The CGGC is happy and excited to announce that Travis Helm will be stepping into the role of Director of Global Reach!
It was announced near the end of June that Ben Tobias, who has been working with Global Reach since 2011, and who has been the Director of Global Reach since 2016, was stepping down and moving on to a pastor position at Indian Head Church of God. Travis, who has been the Assistant Director to Global Reach for about 8 years, has worked closely with Ben throughout his tenure to strengthen Global Reach, to support missionaries and field leaders, and to see our international fields thrive. We anticipate then that the transition, which becomes official as of October 1st, will be smooth.
As a reintroduction to our new Director of Global Reach, I sat down to interview Travis about his past work (did you know he was a biologist?), the challenges for global missions, and where Travis sees as Global Reach’s vision for the future.
You've been in the role of Assistant Director for years now. Maybe this is a good time to reintroduce yourself to the denomination. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, and your past.
Travis: I grew up in Shippensburg, PA, so I was part of the ERC since the mid 70’s. I was not a charter member of Green Village Church of God, but that’s where my start of CGGC began, about a year after that church had been planted. I went to Shippensburg University and got a degree in biology. I really felt like I needed to use my degree, so I tried to get in with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. I was able to work with them as a biologist. There was a lot of travel with that and it really started to burn me out. One of my big foundations was my church life. I really enjoyed being a part of Green Village. At some point I even tried teaching at a public school and realized teaching’s not that easy (because it involves people, and young people). There’s lots of challenges there *laughs*.
Travis: I went back home to Shippensburg and got involved with Green Village Church of God again. That’s where I met my wife Lisa, who I’ve been married to for 25 years. Not long after we were married, about 6 years, there were some pretty tough circumstances I was facing, basically a crisis, and losing my dad. God sort of got our attention with that and gave us a calling to serve in ministry. My wife always had a real heart for missions. It took a while for me to come around on that, but we ended up getting involved with a mission organization (Gospel for Asia) in Texas. We picked up, raised support, and went there for 8 years. Different circumstances pushed us back east toward Ohio, in Findlay, where I took the position as the Assistant Director. And that’s kind of how I ended up here in this interview.
Travis: My wife and I have two daughters together, one is married, Grace, and the other is in high school, Faith. Faith went to Bangladesh with me last year, and that was really neat to be able do that. She’s a really good traveler.
How have you personally grown in the Assistant Director role over the last 8 years?
Travis: I was thinking a lot about that. When I first took the position, there was a lot of travel. I had 2 daughters at home at the time, and they had been used to me traveling to India and Asia, but this [job] ended up being a good bit more. I had to learn ways to make the most of my time at home. To be very strategic about trying to spend time with my family. Not just be with them but spend time doing things together. We actually tried to do some real vacations which I hadn’t really done before.
Travis: I was used to going to one particular area before. The passion God has given me is for the 10/40 window, which is in the eastern hemisphere. So, with Global Reach, we cover a broader area in the Western and Eastern hemisphere. I had to gain a broader learning of the different cultures, as opposed to just the Asian cultures. There are a lot of similarities, but they are very different in many ways. That’s been a real challenge.
How has the role itself changed?
Travis: As for the role. One of the things that really changed for everybody was when the pandemic hit. That changed travel because it was so limited, or we just couldn’t do it. And it changed how people prioritize; I think. It created more challenges for the fields. Most of our fields are not as affluent. There are a lot of struggles in the U.S., but you can multiply that for most of these fields. They don’t have the same resources.
Travis: In some of these areas, it’s just restrictive for Christianity. It’s very difficult to be a Christian there, and some places it’s actually dangerous. So, to try and find ways to encourage them… We can’t give them everything they need but we can help provide them their primary needs. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is encouragement and relationship. They really crave that. It’s been important in these latter years.
Travis: We all know in the Churches of God that leaders are extremely important. The people we are leading will try to emulate our example. Having godly leaders who are passionate about the people they are leading, that’s important. And we learn a lot of stuff from them, like humility. We can never stop learning [humility]. That’s been important in this role as an assistant.
Any hesitancy in taking the role?
Travis: I’ve heard people say, “ministry is wonderful except for the people.” We laugh about that, but you have to work with people and it’s a challenge. People are a key to ministry. And the more cultures you’re working with, the more challenging that is. But I’ve really felt at peace with it the more I’ve talked to Lance. In light of the past 8 years, with the knowledge and relationships I’ve built, I felt that the opportunity was there, and the Lord wanted me to take it and do it. And my reliance on Him is just going to become greater and greater.
Travis: I believe it’s causing me to be a better leader. And I think leadership is so, so important, particularly in ministry. The people that are in your sphere of influence look to you as a leader. It challenges me to do the right thing, and to make the extra effort, to build the relationship, to step out of my comfort zone and to face challenges with them.
What is one of the main initiatives that you’d like to see Global Reach take on?
Travis: Training up leaders is a big initiative we need to focus on. That’s a big challenge for the next several years.
Travis: There are lots of issues in our country, not just money, but moral issues, and issues within the church. [The international fields] are facing those same issues 10-fold. So, at some point, we hope they can work toward self-supporting, or having enough godly leaders that they can grow those different areas, and raise passionate leaders to sustain that ministry. I believe God will stay with that ministry.
Travis: If we don’t help them raise up leaders to help them be self-sustaining, then there may come a time when we can’t go, whether we don’t have the resources, or we are restricted and can’t get visas. Even sending resources could disappear, and so one of our big challenges and goals is to help raise up godly leaders so they can replicate on their own. If we ever have to leave the picture and can’t be there, they need to be self sustaining and God reliant within their own country so their church can continue to grow through that.
What are the biggest challenges that you think Global Reach (or maybe all of Christendom) face right now?
Travis: One of the challenges is just godly leadership. Raising up and maintaining passionate godly leaders who will serve with humility. It’s not just a challenge in Global Reach, but the church worldwide. I think so much hinges on that.
Travis: Another thing is resources. God owns all the resources, so He’s not limited. But the truth is, we have a lot of fields, and they all vie for resources. If I just look at CGGC, in our country, people are facing all the financial strains, people are struggling with their own churches growing, and with Covid, giving and attendance is down. So, one of the challenges is to share our missions with churches outside of the CGGC, to those who might have an interest in missions. In the same way some of our churches are involved with different missions outside of the CGGC.
Travis: And then there’s travel. There are so many issues. Very few can go to Venezuela. India and Bangladesh are getting tougher. There is much less certainty with being able to go to these places. And the relational part is so important to our people there. They crave that. The field leaders, people in the churches, they crave it. And it’s becoming more of a challenge.
Travis: Since the pandemic, it’s harder to get U.S. people to go to the field to do teaching, visits, and fellowship. I’ve noticed the partnerships have waned some. It also costs more to go, and people worry about different viruses, so those are all legitimate problems, but it’s another challenge in the long-term partnerships.
Now that the Assistant Director position is vacant, What kind of person are you looking for to fill it?
Travis: Practically speaking, this position requires so much travel. Most people who might apply would probably be married and have a family. So, someone who has an understanding spouse.
Travis: Someone who has some spiritual maturity, but who is also very passionate about serving other people, and to serve with other people. I think that a sense of call from God is important.
Travis: I would also think that it would be good if that person had a desire to also help train leaders. To organize it, and to raise up people in our own denomination. And someone with an attitude toward the eternal nature of the work will do well in how they talk about the fields and ask for funding.
We'd like to take the time to congratulate Travis on his new position. We are excited to have Travis transition into the Director of Global Reach position and have the utmost faith in the diligence he will bring to the job.
If you or someone you know is interested in the Assistant Director position, please submit resumes and CV's to . More information about the role, including the job description, will be made available soon.
CGGC eNews—Vol. 27, No. 39