Meet our 2019 ALMA Conference Speakers!

This combination of keynote speakers provided a well-rounded exploration of the 2019 ALMA Conference theme, "Telling Mission Stories that Motivate!" They all approach story-telling for missions from a different angle. Attendees delved deep into the topic through discussion with other attendees and conference speakers.

Matt PopovitsSpeaker: Rev. Matt Popovits, St. Mark, Houston, TX
Rev. Matt Popovits serves as Pastor of St. Mark, Houston. He has planted mission-minded churches in New York City and is the host of “The Spiritual Howcast” and “THREDPops” on YouTube, which offer insightful yet simple answers to the cultural and spiritual questions of skeptical people. He’s also the author of “Tough Call: A Little Book on Making Big Decisions,” and the founder of VoxCon, a conference that inspires, equips, and connects professional communicators and creatives. He and his high school sweetheart, Lisa, proudly live in Houston, Texas with their two children, Ava and Jack Matthew. You can connect with Matt via Twitter: @MattPopovits or at

Presentation: Telling Mission Stories that Motivate!
The single most powerful tool that you can use as a communicator is story. But wielding the power of a well told story goes beyond simply loading a talk with interesting anecdotes and emotional tales. In this session we’ll learn how to harness the power of story to take those we engage for the gospel on a journey—one that stirs hearts, inspires minds, and moves hands—every time you talk.

Linda Haley
Speaker: Linda Haley, Let’s Build Hope, LLC
Since 1995, Linda Haley has successfully developed funds, helping to raise more than $100 million for various non-profits, including religious, social services, educational, and healthcare organizations. Linda has a breadth of “in the trenches” development experience that makes her an invaluable resource to organizations of all sizes.  She’s worked at small, mid-sized, and large charities, leading development initiatives to incredible successes along the way. Realizing a long-time dream, Linda started Let’s Build Hope, LLC, in 2013, where she now guides nonprofit agencies by teaching, coaching, and mentoring development teams, senior staff, and Board members.  She has also developed – and teaches – a week-long Annual Fund Training Camp through which she has educated more than 200 fundraisers and volunteers about the intricacies of successful fund development and the need for a true culture of philanthropy.

Presentation: Stories and the Psychology of Asking:  Eliciting a donor’s story and sharing your own
As fundraisers, we can positively impact donors’ perceptions of our organization and increase their likelihood of giving by sharing our story and eliciting theirs.  In this session, you’ll learn to understand how a major donor thinks and feels by sharing stories, asking powerful questions, and listening actively.  Plus, we’ll review your fundraising “posture” and the story THAT tells and learn techniques that will improve your solicitation success.  Join Linda for a little free, fundraising therapy!

Jean Johnson
Speaker: Jean Johnson, Five Stones Global
Jean Johnson has over 32 years of vocational cross-cultural mission experience. This includes church planting among Cambodians in St. Paul/Minneapolis and 16 years of service in Cambodia. Jean is the author of We Are Not The Hero and Go Light! Go Local!. Jean presently serves as the director of Five Stones Global. Five Stones Global comes alongside the mission community to create a culture of dignity, sustainability, and multiplication.

Presentation: Shifting From a 'We Are the Hero' Narrative

The stories we pass on to our donor base perpetuate a narrative of missions, which influences how we do missions and the impacts we make. In this session, we will explore the negative impacts of a HERO narrative and how to shift to a narrative of dignity, sustainability, and multiplication.

Gabe Kasper
Speaker: Rev. Gabe Kasper, University Lutheran Chapel, Ann Arbor, MI
Rev. Gabe Kasper is the Pastor at University Lutheran Chapel serving the University of Michigan campus. Prior to his current role, he spent 5 years as a church planter in Austin, TX. His passion for preaching and teaching have led him to speak at camps, churches, youth events, universities, and conferences. He is a graduate of Concordia University, Wisconsin, and holds an M.Div. from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. In his spare time, Gabe enjoys soccer, CrossFit, reading books, listening to punk rock, and co-hosting the Pint Glass Preachers Podcast. He and his wife Melissa have 3 great kids.

Presentation: Sharing Your Story with Disinterested People

In his work “Practice in Christianity,” Kierkegaard talks about “the occasion” as that moment when an individual encounters the resurrected Jesus and responds by either faith or offense. Perhaps you’ve shared the gospel with someone, invited people to support the mission of God, or told people the story of what God’s doing in your part of the world and, unlike Kierkeggard’s “occasion,” the response is neither faith nor offense, but apathy. What do you do then? In this session we’ll explore how to be prophetically persuasive in an age of apathy.

Johnson Rethinasamy
Devotional Leader: Rev. Johnson Rethinasamy, Immanuel Lutheran Church, NY
Rev. Dr. Johnson Rethinasamy serves as the Senior Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Whitestone, New York in the borough of Queens.  His congregation worships in four languages and has a satellite location in Brooklyn. He also serves as the Mission Executive of the Atlantic District- LCMS and enjoys finding unique ways to do God’s mission work around his city and throughout the world. Pastor Johnson is passionate about raising up new church workers, especially first-generation immigrants to the United States.  Pastor Johnson co-founded Global Evangelical Lutheran Network (GELNET), a think-tank and networking platform for mission and church planting leaders looking to partner with indigenous leaders and churches around the world. Rather than closing or selling church properties, Pastor Johnson values taking the challenge of revitalizing struggling ministries toward a new outlook and new ministry presence in their community.  He loves music and soccer. He and his wife, Sharon, have a daughter, Susan, in her senior year of college.