My Path to Spoken

by Brian Whiteaker, VP, Program Management

Like most people, my journey through life has never been a straight line. God has chosen to weave in twists, turns, and epic failures along the way to shape my character and form my faith. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing; yet in the moment, I couldn’t imagine how God could redeem these events for His glory.

Although I grew up in church, I didn’t come to faith until my sophomore year of high school. That’s when my head’s knowledge of God made its way down to my heart and out through my life. Immediately, I wanted to share my faith with others and sought to get involved any way I could. I served as the chaplain of my Christian high school, took a job as a student pastor in college, and ultimately served as a university pastor upon graduation. From all accounts, I had settled into a good “ministry routine” and started planning my future as the next Louie Giglio.

Then, the bottom fell out of all my well-intentioned plans. After finishing an internship with a “Young Singles” department, I began applying for my next ministry position with several area churches. Without fail, every one of these positions ended with the same result – me asking God what in the world was going on. For the next five years, rather than investing in students full-time and helping them grow in faith, the Lord had me managing a jewelry store and attending seminary.

After completing half of my seminary degree in Austin, my family and I moved to Dallas where I quickly settled into a role coordinating short-term trips with East-West Ministries while finishing my last two years of seminary. It was during that time that I took my first international mission trip. Needless to say, my world got rocked! It was my first time overseas and my first time working cross-culturally. Returning home from that trip, I vowed my life would never be the same, and to a great extent it hasn’t been.

In 2013, an opportunity to work with Spoken Worldwide became available. I was drawn to how the staff of Spoken focused on being great listeners. Rather than looking at ministry opportunities from a fixed perspective, the staff really listened to local leaders — learning about their unique perspective and seeking to understand the culture they’re coming from. Recognizing this as one of the essential blocks to ministry success, I was thrilled to join the team.

I started with Spoken as a Program Manager, focused mainly on serving our Pastor Development programs in Kenya fostering long-term relationships with local partners who do ministry in the field. Then, a year later, my role expanded from Kenya- specific ministry to encompass North and East Africa, working with programs in North and South Sudan. Over time, I began to be involved in other countries as well, working with leaders from 44 language groups and seven countries around the world.

Today, I serve as the VP of Program Management at Spoken Worldwide. Every day I have the privilege of shepherding and interacting with our program staff, who, in turn, interact with local pastors in the field. A key part of my role includes developing and maintaining healthy ministry patterns that preserve our unique orality-based style of ministry so it can be replicated consistently across all fields of our ministry.

Working alongside disciple makers, the kind Jesus talked about in Matthew 28, has turned my world upside down. From Africa to East Asia, and everywhere in-between, our Program Team has the pleasure of serving such leaders as they equip the next generation. Seven years ago I couldn’t have imagined my role in delivering Truth where written words can’t go, now I can’t imagine doing anything else! Turns out God knew what He was doing all along!

→ Stay tuned for another blog post sharing how the Direct Programs that Brian manages are transforming lives around the world!

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“A changed world begins with us … and a changed us begins when we pray.” –Eugene Peterson
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