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Collegians at ‘Impact Zone’ to gain insights into service & leadership

CHICAGO (BP)–Pounding shingles on a roof in the hot sun might not meet conventional standards for leadership training, but that sort of hard work is integral to a unique experience for college students planned for suburban Chicago later this month.

After helping rehabilitate substandard housing each day, the students will glean wisdom from some of the nation’s top corporate minds -– all from a Christian perspective of servant leadership.

The May 22-29 project, called “Impact Zone,” is a pilot effort by the North American Mission Board to help shape Christian leaders in making a difference for Christ in the workplace and all areas of life.

“Impacting the next generation is one of the key heartbeats of the North American Mission Board because that’s the future of our denomination and the effectiveness of Kingdom impact across our land,” said Robert E. (Bob) Reccord, president of the Southern Baptist entity.

“Jesus said, ‘He who is going to be greatest among you shall be servant of all,’ and we’re going to be showing these young adults that part of leadership is giving yourself away and not expecting anything in return,” Reccord said.

The experience is based largely on the World Changers model of mobilizing student volunteers to rehabilitate substandard housing in cooperation with local governments. In this case, students housed at Wheaton College will be working on homes in Aurora, Calumet City and Hammond, Ind.

Each evening, however, Impact Zone participants will hear high-profile leaders share their wisdom from a Christian perspective -– in partnership with NAMB’s own Next level Leadership Network.

Among confirmed speakers, in addition to Reccord and other NAMB leaders, are:

— Bill Pollard, former CEO and chairman of ServiceMaster Company.

— Dallen Peterson, founder and retired chairman of Merry Maids Inc.

— Don Soderquist, former senior vice chairman of Wal-Mart Stores.

— Jay Strack, founder and president of Student Leadership University.

“They’re all believers, and they’ve all proven themselves in their respective fields,” said Jonathan Wilson, a student volunteer mobilization associate for NAMB. “Most of them are doing it on their own time. They are coming in for a night or a portion of the day just to share their insights, their testimony.”

Wilson noted a leading national political figure also might be able to participate if his schedule allows.

The schedule calls for students to spend four days on work projects during the day and leadership training in the evenings, followed by all-day leadership training on Friday, May 22.

Wilson said the goal is for Impact Zone to become a regular event.

“We want to see Impact Zone become an every-year program,” he said. “It won’t necessarily be the same scale as World Changers [which last year involved nearly 24,000 volunteers] but we want college students to be able to look forward to participate in Impact Zone every spring.”
For more information or to find out more about participating in Impact Zone, visit www.studentz.com/impact.

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  • James Dotson