This year One Challenge celebrates its 70th year of global ministry. With that we are also celebrating some faithful U.S. Mobilization Center (US-MC) personnel who have served for decades and are passing the baton to younger colleagues.
One of these is Kriste Larson, who joined OC in 1992 just as the Colorado Springs office opened. For the last 30 years, she has faithfully worked shoulder to shoulder with countless staff members and global mission workers. On March 28, we had the joy of celebrating Kriste’s 30 years and future retirement with a special chapel message from Kriste herself, words of affirmation from three of her supervisors, some meaningful gifts, and food.
Kriste felt called to missions long before coming to One Challenge. Seeds were planted during her childhood when mission workers would visit her home, and she heard their stories around her family’s dinner table. It was not a seed for a calling to travel overseas in missions herself, but a seed to a calling to serve and support global mission workers.
By God’s great orchestration, that seed grew over the years and when Kriste heard about OC’s planned move from the west coast to the Springs, she called the California office and asked if they would be hiring in Colorado Springs. At that same time, Don Boesel and Jim VanMeter initiated the first steps toward a new department at the “home office,” the MemberCare Department. In early 1992 Mick Wilson and Diane Morris became the first members of that department, joined by Kriste with her kindred spirit of caring for mission workers.
From MemberCare to VP Field Ministries
In 1994, when Greg Gripentrog was appointed to the newly established position, VP of Field Ministries, Kriste accepted the offer to become his administrative assistant. For Greg she became a great gift as both a needed secretary and administrative assistant, but also a valued spiritual partner and friend in ministry. Some years later after Greg was called to serve as OC president, he invited Kriste to join the presidential team as his executive administrative assistant. It was Greg’s conviction that Kriste would bring not only her administrative skills, but that she would nurture a “spiritual atmosphere” to the office of the president. She accepted that position and became a great blessing to Greg, the president’s office, the board, the US-MC, and the mission as a whole. In her 30 years at OC, Kriste has had a number of supervisors, but Greg says he got the greatest gift, because he had the privilege of working with Kriste for twenty of those years.
In the last eight years at the US-MC, Kriste served as the executive administrative assistant to the VP Fields, first with Dick Grady, and in the last three years with David Bulger. As David spoke of Kriste’s servanthood at a special Monday morning chapel at the US-MC, he referenced Ephesians 3:7 as an example of how Kriste brought her full self to this role and every position she held at OC. “This is my lifework, helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details.“ (MSG)
Kriste is retiring but she leaves with us many gifts and her life’s example of operating in God’s grace and power through her commitment to competence and excellence, her sense of responsibility, her artistic creativity, diligent prayer, and through her whole-hearted servant posture.
In her chapel message Kriste said, “I depart now with a grateful heart to God who is the Master Orchestrator of our lives and the lover of us all.”
Passing the Baton
At the end of February, in a small, informal, cubical ceremony, Kriste passed the baton of Executive Admin, V.P. Fields to Lydia Keller. She did so symbolically, gifting Lydia, who has a Hawaiian heritage, with a unique lei she had made. Together a small group of OCers prayerfully “commissioned” Lydia to her new position.
Lydia’s story is also one of God’s divine orchestration. Lydia found out about OC through OC worker Kelli Boesel, Communications Team member and MK specialist. They met in Thailand in connection with a TCK (Third Culture Kid) ministry and became fast friends. When the admin job on the Mobilization team, under the leadership of Jeff Boesel, vacated, somehow Lydia’s name came up. Lydia says, “I didn’t know much about OC, Jeff, or mission agencies. I first met with Jeff and Deänne (Boesel) before I applied and learned about OC through the eyes of someone who might be mobilized. I loved the “coming alongside” approach to ministry, and I was really excited to develop more of my administrative skills in kingdom work.” Lydia began working full-time on the Mobilization Team in March 2019. With COVID and the birth of her daughter, she reduced her hours to 30 hours/week.
Next Admin VP Fields
When OC started looking for the next Executive Administrative Assistant V.P Fields, Lydia’s colleagues in the Mobilization Team encouraged her to consider it. We had a chance to ask Lydia about her new position.
OC: What attracted you to the V.P Fields Exec. Admin job?
Lydia: It was Josh and Jeff that pushed me towards the job more than me. It wasn’t really something I was going for, but Jeff told me that I could make a big difference for OC as a whole from this position. I slowly asked more questions and dreamt more of what this could look like for me and for the shift it would bring in my family. I got really excited about the possibilities of restructuring and making systems more efficient for OC. That was probably the biggest draw and God confirmed this position change many times.”
OC: Taking on a new position involves a lot of new information and learning. How was the transition?
Lydia: Better than I had hoped for or expected. This job meant that I was going to be working from the office more consistently, which meant a lot of changes for my family and for me. God has carried us so well (as he always does) through the big changes. I also had the absolute pleasure to get to know and work with Kriste closely. She and I have been found to have a lot of the same heart and passions. It was an honor to step into this role after her excellent 30 years of service.
OC: What are you looking forward to in the new job?
Lydia: I have so much (maybe too much) passion to help OC transition well into our new post-COVID world. I’m excited to make new programs/systems/culture that can help OC be more fruitful.
OC: What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenges?
Lydia: Change is slow, and I want to move fast. I know that I will continually need to walk with humility in how I approach what I hope to do, to make sure I’m in step with God, not my own ambition.
OC: We are excited for you in this new position and wish you all the best.
Mobilization Gains a New Admin
With Lydia’s departure from OC Mobilization, the team needed a new administrator. Hannah Sparkman joined the team in February 2022. The month of February was a month filled with training, Lydia training Hannah while simultaneously receiving training from Kriste. Hannah says, “When I first learned about OC, I was attracted to how they treated missions and their mission workers. I appreciate that OC is interdenominational and only goes where they have connections with the local church. As for their mission workers, I was drawn to how important family is to OC. As for the job, I was drawn to it initially because of getting to work with prospective mission workers.”
In her position, Hannah is one of the first contacts for people interested in cross-cultural missions, receiving individual inquiries. She manages the Mobilization Facebook page and Prepare for Impact blog, as well as their Twitter and Instagram accounts. The Mobilization Team can have as many as 50 different people “in the pipeline” at one time, meaning everything from first inquiry to submitting an application. The average time from first contact to application can be – well, there is no average time. It can be a few months to five years.
Hannah will be managing her role on the team in 30 hours per week. She says, “I’m looking forward to getting to hear the stories from mission workers and prospective mission workers. I love hearing how the Lord has worked in their lives and why they feel he has called them to their work.” Currently she feels her biggest challenge will be learning the different mission workers and sister organizations that are connected with OC. She says, “There are plenty of ministries that I still have not heard of and mission workers who are doing amazing things that I am still unfamiliar with.”
We are excited to see God bringing the right people to serve in the right positions at the right time, both here at the US-MC and abroad.
One Challenge Global Alliance (OC GA) Established in May 2010, the OC Global Alliance is a voluntary association of OC Mobilization Centers (MC) for the purpose of sharing resources and experience to fulfill a common vision, mission, values, and strategy. The US-MC is one of the 10 founding Mobilization Center members of the Alliance, partnering together to effectively deploy people to serve on multiethnic and multinational Global Alliance ministry teams in nations around the world. For more information, please email OC Mobilization at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or go to our Mobilization blog, Prepare for Impact, at https://prepareforimpact.life/.