In 1979, at the age of 23, Otto Kladensky was one of the youngest leaders to attend the Haggai Leader Experience.
“I attended the Haggai Leader Experience in 1979 at the early age of 23 – and long story short, my boss, Dr. Abe Van Der Puy, President of the World Radio Missionary Fellowship, met Dr. John Edmund Haggai, who was interested in recruiting Hispanics. Dr. Abe asked me to send in my application. Someone at Haggai International thought I had a typo with my age; I was accepted because of my qualifications. If memory does not fail me, I was the second Hispanic to attend.”
Despite his age, Otto already held a unique and passionate commitment to the Gospel, a passion that was shaped by the way he saw the Gospel transform his own family. Otto was born in Ecuador in 1956 to Lilli and Otto Kladensky, Sr. His mother, a Messianic Jew, survived a concentration camp as a teen in WWII, losing 36 family members in the Holocaust. After the war, Lilli married Otto Sr., a fellow believer, and together they fled communist Czechoslovakia for a new life in Ecuador. Otto credits their faith in Jesus with their ability to weather the struggles they faced.
Influenced by the deep faith of his parents, Otto gave his life to Christ as a young boy, and by the time he attended the Haggai Leader Experience in 1979, he had already pastored two churches and gained experience as a broadcaster in Christian radio. But it was through the HLE that Otto’s passion was refined into a specific call to equip and build up other pastors across Latin America.
“The Haggai Leader Experience revolutionized my life and ministry because it broadened my global perspective and it allowed me to ‘taste’ other cultures and expressions of the Christian faith. It helped shape my concept of equipping leaders and put my outreach efforts on steroids!”
Haggai Seminar held in Costa Rica
Upon returning home to Ecuador, Otto built programs to provide theological preparations to pastors who did not otherwise have access. Through his work with the Trainers of Pastors International Coalition, Otto has helped equip tens of thousands of pastors in rural and urban communities in Central and South America.
“I’ve been ‘doing this stuff’ full-time for almost 40 years in 28 different countries. What stuff? Camp counselor, itinerant evangelist, pastor, interpreter, schoolteacher, manager, professor, board member, church planter, to name a few. But the constant in all of my work has been training, leadership development, teaching, and facilitating. Last year, I had the opportunity to hold 278 hours of training with an audience of 663 pastors.”
In addition to his work educating pastors, Otto has partnered with his mother, now in her nineties, to help share her amazing testimony of survival and preach the Gospel on a tour of 14 European cities. Looking back on all he has been able to contribute to the Kingdom, Otto recognizes the unique impact Haggai International has had on his ministry:
“The investment Haggai International has made into my life has been well appreciated. It truly represents the Haggai multiplication effect. Haggai International has been grafted into me, and I pray it continues to bear good fruit.”