Our organization started as a one-person mission to minister to pastors in Juarez, Mexico. Arlano Funderburk served for over forty years as the Baptist Student Ministries Director for South Plains College in Levelland, Texas. He led students on countless mission trips to do ministry with churches in Juarez over those years.
When the violence escalated in the upper valley region, university ministries were no longer allowed to take students to Mexico. In many ways, the pastors in Juarez felt abandoned. But more than the issue of being forgotten, Arlano saw a need that was not being met (and that is still the case). These pastors chose to stay, in spite of the violence, and carry out their calling in Juarez. Arlano realized they needed someone to minister to them.
His ministry began as one man gathering some speakers who were willing to go into Juarez and offer training to the pastors of the area. Within the first two years of this effort, it became obvious that there was a greater need. No one was offering anything for the spouses of the ministers and no one was talking about strengthening the marriages of these ministers. So the vision expanded to an overnight retreat for pastors and their spouses.
Our ministry began in 2006 and has grown and become more focused. We now offer a two night experience at a local hotel in Juarez where pastors and their spouses can come and set their ministries aside for a couple of days and focus on rest, spiritual renewal and marriage enrichment.
Two years ago, we began to receive requests to offer this experience in other parts of Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. So we began to dream about expanding this ministry and positioning ourselves to be able to minister, on a larger scale, to ministers in other areas that do not have access to this kind of opportunity.
In January of 2018, we assumed an existing 501c3 that had been organized to offer leadership development in Mexico and other Latin American countries. While we will continue to operate in Mexico under our name, Proyecto Fortaleza – The Strengthening Project, we will do so under the umbrella organization – Global Leadership and Economic Development, Inc.
In December of 2017, in an effort to minister to pastors and their spouses who serve churches devastated by hurricane Harvey, we offered a version of what we do in Mexico in Corpus Christi, Texas for the pastors of the area so affected by the hurricane. Once again, God has led us into an area of ministry to pastors that no other organization is offering. So as we expand to other areas of Latin America and beyond, we are also striving to position ourselves to be ready to offer ministry to pastors and their spouses here in America in the wake of tragedies and natural disasters.