It was late summer 2008. I was still the managing editor at The Daily Times in Farmington, but I somehow knew my time there was coming to an end. God had a different path for my life and it actually came from the help wanted ads in the very paper where I was employed.
There it was – an ad for a “Director of Development” at Navajo Ministries. I read the job specifications and thought, “well, that’s interesting.” Something kept telling me to check out this job a little more, and at about 3 a.m. the next morning, I woke up and went straight to our home computer to do some research on Navajo Ministries through the web site. The next day I collected my resume and knew I had to apply for this job, which entailed helping to raise funds for the Navajo Heritage Center project, fund-raising for current programs, public relations, and more.
I met with President Jim Baker and Director of Administration Kelly Karlin. We had a great visit and they answered all of my questions. I was given an application, and about three weeks later, I was hired.
My first day on the job was September 8th and I remember coming to work a little before 8 a.m. and asking “where is everybody?” A short time later, Annette Reich (Hall) met me upstairs and said everyone was in the downstairs auditorium for morning devotions. Wow, what a way to start a day – asking God to guide our steps as a staff. Pretty cool.
At that point, I was off and running. It’s hard to believe it’s been about nine years since that first day of service here at Navajo Ministries. We’ve all seen and experienced a lot here, with God certainly providing the direction each and every day. Along the way, I became Vice President in the summer of 2012 and then was appointed President on May 1, 2015. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve seemingly been through it all. And, now, we’re in a new season as last week I announced my resignation from Navajo Ministries.
My wife, Terri, and I will be moving to the Austin, Texas, area in mid-September to pursue a new life adventure there. Our oldest daughter Annette lives there with her husband Robbie and our four grandchildren, Troy, Tatiana, Emma and Selena – ages 10, 7 and identical 1-year-old twins. We will both be working in the region, but will also be there to help with these precious grandkids. Our son Josh also lives in Dallas, and daughter Erin lives in Kansas City. Our youngest, 19-year-old Katherine, will continue her college education at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
Yes, this is a big move, and we’re discovering that each day as we make plans for the long trip to central Texas. We have already closed on a new home there and it will certainly be different to be “Texans” after living in New Mexico our entire lives. However, God is certainly moving through this, both in our personal lives and here at Navajo Ministries. It will be difficult to leave here, but my time here is about finished. It’s time for a new leader to take the reins and help move the organization forward. The Board is currently in discussions with a promising Four Corners candidate. We hope to announce the new President soon.
In the meantime, Bob Fitz will serve as Acting President on an interim basis. I so much appreciate Bob, and the entire staff here, for their commitment to Navajo Ministries. My last official day will be Friday, September 8th – nine years to the day from when I started. I will miss all of you and count myself so fortunate to have been able to serve with you at Navajo Ministries. The mission here is to help instill hope, restoration and Christian values in all we do. That is certainly happening each day!
I would love to be able to name each and every person that has made such a difference in my life. Unfortunately, space simply won’t allow it. So, from the Board members, former President Jim Baker to everyone else I’ve worked alongside these past nine years, “thank you!”
There have been so many highlights along the way. I’ll run down just a handful here: Construction and completion of the Education and Activity Center, attaining a four-star rating from Charity Navigator (which we still have today), a Hope Awards nomination (keep voting!), editing the book “The Bakers’ Dozen – and Then Some,” putting on six “Celebrity” Roasts (capping with Jim and Kay in 2015), taking a memorable development trip to Pennsylvania in 2015, and most of all, seeing daily the great people God has serving here!
I have witnessed so many people caring for children in the darkest times of their young lives through the Four Corners Home for Children. This is truly a life-saving program! And, through Vertical Radio, thousands of residents have a vital Christian radio station that is closely connected to the community. Navajo Nation Outreach, through VBS teams, Christmas Connections and more, is also so important to Navajo Ministries.
To God be the glory, and the future of Navajo Ministries. The love of Jesus is alive and well here, no matter how many changes may take place. So, let’s not say “goodbye” – let’s just say “until we meet again!” And, if you’re near Austin, look us up. Not sure we’ll ever learn to say “ya’ll,” but we’re excited about the next steps God has planned.
Love and blessings to each of you – Eric Fisher.