"A dream is an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will, and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it."―John C. Maxwell
On August 25, 2015, the administration team of NBS and the Board of Nazareth Educational Ministries Association, Inc. (NEMA) approached me about leading NEMA, a 501 (c) (3) Corporation. As part of the transition, the organization's name was transitioned to NEMA-FON and the nonprofit began its journey to support the ministry of NBS. The organization became Friends of Nazareth (FON).
Maxwell's quote describes my affection for NBS and FON. The relationship with NBS for me began in 1979 when the school was under the purview of the Southern Baptist Convention's Foreign Mission Board. This journey has involved over fifty visits to NBS and a nearly seven month period of living in Nazareth to help install improved administration policies.
When Jesus was teaching around the Sea of Galilee, the crowds came, lingered, listened, and ultimately became hungry...you know the story well.
When NEMA transferred its 501c3 to FON we had 5 loaves and 2 fish and a GREAT vision for helping NBS enrich its capacity for ministry! We took what God provided, presented the meager resources to Him and He multiplied the offering! NBS' Board and NEMA-FON formed a strong partnership.
As the plan came together, we began to invite others to bring what they had in their lunch boxes. God kept multiplying the resources.
As the organization grew, we needed human resources. God used Mike Chisam's retirement as a bridge to build FON's infrastructure. He was able to use his accounting and technology lunch box items. It has been a different experience for him and a good one. Mike and Mimi Brookshire were called to serve in Nazareth and lead the Kids and Family Ministry program.
I brought relationships, the story and history of NBS, and some leadership experience. Churches, ministries, individuals, Christian schools and universities have partnered with FON and brought mission teams, totaling about 750 volunteers from 2016 to Covid! We hosted nine (9) interns who spent about eight (8) weeks each working along side of FON/NBS. A legacy gift enabled FON/NBS to open the Potter's Wheel Youth Center (PWYC), a discipleship ministry that offers after-school activities. Programming has expanded to include a Mother's Day outreach, Renovation teams, VBS/Day Camp, Potter's Wheel Retreats, Vision Trips, a Student Leadership University event, and several Spiritual Enrichment Journeys. Together, these programs have engaged thousands of participants. Hundreds of students have participated in the PWYC's programs...people continue to bring what is in their lunch box and God keeps multiplying each one's gifts.
In six years what has God done? He's brought focus to NBS as an Evangelical ministry and reached thousands with the Gospel through missional programming. He has equipped teachers and administrators as Biblical leaders. He's enriched the day-to-day values-based curriculum and introduced stronger faith-based tools and programs...FON has helped NBS improve its capacity for Christian education through facility, classroom, and digital enrichment. The school has gained focus about teaching Christian character and values such as honesty, integrity, how to lose and how to win. The overall environment of NBS is renewed and enriched!
Leading NEMA-FON has been a journey of a lifetime for Mike and me. We are eager to see what new lunch box items God brings and how each is used for a greater good.
Thank you for your participation and partnership! I am excited about what the future holds.
Tyson Lee, incoming Executive Director, has accepted the challenge to lead NEMA-FON into the next few decades. I have asked him to never forget that people bring resources, BUT GOD multiplies these resources for His intentions. FON is HIS ministry.
Thank you Friends for the opportunity to serve NEMA-FON. Mike and I were honored by the kind words and lovely gifts at the Retirement Reception held in Florence, AL on August 7, 2021.
Keep the vision alive!