DAI Sadly Announces the Passing of Co-Founder James (Jim) F. Engel

Dr. James F. Engel


COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO — DAI sadly announces that Co-Founder Jim Engel Dr. James F. Engelpassed away peacefully on September 24, 2016.  Jane Overstreet, President/CEO shares, “It is with great sorrow that we announce today the passing of Jim Engel, our long-time friend, colleague and fellow “struggler” in being the Servant Leader God wants each of us to be.  We at DAI are grateful for Jim’s vision and the way his writing continues to help thousands of leaders around the world.”


Jim’s memorial service will be open to the public, on Monday, October 17 at 11 am with visitation an hour prior at St. David’s Episcopal church in Minnetonka, MN. In lieu of flowers memorials may be given to DAI or the Alzheimer’s Association.


DAI’s Rich Heritage & Jim’s Lasting Legacy

  • “His impact and legacy in discipleship of leaders through DAI is mind-blowing. A quiet revolution in reorienting Christian leaders across the globe into a deep and effective walk with the Lord. We in India are grateful to God for him!”Raj Kumar Songa from India
  • “I never had the chance to be taught by him, but have heard lots about him from others.  It was good to hear his story as well during the history of DAI presentation in Cairo. Many years ago as a young student I was greatly helped by the Engel scale on evangelism.  It helped me not feel pressured.  It’s a privilege today to be part of something he was a part of initiating.”- Tigi from India
  • “It is with a heavy heart and at the same time heartfelt gratitude to God for a life lived and spent for His Glory that I received the news of the home calling of my beloved friend, Brother, Co-founder and Kingdom Partner, Prof. Jim Engel, to his eternal home and the great reward awaiting him. Even though he had lived the recent years of his life in obscurity, his legacy and footprints have been (and will continue to be) larger than his lifespan on this side of eternity. On behalf of myself, my family, the Christian Missionary Foundation, DAI Nigeria, MANI and other circles both of us have been part of, I convey our deep condolence to Jim’s immediate family, the DAI worldwide family and other circles of friends and acquaintances, as we thank God for this glorious exit of a gallant soldier of the Cross.”  – Reuben Ezemadu, Nigeria, International Director CMF, Continental Coordinator, MANI
  • “It is with much sadness that I have learnt about the passing of James Engel. Indeed as one of DAI’s founders and writer of some of the courses, he laid a great foundation upon which we as coworkers in Christ’s Vineyard have continued to build in order to train servant leaders. The path of a hero will always be followed in a bid to minister to God’s people. Let us keep the fire burning. Fare thee well James.” Richard Watuulo  
  • “It Is indeed sad that Jim has left this world but on the other side he ran a good race, he completed the work and he is gone for his crown. He didn’t deny the world his gifts and we are all beneficiaries. May the family and all beneficiaries of his ministry be comforted and encouraged in this hard moment.”  – Jairus from Uganda
  • Although I never met Jim personally, his life impacted mine. My first encounter with him was nearly 40 years ago through his classic book (co-authored with Will Norton) entitled “What’s Gone Wrong with the Harvest?” And today the ministry I lead (FTL) uses a version of Jim’s story of Stephen Ogulu. His legacy will live on. So grateful for his faithfulness. – Rick Sessoms
  • “His materials for leadership are polishing me to be the me that God wants in my leadership position in Nigeria. Though you are dead, you are still speaking impact and transformation in Nigeria. Good night Sir.” – Adeyanju from Nigeria
  • I have read his books and now benefit from the impact he had in starting DAI.  He and David are remarkable men in an era of unremarkable leaders. Their willingness to hold loosely on what God has given them and then share it freely is a testimony to Kingdom living. – Phil Walker
  • “An amazing teacher who influenced my thinking on the real issues on the ground!”  – Henry Waller
  • “Our heart goes with the family of this illustrious servant of God! At Shalom University in Bunia, the newest Francophone African DAI partner, we know that James Engel continues to live through the DAI courses he authored. We will always remember him and one day, we too will see him in our heavenly city! ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 25:21).” – Enosh in Democractic Republic of Congo
  • “Dear Jim, you have blessed our lives! You may be gone, but in each of us your legacy lives on! An understanding of what the Kingdom of God is about, and the importance of putting it first, and a commitment to servant leadership, is what you gave me. May your joy be full as you watch us, from up there, carrying forth the torch you passed on!!!”   – Emeline from Cameroon
  • “Indeed it is sad news to hear about the passing on of such a man who has touched innumerable lives world over. Though I never met him physically I did meet him through the legacy of his work, the courses he authored are life transforming. May his soul rest in peace as he basks in glory in heaven. Thank you Jim for heeding the call of God.”  – Regina from Uganda


In Lieu of Flowers the Family Has Requested Memorials Be Given to Alzheimers Association or DAI

To give to DAI online please click here and choose “Staff – specify” and write “Jim Engel” in the box provided. To mail in a donation please click here for a printable donation form. If you need any assistance please call DAI’s office at 719-598-7970.


The Founding of DAI

In 1990, two distinguished professors believed they could make a difference in the lives and ministries of key leaders in the Majority World. Together, they founded The Center for Organizational Excellence at Eastern College. Their dream was to enhance the integrity and effectiveness of Christian leaders worldwide.

Dr. James F. Engel taught at Wheaton College for 18 years. Beside a highly successful secular career in marketing research, he served as a trainer and consultant to over 250 Christian organizations in 60 countries. In spite of all his success, a passion continued to burn in Dr. Engel to do more.

Meanwhile, Dr. David Fraser had gained significant exposure to leaders at the grass roots level, serving as a member of the senior staff of the MARC Division of World Vision International with responsibilities for Unreached Peoples. He had also served with the Mission Training and Resource Center for three years, helping to develop curricula and training models. Having taught in more than 15 countries he also carried a passion for effective leadership development.

Together the two undertook nearly three additional years of research in various parts of the world to identify key areas of need that would have to be addressed for Christian leaders in the majority world to be effective and positively impact their communities.

Over the next five years the curriculum was created, field-tested, modified, and retested. Methods of distribution were tried and evaluated. It began to become clear that interactive, story-based learning focused on asking the leader questions and requiring application enabled leaders to change. This method put the focus on learning and transformation of the leader and his leadership practices. Staff and volunteers were recruited, including men and women with expertise in the most critical fields, and the ministry began to expand. The organization incorporated as its own 501(c)3 corporation to enable growth and changed the name to Development Associates International (DAI) in 1996.


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