HOUSTON – Gulf Winds International President Todd Stewart believes business is here to serve a greater purpose. He holds strongly to the biblical servant leadership model that empowers team members to grow personally, professionally, and spiritually. Stewart is passionate about global missions and serves on the board of directors for ICM.
We recently caught up with Todd and asked him a few questions.
How did you find out about ICM?
I got involved with ICM about three years ago at a YMCA Men’s Bible study. A good friend of mine, who had been influential in leading me to the Lord early in my life, ran the Bible study, and he invited a gentleman named Mike Roth from ICM to come and give testimony about ICM. I wasn’t really sure what he going to talk about; I was really at the study to just go through the study, so when Mike came in and gave testimony about the ministry of ICM it really got my attention. I’m a business owner and president of a logistics company, and we’ve been involved in a number of ministries, raising, for a small company like ours, what I believe to be a fairly significant amount of funds. For me personally, my passion is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so when I heard about the ministry of ICM and what was happening through the Church worldwide, it really touched me in a special way, and Mike and I hit it off immediately.”
What stood out about ICM?
I have a passion for the Gospel and for people, so for me it was an answered prayer. I had been involved in other ministries through the company, seeking to get my employees involved in doing good works, but also trying to grow them individually. It’s really important to us as a business to make sure we’re investing into our people personally, professionally and, most importantly, spiritually. …What we were doing, although it was good, it wasn’t Christ-centered. And for me that was everything, because I know if you’ve missed Christ, then you’ve missed. When I heard about ICM, the first thing I thought was how can I redirect what we’re doing today and figure out how to work through ICM. This was a process that took a few years, or I should say really over a year to play out, and it started out really as just me as the leader of the organization, if you will, directing people in that manner. My goal and my passion is always ‘I know it can’t be about me,’ because they’re only going to do it with passion and enthusiasm so long, so I need it to be theirs.”
I know you often sponsor trips with ICM for your employees. What have you seen happen as a result?
We started to take some of our employees on ICM vision trips … It was really amazing what happened with our employees in the process. I have several employees that I believe today have been significantly impacted for Christ through going on these trips. … One of the guys, who is a dear friend of mine and who is the first person whom I shared the Gospel with, he went on one of the first trips with us. And he is known as being a skeptic, but he was so overwhelmed that the first project that we visited he was in tears. As I looked around at this project and I saw, I knew immediately that God was working on him. And so, the person who started out to be the greatest skeptic at our company wound up being the greatest champion for ICM because he went on the trip.”
Why does our ministry model appeal to you?
I was already in love with the ministry for obvious reasons. Number one, I care deeply about multiplying the Gospel. I know that’s our role as believers and that’s our role within the Church. How do we do that most effectively? We know we do that through the local church. So when Mike told me additional facts about ICM related to giving, it was very important to me, even as a business owner, to make sure that every dollar that was raised, was given, that we were good stewards [of it]. In fact, that is one of our corporate values: stewardship. So for me, how do I communicate to the employees that we’re going to give anything unless I know for a fact that the money is going to be used wisely?
I don’t believe that there’s a better investment Kingdom-wise than ICM. Every dollar I give, I can go to my employees and say that dollar that we raised, or that we raised from our clients, vendors, friends, neighbors—every dollar goes to the project. I was not aware with any [other] organizations that we had worked with, even the best-run organizations, that they could come out and say that. So that was a huge, huge bonus for me as a person running a business wanting to communicate stewardship to the employees. I felt that was a great message.”
What’s next for Gulf Winds and ICM?
I’ve been able to take employees to multiple places. I started asking my employees what we can do to really have a huge impact on the lives of our people. I asked my executive team that. One of our executives said that we should get every employee who wants to go on a vision trip, on a vision trip in the next five years.
We’re about investing in people, so if you’re about investing in people, then you’ve got to make sure you introduce them to the Lord first. One of the best means I’ve seen to do that is by living it out through the Great Commission. We do that at ICM, and at Gulf Winds, now, through the vision trips at ICM.”
Gulf Wind International’s partnership with ICM
Projects Finished: 89
Projects Under Construction: 26
Number of Countries: 26
Total Reported Conversions: 6,690
Average Church Attendance: 156