Steve Lehmann stepped down after eight productive years as the Great Lakes Area Director (AD’s) at the end of February 2015. He was the gold standard of AD’s.
Bill Snyder was serving in national leadership for Chi Alpha Campus Ministries in the early 2000s and first approached Steve about considering leaving Eastern Michigan University (EMU) after 17 years to assume a much-needed larger missionary role as a full time Area Director. Bill told me: “Ever so often a couple comes along that bless so many with their vision, character, talent, and grace. Steve created the model for what an AD and their team could accomplish. They enabled us to become a better mission organization and moved a generation forward.”
I asked John M. Palmer, President of Emerge Counseling Services (Akron, OH), and chair of the Great Lakes Chi Alpha Board to describe their impact. John wrote, “I first met Steve and Belkis when they participated in our Missions Convention in Des Moines, Iowa in the fall of 2004. They shared God was stirring their hearts to be a blessing to other campus missionaries and they desired to plant new ministries out of their Chi Alpha group at EMU.
Little did they know how God would bring their desires to fruition. About a year after they had spoken in Des Moines, Steve was asked to be the Director of Great Lakes Chi Alpha (GLXA). Shortly after he accepted this new role, God gave Steve the idea to develop an Advisory Board of pastors and lay people who would lend their influence, insight, and input to Steve and Belkis.
I have been privileged to help lead this committed and resourceful team of committed leaders as we came alongside Steve and Belkis, helping them to fulfill their dream and mission. To see what God has done since January of 2006 has been nothing short of amazing. When Steve and Belkis assumed the leadership of GLXA, we had 22 affiliated Chi Alpha groups. Today, we have 74 groups. Hundreds of college students have come to have a personal relationship with Jesus, our living and loving Lord! Additionally, their ability to recruit, resource, and release leaders made possible the unprecedented work that God has done here in the Great Lakes.
Steve and Belkis live and model authenticity, transparency, total dependence on the Lord, passion, enthusiasm, and perseverance. Because of Steve’s ability to cast vision and recruit leaders, we now have four districts in our region with a full time district Chi Alpha director. These directors, of course, will help ensure the continuation of the vision. Belkis has sought to develop and mobilize minority leadership, which continues to produce great people and is contributing to the growth and expansion of next generation leaders.
While we will miss them in the Great Lakes, we are excited for the next phase of their ministry assignment, the opportunity to invest in students at Southeastern University as Missionaries in Residence, beginning in the fall of 2015. In addition, Belkis was recently asked to serve in a national leadership role with Chi Alpha as a National Diversity Specialist. I am grateful for the privilege God has given me to have a front row seat in order to see the incredible work of God through Great Lakes Chi Alpha. Steve and Belkis are to be commended for a job well done.”
I agree with Bill and John. Steve and Belkis are an incredible gift from the Lord. Scripture says, “Honor them and imitate their faith.” Serve globally. Steve and Belkis demonstrate what godly overseers are like. Pray for them in their transition and send them a note of gratitude.
Love is a verb,
©2015 by Mike Olejarz