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9/9/19

Gulu Post #5 | Elder Dan Fosterling to the Rescue!

Dan Fosterling has been a part of FCC for a long time and an elder for 20+ years. We have looked to Dan to help craft some of our most important theological statements. He has a sharp mind, is not reactionary and is committed to the centrality of Scripture.  

Dan also is an incredible family man. His family, while growing up, was far from healthy, and it seems that one of the great things, that God has done since securing Dan in his late teens, has been altering the faith and health of his family tree. Spoiler alert: his family is not perfect--perfect families don’t exist.  

Our elder has served in many ways over the years and has always done so with integrity, humility and without seeking the limelight. He is an incredible gift to FCC.

I am on a plane from Entebbe to Johannesburg and I can hear him sharing with a man in the seats behind me (the woman sitting next to me has an interesting story from her origins in Eritrea, maybe more in a later post).

Let me share with you how he came to the rescue. A few weeks ago, one of our team members had to drop out of the trip due to a family emergency. This put us in a bind. How do we find someone (a QUALIFIED someone) to help us less than two weeks out?

Who has the capacity and willingness to do something like go to Africa that quickly? If our team was reduced to two, the class sizes would increase by 50%. This would make things quite difficult, not merely to keep people engaged through involvement, but each student had a report to present and that would prove difficult to do with larger class sizes. This has happened in trips in the past, but we really wanted to avoid this scenario.

I called another elder, John Blum, to ask if he would consider coming with us. John has been instrumental in helping us prepare for this three-year commitment in Uganda, and accompanied us on a trip in January. He did a great job and so he was a logical first choice. Turns out, John has plans for his life and doesn’t wait for emergency calls from me. He and his wife Joanne would already be out of town during part of the timeframe of the trip.

Then I thought of Dan. Theologically solid and thoughtful with previous cross-cultural experience (even in Uganda).

After sharing our predicament, he sounded intrigued and said he needed some time to process, which included a discussion with his wife Rita. I told him that I would see that a copy of the curriculum was made so he could look it over in the decision-making process. He got back to me the next day to tell me he was in!

We then brought him up to speed on what he needed to enter Uganda and prepped him a bit on the curriculum. It looked like things would be just fine. We are on our way home (including a 15:15 hour flight on our next leg!) and things were more than fine. Dan was really appreciated by the 15 guys in the learning group he led. His grasp of Scripture and his easy-going style helped his group approach him and interact with him. He was regularly shepherding the leaders we were working with between sessions, just like he does in Hudson.  

He was also easy to be around. Mike Evans, Dan and I shared a guest house together and we had a lot of fun. Mike said he didn’t think we could have done better in getting someone on that short notice. I agree, and am proud to have such leaders as part of FCC who are willing to serve deeply and on short notice.

Dan is a recent retiree, but he is not going quietly into the sunset.

He serves on the St. Croix County Board as a Supervisor. He is also on the Hudson Town Board. He does not harbor political ambitions; he sees needs and is willing to consider being part of the solution (he was recruited for both spots). He continues to make the body of Christ an emphasis.

Dan is a great example of what a person who retires with gas left in their tank can do.

He and Rita do take vacations and visit nice places, but they have loftier ambitions than collecting sea shells. They remain engaged with their children and grandchildren, but do not worship them. I am grateful for this elder, this example, this brother. As one who is in the fourth quarter of his career, I am learning from his example.  

Larry Szyman

Pastor for Missional Life

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