Stephan Bauman is now executive director of Cornerstone Trust, a grant management firm based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has the opportunity to leverage his years of experience in relief and development towards serving the most vulnerable through philanthropy.
Previously, he held the position of president/CEO of World Relief >>, and it was at this time that this interview was conducted. In that position at World Relief, he oversaw approximately 2,500 staff in 20 nations and beforehand, Stephan served as senior vice president of programs, where he led programs in the health, economic, agriculture, and refugee resettlement sectors. Stephan joined World Relief in 2005 as the country director in Rwanda.
Prior to joining World Relief Rwanda, Stephan served as director of international programs for World Hope International. From 1994 to 2001, he worked for Mercy Ships International as director of programs and training. Prior to joining Mercy Ships, he worked in the private sector for Andersen & Co., where he consulted on mergers and acquisitions, legal matters, treaties, and tax issues for Fortune 500 companies.
What is your main focus in ministry and why you are passionate about it?
My calling is to awaken the Global Church to serve the most vulnerable in our world, especially those who suffer from hunger, disease, war, and poverty. Sometimes we may feel the Church is broken, too prone to factions, or just plain inefficient. History is replete with painful examples. But the church has also been a light throughout history. In God’s infinite graciousness, despite our frailty and failure, he chooses to daily infuse the Church with his Spirit to renew a wounded world. What an honor to join God in his grand endeavor.
What does evangelism mean to you?
Jesus spoke of the "good news," the evangelion, of the Kingdom of God. Evangelism is noting more than God's "…will on earth as it is in heaven." For me, I long for every life to be turned inside out—converted by the overwhelming grace of God—but I also long for mothers to feed their children, fathers to provide for their families rather than depend on aid, and children to be safe from war or violence. For too long we've split the gospel into word and deed. I don't think Jesus ever meant for us to do that. He prayed for God's will to come in all ways, word and deed, spiritual and physical, social and economic. I try to do the same.
Tell a story of how you shared your faith in Christ and saw God woo an individual/s one step closer to himself.
Once I befriended a man named Mamadou who sold wooden artifacts on the side of a road in a major city in West Africa. I practiced my French while he asked me questions about America, faith, and business. One day, after my early morning jog, with wide eyes and effusive words, Mamadou told me about a dream he had the night before. "Isa [Jesus in his language] came to me in the night and called me. There was an iron gate separating me from him; I couldn't get through…There was such love and peace," he said. I told him about Jesus as Lord and Savior, and also Friend, and from that day he began reading the French Bible.
Whether he is following Isa today, I don't know, but I believe I will meet Mamadou again one day.
What is your favorite quote/scripture?
Micah 6:8 is one of my favorite scriptures: "You know what is required of you. To do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God." But I also like Isaiah 42:1-9, because it's filled with personal promise, especially when feeling overwhelmed, or when the task seems impossible. I prayed through Isaiah 42 many times in Haiti in the early days after the earthquake:
“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness…."
How can people learn more about you and your ministry?
You can follow me on twitter >> or my blog >>, or check out the World Relief website >>
ABOUT THE WORLD
What is the biggest issue the Church in your part of the world faces today and why?
I love the American Church and especially its call to the nations. Our challenge is to look beyond ourselves. If we don’t, we will become irrelevant. We live rich, comfortable, even decadent lives relative to most of the world, and we are all tempted to build our own kingdoms instead of the one Kingdom. How we give resources, time, and ingenuity beyond ourselves, especially "to the least of these," will determine our future.
What is the biggest issue the Global Church is facing today and why?
The Global Church is facing unprecedented challenges in the 21st century. First, over one billion people live in extreme poverty, and another billion on less than $2 dollars a day. There are 27 million modern-day slaves. Nearly a billion people experience hunger each day, one-third of which are children. One of the most Christian countries on the planet, the Democratic Republic of Congo, is also the poorest country in the world. How can this be?
Second, how we demonstrate the love and humility of Christ to those who differ with us will be essential. Jesus loved sinners so thoroughly that they flocked to him, yet he didn't compromise his holiness. He also pursued people way outside his realm of faith. They, too, were drawn to him. How can we do the same?
What is your hope for the Global Church in the next ten years?
I believe the Church has the opportunity to rise like never before in history, as a beacon of hope to the nations, and a great healer. Today's Church is so wonderfully diverse, all nations and ethnos, many who have suffered greatly through persecution, oppression, and suffering. These people will lead us—they rightly should—and together we will see Christ honored and loved in unprecedented ways. May it come true.
Soli Deo Gloria.