As the end of the year approaches, I wanted to highlight some of the amazing ways God is using the ministry of Forge Leadership Network in young people’s lives and futures. In the next few weeks, I will be sharing with you a series of testimonials from Forge graduates and current students. You will hear their personal stories in their own words.
The first featured in this series is Andrew Martin, a 2017-2018 Forge Mentorship Academy alumnus. Andrew is a 2018 graduate of Ashland University with Ashbrook Scholar honors, and he is currently in his first year of law school at Capital University Law School. He and his wife, Abby, live in Columbus, Ohio.
Andrew’s reflections on Forge’s impact on his life:
For years I’ve had the desire to make a significant impact on the world around me. Somewhere along the way while growing up, I felt that I wanted my impact to be in public service. Looking back, I think this desire came from three places:
The first of which was when I was 12 years old and my dad and I would listen to Sean Hannity on the radio on the way to swim practices. During the commercial breaks, my dad would patiently answer my questions about the separation of powers, the electoral college, and why on earth liberal Democrats were so out of their minds (the latter of the questions always produced a fun answer). I remember being fascinated by our system of government and politics in general, and from there, I wanted to be involved.
The second, also around the age of 12, I remember seeing my grandfather shed tears for his fallen brothers at the foot of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. D.C. It was there I learned what it meant to love your country.
The third is my more-recent realization that the Lord has blessed me with talents and gifts that are useful in the world of politics and opened many doors for me, all of which seem to be pointing me down the path of public service.
At about 21 years old I had come to a lot of conclusions about myself. I knew I loved the Lord and I wanted to honor Him with my life. I knew I loved America and her people. I knew I wanted to be exceptional at whatever I did. And lastly, I knew wanted to be a bearer of truth and justice to a desperate nation.
I just had one problem: I had no idea how I could fit those things together, where I was supposed to start? How could I bring the vision for my life to fruition? People around me didn’t seem to be interested in these things or understand that the battles our country faced mattered. It was hard for me not to feel alone in that battle. I had a longing to leverage my faith in the public square and be excellent at doing it, but I saw no entry point, opportunities, or community to do it with… That is until Adam Josefczyk came to Ashland University and talked about an organization that I knew right away was a specific answer to my prayers.
A few short months after applying for Forge, I found myself amidst a group of people who understood things the way I did, were faithful to the God I love, and had the same ambitious spirit that I did. I longed to make an impact for the Kingdom and the country, and God blessed me with an organization that longed to raise up leaders for that very purpose.
Forge gave me a network of peers and mentors who push me intellectually and spiritually. These are people who keep me accountable, humble, encouraged, and challenged. They truly are fellow ambassadors with me in the fight for truth, goodness, and prosperity. Forge’s network is exceptional, and because of it, young, God-fearing leaders have opportunities that would otherwise not be available. When I needed a connection for an internship or letter of recommendation for a legal fellowship, I had it. If I need to test my understanding of an issue, I put it in our group message and we have a debate. When the time comes that I need an example of a man who navigated the pitfalls of politics and remained steadfast in his faith and put his family first, I will have several.
The Lord also used Forge to push me far outside of my comfort zone and into experiences that have reshaped my life. From Circleville, OH, to the White House, to the shore of the Sea of Galilee, each stop resulted in answered prayers and brought clarity to my future. At the Summit, I learned that the people of Forge were genuine and ones I could trust. In D.C., I had a prayer answered about where the Lord was calling me to serve and live for him. And as much as I enjoyed D.C., the Lord made it clear he wanted me to stay home in Ohio. In Israel, well… I don’t have time to tell you how much that changed my perspective on life and how incredible it was to see the Scripture come to life before my eyes. And while the network and the experiences showed me that if God puts a calling on your life, and you are faithful to Him, He will provide a path, there was one thing God used Forge for that I didn’t expect.
One night in D.C. last January, Adam took me along for a dinner with some Forge supporters. Conversation was flowing and later that evening Adam and I had the chance to talk one-on-one. He asked me where I saw myself several years down the road and how I thought Forge could help bring that vision to life. I explained to him that I wanted to go to law school, get married to a beautiful, godly, blue-eyed blonde girl (who did just marry me by the way), and then after law school I wanted to go into politics and run for office someday.
As I was going on about what I wanted to do, Adam stopped me and asked me one of the most consequential questions I’ve ever been asked. He said: Do you want to do this for yourself, or do you want to do this because of your desire to follow the Lord, love people, and serve the country?… That was a question I had been refusing to wrestle with. I knew what my answer should be, but I didn’t know if that was the answer I had in my heart. The question prompted a lot of prayer, and it forced me to assess whether or not my heart was in the right place to do the work the Lord called me to.
That question did more than impact my walk with Christ, it exposed what is at the core of the Forge Leadership Network. Forge has a vision of populating the public square with servant-leaders who are filled with Truth and motivated by a love for God and people. I want to be one of those leaders, and Forge has given me a life-long chance to do it. And, Forge and the friendships and mentors it has provided me will make sure that if I do get to do it, I remain accountable and my motives remain pure and others-focused.
Forge does not just impact America’s future by developing Christian leaders, it impacts the souls of the people it grows. I am a better man of faith, a better American, and more equipped to stand for truth and justice because of my involvement with the Forge Leadership Network.
Good leaders are rare. Great leaders even rarer. Forge finds great leaders and makes them America’s future. I’m thankful by how faithful Forge has been to me. Opportunity abounds and our relationship has borne more fruit than I ever thought possible. I am honored to be a part of this organization and I so appreciate all of you taking part in the great work being done. Thank you.
Thank you for reading, and thank you for your interest in and support of the life-changing impact Forge is having on young servant-leaders like Andrew. I hope these stories encourage and inspire you.
Thank you for considering making these stories possible through your generosity!