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Virgil Gulker

Virgil G. GulkerThe first person named as CFL's Servant Leader-in-Residence is Dr. Virgil Gulker. Among many of Dr. Gulker's accomplishments, including the founding of Love INC, one in particular stands out.

In October, 1993, Virgil Gulker, working under the auspices of International Aid, conducted a research project. The objectives of this project were to answer two questions: First, what are the most pressing needs facing American Youth today? Second, how can the church reach out to these children and their families? By November, 1994, he had an answer and a plan and was looking for at least one church to test his ministry idea (Kids Hope USA). By February, 1995, members of Mason County Reformed, Grace Reformed of Holland, and Ottawa Reformed of Zeeland agreed to sponsor 54 public elementary school children. By 2003, members in 217 churches connected with 3,800 children. By the end of 2007, 705 churches in the US and Australia were sponsoring 9,300 children, and the numbers keep growing.

But success isn't always measured by numbers. The focus is on elementary students. The mentor-student relationship provides a foundation that gives students a sense of dignity. The result is that the student feels special and valued and gains confidence to tackle learning issues.

Dr. Gulker brings a unique perspective to CFL. He empowers students, teaching them how to define problems and create solutions from the perspective of a social entrepreneur. But more importantly, he develops students to be leaders.

Many students want to make a difference but don't know how; Dr. Gulker's role as Director of CFL's Student Consulting Program is to actually give them the tools and develop their gifts to be difference-makers. "We are taking a new, real-world approach to teaching and learning problem solving," says Gulker, "We are looking at and attempting to solve serious societal issues from multiple perspectives in an unbiased manner. We will engage people from all sectors of the community. We will also encourage students to look at those societal issues that tug at their individual hearts, and we hope to mentor them through the problem-defining and problem-solving stages."

"We have been given a great opportunity to work with Dr. Virgil Gulker," says Steve VanderVeen, Director of CFL. "What better role model for students than an authentic servant leader? What better role model for students who want to make a positive and significant difference than a selfless entrepreneur?"

Here's What Students Said:

"Virgil, I learned servant leadership by the way you always listened to me and valued my opinion even though you have more knowledge and life experience. Your humility is an example I want to live by. Many people in this room probably do not know about your numerous accomplishments because your purpose in life is not fame but to help others.

Thank you for all your work at CFL's Student Consulting Program. It would not be where it is without your efforts. You do not get enough credit for all you do. CFL has been one of the best ways of learning for me at Hope and I know that as a student this has been an experience that will prepare me life after graduation." -- Maria Kotman

"Virgil integrates honesty and faithfulness beyond compare. His ideas and experiences amaze me. He has created countless productive communities because he is entirely others-focused. The compelling part of this is that he gives the credit away to others and expects nothing in return. Nothing.

Thank you both for being true inspirations without even realizing it. Everything you have done for the Center for Faithful Leadership—your time, effort, and genius ideas—have not gone unnoticed. We all appreciate it more than you know. I feel truly blessed to have been influenced by your contributions to CFL. Thank you for making an impact on the lives of others and making this world a better place through your leadership and service." -- Sarah Mejia