Meet Our New Executive Director:
In June 2019, Community Outreach Ministries hired a new Executive Director to continue moving COM forward as a key agency in Polk County for addressing hunger and poverty. In order to get to know him better, we had our staff and others pose a few questions to Micah.
What is your educational background?
I actually am an alumnus of Southwest Baptist University where I got my Bachelors degrees (double majoring in Biblical Studies and in Communications). After attending SBU, I moved to Waco and got my Masters of Divinity in Theology from Truett Seminary at Baylor University.
Where were you before coming to COM?
My family and I just moved here to Bolivar at the end of May from Waco, TX. I had been serving as the Director of Outreach & Legal Advocacy at the domestic violence shelter and resource center there. Prior to that, I also served as an Associate Pastor at a church just south of Waco. However, I'm not completely brand new to Bolivar because I'm actually
an alumnus of SBU and lived here for about four years before moving to Texas.
What made you interested in the position with COM?
So, my wife and I originally moved down to Waco in order for me to attend Truett Seminary at Baylor University so I could earn my Masters of Divinity. After graduating there, we ended up sticking around in Texas for a while longer than we anticipated. However, over the past several years we had felt drawn to try moving back north closer to our families. But, we also wanted to be patient and wait for God's timing to make sure we found jobs and a town that would be a good fit for us.
When I saw the position with COM available, it immediately seemed like something I would love. On the one hand, I am passionate about my faith and love the Church. On the other hand, I have really felt drawn to social justice causes and non-profit work on the local level. What struck me about COM is how the organization seems to blend both of those aspects. Of course, COM is a faith-based agency that puts love of Christ at the center of all we do. It also has close ties to many of the churches in Polk County. At the same time, it's an agency that's deeply involved in addressing needs in our community. Finding an agency that married those two passions of mine (and happened to be in a community I was already familiar with) immediately filled me with excitement.
Since you moved from Waco, fans of the TV show Fixer Upper may want to know if you've met Chip and Joanna. Have you?
I feel like that question is kind of like when you go to a foreign country and meet someone who asks if you know Lebron James or something. No, I haven't met Chip and Joanna, and I actually have only even seen about half an episode of the show. However, I did see them walking out of a restaurant one time a few years ago. Does that count?
What is your vision for COM as you begin?
That's a bit of a tough question as I've only been here a month. At the moment I'm doing a lot of listening. I've seen leaders who just swoop in promising to be the "savior" of an organization or acting as if they know best, and it doesn't usually end well. What I'm doing right now is having lots of conversations with people both inside COM and in the wider community. I want to hear what they see as COM's mission. I want to hear what they see as the most pressing needs of our community and where there are gaps in services. I also want to know what programs and services already exist so we don't duplicate efforts. I very much want to be a servant leader who leads humbly and is able to both honor the past and bring in fresh visions for the future.
All that being said, if you pinned me down right now, I would say that my vision for the future of COM is to see us continue to excel at the things we do well and to continue growing our programs and services to become a key agency in eliminating poverty and hunger in our county.
I would love to see COM become a central hub in our community that people can turn to for robust programs to both address immediate, emergency needs AND to also provide assistance in getting out of poverty. This means both building up our own programs, but also developing strong partnerships with other agencies in town whose missions align well with ours so we can coordinate and maximize all our efforts.
Do you have any kids?
Yes, my wife (also an SBU alum) and I have three kids. Our oldest is about to turn 7 and our youngest is 3. Needless to say they keep us very busy.
What do you think about Bolivar so far?
I first became familiar with Bolivar years ago when I was in school at SBU. Obviously I liked it enough to come back and to buy a house here. One of the things I love about Bolivar is its size. It is a small town, which brings the benefits of being a close-knit community where you can really get to know what is going on and know the people here. On the other hand, it's not so small that there's nothing to do here. We have a great variety of stores and entertainment options right here in town so you don't have to constantly be driving down to Springfield for everything. Just about everyone I've met so far has been very friendly, and I look forward to sticking around.
Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
I'd probably have to say 1 Corinthians 1 as a whole chapter has had a big impact on me, and verses 27-29 in particular. Here, Paul writes, "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." These verses have become a huge part of the way I try to see the world. The message of the cross is that the Kingdom of God is not found in the places of power, wealth, or privilege, but in the lowly, weak, and humble places. That's such a counter-cultural message in America, and even sadly in the Church oftentimes.
The world constantly teaches us to look out for ourselves--to keep climbing the social ladder and gain more and more. It teaches us to seek out power, strength, and security. But the call of the Gospel is to weakness and sacrifice. Perhaps that's part of the reason why I've been drawn to the professions I have. There's so much brokenness in the world and I can't turn a blind eye. Indeed, if I believe Paul and Jesus, it's actually in these very places of poverty and brokenness where God can be seen most clearly. So, it's my hope that I can live out these verses in my own personal life and that I can help shape a community that holds to these same values as well.
If you would like to contact Micah, he can be reached at MicahT@bolivarcom.org or 417-326-2769.