How do we form missional leaders?

That is the question that led to the creation of what is now the QuadW Missional Internship. As I researched and questioned people around the country, the work of Forge and the writings of Alan Hirsch and Mike Frost came up repeatedly. It was late 2007. Hearing that Alan and Deb Hirsch were coming from Australia to launch Forge in the U.S. I began to harass Alan via email, asking for his help to launch missional training in our little corner of the world. Alan was nice but Mobile, Alabama wasn’t what he had in mind for his initial launch site.  (I’ll give you a moment to overcome your shock.) I conceded the point but shared my own experience of working among young people who were genuinely hostile, not just apathetic, towards the church and the Christian faith. I had come to understand how much we had failed as the Church, and that the type of church leaders we had were not the types of leaders who could help us reach them. In April 2008, I drove down to Orlando to meet with Alan before he spoke at the Exponential Conference there. I left the meeting with his blessing to launch “an early Forge experiment” in the North American context. Alan connected me to the Forge team in Australia and they graciously sent a giant box full of resources they had developed over many years.  We’ve been a part of what is now Forge America since (see www.forgeamerica.com). 

The help from Alan and Forge eventually led to the launching of two related missional initiatives. One was a process that helped churches become less focused on themselves and more focused on their communities. The other was this internship opportunity for college students.  I shared my ideas related to college students with Johnny Peters, the Wesley Foundation Director at the University of South Alabama. Tapping into his experience, he really helped me think through what that might look like. It was important to me that we provide a stipend to make it possible for college students to participate. Johnny shared that he was part of a group that wanted to support mission experiences for young adults. That group was the “QuadW Foundation.”  When Johnny was in seminary at Perkins in Dallas, he worked as a youth pastor at Highland Park United Methodist Church. One of his students and friends was Willie Tichenor, who at 19 lost his battle with cancer. When it became clear that Willie’s treatment options had run out, he asked his family to support cancer research so that others might have options he didn’t. He also asked them to make transformative mission experiences possible for other young people, because those had played such an important role in his own life. To honor these requests, the “What Would Willie Want” or “QuadW” Foundation was established. The board members are Willie’s parents, brother, and closest friends. The Foundation was already funding cancer research and the internship idea was just the kind of thing they were looking to support. It was an amazing God moment. The QuadW Missional Internship program has grown through the years and has many supporters, but the QuadW Foundation has always provided the vast majority of the resources necessary for stipends and other costs related to the program.

The program simply would NOT exist without their ongoing support and there aren’t words to adequately express our gratitude.  You can see more about their work HERE or HERE, but we also encourage you visit their website www.quadw.org to learn more about their incredible work. 

There’s a lot more that could be said, but this is essentially the story of how we came to be. God has been so good to us and it has been a deep privilege to do my little part.

Don Woolley | National Director, QuadW Missional Internship

The story continue to unfold... 

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