Looking forward, looking back, but always looking up!
For the past 3 years we have always known this day would come and as I look at the calendar (St. Patrick’s Day) it is appropriate that this newsletter is written today. Cutting to the chase…we have accepted invitations to join the team of OM Ireland.
Our tentative plans are to depart Norway sometime this fall, spend some months in the US, and then arrive in Ireland in January. Jo’s role is still to be determined, but it will probably be similar to what she is currently doing: personnel, member care, short-term missions. My role will be director of partnerships which oversees three separate teams: mobilization, church relations, and financial development.
There are many details to be considered and plans to be made, but the primary driving factor will be the visa for Ireland (Ireland is currently re-writing their policies). Once we know the type of visa we will need and the length of time it takes to apply for it, we will start making a time-line for our departure from Norway. We should know this within a few more weeks.
Why Ireland? The visa situation in Norway limits our length of stay to 4 years, therefore we must leave. We both feel we would like to stay in the European area for a few more years and we know that our best chance of thriving is to be in an English-speaking environment. After evaluating all the options and talking with the Irish leadership, we feel this is the direction we should go.
We are both excited about this upcoming season, but we are also aware of the difficulty we will have saying “good-bye” to the dear people here and to this land we have come to think of as home.
Even though we are making plans for our departure, we are still engaged in the work here. Here are some upcoming events:
April 3-6 I have the pleasure of taking a pastor from our personal church to Ireland. He wants to see the ministry opportunities there and explore the possibility of sending Norwegians to them. Here are two links describing some of those ministries in Ireland.
April 6-15 Jo will also come to Ireland and we will “look around” to see what it will be like for us to actually live there.
April 16-19, Jo will attend a REFRESH conference for wives of leaders at the OM Ireland base.
April 20-22 we will host our Annual General Meeting. This is a weekend event planned to re-connect with the ex-OMers in Norway and to encourage them to re-engage with the staff. The OM International Leader, Lawrence Tong will be the main speaker and we are hoping to see a renewed energy for the work of OM among the Norwegians.
I will attend part one of the Senior Leadership Course in Brussels, Belgium.
Jo will attend the International Personnel Team meeting.
I will preach again at the church where I preached in January. This will be the third time I have been invited back which is a testimony of how God has opened doors.
Our new leader joins the team.
I will participate in Transform Outreach to France with one of the young Norwegians who has “graduated” from the TeenStreet program. I hope this will pave the way for others to follow his lead in the future.
Jo will work with a short-term team coming to Norway to serve at a denominational camp.
We had a lovely visit with our youngest daughter, Taylor. We took her by ferry to Denmark for a few days where we visited the Aalborg zoo and the most northern point of continental Europe, Skagen.
Team Christmas party
The traditional Christmas gathering in Norway is called a Julebord (Christmas table). This year we had 25 people associated with the team (staff, board members, volunteers) together for a time of saying “thank-you” to all who gave their time towards the ministry of OM Norway.
Jo to the GO
We have mentioned this event before, but the GO (Global Orientation) Conference is the bi-annual intake of people who are joining OM. Even though Norway did not have anyone joining, Jo attended because she also serves as the Area Personnel Officer (for all the European offices).
I preached at a local (3 hours away) church.
We had our second annual TeenStreet Connection weekend. This is where we invite teens who have attended the TeenStreet conference in Germany and teens who are considering attending in the future to a mini-TeenStreet. It is a Fri-Sun event hosted at a local church. Last year, 23 teens attended and this year we had 35. The goal of this weekend is to keep the teens connected and to mobilize new teens into the TeenStreet conference. You can see a snapshot of how it went at this link (of course, the titles are all in Norwegian): https://vimeo.com/259647880
The new leader of OM Norway was selected, but because of her current job, she won’t start until June 1. I have started briefing her on the role and am preparing to hand over the leadership in a few more weeks. On one hand, this is a great relief because there are many leadership associated tasks that I really do not enjoy. On the other hand, I have enjoyed the opportunity to lead.
Each year OM hosts the International Leader’s Meeting where all OM leaders gather for corporate meetings. This year it was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. I attended to represent OM Norway. Seeing OM leaders from over 100 nations was a wonderful first-hand reminder of how global OM ministries are.
I tend to be an evaluative person. Now that our departure from Norway has been determined, I have been reflecting on the question “have we accomplished what we came here to do?” Before we arrived in Norway we had many expectations; the roles we would fill, the tasks we would do, the ministry we would accomplish. We planned to learn the language, to be part of society, to be integrated into the local neighborhood. Some of these things we did in fact accomplish and some we did not! However, we cannot use a list of activities to determine if we have succeeded or not.
Whether we communicated it or not, our primary task was to be faithful. While it was not always easy, I believe we have in fact been faithful. We have gone where we believe we were led, we have done what we believe we were led to do, and now we will again be faithful as we prepare to go where we believe we are being led next. I believe this is the question for us all. Regardless of our situation or location, are we being faithful? The truth is that God doesn’t NEED us to do anything. He only ASKS us to join him in what He is already doing.
We also recognize your faithfulness. Without your faithful prayer and financial support we could not have remained here. Your faithfulness allowed us to be faithful and we are grateful for your partnership with us.
- Current office situations: there are issues regarding our current team that require wisdom
- Leadership change over: for a smooth and efficient transfer to the new leader
- Faithfulness: that we would continue to be faithful each day, regardless of location or situation
- Please refer to the list of up-coming events