22nd March 2011
To the YFC Sri Lanka Family,
It is with great joy that I announce the appointment by the Board of Leonard Fernando as Acting National Director of Youth for Christ from June 1st 2011. I will become Teaching Director at YFC at that time.
The choice of the next leader has seriously occupied my mind for the past fifteen years or so and the Board for the past four years. The Board chose Leonard because he met some of the most important requirements we were looking for. These especially have to do with Sri Lanka YFC’s organisational culture of developing leaders and giving them space to follow their dreams provided those dreams are within the mission and general strategic plan of YFC. We were looking for an enabler of leaders. Here are some of his outstanding characteristics.
- He has a passion for the mission of YFC.
- He is known to be committed to our primary work of evangelism among unreached youth and has a proven track record of grassroots involvement in youth evangelism.
- He is a skilful discipler of youth and youth leaders.
- He has a proven track record of faithful involvement in the local church which is the final home of the youth reached through YFC.
- He is known for his godliness, humility, and the absence of selfish ambition.
- He is known to be one who is not afraid to open up with sharing his personal and ministry plans, so that we can expect him to uphold YFC’s ethos of accountability and fellowship.
- We can trust him when he speaks and do not need to ask, “What really lies behind what he is saying?”
- He has the ability to inspire others to greatness.
- He is willing to look beyond the weaknesses of our leaders and focus on the great things that God can accomplish through them.
- He is known to speak up for the welfare of people who have severely criticised him.
- He has the ability to win the esteem and confidence of the wider community in the church and in society.
- His wife Usha has the gifts, abilities and commitment to complement him admirably in his role.
Because he has not been serving in Colombo, there are some areas where he needs to be trained in. For this we are hoping that there will be mentors who will be close to him and help him. We are hoping that he would, over the years, go for formal training in some areas. When I came in as National Director, it was my first job. My teachers were my colleagues Brian Blacker, Richard Brohier, Tony Senewiratne and Suri Williams. Not once did I encounter any disrespect from them. It was clear to me that they accepted me wholeheartedly as their leader. But within that framework, they became my teachers. It was one of the beautiful experiences I ever had. I am hoping that the other senior leaders would help Leonard in the same way.
Hariharan will take over the job of Principal of our Institute of Youth Ministry in addition to being Training Director once he returns with his Masters degree from Singapore. I previously served as Principal. This Institute is a partner institution of Colombo Theological Seminary and our staff can get credit towards their studies at CTS for what they did at the Institute.
My former secretary Shereen Joseph will become Leonard’s secretary and Helen Fernando (Jega’s wife), who had been my secretary for thirteen years before her children came, has already joined as my new secretary. Leonard will come to Colombo in the end of April.
With the growth of the number of leaders in YFC, and with the regionalisation we needed to divide the former National Leadership Team as it had become too large. Now we will have two groups, the National Ministry Team which covers all our club-type grassroots ministries, and the National Service Team which covers the other ministries like training, counselling, publications and campsites. Leonard will lead both groups and the two groups will meet together once or twice a year.
We have come a long way since our early days. We now have ministry in about 150 different places. But it is easy for us to miss the place God has for us. Our role is very unique and has features which we could easily neglect—which will result in us being disqualified from the work God has called us to do. Here are the unique things about our ministry.
- We have a passion to reach unreached youth with the gospel—those out of contact with the church or other Christian influences.
- We have a passion to personally disciple the youth who have come to Christ through our work.
- We see our work with a youth complete only when that youth is fully incorporated into a local church.
- We seek to work within a team structure where the members are of one mind in all that we do, so that fellowship and personal accountability is a key to our life.
It is easy to slack in any of these four areas. If we do that, we are finished! So, even as I introduce my successor, I want to place before you our four passions: UNREACHED YOUTH; PERSONAL DISCIPLING; THE LOCAL CHURCH AND SPIRITUAL ACCOUNTABILITY. O that you would keep committing yourself afresh to these four passions!
What a privilege it has been for me to be the servant of such an amazing family. Thank you, thank you, and thank you for your kindness to me! On my part let me say that you are a source of great pride to me. I do not deserve to have led such a wonderful band of servants of God for almost 35 years. As you were so kind to me, let me ask you to be kind to Leonard too. God used you to make me the leader that I am. Would you help Leonard to be the great leader God wishes him to be?
Ajith Aiya, Anna, Uncle.