A LIFE, AN INSPIRATION, AN EXAMPLE, A LEGACY
By Sergio M. Fortes
The corporate world lost yesterday morning, 11/18, one of its great leaders and influencers, whose impact only Eternity can reveal in all its infinite extent: DR. JOHN HAGGAI.
John Edmund Haggai was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1929, the eldest son of Syrian immigrants from New England, Mass., whose ancestors settled in the USA in the 1600s.
While attending Moody Bible School, he met Christine Barker, who would become the mainstay of her life and ministry since 1961. Mrs. Haggai moved in with Jesus in 2019, a week after celebrating their 74th wedding anniversary.
Dr. Haggai’s passion for Jesus Christ and His Gospel shaped his life. He stubbornly pursued the goal that everyone should have the opportunity to hear the Gospel in a “meaningful and culturally compatible way.”
On a visit to Asia in the early 1960s, he became convinced that changes in global geopolitics due to the end of colonialism, required new strategies for communicating the Gospel.
With an entrepreneurial vision, he dedicated years to detailed research, precise studies, and much prayer, which culminated in 1969, with the first Advanced Leadership Seminar, to train nationals to reach their own people, including in the marketplace.
This innovative and unprecedented proposal contradicted the whole methodology of sharing the Christian faith that had been put into practice until then, based on sending foreign missionaries around the world, barely knowing the culture, the language, the customs of the peoples where they were going. His project was labeled “madness that will never work”.
But he had a motto in which he firmly believed: “Attempt something so great for God it’s doomed to failure unless God is in it.”
And GOD was in it! The impact of the HAGGAI INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE with more than 123,000 trained leaders, men, and women from all over the world, in 189 nations, particularly in the poorest and least developed countries, and also acting in the “marketplace”, is unimaginable.
I had the honor and privilege of being one of them in 2002, in an intensive program of almost a month, from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, 9, 10, 11, 12:00 pm, which inspired participants from India, Nigeria, Myanmar, Bolivia, Kenya, South Africa, Argentina, Jamaica, and different Brazilian cities, like Campinas, Cuiabá, Belo Horizonte, Rio e Sao Paulo.
On that occasion, Dr. John Haggai addressed us a lecture on the topic: “The Tragedy of Unfinishing”. It was a deep impact on me, once it is one of the areas of my life that I have always struggled with.
When I arrived in Brazil, I wrote an article with this theme for the weekly CBMC review, Monday Manna, and I referred to him as “a young man of 85 years”. I sent the article to him, and he kindly asked his assistant to correct me, because he was just an “84-year-old young man”.
He lived intensely. He was in a hurry. Or rather: he could not waste time. He had caught the brevity meaning of life. He used to say: “I want to die the way I live: FAST!”. It seems God answered his prayer!
A bright mind, strong and powerful voice, clear convictions, contagious enthusiasm, infinite generosity, non-negotiable principle values, Dr. Haggai was a true servant leader, inspiring powerfully by his example.
Among the great legacy he left behind, among several relevant books, there is one that I consider indispensable for any leader, “Lead on”. I prefer the Portuguese title, “Be a Leader of Truth – leadership that remains for a changing world” (Editora Betânia).
His impacting leadership will remain with us. The world continues to change. May the generous seeds planted by Dr. John Haggai continue, through all his disciples, to flourish permanently and abundantly.
Thank you, young Dr. Haggai!