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Using Music to Grow Leaders

Using Music to Grow Leaders

What is your favorite hymn? Recently on Facebook, a question was raised. It was a simple question, really. “What is your favorite hymn? The pull-at-your-heartstrings kind of favorite hymn?” Thinking it would get lost in the plethora of political squabbles and cute kitten videos, I didn’t think anyone would respond. But they did! Several days later the comments were still coming in with exclamations from young and old alike. It is Well With My Soul The Deep Deep Love of Jesus Here I Am Lord Amazing Grace, Amazing Grace on bagpipes, Amazing Grace acoustic version. Great is Thy Faithfulness Blessed Assurance The Spacious Firmament Be Thou My Vision And Can It Be Some hymns were familiar ones. Others were more obscure. Some were from within the past few years. But a simple question struck a chord (no pun intended). Something that is unique about the Christian tradition as compared to

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If Leaders Are Changed, the People Will Come

If Leaders Are Changed, the People Will Come

Last week we started by asking, “What happens on the Wednesday after Giving Tuesday?” In the several weeks between now and the end of the year we are inviting you to “go beyond” and take part in what God is doing through Freedom to Lead International. Empowered by the Spirit, Freedom to Lead is catalyzing a cycle: We cultivate Christ-centered leaders. These leaders foster healthier churches. These churches attract new people who often become redeemed people. These people impact their communities with the gospel and become a fresh coalition of potential Christ-centered leaders. In other words, the cycle begins with changed leaders, and the outcome is changed churches, people, and communities. Which all sounds nice conceptually, doesn’t it? So let me explain this with a story… A Person of Influence “Tesfaye” has been a person of influence in his community for some time. His desire, however, is to be developed as a

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What Happens after Giving Tuesday?

What Happens after Giving Tuesday?

This week in America our families and friends will gather for a day of Thanksgiving. Since my heart surgery in September I have not eaten much sugar, gluten, or dairy, but for this special occasion I am looking forward to the carrot cake that will be made from my mother and grandmother’s recipe. While I watch the parade on television with my three grandchildren, I will also be thinking of our brothers and sisters in far off places. In America we celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday. The day following is Black Friday where people stand in long lines to get the best shopping deals of the year. Small Business Saturday follows and then of course there’s Cyber Monday, which is when online vendors like Amazon.com explode with all the good things. And several years ago someone birthed a movement called “Giving Tuesday”, which is a day to give back. After giving thanks and then emptying our wallets

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The Leader’s Disproportionate Leverage

The Leader’s Disproportionate Leverage

Leaders possess disproportionate leverage to advance a positive agenda or to impede progress in their corporations, communities, churches, and nations. For Good or for Bad President Bashar al-Assad, an egomaniacal leader with access to chemical weapons – wields far more power than a volunteer group that works tirelessly to lift up oppressed Syrian women. Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s reckless chairman who inherited his father’s unbridled power, holds nations in anxious limbo while a faith-based team in Pyongyang seeks peace without much notice. Nelson Mandela’s singular influence released a nation from oppression. And Steve Jobs’ foresight. changed the way the whole world listens to music. Histories of human societies chronicle consistent narratives of a few leaders whose disproportionate leverage brought either harm or healing to the masses. Today billions of people’s lives and futures are in peril because of a few tyrants. And billions of others have hope because of a

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Leaders Who Seek Peace

Leaders Who Seek Peace

Freedom to Lead (FTL) recently traveled to work with a group of second generation leaders that are being developed in Adjumani, Uganda through The Garden Project. These Christian leaders are primarily refugees that have fled from Sudan. In light of their war-torn lives, the Sudanese brothers and sisters found FTL’s module on Peacemaking to be especially relevant. When I returned home, I was reminded that we also need leaders who seek peace. Is All Conflict Sin? One of the themes we kept revisiting during our time together was the discussion about whether all conflict is related to sin. To many of us conflict seems always sinful. However, after examining stories and interacting with the early church experiences, we can see that sometimes conflict is simply the result of not having enough resources to go around. For example, conflict may happen if two people want the only seat left on a

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Saying Yes To God

Saying Yes To God

What does saying “yes” to God look like for Mary Lu and her husband Doug? Read her story about how saying “yes” brought her to Freedom to Lead International. From a Young Age When I was 9 years old, I said “Yes” to the invitation to receive God’s gift of forgiveness and to follow after Jesus Christ. At the age of 15, I said “Yes, God, I will serve you in music and in missions and will go to Nyack College.” I had no idea what saying “yes” to Jesus would look like back then. But what a journey it has been! I must confess that I haven’t always responded with a hearty “Yes!” Sometimes I was saying, “Yes” through clenched teeth. However, it is my most recent journey that has brought me to where I am today. Freedom to Lead International My “Yes” to Freedom to Lead International® (FTL)

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If I Cared About Anything

If I Cared About Anything

A World in Need These past couple of weeks have seemed overwhelming. Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. Floods in South Asia. Mudslides in West Africa. Earthquake in Mexico. And we are currently in the midst of historic Hurricane Irma as it is making landfall in the Caribbean and Florida. Out of a real sense of compassion we then respond in the ways we know how: we take out our checkbooks and offer our prayers, maybe even join the relief efforts if we are able. But, if we are honest, we are also asking “how do we go from one major crisis to another without being completely depleted? Can I really care about everything?” How do we respond as leaders without going mad? If I Cared About Anything In the 1990’s there was a movie starring Drew Barrymore called “Ever After” that supposedly told the “real” version

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The Leader’s Illusion

The Leader’s Illusion

Instinct, a 2014 film about the interactions of a young, ambitious psychiatrist (played by Cuba Gooding) with a convicted killer (brilliantly enacted by Anthony Hopkins), highlights many leaders’ common illusion.1

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I Always Knew It Was Wednesday

I Always Knew It Was Wednesday

I always knew it was Wednesday because they tortured me every Wednesday. One huge benefit of FTL’s ministry is the privilege of partnering with some extraordinary leaders. Some of these leaders have faithfully and effectively served the church in their context for decades. They are compelled by the love of Christ. They have committed themselves, their families, and their futures to reach others with the Good News. In many cases, they have paid a stiff price for their resolve. These brothers and sisters are the heroes of FTL’s story. One of these leaders is one we will call “A”. “A” calls Addis Ababa, Ethiopia home, but his travels take him far beyond. His broad impact for Christ throughout East Africa has been monumental. Yet his reputation has not come without a price. During Ethiopia’s communist regime (1987-91), “A” was imprisoned for his bold Christian witness. Although he lost track of

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Are We Just Filling Holes?

Are We Just Filling Holes?

During the summer that I turned 37, my mentor asked me, “Have you decided what you want to be when you grow up? And how can I help you get there?” His tone was gentle. His words were warm. But his question was serious. It seems like the kind of question you ask a 5-year old. Or of someone who just finished high school. But at 37, much of my adult professional life has already been lived. I’ve grown in some areas, I’ve failed in others, but I’ve been doing it. Gone are the days of my idealistic youth. Idealism doesn’t leave a whole lot of margin for internal politics, unhealthy work cultures, and flawed systems. Nor does it account for the fact that we need to learn to master the “waiting game” as unfulfilled dreams to change the world rest. Have you decided what you want to be? And

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Privileged to Serve

Privileged to Serve

Last month Freedom to Lead International was in Ethiopia. This is a report from the President. Dear Friends, Thank you for praying as seven FTL team members from various locations travelled safely, and everyone stayed relatively healthy. Our indigenous ministry partners were very excited as they learned two modules of The Garden Project: Peacemaking  and Spiritual Leadership. They reported on the profound impact of former FTL modules both on themselves and on those they lead. Doug Gent, an attorney from Pennsylvania and FTL board member, accompanied us on this trip. Here are his reflections of the experience: My recent visit to Ethiopia with the FTL team was an excellent opportunity to observe both the team at work and the responsiveness of the Ethiopian participants.  It quickly became evident that FTL has established a high level of trust and acceptance with these groups of Ethiopian church leaders. From the testimonies shared by

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Reaching the Unengaged through the Leader on the Bridge

Reaching the Unengaged through the Leader on the Bridge

In order to reach many, invest in a few. How does a half dozen people reach 5000 unengaged Christian leaders in Africa? It’s simple, really, though certainly not simplistic. It is actually not t0o unlike the way our Lord Jesus did with The Twelve.  In order to engage the masses of Christian leaders who need the tools to grow as Christ-centered leaders in their churches and communities we invest in the one we call “The Leader on the Bridge.” By investing in this leader on the bridge, we mentor him or her as he takes the material across the “bridge” of language, culture, and geography to transfer these principles to those truly at the grassroots level. Each bridge leader is different in terms of culture, language, personality, and gender. He or she is also different in terms of background, area of ministry, and theological leanings – just as God created us

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