Archive for the ‘Jay’ Category

Rethinking the Process

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

This month, I will complete my first year of doctoral work in leadership studies. The best way to describe the first year is to think of placing your face in front of a fire hydrant and having the water turn on and rush into your mouth. In the first year, we have read, analyzed and reviewed over 100 books and many more articles. So the question to ponder is, what have I learned about leadership? A very valid question and has a funny answer. I now know less about leadership than I did when started.

Let me clarify, I thought I knew about leadership before I started, but now I see how little I really knew. Did you know there is around 130 definitions of leadership? As Burns wrote in his seminal work on Leadership is that leadership is the most studied, but least understood social science in the world. So can you see why I know less about leadership now?

How does this relate to Kerusso?

All this said, the mound of books I’ve read ranging from Plato’s Republic to Heifetz’s Leadership without Easy Answers, I have had time to think about leading Kerusso. What I am doing well? What I am doing wrong? From the beginning of Kerusso, I have been torn between being the person to perform the projects, and the person leading the projects. The problem is that I am still torn. I absolutely love going to countries like Cambodia, China, and India and working with leaders. It is a passion, but we have grown beyond my capacity. So this leaves me with a strategic leadership issue.

The first step is praying that God desires us to grow. I want and desire a heart of contentment and being humble before God and understanding that He is the center not my pragmatic view of business growth. Over the last two years, we decided to stay status quo mainly because of the situation of my oldest daughter’s health. This month she finishes her regiment of chemotherapy so we’ve had to start to rethink the process.

The solution is that we believe God desires us to continue growing. We know that my plate is full so we need to develop a new process in accomplishing the vision of Kerusso Foundation. This means I will not be the person on the ground, but I will still lead the project. The vision to develop Christ-centered leaders in the emerging world is more real than ever. Now we build strong partnerships so this vision can expand to beyond what I can do by myself.

August 2011 Trip Update

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Counting the Cost:

Solomon reminds us in Ecclesiastes 5:19 that when we enjoy our work/labor it is a gift from the Lord.  As I look back on my sixth trip to Asia this year, I know my love for what I do is as strong as ever, but the enjoyment is lessening.  From August 2010 to August 2011, I have flown over 120,000 miles. My last three trips were filled with drama.  In March, the day I returned home, Anne goes into labor.  My trip in June started out slow because Sarah was in the hospital the week before.  On the way home, I missed two flights due to a weird delay and lost my luggage.  This trip I experienced a stomach virus that had me in bed for two days in Hong Kong with chills and stomach cramps.  It seems like each trip takes a bite out of me. So what am I learning through these situations?

As I pray for the kingdom to come and for Jesus to be known throughout the world, there is a cost associated with that prayer.  Even when we enjoy our work, we still have to count the cost.  In Luke 14, Jesus tells us that it is costly to be His disciple.  I wish I could tell you that my attitude toward this truth is saintly and I always take joy in counting the cost of being Jesus’ disciple, but that is not truthful.  I find myself sounding like my children in my prayers.  I am constantly whining about this or that, and my prayer life is extremely narcissistic as I only concentrate on my comforts.  I am glad that God does not become as frustrated with me as I do with my kids. In the midst of my whining on the flight home on how “tired” I was, our gracious Father reminded me of many truths in His word.  The main truth is that servanthood and sacrifice are closely connected.  If I am to serve Him and His children, I will have to sacrifice.  In modern vernacular, I can’t have my cake and eat it too.  If I focus on my cake, I miss out on the fruit.  In this trip, we achieved one of the main goals of our primary project.  In this midst of this success, I celebrated a few minutes but lost sight of everything once my comfort and ease was taken away.

Another truth I remembered is John 15, Jesus is the vine/lifesource!  There is no fruit unless it is by and through Him.  I must abide in Him in order to produce the fruit and so once again in my life He refocused me.  Everything is about HIM!  It is not about me, my comfort or even my calling.  It is about His supremacy and my heart knows that my surrender to Him is the right way, but my flesh battles me every moment.  Why do I despair? Why is my soul cast down? If only on these trips as the enemy tries to come and kill and destroy my joy, I only look to Him, the maker of heaven and earth.  My prayer should be focused on “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven”. It sounds good, but as always it is a daily battle.

The success I mentioned was a big moment. For over three years, I have been working with World Relief Cambodia to develop leaders who will one day lead the organization.  The future is now as the Cambodian leadership team assumed the interim country director role.  They are afraid but yet they know the concept about abiding in Jesus much more than I do.  They know where they are weak, He is strong!

June 2011 Trip Update

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Why was my heart weeping at the SFO airport when I passed customs?

Could it have been that I…

– missed my flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco and was delayed for 14 hours until the next available flight.

– did not have a seat for the connecting flight from San Francisco to DFW and a possibility of more delays on the horizon.

– was exhausted from two weeks of spiritual battles.

– just felt happy to be back in the good ol’ US of A to celebrate July 4th.

Actually it was none of these.  My heart was filled with joy and my song was full of gladness because of the incredible mercies that God showered on me on a daily basis to give me the strength and ability to serve Him.  My eyes swelled with tears because I understood more vividly Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:10 that I was His masterpiece created for good works prepared by Him.  Even with being frustrated, exhausted and sometimes sinful in my anger, God still chooses to use me. From this fact, I had not other choice but to weep at His mercy and grace.

Below are some of the highlights of the trip.

June 24th- I spent five hours with Cedar Fund as we started placing “feet” under their strategy.  We worked on their SWOT analysis for their strategy and developed action plans for the next steps. A few things encouraged me.

1. A visitor joined the training – the director of an organization in Thailand called Mekong Minority Foundation.   The fact that the director joined us for the meeting made me realize how God can expand our impact to many organizations as Cedar Fund works with organizations around Asia.

2. Cedar Fund showed me their new brochures and other material just published.  They wanted me to see it because it had their new organizational vision and mission printed.  This was the first part of the project to establish an updated vision and mission.  They connected with this new vision and mission in such a way that they wanted it to immediately be printed on all their marketing and media.

June 26th-  Preaching at Tung Chung Church was different this time.  The first reason was saying goodbye to Richard and Yvonne Dauncey.  They are moving back to Australia.  Richard and Yvonne were used by God in a mighty way to carry on the vision of Tung Chung Church when we had to return to the U.S.  Through their service to the church, it is now larger than when we left and in a much better financial state.  God used them to build a strong foundation for the church to serve the community for many years.

June 27th-28th-   I conducted a team building workshop and did 1-on-1 coaching with the newly formed leadership team at World Relief Cambodia.  From very difficult situations, this team was formed of Cambodians to lead while the country director is out of the country for an extended amount of time.  These four leaders were in our first group of participants in the Nextgen Leadership Development program so we have a great relationship with each other.  As any new team, they need help in building a relationship of trust and communication.  We were working on these details along with planning on how I can serve them over the next 6 months.  Not only am I excited about serving them, but I am exciting about helping the organization as it uses a shared leadership team model.  This model was described in Robert Greenleaf’s famous book and now leadership theory, “Servant Leadership”.  It says that servant leaders work more effectively in organizations that have shared leadership with one another among equals.  It is counter to what we see in most organizations and is very hard to implement in the West were we are fond of our individualistic accomplishments, but I believe it will work great in Asia especially in Cambodia where they understand being servants in a biblical sense much better than we do.

June 29th-Over the past few years, we’ve worked with CREDIT, the micro finance organization created by World Relief in Cambodia, but mainly a few of their leaders would come over to the office of World Relief for the training.  For the first time, I did a one day workshop with CREDIT’s management team.  Jason Noble and I trained on Leadership and Communication to the top 30 leaders in the organization.  We had a great time serving CREDIT.  I believe we will expand and do more training for them in the future.  This is a great opportunity for us to make a larger impact in Cambodia.  CREDIT has over 650 employees and is growing rapidly.  They are now the fifth largest microfinance company in Cambodia.

As you read all of these exciting events, you can understand more of why my heart was weeping in San Francisco.  Again, thank you for your prayers and financial support.  We cannot serve these organizations without you,  so I pray you are able to know just how important you are to us.

God Bless,

Jay Clark

Sharing Stories from January trip

Friday, January 28th, 2011

In my last newsletter I mentioned that in 2011, my goal was to give you more of a personal account to Kerusso and the people we are serving.  Below are bullet points from my two week journey, 8th to 22nd of January.

  • 1st Stop, Chennai, India and a three days with Friends Missionary Prayer Band.  This is a total indiginious mission organization.  It was started by Indians, lead by Indians and resourced by Indians.  The organization started 40 years ago with a small group of prayer warriors and now it has 2000 missionaries and started 5600 churches.
    • Monday- met with 9 leaders at the HQ of FMPB.  A good time of listening to their concerns and challenges.  It was humbling as one of the participants quoted a few of our points from the last training 7 years ago.  Also reunited with Dr. Paul Swamidass.  He is partnering with us on this training.  His organization FEED funded the expenses for the missionaries to travel to the conference.
    • Tuesday-  started day 1 of the workshop.  It was a beautiful morning on the coast of India in South Chennai. (Bay of Bengal). Around 47 missionaries joined the training.  Some of the missionaries traveled three days to reach Chennai.  I thought my 24 hour flight was long! Dr. Swamidass started the day with opening the workshop and presenting his topic of organizational effectiveness.  Dr. Swamidass was one of my teachers at Auburn.  He has taught at Auburn for 18 years in the Engineering/Technology department.  His books on management and effectiveness/efficiency have been sold around the world. He is also highly respected in his homeland in India.  The connection with FMPB is that he was one of the groups that sent the first missionary for FMPB 40 years ago.  The only way I have the great honor to serve FMPB is because he has given me his full backing which gains credibility with FMPB leaders.  It was a joy to work with him again. (As we broke for tea during the morning session, my brother text the words “We are Nat’l Champs.”  Dr. Swamidass and I gave high fives and “War Eagles” It was a special moment.)
    • My part of the training started after lunch and I focused on the mission/vision of FMPB along with the challenges and opportunities for FMPB in the future.  The exciting part was at the end after numerous group activities, all six groups had the same “opportunity”.  The openness to the gospel in India.  Many of these leaders have been missionaries in India for over 30 years and they have never seen people so open to hearing God’s Word.  Praise the Lord!!!
    • Tuesday night was filled with distractions, despair and fustration as I could not sleep.  I only slept for about 1 hour the entire night and Wednesday morning was my time to do devotion and the first section of training!  It was a start of what I think was spiritual warfare.  The warfare around FMPB is intense and I was not exempt from it.  It reminded me I should ask for a prayer team to cover me with prayer throughout my journeys overseas.
    • Wednesday morning finally arrives and I am exhausted.  God encourages me in my quite time and I truly have to rely on His power.  The devotion was on Habbukuk and I pray it was encouragement to the missionaries.  (you can watch in the previous post.)  The training again was very encouraging as we discussed becoming an organization that models and mentors future leaders.
    • We drive back to Chennai that night.  I arrive at the airport at 10pm, but my flight does not leave for Hong Kong until 3am.
    • I am excited about doing more training with FMPB.  We scheduled the next training in June where I will train 20 regional leaders in New Delhi.
    • Tidbits from my personal discussions with missionaries.
      • One coupled praised God that in 2010 their family did not have malaria.  First year in memory they did not get malaria.
      • One man was struggling because he fasts and prays three times a week but yet still no movement among his people group.  (Do I have that discipline? No is the answer.)
      • The 47 missionaries at the workshop were responsible for 300 people groups and 400,000 1st generation converts. (blows my mind!)
      • A young couple just took a zonal leadership role in Calcutta where they are struggling to connect churches from many different backgrounds. They were encouraged in the workshop and I saw the joy in their faces.  The challenge was they had to send their 9 year old son to boarding school.  (they still follow this process that many western missionaries had to do before 1970s/80s).
      • The most joyful couple was actually the ones in the hardest place to minister.  They have lost six team members in the last few years to malaria.  They are constantly struggling with sickness and with being threatened by Maoist (rebels to the gov’t).  Yet, they raise sons who come back to the jungles after finishing medical school to be a medical missionary.  I am not certain but I believe they lost a son to malaria and when she came to tell me she was praying for Sarah she had tears in her eyes.  She knew the pain and loved me even though she did not know me or my daughter.  That was Christ likeness in the flesh.  A wonderful thing to experience.
  • 2nd Stop: Hong Kong
    • Arrived in Hong Kong around noon on Thursday.  I was completely exhausted.  I slept for six hours which totaled almost the entire time I slept in India.  Thursday night went to a lifegroup of Tung Chung Church and was reenergized by fellowship with the Daunceys.  We are so blessed to be loved by wonderful people.
    • Friday, spent most of the day with Cedar Fund.  We had a great time.  Cedar Fund is a different type of project.  I am not really training, but instead I am coaching/advising which I really enjoy.  We are making huge strides in developing their leaders to expand their reach around Asia.  Since they are primarily a funding organization they do not have as many front line stories, but they understand how vital they are to the front lines as they fund great projects.  It is a blessing to serve them.
    • Sunday, have a wonderful time in fellowship at Tung Chung Church.  I always enjoy preaching to them.  I was encouraged to see new faces in the crowd and the numbers continue to grow.
    • I go to the airport to depart for Cambodia at 4pm.  The time in Hong Kong was refreshing but not without it’s own emotional drain.  The 14th marked the year anniversary of Sarah’s diagnosis.  Seeing the orange trees to celebrate Chinese New Year made me so nauseous as the flood of memories from last year.  I praise Jesus for guarding my heart and mind in Him to not allow despair and anxiety to overwhelm me.  It did not help that Sarah had to go to the ER at this time!! One of my worst fears of traveling that something like that would happen.  Thank God for an amazing wife who handled the situation with grace and gentleness.
  • 3rd Stop: Cambodia
    • Arrive in Cambodia completely empty.  In God’s goodness, a group of guys from 2nd Presbyterian Church in Memphis arrived on the same plane.  They are part of the World Relief Church partners.  We had a fun time laughing and checking in the hotel.  It relaxed me to get me ready for the training the next day.
    • Monday morning- 1st day of workshop.  This is the third workshop with the participants in 2010. This was is really hard because it is on Problem Solving and Decision Making.  We are teaching techniques that challenge their critical thinking skills.  The scary part is Nareth, my train the trainer project, became sick and might not be able to come.  This was really bad news. I was going to rely on him a lot.  After our morning song and prayer, Nareth walks in and I say a loud “hallelujah”.   The day was hard but the participants worked hard which made me really happy and reminded me how blessed I am to work with these guys.
    • Tuesday- 1st day of the partnership meetings.  The day was full of testimonies from the field.  This is a mixture of joy and pain as you see the power of Christ in very hard situations.
      • 12 year old girl had her parents leave her and four younger siblings.  She now lives with her grandmother but had to wake around 5 am each morning to try to sell vegetables to provide for her siblings.  She then comes home and helps her grandmother take care of the house.  She is no longer a child that has been removed from her with the situation, but a few months ago she watched a puppet show and through the story she met our Savior.  She now has hope.  Her situation has not changed, but her heart has and her smile was very contagious.
      • 55 year old woman was blind because of the side effects of HIV/Aids drugs.  She had HIV/Aids because her husband frequently visited brothels on his trips to the city.  He died and she was left mainly alone.  She wanted to die and so was going to commit suicide by not eating.  A person from a WRC cell church visited her through their HIV/AIDS ministry.  They brought the woman into their home.  Nursed her back to health physically and introduced her to our Savior.  She now is filled with Hope.  Again she still has AIDS and is blind but had a wonderful smile.
      • 27 year old girl shared her testimony.  Her parents died when she was a young teen.  She was living with her oldest sister when one day they were traveling to her Aunts.  On the way, she noticed it was not the road to her auntie’s house but instead she was taken to a brothel where her sister sold her to sex traffickers.  After years of being treated the worst possible ways, she escapes from the brothel with one of her clients.  She becomes pregnant and is diagnosed with AIDS.  In the meantime, she meets a cell church from WRC that ministers to her and she meets our Savior.  She still is in the same situation but she has Hope.
      • All of these testimonies from the field reminded me of why we want to continue serving WRC as they desire to develop leaders so these programs can grow throughout Cambodia. Currently WRC has started over 1000 cell churches with a network of around 8000 members.  This is done in a country with less than 2% believers and in an organic grassroots setting.  What a joy to work with this staff!!
    • Wednesday- 2nd day of Problem Solving and Decision Making workshop.  The second day is much easier as they have fun in their teams.  I meet individually for coaching session with the 14 participants and I see their faces as they training is starting to click for them.  Their eyes are excited about how God is starting to develop them as leaders.
    • Thursday and Friday- Day 2 and 3 of partnership meetings.  I was able to push forward through the power of the Spirit and the meetings were a success.
    • As I go to the airport on Friday afternoon to start my journey home, I am completely empty physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  • Arrive in Dallas at 6pm on Sat, 22nd.  As Sarah and Hannah ran to me, I quickly forgot my emptiness and God started again to use my family to restore me.

Almost there….

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

How many times as a kid did I ask “are we there yet?” and my parents replied “we are almost there.” As a kid, I never really understood “almost there.”  It seemed such a long time.  Now as a father, I find myself saying the same thing to our kids “we are almost there.”  They have the same glazed look as I probably had.  They are now thinking what does “almost there” really mean.  I am able to see our end goal, but they have to trust me that we are really almost there.

In our walk as believers in Jesus, it seems our entire life we hear the Spirit telling us “you are almost there.”   As a child of God, I often act a lot like my children.  I stand with my eyes glazed over thinking “what does that really mean?”.  Over the past few months since we were led back to Hong Kong, I have continued to hear the words “you are almost there.”    It has encouraged me and provided comfort and assurance that He, Jesus, is walking with me like He promises in the great commission.  I have been tested in my trust in Christ that He can really see the end goal.  We have not shared exactly what has happened since May to everyone, but I believe to Glorify God in our lives it is important to illustrate His steadfast love for us.  So here it goes:

Two weeks before I was scheduled to leave for Hong Kong, I was told the project with our main client in China was placed on hold for a few months.  This project was the reason (at least in our minds) that God was using to take us back to Hong Kong.  At that time, we had already paid for our plane tickets, put a security deposit on our apartment and were already moving out of our house in the U.S.  So what do we do?  After Anne and I prayed and discussed the issue, we both felt like God wanted us to trust Him and continue forward in our plans.

I was in Hong Kong for three weeks before Anne and the girls so I was working frantically to develop more business and to establish our home before they arrived.  The week before they arrived our main client called and said the project was back on and all the paperwork was submitted (which is a big ordeal with large local companies) . The week after Anne and the girls arrived, the client called back and said there was an indefinite hold on the project due to the cut in budgets because of the earthquake that had just happened.

At this point, things started going down hill very fast. (You can refer back to my blogs to see my mood.)  Nothing was going right in the business.  We were struggling to pay our employees and bills.  The one bright and wonderful moment was finding out we were having a third child.  Then this even turned into the negative with Anne’s sickness.  In July we saw that we could not make it to our church on Sunday due to the 3 hour round trip journey over two islands, and then when things could not feel more discouraging, I started feeling sharp pains in my side.  By early August, I was struggling even to make it to work, and finally I had so many symptoms I needed to go to the doctor.  As I received the CT scan, I was surprised that I not only had one large stone in my right kidney, but I also had another large stone in my left kidney.  Both were over twice the size that were able to pass without intervention.  We received the first estimate of how much it was going to cost for the treatment, and we were shocked.  There was no way we could afford this so I went to the public hospital and they looked at my CT scan and called me the following day to book my appointment on March 9, 2009!  At this time, my pain was increasing daily so we looked at plane tickets to fly back to the states and since it was during the Olympics they were more expensive than having the procedure done in the private hospital.

Financially, it was not getting better because a new project was delayed because the VP was on vacation so we would not be paid until the end of August.  Anne and I were both down, physically and mentally.   This was the middle of August and then I heard the voice say “almost there…”

Being my childish self, I was thinking almost there… to bankruptcy, to losing a kidney because I could not have the procedure needed to break up the stones, to my family collapsing because Anne could not function alone and the kids were not happy. (As I write this, I have to ask forgiveness again because of God’s great mercy.)

In actuality, Jesus was saying “almost there… to when I am Glorified in Your Life.”

So, as we are seeing this miracle unfold, here a few highlights of God being glorified in our lives.

1. Provision:

A.   As I called BCBS of Texas to see if they would cover the cost of my CT Scan, I tell them I am in Hong Kong and come to find out, I am covered here in an emergency under Blue Worldwide.  In a matter of days, they sent a letter to my doctor and hospital guaranteeing most of the payment, so we were able to start the process.

B.  While I was recovering from my procedure in the Hospital, our financial status changed very fast with an unexpected project – great work from my team and closing a deal with a new client.

2. Guidance

A. Because we could not make it to church, we started watching John Piper sermons on Sunday as our “church” in our home.  We found out another couple in our complex with a young son was having problems making the trip so they started joining us.  Now we are starting to reach out in our community where over 20,000 people live and with 1 evangelical church so we feel there is great need.

B.  Anne and I both feel that I am not called to be the “pastor” but we are to invest in discipling a local in starting this church.  We both felt we needed to get connected to a seminary in Hong Kong.  With August being a month of confinement for us that was hard to do, but yet last week while coming home from work I met a man sitting next to me on the train.  He was reading a book on Connecting by Larry Crabb. (It was odd to see a local reading this type of book.) We started talking and guess what?  He is a seminary professor and wants to help in developing a church in Tung Chung. He lives in the same apartment complex as us.  I meet with him on Monday to discuss God’s guidance in this process and if any of his students feel led to come out to our community.

3. Endurance/Perseverance

We know that the fruit of the Spirit is endurance/perseverance.  The Spirit has given us this fruit in the midst of these trials.  I must say a few weeks ago if I could have physically made it back to the U.S. I would have gone, but God has a way of keeping us on track.  haha.   The kids are learning this in a very difficult situation, but they are growing spiritually. We know that whatever we go through, God is there with us, so we continue to trust in our God of Hope.

We are almost there…  On Wednesday, I return to the hospital for the procedure on my left kidney.  Prayerfully in the next few days, I will be stone free.  I can relax a little and not fear another painful attack.  We saw the picture of the baby from the ultrasound, and that encouraged the entire family as we are excited about the upcoming months of anticipating the addition to our family.

In all of this, we have sung with David and said “HIS steadfast love endures forever and ever.”

Bless the Lord, O my soul,