Georges Boujakly, KNCSB director of church planting, will retire Dec. 31 after a 20-year career. Here are his thoughts on his ministry career:

By Georges Boujakly

Allow me to reminisce.

I remember growing up in a Lebanese orphanage how thankful we were for little gifts. A rich supporter of orphans would donate holiday treats. Another, pencils and notebooks. At times, apples. How thankful we were for little gifts.

I left school at 13 — it was time to learn a trade. A master wood carver, a friend of a friend of my brother, took me in as an apprentice. I learned and followed in his footsteps. I’m thankful for this man who generously gave me attention so I could learn to earn my way in life.

Rumors of war swirled around Lebanon. I had to flee a war-torn country as a refugee. With the help of kind Canadian immigration officers and Catholic Family Services, I received a refugee passport.

I arrived in a new country in a deep freeze on New Year’s Eve 1969 at age 19. A job awaited. Opportunities abounded.

I’m thankful for the many kindnesses that rescued me from war.

Restless and lost at 23, I encountered students from Henry Blackaby’s church serving in summer missions. They gave me hope. I knew they were followers of Jesus by their love for each other. Just as Jesus said I would. The gospel was deeply embedded in me. Even today I speak almost daily with Paul Johnson, my father in the faith.

The gospel was deeply embedded in me. I’m truly thankful.

I had a deep longing to get the education I missed. A special program at the University of Calgary took a risk and admitted me. It paid off for them but more for me. They graduated me!

I’m so thankful for second chances.

My pastor saw something in me I didn’t see. He asked me to preach. Imagine! I did. It was awful, but no matter. God took his invitation and my willingness and called me to serve him.

I’m so thankful for eyes that see potential.

Yearly training opportunities in Glorieta, New Mexico, followed. There, in God’s timing, I experienced his kindness. I met Carolyn, who became my wife. Today, with four daughters bearing eight grandchildren, I couldn’t be more thankful.

In seminary, Southern Baptist churches sacrificed to see us through. After seminary, planting churches seemed to be a fit. Two churches were planted. Then off to Quebec as a Southern Baptist missionary. I ministered to many people groups and saw churches started.

I’m thankful that I can be a tool in the hand of the Master.

KNCSB came calling. For 20 years they and the North American Mission Board trusted me to serve existing churches and start new ones. I led church planters and strategists and expanded our family of churches.

I’m so thankful I did my part.

Now I’m ready to retire with dignity. Why? Southern Baptist churches have invested in my retirement for decades. I’m thankful for acceptance, generosity and peace of mind.