I began serving as Development Director with eMi in 2015. eMi is a Christian non-profit made up of architects, engineers, surveyors, and construction managers who value design, discipleship, and diversity.
At eMi we are designing a world of hope. We have 162 staff, 74 interns, and 170 volunteers working on 109 projects—like Christian schools and ministry facilities—that help advance God’s work in 30 countries and counting.
Regarding design, we believe in appropriate, sustainable design that fits the local context. About discipleship, we aim to develop people spiritually and professionally. Linked to diversity, we connect people of all nations to show the unity we have in Christ. And, associated with development, we have come a long way by the grace of God.
When I started in my role, I had so many questions. Perhaps the greatest challenge I faced was the fog of uncertainty. I knew our global office needed to move. But I was unsure what steps we should we take. Also, while our staff raise personal support, we also needed to raise funds for global operations. But how?
There were so many different paths to take. Which would help us to meet our goals? Which would help us to mobilize the work we were so eager to do? How were we going to get there? Perhaps you can relate? As I moved forward, the fog seemed to get more and more thick and I realized that I needed a guide to help me find the way.
I had met Gary Hoag on at various points on my journey and had read some of his books. Not long after starting my role and when I was full of questions, we got together for what would be our first of several lunches at Ted’s, a convenient meeting location.
I remember the first meeting. I unloaded. “I’m just not sure I’m headed in the right direction. I need someone who can tell me which paths are the right ones to take. I need help from someone who has been down this road before.”
Gary asked questions and listened. In the process, he helped me think differently. The interaction pointed me to consider challenges from spiritual and strategic perspectives rooted in the biblical and practical thinking of his books, The Sower, The Choice, and The Council. Near the end of each session, I would list the faithful activities that I would focus until our next check in.
This journey has taken several years. At check in meetings, we would celebrate areas of progress together. For example, as a solution for rallying general operating support, he helped me see the value of setting up an eMi Fund and teaching everyone the importance of participating in the mission through giving. That strategic decision has helped fuel our growth.
I also recall his spiritual encouragement. On one occasion, our interaction gave me confidence to urge the key players in the organization to agree to a global unified branding effort. Another time, it propelled me to challenge all staff to focus not so much on raising up personal support but on rallying partnership with God’s work at eMi. People captured the larger vision. He reminded me that my role was to lead by faith.
At check in meetings, I would share with Gary where we had been recently and where we were headed. He helped me to evaluate the roads ahead and let me know that although it would be tough going, we were headed in the right direction.
On a recent check in call, I shared with Gary that everything was working. The eMi Fund was doing great. Rather than just have support come from the West to the rest, we were setting up structures in our offices in places like South Africa to grow local giving.
It’s working. We are seeing first fruits. Gary was so excited that he urged me to contribute this story. In reflection, I want to offer development directors everywhere five words of advice that I learned (and am continuing to learn on this journey).
Fast forward to today and EMI has seen tremendous growth. With several new locations around the globe and funds to share, we find our capacity building efforts are having a multiplying effect and starting to grow local giving. It’s working. Despite the global pandemic, last year was our best fundraising year ever. The Lord is at work.
Credit: header photo by Anna Seeley