1. I will get to visit the islands of Antigua and Dominica for the first time in January. These countries fall under my new responsibility as Regional Director for North America and the Caribbean. I look forward to being an inspiration and encouragement to our small local teams who serve so faithfully.
2. Our team on the island of Barbados celebrates their 60th Anniversary in March and I get to join them for the festivities. This island is near and dear to my heart as I spent my early teenage years growing up there and growing in my faith. Pastor Willy Cuke (now deceased) had a big impact on me and was a direct instigator of my decision to surrender all of my life to the Lord Jesus Christ at 13 years of age.
3. Our team will take part in helping to install a new Print-On Demand system in Sierra Leone this Spring. This is culmination of many months of fundraising and working with the local team to get things in place to make it possible. Mark Ridenour will be travelling to help with the set up and training on the new equipment. This system could be a “game-changer” in making Christian books more accessible in this war torn and impoverished nation.
4. Dr. Tony Hart (a dear friend and member of the CLC USA Advisory Council) will be traveling to Liberia in June to host a training conference for pastors in the interior town of Ganta. This is in direct response to a “Macedonian Call” that we received this past March when a similar week of training was done in Monrovia. It is really exciting that the local CLC team, led by James Cooper, will be able to provide an extensive book table now that they have a new bookmobile and entire container of books that arrived from the USA this past year.
5. This is a big year for the advance of the gospel in Africa as the Africa Study Bible will be launching for the very first time. This unique study Bible with notes written by Africans for Africans will be made available in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya early in the year. The CLC team in Kenya will be the launch partners for this project which will likely result in thousands of Bibles being distributed all over the country. We hope to have launch events in Liberia and Sierra Leone later in the year.
6. 2017 is also the 500th Anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany. I am so grateful to be part of a literature movement that exists, in part, because of those courageous events. Today, we are making Christian books and Bibles available to people in over 50 countries so that they can discern God’s word and will for themselves and not depend on a priest or church to interpret it for them.
7. In September, our leaders from all over North and South America will gather in Guayaquil, Ecuador for a time of planning, fellowship and fun. These events take place every two years and are deeply impactful in the life, health and growth of our ministry. This will be my first time co-hosting the event with my South America Regional Director partner and to visit this coastal town.
8. Right after that event in Ecuador, I will be traveling to England to be the keynote speaker at the UK Christian Retailers & Suppliers Retreat. This invitation came as the result of the publication of my first book this past year. I had hoped it would be an encouragement to Christian retailers in the USA, but did not have any idea how it would impact people in other countries as well.
9. In November, a wonderful new Museum of the Bible will be opening in Washington, D.C. It will be located right on the historic “mall” where all of the other major museums like the Smithsonian are located. This should be a fantastic place for people to discover the power and impact of God’s word. Millions of dollars have been invested by the Mart Green family (owners of Hobby Lobby and Mardel Christian Stores). I can’t wait to take a group of our CLC USA team members to visit.
10. With Gerardo Scalante moving to Fort Washington and Amanda Lutes arriving later in the year (Lord willing), our team will be welcoming the International Office to be a part of our ministry here in the USA. It has been many years since the last International Director, Bob Gerry, lived in the USA. We look forward to a collaborative partnership and seeing how we can help each other to advance the gospel and our kingdom purpose of making evangelical Christian Literature available to all nations.