As part of our ‘Riverside Story’ blog post series, this post will focus on a mission that Riverside is helping to facilitate here in Birmingham, the UK and around the world; supporting our vision to bring LIFE to every generation in every community. This month we are catching up with Paul and Henri Duncan.
Paul and Henri have been part of Riverside since 1986 and they have worked for Agapé UK in a number of different roles over the years. Agapé UK exists to help people discover Jesus together. Henri works in the Agapé UK office in Birmingham as the UK HR Director and Paul is a part of the European Regional Leadership Team.
In the autumn of 2021 Campus Crusade for the Christ, their global organisation, underwent a restructure bringing together the Western and Eastern European ‘areas’ and forming one ‘region’ comprising of 53 countries of around a billion people. Paul was offered a role on the European Regional Leadership Team with specific responsibilities for overseeing 6 countries, one of which was Ukraine.
Over the past 25 years Paul’s passion has been to develop leaders through coaching so they will leave a greater, lasting legacy in the lives of the people that they work with, and he has had the privilege of coaching a number of National Directors in Western Europe. Whilst Paul has had many years of experience in coaching national leaders, working with a leader whose country was at war was not something that he ever imagined having to do.
Agapé in Ukraine has 130 staff, 95 of whom are still in the country; some of those staff have been called up to fight and the rest of the men are also facing this possibility. Sasha, the National Director, was able to leave the country for family reasons as he has four children. However this was a hard choice for a leader to make since most of his staff were unable to do so and many are separated from their families.
Sasha is currently living in Budapest where Paul has been able to travel and meet with him in addition to regular Zoom calls. The ministry of ‘turning up’ is so powerful in helping someone to know that they are not alone. As Paul has spent time with Sasha just listening to him, helping him to verbally process and asking good questions he has been able to help him work out what it means to lead in this new and unwelcome context.
On his recent trip he was able to help Sasha not just think about leading in this crisis but also how he and his leadership team can be preparing to get ready to lead the ministry forward once the war ends.
Amidst the challenges and suffering of war God is still at work! The ministry is seeing people come to Christ and be baptised. Churches are being planted and there is an increased unity being seen in the wider body of Christ there. As well as meeting the needs they are also helping to meet the physical needs of the many displaced people. One example of what they are practically doing is the through the ‘Yellow Box’ Project.