Ben Ungerman has an impressive military CV. Born and raised in a military family, he joined the Air Force after college. In his 25-year career he went on to earn Masters degrees from the National War College, Oklahoma University, and the Air Command and Staff College. As an aviator and Electronic Warfare Officer he traveled the world flying combat support missions on the RC-135. At one point he was a Provincial Reconstruction Team Commander in the mountains of Eastern Afghanistan. And on the other end of the spectrum, he also worked for the White House as a Presidential Advance Agent for George Bush for four years.
Ben learned a lot about leadership along the way, but when he retired in 2016, he was ready for a break. “My family and I moved back to Omaha Nebraska where I’d spent much of my career,” he recalls. “My plan was to take several months off as a kind of sabbatical and pray for what God wanted me to do next. But within just two weeks, a friend and former Air Force officer named Don Bacon approached me and said, ‘I’m running for Congress because God has opened the door. I know this is something God wants me to do and I’d be honored if you would join me in some capacity.’”
“I prayed about it and came to the conclusion it was an opportunity I couldn’t say no to,” Ben says. “I was immediately able to help Don using the skills and talents I had learned from the mountains of Afghanistan and working for the White House. I soon became his Deputy Campaign Manager, and when Don won the election, I became his Deputy Chief of Staff.”
This is where Pinnacle Forum entered the picture.
“Guy Rodgers and I are good friends,” Ben says. “When he joined Pinnacle Forum as the President & CEO, he said to me, ‘I’m going to get you plugged in. I really think you need this.’ So I joined a video Forum led by Eric Bents. We had people from Minnesota, Iowa and other states across the Midwest region. These brothers became sort of my board of directors, if you will. I was getting counsel from people, who in other industries were the equivalent or higher than what I was doing. The friendships, mentorship and spiritual growth were invaluable and not something I could find anywhere else that would fit in my very busy schedule. “
“At first, I felt like I was doing what God wanted me to do by helping someone I could trust and believe in to get elected and be an influence for Christ in our government. Then Pinnacle Forum introduced me to the idea of being something greater; a change agent within a cultural mountain. I’d never heard of the cultural mountains before. I could see the influence, but I had never thought of myself as someone who could have a significant impact in any aspect of society. I began to realize I was called to this area and that God’s greater plan was for me to employ the principles of Christ to further His kingdom within our government.”
As Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Don Bacon, Ben has worked in the U.S. House of Representatives for the past three years. He also directed the activities of the congressman’s Nebraska District Staff. “There were many times of extreme difficulty and praying through challenges,” Ben says. “And at one point I considered resigning. Some of the people in my Forum said, ‘Hey look, God put you in this position. He can carry you through this.’ They gave me scriptures, prayer and the encouragement I needed to persevere.”
On the local level, Ben is now developing what he calls a spinoff of Pinnacle Forum. “Thanks to the growth and maturity of my faith gained from my Forum, I now meet regularly with a lot of young people to mentor them in what I believe is the solution to our political divide, incivility and hatred—love. Healing and unity can only come through embodying and expressing the love of Christ in the face of anger, hate, discord and division.”
“God’s love has no party affiliation,” Ben continues. “It’s not about Republicans or Democrats or Independents or Libertarians. It’s about how God wants us to heal our nation by building a culture of love that counters the hate we so often see. We need to love the constituents we were elected to serve on the one side, but we also need to love the people who challenge and yell at us, often with insults, accusations and vulgarities.”
Love lived out in the political arena doesn’t go unnoticed, as Ben attests. “Just this past week, four people approached me, each asking, ‘What are you doing? It’s different and I really like it.’ The first thing I told them was that I’m part of a Christian-oriented Forum of successful people and peers. Then I challenged them to join a group that could help them discover their purpose and passions as well as teach them how to be impact agents in the areas and cultural mountains they are passionate about.”
“All of them are interested,” Ben says. “So, I plan to start a new group soon and get it plugged into Pinnacle Forum. That’s where it goes back to for me. My Forum has fueled in me a passion to be an agent of change within my cultural mountain and given me the confidence and courage to take action. As a result, God is now orchestrating opportunities to connect with and encourage others to find their mountains and make a difference, too.”