Leadership: Leaving a Lasting Legacy David Witt SOM

Leading Like Christ Series

Amid this series on Christlike leadership, it is fitting to reflect on the attributes of our executive director, David Witt, who started SOM International in November of 2007. The Lord has used David’s vision, passion, and capable leadership to bring countless people to Christ. His gifted directorship also stretches those around him and elevates the faith of those who dare follow his path.

A dozen personal visits in the late 1990s with Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, founders of Voice of the Martyrs, significantly impacted David’s life. While Richard spent his twilight years in Southern California, David witnessed firsthand the intensity of the love, boldness, and perseverance of the man who spent fourteen years in prison. As a result, Richard suffered intensely for his faith at the hands of the Communists in Romania.

The captain of SOM is relentless in the pursuit of reaching out to the remotest peoples and taking the Gospel into the most hostile areas on the planet. Much like Jesus, David has a strong understanding of the heartbeat and the determination of his heavenly Father. David not only takes the road less traveled but also is eager to share God’s love with distant peoples who have little access to the Gospel.

The Man with a Cast-Iron Stomach

I have known David since 2006. For many years, I heard him share about his valiant travels around the globe to countries and places off the radar. Then in 2014, David gave the invitation to travel to India with him. Firsthand I witnessed our dear brother leading out on the field.

Traveling en route to India for the first time, I couldn’t sleep on the plane. The grueling thirty-six hours in travel time there, combined with the intensity of the extreme spices of lunch, left me reeling, nauseous, and overwhelmed by culture shock. As we headed to stay with a pastor friend that evening, my stomach was aflame. I crashed into bed exhausted.

In contrast, David thrives on adventure and adversity. He spent the evening in peace. The Lord wired him to do long-haul flights and long-haul ministry, caring for the forgotten. Watching David’s leadership as he shared the Gospel in remote villages is a great joy. He comes to LIFE sharing the beauty and grace of Jesus. He proclaims forgiveness through the power of the cross. His cast-iron stomach weathers the fiery flavors of the furnace.

David truly excels at relationships with our international directors. He is keenly adept at casting vision for more significant growth while also providing compassion and humility of spirit. I have witnessed this firsthand, and David is at his best when challenging our international leaders to move forward for Christ. The Holy Spirit overflows in David, providing versatility to adapt to diverse mission opportunities on four continents.

The Quality of Resilience through Leadership

Resilience is the quality defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” The Spirit of Christ in David provides the ability to bounce back time and time again from obstacles, opponents, and oppression. SOM India family has in fact a name for David in the Hindi language called Mundi Pulli. The name means “Fighting Tiger.” When standing for Christ, David’s faith, courage and leadership sparks fire. His faith inspires many others around him.

Consider the apostle Paul in Acts chapter 14, where he was dragged from the city and beaten with stones. He collapsed unconscious. Barnabas must have wondered, “Is Paul’s first missionary journey also his last?” Not only did Paul regain his consciousness, but he went back into the city to inform his enemies that they had not seen the last of him (Acts 14:20). The Spirit of Christ prevails again and again by reviving the weak.

David’s legacy of raising strong leaders domestically and internationally is transforming the spiritual landscape of numerous pockets of the globe. He comes alongside developing leaders who don’t fit in conventional models of ministry to guide them to fruitful leadership.

Remarkably, beyond his tenacity, David has a tender soul. We have often witnessed him weeping for the hurting and the broken. Meeting regularly over the last two and a half decades with the most disenfranchised people on the planet, his understanding of pain runs deep.

Please keep praying for David and the SOM domestic team. Consider ways that Jesus can fill you with His relentless endurance, His resilient spirit, and His compassion for the most persecuted and most forgotten.

Authored by Jeremiah Philip