ABOVE PHOTO BY MARC EWELL
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. (Psalm 127:1)
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor 15:58)
In many aspects of the Christian life, including the governance of a Christian ministry, there is the challenge of keeping in creative tension, on the one hand, the fact that it is the Lord who ‘builds the house’ and, on the other hand, the call to ‘give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord’. We ‘labour in the Lord’ but it must be as servants of the master builder – following his plans, not our own. Prayer and patience are as important in the role of governance as they are anywhere else in the ministry. It is important that the Board discerns the Lord’s agenda and timing and works in harmony with the mission leadership.
I want to acknowledge the contribution of every member of the WBTA Board. They have taken their governance responsibilities seriously and have embraced the challenge of seeking and patiently trusting the Lord’s guidance rather than driving an agenda based on human wisdom.
The past year has been a good one for WBTA. Financially the Lord has blessed and provided abundantly through Bethel Funerals, legacies, and many donations for projects and people from churches and individuals. There has been a steady stream of enquirers and new members. A huge amount of routine, but important work has been faithfully and diligently done. Recent developments have been consolidated and new initiatives begun. There have been those high points of celebration as Scriptures in part or in full have been made available to different language communities. There have also been the ‘low’ points of dealing with conflict, opposition or simply human failings. Most importantly God has been at work building his church and we have had the privilege of being a part of it.
Among the recent or new developments: the Next Step Development program has been consolidated; the Wycliffe Relief and Development Foundation has been created as a means of raising and channelling funds for certain needs; management and leadership structures have been modified; and God has opened up new, strategic relationships and partnerships that will further the cause of Bible translation in several countries.
In my report to the 2016 AGM I commented, “Looking forward, the big issue for the coming year is identifying the next Wycliffe Australia CEO. It has been frequently said that the single most important thing a Board does is to appoint the CEO.”
We had anticipated that at the 2017 AGM in May we would have been saying our farewells to our CEO, Barry Borneman, and welcoming his successor. However, it has proved otherwise. The Board felt that it was not quite the right time. More ‘patience’ was needed and so Barry was asked to serve for another two years. As Barry prayed and considered this request, he also discerned the Lord’s guidance in this and agreed to stay on – but not with any intention of just filling the role or marking time. Barry is committed to making these last two years among the most significant years of his leadership. As Board chair I have been encouraged and personally challenged by Barry’s renewed commitment to prayer and seeking the Lord’s direction and timing for the next two years. They will be important years in the life of Wycliffe Australia.
It is good to look back, to learn from the past and to give thanks for what God has done, and it is good to look forward also. We can do this with confidence, not because we know what will happened but because we know the God in whose hands the future is held. Our God is at work building his church. His plans in his time will not fail. Praise the Lord.
Yours in Christ’s service
About the Author: Graydon Colville is the Wycliffe Australia Board Chairman. He is also the International Director of Global Recordings Network.