By Jim Beaird
On January 21, 2020, 44 men from across the U.S. met at the airport in Houston to board a plane to Liberia, Costa Rica, to participate in a MOVE building trip. Every year an Open Bible MOVE ministry team chooses a project to undertake. The locations vary but usually require travel to a foreign country where men work and live in less-than-ideal conditions.
I scanned the group of men for a couple guys I knew from college days, Dick Crawley and Rick Jarvis. I must admit to a certain level of apprehension as I realized I was not a young man anymore, and that it was too late to bail out.
I had not participated in a MOVE trip for 28 years. I had allowed the business of ministry and the responsibilities associated with my position as regional executive director to negate the possibility of spending a couple weeks being “one of the guys” sent to make a difference in the lives of people who desperately needed our help as the answer to their prayers.
After connecting with my two dear friends, we grabbed a bite to eat and waited to board our flight. Once the flight took off, our team spent the next three and a half hours getting acquainted and sharing our expectations as best as we could speculate. Some men were new to this kind of expedition, and others were veterans with up to thirty years of trips behind them.
Once in Liberia, we boarded a bus for a two-hour trip to Upala, where we were assigned rooms and roommates for the next two weeks. After a full day of travel, the simple accommodations of a no-frills motel room beckoned to us for a good night’s sleep before beginning our long-awaited project of building a beautiful church in rural Costa Rica.
The next morning, we boarded another bus for a forty-five minute trip to a small community called Nazareth. A cement slab greeted us, as did villagers wondering what to expect. We gathered on the slab and had prayer, just as we would do every day before beginning work. Each morning a different man would share his personal story. We became aware of the narratives behind each man and what brought him to this point in his life. I could tell that this trip was about to change everything I believed about the real purpose of MOVE trips.
Challenge for Lonely Leaders and Unchallenged Men
As I previously stated, my schedule and budget simply had not allowed me to participate in such ventures, or so I thought. Leadership is lonely. Nobody understands that aloneness as well as a leader who is continually called upon to solve problems and act as the perceived paragon of virtue. A leader often cannot have a “buddy” with whom he can occasionally let his hair down or enjoy carefree moments not attached to his role as leader. During the 48 years of my ministry, I forfeited many opportunities to have a close friend or a life apart from my ministry.
In addition, most churches are blessed with men who will unite behind a common goal or agenda – men who are project-driven and enjoy accomplishing tangible projects that meet a specified need. It’s sad when church leaders don’t promote these projects and men miss out on a challenge not even presented to them.
My participation in this trip provided me with insight I would like to pass on to lonely leaders and these unchallenged men. Leadership does not have to be lonely, and men need their leaders to challenge them to a project in which they work together to beat the odds and produce something only God can bless.
In Costa Rica eight pastors joined thirty-six laymen in a cross-cultural project in which more was erected than simply a physical building. “Skilled craftsmen” such as those found in Exodus 31:1-6 provided the guidance and labor for laying block, welding, and utilizing various other skills needed to successfully complete the task at hand. I felt my heart bonding with the hearts of men from across the nation as we labored together – each man doing his part to build a lasting monument to the glory of God. We laughed with each other, and at times we cried. There were times when someone would touch my shoulder and say, “Here, let me help.” We were there for each other, and we saw to it that everyone stayed safe.
I know of no other project presently in Open Bible Churches that brings lonely leadership and challenge-driven men together as does MOVE. A special thanks to Pastor Aaron Keller, MOVE’s national director, and Dave Bethany, its director of construction, for their galvanizing efforts to provide this opportunity to serve God’s Kingdom.
By Jim Beaird
Dr. Jim Beaird pastored for 30 years before becoming the regional executive director for the Southeast Region of Open Bible Churches, a position he held from 2002 until his retirement in 2019. He has a heart to train pastors and leaders to be true to their calling and to be lifelong learners who finish life’s course with a strong and vibrant effort. His books include The Proximity Factor and The Providence Factor.