The room got quiet and most of us were on the edge of our seats. The anticipation in the room was almost palpable. Gerardo Scalante had just been elected as the new International Director for CLC and this was his first opportunity to present his vision for the future. The decision to elect Gerardo into this role represented something of a seismic shift for our organization as he is the first Latino to serve in this way. What would he say?
As he stood up to speak, Gerardo made a very interesting opening statement. He said that while he did not have any new revelations from God about CLC and its future, he did have some convictions and dreams. In setting the foundation for the rest of his talk, he then went on to say,
“We are a Christian organization fulfilling the Great Commission. We simply accomplish this through the use of Christian literature and bookstores. We are a missionary organization.”
This statement may not sound revolutionary, but it was deeply encouraging to hear. While CLC was birthed out of WEC International and was entirely staffed by missionaries and volunteers in the early days, today the vast majority of our team members work as nationals in the own countries and receive sacrificial salaries. In the face of the reality, Gerardo was reminding us that while some of our methods have changed our core purpose remains the same.
What came next was a presentation that I dubbed “The Seven Dreams of a Leader” and each dream was captivating in its own right.
- That we would fully understand who and what we are (as CLC).
- That would keep alive those things from the past that made us a great mission – Faith, Holiness, Fellowship and Sacrifice. These must be applied in fresh ways in our daily lives and local contexts.
- That we would have a renewed commitment to CLC’s mission and vision – never losing our Global perspective because of a local emphasis.
- That CLC will be attractive to people in such a way that they “will want to give their life to that organization”.
- That people will see us as a distinctively missional organization when they enter our stores.
- That we would create a more effective system for encouraging, supporting and implementing more cross cultural work.
- That we would develop deeper connections to the local church in our communities. That we would not be separate from what God is doing in a given country. That we would be an important arm of the local church wherever we are located.
I was particularly taken by the idea that God would allow us to be an organization that would be so attractive that people will want to “give their life to that organization”. This seems so counter-intuitive at a time when most young people anticipate working for multiple organizations before they retire. At the same time, it is highly motivating to anticipate being a part of a movement that is so God directed that it compels people to abandon their life agendas and consider “going out on God”.
As I pondered what Gerardo was sharing, I could not help but think how delighted my grandparents would be to have heard this speech. Ken and Bessie Adams, the founders of CLC, may have said some of the very same things themselves, but they would also have been excited to see how these ideas would become a fresh reality for a new generation. In another great irony, I could not help but think about how both Gerardo and I had started in CLC as young people (he was only a teenager) and we had committed our lives to this organization ourselves. Somehow we had been compelled by the idea of the life changing power of Christian literature and how CLC could change the world one book at a time. Now it is our turn to lead and to present that same vision in new ways to young people who are longing to make their lives count for the kingdom. What an exciting job, what a big vision and what wonderful dreams to consider.