Diane retires from serving PLI at the end of this month (3/31/21). She has served there for 15 years, most recently as Leadership Essentials Team Leader. Her final immersion is this week at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Spring, and we celebrated her last night at a banquet in her honor. This letter, below, is my tribute to her. I’m thankful for her in so many ways, and I look forward to our continuing mission partnership in the years to come. Enjoy the letter!
WOW! The day has finally come, and what a blessing it is to have traveled here with you! When we celebrated my 25 year ministry anniversary, I gave you a model sailboat to remind you of your partnership in my ministry. I hope you consider me also to have been your partner in your ministry with PLI. I’ve been proud of you from the get-go, and seen first hand how dedicated you are to PLI’s mission.
Whether it was as my partner in the inaugural class of 1999, or your work with the PIPs, or as leader of the Partner Ministry, or now as Leadership Essentials Content and Coaching Leader: you have dedicated yourself to faithful, diligent service to the cause. That’s all very nice, and very much who you are: dedicated, faithful, conscientious, and diligent.
But that doesn’t really describe the impact you’ve had. How many times have I asked, “Who is he?,” and you’ve told me, “He was in the 2002 entry class. I got to know his wife through the partners program. They serve in so-and-so…” Or you’ll say, “Don’t you remember, we met them in Fort Collins. He and his wife were visiting that one time, and we talked to them during a break.” Or, “I got to know her through my beta huddle.” You connect with people. You have a heart for people. You love people. You bless people. You bless me! Thank you!
I used to joke, “I’m Diane Bahn’s husband.” Well it wasn’t really a joke, it was a new identity I discovered when you began to have leadership responsibilities in PLI. Many more people knew you in that manner than knew me – even though we both presented at the various immersions and conferences. But you poured yourself into the lives of those people. You have a merciful and listening ear. You have an open heart. And you have a heart for God.
We’ve been partners in God’s mission from day one. And PLI has given you the opportunity to impact people for the sake of the mission in so many ways. You have engaged new faces and new places from the US to the Philippines, to Kenya and soon, hopefully Tanzania. You meet church leaders and they become your friends! And when you post something about our friend who was battling COVID, church leaders from around the world reached out to you offering their prayers. You recognized that not only as a complement, but as evidence of God’s work in our hearts.
You’ve engendered new hope and new courage in women and men. Sometimes by sharing our vulnerability, other times by asking a simple question, “Do you think you may be angry with God?” Most often by listening or by coaching, or by teaching. And what great pictures we have with newly-discovered brothers and sisters in Christ – both at home and around the world. We’re part of a wonderful family of God, and I know you deeply love them and they love you.
Maybe you will have in mind a breakthrough moment, or perhaps several you can point to. The long pause after a thoughtful question. The couple coming to us after sharing some vulnerability in our “Broken Together” marriage. The moment when someone said, “I just realize I do have influence!” Or maybe when someone showed up in the literal and spiritual sense. You certainly do have the celebration part down. The post-immersion meals with toast-after-toast (Thanks, Jock and Gail, for that tradition!). The hugs and high-fives at the end of a SWAT presentation. The tears of joy at the Take Away/Leave Behind celebrations. The resolute awareness in the Stop/Start exercise when people recognize this is a defining moment.
But the piece de la resistance has to be the confetti when Jen Hein was named to step into your role. So now we can celebrate you, and God’s work in and through you. I know you give God all the glory for his work in and through you. So do we. And we thank God for giving us you. We love you. I love you! God loves you. We celebrate you, Diane Bahn! Woo Hoo!