We live in an online world of instant but fleeting fame. With the right 4-minute video going viral or a creative post, we can become an overnight sensation. We can develop a rising online addiction to the number of “views” or “likes” that gives us positive feelings of significance or importance.
Joshua and the Israelites parting rivers and crossing them on dry ground into a land of promise and enemies
The Israelites, led by Moses, following a cloud and not knowing quite where it is taking them,
The disciples or Paul knowing that ultimately they are being designated apostles, not knowing where that will take them
Peter being told by Jesus to walk on water – now that does seem scary and exciting at the same time.
So, there are plenty of biblical precedents that following Christ is scary and exciting – but also a matter of obedience and following his guidance.
This is especially true when dealing with SUCCESSION. In many of our apostolic spheres, we have, over the last few years seen leadership successions take place. These are both faith-filled and uncomfortable times. Do the new leaders know what they are doing? Are the new leaders competent to take on the new role? (The answer to both of these questions is: probably not! – because we lead by faith and not by sight, and we grow in knowledge and wisdom through experience.) And will the former leaders give the new leaders enough space to lead by their own faith and vision, even if they still have some wisdom to share?
You may already have heard that we are facing a further transition of leadership in our Salt & Light family. Lorraine and I have had the privilege of leading our International Team (which is composed of some very anointed apostolic and prophetic leaders in their own right) for the last 14 years, since I took on this international leadership role from S&L’s founding father, Barney Coombs. Now, the team has designated our successors to this role: Joemon and Sunitha Joseph, who will assume this role fully in spring of 2025. At the moment, we are in that notorious relay box, where we are running together, as the baton is being handed from one runner to another! That’s a bit of a precarious place, as we well know!
Joemon and Sunitha are a great couple, who have been leading Gateway Ministries International, based in Mumbai, India. They have two sons and one daughter, Abhishek, who is 25, Rohan who is 23, and Keren, who is 15. They took on responsibility for leading GMI in 2016, and that transition worked very well. Stanley Mehta, the founding father of GMI, is still a trusted advisor, but Joe and his team have clear apostolic oversight and direction of the GMI family of churches.
God has spoken clearly to Joe and Sunitha about taking on the leadership of our S&L International Team; and he has spoken to the rest of the team, too, that this couple are the ones that God is designating to take on the leadership of our team. Each family of churches has its own fivefold ministry team for its sphere of responsibility, and the International Team is a co-ordinating, visionary and inspirational fivefold ministry team from across the world. I have had the privilege of working quite closely with Joe in and out of many different church and leadership situations, and see that he is gifted, apostolic, prayerful and pastoral. Sunitha is also a gifted counsellor, with a prophetic personality and a real gift of insight into people and situations.
There are several things that we recognise are new in this transition. First, there is a shift in the leadership within our family to the global south. This is new for us all. We have yet to discover whether that will be a smooth transition, or a bumpy ride! One thing that our current International Team is clear about is that it is right in God, and is a real gift to us as a family, since Jesus is Lord of the nations. There are different gifts at work within different cultures, and we receive one another as gifts from God to one another. Second, there is a generational shift of leadership. This is timely. We need the wisdom of the mature, and the vision and energy of the young. And in today’s fast-moving cultural shifts, we need leaders in each generation who can interpret God’s word to each generation in their language. Third, there is a succession for the team as well. It is right that some of the more mature members of the team take a step back from their roles on the team, to allow Joe to develop a younger team with different giftings, which will be fruitful in their generation. We need that badly! We need fresh and creative thinking, for the challenges of sharing the love of Christ and his kingdom in today’s world. Please pray that this succession will mean a big leap forward for our family, and not just a change of management!
Which leads me to a further reflection about the importance of PIONEERING. Obviously, for the first phase of our S&L family of churches, there was lots of pioneering everywhere. Learning to be genuinely charismatic, learning to develop fivefold ministries, beginning our whole church-planting thrust, discovering what it really means to see God’s kingdom grow in the nations. But there can be subtle creep, as we grow, to simply managing what we have pioneered previously, and for the pioneering to slow down. God has been speaking to many of us about a fresh wave of church-planting, about more nations to be touched for the Kingdom, about deeper penetration into society around us by greater works of compassion and prayerful co-operation with civic authorities. We are praying that Joe and Sunitha and their new team will really see a thrust forward in fresh creative energy to see so much more territory taken for Jesus and his kingdom.
And so, we are praying for MULTIPLICATION everywhere. We need a multiplication of disciples – disciples who make disciples. We need a multiplication of church-planters, who will move from region to region to plant many more churches! We need a multiplication of Ephesians 4 ministries, since they are the ministries that build and develop the church. And a multiplication of kingdom-minded and kingdom-envisioned people in all of our churches, whose one desire is to see God’s Kingdom come!
Please do pray with us, for Joemon and Sunitha and their family, and for all of these transitions that we are currently going through. That all of them may be for the glory of God, for the extension of his Kingdom, and for the spreading of God’s love everywhere in his world!