After 13 years of dedicated service as Bay Area’s Global Missions Pastor, Casely Essamuah has accepted a new role as Secretary of the Global Christian Forum. There, he will be a missionary devoted to mobilizing churches for prayer. Casely will begin his new role on July 1, 2018. Reflecting on how this opportunity came about and his years of ministry at Bay Area, Casely has shared some personal highlights throughout his time serving with us. Here’s what he had to say:
How did the opportunity to join the leadership of Global Christian Forum come about?
In June of last year, a friend forwarded to me an opportunity to offer myself as a candidate for the soon-to-be-vacant secretary position of an organization I had never heard of, the Global Christian Forum (GCF). Honestly, I was not interested but the friend kept insisting. Reluctantly I discussed with my dear wife Angela, and then checked with a few people who I thought knew about the organization. To my surprise, they were all affirmative that I would be a good candidate. In my heart I believed they were wrong, so I reluctantly submitted my resume, thinking I had nothing to lose.
In November I was informed that I had been shortlisted and needed to go to Rome for the interview. The more I read about the organization from their website, and other literature, the more my heart resonated with the call to prayer, testimony and fellowship that GCF espouses, embracing all the different brands of the global Christian family. Ultimately, I said “Yes” to the Lord’s calling.
Tell us about GCF and what you’ll be doing there.
GCF creates an open space where different denominations can gather and share what Jesus is doing in their lives, pray together, and pray for one another, with a view that walls that have divided the body of Christ will be lowered – if not destroyed – and bridges will be built for cooperation and collaboration.
As GCF’s executive officer, my primary responsibility will be convening prayer gatherings. GCF has a virtual office — it moves with the location of the Secretary, so I will continue to be here in Maryland for as long as the Lord would have me. When I’m not traveling, I will be coming to Bay Area! So this is not a goodbye.
How did you come to Bay Area in 2005?
I had finished my doctorate, and as a family we were praying about how the Lord would have us serve. My wife Angela was working here in D.C., so she was commuting from Boston to D.C. for a few days each week. Our kids were much younger, and I had a very full plate at a church that had a missions budget of $1.2 million.
Greg had read the book “Today’s All-Star Missions Churches” (which features several global missions pastors including Casely) and sent an email [with Bay Area’s job description for the open global missions pastor position] to all the pastors in the book, and the story is that nobody responded. I did, but I gave him two names of people that I thought would be good. Then we went back to praying, “Lord, what would you have us do?” Then it just hit us ... so I looked at the distance between Annapolis and D.C., and had no idea it was just an hour. I put my name in and the rest is history.
What are some highlights of your time serving here?
Two of the biggest things have been the emphases on South Sudan and India. We didn’t have Sudan or India as partners when I came here. They’ve since come about through relationships we had, and we’ve gone deep with them. Managing those relationships is what I’ve done for the last 13 years.
The focus on short term missions has been big during my time here, up to its peak last year when we sent out 163. Over the last four years we’ve sent about 500.
We’ve also strengthened our partnerships with those who are receiving teams. When Greg and I visited five of our partners in January last year it was so encouraging to see the fruit of the labor of 10 years of work in terms of tilling the soil and investing in those places.
Tell us about what you’ve most enjoyed while serving here at bay area.
A personal highlight for me has been seeing people take the next step in their walk with Jesus. If you talk about people who are not comfortable praying out loud who can now do that because they’ve been on a short term mission trip, names come to mind. If you talk about someone saying, “I’ve been coming to church but I really wasn’t reading my Bible regularly – until I went on a trip and I had to do that,” a name comes to mind. If you talk about sharing the gospel – “I never would have thought I could share the gospel, but when I was out there all my inhibitions were down and I was able to do it” – several names come to mind. If you talk about finding community here at Bay Area – “It was such a large church I didn’t connect with anyone, but I came back and the people that I went on the trip with, when we meet in the lobby we’re like best friends.”
Discovering that God can use you is huge. People say, “I’m a better follower of Jesus because I went out and I served, and now I’m back here either serving here, giving regularly, or in a Missional Community.”
As you prepare for this transition, how are you feeling?
To the extent that some of what I did contributed in a small way to making real Every One A Missionary, I say, “Thank you Jesus.” The overwhelming emotion at this time is really gratitude … that for 13 years of my one-and-only life the Lord saw fit to have us here and to use us. I have had a front-row seat as the good people of Bay Area have blessed the nations through global missions. I am so humbled that some of what the Lord allowed us to do has extended His kingdom, kept people alive physically and spiritually, and grown all of us closer to King Jesus.