JEFFERSON CITY — The Future Leadership Foundation Board of Directors, leadership team and other supporters gathered at Hawthorn Bank Trust Services to celebrate the global ministry’s 10th anniversary with a meal and program.
They celebrated an impressive list of training endeavors conducted in several countries primarily through a network of volunteers stateside with the vision to train and mentor others overseas to become better trainers of their own constituents.
Roger Hatfield, CEO and co-originating partner of FLF, recalled the significance of the foundation’s first overseas training event and its impact on the organization’s future.
Pointing to a projected photo of about a dozen pastors “meeting at essentially a Lithuanian Pizza Hut,” Hatfield began to describe “one of the defining moments for me during my 10 years with the Future Leadership Foundation.” Hatfield was the only American at the lunch table in April 2005, and he listened as pastors shared “fascinating stories about life under Soviet rule before Perestroika.”
“I was so focused on providing top-notch expertise and being perfect, and then Pastor Arturas told me what he really needed,” Hatfield recalled. “He did not say, ‘We need more money,’ or ‘We need more stuff,’ or ‘We want you to send us only your most highly trained veteran leaders,’ or ‘We want to come to America where everything is perfect.’
“He didn’t say any of that. Instead, he said this: ‘It is enough that you have come. We know now that we have not been forgotten,’” Hatfield said.
“I resolved that day that so long as I was leading this ministry that FLF would send a clear message to the passionate and emerging leaders in every country and continent where God would lead us, ‘You have not been forgotten,’” he said.
“That message has been affirmed for me in the years since,” he acknowledged, most recently in a conversation with a leader in Auckland, New Zealand, “who also said, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us,’ repeating the message the Apostle Paul heard in a vision.
Hatfield said FLF is making plans to do work among the Kiwis of New Zealand, as requested, just as it has done among the Mayan culture of Guatemala, to Slavic Eastern Europeans, to Baptists in northern India and “everywhere else global leaders ask for help.”
“We are taking some time tonight to thank the many people who have brought us to this milestone,” Hatfield said.
“Our call is to encourage and open doors to training and leadership so God’s people around the world have expanded opportunities to serve the kingdom,” Hatfield said.
”These leaders often wear the same clothes month after month, eat the same food month after month, provide for their aging parents or siblings, sleep on a cot in a room they share with others, but their passion runs deep to be more like Christ, to know more for Christ, to encourage others for Christ, to give back to their Savior who gave his life for theirs.”
Both the dinner and program were interspersed with still and video images of FLF’s 10 years of service, and many in the audience saw themselves on the screen.
Speakers recalled key stages in the life of FLF. They included:
— Phil Hunt, president of the organization’s board for its first five years, recalled the challenges of getting started, including gaining incorporation and non-for-profit recognition. The first of FLF’s training projects was in the area of stewardship, he recalled.
— Verlyn Bergen, co-originating partner with Hatfield and currently secretary of the board, remembered the road the organization had traveled “from its birth to adolescence,” including conversations the two former Missouri Baptist Convention colleagues had about beginning a church leadership organization called Ministry Connect, he said.
Later, they looked for a stronger missions focus that was geographically broader, and FLF came out of an emphasis “God placed in our hearts for an organization that trained leaders to train others, Bergen said. He praised Hatfield for handling the paperwork and planning, doing all the things “that weren’t necessarily fun, but had to get done” for FLF to move forward effectively.
— John Jackson, team leader of global services, listed the types of training offered by FLF, including financial, worship, strategic, Bible study, senior adult, music, vision-casting, personal coaching for national leaders, pastoral leadership, women’s ministry, evangelism, seminary, curriculum development and others.
Jackson noted that ministries in those areas had been conducted in such faraway places as Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, Estonia, Moldova, Guatemala and the Russian Federation — all within a 10-year span.