Leadership carries unusual challenges, including a risk of alienation - from one's colleagues, from those one serves and even from one's friends and family. Trust, intimacy, vulnerability, uncertainty - all these become harder to enjoy under the pressures of leadership. The people involved with Foundation address these unusual challenges by helping leaders befriend each other using the context of small groups of peers, often made up of both one's natural allies and one's opponents or competitors. Over time, by sharing in confidence and focusing on the precepts of Jesus rather than on their immediate problems, strong bonds are formed, many of which last a lifetime. Most important, in the process, hearts are changed, wisdom is gained and the situation of participants, and those led, often improves.
"I hold the precepts of Jesus as delivered by Himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime that have
ever been preached to man. I adhere to the principles of the first age."
Promoting Small Groups
Fundamental to the work of the Foundation is the nurturing of small groups of friends who meet regularly to pray, eat, enjoy fellowship and share lives in a trusting community. The people involved provide opportunities for individuals of different backgrounds, and commonly- dividing factors -including political parties, religions and ethnicities to meet in private. Over time, hearts change and benefits flow to all those involved in the little groups. As a result, people begin to take a greater interest in those less fortunate in the community, such as the widows and orphans. Surprisingly, when people in these little groups learn to pray together, trust each other and like one another, many who otherwise would have been alienated from religion and politics and other divisions find common ground.
"Whoever is spared personal pain must feel himself called to help in diminishing the pain of others. We must all carry our share of the
misery which lies upon the world."
The Apostle John wrote, "The more that fellowship extends, the greater the joy it brings to us who are already in it." (1 John 1:4, J.B. Phillips version)
Small groups are the primary vehicle to build lasting personal friendships. It's in meeting together on a regular basis that we learn to love each other. Jesus is quoted in John 13:35 as saying it this way: "by this shall all men know you are my disciples, if you love each other."
Certain simple factors are necessary for such groups to succeed:
- nothing said is repeated outside the gathering,
- no advantage is taken over another's revealed weakness,
- no fixed hierarchy or authority structure is mandated,
- and the safety to "struggle together" and wrestle with personal challenges is preserved at all times.
Privacy distinguishes these small groups from many other interactions in modern life. It is important for men and women to have a place where they can share their thoughts and feelings without feeling a judgmental spirit against them. Providing such a venue meets this special need of most people. The Foundation has no memberships, other than small group participants who are invited to join as a "member" of that group. Beyond that, there are no rituals, dues or any other dimensions of formal membership.
Mentoring Young People
This group works with marginalized young people in developing nations as well as the underdeveloped urban centers in the US. These young people are committed to being together for 18 months-3 years and are mentored on behalf of the leadership of their country or city in four areas:
- life skills based on the teachings of Jesus;
- a viable vocational skill;
- and consistent service to their community.
Assisting with the National Prayer Breakfast and other Gatherings
The National Prayer Breakfast was started in 1953, when the Members of Congress invited President Eisenhower to join them for a fellowship breakfast "in the spirit of Jesus". Because of the warm environment of that first gathering, the breakfast has continued each year, hosted and directed by members of the prayer groups in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. Annually, the House and Senate groups take turns inviting people from every state and many nations to join with the President of the United States for this special time of fellowship and prayer together. The breakfast typically is attended by more than 3000 people of all races, cultures and faith traditions. To facilitate the details of the event, a group of Associates and dedicated volunteers from around the country provide the organizational effort.
Men and women involved in the Foundation are also involved in many other religious, educational, and secular organizations and institutions, who are holding public events, retreats and efforts that are helping other people involved in planning community, state or national events or retreats in many places throughout the world.
There are examples of this with groups that meet in Japan, Germany, Norway, Brazil, etc. who hold events and/or retreats which are similar to the more known gathering here in the United States known as The National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, and where we similarly help. All of these different organizations are independent of each other.
A core belief of many participants in the work of the Foundation is advancing reconciliation wherever possible. The Bible teaches that each person is called by God to reconcile with Him through faith in the power of Jesus' death and resurrection. "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:18). With hearts so changed by that recognition, there is a responsibility for neighbors to be reconciled. Sometimes divisions run so deep that without the intervening power of the Spirit, no human effort can succeed.