The Board of Trustees of the Christian Reformed Church has recommended Rev. Zachary King to head its new mission agency. This recommendation will go to synod for ratification in June.
At Synod 2015 delegates approved joining Home Missions and World Missions into one agency. If approved by Synod 2017 as director of the new, unified mission agency, Dr. King will begin his leadership role as Rev. Gary Bekker, current director of World Missions, and Rev. Moses Chung, current director of Home Missions, take on other leadership positions with the new agency and the denomination.
At 40 years of age, King said that he has seen God working in a variety of ways to prepare him for this position. It started in university, he said. Though he had grown up in a Pentecostal Assemblies of God church, he decided to go to Calvin College for his undergraduate education.
“I went to Calvin because I was interested in geology. I took a couple of religion courses, and it really opened my eyes to another type of theology,” he explained. “I got hooked.”
King added a religion and theology degree to his geology degree at Calvin. He also went on to earn a Master of Divinity degree and a Master of Theology degree from Calvin Theological Seminary, and he recently completed his Ph.D. in New Testament missiology at the Free University of Amsterdam.
“I love to drink deeply of the wells of Reformed teaching and tradition,” he said about his extensive educational background.
King has also worked in other settings that have prepared him for this role. He has served as a pastor in a North American church in Allendale, Mich., and as a missionary, most recently serving as the field leader and church and leadership developer for World Missions in Haiti for the past 12 years.
“We thought for sure that we were not going to Haiti,” King said, recalling the time that he and his wife, Rev. Sharon Segaar-King, were offered a job-sharing position with Christian Reformed World Missions in Haiti. “We were offered the position, but we thought we should be doing church planting on the East coast instead. God pushed us and nudged us – more like a big shove – and we went.”
During their almost 12 years in Haiti, Zachary, Sharon and their four children have witnessed a great deal of adversity, including the 2010 Haiti earthquake and several hurricanes as well as political and social instability. King said that serving in this context has taught him perseverance and the value of collaboration and has demonstrated God’s grace even in times of difficulty.
In addition to these traits, the search committee said in its report to the BOT, “Rev. King is a man of faith, with a passion for mission and church planting. He has significant cross-cultural experience and consistently demonstrates a posture of learning from those around him.”
Through this education and experience, King has developed a clear vision for the new mission agency.
“As a denomination, we will grow only insofar as we reach young people through our campus and youth ministry and only so far as we plant missional churches,” he said. “If we want a vibrant international mission, it won’t happen unless we also have those two things strongly in place.”
One of the things that excites King about doing mission work of various kinds with the Christian Reformed Church is the denomination’s balanced view of mission.
“Growing up, I understood missions as just throwing out a spiritual life raft to pluck people out [of hell’s path], but in the Reformed tradition we have a missional vision that is much more vast,” he said, pointing out that Reformed mission includes word and deed witnessing for Christ in all we do as we try to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. This provides a really well-rounded foundation for mission. King also appreciates the Reformed emphasis on God’s grace in missions.
“We don’t have to worry that we don’t have the gifts to help people,” he said. “God has already chosen them and is already at work in those people. He is changing their hearts. We have the privilege of just bringing forth God’s word at that pregnant moment when they are receptive to it.”
He will also rely on God to provide the necessary finances for this new agency.
“I’m in the middle of doing our budget in our Haiti field. It’s the biggest cut we’ve ever had, times two. It’s hard to see ministry not happening because we don’t have resources,” he said. “Those ministry share funds that pay for core expenses on our field are necessary and are being used effectively. Our constituents need to hear that those funds are valuable and important. We have to defend that and put it before our churches.” At the same time, he said, “God is working in places where there are not what we would consider adequate resources. God is good; he does provide resources when we need them.”
If ratified for this position, King said he will build on the knowledge and experience of existing Home Missions and World Missions programs and encourage innovation by sharing best practices across different ministries.
“We need to be intentional about taking our learnings and the tools we have created in our individual settings and share them broadly,” he said, equating missions to a type of road. “One of the ways I see myself serving is by creating on-ramps to the learnings that we already have from church planting, international missions, national missions, campus ministry, and church renewal.”
We need to make those tools more accessible to each other and use them in different contexts, he concluded, adding, “That is the genius of the new mission agency paradigm.”