A Trusted Friend
A Faithful Servant
A Master Mentor
A Loving Spiritual Father
Last night I was shock to learn that Ingemar went home to his heavenly reward on March 10, 2006. I say shocked because for me Ingemar was someone who was some how more than human, which meant that somewhere in the depths of my mind it was impossible for him to not be around. Though I hadn’t spoken to him in years I always knew he was behind me and would be there if I needed a hand or advise.
For those of you who don’t know, Ingemar was the one who showed me how to work in Central and Eastern Europe when it meant crossing the Iron Curtain. I did a 3 month internship at the Solasen Training Center, under his leadership the summer of 1987. This was a difficult time for me because I had just been released from staff position at my home church. I had no career (I had resigned my teaching position a year earlier), no job, my apparent attempt at full-time ministry didn’t work out, and I was really beginning to question if I had any value in God’s work. Yet, I knew I had a call to Central/Eastern Europe but how? I really believed I was to build relationships with the believers. I had no idea what to do or where to begin.
Though Ingemar had only met me once he agreed to take me on for the summer at his training center. I was quite broken and confused when I arrived at the training center in Kolmarden Sweden. Yet I found myself accepted into a loving family at Solasen. I was content to serve in anyway possible. I enjoyed being able to pour myself into the manual work of clean bathrooms, peeling potatoes, cleaning guest rooms, setting tables & doing dishes. Actually, I preferred to hide in my work but that was not acceptable. They wanted me to be in relationship with them…to be a part of the family. They made me stop my work everyday and have coffee with them. Ingemar included me. from the very beginning, in the planning and organized of the activities. Like I said I would have been very satisfied to just do my “household” duties all the time but soon after I arrived Ingemar sent me as the Solasen representative with a group of Americans to Poland. I was responsible for the group: the contacts, money, everything. I really questioned his judgment …but he believed in me. During that summer he tutored me, directed and guided me but more importantly he encouraged the call on my life like a father. The Lord sent Ingemar to be the spiritual father to me that my own father could not be.
At the end of the summer we reevaluated my situation and our relationship. We were all pleased with our new friendship and how well we were able to work together. Though I desired to come back and Ingemar was open to that he encouraged me to start an extension of the work in the US. Thus, Friendship Ministries was born. In the early years we both travel back and forth a lot. I was learning all the time and he was teaching, encouraging, supporting, challenging. To say that I am a full-time missionary in Poland as a result of his mentoring would be an understatement.
Ingemar was a man a head of his time, who develop a Sister Church program with East/West Churches partnering together. He was often criticized by other mission leaders as to the wisdom (or lack there of) and risks of being groups of westerners into Communist countries to visit Christians. He was undaunted in his passion to keep our Eastern brothers & sisters in Christ connected to the great Body of Christ. Though the “Iron Curtain” has been gone for quite sometime now the impact of Ingemar’s vision on the lives of individuals on both sides will be felt for generations to come. I pray that that same heart and passion will always be at the very core of my ministry.
Thank You Ingemar!
Well Done Faithful Servant!
I will always be grateful for the investment you made in my life.