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Alan's Story: A Polished Arrow

By Alan Webster

The first I knew about changes in Wycliffe SA leadership was when I received an email on 19 October 2020 advertising the Executive Director position. "Wow, I wonder what's happening with Karen?" I pondered, thinking about Karen Floor, someone I had met and interacted with since around 2014. It was a surprise, then, to see Karen's name appear on my phone the next day. Maybe she was calling to tell me her new moves.

Karen then started to kindly explain what was happening in Wycliffe SA and the process of finding her successor. I kept thinking, "This is all very interesting and nice of her to explain, but why is she letting me in on such detail?” Perhaps she was sharing the details in case I had any prospective candidates in mind, who I would need to pass the details on to.

Then Karen dropped the bombshell: "While we were praying, your name came up...would you be willing to consider applying?"

Oh, so that is why Karen was letting me in on the details. I had six days to respond, but my wife, Andrea, was busy with her year-end submissions and we were unable to talk...about anything...let alone a life-changing decision. So I prayed and asked some family and trusted friends to pray. It all seemed quite unlikely.

I asked the Search Committee if I could track with the process without saying a definite yes or no and they graciously accepted. We would discern God's will together. And so we prayed and I prepared for the Board interview. 

All I wanted to know was whether this was God's plan; He would be the one to convince us, rather than the specifics of the job, responsibilities or conditions of employment.

I went into the Board interview with the attitude to bless them and give what I had come prepared to share. I still felt that this was an unlikely match. Two days later when Karen let me know that I was their first choice, I was surprised, but then focused on the next step of discernment, which would involve meeting with Karen. This was supposed to give me details of the Monday-Friday responsibilities, but the Lord led Karen to tell her story and the journey of Wycliffe SA.

This was a pivotal meeting. There were so many direct links and confirmations from Karen's story to my own life, I could hardly believe the number of similarities. One of these was the recurring theme in each of our stories of the arrow from Isaiah 49. The Lord first led me to this scripture during an Alpha Course many years ago. Then, in 2012, we (my wife and I) visited Ellel Ministries in Pretoria and had a time of prayer with Derek Puffett & Trudy Wronsley. 

During this time a vision of an archer with an arrow pulled back in the bow was shared with us. The word accompanying this was, “Not yet…”

The explanation was that God needed to stretch us but only release us when we had been stretched far enough in the bow, otherwise we would not hit the target. Later, when I got involved in the Kairos Course, the theme emerged again, as one of the devotions is called ‘The Arrow’ based on the verses in Isaiah 49.

In 2019, Karen started to pray for a successor, and had some ideas about possible candidates. Over time, each person she thought of was taken off the list until there was nobody. 

The Lord then spoke to Karen about the hidden, polished arrow. 

It was in November 2020, after Karen spoke to me about Wycliffe and Isaiah 49 that I knew all of these things were lining up as confirmation that this was the time for the arrow to emerge and be released.

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Karen "handing the baton" to Alan

Yet, for all the amazing connections, I gave nothing away in that meeting, because I needed to share this with Andrea. I couldn't contain my excitement as I shared it with her, and then my parents the next day on a WhatsApp video call. We all agreed that this 'revelation' was a clear green light to continue.

I met with the Wycliffe SA Leadership Team a few days later and felt very comfortable. What was so lovely was that we were no strangers to Wycliffe members, our paths crossing, perhaps strategically, over the years. What started off as a big surprise, and then seemed an unlikely fit, soon became something both exciting and scary, as we realised that God was thrusting us into a new adventure of faith.

The week I met with the Leadership Team, two excess Christmas gifts from a kid’s ministry at our church were brought to my attention. When I was told they were bow and arrow sets, I knew that there was a prophetic significance. I asked for the two gifts and when our family was welcomed into Wycliffe on 5 January 2021, I handed one wrapped gift to Karen and kept the other for myself. When we opened them, there was more surprise as they were crossbows and the brand name was Kingsplay. We are arrows in the hands of the King!

Since then I have been through an orientation period and value the inputs from everyone. Each person is so precious and I know that I need to love and lead with grace and excellence. I am so grateful for the Holy Spirit whom I need so much, as well as for the many people who are praying. May we, together, serve God's purposes in our generation and see the knowledge of His glory cover the earth.

 

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