New CEO’s First Day on the Job

Jacinta CEO Intro Long
This comes from the Life on the Rutledge monthly enewsletter that gives short blurbs about the ministries with which Mason is involved.  Subscribe.  You can do so by clicking here.
January was a monumental month in the long history of CRISTA Ministries. It isn’t often that we transition between CEOs. CRISTA Ministries has only had six CEOs in its 69-year history. History was also made because we now have our first female CEO of CRISTA Ministries. On January 15, Jacinta Tegman took over the helm.
Vice Chair of the CRISTA Board, Jill Going, introduced Jacinta to the CRISTA employees the morning of her first day. It was a tremendous celebration and opportunity for Jacinta to share her vision.  You can watch the entire CEO introduction and Jacinta’s speech by clicking here.

Jacinta outlined “God’s plan for CRISTA.” She talked about her long history on the campus. How as a young teenager she worked in the laundry for just a few spending dollars. She shared the history of the campus, going back to the pre-CRISTA years, when the campus was a tuberculosis sanatorium. She talked about how this property became a place of hope in a difficult time for people being challenged and outcast by society.

Jacinta reminder the employees that while we are an organization that operates with professionalism and excellence, we are more than just an organization. “We are CRISTA Ministries,” she said, “not CRISTA Industries.”

And what does it mean to be CRISTA Ministries in this new era? Jacinta outlined four points to our common calling:

  1. Serve and Love God – “Our first ministry is to Him and to be transformed by His love, mercy and grace.”
  2. Serve in Mission – “We are called to serve needs. It’s as relevant in 2019 as it was 70-years ago…Ministry means service.”
  3. Service to Each Other – “We must trust the potential in each of us.”
  4. Service to Community and World – “Let us step into the world’s pain and make a lasting difference in Jesus name.”
It was a powerful first day on the job. In the campus’ long history – before titles, organizations or jobs – it was evident that God has been active in this place. “We don’t do the work of God,” Jacinta said. “We join in the work of God. This is a ministry to serve the needs of people with the love of God.”
“We are in the business of hope and the world is starving for it,” Jacinta concluded. “Let us be brokers of hope.”

CRISTA’s Prayer Week

Draw Near to God

This article from the Life on the Rutledge monthly enewsletter that gives short blurbs about the ministries with which Mason is involved.  Subscribe.  You can do so by clicking here.

This week is the annual Prayer Week on the CRISTA Campus and in CRISTA’s ministries around the world. Above, you can see the banner on the front of Martin Center. This week is set aside in the CRISTA calendar for designated times of prayer.

New CRISTA CEO Jacinta Tegman wrote, “As we prepare our hearts to come together in our week of prayer, it is my prayer that the Lord will open our eyes to understand His mighty protective heavenly army surrounding us… And, I pray that the Lord will grow our faith to do whatever He asks us to do knowing we are not alone in the battles we face. God is indeed with us.”

The theme for the week of prayer is “Draw Near to God.” Each day this week, the staff will gather for an hour of designated prayer for a specific ministry. This time includes prayer walks around the campus and specific prayer requests from the field. The time is rich and much needed in the challenging world of helping ministries in a hurting world.

Friday afternoon, students go home, offices close and only the most necessary of staff continue in their physical work efforts. The rest of us will gather in the auditorium for a few hours in the spiritual work of guided prayer.

We greatly value prayer in our personal lives, in our vocational work and in our organization. It is a thread through all that we do. This is simply our week to remind us of this central focus.

We want you to join us for any of our corporate times of prayer. The best time to join us would be for the Concert of Prayer on Friday afternoon in Schirmer Auditorium from 1 to 4 p.m. There are also daily prayer times. There are various times to pray for the different ministries. Shoot me an email for more information or to RSVP for any of the prayer times…

Please prayer for us as we focus corporately together on prayer. Thank you.

Two-Years Bittersweet

Last month I celebrated my two year anniversary here at World Concern.  Reflecting on the time strikes bittersweet.

World Concern, as a part of CRISTA Ministries, has offered me an incredible opportunity to learn.  I had two primary areas of study in this new job… 1) Deliberately walking with giving partners and 2) The field of global aid and relief.  I may have known something about the first, but the second has been a steep learning cure.  That learning curve is more significant because of the volume and velocity of today’s international relations and global poverty issues.

It has been sweet to work in this environment.  My grandfather was here at day one of CRISTA Ministries, then King’s Garden.  I have history.  The work is significant.  The sweetest gift has been the encouragement for me to use my gift.  What I do well is wanted, used and that flame is fanned.

Mason and DetroitAs sweet as the place, has been the people.  I get to work with some of the most amazing, loving, giving people across North America.  I’ve traveled to dozens of cities across the continent and been simply amazed by the World Concern donors.  They love Jesus and love others that many don’t even recognize.

So why bitter?  I touched on it a little bit in that last line.  There are so many people in the world today that need help and most of them are not even recognized by us in the western world.  It’s sad how little we hear about the poor and oppressed.  It’s sad how little we hear of the dark places of our world.

The bitterness has pushed me to place and people where I can encourage their engagement.  It’s added to the sweetness.  Maybe that is the point of “bittersweet.”

Pray Specific for Baggage Fees

This month at World Concern, we are praying for $1.96 million in new funding.  That is $1.96 million to be received in this 30-day month.

I had someone say, “Why not just pray for $2 million?”  I thought, “Because after the diligent work of our accounting and income processing people they have determined we need $1.96 million.”  He responded, “Have you met accountants?  You should pray for $2 million.”  Needless to say, this guy was in sales.

When I look at the Bible and the use of figures, numbers and currency, God does not round.  It wasn’t “about 10 disciples.”  They didn’t catch “around 150 fish.”  Baskets didn’t return with a “few loaves.”  Twelve, 153, 5 and 3, 70, 40 and a whole bunch of other numbers were used in exact figures in the Bible.

The God of the Bible is an exact God.  We aren’t whirling out into space on an approximation…”I’m glad that worked.”  He has numbered your days…God is not thinking you will live “for awhile.”  Recall that this is the Lord that knows the very number of hairs on your head.

In the Jewish mindset numbers were very specific.  They didn’t round up, down or simply change figures, because numbers meant something.  Specific numbers were important in the Biblical times, they were important to God and they should be important to us.

Figures may be intimidating.  Even as I share raising $1.96 million in one month, you may think, “Holy cow” (we’ll get to that).  By having an exact figure, we may miss the target and that is disappointing.  We don’t want to be disappointed, especially in our efforts, prayers or especially, God. Our figures are not intimidating to God.  He had a plan.  This is the Lord that owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  Most of the time we just need a cow.

This isn’t just about numbers, God also wants us to do the work.  The Bible is clear that if we are faithful with the small things, God will bless us with the big things.  J. Robert Clinton of Fuller Seminary calls it the 16:10 Principle.  It’s based on the verse, Luke 16:10, that says if you are faithful with the small things, you will be faithful with the big things.

Should you really expect God to answer your prayers for $1.96 million if you don’t even have the ability to truly know if you actually need $1.97m, $2m or $1.7m?  The scripture and personal experience has shown me that if you are not faithful with the small things, like being specific, God will not bless you with the big things of life.

For a time I was managing a number of ministry budgets that were in deficit.  This required a deep dive into ministry operations and budgeting.baggage.jpg

As I poured over budgets and talked to Executive Directors, there was one consistent.  They all had various issues, from lack of income to a bad hire to an event that lost money, that put them in the red.  But there was one expense that all of them had in common.  Each of these ministries had paid a baggage fee for a plane trip.

In their season of mandated money micromanagement, I asked, “Why?”  They responded, “It was just easy.,” “I didn’t have time to pack,” “Wasn’t sure what to do.”  This was the themes to the answers…a general lack of planning and inattention to the small things.

So then I started to look at surplus budgets in-similar organizations.  Those ministries did not have expenses for baggage fees or book orders from a local book store or a large Starbucks account bill (and Lord knows I like my Venti Frap).

Now does $25 for a baggage fee make a difference?  Not in $1.96 million.  What it pointed to is that they were not being thoughtful of the small things.  The thought was that $25 doesn’t matter.  They are correct.  It is a small amount.  It should not be sweated.  Yet, there should be a mindset that says, each little bit counts because it is all God’s and I will act and plan like that it true.

So the accountants have done the work.  We’ve check the figures.  We trust a big God.  And we are praying for $1.96 million this month.  Join in the fun.  Pray with us and let’s see what God does as we push to the end of the month.

Rohingya Visit and Report

Rohingya refugee camp.
Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh.

“It’s impossible—and that is why we are there.”

This is the conclusion by World Concern President, Jacinta Tegman, after her visit to the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh last month.
Jacinta and a team of World Concern staff visited the Rohingya in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. Upon her return, she gave our Seattle-based team first-hand reports about the world’s largest refugee crisis. This report is fresh and from the front lines.
There are more than one million people currently seeking refuge in Bangladesh from abuse and persecution in Myanmar. It is believed that over two-thirds of those people are under the age of 18.  As adults and parents have either sent their kids to safety or simply did not arrive safely themselves through the difficulty and abuse of the migration.
In many American cities, we have small “tent cities” sitting under bridges or city forests. These areas house a couple dozen people. “Imagine the kind of enclaves we see in Seattle, but one that houses one million people,” Jacinta said. “That is what it is like (in Cox’s Bazaar).”
The main “street” between these shanties is maybe six or seven feet wide. The small shelters, made of anything people can get their hands on, are nearly touching at the overhangs. If one falls, many fall. If one burns, many burn.
Sewers literally overflow. They aren’t large enough, deep enough or distant enough from the clean water wells. Dirty water runs down the middle of that six-feet wide “main street.”
Nearby forests have been stripped of timber to provide much of the structure for these shanties, which now exist on those bare hillsides. The monsoon season is coming and the rains will most likely bring these hills down.
These are the physical realities. There is also psychosocial trauma. Nearly everyone has seen a family member die. Some have lost their entire family. Many of the kids no longer have parents. Educated, capable people have nothing to do. The current existence is physically, emotionally and socially terrible.
Jacinta told one story of a 20-year old woman, who looked 14 (see picture below). She had lost her whole family. She tried to tell her story but it just came out as tears. Jacinta took her in her arms and caressed her hair. This young girl had many needs but in that moment, she needed someone to love her.
Our limited staff are working to not only love on the Rohingya, they are also working to provide. Working in partnership with other agencies, it is a full-time work of food, sanitation, medicine, etc. We work closely with the Bangladesh government who has strict directives on service. The government is proud and expects agencies to provide excellence. We are honored to be present in Bangladesh whereas other agencies have not been welcomed or even sent home.
You may not have even heard about the issues in Bangladesh. Go back and look at previous “Life on the Rutledge” emails. We have included links to a few of the powerful and heartbreaking stories. The truth is, as Nick Archer, Vice President of World Concern said, “This refugee crisis is the most under-reported crisis in the world.”
It’s impossible work, but we serve a God that loves “impossible” tasks. Please join us in prayer. Specifically for:
  • The Bangladesh governmental leaders
  • The Christians in the country (about .3%–yes one-third of one percent) whom are “direly needed” to be salt and light to the Rohingya people
  • The angry youth—can you imagine what 600,000 kids are going through, many of which have seen their parents killed or their family members die in route to Bangladesh?
  • God to continue to move
  • The governments of the world would provide program funding. World Concern needs $1 million per year for the foreseeable future.
Thanks for joining us in prayer and linking hearts with these people.
This article was originally published in the “Life on the Rutledge” enewsletter.  To subscribe, click here.

World Concern’s Hurricane Response on ABC Affiliate

Houston Flood reliefThere were many reports about the landing of Hurricane Irma on U.S. shores in mid-September.  The impact of the powerful hurricane on Haiti went unreported, except for in Seattle.
Here in Seattle, our Director of Disaster Relief Chris Sheach was interviewed by KOMO4 News, the local ABC affiliate.
The two-and-a-half minute report includes video taken by our staff in Haiti and some screen time by our Haiti Country Director Kimcy Blaise.
To watch this story click here or click the box below.

Taking Pictures Across Cultures

img_9153-e1507674799894.jpgGathering folks from around the world for a photograph is a social experiment.  There is personal space, smiling vs. no smiling, touching, etc. that doesn’t always translate.  You can see it in this photo of me with World Concern staff from around the world during our Transform Gala last month.  The photo ended up looking more professional than personal.  I love these people…and I think they kind of like me…

How do you cross this cultural divide?

IMG_9167Simply hold out your arm and phone and exclaim, “Selfie!”  Everyone from around the world will naturally gather around you with broad smiles and the joy of the common experience.  Like this photo from the Transform Gala…that even had World Concern President Jacinta Tegman jump in with out photo bomb.  Not that is love

It is a small…selfie…world after all.

This article is from the October edition of Life on the Rutledge enewsletter.  To subscribe to the monthly enewsletter, click here.

April Report: Isaiah, Famine, Teen, Discussion, Italy

The prophet Isaiah says, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.”  As the drought crisis in East Africa has escalated this month, I’m sure there are people in South Sudan and Somalia saying, “Surely, this can’t be.”  The prophet continues, “Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way as we stumble without eyes.”

Everyone in East Africa is grouping.  Grouping for answers.  Praying for rain.  Gathering anything to eat.  The World Concern staff are working day and night, spending some of their own money, just to ensure that “No child dies on their watch.”  That is their rallying cry.  They may not be able to save everyone, but they are working to save every child.

While applicable, the prophet in Isaiah 59 is not writing about a lack of rain.  Instead he is speaking to the human condition; the starvation in our souls. “He saw that there was no one,” he continues.  “So his own arm achieved salvation.”  God saved us and He will surely save East Africa.  The last verse, “The Redeemer will come to Zion” and He will come to our dear friends in Roc Roc, Kuburchaj, Ranguo, Abongo, Kuanya and dozens of other villages, towns and cities.

Famine.  Our Director of Disaster Relief Chris Seach spent a couple weeks in East Africa assessing the situation and working to strategize a response with our staff.  The Seattle radio station KOMO AM 1000 did a couple interviews with Chris.  It’s a powerful piece.  You not only hear about the field and the famine but your hear the exhaustion in Chris’ voice.

This interview was attached to the email newsletter I send out each month.  If you want to receive that newsletter make sure you subscribe to the right. This interview isn’t available anywhere except in this email.  This is the kind of information that I’m providing the in the monthly enewsletter piece.

If you haven’t seen news reports about the drought and subsequent famine in South Sudan, CBS News’ 60 Minutes aired a powerful segment.  You can watch it by clicking here.  Note that you only hear from Western, white aid workers in the story.  This highlights a key distinctive of World Concern’s work.  If 60 Minutes interviewed a World Concern worker in South Sudan, that person would be an East African.  It’s key to our work.  It opens doors for us in hard to reach places.  Our staff and volunteers are East African’s serving their own.  Chris may visit and offer history from efforts around the world and a career of experience in disaster relief, but it is our African co-workers that do the aid work.

Thirteen K for His Thirteenth BDay.  While much of the world may be missing the crisis in East Africa, there is one boy in Snohomish, Washington, who is not.  For his thirteenth birthday Blake Habersetzer is working to raise $13,000 for water in East Africa.  As most of you know, I spent decades working with teenagers.  I don’t know many (maybe any) that would go to this kind of effort on behalf of the poor, needy and oppressed.  I’m sharing his page (click here), not to entice a gift, but so you can see the video and the work that this young man has done.Thirteenth Bday

Blake isn’t just relying on the website.  His main approach is standing outside of a local grocery store.  He made a display and developed a quick pitch for the approaching shoppers.  “I talk really fast as they approach,” Blake said.  “I stop talking when people start digging in their purses and wallets.”  He then gives them a report on how the water is being delivered.

So far it is going very well.  His biggest obstacle has been people thinking he’s selling Girl Scout cookies.

Monday Discussion.  Last month I asked you to pray for me as I was preparing to participate with other aid and relief leaders in a panel discussion of how Christian relief and development agencies might better embody religious freedom/reconciliation in the Pacific Northwest.  It was a powerhouse group and I was honored to be a part.  I led a fascinating discussion about the unique characteristics of the Pacific Northwest.  I’ve summarized the discussion and some of my thoughts in a recent two-part blog post.  You can read it on http://www.lifeontherutledge or see the first post by clicking here.

Thanks for your prayers.  It went amazingly well.  So much fun.

Vacation.  Can I offer another personal prayer request in such a challenging time for so many?  My family and I are blessed this week to be in Italy.  Our 20-year old daughter is studying in Verona this semester so we took advantage of all the local connections to visit.  Our whole family is enjoying her Italian “home.”  Pray that this is a wonderful time for us.  Thank you.

Thanks again for reading this little piece.  Thanks even more for your support of World Concern.  My goal in this email is to give you some special insights into World Concern, our work on behalf of the poor and oppressed and on my own life.  Thanks.

Clean Water in Crates

clean-waterWorld Concern is constantly innovating to solve the complex issues of the poorest and most destitute places in the world.  We call these places “the end of the road.”  This innovation includes strategic partnerships with governments, funders, other aid agencies and socially-conscious business ventures. 

Unfortunately, “The end of the road” isn’t a place in South Sudan, it is the whole country.  A key to our work in that country is clean water.  In this barren landscape we must be very creative in our problem solving.  That has led us to a company that creates full-proof, free-standing and fast-acting water purification systems.  These systems are revolutionary and we are blessed to be working with such an pioneering group of men and women.

While the water purification systems are amazing, they aren’t helping the people of South Sudan … because they are still sitting in customs. 

Most of our prayer requests are large…”Feed the hungry,” “Keep kids safe,” “End the war,” “Ease the pain.”  This one is pretty simple… Pray that these water purifying systems would clear the complex and complicated web of customs.

Strategic partnerships, like this one, are a creative avenue for us to venture with socially-conscious businesses, creating innovative products to solve global health issues.  I love our strategic partnerships, as it doesn’t value who will get the credit, but is the job getting done.  It is the right way to operate…but can lead to these challenges.

Happy Day

On this darkest of days (weather, season and holiday), it seemed appropriate to wish you a warm, hopeful, heartfelt greeting. 

My current role with World Concern has me working in, what some would call, dark places… We call it the “end of the road.”  It is those cities, villages, markets, families and individuals where little has been invested.  It is here that our staff discover the seed of hope that is in every individual.  The vast majority of our staff are from these very same villages, regions or country and arehelp that seed develop from a desire to a determined effort.  An effort that will improve livelihoods, disaster risk and recovery, the protection of children and education, economic development and microfinance and non-clinical health…the five core efforts of World Concern.  These five core all fall under our Transformational Development efforts that look not only at a person, but at a divinely created contributor to their community and the world.

It may be dark, but hope is ahead and, rather than candy, we are lovingly offering that hope to our neighbors at the end of the road tonight.