12th February 2011
Dear YFC Leadership,
I wanted to let you know about some decisions made by the Board last Monday before I tell others. The Board has finally resolved the issue of what to do about my stepping down from National Directorship. They have accepted that I step down on 1st June 2011. I will continue to serve in YFC with the designation Teaching Director on contract as I am over 60 years old. I will not be part of the National Ministry Team. I will continue to work towards raising funds for the ministry, but I also hope to spend more time than before teaching our staff in the different centres and in our in-house training. I will continue to serve on the Board.
The Board appointed Leonard Fernando as Acting National Director from 1st June. Leonard will move to Colombo in April and, at that time, will be relieved of his responsibilities in Vavuniya and the Vavuniya-Mannar Division. Leonard’s great strength is coming alongside workers and encouraging them by spending time with them. He found this difficult to do after becoming National Ministry Director while he was resident in Vavuniya. Now he can concentrate on that.
The search for a New National Director has been officially on for about 5 years now and, in my mind, for about 15 years. Leonard was the one we felt met the two sets of requirements we were looking for. First, there are the scriptural requirements for leaders, as in 1 Timothy and Titus, which focus on reputation for good character, expressing biblical character traits in personal life, having a good family life and having good ability in ministry. Second, there are the needs of our organisational culture which majors on individual leaders taking the initiative to push forward visions that God has given them. We wanted a leader who would be able to motivate visionary leaders to achieve their fullest potential under God.
It is not going to be easy for Leonard to take over from one who has been leader for 35 years. This is why I decided to be almost an absentee leader for the past 10 months, so that YFC will get used to being without me.
I must tell you that when I took over from Sam Sherrard, our founder director and a brilliant leader, it was very hard for me. Many times a week, in those early days, people said something like, “This is the way it was done in Sam’s time.” I often wanted to resign and once even wrote my letter of resignation (but did not submit it). What saw me through was the support I got from our leadership team: Brian Blacker, Richard Brohier, Tony Senewiratne and Suri Williams. They had all been on staff for several years and, other than Tony, were all older than me. I must specially mention Brian who had been acting National Director for two years before I came. He was about ten years senior to me and had been on staff for eight and a half years before I came. This was my first job! But Brian did everything he can do to help me and enable the body of YFC to accept me as the leader. I pray that you will do the same with Leonard.
I also have to give you some sad news. For some time Prashan de Mel has been feeling the call to work full-time as an evangelist as part of the group that he has been involved with even before he joined YFC. He has followed through with that call and will leave YFC full-time staff in a few months when he feels we are ready for this. After leaving YFC staff, he will serve as a consultant helping the Finance and Admin ministry until we can release him fully. What God did in YFC through Prashan is simply amazing. He was able to be God’s agent in transforming our finance, admin and fund-raising operations to something that we can be proud about. He trained the staff, always saying that he must hand his responsibilities over to others. His godly firmness and strong commitment to integrity was just what we needed. Prashan will continue as a member of our Board.
Just in case you are wondering whether Prashan is leaving because of Leonard’s appointment, let me tell you that Prashan has, over the past few months, repeatedly told me that we should give the job to Leonard and also given me helpful hints on how to process this transition effectively. Prashan will be giving special attention, in the next few months, to helping Leonard with his new job.
This is a time when we are standing in the need of prayer. I know you will pray for your family–Sri Lanka YFC.
Your fellow servant of Jesus Christ,