that we will be able to communicate directly with you about our new ministry going forward. If you are not sure we have it, please send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make sure you are on our new mailing list.
- Give: Consider a financial donation and join the Wolfpack team. People often give to missions through regular monthly gifts while some prefer periodic one-time donations. Our support team is currently made up of an amazing group of 25 churches and 20 individuals/families. All of the gifts received are tax deductible as a charitable donation. Our ABWE account number and website are listed below.
- Pray: We are thankful for so many who have faithfully prayed for us through the years. Don’t stop now! As we move into one of the enemy’s darkest areas of the world, we need your prayers more than ever. Satan has a stronghold in this region and most have yet to hear how Jesus came to bring them life. Please pray. Everyone on our email list will regularly receive specific prayer requests related to ongoing activities and needs in our ministry.