Do you ever wonder what it looks like to obey and surrender to what God is asking you to do? Ray continues taking us through the years of his surrender and ministry in this series on his 30 years with TWR.
When I negotiated the deal with the local utility company in Bonaire, I put the implications for me out of mind. I was excited, doing something I loved. I charged ahead, working to move TWR's power plant onto the local grid (see picture above of the switchgear for tying the TWR power plant into the local grid). But then the day came when the project was completed. There was no longer a power plant for me to manage.
At this time, TWR was launching a whole new ministry in partnership with HCJB (now Reach Beyond) in Quito, Ecuador. When they learned I had extensive experience in generating power, they wanted me seconded (to join) to their mission.
Even though I hadn’t thought a lot about my future, others were thinking about it. I had been to Quito on vacations, and the idea appealed to me. It felt like a good fit for me and for our family. We began praying. Although not my natural tendency, I had learned not to just jump at adventure; you go to the Lord and seek his will.
I clearly remember when things took a very different turn. Leadership said they had a proposal for us. I wondered, what kind of proposal? Could we stay on Bonaire?
Tom, the station director at the time, started talking about me joining the administrative team. I was dumbfounded! I was someone who liked to work with his hands and accomplish something tangible. I didn’t even like administrators; I thought they didn’t do real work. While my first thought was that this was a really dumb idea, as we talked I felt I couldn’t say no. I said I’d go home and discuss it with Sandy, pray about it and get back to him.
Sandy has this wonderful ability to bring God into everything. After she stopped laughing because she knew what my attitude was about administration and she knew my weaknesses, she made her famous statement: “Maybe God wants you to do this; we need to pray about it.”
We decided to get feedback from the administration team. The station director was all for it; we got mixed reviews from the others. After further discussions with the station director, more family discussions and prayer, God gave us an answer: try it. If it didn’t work out, we had not lost anything. We could go to Quito later. All of a sudden, I was in the world of administration.
I had some huge obstacles I didn’t know how to overcome. I had failed typing in school. To my amazement, I sat down at a computer, put my fingers on the right keys, and I started to type! I believe this was God showing me in a small way that he was in this; he was going to make this journey with me.
My second challenge was my writing skills; they were non-existent. Administrators have to communicate and much of that is done in writing. I would have to humble myself and get some help. My boss’ wife agreed to be my tutor and my assistant. I see it as another miracle that today I enjoy writing!
The journey in administration had begun, and to my surprise, I was enjoying myself! The station director mentored me, teaching me a great deal. He quickly involved me in the oversight of the budget, an area I turned out to be gifted in. Every day I went home amazed at how God was giving me skills in areas where there were none before.
This experience started an amazing journey with God that continues to this day. I couldn’t do anything by myself. If I was doing it well, it was because God was one step ahead of me all the time. He was preparing the way and giving me the necessary skills. Mentoring continued to be invaluable.
The president of TWR had come to the island for a celebration. We only had a few minutes together, but I asked him, “What advice can you give me as I begin my journey in leadership?” He gave me two pieces of advice I will never forget. First, he said, “Every time someone comes into your office, they have a monkey on their back. They are coming to give you their problem.” He explained I needed to make sure when they left my office they were still carrying the monkey and I wasn’t. Second, he told me to not over plan my day. He suggested that I only plan 2 – 3 hours of work daily. The rest of the day would be filled in by the day-to-day problems that come up. Both these pieces of advice have been keys to my success as a leader.
Just as I was getting comfortable in my original assignment, the Station Director called me into his office. I wondered, what have I done? Turns out he was going on furlough and wanted me to step into his position. Me!? I was quick to give reasons why anybody else was a better choice! But he had made up his mind.
I had my challenges during the months the director was away, but again I saw God walking with me and showing me the way. I actually found that I enjoyed the role, and apparently, things had gone well.
When the director was to come back, he got a call from the human resource department in the US. Somehow I had impressed people at headquarters. They felt I was a capable leader, and they wanted to transfer me to another part of the world. This was not in my plan. I thought if I was successful that there would be no need to talk about Quito or any other place. I loved Bonaire; I had no desire to go anywhere else. But God was leading, and it was agreed we would move after Erin, our daughter, graduated high school.
At this time, the position of Program Director for Latin America and the Caribbean became vacant. This was a natural next step, and I began working with the Spanish, English and Portuguese teams on Bonaire. While I only did this for 2.5 years, God’s timing is perfect, and he used it to prepare me for my next role.
We didn’t want to leave Bonaire – and were even tempted to stay on Bonaire when I was offered jobs by local businesses – but we knew God was asking us to trust him for the next step. Humanly though, I wanted to stay in my comfort zone.
After nine years on Bonaire, we were about to make a move that would challenge me, challenge Sandy, and that would change us in ways we could not imagine. We left Bonaire crying, even though we knew it was God’s will for us to make the change.
It was time to move … to Swaziland, Africa. Stay tuned for the next chapter in this story.Did you miss the first chapters? Find them here: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3