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Disrupted by The Gracious Hand of God — a story of innovation for the nations

By Mary Bolander. 

52% of the S&P 500 have become insolvent in the past 15 years. That’s over half of the most powerful and innovative companies that helped shape our economy. Undoubtably, many of them were surprised they would succumb to terminal disruption. Similarly, and on a personal level, we often perceive unforeseen disruption as an unrecoverable, orbit-altering freefall. For some of us, it feels like Peter’s admonition is foreign, “…do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you,” 1 Peter 4:12.

I have very different, yet parallel, experiences of disruption leading to redemption.

I was on my way to be a medical missionary. I was finishing nursing school and talking to mission agencies; however, right before graduation, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that stopped my plans. That one diagnosis turned this season of excitement and planning into a season of grief and unknown. After a few months of grieving, I learned of an opportunity to combine my love of medicine and my passion for missions; I took it with great expectancy.

I joined the mobilization team at Pioneers. During this time, I mobilized others to go in my place, but after a few years, I still had the desire to be the one going. I found an opportunity to work with a UPG in the US, where I knew I could be healthy enough to live.

Located in a US city, there were over 75,000 of these peoples and only one known believer among them. I was beyond thrilled to start this new adventure; however, a few weeks before joining this team, I got a call that God was redirecting them to a new city. It didn’t make sense for me to join them there. I was in a state of questioning, experiencing God’s disruption once again. Twice now, I had tried to go, and God had closed the door so very clearly.

Through grieving, doubt, and prayer, I returned to Pioneers completely unsure of my next season. During that time, I was painting, and the Lord reminded me of the lyrics from a song by Hillsong “Your promise is loyal, from seed to sequoia.” I held onto those words and believed them for my life and that season, I also painted them as a reminder and word from the Lord to me in that time.

A few months later, I was invited to join a group of leaders from our organization to visit an innovation lab. In my mind, this invitation came out of the blue, but God knew what He was doing. That became the launching pad for what has become one of the greatest gifts of my life.

Fast forward almost two years, who would have thought that a nurse from Indiana would one day be the Director of Facilitation for a global innovation lab. He is the gracious One who would remind me, months after the Innovation lab was named “Seeds,” that His promise truly is loyal from seed to sequoia.”

Today, I’m part of a team at Seeds Global Innovation Lab (www.seedsinnovation.com). The vision is to “Equip the Global Mission Community for the emerging world.” And, the goal of this space is to create better solutions for your most pressing challenges, as well as create a culture of emergent, innovative thinkers throughout the mission community. Today, Seeds is serving several NGO’s and for-profit companies, a space none of our team imagined three years ago.

Having my world turned upside down, disrupted by the gracious hand of God, I see a clear path God has for me. When disruption puts you flat on your back, you see things differently, your perspective changes. It has heightened my sensitivities to what God is doing and has allowed me to walk comfortably into ambiguity and uncertainty. These learnings have not just served me personally, but allowed our organization to have an entirely new skillset of tools to address disruptions within the missions environment.

I love the biblical word, redemption, “lutroó,” the reality of being purchased and set free. Redemption after disruption, may God make his path clear and straight for you, and your ministry, as you discover the unknown future is not unknown to Him.


This article is submitted by Mary Bolander, Director of Facilitation at Seeds Global Innovation Lab, a Missio Nexus member.  Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.

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  1. So thankful to hear f the hand of God in your life Mary! May you continue to experience the freedom in using your gifts to equip the next generation of Kingdom leaders.