Keith Haywood, Mobilizing the Body of Christ to Go Transform the World
“Get closer to the Church.” This statement was made to me in the early 90’s by a godly consultant who was working with our ministry at that time. After an extensive audit of the way we were doing things as a mission, this was his primary recommendation to me. I never forgot that statement. It has become the driving force in my ministry to help OM better serve local churches and connect them to God’s purposes among the nations. The church is God’s primary instrument to take the message of salvation in Christ to the world. Organizations like OM are raised up by God to partner with the church in this great task. I, as a representative of the church that has sent me to work with OM, sense God’s calling on my life to help other churches understand their role and mobilize their members for mission, locally and globally.
Born and raised in Georgia, Keith accepted Christ at the age of nine. At eighteen he attended the Bible College of Wales in Swansea, UK. During his two years at this missionary training school, Keith surrendered to God’s call to full-time missions.
“I didn’t want to be a missionary and did not realize this “bible college” was a missionary training school. I had encountered a diamond-back rattlesnake on a country road near my home when I was nine and that put a fear of snakes in me. Every missionary that came to our church when I was a kid served in the jungle and brought a pith helmet, a machete and a snake in a jar of formaldehyde. Since missionaries worked in jungles, and in jungles were lots of snakes, and I was afraid of snakes, then I concluded that mission work was not for me. But God had other plans!”
Keith also met his future wife, Rita de Jager, from the Netherlands at BCW. She was at the bible college preparing to serve with Operation Mobilization. After earning their diplomas, Keith and Rita married and set their sights on joining Operation Mobilization.
Keith and Rita served with OM’s ships LOGOS and DOULOS from 1980-1988, living in the multi-cultural community on board and ministering in more than 50 nations through teaching, preaching, training, administration and leadership. From 1988-2004 Keith led OM USA’s human resource division as Vice President of Mission Personnel, overseeing a team whose focus was on recruiting, preparing, placing and caring for American missionaries serving overseas with OM.
During these years he obtained an Associate of Arts degree in Pastoral Ministry from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Keith is also a licensed and ordained minister. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Intercultural Leadership from the Bethany Center for Global Studies in Bloomington, MN.
In 2004 Keith and Rita began a new ministry focused on serving and mobilizing churches. Under Keith’s leadership, the Church Mobilization team has implemented a number of strategies designed to help church leaders inspire and involve their members in mission, locally and globally. These include taking church leaders to the mission field to explore how their churches can be engaged in meaningful partnership, as Keith has done in India, Russia, Lebanon, Syria, and parts of Europe; recruiting and facilitating church groups to take part in short-term outreaches; organizing and conducting commissioning events at the churches of new OM workers; preaching, teaching and representing OM at local church services and events; hosting events that connect church leaders with overseas mission leaders to provide information about what God is doing and to explore possibilities for local church involvement.
In partnership with Global Focus, an Atlanta-based ministry that serves pastors and local churches, Keith teaches seminars and coaches churches to develop fresh strategies and structures to better mobilize the church from the top down. “I am burdened by the fact that less than 5% of US churches have any type of strategic involvement in the Great Commission. If this truly is the last command of Christ, then should churches not make this a priority of their ministry? I want them to see their role in the plan of God to bring salvation to the people of the world and then walk alongside them as they take steps to become more personally involved in God’s mission.
Another passion of Keith’s is telling the stories of what God is doing around the world today. He is concerned that most church members are totally unaware of the developments in the global church and the move of God among people in Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist nations. Being connected to OM’s global ministry allows him to hear and share current news that encourages and motivates believers. “One of my greatest joys in ministry is being able to communicate the activity of God to a group of Christians and see the surprise and excitement that comes over their faces when they hear the stories of changed lives and communities.”
What Other People Say
“Keith Haywood is one of the most passionate, genuine, and effective mission mobilizers I have had the chance to work with in the last 10 years. He is well informed and up-to-date with what God is doing in our world today. Every church I know of that he has worked with has been blessed by his ministry and grateful for their partnership with he and Rita.”
Landon Reesor ~ Pastor of Encounter Church, Darien, Connecticut.
Ron Kiefer ~ Missions Committee Chairman, First Presbyterian Church, Rome, Georgia.
Lynn Mulkey ~ Missions Elder, Douglasville, Georgia.
Hartsfield Jackson Airport (ATL)