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More like Ingrid

Last month, a few of us from church went to the Elim Leaders’ Summit held in Harrogate. It was a rich time of experiencing God’s presence and connecting with others. Christian author Danielle Strickland spoke on the Wednesday evening. She started with a story.

When she was 20, Danielle volunteered with the Salvation Army in Moscow. It was just after the Soviet Union had collapsed, and churches were being allowed back in again.

Danielle was serving under a male captain — a gifted and skilful leader who had real influence. He even convinced the US government to donate three tons of leftover food from the Gulf War to the Salvation Army in Moscow, so it could be distributed to people in need.

Apparently, he was such a prominent figure that Boris Yeltsin, the first President of the Russian Federation, declared him the ‘social services of Moscow’ and gave him an office in the Kremlin. Danielle referred to him as ‘Captain America’.

When the captain went back to the USA for a couple of months, Danielle was asked to stay on and help his replacement. ‘Sure,’ she said.

First impressions

But when she arrived at the airport, Danielle noticed that the man’s replacement was a small and slightly stooped figure. Ingrid, a retired Commissioner from Sweden, greeted Danielle kindly, but Danielle — aware of how small and old Ingrid looked — couldn’t help but think, ‘We’re going to die! What were they thinking sending a grandma from Sweden to replace “Captain America”?’

Before he left, ‘Captain America’ had arranged for a convoy to visit a secret prison with a massive gift of light bulbs. Supplies had been cut off for ages, so it was literally a dark place! He also arranged for journalists from Time magazine and Newsweek to travel with them.

Making a good impression

Picture the scene. Danielle, Ingrid and the news reporters are driving along a Moscow ring road. The reporters start speaking to each other in the back. A cynical, jaded conversation unfolds. Ingrid, asking Danielle to pull over, turns to the reporters and says:

‘You know, I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. It occurred to me while you were talking to each other that you might not have been properly briefed.

‘I called the warden this morning and I assured him that we weren’t just coming with light bulbs, but we were coming with the light of God. That we were coming with grace and hope and truth. We were coming in a way of serving. We were coming in a way of love.

‘We were coming in an open posture, and it occurred to me that you might not have been properly briefed, so I just wanted to take this opportunity to give you a chance to get on board with our mission or to get out of the car.’

The reporters were stunned into submission. Then Ingrid prayed.

Danielle said that the car filled with the presence of God in a way that she had never experienced before. She felt something powerful. Something beautiful. Something good.

The prison visit was, in Danielle’s words, ‘epic’. The reporters were so well-behaved, asking permission at every step. They even faxed over the article for the Commissioner’s approval before printing.

The next morning, the reporter from Time popped into the office to speak to Ingrid. ‘Will you pray with me?’ he asked. Ingrid went on to lead him to Jesus.

Making an impression

Danielle was so blown away by this woman that, having admitted that up until then she had wanted to be like ‘Captain America’, she asked Ingrid, ‘How do I do this?’

You see, although ‘Captain America’ was an incredibly talented leader, his character left a lot to be desired. But, like many of us at the age of 20, Danielle felt that the good things he did excused his obvious moral failings. (She doesn’t believe this anymore!) Then she met Ingrid.

Danielle explains it like this: ‘I realised there is a capacity beyond human capacity. There is a power that is greater than human minds can know.

‘There is tangible evidence of God’s goodness and love and grace that can enter into a person’s leadership [and character] that affects the way they lead and live beyond their giftings.

‘A person fully surrendered [to Jesus] can operate in a power that is greater than themselves, that reflects the very nature and goodness of God. A power that makes people ask, “What is that?”’

So, when Danielle asked Ingrid, ‘How do I do this?’, Ingrid replied: ‘Oh, that’s just Jesus! That’s not special — that’s not extra. You just stay close to Jesus and, I guarantee you, that’s how you’ll lead.’

Danielle went on to talk about this ‘holy power’ that Ingrid had modelled. She spoke about a power that doesn’t consume, and which doesn’t need to extinguish its source (Exodus 3:3). A power that liberates, frees, hears the cries of those suffering, and moves on their behalf.


• Why not listen to Danielle’s talk, Power — Danielle Strickland at Elim Leaders’ Summit 2023, at It’s well worth it!

• Consider what it might look like if more of us were to be ‘more like Ingrid’. If we were to live lives that were so close to Jesus that, wherever we went, people asked, ‘What is that? What is that power at work in your life?’

• Spend some time just sitting with the Holy Spirit and ask Him to fill you afresh. Linger there for as long as it takes, sensing His presence just as Danielle did in the car when Ingrid prayed. Let Him change you.

• And then share this story with someone else, praying that they too will be changed. Perhaps then — together — we can be ‘more like Ingrid’.

• Lastly, pray for MAF leadership — that they would lead with the holy power modelled by Ingrid.