Calling & Career Q & A: Short-Term Mission Coordinator

Categories: Calling & Career Q & A

Fred Sutherland graduated from Columbia in 2009 with a Diploma in Intercultural Studies at Columbia. He’s currently the Short Term Mission Coordinator for MB Mission (now Multiply).

Tell us about your current vocation. What does it involve? What do you do in a typical work week?

I’m the short-term mission coordinator for BC. I recruit, I mobilize, I teach, I manage. The best way to describe it is organizational leadership. There’s budget management connected to it, there’s leadership development, there’s HR stuff like hiring people. It’s all connected to seeing people equipped to live on mission with God.

We’re trying to multiply healthy disciples and missional leaders – that’s our goal. Our short-term missions programs include Trek (9-10 months), Action (6-weeks) and SOAR (10 days). All of our programs have training, service, and debrief. The training at the front end includes basic discipleship – Following Jesus, What is the gospel, how do you share it, relying on the power of the Holy Spirit. In the debrief, we say, “OK, now the mission trip really starts. Go share your faith with your friends and live missionally in the world, doing whatever God is calling you to do.”

How did you find your way into your current role?

After I graduated from Columbia, I got married and became a youth pastor. I found that the learning I did at CBC around cross-cultural communication – looking with a missionary learning lens – was highly applicable to youth, because youth is a subculture. Suddenly I found that I was using these missionary skills that I learned at CBC and in Germany on Trek, and I was applying them to a culture of students, who were 10 years younger than me.

My internship was my first intro to MB Mission. It was a very formative year. For me, the reading I did while I was overseas combined with the actual experience of leading was very formative for me. I became a fan of MB Mission after that – what their DNA was – so I was loosely connected with them, mentoring some of their participants. Over time, that became a job.

What does a great day at work look like for you?

My philosophy of ministry is that we’re joining God in what God’s doing. So it has to start with me as a person, having my heart centered in God. A devotional rhythm, a prayer rhythm, so I’m in line with His heart.

From there, an ideal day would involve a conversation with a disciple – helping them to process what God is stirring within them.

I love connecting with other leaders, strategizing how we can work together. I love thinking strategy – those mountaintop moments where you’re asking the Lord, how can you join Him in what He’s doing.

And then if I can have a conversation with someone who doesn’t know Jesus at all, that’s a great day.

I like to be busy!

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

Finding people that actually want to give up their life and lead something in the Kingdom, and equipping them to grow in their calling.

Financially we’re a non-profit, so helping people to have faith for raising funds. And working with other leaders in a way that’s collaborative and productive.

And the biggest challenge – how do we reach people for Jesus?

How does your sense of personal calling connect with what you do?

I’m trying to leverage my entire life to see what happened to me happen with others. I came from a family of bikers connected to HA, so I was about as far away from following Jesus as you can get. There were some kids in my local high school who prayed for me for two years and shared Jesus with me. I came to follow the Lord and had my life radically transformed.

So my vision in my life is that I’m trying to do everything I can to see the mission of God furthered in the world. It’s deeply personal in the sense that I know what it’s like to meet Jesus and have your life radically transformed. I want to see more of that.

My specific calling is how he’s wired me to join His mission. I feel like God’s given me gifts for vision-casting, and leadership development and calling people to follow Him. Some of that comes out of my wiring and some of that comes out of my testimony. So I’ve taken those skillsets he’s given me and I’m trying to do everything I can to reach as many people as I can to call them into reaching as many people as they can.

My personal calling connects pretty closely to what I’m doing in my role with MB Mission – our big vision is to equip disciples who make disciples. First, you be a disciple, you follow Jesus (not your pastor or some method.) And then what does it look like for you to be a disciple who’s making disciples?

Do you have any advice for Columbia students?

All of the roles I’ve gotten in my life have actually come through serving. I became a youth pastor because I was serving as a youth leader and then a job came up and people suggested me. My role at MB Mission came because I gave my time to what I was passionate about and then a job came out of it.

Don’t’ think about your job or your career. Think about serving from the point of view of the mission of God, but specifically – how has God wired you to do that? What are your passions and skills and how can you give those away? If you do that you will find jobs, and probably jobs you will really enjoy –that will be fulfilling and make an impact.

It starts with a servant’s heart.