the shape of leadership

The Big Deal of Taking Small Steps

A conversation with Hope Danzl

Chris Colvin on June 14, 2018

You never know until you ask. That’s what Hope Danzl believed. And when she finally did ask, God did something amazing in her school.

Danzl attends Harvest Church (Assemblies of God) in Freeport, Minnesota. At age 10, she accepted Christ as Savior at church camp. When she reached high school, she and some other students started a Bible club.

“We meet every Friday before school for Bible study,” says Danzl, who attends Melrose High School in Melrose, Minnesota. “It was something God had put in our hearts, so we came up with a plan and took it to our principal.”

That proof of planning opened additional doors for Danzl to do even more.

Through her youth pastor, Ricky Backhaus, Danzl heard about an incredible way to bring Jesus into the public schools. By inviting a motivational speaker to come speak on a non-religious topic to the entire school, she could then invite all of her classmates to a rally later that night at church.

“It was something we had never done in our high school,” Danzl says.

But that didn’t stop her.

First, she counted the cost — literally. Danzl needed $4,000 to make her idea happen. Instead of going straight to her principal, she developed a business plan and shared it with local business owners.

“It was something God had put in our hearts, so we came up with a plan and took it to our principal.”
— Hope Danzl

“It was a huge task, and there were lots of ways I could fail,” Danzl says. “But I felt committed.”

That commitment paid off. Danzl was able to raise three-quarters of her goal before meeting with her principal. She knew God was meeting her needs.

At first, the principal was hesitant about the big idea. He told Danzl he needed to talk it over with the rest of the administration, which he said could take a few days. But 5 minutes later, he came to get her out of class.

“He told me, ‘I don’t need to talk to anyone about it; we’ll do it,’” Danzl says. “And then he really surprised me: He told me that the school would cover the additional costs.”

Melrose isn’t a large community. But the day of the rally, every student from elementary to high school — more than 1,000 students — came to hear the message. Using painting and stories, the evangelist talked about the importance of making right decisions.

“Jesus’ name was never spoken, but you could tell God was moving in their hearts,” Danzl says.

That evening, more than 200 kids showed up for the follow-up event at Harvest Church, and several of them accepted Christ.

What made the difference?

“It was all about student initiation,” Danzl says.

When Danzl’s principal saw that she was doing this on her own with the help of fellow students, it made it easier for her to gain favor.

Student initiation starts with small steps.

“If I hadn’t taken smaller steps, like helping start the Bible study, I couldn’t have taken this bigger step,” Danzl says.

Now she’s part of laying a great spiritual foundation for some of her classmates. And Danzl is an inspiration for others to take more steps, both big and small, in the future.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2018 edition of Influence magazine.


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