“What I like most is when one doesn’t notice any problems.”

This sentence ended our one and a half hour interview. As I walked away it made me think of how often I take my phone out of my pocket wanting to log on to the WiFi. It’s automatic and happens without thought once one has logged in, right? We don’t have to reconnect or do anything else. But when the moment hits, when it doesn’t work, then we all have something to say! Work can become impossible, inefficient or miscommunications can take place rapidly.

The IT department is such a vital component to any large business, non-profit or university, and YWAM Harpenden is no exception. So it’s a joy to introduce you to our very own Mr IT Mastermind, Kenan! Kenan is the brain behind the flickering little lights, gazillion cables that make the servers, hard drives and WiFi work. He also has a huge heart that is filled with passion for missions near and far. Often he seems reserved and quiet but in chatting I quickly got to see his fun and witty personality coming alive.

So Kenan, can you give me some insight as to what your typical day looks like?

Well, it starts at around 8 am, maybe with something warm to drink first, a shower… I choose the shoes I want to wear, oh, of course, I get dressed first… detailed enough? ( I’m pleasantly surprised by his joke and smile). He responds… Oh, you mean my typical day in IT! Kenan exclaims with a chuckle! Well, other than on community mornings I actually start here at around 8 am, to check my emails and go through my to-do list.

What does your to-do list typically entail?
At the top of my priority list are the staff and trainees. It’s really important to me that everyone can work well at their working spaces, so firstly I work through any immediate problems that need to be solved to enable people to work. I keep my most frequently used tools at hand in the server room, so this can be achieved effectively. I manage a few things within IT,  including for example inspecting the “Access control units” ( door code boxes), to ensure all of the codes are working correctly and buildings are secure.

You said that you have a toolbox ready in the server room. Can I see the server room? That would interest me!

Sure, for that we will have to go to the other end of the building.

Once we got to the server room Kenan explained to me that his colleague and himself started a huge revamp just after he arrived in January. The room had 200 phone line extensions in February which they reduced to 18 lines, 18 servers which they decommissioned to 3 main servers and so much more. He shared that they upgraded 45 WiFi points here on base and showed me the main cables to each house. We forget that WiFi doesn’t just magically appear on our mobile or stationary devices. It takes programming, good strong cables and so much more. It’s extremely detailed and practical work! Kenan also explained the impact of the legalities of the new GDPR rules (personal data protection) that came about in May of this year.

We had to re-wire, reset and restructure so many things to meet these strict regulations. With that, we renovated this room and really made it a place where we keep everything that we need to accomplish our daily tasks.

Kenan shows me the tools that he uses and shares that he often has to make cables, rewire, fix cables to walls. He has a totally different toolbox to what we’d imagine – lots of fine little saws, cable ties and a whole lot of little pieces that I’m sure my husband would understand more about. The whole room was fascinating – I felt like I was actually on another planet.

So can you explain what it means to you to be a missionary in IT? Is it missionary work?

Sure it is. Yes, I love going out on outreach and being hands-on in other countries, but this to me is as important. Without this, all the other departments couldn’t work well and nothing would function effectively. To me this is missionary work – using the skills I’ve been given to serve God’s purposes on earth – I’m living my dream being able to do this.

The intensity of your work goes beyond what we can actually grasp! You said it’s you and another guy that runs the IT department – would you need more people in your department?

Well yes! We drew up a vision after I arrived in Jan 2018 and 80% has already been accomplished – we worked really hard to get this department where it is now. But our goal is to have 2-3 committed part-time workers to continue to expand and maintain our workload.

Wow, that sounds amazing! I feel that you are really passionate about teaching. Speaking of passion and love for teaching, what actually ignited your heart for missions and brought you to YWAM Harpenden?

So when I was in my last year of high school I heard about YWAM through a friend. I felt like God wanted me to stretch me to jump out of my comfort zone so I searched for locations outside of the US to do my DTS. I soon found YWAM Harpenden online, the website spoke to me and I knew in my heart this was the place. After my DTS I got the opportunity to staff here but had to return home first. I worked in marketing and on live events and then three years later I returned to Harpenden to work within IT.

Kenan pauses…  It was Hebrews 11 that spoke to me the most in this time.

Why so?

When Abraham reached the point he was prepared to kill Isaac, his second thought was that if he had to kill him, he’d do so in faith knowing God’s promises over his life – he thought that God would resurrect him if he did. So he was prepared to kill his only son. This is really deep and you may not understand the context entirely but I could sympathise… I knew God promised me, that I would be in Harpenden yet it took over 3 years to get here. In the process, I felt like I had to kill the dream in faith, trusting that what God promised, He would bring to pass.

That’s really so powerful… so what are your dreams and personal vision?

Right now I’m living the dream, being here! Walking out each day… And just as I saw God give Isaac back to Abraham because He is a loving father, I know God’s promises over my life are true. I feel so blessed. More specifically personally I am currently developing a teaching seminar on how to run live events for both local churches and anyone on our campus who would use it, so it will be good to see this start next year.

Kenan thank you for giving us an insight into working in IT here on our campus. Your dedication, hard work and huge heart are evident and we are so grateful for everyone who gives so generously of their time and gifts to serve God in a way that empowers the mission of God here on earth!

Kenan is 24 years old, born in Turkey and became American after he got adopted at one day old. Grew up in the US, finished high school and joined YWAM two years after. In 2014 he did his DTS here in Harpenden, he took on the position at IT in January 2018, then did the School of Ministry Development parallel to revamping the IT department and a major technical campus overhaul.