March update

“Sounds exhausting”. That was the response of my team leader when I was explaining my schedule back in January. 3 trips later, 32 days overseas and 20,000 air miles, I’m back in Birmingham for two weeks. I’m then heading to my hometown for a few days over Easter. It’s just like the buses in the UK – wait ages for one and three come along at the same time.

Setting out for the first trip was quite hard. I was having a hard time emotionally and it took a few friends to coach me into keeping the schedule. The purpose of this first trip to Orlando, Florida, was to be involved in the design of our new financial software tool. In the next 15 months over 150 of our countries are adopting this tool to steward our finances To be involved at the requirements and design stage is a privilege and responsibility.

The trip went well but I was also glad to get home for two weeks – to rest and to be with my close friends again.

Some of the software team at work, Orlando, Florida

During these weeks I had my boiler replaced at home. It was beyond economical repair, so I took the plunge and spent a ton of money. I was grateful some friends were able to contribute towards the cost.

For the next trip to Orlando, Florida, I was able to take two of my team to Agapé’s Global Technology Leaders gathering. All regions of the world were represented, and we heard snippets of experiences in these different locations. I was proud to see my team engaging in different workshops and presenting on issues like internet security and supporting people using technology.

Lunch with Switzerland and France in Orlando, Florida

On the day before we flew home, Steve and I spent a fun day out at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Disney say it’s where dreams come true. I wouldn’t quite go that far, but it was amazing, and I loved every minute of that!

Steve and I on one of the Disney rides, Orlando, Florida

I was only home for three days before heading out again to Texas. Coming up was an 18-day trip, travelling with my team leader, Thad, to meet people from his home church. This trip was with a view to see who might be able to support me in prayer and financially in my role. On reflection the trip went really quickly. There were periods when it was slow, but we did meet people for breakfasts, coffees, lunches and dinners. Throw in a trip to the cinema, the botanical gardens and many miles driving to different places, and the trip was complete.

Left to Right, Me, Thad, Phil and Susie (Thad’s parents)
Botanical gardens, Fort Worth, Texas

I have a love and dislike of travelling. I love the opportunity to be away and to be part of what God is doing in the Agapé ministry around the world. I also love the familiarity of my home city and the contact I have with my close friends.

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Upcoming projects and trips

I’ve mentioned in previous updates about Agapé UK working more closely with our global movement when it comes to Technology. Unfortunately the trip to the US this past autumn was postponed due to a hurricane.

I am going to the US in January for the purpose of reviewing the functional design of our new financial system. This is to join the project team I’ve already had many video conferencing calls with. Stewarding our resources well is so important. Not all the countries in the world where Agapé are present have the ability and resource to develop these tools themselves. By working together we get to achieve more than we could ever dream of on our own. In some countries where we are not officially present, where we have to keep under the radar, money is literally walked across the boarders.

Then in February my UK team will be attending the Global Technology Leaders event, this year hosted in the US. This is the one that was postponed in the autumn. This is when we get to meet other Technology Leaders around the world. We’ll have fun together, learn together, and grow this community. Each on my team will have specific objectives on this trip. Pray we can get much accomplished in the limited time we’re there.

Then in March I will be heading back to the US. Yes, this is the 3rd trip. There are a number of opportunities I have to share about the vision of Agapé UK. This is with the view to individuals praying for and financially supporting my work. I have some friends who have kindly offered to pay for my flights and others are hosting me. Please pray this trip is fruitful.

The Team and how we work.

One of the things I’m really keen to get right is how my team work together.

Our planning board.

I spent some time reflecting on Matthew 5 in preparation for our planning time last week. The Beatitudes are something I’d like our team to keep each other sharp on. Together we have a massive contribution to help Agapé be successful in what God has called us to, and this is how we should be.

Jesus mentions in Matthew 5 that we (believers) are the light of the world. We shouldn’t light our lamp and put it under a bowl. We should put our light on a stand and allow it to give light to everyone in the house. My prayer for my team is that we can shine, light the path for where Agapé need to go – in terms of technology – and that people will see and glorify our Father in Heaven.

Please pray for us as we move forwards.

Two becomes Four

We are ending the year on a high.

The technology team I lead at Agapé has grown. Steve and I have been working alone but for the last month we’ve had Chris and Sarah working alongside us. Chris has joined the team full-time from our Agapé Family Life team. Sarah is volunteering with us for a few months. Here’s a photo of the team at work.

We’ve already been able to accomplish so much and I’m very grateful to the team and to God who has supplied more people just as the workload is about to increase lots!

CHRISTMAS IS COMING

Christmas seems to have arrived early in Birmingham. Over the weekend we’ve had an incredible amount of snow. However, I reckon it will have melted by Wednesday. Here’s a photo of my road.

For Christmas this year I will be staying with my parents and spending time with my family. I’m hopeful to avoid email between Christmas and the New Year! What are your plans this Christmas?

NEXT YEAR

I will drop a longer update in the New Year – I’ve already a number of overseas trips planned for the first quarter – I’ll let you know what they’re about in January.

For now, I just want to say thank you. Another year has passed and you’ve kept on supporting me in my role with Agapé. I just really appreciate your prayers and involvement in different ways. I am thankful.

Do let me know how you’re getting on. I love to hear from you.

Indigitous #HACK

The more I’m involved with technology within Agapé the more opportunities I have to use my skills for Kingdom purposes. Indigitous is a global community, co-founded by our global movement, which engages in ideas and each other to advance God’s Kingdom through innovation.

Once a year there is a global coordination of technology specialists to gather for a weekend to create and make a difference. Last year 1426 people gathered in 28 cities.

I’m going to join with the London gathering. We are partnering with two charities; Christians against Poverty (CAP) and Home for Good. CAP have set the challenge, “How can digital tools engage churches to serve the poor and save the lost in their local communities”. Home for Good have asked how they can better use digital tools to inspire people, support them in their fostering and adoption journey and enable them to be part of a growing movement. There are more detailed assignments so we’re not starting from an entirely blank sheet.

Although these projects are not related to Agapé we highly value partnership and collaboration, so it’s a pleasure to be part of this 48 hour, caffeine fuelled, event.

Disappointed by Irma

Sometimes the best laid out plans just don’t come to fruition. That was my experience last month when our trip to the US for the annual-ish Global Technology Leaders network was postponed at the last minute due to hurricane Irma.

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Obviously the first priority is the safety of our staff, so it was a necessary call to make. However, on a practical level I was very disappointed we hadn’t been able to pull the event off. For Agapé UK, it wasn’t just about the core meeting, but all the meetings I had arranged on the side which would set the direction for the core technology Agapé would use in the next decade. As a consequence I’m now in lots of conversations where I simply can’t move our projects forward…

It’s hard to lead when I’m disappointed and frustrated. I feel a responsibility to cast vision and keep up the morale, but to be honest, I’ve frequently not felt like it.

Since, I’ve spend more time on video conferencing calls than I care to remember, often in different time zones. Collaborating across cultures is also an interesting thing to be learning. Sometimes my critique on a point is seen as negative, and sometime my absence is seen as an approval to the steps forward.

So I’ve been working through all that. The Global Technology Leaders meetings have been postponed to February so at least we can start to re-gather our plans.