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  • The Fellows Initiative

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