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Influencer Awards Include a Big Surprise

Two ministers were honored with awards during Monday evening's Influence Conference main session, but one of them was totally unaware he was to be an award recipient.

When Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church (NCC) in Washington, D.C., was asked to present his mentor, friend, and spiritual father, Dick Foth, the Lifetime Influencer Award, he readily accepted. Batterson was thrilled to be the one chosen to present the honor and share with the thousands attending the Influence Conference in Anaheim, California, Monday night why Foth was so deserving of such an honor.

But there was something Batterson didn’t know and Foth did. Following the presentation of the award to Foth, Foth presented a shocked and nearly speechless Batterson the conference’s other significant honor — the Young Influencer Award. Batterson was so surprised, that all he could do was say “thank you,” and talk about Foth.

Foth and Batterson have a cross-generational relationship that began when Batterson moved to Washington, D.C., to plant a church. Foth, who was quietly ministering to numerous political leaders in D.C. at the time, felt led to attend NCC and then began to include Batterson in his world. At the time, Batterson was 26 and Foth was 51.

A respected author, speaker and former pastor and Assemblies of God college president, Foth is highly regarded for his caring, wisdom, and effectiveness in communicating the gospel.

“Everybody needs a Dick Foth,” Batterson says. “You need a sounding board. You need someone who will speak into your life. You need someone who is further down the path you want to travel. At critical times in my life, Dick has been a voice of encouragement, a voice of wisdom, and a voice of concern.”

Foth was grateful to the Lord for the honor, “I’m grateful to the Lord . . . and I’m grateful to my wife, Ruth, for ministering with me for 54 years.”

NCC, which began with three people at the first service in 1996, has grown to include eight locations and more than 5,000 attending. Batterson, has become highly regarded for his ministry in D.C. as well as being an influential speaker and author, but he impressed Foth from the start with his enthusiasm.

“The things that really drew me to him were his huge love for Jesus, his focus and intensity on mission and missions, internationally and . . . his pursuit of me,” Foth says, explaining that as Batterson pursued their friendship, he knew that he was interested in going deeper than just the causal thing. “I’m just grateful to have him in my life,” Foth says.

AG Pastor Tommy Barnett, founder of the Los Angeles Dream Center and Phoenix Dream Center, received the inaugural Lifetime Influencer Award in 2011. Youth ministry leader Jeanne Mayo had the honor in 2013. In 2015, Ellen K. Blackwell, an active Assemblies of God pastor at the age of 101, was the recipient of the award.

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.