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Emulating God’s Love

October 15, 2016 by Angela Vincent

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“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter…”  Isaiah 58:6-7

Have you ever wondered why we are compelled to help the poor? And why Empowering Lives specifically focuses on empowering the poor in Africa?

The answer is simple: because we are made in God’s image. An intense longing to satisfy the needs of the poor is one of the most obvious characteristics of God that we see throughout the Bible. Isaiah 58:6-7 is a wonderful reminder of how passionately God desires our hearts to come to the aid of those who need it.

We are emulating God’s love when we partner together to empower and equip the poor.

What is even more astounding, is that in all of God’s holiness and glory, He intimately relates to those who are outcast, humiliated, abused, and oppressed. He humbles Himself, beyond our comprehension, in order to draw near to the poor. Jesus’ teachings make it clear that a heart that actually loves God will embrace and provide for the poor, crippled, lame, blind, widowed, orphaned, and outcast.

After one week of being on the ground in Kenya, I have been confronted with hundreds of lives that have been positively impacted because of your heart for God; for your willingness to sacrifice—financially, physically, and spiritually—to offer a means of hope, restoration, and empowerment. And in turn, want to do the same themselves.

These people are becoming catalysts for exponential change. Tom, a recovering alcoholic from our AA program, has a new vision to protect children in his village from alcoholism through sports programs. A girl from South Sudan, who has experienced loss and war at a young age, is spiritually counseling fellow high school students. A former brewer, is boldly confronting her neighbors about the negative influences of alcohol within their families and their community. And the list goes on…

Jesus tells us that the poor will always be with us. And I realize that I have limited time in life to imitate my heavenly Father by reaching out and serving them. Thank you for your partnership as we seek to serve them together!

Joe Stevick
Treasurer, Board Member
Empowering Lives International

 

 

 

A Man and His Fish

September 29, 2016 by Angela Vincent

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You’ve heard the story of the man and the fish: you can either give him food or teach him how to catch it. One is a temporary fix. The other has long-lasting effects. A short walk from one of our Children’s Homes we have a farm. On this 20-acre piece of land, we have a three-acre banana plantation, a five-acre timber forest, six acres of grazing for cattle and sheep, an acre of fishponds, and another five acres of food production. From this farm, not only will we be able to source food to the Children’s Home, but we will also generate profits to help locally sustain the ministry efforts.

The farm itself is already acting an agri-business model for the region. Farmers visit to learn what we are doing and how we have both designed and strategized the farm. The local community itself is greatly benefiting from our efforts as villagers are observing and slowly implementing our techniques and approaches to diversified production and income schedules. The 14 full time workers are not only learning new skills and gaining valuable experience, but our weekly Bible studies and discipleship meetings are equipping them with the living Gospel that will impact and bless their families.

The story of two of these workers is particularly encouraging. Before joining us, they spent their days looking for local and unskilled labor, earning just enough to get drunk off cheap malt liquor every evening. They were a frustration to their families and a black eye to the community. We invited them to work at the farm as casual day laborers knowing they would work hard to make their earnings.

In the beginning, they continued to drink. As much as we did not like it, it never affected their job performance. But after three to four months of working every day, listening to the weekly Bible studies and participating in discipleship meetings, their parents visited the farm. They asked our manager, Isaac, what we were doing to their boys. They described the transformation they have seen—instead of drinking and creating problems, the boys wake up early, go to work, return home in the evenings, take showers, eat dinner, and go to bed. They are too tired for anything else, even drinking. In fact, each week they leave money on the table to assist with school fees for their younger siblings.

These young men are becoming upstanding family and community members. And just like the man with the fish, we have equipped these young men with knowledge, skills, and a deeper application of the Word of God, creating long lasting effects.

It’s through your support and partnership that communities and homes are experiencing these transformations. Thank you for working alongside us as we seek to empower lives!

Jim Caya
Director of International Implementation 
Empowering Lives International

Abundance and Joy

August 18, 2016 by Angela Vincent

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Through your continued support of ELI, former brewers and their families are living sustainable lives that honor God!  It is my joy to share with you some up-close-and-personal evidence of the physical, social and spiritual supports that convey sustainability that I experienced on my recent trip to Kenya.
 

– Joy radiates from each woman singing or sharing a testimony at a “Women of Change Kenya” event, entirely organized and led by a leadership team of former brewers from across Marakwet County. My heart is still singing “Congoi!”, which means “Thank you!” in Kalejin.

– The former brewers in Chepkorio, trained nearly three years ago, glow as they talk of their Monday meetings, led by two former brewers now in Bible School. They study the Bible, pray, organize their milk distribution co-op and assist group members needing help. Another group in the Metkei region enthusiastically invites me to a similar meeting their group holds twice a month.

– The husband of a former brewer notes what is different in their home since his wife was trained almost three years ago at the Ukweli Training Center. “We have unity. We plan together for the week or the month. Our children know we are together so they are more obedient.” His wife, upon hearing his words, breaks into a big smile and says, “I have joy in my heart!”

– Grace, in Iten, joyfully cuts bags full of Black Night Shade (a very nutritious vegetable) for each woman in her group because she has an abundant crop.

– Esther, after almost 3 years since training still says, “There’s no turning back! I’m on the path!” Her friend, Rose, proudly says, “We are chasing away poverty!”

– Sally smiles and sits up taller as she talks about her children, especially the two who have finished a university program. Trained almost 13 years ago in an early version of our current ELI training, Sally cares for her family (including her almost 100 year old grandmother), tends to her garden and chickens, and maintains her job. Though she carries much responsibility she says, “I could not return to brewing because I belong to God!”

Thank you for sustaining this life-changing program. This month, more than 100 brewers will be trained and equipped and will soon have stories like these women above!

*Photo of Gladys and Shekila from the Chepkorio area
Val Roark
Women of Change Coordinator 
Empowering Lives International

Humble Beginnings and an Everlasting Hope

August 4, 2016 by Angela Vincent

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I’d like for you to meet Nixon Kiprotich. Nixon is a father at the Ilula Children’s Home in Kenya, where I interned for three weeks this past summer—helping the kids with their daily chores and homework, leading devotions, and lots of playing. Not only did I learn about how the Children’s Home functions, but I was able to build lifelong relationships. And Nixon was one of those.

One morning over chai, he shared with me his humble upbringing and how it has brought him to where he is today.

Nixon was born and raised in the village of Turuturu, in the Kerio Valley. His parents, Joseph and Mary, never worked or went to school growing up. Their family grew maize (corn) and other vegetables for food. Nixon was the eldest of ten siblings, and later eighteen, after his father remarried. Growing up, his family had a strong faith and were actively involved in the church.

Nixon went to school for the very first time when he was eight years old. At times, he would stay home to help his family, but eventually he and his siblings attended school so they could receive one meal a day and some milk. Nixon and his siblings each had one outfit and never owned a pair of shoes until they went to high school.

During high school, Nixon was shaped into a strong and independent man, understanding the importance of hard work and a strong faith in God. After high school, Nixon went to work for a Christian radio and TV station to help support his family. This is where he met his beautiful wife Zipporah. Twenty years later, Nixon made the decision to go back to college to be an example for his children. He is now studying Child Development and Social Work and one day dreams of being called “Dr. Nixon”. In 2007, Nixon and Zipporah became parents at the Ilula Children’s Home.

Even amongst great adversity and poverty, Nixon never lost hope. Nixon and Zipporah continue to emphasize to their children that God has amazing plans for them and they are alive for a purpose. It is from Nixon’s past that he has an even greater hope for these children. “I thank God for ELI because now I can help all the children because of the past I had”.

You might not know Nixon personally like I do. But you are a part of his story too. Your support and partnership help provide him and all of the children at the Homes with the hope to push through adversity, give God their pasts, and even more, their futures. Thank you for providing hope to hundreds of children!

Jayme Chesler
Summer Intern, Ilula Children’s Home
Empowering Lives International

Meet Samuel and Rhoda

April 28, 2016 by Angela Vincent

Teimuges Now

Because of you, thousands of people have been equipped with new hope for their lives. Hundreds of orphans have entered the family of God and entire villages in East Africa have turned 180 degrees, eradicating cycles of poverty and alcoholism.

This is the work of the people of God!

Meet Samuel Teimuge, Director of ELI Kenya.

Samuel, and his wife Rhoda, have spent their lives honoring God and have seen Him work in incredible ways.

They began with hearts eager to equip the needy around them with hope in Christ and life-changing knowledge and training. When they met Don Rogers, sparking a deep passion and friendship, ELI Kenya was formed! Without hesitation, Samuel and Rhoda donated a piece of their personal property, which later became the Ukweli Training Center in Ilula.

This simple donation of land turned into a holy space where, today, lives are equipped and transformed. Here, families are restored, children are educated, and the power of alcohol is abolished. Churches grow and a spirit of hopelessness is replaced with hope.

Samuel and Rhoda continue to dedicate their lives to equipping the needy around them. Samuel now trains the youth, teaching them the ways of the Lord through Sunday school and education. He and Rhoda also spend significant time following up with the women who go through ELI’s trainings. They visit the women’s families and communities, ensuring that they receive the support they need.

Samuel also works closely with Simit Valley—a community once overcome with challenges and on the brink of despair. Today, the community of Simit is seeing a vibrant spirit rise in their youth. Their schools are growing, and they built their very first HIV clinic.

Samuel and Rhoda have committed their lives to seeing people around them equipped with God’s love and power. Thank you for joining the Teimuges and the entire ELI family as we seek to empower and equip the lost for God’s glory!

P.S. If you would like a chance to meet Samuel and Rhoda, join us for our SoCal Walk 4 Africa event on Saturday, June 4th!

Angela Vincent
U.S. Operations Manager 
Empowering Lives International

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2015 by Angela Vincent

Happy Thanksgiving from your ELI family!

Photo of the Day

January 14, 2015 by Angela Vincent

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A warm welcome at our school in the Keredi slum in Bukavu, DRC. (photo: Micah Albert)

Join us for the Orange County 5K!

October 24, 2014 by Angela Vincent

Join us on November 22nd for the Orange County 5k

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Join us on November 22nd, in a synchronized video-linked footrace between Orange County, CA, USA and Eldoret, Kenya. When you run or walk, you are helping to change the course of suffering lives! Your participation and support will bring life changing training and knowledge to lives in need of hand-up (and not a hand-out).

Visit our fundraising page to register, donate, and see our progress!

Photo of the Day

August 7, 2014 by Angela Vincent

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In Tanzania a father shows me his new chickens but he’s concerned as he likely will not have access to the much-needed vaccine for his chickens.

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Celebrating Ministry Together – 19 Years

March 28, 2014 by Angela Vincent

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“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”  

Mother Teresa

For we are God’s workmanship. created in Christ Jesus to do the good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.      Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) 

This month we are celebrating! It is the faithfulness of God and friends like you that has helped us put God’s love into action for the past nineteen years! It is our nineteen-year anniversary this month and though we have seen thousands come to Christ and out of poverty – we cannot forget that with your help we are changing the world – one life at a time.

Yakobo could not feed his children and the pain he felt in his own stomach was nothing compared to the pain in his heart  – knowing that as a father – he was not able to provide the feed his family needed for that day.

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Don Rogers and Yakobo – 1993

What happened next changed the course of both of our lives.  We worked together with our hands and hearts to make a product – a cement water storage jar – that he might be able to sell for income – but we failed dramatically at the task.  That next week in a city far away I met a man during a “chance” encounter who just happened to be training people how to make the jars.  Yakobo attended the training and the course of his life change as he began to provide for his families need with this new business income.

Today Yakobo is the director of Empowering Lives Tanzania and has dedicated his life for the glory of God and to actions that will bring others out of the chokehold of poverty and Spiritual darkness.  He is one of over 150 national servants who now serve full time with ELI among four countries – doing things we cannot, but empowered by what we can do through our prayers and support.  For these almost two decades this has been a team effort and today – as I reflect on the faithfulness of God and His people, I am deeply moved and thankful. The magnitude of what God has done is beyond what I could have ever imagined.

Thank you for your partnership and prayers.  We see and feel a special momentum from God in our work at this time and I believe that this year, as we approach our 20 year ministry anniversary, will be one of our most productive years in terms of changed and empowered lives in our ministry history.  We have done this together because of your partnership. More lives like Yakobo’s are about to change course and for the faithfulness of our loving God and for your support – we are truly and forever grateful.

Empowering lives together,

Don

Don

Introducing Chaya

February 4, 2014 by Angela Vincent

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Let me introduce you to chaya, it is an amazing plant that is helping eradicate malnutrition around the world — specifically in East Africa, as ELI propagates and distributes this important leaf-bearing bush. It is effective because it is resistant to drought, disease and pests. Chaya is appropriate because it is so easy to plant, does not need high quality soil, grows into a bush that never needs to be planted again, and grows new stems throughout the year that can be broken off and planted to easily expand the crop. It is powerful because it has a higher nutritional value than spinach, and the taste and cooking method is similar to the familiar kale and spinach plants East Africans already use and enjoy. This vegetable is another powerful way to help empower lives!

The Tallest Flag

August 28, 2013 by Angela Vincent

Tallest Flag

 

The sound of the plane was deafening and terrifyingly familiar. Though they never knew for sure where it came from or where it was going next, one thing was certain: when the Antanov airplane from Northern Sudan flies overhead, it could be the last sound you ever hear. People were about to die.

For 23 years, the people of South Sudan lived an anxious existence. Years of concern for your own survival and that of your family’s survival developed more ulcers than farms. There is no time or place to cultivate the land when a war is at your door. Life became a nomadic existence where you prayed to see the next day and where you were fortunate if you had a big enough hole in the ground to hide in.

Fighting continues along some of the North and South borders, but the civil war that raged for decades has come to an end. July 9, 2011 brought hundreds of thousands to the newly constructed “Freedom Square” in the temporary capital city of Juba, South Sudan. Front and center in the square is a massive array of flags from around the world. In the middle, however, there was a new pole that rose higher than the rest. It would become the tallest flag, the flag of the new South Sudan. When the flag went up, people fell down. Ambulances were at the waiting as many people, so overwhelmed by the reality of independence and what the potential of freedom could mean, had their knees buckle, fainting from the combination of heat, anticipation, memories of the past, hopes for the future and just sheer joy.

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Special Message from Don Rogers

June 6, 2013 by Angela Vincent

Plant a tree – Empower the future

God has blessed us with a very important opportunity to change not only the environment in a community but to change the futures for needy and suffering lives here in East Africa.  Your care and investment in this project will help in so many ways. The timing is crucial because right now is the rainy season and the absolute best window for us to move into action.

Here is the Problem:  People depend on trees for their main fuel needs in the village.  All cooking is fueled by firewood or charcoal and all construction is done using trees as main posts for roofing, walls, and furniture. Trees are coming down but not being planted. The forests are being destroyed in massive numbers which is having a devastating effect on the environment, animals, weather patterns, and local village economy.  Along with this deforestation there is soil erosion – top soil being washed away which impacts peoples ability to grow food not to mention the dangers of mud slides that this past year killed over a dozen innocent families near the Kerio Valley.
As a growing organization that is reaching more and more people with the message of Christ and key ideas for breaking the cycle of poverty each year – we know that we can reach even MORE if we are able to become increasingly self sustaining financially within the countries where we serve here in Africa.

This project is important to help solve both of these challenges.

We are stepping in faith to plant just over 15,000 trees which in terms of ministry sustainability will bring a net income of over half a million dollars within 8 years from the trees alone.  Then there is the VETIVER GRASS that is being planted between the rows of trees, along the perimeter of the property, and on certain dedicated plots of land. There is the capacity of planting more than 30,000 plants that will multiply by 5,000 % within the first year (One seedling will multiply to become 50). The government and other environmental groups are now recognizing the importance of this special grass for controlling soil erosion (there is no other plant that does this better) and will be looking  to buy the seedlings.  ELI will be on the forefront in the nation in growing vetiver grass seedlings and the positive environmental impact is immeasurable with the added bonus of income from the sales which can reach

This income means that we will be able to reach more than 2,600 MORE families with life changing training every year – year after year or provide full care for more than 50 orphans annually.

The environmental impact is vital and important – The income potential is real and translates to be thousands of changed and empowered lives.

Your gift – given to this project will have a multiplying impact on needy lives and we are grateful for each dollar that is enough to plant and help sustain more than two trees or vetiver grass seedlings.

Photo of the Day | Kenya

June 3, 2013 by Angela Vincent

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Intern Ryan English unloads food-aid to the areas hit hard by recent landslides. (Photo: Micah Albert)

Photo of the Day | Lake Victoria, Tanzania

March 12, 2013 by Angela Vincent

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Sunset on the shores of Lake Victoria, Tanzania. (Photo by Micah Albert)

 

Matching Campaign Exceeds Goal

February 5, 2013 by Angela Vincent

Thanksgiving to God

You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 2 Cor. 9:11 (NIV)

Your generosity is making a world of difference among poverty stricken children and families in our world and we are so grateful! The investment that you made recently during the ELI matching gift campaign was combined with the generosity of others to help us surpass our goal for a combined total of $86,871. This is encouraging beyond words! It is especially powerful to me, knowing that these funds will enable us to reach and help empower over 3,000 families this year. That is over 10,000 lives that will have a brighter future and greater hope because of our combined efforts. Thank you for joining us in this journey of empowering lives and putting God’s love into action.

A few days ago I was walking in a village here in Kenya and met a man who was so filled with thanksgiving that it made my day! He told me that his life has been greatly impacted by the ministry of ELI; because of the care of our staff and the training he received, he and his family are on a totally new path that is filled with hope and direction. I am so thankful to be a part of this ministry and to know that we have friends like you who help us bring transformation to thousands of lives each year, changing the world, one life at a time!

Empowering lives together,

Don Rogers

Founder / Director

Founder Don Rogers Featured in APU Life Magazine

December 13, 2012 by Angela Vincent

Founder Don Rogers, APU’s Alumni of the Year, has been featured in their alumni magazine, APU Life. Check out the article here.

MATCHING GIFTS that EMPOWER LIVES

December 3, 2012 by Angela Vincent
Several ELI Board members and champions of ELI have committed to giving towards a special matching fund totaling $30,000. You can watch the power of your dollar double while bringing hope and empowerment to more than 3,500 needy lives in Africa.
Your donations towards our general fund will be matched dollar-for-dollar through the end of the year, totaling $60,000. These funds will help us to train and educate needy families while sharing the power of God’s love.

Several ELI Board members and champions of ELI have committed to giving towards a special matching fund totaling $30,000. You can watch the power of your dollar double while bringing hope and empowerment to more than 3,500 needy lives in Africa.

Your donations towards our general fund will be matched dollar-for-dollar through the end of the year, totaling $60,000. These funds will help us to train and educate needy families while sharing the power of God’s love.

Happy Thanksgiving from Empowering Lives International

November 22, 2012 by Angela Vincent

This is a special time to give thanks and we hope that you are blessed. There are few things in life as rewarding as knowing that you are making a concrete difference in the lives of people in need. It is with grateful hearts that we lift our thanks to God for each of you as we journey together to see orphans cared for with the love of God, and the needy empowered with ideas and skills for a brighter future.

Here is a link to an important (3 minute) message I hope will be an encouragement to you.

Azusa Pacific University Honors ELI Founder Don Rogers

October 23, 2012 by Angela Vincent

This past weekend, ELI Founder Don Rogers was honored as the Alumni of the year at Azusa Pacific University. At a dinner for over 800 guests, Don had the privilege of sharing about the amazing work God is doing through ELI in East and Central Africa. He shared the story of when God first captures his heart in college and he told God he would go anywhere to serve Him. Soon after, God confronted Don with an opportunity to go to Tanzania. Don remembered how that first trip changed his life, causing him to see the impact of true empowerment rather than hand-outs. ELI was birthed out of the desire to see lives transformed in a holistic way.
We are so proud of the way Don has allowed God to work in and through him, both here in the US and in Africa. To see Don in action in Africa, check out the video below.