World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission (WEA-MC) Executive Director Dr. William Taylor officially handed over leadership of the global mission body to Brazilian missionary Bertil Ekstrom after serving in the position for 20 years.
“I have no doubt that heaven is smiling, and that God’s eyes are on this place,” said Ndaba Mazabane, Chairman of the WEA International Council and South African native in a statement released by the WEA on Thursday. “The world may be watching [the World Cup] in Germany, but all the angels have been instructed to put their eyes on this great service.”
Taylor has served the Mission Commission since 1986, and has brought significant growth to the once-fledgling network, which now boasts membership from over 80 countries around the world.
“There were challenging times,” Taylor reminisced. “There were times when we thought we may have to close the MC down because of these challenges.”
“But it was the vision to serve the global mission movement that committed us to this ministry, and the Holy Spirit that allowed us to continue – whether or not we had money,” he explained. “What you see now is the result of God’s work in 20 years. I’m so grateful that God is present.”
More than 300 missions experts and pastors from 54 countries gave their blessings to the Commission as a dozen representatives laid their hands on Taylor, his wife Yvonne, and the new WEA-MC head, Ekstrom, at the two-hour event.
“Tonight, we release these brothers into new areas of ministry,” said Geoff Tunnicliffe, International Director of the WEA. “We bless you; your appointment has been affirmed.”
The leadership transition service was the highlight of the weeklong 10th WEA-MC Convocation in Cape Town, South Africa. The service was reportedly as much a tribute to Taylor’s sacrifice and service as it was a celebration of the new leadership of the 31-year-old Commission.
“Bill, we are deeply grateful for you,” said Tunnicliffe. “Because of your leadership, the Kingdom of God has been advancing around the world, God’s servants have been more effectively trained for leadership, missionaries have been cared for better than 20 years ago, and those of us who are mission activists have become more reflective practitioners.
“Tonight, we give God the glory of your service of 20 years, and we honor that,” Tunnicliffe proclaimed.
The new Commission head thanked Taylor and sought “support in prayer and in correction” to help him understand God’s vision for his future during the service.
“I think you know some of my limitations – I have many more,” said the Swedish-born missionary to Brazil, who currently resides in England. “I’m also thankful for the people who have encouraged me during this journey, and together I want to serve you, and serve our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The transition process began two years ago in the Netherlands, when Ekstrom was anointed as the next MC executive director. Since then, the two men have collaborated in planting a new direction for the Commission and working out a smooth changeover of leadership.
“The leadership transition went so well,” said Dr. K. Rajendran, Chair of the WEA-MC Global Leadership Team and Executive Director of India Missions Association. “It has been planned for years, and the conclusion was absolutely fantastic.”
“I think Bertil [Ekstrom] will take us in the same footsteps of Bill Taylor, but also in a direction that is much better than all that has happened so far,” Rajendran explained. “He is a team player and has different giftings, and I’m grateful for Bill [Taylor] for paving the way.”
Ekstrom will serve in his new position, and Taylor will serve the larger WEA community as a global ambassador.