“I didn’t realize that week would change my life.”
This month, I am thrilled to share with you another amazing story of a young person whose life and future has been forever altered by his experience with the Forge Leadership Network.
Jordan Leatherwood is a 2018 Forge graduate and currently completing his education degree and his student teaching. He will be a middle-school and high-school history and social studies teacher in a public school in his home region of Southern Ohio.
I can’t lie to you – reading this testimonial has been one of the most emotionally and spiritually reinvigorating Forge Stories to-date! I really hope you enjoy it!
Jordan’s Forge Story
“In July of 2016, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about what we wanted to do with our lives in college and beyond. He seemed to have everything planned out, but I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do with my major. He introduced the Forge Leadership Network to me, and said I would not regret getting involved.
I attended the 2017 Forge Leadership Summit at Ohio Christian University and was terrified. This Summit was the first time I had ever gone to a conference about politics and culture, and in the beginning, it was exactly how I expected it. Everybody was smarter than me, more articulate in debate, and out of my league. A small-town boy from Southern Ohio could not compete with that, I thought. What I did not realize, though, is how that one week would change my life.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must do the things you think you cannot do.” Applying for the Mentorship Academy (after the Summit) was a long shot, in my opinion. However, I was accepted, and soon realized that Forge is more than just a organization helping young people who want to go into politics. The mission of Forge is to mentor, train, and equip young conservatives to be the next leaders in the public square. What it became for me was much deeper than that; a lifelong journey into becoming a disciple of Christ.
Having just attended my fourth consecutive summit, and third consecutive as a mentor for new students, I would like to mention three specific ways that Forge has shaped my life and my future:
First, I found my calling during the Forge Summit. The very day after the 2017 Summit ended, I (maybe ironically) changed my major from Political Science to Education. Through Forge, I learned to utilize my talents to have the biggest impact on the people around me. To me, the little acts make the biggest impact. You can teach an elementary school student to tie their shoe and it will change their life. Just your presence alone can give them a sense of comfort and safety when they may otherwise feel none. Education is more than content; it is care, and it is where I feel I am needed in my community.
Second, I found the greatest of friends who I consider to be brothers and sisters. The speakers and trainings are all fantastic parts of the Summit and Academy, but my favorite part is getting to form friendships that will last a lifetime. When I need prayer, support, advice, or just someone to talk to, I know I have a whole group of Forge friends that I can call on.
Finally, Forge was the spiritual experience I needed to get to know Christ. I firmly believe that if you have a real encounter with Jesus Christ, it will change your life. My love for Him grows deeper through the people I meet and the discipleship that takes place, whether intentional or not. I have found Ephesians Chapter 4 to be a great representation of what the Forge experience is.
“I, therefore, a prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph. 4:1-6 NKJV)
The Apostle Paul, a prisoner at this time, was pleading with believers to be unified in the Spirit, possessing qualities that make them worthy of their calling, from bondage to liberty. This unification is exactly the environment that Forge creates. It is one of passion and confidence, but also of humility and servanthood.
Forge has enhanced my passion, allowed me to find who I am in Christ, and set me on a path destined for success. It has helped me grow into the young professional I never thought I could be. It has given me a love for policy and debate and has given me some of the best friends I could have ever asked for. Forge will be an integral part of my continued growth and learning for many years to come.”
Help More Students Like Jordan Attend Forge
Thank you for reading and for your interest in the work of Forge to raise up young servant-leaders like Jordan who are entering the fray.
The cost for a young person to attend Forge is $500. Would you consider donating a partial or full scholarship today? You can directly ensure that more young leaders like Jordan experience not only the unparalleled training and mentorship, but the ongoing impact of Forge.
Forge Leadership Network
Co-Founder & President