20 January 2021
An interview with Kevin McKemey
Thank you for sticking with us over the last year and taking the time to read (and hopefully take joy in!) the WorldShare blog. We have loved hearing your thoughts on some of the topics we have shared.
To kick off a new year of blogs, we thought we would introduce you to a few more of the people behind WorldShare – our hardworking trustees. We hope these short interviews will give you an insight into who they are, what they get up to day to day and why they do what they do. So firstly, let’s get to know Kevin McKemey, Chair of Trustees…
Hello! I currently am the chairman of WorldShare’s board of trustees, a position I have held for just over a year. However, I have been a trustee of WorldShare for over 15 years. A long time and am now probably reaching my sell-by date!
What motivated you to be a trustee?
My first involvement with WorldShare was when I was asked by John Rose, the then CEO and Revd Glyn Jones, the then chair of the board, to advise on possible strategies to help WorldShare partners address the challenges they faced, particularly those posed by the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa. I was working internationally at the time as a development consultant and involved with a number of Christian agencies such as Tearfund and World Relief. After this initial interaction, John and Glyn asked me to consider joining the board of WorldShare.
However, I had had a long prior involvement with Glyn. We both went out to northern Argentina in 1970 with the South American Missionary Society, Glyn as an evangelist and church planter and I as an agriculturalist to help build a social development program amongst the indigenous peoples of the Chaco region. While I was based in the rural north, Glyn’s main ministry was in the city of Salta; his home providing a frequent stopping off point when having to visit the city. Our friendship lasted throughout the rest of Glyn’s life, though I moved on to work in many other conflict and disaster prone parts of the world; my specialism becoming disaster management. When asked to join WorldShare, I jumped at the opportunity to be involved in something with Glyn again. He had always been a pioneer and visionary, whether as a missionary in South America or as a parish priest in England. You tend to follow people who set an example.
Have you visited any ministry partners?
I have probably not visited as many of WorldShare’s partners in the field as some of the other board members. However, my work has meant I have been involved in many of the areas where WorldShare operates and thus have been able to use this experience to assess the proposals and reports that WorldShare receives from their current and prospective partners. For example, I did visit one of WorldShare’s ministry partners in South Sudan who were involved in a very effective programme helping communities recover after conflict, which impressed me. I had been very involved in the area previously, running training programmes for the Sudan Council of Churches on disaster management facilitated by Christian Aid. The ability to share my experience of different contexts and countries where WorldShare is involved has been rewarding for me, and I hope for WorldShare also!
What aspect of being involved with WorldShare do you enjoy the most?
From my perspective, WorldShare’s focus on enabling and supporting the local church’s initiative is one of the key strengths and a distinctive of its ministry model; i.e. supporting ‘their’ ministry rather than ‘our’ projects. Though this involves working within the local churches' abilities, it does mean that the initiatives are wholly owned by them. It also means that the relationship between WorldShare and its partner is much more participative and thus sustainable, i.e. leading to good development practice. The temptation is so often to respond to the urgent and try to force the pace by creating programmes the local institution is not capable of managing, thus increasing rather than reducing their dependency. This is an all too common problem within the field of community development.
Though WorldShare’s partners' programmes may often be small and more gradual, the impact is sustainable and strengthens the witness of the local church within the respective communities.
One of the other benefits I have witnessed is that it also builds strong positive relationships. I have heard partners indicate that they value this lasting relationship / fellowship over and above the amount of materials provided – though that is also appreciated! WorldShare is often not the largest donor a partner has but is often the most valued - a two way, prayerful bond.
What’s the biggest highlight of being a WorldShare trustee?
Being a member of the board means that one gets to see the difficult and challenging aspects of the charity’s life. The way WorldShare’s staff has responded to the current threat posed by COVID-19 has been particularly heartening. It has been a privilege to be involved in some small way in WorldShare’s ministry. Being a board member can be rewarding, especially if your fellow trustees are so supportive!
Find out how you too can be involved in the work of WorldShare and be part of sharing the love of Jesus with people all around the world by clicking here.