After completing the U.S. portion of a 2,400-mile relay from Atlanta to Guatemala City in Guatemala, a Christian-based global leadership development organization plans to hand over the baton to their Guatemalan partners at the Mexican border near Laredo, Texas, on Friday. The purpose of the approximately 120-day journey by foot (and bicycle in parts of Mexico and Central America) is to bring awareness about plans to activate Christians in leadership positions, first in Guatemala and then elsewhere around the world.
"It's a big initiative and we felt like we need to do something very bold that would be consistent and bring attention to such a worthy cause," John Hull, president and CEO of EQUIP Leadership, told The Christian Post by phone call from Laredo on Wednesday.
"The EQUIP World Relay is a journey that represents what leadership is all about – a journey full of extraordinary challenges, hard work, sacrifice and daily-mile markers that ultimately reach a goal that is bigger than oneself, a goal that could never be accomplished alone," he said.
Once the relay arrives in Guatemala City, EQUIP will be joining its partners, Lidere and Guatemala Prospera, in an event that will call leaders to become advocates for positive change in their areas of influence. The methodology for change is based on the teachings of EQUIP founder John C. Maxwell, who is a leadership expert, coach, and best-selling author. Maxwell is planned to join the event in Central America.
"John Maxwell is uniquely positioned because of what has happened through his writing and communication through the years," Hull said. "Clearly he is a Christ follower but at the same time we are not coming in a mode of evangelism. What we are trying to do is in an upfront, non-threatening way communicate biblical principles to audiences that perhaps were following these principles but never knew they were biblical in their core."
Over the past 15 years, EQUIP Leadership has trained more than 5 million leaders in 174 countries worldwide using biblical teaching and material developed by Maxwell. While continuing to train millions of leaders around the world, the nonprofit is placing greater emphasis on developing good leaders into transformational leaders.
In addition to reaching Guatemala City in 120 days, the EQUIP World Relay has a goal to raise up 5 million prayer partners and raise $1 million for leadership training in Guatemala and around the world.
"We begin our efforts toward global transformation in a country where the need is there, the time is right and the leaders are willing," said Hull. "In Guatemala, there are 370,000 orphans and half of the children living there suffer from chronic malnutrition. As a 'source country' for illegal drugs and sex trafficking and with more than 140,000 young people entering the job market each year but only 20,000 new jobs being created, there is a great need for transformation in Guatemala. We are excited to partner with leaders there who are willing to work toward transformation."
Hull said that during the relay from Atlanta to Laredo about 150 people walked with the group during varying lengths of time, from one day to a month. Many were inspired to "carry the baton" into other parts of the world in the future. There are plans now to have a London to Bosnia relay in 2014.
"What excites me about this is that when you get other nations thinking about transformation leadership, servant leadership, 'others' leadership where salt and light is gaining or penetrating into other arenas other than the church arena, to me that's pretty exciting," he said. "I didn't expect others would want to put walks together in other countries."
During a recent trip to Guatemala City, Maxwell, Hull and members of the EQUIP team met with 400 elected officials, 1,400 local clergy, 700 educators, 5,000 young leaders, 200 various press outlets and the Guatemalan president and Cabinet members about the needs and opportunity within the nation.
"Everything rises and falls on leadership," said Maxwell, noting his realization back in 1976 that spawned his life dedication to training and equipping leaders. Maxwell has sold more than 21 million books and each year, speaks to Fortune 100 companies, international government leaders, and organizations such as the United States Military Academy at West Point, the National Football League and the United Nations. As one of the world's most authoritative voices on the matter he is calling leaders to become transformational in their leadership.
"We become transformational when our 'why' becomes bigger than ourselves," said Maxwell. "When people in all streams of influence learn and live out positive values, it will lift up the country as a whole. True transformation hinges on great leadership within each of these streams."
The EQUIP World Relay plans to leverage "the seven streams of influence present in any society – business, government, education, media, entertainment, church and family – for positive impact in the nation of Guatemala and around the globe."
On the Web: http://equipworldrelay.org