After six years of service in the NAB International Office, Kerry Bender has announced he is stepping down as vice president of International Missions. Kerry initially came on as the interim vice president after Norm Poehlke stepped down to return to ministry in the local church. He quickly made the role his own.
In the years since he began leading the international missions efforts of the NAB, Kerry helped oversee the fundraising and infrastructure improvements at Camp Falcon Rock, particularly the main lodge; he worked closely with NAB missionaries in Cameroon and our Cameroonian partners to help finalize and complete a number of key projects, including the hydroelectric dam at Mbingo; he navigated the safety concerns of our missionaries around the world in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic; he helped guide a number of missionaries transitions, including two field directors; he strengthened old partnerships and even helped foster new partnerships with international missions agencies, such as Horizons International; and above all, he cared for and looked after our NAB missionaries, loved others well, and proclaimed the Gospel in word and deed, wherever God took him in his journeys.
Here is what Kerry wanted to share regarding this decision:
Greetings to all within the NAB,
It is with great sadness that I am writing that I am ending my employment with the NAB. The last six years have been an amazing opportunity to work with some of the best people, both in North America and around the world. It has given me a front-row seat to see what God is doing around the world, and he is moving. Unfortunately, recent changes in my personal circumstances require that I focus on my own emotional and spiritual well-being at this time and to avoid being distracted from doing the good work of NAB international missions or becoming a distraction to the good work the NAB is doing in North America and around the world. My last day in the office will be Friday, February 16.
It has been a joy to serve our NAB missionaries and God’s Kingdom for these last six years of ministry.
NAB Executive Director Dr. Harry Kelm also wanted to share a note to everyone within the NAB Conference:
As the vice president of International Missions, Kerry Bender has been a much loved and well-respected member of the Executive Team of the North American Baptist Conference. This love and respect is also evident in his dealings with the NAB staff, the larger NAB community, and our global ministry partners. Kerry Bender lives his life with an all-encompassing love for God and a love for others. He has been and is committed to ministry of NAB missions and to the growth of God’s Kingdom, at home and abroad. It is with sadness that we accept this decision. The entire NAB leadership wishes to express our appreciation to Kerry for all he has done and for his tireless efforts on behalf of the NAB. Please pray for Kerry in the midst of this transition. Please pray for the NAB leadership as we consider our next steps in this. Please also pray for the current International Missions staff – Caryn Young, Kristi Thao, and Randy Schmor – as they process this news and continue to serve our missionaries and NAB missions faithfully.
We will have more details regarding transitions and next steps regarding International Missions in the upcoming weeks.
Above all, we, as the NAB Conference, continue to be committed to being witnesses of Jesus in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the ends of the earth.