Some say that Isaac Ruto is six foot twelve inches tall! Isaac’s skills for training people reach even higher than his stature. He is a key ELI trainer effectively reaching and teaching over 1,000 needy farmers in Tanzania and is expanding this same dynamic strategy ofFIELD FARMER training in Kenya. This young family man has a passion to reach his own people with LIFE GIVING SKILLS. “There is a calling on my life. I want to be used of God to see suffering people helped – especially the small scale farmers. This is where I am seeing the greatest successes and family transformations. There are many paths one could take in life, but for me – helping others in this way is the most fulfilling, and I want to continue until people, communities, and countries are changed”.
Yakobo Yasini is a diligent and passionate servant of God in Tanzania. God has used Yakobo to build relationships with countless people throughout Tanzania. He is the catalyst that connects the people with the trainings and opens the doors for visiting teachers and strategists to come and facilitate the Farmer Field Trainings. Yakobo and an agricultural assistant who work together to train and follow-up on past students, pastors, and farmers trained throughout the year. He also maintains the Training Center based in Kalemela, Tanzania (Near Bunda).
DON ROGERS – FOUNDER/INTERNATIONAL DIRECTOR
Don Rogers is the founder and International Director of ELI which began in Kenya and has now expanded to the neighboring countries of Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Southern Sudan. Don’s short-term trip to Tanzania in 1989 was the first of many that eventually led to the founding of ELI in 1994. He pioneered the work by developing relationships with key national Christian leaders, working with them to establish Skills for Life Training Centers, Christian schools, orphanages, and health ministries. The strategy for empowerment integrates Biblical teaching with dynamic ideas and skills that help the poor address the challenges oppressing their lives spiritually, physically, and economically. Don serves with his family, both in East Africa and the U.S., dividing time according to the needs of the ministry. Kenya is a “home base” and Don travels to Tanzania, D.R. Congo, and Southern Sudan as needed and also enjoys researching with our African leaders and applying new appropriate technologies and business ideas. Amy loves ministering to the women in the village and our boys relish the adventure of living in the “great outdoors.” Don and Amy invest strategic blocks of time in the U.S., sharing the vision of ELI with individuals and groups in order to expand the growing network of supporting partners and churches. Working with the staff in our Upland, California, office and helping to equip short-term teams traveling to Africa is also part of their ministry. Don graduated from Azusa Pacific University – B.A. Religion with Minors in Psychology and Christian Education. Don received his M.A. from Asbury Theological Seminary with a focus on Cross Cultural Missions. Prior to ELI Don served with Youth For Christ in Southern California as well as in the church as youth and senior pastor. He is an ordained minister with the Free Methodist Church.
WENDY LUDOVICI TWYCROSS – PROJECT MANAGER, DYNAMIC BUSINESS START UP PROJECT
Wendy began her ministry with ELI in Tanzania in 1994. As an ethnomusicologist Wendy uses her skills to promote indigenous worship by facilitating songwriting workshops with local musicians. She also uses her background and experience in youth ministry to empower youth leaders to encourage and train young people to become followers of Jesus. In addition, Wendy has a deep concern for the poor and recognizes the need for economic empowerment. Her current focus is managing the Dynamic Business Start up Project which provides hands on business training for poor and unemployed people and facilitates the process of them starting up their own small businesses. Wendy is married to Peter Twycross and they are based in Nairobi, Kenya.
MARK AND CATHY LESSIG
Mark and Cathy are passionate about helping others know and serve Christ. With backgrounds in education and teaching ministries, their desire is to shepherd the hearts of students and empower fellow educators. Together they are developing and implementing a teacher-training program and acting as a link between ELI’s schools in Kenya, Sudan, and D.R. Congo. Mark also focuses upon mentoring and encouraging national leadership while Cathy facilitates aspects of ELI’s child sponsorship program and assists with children’s ministry.
SAMUEL TEIMUGE – TRAINING CENTER DIRECTORS
Samuel Teimuge is a master communicator and catalyst. God used Samuel to help start ELI in Kenya and to establish the ELI UKWELI TRAINING CENTER in Ilula where Skills For Life are taught with passion in the classroom as well as the demonstration farm. Samuel and the UKWELI Training team are not restricted to the center alone – in fact – you will often find them in villages throughout Kenya carrying out surveys, holding open air campaigns, planting trees, starting businesses, helping rehabilitate alcoholics, and proclaiming the message of God’s love for their nation and the world.
JUILIS TOROITICH – DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Julius is married to Zipporah and both of them love the Lord deeply. They have five children, ages 14 to 22. Julius worked at Equator Flowers for eight years. At times, ELI teams came to minister at the flower farm and he got to know the ministry well. In 2006, the flower farm wanted to transfer Julius to Mombasa. Not wanting to be separated from his family, Julius refused to transfer and resigned from his job, knowing that God had something else in mind for his life. At that time, ELI was looking at hiring a Kenyan Director of Operations to oversee ELI Kenya’s various ministries, budgets, and general operations. Julius was an answer to prayer; he took the job and has been with ELI since. Julius’ dream is to rebuild his local church and build Sunday school classes in Baringo, where he grew up. He would even like to build a hospital there someday.
THE BUSIENEI FAMILY- CHILDREN’S HOME DIRECTORS
John Busienei is 43 years old and is married to Veronica with one child, Patrick Rop. It wasn’t until 1990 that John gave his life to God and began work as an evangelist. During his church functions and crusades, he began to form a relationship with David Tarus and learned about ELI. In 2005, David invited John to serve as the director of the new Kipkaren Children’s Home. John and his wife felt a strong calling to the ministry and accepted the position. As directors, they oversee all the home activities and are responsible for the parents and children. Part of their duties include: meeting with the government officials to report on the children. It is their responsibility to look after the welfare of everyone staying in the homes. They protect them, offer support and see that they are brought up in godly way and become God fearing children.
MICHELLE KIPROP – RN
Michelle began making short term mission trips to Africa when she was in high school. During her teens, she began to feel that God was calling her to a life of full time medical mission work somewhere in Africa. She became an RN and worked as a medical/surgical nurse and then in the emergency department. She always thought that she would one day serve full time in Mozambique; but in 2004 when on a short term trip to Kenya with ELI, her eyes were opened to a whole new Africa. While later serving with ELI as an intern she was impressed with ELI’s philosophy of ministry. In 2007 after completing her master’s of science in nursing and becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner she moved to Kenya. Michelle now serves with ELI in a medical capacity as she works alongside Kenyan nurses providing medical care to the villagers in the surrounding communities. She is able to use her experience as an emergency RN as well as her family practice skills on a day to day basis. She loves being in a position to touch both the body and the spirit. In 2007 Michelle married William Kiprop, a Kenyan working in the village of Kipkaren. They both have a passion to reach out with the love of Christ to empower the needy and hurting in Africa. They desire to see others with the eyes of Christ and for them to see our Lord shining through our lives. Michelle works in the Chebaywa Clinic as a nurse practicioner, and enjoys helping to host some of the US teams coming to Kipkaren.
PETER MARU- TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT CENTER DIRECTOR
Pastor Peter was married to his wife, Ruth, in 1998 are blessed with three children: Abel, Faith, and Vivian. God led Peter to ELI in 1996 and he began to work casual jobs for the organization. In 1998, he was hired as a full-time gardener. In 2000 he felt a strong calling to go to Bible College to become a pastor. In 2005 he came back to Kipkaren and began pastoring a small church in his community and serving as the spiritual director for ELI. In 2008, Peter became the director for the entire ELI ministry in Kipkaren. He oversees the staff, the trainings, and all aspects of the ministry. His dream is to see God equip people here the way he wants…He wants to see people empowered and to thrive physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.
Kalondji Mukenya works in a key position to help oversee ELI DR Congo in general. His main role is working as the “School Promoter” in close collaboration with our staff at the school, as well as with parents in the community and with students. Kalondji was first trained in agronomy and has worked as a schoolteacher, high school principal, evangelist, and pastor. Kalondji brings a great deal of experience and connection to the ministry. As a neighbor to the school, and an active leader in the community he brings a new dynamic the work. As school promoter, he keeps hours at the school as well as meeting regularly with teachers, administration, the parents committee and conducting chapel for students.
God has used David Mutombo to help with the general operations of ELI DR Congo. Here is the important work of putting together budgets, contracts, management of personnel and maintaining good relations with the government. David holds a degree in labor management, has worked as a labor consultant for three years, and has also worked as a university professor and a public work inspector. David is newly married and has recently become a father for the first time.
Stephen Reech is the key leader to help us pioneer the work of Empowering Lives in Southern Sudan. This former church planter had lived in exile for fourteen years with the hope of someday returning to his beloved Sudan in order to integrate the Gospel message with practical ideas for eliminating poverty and rebuild his people. That prayer was answered in 2005 as he joined the Empowering Lives Team of servants and began the important mission of establishing the first Christian Primary school in the village (near Bor) on over twenty years and a strategy for empowering communities through the local churches.
ANGELA VINCENT – OFFICE MANAGER
My passion for missions started my sophomore year of high school, when I felt God calling me specifically to reach the world for His Kingdom. I have served in many countries including India, Thailand, Japan, Kenya, and Mexico. I was introduced to ELI through a friend while attending Azusa Pacific University. My husband and I traveled to Kenya in August of 2008 where we were moved deeply by the impact ELI is having in truly empowering people. Having lived on the mission field, I felt it important to work for an organization that stood for something greater. I began working with ELI in September of 2010. While living stateside, I have the honor of keeping our staff refreshed, organized, and focused to better serve our family and friends in Africa.
DIANA HOM – CHILD SPONSORSHIP COORDINATOR
In January of 2008 I became part of the ELI family as the Child Sponsorship Coordinator. I manage sponsorships for all the orphans and students throughout our established Children’s Homes and schools. I love being an advocate for these children! I see this next generation being filled with love and in turn pouring out love to others in need. I am passionate about seeing the Church grow in its mission to care for and love the poor and oppressed. This passion increased as I attended Pepperdine University and was involved in many projects helping the poor. I enjoy organizing, improving systems, working towards increasing communication between the organization and its partners (you!) and being a bridge between sponsors and their children.
MICAH ALBERT – DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS
Micah became part of ELI in 2005 helping shape communication and design efforts along with bringing compelling photos and stories from Africa to you.
Micah has over ten years working throughout Africa, the Middle East and North America, as a photojournalist specializing in and passionate about, difficult-to-access regions and countries and the ensuing and many times, under-covered issues. His photographs have appeared in books, magazines and newspapers worldwide including The New York Times, Time Magazine, Foreign Policy Magazine, The Wall St. Journal, National Geographic, BBC, and Smithsonian Magazine.
He is also a recent grantee from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting working in the largest dump site in Africa.
He has a B.A. in Graphic Communications from Point Loma Nazerene University (2002)
LORI EATON – SHORT TERM MISSIONS COORDINATOR
I am thrilled to be working for ELI as the Short-Term Ministry Coordinator and believe that God began my journey to this place many years ago. I went on my first short-term mission trip to Tanzania while attending Azusa Pacific University when Don Rogers was just at the beginning stages of founding ELI. This trip ignited my passion for missions as well as for the people of Africa. I have had the privilege of returning to East Africa several times since then and have only grown in my love for the people and desire to see them be empowered economically and spiritually. I have many years experience working for a non-profit organization combined with many years in the education field. I am blessed to be able to use my skills to help coordinate and train teams and interns who, like me, will have their lives forever changed by what God will do while they are serving in Africa.