Outreach Canada flourished with Craig Kraft, now looking to sustain momentum

Craig Kraft and his wife Heather. Having led Outreach Canada for 15 years, Craig is now Director for Global Collaboration for the OC Global Alliance. Outreach Canada is now looking for a new Executive Director.

The office is in Delta, but the influence of Outreach Canada extends throughout Metro Vancouver, across Canada – and around the world. That reach reflects the diversity of their ministries, but also their heritage.

Outreach Canada is strong on partnering. They say:

Outreach Canada is made up of many different ministries working together with the goal of making disciples of Jesus Christ. The OC team includes 83 team members, plus an additional 23 international associates working together in over 100 partnerships with other ministries . . .

We are one of 15 Mobilization Centres who make up the OC Global Alliance (OCGA). The OC Global Alliance represents 1,200+ missionaries in 100+ countries.

Seeking a new leader

But the OC team is also in transition. Craig Kraft guided Outreach Canada during a period of major growth from 2008 until he recently moved into the role of Director for Global Collaboration for the OC Global Alliance. Outreach Canada is now actively seeking a new Executive Director to lead the OC team.

Lorna Johnston is part of the LeaderSHIFT team for Outreach Canada.

Lorna Johnston, one of four members the ‘LeaderSHIFT’ team, and Craig Kraft wrote Looking Back, Looking Ahead March 27. They trace the growth of OC work since it “was formed in 1977 as a parachurch ministry functioning as the Canadian arm of what was then called OC International, based in the USA.”

Referring to the pioneering work of Arnel Motz, Gerry Kraft and Lorne Hunter (OC Director of Research, also part of the LeaderSHIFT team) they wrote:

The new millennium brought opportunities in Canada and globally.

Expanding from our strong foundations in research, leadership development and church revitalization, we started to support specialized ministries for the marketplace (Corporate Chaplains Canada), serving churches during leadership transition (Transitional Leadership Ministries, now launched beyond OC as Transitional Leadership Network) and during times of conflict.

Missions Mobilization was added to OC’s ministry portfolio as, in 2003, our first team members with a global focus joined the team. We deployed our first international missionaries in 2004. . . .

Today, Outreach Canada has grown to include a family of teams focused on diaspora ministry (including the Loving Muslims Together network and Simply Mobilizing Canada), missionary member care (MORE Network), workplace chaplains (BetterIT Workplace Chaplains), disciple making, campus ministry and more.

The other two members of the LeaderSHIFT team are board chair Ray Woodard and Chief Operating Officer Rick Burdett.

Personal connections

While I wouldn’t normally introduce a personal note into an article like this, I hope it might be seen as appropriate in this case. My wife Margaret and I have been friends and supporters of two couples – the Moermans and the Johnstons – from the OC team for decades, and have been impressed by their creativity, flexibility and diligence. I have met several other team members over the years too; their work gives a sense of the range of fields engaged in by Outreach Canada.

  • Murray and Carol Moerman

Murray and Carol Moerman recently returned from a ‘Collaborate to Saturate’ conference with 250 people from 60-plus nations in Indonesia.

Murray and Carol Moerman joined OC in 1995. They had planted New Life Community Church, where we met them. Their focus on church planting broadened from there. Murray began his work with OC as Director of Church Planting Canada for 10 years, while Carol coordinated the Perspectives missions mobilization course.

They then moved to the United Kingdom, where Murray served for several years as OC Europe Area Director and helped found the Global Church Planting Network (GCPN), which seeks to develop regional church planting mobilization teams to initiate and support national church planting processes.

Murray led GCPN from 2009 to 2016, with Carol being very actively involved  as well. Now based back in Metro Vancouver, they still work with GCPN.

Murray is leading the Saturation Church Planting Taskforce partnership and a team seeking to help disciples make disciples. He is also on the board of the international movement, One Challenge. He wrote Mobilizing Movements: Leadership Insights for Discipling Whole Nations (William Carey Library, 2021).

Carol serves on the Simply Mobilizing national coordination teams as BC coordinator for the Kairos course.

Murray and Carol recently returned from a ‘Collaborate to Saturate’ conference in Indonesia, and he is planning to take part in Lausanne 4 in Seoul, Korea this September. His ‘Saturation Church Planting’ white paper will be distributed among the roughly 5,000 participants.

  • Phil and Lorna Johnston

Phil and Lorna Johnston are stalwarts with Outreach Canada.

We also met Phil and Lorna Johnston at New Life, and have prayed with them regularly in support of their ministry for a couple of decades.

Like the Moermans, they have participated in One Challenge activities around the world, though they spend the bulk of their time working locally.

Apart from being part of the LeaderSHIFT team, Lorna leads Diaspora Ministries, which “focuses on mobilizing and connecting, churches, ministries and individuals for prayer, relationships and ministry among Canada’s great gathering of peoples,” and Simply Mobilizing Canada.

Both Phil and Lorna work with the cross-Canada Loving Muslims Together (LMT) team.

Phil works with LMT “to help the Canadian church effectively and respectfully engage the growing Muslim community in Canada. He previously worked in partnership development in Eurasia, and continues to network broadly and facilitate collaboration training.”

  • Gordon and Ute Carkner

Gordon and Ute Carkner are also both active with Outreach Canada.

Gordon focuses on building bridges between church and university campus. He told me, “We feature Christian scholarly excellence as we engage some of the tough cultural issues of our day at UBC through the Graduate & Faculty Christian Forum (ubcgfcf.com).”

He is the author of the just-published Towards an Incarnational Spiritual Culture (Wipf & Stock, 2024) and The Great Escape from Nihilism (Infocus, 2016); he also blogs and offers YouTube videos.

The GFCF has hosted many lectures at UBC, which can still be viewed; Abigail Favale will speak April 3 at noon:

  • John Lennox, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, on Artificial Intelligence
  • Christopher Watkin on the Bible as a critical tool for engaging culture (“one of the most brilliant minds of our day”)
  • Abigail Favale on the question of gender and identity (“a sane voice in a contentious area”)

Ute is involved with spiritual formation and intercession. She “is passionate about prayer, facilitating and participating in many prayer initiatives on campus and beyond.”

  • Bill Wong provides pastoral care to people beyond church walls.

    Team members

I have met several other members of the OC team over the years as they work in a range of ministries. For example:

Range of ministries

The range and diversity of work carried out by the OC team is impressive:

The Diaspora Ministries team is focused on ministry to and ministry with the diaspora in Canada. Diaspora is a term that describes people who are scattered – settled far from their historical homelands. This scattering and displacement is a global reality today, whether it occurs voluntarily (e.g. international students, economic migration) or involuntarily (e.g. refugees). Diaspora Ministries offers Simply Mobilizing courses; coordinates the Loving Muslims Together network; works with established diaspora churches; shares Scriptures in all available languages; collaborates on research; and offers various trainings, including Storyweavers and Bible-based Trauma Healing.

MORE Network is a Canada-wide collaborative that cares for Canadian missionaries and their families during times of transition, particularly as they re-enter Canada from overseas. MORE Network offers transition retreats for missionaries and MKs (missionary kids) returning to Canada; workshops for member care workers; a vast resource library; and so much more.

Simply Mobilizing develops and offers courses that focus on mobilizing all God’s people into meaningful engagement in God’s mission. Simply Mobilizing Canada serves the Canadian church, by offering courses across Canada in seven different languages, including the well-known Kairos Course.

Loving Muslims Together is leading prayer initiatives during Ramadan.

Loving Muslims Together is focused on Canadian Christians having meaningful connection with their Muslim neighbours; learning to see God’s heart for them and experiencing the joys of cross-cultural friendship. Loving Muslims Together seeks to equip Canadian Christians for healthy inter-faith relations, including openness about the way of discipleship to Jesus; making disciples of all who are open.

Becoming Disciples Who Multiply is our Disciple-Making Movements team at Outreach Canada. Engagement in the church is in decline across Canada. This team is responding by introducing principles from Disciple Making Movements (DMM) and offering training and practical opportunities to be involved in DMM, particularly through the tool of Discovery Bible Study.

BetterIt Workplace Chaplains, formerly Corporate Chaplains Canada, offers a chaplaincy program in workplaces across Canada. Through personalized support, coaching conversations and 24/7 care for employees and their households, the mission of BetterIt Workplace Chaplains is to transform the Canadian workforce for the better, one person at a time.

OC refers, as well, to several Canadian projects, including:

  • the Campus Ministry at UBC (described above);
  • a focus on French-speakers, young leaders and churches in Quebec;
  • team members working with specific churches, including discipleship;
  • the Research Department, which specializes in community profiling and thematic mapping. 

OC’s rich heritage

The mission has always been ‘OC,’ but the names behind the acronym have changed over the years. It’s a bit confusing, but I believe this is the progression – from Overseas Crusades to OC international to One Challenge. That’s on the international level.

Locally, of course, we have Outreach Canada – OC, that is.

One fascinating detail is that the international movement was founded by a man who was born not far from here, in Victoria (though he was American).

Here is part of an overview of the Overseas Crusades founder’s life, from the BDCC (Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity) site.

It starts off a bit dubiously:

The life of Dick Hillis [1913 – 2005] starts in British Columbia and then Washington state in the early 1900s. Dick was born into a Christian family and was exposed to the gospel from an early age. His mother was in constant prayer for him and his twin brother, but Dick still did not receive the gospel.

As a teenager, Dick had a desire to get rich. He worked in a local convenience store and concocted a plan to rob the register, take a train to the coast under the guise of visiting a relative and board a ship to China to make a fortune off the people there.

Unable to board the ship, he was forced to return home. Fortunately, the shop owner showed him grace, allowing him to pay off his debt. Then Hillis went to Biola (Bible Institute of Los Angeles), got saved and developed some more positive plans for China.

A Chinese evangelist and Dick Hillis getting ready to do some outdoor preaching, using posters to draw a crowd.

In 1933, Hillis began his journey to China as the youngest missionary accepted by the China Inland Mission. He and other missionary families were forced out of China when the Communists took over in the late 1940s.

In 1950, back in the United States, he experienced a call:

Towards the end of the conference, a man announced he had received a call for help from Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, who was the wife of the Nationalist President who had fled to Taiwan from the communists. She pleaded on behalf of the war-weary soldiers in Taiwan who needed the hope of the gospel.

He formed Overseas Crusades in 1952:

Because of the heart Dick had developed for the Taiwanese, he considered returning to Taiwan. Because of financial backing to start a mission organization, Dick was able to do this.

The goal of his mission organization was the same as his evangelistic strategy from the time he was in Honan Province: to teach people to be disciple makers. He took this approach to the people of Taiwan, but the mission quickly expanded beyond Taiwan’s borders.

Go here for the full BDCC biography of Dick Hillis.

A 1957 video on the One Challenge site has Billy Graham introducing Dick Hillis:

Billy Graham and Dick Hillis.

Tonight we have on the platform a man that is a very close personal friend of mine, and one of the great missionary statesmen of our day. He has done more for the churches of the Philippines, the churches of Formosa [Taiwan], the churches of Hong Kong, the churches of Indochina than probably any other person.

One interesting side note is that Luis Palau, who according to Christianity Today’s obituary, “rose from Billy Graham translator to lead millions from more than 80 countries to make decisions to follow Jesus,” began his work with Overseas Crusades.

And what is ‘the one challenge?’

A short video on the One Challenge site, makes it clear. In the words of one speaker: “What is the one challenge? It is to complete the Great Commission.” Another voice adds: “it’s every believer, every church, every international mission agency, every parachurch organization, every denomination reaching out with the love of Jesus to make Him known and to draw people unto Himself – across the whole of this globe.” And a third: “We’re working alongside the global body of Christ toward the vision of a healthy church transforming every small community among every kind of people in the world.”

Looking forward

In a comment right at the end of last year, Craig Kraft wrote:

I would have never dreamed that Outreach Canada would grow by over 120 staff and volunteers nor did I think we could have ministry in multiple languages, across our country, but God did it. I was often hanging on to the steering wheel with white knuckles and holding on for dear life, but God has led Outreach Canada to fill a unique niche in Canadian missions.

Through the years OC has partnered with dozens of denominations and ministries and has developed ongoing ministry partnerships and networks like Church Planting Canada, Loving Muslims Together, the MORE Network, Simply Mobilizing Canada and more. We have become unique bridge builders and have helped unify the evangelical church in Canada in the quest to make disciples of all nations.

As I prepare to turn off the lights in my office for the last time, I am grateful for what God has done and the people he has gathered in our team, and I am very excited to see what He will do next. Many of our ministries are still young and building momentum.

Outreach Canada has a unique history, a solid track record of growth and – most notably – a humble desire to partner and serve. Best wishes on finding an effective and receptive leader.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Executive Director position can check it out here.

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2 comments for “Outreach Canada flourished with Craig Kraft, now looking to sustain momentum

  1. Wow, What a great article Flyn. Thank you for writing this and sharing it. I will be sharing it with a lot of people in the weeks to come. Well done and very accurate.

  2. Flyn, thank you so much for this article. It is a ‘tour de force.’ You have described Outreach Canada in a clear, positive way. I believe it will lift the spirits of everyone working at OC as well as help to attract applicants for leadership.

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