Ida Kaastra-Mutoigo, director for World Renew-Canada for the past 15 years, is stepping down at the end of February after more than 30 years of service to the organization. She’s leaving to head a Christian-run ministry in New York City with the mission of helping survivors of human trafficking. The World Renew-Canada board has appointed Kenneth (Ken) Kim, director of World Renew’s International Disaster Response, as interim director. The board announced Kaastra-Mutoigo’s departure Jan. 3 and Kim’s appointment Jan. 14.
Kaastra-Mutoigo said the move comes after a period of discernment after the death of her husband last year. “The decision to consider something different came along with that family change,” she said, describing “being very open to the Spirit’s leading of where might God want me in this unique stage of life that I’m in.” Kaastra-Mutoigo’s three adult children are independent and pursuing work and study goals of their own.
Kaastra-Mutoigo sees a connection between the work she’s moving to and the three components that have been part of World Renew, the Christian Reformed Church’s relief and development agency. “The aspects of community development, disaster response, and injustice—all three are just really encapsulated in the story of a (trafficking) survivor. That is their story,” Kaastra-Mutoigo said. “They’re trying to connect to community, they’re trying to overcome an injustice, and they have seen disasters—most of them have fled situations that are crises or disasters from their countries.”
Her enthusiasm for this new chapter wasn’t the only element in deciding to leave now. “Part of my discernment in this journey was to ask not just what might the Holy Spirit be compelling me to move toward—but what would I leave behind, including a dearly beloved community of people that I have been so much a part of.” She concluded that because of strong senior leadership, including Kim who has stepped in as interim; healthy finances; and World Renew’s clear future goals established in a strategic planning process over the past year, “if there ever is a time for a leader of an organization to leave, this is a good time.”
“I go with deep conviction that even if our places of service are different, God will continue to guide me and World Renew in doing his awesome kingdom work of mercy and justice,” Kaastra-Mutoigo said.
Kim will work with Carol Bremer-Bennett, director-U.S., as World Renew’s co-director. The World Renew-Canada board expects to complete a search for a new permanent director in Canada over the next six months.
Kim came to World Renew in 2015. He spoke of gratitude for the good the mission is able to affect. “In my nearly seven years of work with World Renew with the International Disaster Response, I have learned that our work is the expression of justice, mercy, and serving Christ,” he said. Kim recalls a major earthquake in Nepal that hit just after he’d started his role. “That started a response, where the generosity of our North American supporters was matched with other funding partners to enable us to work for over five years in assisting people with immediate assistance, shelter, and the recovery of their livelihoods. The story is similar in the Philippines, Haiti, Indonesia, Lebanon, or Bangladesh, where we have worked alongside people who lost everything to enable the entire community to recover and stand stronger on their own.”
Kaastra-Mutoigo’s work with World Renew began with an internship shortly after college. She was then a program consultant in Uganda, a coordinator of the volunteer program “ServiceLink,” team leader for the East and Southern Africa region, and most recently she served as co-director since 2006.
Related: A 2016 profile by Deb Flaherty, Ida Kaastra-Mutoigo: From Corn Fields to Conflict Zones
An avid cyclist, Kaastra-Mutoigo had set a goal of covering 8,000 km (5,000 miles) in 2021. Part of that mileage included a group bicycle tour, the Five Boro Bike Tour. She said getting to know New York in that way, and being drawn to its diversity, planted some of the desire to make this move toward ministry there. She ended up surpassing her goal and riding 12,000 km (7,500 miles) by the end of 2021.