I spent a weekend in Elmira, Ontario (Canada) earlier this month. About an hour outside of Toronto, Elmira is home to the offices of International Teams – Canada.
[A very quick explanation for the uninitiated: International Teams sends out 1200 missionaries to over 200 teams around the world (in 66 countries, to be exact). The IT-Canada national office mobilizes and trains missionaries from Canada. IT has national offices (which mobilize, train, and resource on-field teams) in at least nine countries around the world. Learn more here.]
I was joined in Elmira by about 15 other team leaders from around the world. We came from many cultures, representing teams in many different nations… but we all shared two things in common: we love Jesus and we love refugees. Although scattered across the world, each of our teams is engaged in refugee ministry (or what we affectionately call, RefMin) – loving and serving refugees in the name of Jesus. In Canada, we spent our mornings in training, learning how to better serve our teams. We discussed challenges to team life and some strategies for cultivating stronger, healthier ministry teams. Great content; many thanks to our facilitator Andrew Collins. Pure gold. While I’ll have to save the details for another blog post, check out the picture below of one of our training sessions with Andrew.
After a wonderful lunch provided by the amazing crew at IT-Canada each day, we got right back to work. The afternoons were filled with talk of organizational structure. Again, I’ll spare you the details (for now) but we made some great progress in mapping out our next steps as an organization. As a network of teams focused on work with refugees, who are we (our vision, values, and other distinctives)? What are the strengths and weaknesses of our current – and any potential future – structures? What is our shared DNA as RefMin? We had some great discussions… heavily influenced by The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, an engaging and immensely interesting work on organizational structure and leadership. My favorite take-away: the values are the organization. Our influence as a network comes from our shared ideology, not any org chart.
I am very encouraged by what I saw in Canada. I am excited by what I see God doing in the lives of refugees around the world. Please continue to pray for International Teams’ ministry among refugees – and specifically our team here in Athens! Thanks for standing with us!