It was 2001 when an 18-year-old young lady from Owen Sound began working with AsiaSPAN (Now RAN Network). That started a 22-year journey that led a high school graduate to an appointment as the associate executive director of PAOC Mission Global. In December 2023, Victoria Ninaber brought her service with the PAOC to a close. I was asked if I would share a tribute in her honour.
A little over 10 years ago, I returned from serving as a global worker in Africa and walked into the PAOC International Office as Victoria’s maternity leave replacement. Over the past decade, I have been privileged to know Victoria as my colleague but, most importantly, as my friend. When working closely with someone for that long, you get to know them very well. So, I want to share “Ten things that I know and love about Victoria Ninaber.”
- Victoria doesn’t need a parade.
In fact, this article honouring Victoria probably feels like nails on a chalkboard to her. She doesn’t seek recognition or words of affirmation. She serves God, and that is more important to her than anything else.
- Victoria is not fast.
I remember one time Victoria told me she started running—well, it was more like slow jogging. She didn’t want her husband, Jonathan, to run with her because he wanted to race. Victoria wanted to go at her own pace. Her work reflects this—Victoria doesn’t do “fast.” She doesn’t make snap decisions or answer anything in haste. Before Victoria replies or makes an action item of anything, she processes everything carefully, thoughtfully and logically. She is a marathon runner, not a sprinter. However, when finished, what she completes is excellent.
- Victoria is appreciative.
When writing an email asking for information or something that needs to be done, she ends her message with a cheerful “appreciate it.” If the ask is particularly time-sensitive or demanding, she ends the email with “REALLY appreciate it,” which signals that perhaps this is a little more urgent, so it is best done quickly.
- Victoria holds people tightly and things lightly.
She knows the importance of people to an organization and treats everyone kindly. When she returned from maternity leave, I had already started packing my things to move out of her office. She came in and told me to stay. I protested because I knew there were no free offices for her to use. Victoria insisted that I not move. She “desk-surfed” for a while until we did some office renovations. It was more important to her that I was comfortable and settled than for her to have her office back.
- Victoria models leadership.
She doesn’t demand respect. She earns it. Whatever team she leads, she leads it gently—just like Jesus. In 10 years, I have never heard her raise her voice or say an unkind word about anyone. Ever.
- Victoria cultivates a work environment of grace.
There is always room to grow without judgment. When something goes wrong or gets missed, we work together to fix it and move on. Period.
- Victoria celebrates her colleagues.
She always looks for opportunities to cheer someone else on. Whether for a personal, professional or educational milestone, there was always a cake and party, often taking the person by surprise. How often did we hear Victoria say, “I am for you”? She was “for” our staff and extended PAOC family serving around the world.
- Victoria protects.
I remember when my sister passed away very suddenly. Victoria responded immediately. She diverted my emails and phone calls, ensured that I had time to grieve without pressure, and was there at the funeral to show her support. She also never let the anniversary of my sister’s death pass by without sending me a text message telling me she was thinking of me, always ending her message with the word “HUGS.”
- Victoria is loyal.
You don’t serve in one organization for 22 years without an unshakeable belief in the organization and the ministry that God has given us to do. Victoria loves the PAOC.
- Lastly, Victoria is a faithful Christ follower.
She has trusted Him through staff changes, interesting hires, Microsoft Dynamics NAV upgrades, website redesigns, multi-factor authentication, cyber security breaches, office redesigns—and more. She has shown herself to be faithful.
So today, Vics—my tea-sipping, honey-spooning, peanut-butter-and-rice-cakes buddy, your faithful service has been a gift to the PAOC. As they say in Malawi, “Pitani Bwino,” which means “Go well!” A prefix in Chichewa (ma) makes a verb the future continuous tense—something that goes on and on. So, I will also say, “Mudzamasowa!” You will be missed. Not just today or tomorrow but on and on.
Kerry Halliwell is the managing director of operations for PAOC Mission Global. This article appeared in the January/February/March 2024 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2024 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Photo courtesy Victoria Ninaber.