Last week marked a very important moment in my life and that of Urban Mosaic. In early June 2005, my wife, Shabrae, and I arrived in Mexico City with our pick-up truck and a small trailer. Soon after, we moved into an urban poor community to launch the work of Urban Mosaic with a vision of developing a holistic change model that would raise local leaders to transform fragile cities into SHALOM cities. Already then, 15 years ago, I dreamed that THIS moment would come and now it has.
During those initial months I wrote a 15-year strategic plan, outlining three phases for growing our fledgling dream. My personal goal within the strategic plan was to transition out of my role directing the work in Mexico after completing 15 years. While some of my friends and associates poked fun at me for writing a 15-year plan, it is quite amazing how much of it actually came to pass.
So last week, on July 1, 2020, I officially handed over the national leadership of Urban Mosaic Mexico to my dear friend Oscar Garcia, precisely 15 years after arriving in Mexico City.
Photos left to right: Shabrae and Jean-Luc in the early days of Urban Mosaic, Jean-Luc in the Urban Mosaic office 15 years ago , Oscar and Jean-Luc in July of 2020 as the baton was officially being passed to Oscar.
Oscar joined Urban Mosaic, exactly 11 years prior, on July 1, 2009. Together (along with many others) we built an organization that has grown to 66 full-time employees in Mexico, impacting over 50,000 people in four municipalities of the greater Mexico City metropolitan area. I’m deeply grateful for all these years of tears, pain, failures, but also deep joys, new learnings and much growth.
Part of this path forward means building the foundation for this future growth. And so, it is with great joy that I’d like to present to you some of the leaders who will work alongside me to prepare us to scale the work of Urban Mosaic:
Emily Tamanaha will step into a new role as Executive Director of Urban Mosaic US, helping us solidify our organizational presence in the United States. Beginning as a volunteer in 2012, Emily went on to serve on our U.S. Board of Directors in 2014 until moving to Mexico City to work full time with us in 2017. I am so thrilled to see Emily step into this role. She is such a capable and wise leader and I feel honored to work alongside her.
Emily will be joined by David Jones, Senior Strategy Director, who has decades of experience helping international ministries grow their impact. He has worked for many different Christian organizations, including as the Head of Scripture Union, President of John Stott Ministries, Managing Director of the Lausanne Movement and currently as Managing Director at Cedarstone. He used to be my boss when we both worked with Geneva Global and I am deeply grateful to rejoin hands in this new season of growth for Urban Mosaic.
Finally, Noel Castellanos will join our team as Director of Strategic Growth, helping us deepen our holistic work with churches in Mexico and Colombia, with an eye toward future expansion to other Latin American cities. Noel brings decades of leadership experience in urban poor communities in the United States, including as head of the CCDA, and, after a season of personal transitions for him, is keen to coach and come alongside urban leaders and ministries in Latin America.
With this growing leadership team in place, which includes our national directors in Mexico and Colombia, I will be turning my focus to an intensive season of reflecting, writing and product development over the course of the next 12-18 months. My goal is to systematize our learnings through a PhD dissertation, while developing the core materials and content for a virtual educational and training platform that will allow us to better equip master trainers, come alongside emerging urban leaders, and grow Urban Mosaic’s thought leadership. This focused investment of time will allow me to work on things I have dreamed of doing for years and help position Urban Mosaic to more easily scale our work over the next 10 years.
While not everything that I wrote in our initial strategic plan 15 years ago transpired, much of it has. God’s Spirit has proven faithful, inspiring, comforting, and empowering. What all this has taught me is that when the Spirit of God gives us dreams and we follow them, they do come to pass!