In case you missed it, in just under two months, I’ll be succeeding Larry as CEO at First Image. As you may already know, I’m not new to First Image. My first week as CEO is my 12th anniversary at First Image. I came here during a transitional time in my life, when my wife Allison and I had just graduated from Bible college, gotten married, and were looking toward planting a church in Portland. In hindsight, it’s incredibly clear that Jesus had other plans and I’m deeply thankful for the way things have unfolded.
I came on originally to direct The Reality Project, our former sexual integrity program that operated in high schools throughout greater Portland. I spent about four years talking about sex, relationships, and the nature of sacrificial love to over 20k students. It was a shaping experience for me in a number of ways. Maybe the most critical of which was becoming comfortable sharing a message rooted in a Christian understanding of the Image of God to people who rarely shared my worldview. What became clear to me is that the Image of God in our neighbors means that all people have a fundamental connection to the way God has designed the world, whether or not they can see it. Young people wrestling with their identity or sexuality almost always want to experience real, meaningful relationships and true sacrificial love.
Similarly, women who come into our centers struggling with what to do about their pregnancy almost always think of their child as much more than a clump of cells. They just don’t always know where to go from here. For so many reasons.
A friend of mine, who worked with us at First Image for a few years, is post abortive. At the time she became pregnant, the most important people in her life encouraged her to abort. Given her circumstances, especially her broken relationship with the father of the baby, it seemed like the only option. But it wasn’t what she actually wanted. She believed the baby was a life. She has said many times that if just one person would have told her she could do it, she would have chosen to carry.
Incredible, miraculous things often happen when we are willing offer true things in the context of active compassion and love. It’s not always the way the story plays out, but what has been reinforced to me over and over during my time at First Image is that the truth demonstrated in love resonates. The Image of God in our neighbors bears them witness.
I don’t want to give the impression that this is an easy thing to do. Bearing witness to the Image of God in the life of an individual, or to our culture, demands that we step into some of the most complex and contentious issues of our day; the nature of the human person, sexuality, relationships, and so many others. It is not comfortable. It takes courage, and practice.
I’m humbled by the people who serve in this ministry. The nurses, client advocates, volunteers, and other staff who serve in our pregnancy centers practice courage in offering the truth about the Image of God every day. Please pray for them. It can be exhausting, and in this last year has been doubly so.
I’m also so thankful for you who partner in this work and witness to the Image of God by supporting moms and dads facing unsupported pregnancy. The result is that many women are able to find a way forward to give life to their children, and sometimes to see who God is in Jesus the Messiah for the first time. It is a gospel work, to demonstrate the truth about the life and dignity of our neighbor. I’m very excited to continue in this work with you!
I have so much more I want to share with you in this coming year, about how God has been working at First Image, about the people we serve, and what’s coming next. Thank you for continuing in this work with us.
Your fellow follower,
Chief Growth Officer, First Image