OC Director's Blog: November 2022 Dr. Craig Kraft
/ Monday, November 7, 2022
Heather and I just returned from a week in Nashville with our kids. We traveled down to Matthew’s graduation from Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy. We are so proud of our “First Responder.”
I was blessed by the participation of Chief Stephen Dillard, the Tennessee Fire Association Chaplain. Chief Dillard opened and closed the graduation ceremony with a prayer and shared John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” As Christians, we know that Jesus was calling his followers to love each other the same way that he loved them. It is fully recognized when Jesus laid down his life on the cross.
Chief Dillard shared in the context of 28 firefighters who were graduating from training and starting their careers as first responders. These men and women could be called upon at any time to risk their lives to save someone else. On the grounds of the Academy stands a monument to the 343 firefighters who gave their lives on September 11. We spent a moment at the monument following the graduation, and it was a poignant reminder to us of the commitment our son has made to serve and protect the people of his community.
Yesterday was the Global Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. It is easy for us to forget that there are many pastors, missionaries, and followers of Jesus who make the same pledge to risk their lives to serve their communities and share the gospel of Jesus in places where it results in persecution, imprisonment, or execution. I tip my hat today to Matthew and to our Christian brothers and sisters around the world who gladly lay down their lives for their friends.
OC Leadership Conference in Colorado Springs
Following a couple of years with very limited travel, I have been learning how to get around airports again this fall. Many of you prayed for me as I spoke at the OC USA Global Leadership Conference in Colorado Springs. Thank you! The conference was outstanding, and I think my part was a successful contribution to the week. I spoke on navigating through change and shared a lot of our Outreach Canada story as a model for other fields to reflect on as they consider their long-range strategic planning. I also enjoyed spending the five days with representatives from eleven of our fifteen OC Global Alliance Partners.
We spent a lot of time in meetings, but the reports were very encouraging. In one meeting, I learned how we are seeing hundreds of thousands of people choose to follow Christ around the world through our simple discipleship strategies. Most of the growth is happening in areas where the church is facing intense persecution, but we are also seeing fruit here in Canada, the USA, and all over the globe.
Outreach Canada in Ontario
On my way to Nashville, I spent a few days in Ontario. I was able to connect with some of our team members in the Toronto area and attend a day conference with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. While in the area, I headed out to Elmira to have lunch with some of our Missionary Member Care team. Over lunch, they shared some of their stories from our ministries in the summer. There were so many encouraging things that happened in our ReBoot retreats for Missionary Kids this year. This has been a great opportunity to invest in the lives of young people and future leaders. I also heard from one of our families that responded to a need in Turkey and went to provide supportive care to some missionaries that needed some extra love and attention there. I am so proud of our MORE team and the amazing work that they are doing to support a network of over forty mission organizations.
I am not the only one traveling these days. Our team has been engaging in new ministry opportunities around the world. This week we have people serving and learning in the USA with The Refugee Highway Project and our global partners from Simply Mobilizing. Barry Whatley has returned to Burundi this month for an intensive time of training and equipping pastors there, along with our ministry partners in the area. We have a young man who has just gone to the middle east to spend three months exploring a ministry opportunity there, and one of our missionaries has returned to Asia, where she will spend six months training and equipping our network of microchurch leaders there.
We have three team members serving overseas right now on short-term projects in Asia, Burundi, and Turkey.
Dr. Craig Kraft is the Executive Director of Outreach Canada. After 15 years of pastoral ministry in western Canada, Craig, with his wife Heather, served with OC in southern Africa before returning to lead the ministry in Canada. Craig is a graduate of Northwest Baptist Seminary at ACTS and a graduate of Asia Graduate School of Theology with a Doctor of Intercultural Studies. His study has focused on diaspora missiology in Canada. His dissertation explores the potential for revitalizing Canadian churches through the practice of biblical hospitality with refugees and immigrants. Craig loves to watch sports, work in the yard & spend time in the woods.