By Setri Nyomi, former general secretary
As Reformed Christians, we understand that God calls and sends into mission. The question is which kind of mission and ministry would we be willing to engage in when God calls us into it. Some people may choose a mission in which there is much stability—very familiar territory, no worries about income flow, maybe even a rise in the standard of living and access to financial resources. Hardly will people willingly respond to God calling to mission which entails leaving one’s comfort zone and being an agent of transformation.
A quick reading of Scripture gives a picture of how the norm of Biblical figures who responded to God’s call had to leave their comfort zone. Once they responded positively, they were all change makers who made impact. As I write this in Advent season, the first example is Mary—the young lady who responded to God’s calling to give birth to God, the Son. We can mention Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Ruth, Isaiah, Hosea, Peter, John, Paul, Lois and Eunice and their grandson and son Timothy, and a whole host of others. All were called. Each embraced an exciting ministry in spite of the fact that they were not in their comfort zones, and in fact they faced challenges. The remarkable thing is each was God’s instrument of transformation—something bigger than themselves. God continues to call people into mission and ministry today. Let me share with you my story.
In December 1998, I was informed that the World Alliance of reformed Churches (WARC) was searching for a new general secretary. As a Reformed Christian I had been impressed by what WARC had achieved and its impact for more than a hundred years. I was aware of the opportunities and challenges that a general secretary of such a church family could have. So, I began to pray, “Lord, WARC needs a general secretary. We need a good one to continue the good work that has been done. But send someone with the passion and competence into this mission.” In fact, I was very specific in my prayer. I said to God, “Send someone like Russel Botman of South Africa.” Prayer can be dangerous!! The inner message I was receiving was disturbing. God was not about let me hide in my comfort zone. In the end, I yielded and applied for the position in the early part of 1999, trusting in my new hiding place, “God, it will be okay with me if in the process, somebody else is chosen who is better than I am.” Well, the process completed in July 1999, and I was named the new general secretary.
Once elected, I soon discovered that God has called me into an exciting mission. The calling to lead a team that walks alongside more than 200 member churches in more than 100 countries as they respond to national and local mission and its challenges as we reflect on what we can do together in strengthening that witness was both exciting and challenging. It entailed leading a process of discerning what God’s will was for the Reformed family of churches and the ecumenical movement at that time in history and facilitating reflections and actions that make a difference.
WARC had a long history of standing for justice based on our understanding of our Biblical calling. There was ample opportunity to build on this. Economic justice, gender justice, and racial justice were key pieces of the WARC history. My calling as general secretary provided an exciting leadership opportunity to build on this record. Yes, we had financial challenges—some were very difficult. But where there is clear vision and a willingness to respond to God’s calling, we were able to weather those storms. The Accra Confession, the opportunity to unite WARC and the Reformed Ecumenical Alliance (REC) into the World Communion of Reformed Churches, critical engagement with member churches on some transformational issues, responding to churches in very difficult circumstances, strengthening area councils so that member churches will be better served, fostering close relationships with ecumenical bodies such as the World Council of Churches and the Council for World Mission were some of the exciting results.
The bonus was that throughout my tenure, I worked with some of the most dedicated Reformed Christians in the world as my staff teams, and we have always had great representatives of the member churches as officers and Executive Committee members. I look back after the fourteen and a half years of mission, and I knew it was an exciting journey.
Dear reader, God may be calling you or someone you know to this exciting journey. Do not try to run away from it as I tried. Better still, embrace this opportunity to serve God for transformation in this broken world. This COVID-era and the anticipated post-COVID era will need someone to lead the WCRC as its new general secretary into an even better future. Yes, it will entail leaving your comfort zone—maybe even a position you now hold which gives you and your family much security. I invite you to pray seriously about it and allow yourself to respond to God’s calling. The challenges and opportunities in this call to be general secretary of WCRC are very rewarding. It is an exciting journey you would not want to miss.
More information can be found here on the WCRC website: wcrc.ch/search.
I wish all God’s joy in this festive season and as we begin a new year. Let us take a leaf from Mary in Luke 1:38—a readiness to serve even if it means stepping outside our comfort zone: “I am God’s instrument, I am available to do what God has called me to do.” Merry Christmas and a happy 2022.
Setri Nyomi was general secretary of WARC and WCRC from 1999 to 2014. He currently serves as a member of the General Secretary Search Committee.
Pictured: Members of the General Secretary Search Committee.