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Saturday, June 5, 2010

I’m going to Disney World!

No, I haven’t won the Super Bowl. I’ve done even better as I’ve found my dream job as Director of Internet Strategy at Wycliffe Bible Translators in Orlando, Florida beginning in September. How did I get to this point?

Some time ago, I attended a regional conference of the Finishers Project which encouraged me to seek a ‘second career’ in Christian missions. It has been my intention to do so since I was motivated by a conversation with George Verwer of Operation Mobilization (OM), a missions agency with which my wife Laura served. At least a decade ago, George was intrigued by the Internet cafes in north Africa which offered a means to share the Gospel with people in that part of the world which has always been difficult to reach with the Gospel. Subsequently, I wrote him an email suggesting other ways by which the Internet could be harnessed for missions and even suggesting that OM “needed” an Internet strategist. Thereafter, I had a few conversations with OM, but nothing happened because neither of us was ready yet to create and fill such a position.

Over a year ago, I became aware of a similar position at another Christian organization so I visited them to discuss the position, but it wasn’t a good fit because I was no longer willing to manage staff after stepping down as department chair of CIT@IUPUI.edu three years ago. That organization needed someone to manage a new Internet initiative and when I last checked, that position is STILL open!

In late August, Laura was on the OM-USA Web site so I looked around and discovered a job posting for a Web strategist so of course, I was encouraged because Laura has always hoped to serve with OM again. By September 11, we were in Tyrone, Georgia (south suburban Atlanta) with our daughter Tabitha to explore this opportunity. As a result, we applied to join OM-USA and virtually completed that process (short of being approved) by November, but for a number of reasons, it wasn’t God’s will for us to join OM.

I spent the month of December “mourning” but at the end of December, I did another of my social media aggregations for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s triennial Urbana missions conference because IVCF really doesn’t “get” social media. During Urbana, Wycliffe Bible Translators caught my attention with its social media activity so I figured Wycliffe “gets” it and in January, I called Ruth Hubbard, a Wycliffe Senior Vice President, who I’ve known for many years because we attended the same church here in Indianapolis. As a matter of fact, Ruth’s social media lifestream during Urbana especially caught my attention because she used so much media (she originally joined Wycliffe as a graphics designer) and this was my first aggregation in which I “got” audio and video myself!

Ruth told me she’d “ask around” Wycliffe to see if anyone might be interested in me joining Wycliffe and in March, I heard from Joe Snyder, Wycliffe’s Vice President of Information Technology. Spring break was coming so I decided to go to Florida (something I NEVER did as a student ;-) to visit Wycliffe and as a result, we were encouraged and applied for membership in order to make the move so Tabby could start high school in Florida since she was going to change schools anyway after middle school. I was especially encouraged because Joe agreed to create a position for my “dream job” and he allowed me to play a major role in crafting my job description although Joe got it right by himself anyway!

Well, we got it done with God paving the way and we were notified recently that we have been approved for membership and that our financial resources which God has provided are sufficient for us to be partially self-supporting so I can be on the job by September less than six months after initiating the process! Missionaries will tell you that many of them have had to wait years to go to the mission field while they raise financial support and that can be very discouraging. As a matter of fact, partnership development (raising financial and prayer support) is much of the Wycliffe training course Equip in which we are now enrolled because our membership approval came in time for enrollment in the current training class.

So we ask for YOUR prayer support and we will be posting our prayer requests to a social media resource which I’d started and stopped (didn’t want to count my chickens before they hatched ;-) so it isn’t ready yet. Of course, I wouldn’t refuse any financial support to fund experiments with premium versions of social media services and for incidentals like domain name registrations. On a more serious note, I don’t qualify for Medicare YET (I’m NOT “that old” :-) and I do still have to put Tabby through college (she’s sad she probably won’t get to go to Purdue now unless she does go to vet school) I’ll figure out how to do that after Wycliffe gives me my ministry account numbers.

The adventure has just begun and we’re certainly looking forward to it! Isn’t God good?

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