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Into the Arena of Life

by Evan Norfleet



Now that you have spent a year as a fellow, what are you going to do with this experience?  What part will you play in God’s unfolding plan for the redemption of all things?


This was the challenge presented to 22 fellows programs at the 12th National Fellows Conference that took place in April.


Roughly 300 fellows, speakers, program leaders, and friends of The Fellows Initiative recently spent the weekend in Washington, D.C., to reflect on God’s work both individually and collectively throughout the year, while also looking ahead to the important transition of post-fellows work, leadership, and service.



Responding to the Challenge

Throughout the weekend, fellows and directors were boldly confronted with God’s radical vision for the world, particularly across cultural differences.


Rev. Dr. Irwyn Ince, executive director of the Institute for Cross Cultural Mission, powerfully articulated the notion that reunification of the human race in Jesus Christ is central to God’s plan. Ince emphasized the necessity to embrace our dissimilarity.


In a society far too often marked by distrust, confusion, and polarization, Ince reminded fellows that “calling out the brokenness doesn’t diminish Jesus’ power. It magnifies it.”


“What role then,” Ince challenged, “will we play in life that bears witness to God’s plan for reunification?”


Building on Ince’s remarks, Hugh Whelchel, executive director of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics, offered a compelling vision for the biblical meaning of success.


Building from the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, Whelchel noted that “success is faithfully using all that God has given for the furthering of the kingdom.” It is our responsibility, then, to work for the pleasure of God.


Finally, Rev. Dr. Walter Kim, Pastor for Leadership at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, challenged the fellows to understand the deep purpose for God’s people in the world through the lens of Nehemiah 2.



“A deep sense of identification enabled Nehemiah to risk his job, his very life,” Kim said. Such is the sort of vocational courage we must gain as we navigate inflection points in our lives and careers.


Considering What’s Next

The weekend was also highlighted by numerous opportunities to gain glimpses into life after fellows.


Joined by TFI board members and numerous industry professionals, fellows from across the country discussed vocation and offered takeaways from their year with one another at industry-specific networking tables.


Fellows alumni also shared reflections on their time as fellows and how it formed a better understanding of vocation in the context of their current jobs.



Thank You, Sponsors!

The Fellows Initiative would like to extend a special thank you to our sponsors who made this weekend possible:


Duke Divinity School

Gordon College Master of Science in Financial Analysis Program

Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary

University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service

Beeson Divinity School at Samford University

Reformed Theological Seminary

Regent College

Wake Forest University School of Business


Be sure to check out their programs!



TFI News and Updates


  • Comings and Goings. Please join us in welcoming Jen Shinn, the new director of the Border Fellows program in El Paso, Texas and Robi Keyes, the new assistant director of the Trinity Fellows program in Charlottesville, Virginia! Please also join us in thanking saying goodbye to our friends Yoli Milliorn and Keisha Branch of the Border Fellows (director and assistant director, respectively) and Caroline Waller (assistant director) of the Uptown Fellows in Dallas, Texas.

  • Looking for 35 more fellows! There will be more than 250 fellows in the TFI network this fall! There are still 35+ slots available in programs across the country. Know a college senior that should be in a fellows program for the 2019-20 program year? Please let them know about these amazing opportunities. CLICK HERE to apply.

  • Stay Connected with TFI. Follow TFI on LinkedIn! If you want to follow TFI's news and announcements, follow the TFI company page on LinkedIn. If you're a TFI fellows program alumni, join the growing community in the TFI Alumni Group on LinkedIn.

Help TFI Grow!


The fellows phenomenon is impacting churches, cities and young leaders across the country.

We need your help to keep the momentum going. We have made good progress toward our June 30th fundraising goal of $73,500, but we are not there yet. 

Please consider making a recurring donation or a one-time gift. CLICK HERE to donate online. To give by check, please mail it to The Fellows Initiative / 20130 Lakeview Center Plaza, Suite 400 / Ashburn, Virginia 20147. Thank you! TFI is a donor supported 501c3 nonprofit.


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