Jim and Laurie Barnes
Directors of Crossroads Center (Prague)
Jim is originally from Cleveland, OH and holds a BA in history from Milligan College with an MA from the University of Illinois and PhD studies in History at the University of Toledo, with an emphasis in Modern European History. Shortly after he and Laurie married in 1992, and as communism fell in Central and Eastern Europe, God put it on Jim’s heart to explore opportunities for service across the pond.
Laurie grew up in Bethlehem, PA which was founded by the Moravians — a group which originated in a region of the Czech lands before settling in Herrnhut, Germany and eventually becoming one of the greatest global missionary movements. As a kid Laurie’s two loves were the outdoors and reading. After a successful career with the US Forest Service, in 1989 (right about the time of the Velvet Revolution in then Czechoslovakia) God called her to leave it all behind and to move to CA to attend San Jose Christian College where she received a BA in Bible and Theology with an emphasis in Counseling and Interpersonal Studies. It was during that time that she and Jim met and many a date was spent drinking tea and exploring various used bookstores in the Bay Area of California — even today they proudly claim the title “non-recovering bookaholic.”
In 1993 they met Willard Black who had been praying for who God would call to fulfill the vision he was given to establish a public Christian library in Prague. They then made an exploratory trip to the Czech Republic in the summer of 1994 which further confirmed the call and the result was a long-term commitment of sharing Christ through a new found “ministry of books.”
In 2010 Laurie received her Master in Library Science (MLS) from Southern Connecticut State University. The focus of her MA thesis was on training and educational needs in small international libraries with the goal of improving library services as well as supporting others who might have a similar vision to establish a Christian library or utilize books in ministry in different parts of the world. Perhaps this might be you? If so, we would love to have that conversation to explore things further.
Glen and Wendy Gibson
Glen has served as the Executive Director of Open Door Libraries since October, 2017. Wendy serves in missionary care and partnership development coaching. Together they bring with them 35 years of experience in missions, leadership, and equipping others.
Through his young adult years, God developed within Glen a passion for the lost and a love for other cultures that eventually led to him minister cross-culturally for most of his adult life. Glen was the youth minister at his home church in the Los Angeles area, before living and ministering for seventeen years as a missionary in the Philippines. After returning to the United States in 2003, Glen served as the VP of Training at Team Expansion and oversaw several teams of field missionaries. From 2008 to 2015 he was Chair of the Intercultural Studies Program at William Jessup University where he continued to live out his passion to inspire and equip others to give their life to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with the unreached people of the world. Glen holds a Masters in Missions from Hope International University, and a Masters and Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. His Ph.D. research focused on Leadership Development, Church Effectiveness, and Urban Ministry.
Wendy grew up in the Philippines as a child of missionaries, Dennis and Lorrita McKinney. Wendy has 17 years experience as a Partnership Development (Support Raising) Coach having served in that role with several mission organizations. She has had a tremendous impact through coaching and mentoring missionary families all over the world. During the Gibson’s time in California she was also a very active Mentor Mom in the MOPS program at their church. She is now engaged in coaching missionaries and others and caring for others in whatever way she is able.
Glen and Wendy have been happily married since 1986. They have three grown daughters, who were all born in the Philippines, three sons-in-law, and three granddaughters.
Larry and Teri Lewis
Directors of Connections (Berlin)
Larry Lewis, born in Ohio, grew up in Western Canada with his parents Don & Marilyn Lewis who worked as missionaries for twenty years. He has a Bachelor of Theology from Ozark Christian College and is a veteran of the US Army (including service in Germany). He has been a minister for more than thirty years.
In Children’s ministry for many years and a retired Kindergarten teacher, Teri Lewis, a Florida native, has a Bachelor of Education from Central Florida Bible College. After eleven years working together in a Florida church, Larry & Teri moved to Berlin in 2011. They have two married daughters, Micah and Ericah.
John and Eileen Richardson
Directors of the Nour Library (Sacramento, CA)
John and Eileen have served with ODL since Feb of 2016. Prior to that John served as the Global Missions Director for Adventure Christian Church in Roseville, CA. They have had a passion for missions most of their lives. They were even engaged on a short term mission trip, and then married in 1971.
While serving with Adventure Church one of John’s responsibilities was forming and leading mission trips. John and Eileen lead a number of trips with the Church, as well as encouraged and support a dozen of the Churches Global missionaries. Willard Black, founder of Open Door Libraries, asked John & Eileen if they would join ODL to lead short term mission trips as the organization was impressed with the work they had done with Adventure Church.
On a personal note John and Eileen spent over 50 years total in teaching careers. They have three adult daughters, a son with Jesus, and 5 great grandchildren. They took a couple of leaves from teaching and served a few years in Christian Camping Ministry.
They have partnered with Arab American Learning Center since January of 2020 in launching a library for the ministry as they serve with refugees in the Sacramento, CA area. Estimates say there are 20-30,000 refugees in the Sacramento area. The library is due to launch in the spring of 2023.
They say “God has richly blessed them as they have served Him and interacted with so many people around the world who are helping to bring the Saving message of Jesus Christ to the world.”
Steve and Debbie Thomas
International Resource Directors
Steve and Debbie are both native Oklahomans. They met in Bible College and married in 1974. With ministries in Oklahoma (29 years), Las Vegas (13 years), Iowa (3 ½ years), as Youth Minister, Music Minister, Family Minister, Care Pastor and Management Team member, Interim Lead Pastor (Steve), Preschool Director, and Preschool Pastor (Debbie), they have deep and broad experience in local ministry. While living and ministering in Tulsa, Steve went back to school and earned a Master of Human Relations degree from the University of Oklahoma, which has deepened his well for caring for people. Steve and Debbie have a passion for helping ministry individuals and couples stay healthy and keep a dynamic balance in the demanding and often unfair ministry-life. Their role with Open Door Libraries is in Member Care, traveling to the libraries 2 or 3 times (depending on need and availability of staff) to offer pastoral and personal care.
Steve and Debbie have 3 grown daughters and 4 grandchildren. They make their home in Edmond, Oklahoma, where Steve is a Pastoral Counselor with True North Biblical Counseling.