It happened in the most ordinary of places, a classroom. While working toward her master’s degree, Chris Shay had an epiphany. The Central Territory could do more with missions.
While the vision was fresh, she fleshed out a proposal and sent it off to Commissioner Ken Baillie. Her note resonated with the territorial commander, who in response aimed to form a World Missions Bureau—and wanted her to lead it! She hadn’t been looking for a new job. In fact, she was perfectly content working in the youth department and being involved in missions there and at her corps, but as usual Chris felt she should pray about it. And God said, “Go.” This was the providential context for the Central Territory being transformed over the last 15 years with opportunities for service and growth.
Among Chris’ accomplishments, the territory’s solid Service Corps for young adults was renamed Summer Mission Team (SMT) and soared to a new level of excellence. During her tenure, 360 young adults have found challenge and fulfillment—and often themselves—as they’ve ventured out into the world. Teams have been sent to the same locations in successive years, promoting ongoing relationships between the territories and helping to better enable the Army’s mission.
“I’m particularly thrilled with how we have brought over Salvationist young adults from other countries to serve on our in-territory Central teams,” said Chris. “We’ve had members from Ghana, Russia, Hungary, Denmark, the Bahamas and the Philippines. It just makes sense to me to have true partnership with The Salvation Army globally in this way.”
She’s also been overjoyed at the growth of the Global Mission Team (GMT) program which sends adult teams to locations worldwide to partner with local craftsmen to build, renovate and repair corps buildings, officers’ quarters, children’s homes and schools. During Chris’ tenure GMT has brought short-term missions opportunities to more than 250 adults, many of them long past the age for SMT. In fact, the oldest participants have been master craftsmen in their 80s!
This ministry in missions has afforded Chris the opportunity to travel the world in a meaningful way and has deepened her resolve to live with intentionality for the cause of Christ.
“Living in the U.S., I have much compared with many in the world, and the danger is complacency,” she explained. “The global Salvation Army reminds me to live with the advancement of God’s Kingdom in mind. A life of gratitude and generosity, godly attributes I’ve seen all over the Army world.”
As demographics in the U.S. change to reflect more ethnicities and cultures, some might question the need for missions, but Chris insists short-term mission opportunities are even more important. “Those who serve overseas gain an understanding of cultural and ethnic differences that helps them work with their immigrant neighbors in the U.S. with more caring and compassion.”
It’s these characteristics of kindness and compassion she wants to demonstrate in retirement as she serves more with her husband, Mick, at their corps (Oakbrook Terrace) in Chicago’s suburbs. “The Lord has many people, near and far, that He wants us to notice, get to know, care about and show Jesus to through our actions and words,” she concluded.
It reflects what she says is the biggest take-away from her ministry in World Missions—that life, as William Booth said, is really all about “Others.”