Meet Joel Kelderman. He is a real estate investor and ENLACE Board Member. Read on to learn how Joel began to work with ENLACE and why he values its work of transformation in the world.
Q: Hi Joel! We are so glad you have agreed to an interview!
Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
My name is Joel Kelderman. I have served on the Board of Directors for ENLACE USA for the past several years. My professional life is as an investor. I spent 18 years working in the trading industry in Chicago and the last 3 years working as a real estate investor in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Q: You have been such a key support to ENLACE over the years.
How did you first learn about ENLACE?
I learned of ENLACE through my church home in Chicago. My church partnered with ENLACE in the Santa Ana region in El Salvador at the time. The mission’s leader of the church invited me to come to El Salvador and see if there was any potential to replicate some economic development strategies we were executing in the Dominican Republic.
Q: What prompted you to work with us?
On this trip to El Salvador, I caught ENLACE’s vision right away. I was sold on the church being God’s chosen agent to bring healing to communities and individuals. I also knew that the church is made up of people, so there was no guarantee that just being a church meant God’s will was being done through that group of people.
"ENLACE works with pastors and lay leaders on how they
understand their role in God’s work and what that implies
for their relationship to the community at large." - Joel Kelderman
They focused on removing enmity between people with differences. Once the church and community are ready, ENLACE provides catalysts to build relationships between the church and community through project technical assistance.
Q: How has that collaboration affected your life and career?
Beyond the vision, the ENLACE model for community transformation, the quality of the leaders and staff, and the evidence of God’s hand on what they were doing, moved me to volunteer to help ENLACE anyway I could. This has taken different forms over the years. I have worked with staff and communities on economic development projects and eventually joined the ENLACE Board.
I have been blessed to witness firsthand the church at work in Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Malawi, Jordan, and the Holy Land. Nowhere have I seen an organization as focused on relationships. ENLACE holds every relationship with pastors, lay leaders, community leaders, political leaders, and the community at large as though they were of utmost importance to God. Yes, this is about alleviating poverty, but poverty is more complex than I knew. At its root, poverty affects us all as the result of broken relationships.
Q: Everyone at ENLACE can’t thank you enough for your
collaboration with us! You have made such an impact on our
leadership team and on the trajectory as an organization.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
My involvement with ENLACE has been a gift from God. I have been humbled by what God is doing. I constantly learn and re-learn that we are all affected by the broken state of our world in different forms. Mostly, I have learned that if you want to grow close to God, go to the poor of this world and they will show you His face.
If you would like to know more about how you can get involved with supporting ENLACE’s mission in similar ways to Joel, we’d love to hear from you! Contact Executive Director, Ron Bueno to start a conversation.