A few years ago I approached Presbyterian World Service and Development with the idea of doing a profile of Guy Smagghe. I had travelled with Guy to Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2007. Since then we meet occasionally for lunch at an Afghani restaurant near the church’s national offices. He is very passionate about his work. In the cover story this month I mention the partnerships that PWS&D has with national and international organizations and also with many local organizations around the world. Guy has been responsible for initiating and maintaining some of those. The only fault I can find with him is his abiding support of a Montreal hockey team. Nobody is perfect.
But Guy dissuaded me from doing the profile. He is part of a team, he said. Nothing he does can be accomplished without the support of his colleagues; and they are also dependent on his support. I was carried away by our friendship.
While working on the PWS&D article this month, I thought I might sneak in little profiles of the whole team. I’d begin with Ken Kim, director of the agency.
Ken, as his last name attests, is of Korean descent. A strong faith has defined his life and career. He has been active in the church his whole life and worked in Central America for many years, for which he learned Spanish. Crossing cultures, as Ken has done, is a remarkable feat for any of us, but to manage it from one non-dominant cultural group to another is testimony to hard work and passion. He has a strong faith.
But as I was thinking about Ken, his predecessors came to mind. The most recent was Rev. Dr. Rick Fee, now the general secretary of the Life and Mission Agency. Rick spent many years in Africa as a missionary before coming to PWS&D in 1993. He has travelled to almost every corner of this planet representing the Presbyterian Church in Canada.
You see my dilemma. By highlighting these three men, I do disservice to all the others who are contributing to the agency currently, and all those who have worked there in the past. And, let us not forget the committee members, dating back years, plus all those conveners. These are people of great passion for ministry and for mission. Plus all those who have worked with the agency in the field.
Elsewhere in this issue you’ll find a timeline of PWS&D, painstakingly culled from 70 years of the Acts and Proceedings of the General Assembly. While I wouldn’t claim it to be the complete history of the agency, it does give you an idea of the changes in the agency, of the changes in the idea of mission and a sense of where your dollar has been going for decades. To pull any one of those timeline entries out would reveal dozens if not hundreds of names engaged in faith.
Where does it end? Well, it doesn’t, not really. And it includes you, of course, as a contributor. As Ken Kim says, everything that happens at the agency begins with the dollars sent by Presbyterians. And those dollars travel around the planet many times.
Where does it begin? Well, timeline aside, let us treat that as a theological question. It begins with God, supported by Christ, encouraged by the Spirit. That’s some team. Happy 65th birthday Presbyterian World Service and Development.