The Crosslinks Board of Trustees are delighted to announce that John McLernon has been appointed Crosslinks’ Mission Director. He will take up the position in September. We interviewed John following news of his appointment…
John, you live in Tunbridge Wells but you haven’t always lived there. Where are you from and what brought you to Kent?
I started off life in Portrush on the North coast of Ireland, not that people there recognise my accent any longer. In fact, not long ago I showed my (very English) girls a video of me in a pantomime as a seventeen year old and after five minutes they paused to ask their mum, "What language is Daddy talking?" That part of Ireland has a very beautiful coastline, a coastline that I got to know very well as a member of the coastguard rescue team. You wouldn't believe how many stories I have from that seven years.
After studying Maths, Statistics and Computing at the University of Ulster I moved to London to work in the IT industry for ten years and rather sadly at one point became one of the country’s experts in... postcodes! Even the Post Office paid for me to come and talk to them! Anyway, moving quickly on, during this time I lived in Hackney where I met Maggie and not long after we married we ended up in Tunbridge Wells. In lots of ways Tunbridge Wells was a fairly random choice after Hackney, but in the Lord's providence that led to me taking the role of Director at People International where I have spent thirteen life-changing years.
How do you like to spend time off?
Very little beats putting on my walking boots and wandering around the Kent countryside. Not that I'm very good at it, but I also enjoy the kind of DIY that involves making things with wood. I learned my limited woodworking skills making stage sets many years ago but stage sets are meant to be looked at from at least thirty feet and not last more than two weeks. And there's always Radio 4.
“Would you rather” --
An English breakfast or an Ulster fry?
Ulster fry every time. Baked beans at breakfast is just wrong!
Walk up a mountain or lie on a beach?
Walk up a mountain.
Meet Hudson Taylor or Eric Liddell?
Hudson Taylor - first biography I read.
World cup rugby or world cup football?
Rugby. You may have noticed that Ireland have been doing pretty well recently.
Can you share why you want to work for Crosslinks?
Not long after becoming a believer, I was taken with the youth fellowship to a Crosslinks (then BCMS) meeting somewhere near Belfast. I'm not sure I really understood what was going on but the name stuck with me and over the years I have come to value and respect the work of BCMS / Crosslinks as I have learned more about it. There is no alternative to preaching the gospel to prepare people for the final judgement that we all must face and Crosslinks has never deviated from this. I am excited about the prospect of standing alongside this current generation of gospel workers, to enable them to be fruitful, and recruiting and preparing the next generation for gospel ministry.
Crosslinks reaches its centenary in 2022. What excites you most about the opportunity to lead Crosslinks through this next stage?
Andy and the leadership team, past and present, have provided a fantastic foundation for any leader to build on. I really couldn't ask for better. And of course it's a bit premature for me to be making plans for the future Crosslinks at this stage, but as we approach its centenary in 2022 it is certainly an exciting time. We are seeing an increase in people preparing for missionary service. Countries that we sent missionaries to decades ago are now taking key leadership roles in the global church. People across the world are seeking meaning in life and we have the answer.
How can we pray for you in the coming months?
Finishing well at People International is important, I really have lots of things to tie up before September. Actually it would be good to pray for the trustees of PI as they start to search for my replacement during this time. Over the coming months I will be meeting lots of new people, hearing their stories and trying to discern how we might support them best. That's great fun but exhausting at the same time. So pray for stamina and my memory! Please also pray for Maggie and the girls, who will undoubtedly being going through their own transition with my new role at Crosslinks.
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