Engineering a Ministry

Shawn Moore

A summer missions trip to Mexico helped Shawn Moore ’92 choose a career while he was still in high school. Unlike his friends from church who wanted to be youth pastors, Shawn didn’t feel called to full-time ministry. But he did have a passion for missions and wondered how God could use that interest.

“Looking at the blueprints for the Mexican church opened my eyes,” he says. “I realized I didn’t have to be a pastor, I could become an engineer and use my skills to help people.” He found Engineering Ministries International, a development organization that recruits engineers and architects for short-term projects throughout the world. One day he hoped to volunteer for EMI.

Shawn enrolled at Westmont to become a civil engineer. “I didn’t want to go to an engineering school,” he says. “I wanted to spend three years immersed in a Christian environment and a liberal arts curriculum before delving into the purely technical.” Through the 3-2 program, he earned a B.A. in engineering physics from Westmont and a B.S. in civil engineering from Washington State University. He later completed an M.B.A at George Fox University.

“Attending Westmont made a significant difference in my work, in how I learn and process information, and in my creativity,” he says. “Those who focus just on the technical side don’t develop the other half of their brain.”

After graduating, Shawn did consulting before taking a job with Hopper Dennis Jellison, a civil engineering firm in Vancouver, Wash. As a site development and utilities manager, he oversees everything on a construction site except the building: master plans, roads, grading, and storm, water and sewer systems. Projects range from schools and churches to medical facilities and business parks.

Sidetracked with work, marriage and the birth of three children (now 11, 9 and 6), Shawn didn’t volunteer with EMI as he had planned, although he continued to receive information from them. “It gnawed at me to use my skills abroad as I had always intended,” he says. Then a door opened. A friendship with a blind, Liberian music teacher at his children’s school encouraged Shawn to find out more about the country. “I got an e-mail from EMI describing a project in Liberia, and I knew it was time to stop making excuses and sign up.”

In 2005, Shawn spent two weeks in Liberia assisting Africa Indigenous Evangelical Missions in creating a master plan for facilities such as an orphanage, school and clinic. “I asked about their vision, learned how their ministry functions and helped them develop a usable plan that melded their vision with the practical limitations of the site,” he says. “That way they can build wisely to enhance their ministry and make the best use of their resources.”

In March 2006, he and his wife traveled to Uganda to help design a retreat center African pastors could afford to attend. As soon as his children are old enough, he hopes to take the entire family on a project.

The Vancouver Business Journal named Shawn a 2005 Accomplished and Under 40 award winner to recognize his volunteer activities, which also include youth ministry at his church and coaching a children’s soccer team.

Meanwhile, his interest in Liberia continues, and the family is working to adopt 4- and 5-year-old siblings from the country. “I want to get back there as soon as I can,” he says. “I want to stay involved over the long term.”

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