Thursday, August 14, 2008

Leadership Summit 2008

I am not a fan of all things Willow Creek. I've never been there, don't think I ever want to -- not my style. However, last year I went to a satellite site for their Leadership Summit. It was worth going to. This year I was thinking about going when I saw that Gary Haugen was speaking -- I signed up. (If you've never heard Gary Haugen speak, here is a link; he preached March 2, 2008.)

This year's Summit was better than last year's. The speakers this year were: Bill Hybels, Gary Haugen, Bill George, Wendy Kopp, John Burke, Efrem Smith, Craig Groeschel, Chuck Colson, Catherine Rohr, and Brad Anderson. Most of those names you probably don't recognize. Some are from business, some are from churches, some are from the non-profit world. They are all dedicated Christians whose faith is central to what they do.

This year the three who really stood out to me were Gary Haugen, Wendy Kopp, and Catherine Rohr. All three of them have founded faith based non-profits that are genuinely changing the world. Gary Haugen is the founder of the International Justice Mission. My favorite line of his is that, the great thing about injustice is that God's against it. His Mission frees slaves, stops sex trafficking, and represents the victims of police brutality and illegal and unjust property seizures. He believes that you cannot read the Bible and not join God in a fight against injustice -- and he's convincing.

Wendy Kopp founded Teach for America -- at the age of 23. Her goal is to change educational inequality in this country. She thinks that regardless of where a child is born, he should have the same access to the same quality education as any other child. If anyone can do it, Wendy can.

Catherine Rohr founded the Prison Entrepreneurship Program in a prison in South Texas. Her goal is to teach inmates the skills, not just to be employed, but to employ themselves. It is one thing to say that inmates need job skills when they are released from prison. It is another to find employers ready to hire them. Again, Catherine is finding ways to change her part of the world.

Each one of these three talked about how they do what they do. Haugen is very upfront that he and his team start things that they know their skills and their talents aren't enough to finish. He describes his job in one of his books as saying:
"Father, we cannot solve this," and hearing him say, "Do what you know best to do, and watch me with the rest." In the end it means taking that risky bargain and seeing God do more than I could have hoped or imagined.
Of course, he isn't talking about a building project or a Sunday School class. He is talking about taking on violent people accustomed to breaking the law and getting away with it -- and knowing that becoming the next victim of their violence is always a possibility.

Likewise, Catherine Rohr talked about praying the "Bring it on" prayer. Each morning she wakes up and prays that God will, "Bring it on." I heard her say that, and I mentally recoiled. Is she nuts? I asked myself. Does she have any idea where that could get her? I think that the answer to that question might be inside a prison teaching inmates the skills they need to build lives. She was very matter of fact about going to the office, getting her instructions from God and carrying them out in obedience.

You know, I say that I do those things. I say that I have given all of my life to God. I say that I accept whatever God throws my way, although I admit that I struggle with obedience. I say that I don't just practice law -- I seek justice, I live my calling. Listening to those three made me realize what a farce it is when I say those things. I have seen the face of faith, obedience and trust -- and it ain't mine; but with God's help, I'm working on it.



Lyn said...

You also might be interested in checking out other Gary Haugen resources available at, where Gary explains why he wrote his latest book on a mp3 format. Thank you for your informative post! Lyn from IJM HQ

Quotidian Grace said...

I would love to hear Catherine Rohr, since she isn't far from me.

Thanks for this--I've seen these Leadership Summits advertised but had no idea what went on there. I'm going to try to go!

Stushie said...

I went to the Crystal Cathedral leadership Summit in 2001. I didn't care much for the Cathedral or Robert Schuller, but I got to hear Bill Hybels, Tony Campolo, John Maxwell, and JB London all in one week. I came back refreshed and renewed.