‘Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.’ (John 12:23)
Among the most bittersweet realities of ‘Living Waters’ around the world is the surrender of one’s leadership when his/her part has been played. That surrender may be for many reasons—a moral failure, a call to another type of ministry, or handing over the task to one better suited to take it the next step.
Regardless of the reason, the leader in transition usually experiences a kind of death: (s)he loses position and a certain place among the wounded healers that comprise global ‘Living Waters.’
In this grief, I also witness a sovereign aspect of God’s hand. Under His care, the ex-leader is actually allowing the ‘husk’ of one’s ministry to be broken, thus releasing more ‘seed’ for God’s mercy to be released.
It takes courage to do this. To surrender one’s leadership is actually among the most selfless acts of all—it means denying one’s need for significance and security in order that more ‘living water’ might be released in a nation under another’s lead. I have seen this happen over and over—one dies to position in order to release more souls unto life.
I met Klara Steineman in Hawaii while teaching for YWAM. She responded deeply to the truths at hand, and after an internship with us, returned to her native Switzerland where she began to gather the broken in churches throughout the land. She was intrepid in her commitment.
She laid the groundwork for the Living Waters manual to be translated into German and Italian. She sponsored our first Swiss training, complete with French translation, thereby training our first French group leaders. Klara would drive throughout her mountainous country, and plant the seeds for ‘Living Waters’ wherever a church opened the door.
She served the Church brilliantly. Yet it became apparent after about 15 years that her time was up—others needed to take the ministry further than she could. It was painful, utterly, and yet necessary for the waters to flow onward.
That happened over and over: Wayne Bowman of New Zealand and Ian Lind of Australia labored strenuously to dig the first ditches for Living Waters in their lands. Yet for different reasons, both realized they needed to pass the shovel: Wayne passed it to Cam Rimmer who dug tirelessly for years then just recently passed it to Helen Harris; Ian to Ron and Ruth Brookman who have dug trenches throughout their vast continent over the last decade.
In the USA, Helen Bach knew her time was up; this amazing ‘mother of the faith’ had built up the work considerably. It required nothing short of a death in order for her to place the work in the hands of Dean Greer. She did it for love—realizing her priorities as well as Dean’s readiness to take the work in new directions.
I will never forget our first training in South Africa. Duncan Bower had coordinated the effort and at the very end of our week declared that he needed to let go of the work because of some other priorities. That meant no-one was in place to supervise those freshly trained! We scrambled for a solution.
Blessed Ruth McGlaughlin agreed to take Living Waters the next step for a short season (she then passed it to Johann who later handed it to Craig…). I will never forget the wide-eyed look on her face (panic-stricken may better describe it) as the non-African team drove off from the site, leaving her with a stack of leaders’ evaluations and a desperate cry in her heart: ‘What did I just sign up for?’
The point is: we are each called to do our part. That’s all. We experience the normal human tendency to cling to a call but God in His mercy pries it loose from us. He takes it back and teaches us once more that actually it is all about Him.
In our surrender, the husk breaks, thus releasing more mercy to the land.
‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ (Lk 17:10)
‘Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes plants grow.’ (1Cor 3:7)
‘As You have shown us mercy, O God, in the desert places of our lives, would You show mercy to the beleaguered state of marriage in the USA? As the Perry vs. Schw. case wends its way to the National Supreme Court, prepare for Yourself a victory. We shall render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but we shall prayerfully fight for what is Yours, O God. Prepare the hearts of each justice, especially Justice Anthony Kennedy, to uphold marriage according to Your merciful design. Remember mercy, O God.’