Eric is the head of information technology at Life Challenge. That means, among other things, he must keep up with all the head-spinning, brain-teasing, technological change that besets every organization these days. It’s not a job for the faint of heart, or for “old dogs” unwilling to learn new tricks.
Keeping up with technology requires more than just knowing about computers, the Internet and how it all works. It takes a certain kind of thoughtfulness about how people work, what they need in order to do their jobs and how technology can help. According to Bill Gates, “There are two fundamental rules in technology: the first is that automation will increase the efficiency of any efficient operation. The second is that automation applied to any inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” Needless to say, there are plenty of inefficiencies to be sorted out at Life Challenge, just as there are anywhere.
Eric knows he doesn’t just labor for the sake of increasing efficiency. He sees that technology can help the ministry do what it has been called to do and do it more effectively: provide a place where men and women can put down their burdens and move from the ugly despair of shipwrecked lives to the glorious hope of their true inheritance by the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Eric’s training was “on-the-job.” Born in 1946, he first came to Life Challenge in 1996, at the seasoned age of 50. He was, by then, a hopeless alcoholic, living in despair, stumbling around in a dark wasteland of depression (Proverbs: 4:19). “I was,” he says “consumed by alcohol.” He had already run the full course of an eventful, if empty, life: he had married his high school sweetheart, fathered two sons, completed a tour of duty in Viet Nam, separated, divorced and hit rock bottom. Life Challenge was a last resort. But within months Eric knew that it was where he needed to be. It was a place to find light and hope. By the grace of God, he could be renewed, he could start again.
Two years later he was baptized at Brightmoor and hard at work on the Life Challenge team. With a hiatus of four years beginning in 2002, Eric has been on staff since he graduated, first as Education Administrator, then as Men’s Division Supervisor and now in Marketing and Community Relations as the head of information technology. It’s been a second chance and a second life for him. He has been re-booted. Eric 2.0.
At Life Challenge Eric discovered God-given talents he didn’t know he had. For instance, Life Challenge has a great need for recordkeeping. So, Eric quickly learned about computers and how database programs work. He discovered he enjoyed this learning and that he was good at it. Lo and behold, he discovered he was a nerd!
Eric proceeded to put our student records in order, our employment records, our donor records – all digitally organized, filed and ready to be sliced, diced and served up with custom programming. But alas! Things change. As humor columnist Dave Barry wryly points out, “Bill Gates is a very rich man today… and do you want to know why? The answer is one word: versions.” Change can be both a great blessing and the bane of our existence.
The challenge now is to move all critical Life Challenge data off out-dated computers using out-dated software into “the cloud.” It’s a huge undertaking. It requires a lot of research and new learning. The bottom line: the new operating environment is “in the cloud.” Cloud computing is the big new thing and keeping up is critical. So, Eric is hard at work re-configuring all the work he did early on. The good news is that he is the right man for the job, he’s doing what he enjoys: learning, processing, and figuring things out. It’s Eric 2.0, ready for the challenge. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).