The Story of What God Did: Turnarounds and Transitions with MedSend CEO Rick Allen Part 4
PART 4: Looking to the Future
“When you fight God in the middle of transformation, as long as it’s God-ordained, you’re going to lose.”
“MedSend is about the missionaries and the missionaries are about God,” MedSend CEO Rick Allen explains. He sees MedSend as a simple cog in the machine of serving the God who calls and empowers the missionaries. It’s God who leads MedSend, he says. Believing that truth is how he is able to lead the staff with faith and not fear.
“God is in control if you are willing to surrender your own agenda, your own professional life,” Rick continues, his pastor side peeking through. “If you’re willing to step into what God has for you versus what you think should be, you get brought into the future without fear. I don’t fear,” he says with conviction. Those who work with Rick have seen this in his leadership, and the tone it sets among the staff creates an oasis in what could be a high stress, high anxiety operation.
“It has been an enormously exciting 15 years; God has transformed this ministry. It has been protected by its donors. It’s been protected by its board, and it’s loved by the staff. We are in a strong position to take MedSend forward into the next generation. I want to make sure that I hand over a healthy organization that is chasing after the Holy Spirit when the time comes,” Rick shares.
Leading from Faith and not Fear
Not leading from fear isn’t the same as never having concerns, Rick explains. Without some level of concern there’s no motivation to change. He readily admits to being aware of his own shortcomings and is constantly evaluating his ability to execute on what God has revealed. “It’s not God’s inability that concerns me, I have total confidence that God will make things happen. He knows where I need to go, and He’ll take me there. I just follow His lead,” he says.
The key to this, Rick explains, is asking yourself if you believe the Holy Spirit is still working in the world today. “If you do, that’s what you respond to. What is He doing today? And how do you support the people that He’s calling to do it? I’m not trying to protect the past,” he says. “I’m trying to figure out what’s in the future from what God is showing me.” Trying to protect the past is the fastest route to leading from fear, he warns.
“The Holy Spirit is still the Holy Spirit. He’s still going to call people to Him.”
“When you fight God in the middle of transformation, as long as it’s God-ordained, you’re going to lose. You can fight God, but it’s a wasted effort. He’ll use those that are willing to surrender themselves. And He will make things happen,” Rick assures, acutely aware that the world is changing at an accelerating pace and showing no signs of slowing down.
“Young people are going to be at the leading edge of this change and we need to support them. Their world is going to be very different. But the Holy Spirit is still the Holy Spirit. He’s still going to call people to Him. They are going to fall in love with Jesus. And they’re going to make themselves available,” Rick continues. As he sees it, it’s his job–and MedSend’s job–to figure out how to use the wisdom and discernment they’ve earned in a way that supports the future of today’s young people.
The Possibilities Ahead
“You’d think I’d get tired after 15 years, but I’m energized,” Rick declares. “I see new possibilities and I see the fulfillment of possibilities past. The National Scholars Program, I’m seeing that fulfillment is already well underway. And now we have the ability to make healthcare mission sustainable because of The Longevity Project.”
“Healthcare missions is going through a transitional phase, where the role of the Western missionary is in decline and the role of the local healthcare missionary is in ascent.”
That machine Rick referenced earlier, the ministry of healthcare missions, exists in precarious balance. The economic model of the past where the entire system depends on the Western missionary is undergoing God-ordained transformation, he says. “If the spin happens too fast, where you can’t replace the missionaries as quickly as they’re burning out, this thing will fall apart,” he predicts. What he knows for sure is that God is not done revealing Himself through healthcare missions.
“Healthcare missions is going through a transitional phase, where the role of the Western missionary is in decline and the role of the local healthcare missionary is in ascent,” Rick points out. “But we’re between these two points right now. We haven’t left the dependency on the West. And we haven’t gotten to the point where the there are enough well-trained, well-prepared Christ following healthcare professionals in the Global South to take over for us. So, we’re in the middle,” he says. The middle can be a very uncomfortable place to be, but Rick and the board are prepared to stay the course.
MedSend has a long-term strategy to be a catalyst to help this transition occur. God has put MedSend in a place over the past 15 years to make that possible, Rick believes. As he looks back, he can see that everything he and the board have been working to build under God’s direction has been very intentional for the future of healthcare missions. Now is not the time, he says, to stop moving faster, thinking bigger and watching for changes on the ground.
“God was teaching me about burnout and showing me how He was raising up national doctors who need to be trained. Back then I didn’t see how both things fit together to help us through the transition ahead,” Rick admits. “Going back to the idea of turnarounds and transitions–this is what we’re in the middle of. This time it’s not about MedSend, it’s about something that God is doing on a much larger scale with healthcare missions as a whole. This movement from the West to the Global South is happening, and we’re just a cog in His strategy. We’re a faithful cog.”
Rick, the Medsend staff and the board want to thank our faithful donors for the enormous amount of personal and financial support MedSend has received over the past 15 years. Rick has one final message for those that have joined him on his journey with healthcare missions: “God bless you and those that you love.”
Healthcare remains the only form of access as a Christian witness in many countries.
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