Interview with James Munk
You are the director for Kairos North America now. How did you get here and how did you intersect with the brotherhood along the way?
I studied architecture at the University of Michigan, fully intending to move to Detroit after graduation to work in urban development. In my junior year at college, while living in a men’s household, I became an affiliate to the brotherhood. After graduating I did a mission year in London, serving and living with the brothers there. Upon coming back, I lived with the brothers until I discerned that this was not my call. I moved to Lansing, started working for Kairos and eventually became the director.
But what was decisive was an invitation by Nico Angleys, one of the University Christian Outreach (UCO) staff workers at the time. He knew my desire to live a radical life and so invited me to check out the brotherhood, since that seemed a good place to express that desire and discern the next steps.
What impacted you most during your time with the brothers?
There are a few events which had significant impact on me. We went on a mission trip to Mexico with American and Mexican Servants of the Word, working together building houses—real men’s work and a great bonding experience. I also remember a Christmas retreat in Europe where we spoke a lot about the vision of the Sword of the Spirit, and that really galvanized me. I also spent a summer on staff with Detroit Summer Outreach, working alongside such legends as Ed Conlin and Dave O’Connor. All that was profound.
But maybe even more significant have been the relationships across ages that I have with men in the brotherhood. Some of my best friends are brothers twice my age: the S/W are truly a transgenerational group. There is a seriousness, sobriety and purposefulness in their life which cannot but impact you. S/W brothers are not afraid to ask you to do radical things, and that is huge. In many circles we can be afraid to require costly decisions.
Were those years a waste of time?
Absolutely not! I would not be where I am currently without the S/W. They inspired me to be generous, they called me on to be radical. I still sleep on the floor, as I did when I lived with the brothers, and it reminds me every day that I am missionary, that I don’t want to go soft.