On Saturday, May 12, the MAI Board held our annual meeting at the Awana Headquarters in Chicagoland. The evening’s schedule called for a relaxed time as we said goodbye to departing member Keila Ochoa Harris and welcomed incoming member Jay Link. What MAI President John Maust did not know is that we had planned a surprise party for him.
The Saturday-evening program usually ends with dessert in the dining room. But this time each of the board members slipped away, apple pie in hand, and returned to our conference room. Finally John came in looking a bit puzzled. I suggested that he fasten his seat belt because we were set to honor him for 20 years as president of MAI.
Each board and staff member had written a memory of when John had made a meaningful contribution to his or her life. We went around the room, reading our tributes of appreciation. Here is a sample, from Keila Ochoa Harris:
John, we met when I was in my twenties. Bob Reekie and you went to Mexico to a writers’ workshop, and we went out for lunch to a veggie restaurant. I don’t think the food was very good, but the conversation was superb. You encouraged me with my writing, and you have ever since. One other thing I’ll never forget is your visit to Orizaba after Ibrahim was born. You were in a workshop in Mexico City and didn’t have to take that four-hour trip just to visit, but you did! Thank you for your long-lasting friendship to me and my family, and for your constant encouragement to pursue fiction in the Spanish-speaking world.
This was a moving and wonderful experience! Everyone who knows John has observed that he works hard to make everything work for others while keeping a low profile himself. As we read, we recognized we were just 15 of what could be hundreds of people expressing appreciation to John for his effective work in carrying out MAI’s mission to encourage writers and publishers around the world.
After everyone had spoken, we presented to John a framed certificate and captured this photo of John with MAI’s founding president, Bob Reekie.
I’ll close with one more tribute, this one from staff member Bonnie McCullough:
Proverbs 31 continued, as found in Bonnie’s MAI documents . . .
32 A man of noble character, who can find? His worth cannot be measured in dollars.
33 His board has full confidence in him, his giftedness, and his leadership abilities.
34 His staff are blessed to receive his support and encouragement as part of his team.
35 His craft of journalism is a wordsmithing wonder as he plans, answers emails, creates grant proposals, writes articles, posts social media . . . and the list goes on.
36 His vision reaches beyond local to global.
37 He is always kind and good-natured, and his sense of humor never fails.
38 In some LittWorld circles he is fondly known as The Gentle Giant.
39 He is a loving and devoted family man.
40 He is a humble, godly man of prayer.
41 He is described by many “C” words: considerate, caring, coffee-lover and cinnamon-roll connoisseur.
42 Many are the verses that could yet be written.
43 But I, Bonnie, am so blessed to call John boss.
Please join us in honoring John Maust, MAI’s president and effective leader for 20 years. Your comments are welcome below.
Dan Elliott is editorial director at Tyndale House Publishers, located near Chicago, US. Tyndale publishes the New Living Translation of the Bible and an array of study Bibles and books for adults, youth and children. Dan supervises the editors who handle the post-acquisition editorial development of Tyndale’s products. He has worked in the Editorial department for 30+ years as a proofreader, editor and editorial manager. Dan grew up in Guatemala, where his parents were missionaries for 48 years.