10 Questions With Mike Hinckfoot

10 Questions With Mike Hinckfoot

By: Brandy Campbell   |   Posted: March 26, 2008

"The LDP is an outcome-driven ministry. Everything we do focuses on our goal of seeing students graduate and serve their communities and the world at large."

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Compassion's Leadership Development Program (LDP) uniquely equips hundreds of outstanding young leaders to transform their communities, their countries and their world. Mike Hinckfoot, Compassion's Leadership Development Ministry Director since 2004, recently shared with me his passion for young adults and his vision for the Leadership Development Program.

1. What is the Leadership Development Program?

The Leadership Development Program identifies and provides opportunities for outstanding Christian young men and women who are graduates of our Child Sponsorship Program. The tagline is "Educating, training, discipling servant leaders." It's about college students, who, when they came into Compassion's program maybe 18 years ago, had no dreams, but now they do.

2. What does "Educating, training and discipling servant leaders" look like?

Well, the education part is pretty simple. Each LDP student enrolls in college in their home country, where they will receive a bachelor's degree, thanks to the support of their LDP sponsor. As far as training, each LDP student takes part in a holistic curriculum based on Compassion's leadership principles. It's a three- to four-year training program. And for discipleship, we connect every LDP student with a local church, where they are actively involved in getting to know their pastor, maybe teaching Sunday school. Discipleship also comes through mentoring. Every LDP student has a mentor, someone of the same gender, hopefully in the same career path that they are to walk with them side by side. They also have an LDP specialist, kind of a guidance counselor, someone who is helping them develop in their plans for the future.

3. What is the LDP sponsor's role in their sponsored student's life, beyond covering the cost for their education?

The sponsor is essential to the success of the program. Our students are linked to a sponsor and our hope is that to take a sponsor from being an encourager to being a distant mentor, to being a coach for them for now and for the future. I can say without question that I know of no other program like LDP in the world. Sponsors are touching the future by being a champion for these bright, talented students. They are, quite literally, changing the future through their sponsorship.

4. The Bible is full of verses about helping children, the orphaned and those who are alone. What do you think the Bible says about the young adults who apply for LDP?

One key passage for LDP is 1 Timothy 4:12, a verse that declares the value of young adults from God's perspective. Paul, a mentor to Timothy, encourages him, saying, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." In other words, God is calling young adults to assume great roles of leadership. They should pursue this confidently. And the Leadership Development Program is one way the Church can see that it happens.

5. Many developing countries offer very little support for women seeking an education and some are, in fact, hostile toward these women. What is LDP doing to help women enrolled in the program?

I've done a lot of research on women and education in developing countries, and the more I learn, the sicker this situation makes me. For example, we learned that young ladies enrolled in LDP in Nairobi were being harassed by young men in the computer lab. Even worse, young ladies were failing university because they would not have an affair with their professors. We do everything we can to support these young women. We are giving them a chance for an education, yes. But our support doesn't end there. We fight for them, against injustice. We give them a voice. We give them power. We give them hope.

6. What are the goals of the LDP for each student who graduates?

The LDP is an outcome-driven ministry. Everything we do focuses on our goal of seeing students graduate and serve their communities and the world at large. A young person who graduates from Compassion's Leadership Development Program demonstrates:

  • Personal commitment to the lordship of Christ
  • Good health practices
  • Personal and professional skills to be economically self-supporting
  • Positive self-worth and healthy relationships
  • Servant leadership

7. Can you tell me about an LDP student who you believe embodies the goals and spirit of the LDP?

Lillian grew up in the care of an aged peasant father and two brothers. They lived each day as it came, knowing that a day-to-day existence was the best way they could live. As a young child her home was trees, made up of old limbs, cardboard and scrap metal. She was brought up in a small tribal community based on a patriarchal model, which does not place a premium on educating girls. Women in her village do not dream. They are viewed as insignificant, with little hope for the future than to live in poverty and to raise their children in the same conditions.

But with the help of the Child Sponsorship Program and her sponsor, Lillian saw the first seeds of hope flourish. She became the first in the family to graduate from high school. Now, through the LDP, she has become the first and only girl in her village who has achieved the distinction of being accepted into a university.

With the knowledge Lillian is gaining from the LDP program and her studies, we believe, and with her determination, she will become a schoolteacher and instill these same dreams and hopes into other young children. In spite of all the hurdles, Lillian breaths life and energy and hope. Lillian has a "can do!" heart. She truly believes God will provide all.

8. Tell me what the LDP graduates are doing now.

Since 1996, more than 600 students have graduated from the program. Based on our most recent contact with our graduates, we know that:

  • More than 80 percent are employed.
  • About 72 percent of graduates are employed within their field of study within six months after graduation.
  • Approximately 99 percent are actively involved in a leadership role within their church.
  • Around 65 percent are currently mentors themselves.
  • About 5 percent are Child Sponsorship Program sponsors, and more are sponsoring siblings to attend school.
  • More than 10 are missionaries to other countries.

9. What is your vision for the LDP?

Our vision is that one day, the country offices that we work in become partner countries. That one day, Compassion Uganda will raise up sponsors, where they are a part of our ministry just like Compassion Italia, Compassion Canada or Compassion Netherlands. And we envision that our leadership development students, that one day a student could be the president of his or her country. An awesome parent, a man or woman of God & a loving spouse. A young person who could be a teacher or a lawyer, walking with the Lord a leader in the church; an elder, maybe a pastor, impacting family, church, community, nation, and in so being, transforming our world for Jesus Christ. That is the Leadership Development Program.

10. What is your favorite LDP memory?

It was 2 a.m. at a LDP retreat, and I was packed into a small room with 20 LDP guys (no ladies), laughing at goofy jokes, making fun of one another, engrossed in stupid guy humor, singing Christmas carols loud and off-key, praying for miracles to release the captives and rebuild nations and not superficial wants. And I knew without a doubt these young men will transform their nation for God's glory.

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