Searching for MVO’s Executive Director

 In Ministry Village

Part 2 – Following Where God Leads

Jeremy Portmann wants to make one thing very clear – “You can’t outrun God.” That realization not only brought him to his new role as Executive Director of Ministry Village at Olive (MVO), but it will also serve him well as he ministers to clients and advises the various managers of the 5 programs of MVO.

Jeremy’s dad was an associate pastor in their home church in Arkansas, so service and faith was an important part of his upbringing. When he married his wife, Tonya, they continued to make service an integral part of their lives. In Arkansas, Jeremy and Tonya attended Cross Church under the pastoral leadership of Dr. Ronnie Floyd, and helped launch one of their satellite campuses. It was in Arkansas that Jeremy first heard a message saying “you can’t outrun God.” “I got chills and broke out into a cold sweat. It was very convicting.” Not knowing what God might want him to do, Jeremy continued moving forward with his career in banking, enjoying a lucrative position with wealthy and influential clientele. When Tonya’s career as a nurse led them to service through the U.S. Navy, the Portmanns moved from Arkansas to Virginia Beach. There, they joined Liberty Baptist Church, and under Dr. Grant Etheridge, Jeremy again felt the conviction of a sermon with a familiar message – “you can’t outrun God.”

“I can remember what color shirt the pastor was wearing, which pew I was sitting in, every detail. It is a very specific memory. But we were being transferred to Okinawa with the Navy, so I thought I was off the hook.” Jeremy laughs as he remembers. He says he felt relieved to think he didn’t have to worry about whatever was going through his mind at that moment. His family was moving halfway around the world, so surely this message wasn’t meant for him.

In Japan, Jeremy worked as the Branch Manager for Navy Federal, managing a large staff of mostly military spouses. When it was time for his wife to be transferred to her last duty station, they requested Pensacola, primarily because of Navy Federal’s large presence in the community. “We thought it would be easy for me to find a position with Navy Fed in Pensacola. But as it turns out, what they had available at my level was not appealing to me. And transferring to another bank in the area as a Branch Manager wasn’t realistic, because those jobs rarely come open around here.” With Pensacola still their destination, Jeremy found a position with Regions Bank that would keep him in his chosen industry and provide time for him to look around until a higher-level position opened up at Navy Federal or another bank. It was just a matter of time. Then one Sunday morning as he sat in the congregation at Olive Baptist Church, Jeremy had that all too familiar feeling as Pastor Ted Traylor spoke about answering God’s call.

“Pastor Traylor used the Executive Director position at Ministry Village as an example of how it’s not always easy to answer God’s call. I remember him saying how hard the job was – the long hours – the hurting people – the desperate need – and saying, “Who would want that job?” It felt like God was speaking directly to me. And while I had no direct job experience doing something like that, I knew I had to at least talk to somebody about it. So I made an appointment with the pastor.”

The MVO Board had been searching for and interviewing potential candidates for months, and they had a candidate in mind that everyone really liked. Pastor Traylor told Jeremy that he would pass on his information to the board, but Jeremy didn’t really expect to hear anything more. “I thought to myself, ‘Okay, you took the step. You did what you felt you were called to do. Maybe that’s it.” Then, on July 7 – Jeremy’s birthday – he received a call from MVO Board Member Jared Gann.

“Jared said the board would like to interview me for the Executive Director position. I was both shocked and humbled. I realized it could soon be a reality – that I might actually be answering the call God had for me.” After extensive interviews and meetings with the board members, Jeremy was offered the position and August 12, 2019 was his first day at Ministry Village.

Next week, we’ll learn about Jeremy’s first few weeks on the job and his vision for MVO in our community.

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