Well in June of this year it will be 30 years since we began ICM in Canada (originally, Global Outreach Association). We first spent a couple years in Africa and then, after returning to Canada for a few years, relocated to Berlin to facilitate leadership training in Eastern Europe.
As I reflect on those early days in Africa, I have been thinking about the many changes that have happened since then. In those “good ‘ol days” there was no internet, no email . . .no instant access. Phone calls were expensive and almost unheard of, getting a fax (remember those?) was an event.
Obviously, there have been a few changes in our family also. Our daughter, Alysia, is now in her early thirties, has a degree in Science and serves her clients as a Speech Language Pathologist and Vocologist. As for Nancy and I, we look like we have just gotten thirty years older!
As I think about the mission and the results of all these efforts over the years, I sometimes wonder if after three decades of leadership training if we have even made a dent in the need? I would like to think that we have made a difference within our sphere of influence, but to say that the task is accomplished would be a bit of a stretch.
The work in Africa is being led by local Africa leaders and it is exciting to see the Church in Africa continue to grow. During this time there has also been a massive change in Eastern Europe. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, many came to Christ in Eastern Europe. But today things are a bit more complex as some countries again have more repressive regimes and church growth has slowed. At the same time, as some of these countries have adopted more western values, the Gospel message has been drowned out and the focus on making disciples has become diluted.
Our ministry, which began in Africa and then transitioned to Eastern Europe, has in the last fifteen years also expanded into Latin America, with some forays into China and Asia. We have continued to develop leadership materials in various languages and have seen a movement of leaders committed to servanthood, training other leaders within our Ministry Coaching Network (MCNet).
As I look back at all the changes in the last thirty years, one thing that has not changed is our commitment to training the next generation of leaders (though we are now closer to the “older” generation than the younger one!). Though our vision and purpose has not change, our strategies and methodology obviously need to continually adapt in order to fulfill this vision. Witnessing these leaders train those who are now continuing to train others confirms that our efforts have not been in vain. A constant source of encouragement has been the consistent commitment of our prayer and financial partners who have stood with us, and continue to do so, after all these years. It is a privilege and honor to have been partners in Gospel over the decades. We remain committed to meeting the need of training and encouraging leaders and those they serve. Thank you for your faithfulness in helping us be your hands and feet extended around the world.