Restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic presented new opportunities for Juan to connect with more finance people virtually.
“I never knew how God was going to use my skills,” said Juan (South Africa).
With the desire to use his profession, Juan joined OM in 2015 as the finance manager for OM in Africa. Throughout his time with OM, Juan had the opportunity to learn from and experience different cultures, especially within Africa, while working with people from around the world.
Previous to joining missions, Juan studied financial accounting and worked for several years as an accountant. Juan learnt about OM from someone at his corporate job. The man was a prayer partner of an OM worker and thought Juan would be interested in the organisation.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed many things in the OM office as restrictions often meant the team could not meet in person, and team members both left and joined the organisation. During this time, Juan accepted a new role as the chief finance officer for OM in Africa, which included responsibility for the finance teams in over 13 countries across Africa. Although the pandemic has been challenging, Juan took hold of the opportunities it presented. Going virtual, he held online trainings with more finance people than he would have been able to visit and updated systems to make the work more accessible and efficient.
Chances to meet with senior leaders and visionaries in OM has been a highlight for Juan. He loves this aspect, “One of the great benefits of using my profession in missions is to get to work with great God-fearing leaders and serve together.” Juan acknowledged how different things are in a corporate workspace, where individuals do not necessarily interact with their senior leaders, only going to work and going home at the end of the day. Through his new position, Juan experienced a deeper relationship with Jesus as he said the only way to handle the increased responsibility, challenges and pressure is by regularly sitting at the feet of Jesus.
The start of the pandemic brought a change of venue as restrictions meant Juan and his team could no longer be in the office and had to work from home. Later, when restrictions eased, a hybrid module was introduced, which served the team well. Although it was initially difficult, working online and using online systems has given the finance team a great opportunity to connect with other finance teams globally. Virtual meetings and global connections have made it easier to both receive and give support to teams.
“The main challenge of serving in finance is to find a good work-life balance,” explained Juan. “Working in finance is quite different from other roles because we work with constant deadlines, which can be stressful at times.” When he began working from home, Juan needed to set strong boundaries to be a good husband and father to his family and serve his team well. Modelling healthy boundaries has given his team members the freedom to do the same, explained Juan and not overwork themselves. The team can focus on getting the most important things done while maintaining healthy balance and rhythms in their work, personal and spiritual lives.
“I had to come up with certain rules for myself, like when to open emails or answer phone calls. When is the time to spend with my family...I place an important value on that,” said Juan.
Since country borders and travel opened back up, Juan visited other OM teams across Africa, sorting out problems and building in-person relationships has helped him understand his co-worker’s contexts, including power shortages and limited internet. “When you see the other side for yourself, you get to appreciate the work other teams do and become more patient with those who are struggling,” said Juan.
Have you considered serving God in missions using your profession?