April 24, 2017 by Sarah Ponce
What happens when a farmer trains a farmer who trains a farmer who trains a farmer?
An entire community can change.
Most East Africans are dependent on agriculture. They produce enough to keep their families alive, but just barely. There is never quite enough to eat, and nothing left over to sell.
This is subsistence farming.
ELI Extension Training Coordinator Isaac Ruto conducts trainings that equip farmers over a period of two years to transform their farms into a business so that they are not only feeding their families, but they are also generating income. How does it work? Here are a few key ingredients to the program’s success.
Ingredient #1 What do you already have? Start there.
If you already grow vegetables on a small plot of land, start with vegetables and that small plot of land. Learn everything you can about the resources you already have. Many farmers want to head straight to big cash crops and large livestock. Isaac teaches them to start small, to start where they are, and to grow from there.
Ingredient #2 Build slowly over time.
Many subsistence farmers hope for a quick solution to their farming woes. But farming is complex, and most farmers are lacking knowledge more than resources. Over the course of the first year of training, the farmers learn which crops they are best suited to grow. They concentrate on that item until there is a surplus that can be invested in a new area, like chickens. From chickens, they can grow to sheep, and from sheep they can grow to fruit trees and cattle.
Timothy is a farmer who used the knowledge he gained from extension training to break free from subsistence farming and start operating a small business.
Ingredient #3 Train others as you are being trained.
Isaac trains and then oversees ELI coordinators who are assigned to a region. Each of these coordinators trains thirty farmers using short but powerfully practical lessons over a two-year period. After six months, these thirty farmers begin to train ten other farmers who in turn train another five farmers. After a few years of these exponential trainings, hundreds and eventually thousands of families are impacted!
This kind of practical agribusiness training is one of the key programs ELI has developed to fight the complexities of poverty in East Africa. Like Isaac Ruto, we are committed to helping people start where they are and grow over time. It is your prayers and generosity that are helping to bring an end to subsistence living for Timothy and many more families in need. Thank you for your partnership!
April 12, 2017 by Sarah Ponce
Meet Eliud, a quiet 19-year-old from our Ilula Children’s Home whose life honors God.
We want to share with you the story of Eliud, one of our graduates from the Ilula Children’s Home. Eilud was brought to the Home in 2004 following the death of his mother. When he arrived, he was 5 years old and very malnourished. He was so weak that his grandmother carried him tied to her back like an infant. Today, Eliud is in good health. He likes to run and help with the bread baking for the Home, and he has a constant smile on his face.
School is something that never came easy to Eliud, and over the years he struggled more and more to keep up with his classmates. His house parents, Priscah and David, became concerned that he would not be able to complete his education. Eliud was enrolled in a school for children with special needs, and he finished the 8th grade. In Kenya, it is vital that a student do well on the 8th grade final exams in order to be admitted into high school. Eliud was not able to perform well on these exams, prohibiting him from being placed in a high school.
One by one the other 8th graders at the Home received their acceptance letters from various high schools, but none came for Eliud. After months of searching and feeling like there may be no hope for further education for him, an answer came. Eliud was accepted as a student in the tailoring program at a vocational school near Ilula that has a good reputation. “His smile was so big!” said Eliud’s house mother, Priscah. “He said ‘Mom, I got a place!’ He is proud to be attending a good school.”
Children like Eliud can easily fall through the cracks in a country where there is a limited system set up for people with special needs. And they can also feel like there is no hope if they are unable to succeed in school. We are committed to giving each one of our kids a bright future. Whether they attend a top university or learn a trade, we walk with them every step of the way.
It is through the love and commitment of people like you that Eliud has been able to find a place to learn and thrive. Thank you for your dedication to these children that God has placed in our care. It is a joy to watch them grow up and to see the many ways that they are honoring God with their lives!
March 16, 2017 by Sarah Ponce
Pius is one of eight children and his mother, Perris, is a woman who brewed illegal alcohol in her home for many years. Perris left brewing behind after attending an Empowering Lives training in 2013. In the past four years, 882 brewers like Perris have been trained in alternate occupations. The majority of these brewers have been women. As they return home to start their new lives, a ripple effect of positive change in their households begins.
Pius described the home he lived in before his mother attended the training as embarrassing. He would come home from school during lunch break and instead of finding food he would find a line of customers waiting for his mother’s home-brewed alcohol. One day at school Pius’ teacher pointed out that his uniform was becoming too tattered and she sent him home. When he asked his mother for a new shirt, she did not provide one for him. Perris was too busy with the demands of the alcoholics in her home to properly care for her children. Some days up to 100 customers would come through the door, and there was no time for anything but brewing.
After Perris attended the ELI training, Pius said, everything changed. Perris left brewing and began a small successful business raising chickens. She was able to spend more time talking with her children, encouraging them and giving them the attention they needed. She purchased a new uniform for Pius and began providing proper meals. She started talking about God. Perris encouraged the whole family to go to church, and they continue to attend church to this day. Perris became a beacon of light in her community, encouraging many others to leave brewing. Her influence has affected countless lives well beyond her own family and village.
This is a better life, Pius shared. There is hope for the future when once there was no hope. His performance at school has improved and he is able to attend secondary school, a privilege his older siblings did not have. Thank you, Pius said, and may God bless you!
We are committed to bringing positive change to all of our reformed brewers, and we are so encouraged when we hear stories like this. As we conduct follow-ups with brewers this year, we will also be providing events that foster healing for their children. If you would like to partner with us in the mission of giving brewers a new path to freedom through training, click here.
Thank you for being a part of the journey. Together we are empowering lives!
February 28, 2017 by Sarah Ponce
You have joined us in the journey to equip the poor to live sustainable lives that honor God. Today, we want to unpack what working with the poor looks like in Kenya by talking with Colleen Costigan. Colleen has been with Empowering Lives for the past four years at the Kipkaren Children’s Home and she also works with people living in extreme poverty in a nearby slum community.
How would you define “the poor” in Kenya? Are “the poor” different in Kenya than in the US?
I think it’s important to differentiate between physical poverty and spiritual poverty. Physical poverty is when a person does not have enough resources to get basic needs met like food, shelter, clothing, and healthcare. Spiritual poverty looks more like hopelessness and despair and is often a lack of awareness of how much a person needs God. I’ve met many people in Kenya who at some point in their lives have had to rely on God for food, water or shelter or to provide for school fees or money for an overwhelming hospital bill. There is an element of faith and trust in God that is built into the culture in order to survive. And I think this helps cultivate a reliance on God.
How have you seen physical resources not being enough to lift a person out of poverty?
I have been involved in a situation where I’ve tried everything to offer a person a way out of poverty. I’ve tried empowerment through education, empowerment through a farm project, a Christian 12-step rehabilitation program, and continuously sharing the gospel message. That person (and family) remains chained to addiction and trapped in poverty. The only thing left to do is pray and wait and pray some more and wait some more and trust that God has a plan.
Is there a way to combat poverty that you have found to be most effective?
I don’t think there is an easy or “best” solution to combat poverty. I think you have to try different combinations of things and be willing to fail. It’s important to try to be open minded and flexible. I do think education is an incredibly powerful tool to break the cycle of poverty, and education needs to be coupled with the word of God and prayer. The hope through education is that people are empowered to know their worth, value, and purpose for being on earth.
What are your hopes for equipping the poor with ELI this year?
I am very passionate about the counseling program for the Children’s Homes. Over the last two years it has been a tool to educate and equip the caregivers at the Children’s Homes to learn about the most loving ways to care for the hearts of orphans and vulnerable children. The counseling program has also served as a tool to educate the children and staff on issues related to child safety and protection and minimize risk of any potential harm.
To learn more about the counseling program, click here!
We are so grateful to Colleen for sharing with us about the work God is doing through her and through ELI in East Africa right now.
Empowering lives together,
Empowering Lives International
February 22, 2017 by Sarah Ponce
Each of our 600+ students at the ELI Christian Academy in the Democratic Republic of Congo has a story. Today, we want to share with you the story of 13-year-old Musayi Maombi.
Musayi is the youngest of four girls. The father of the three older girls disappeared during the war, and shortly thereafter Musayi’s mother was raped by soldiers and conceived Musayi. When Musayi was born, the family rejected her, only recognizing the three older daughters. Seeing this injustice, Musayi’s maternal grandmother took her into her home and did her best to care for her. When Musayi reached primary school, her grandmother died. Having no other option, Musayi went back to her mother’s home where she was abused by her family. Her three sisters attended school, but Musayi was denied an education.
Musayi was confused by the treatment she was experiencing. She asked her mother why no one cared about her, but she did not get a response. Finally, when she could not bear her situation any longer, Musayi confided in a neighbor. The neighbor shared with Musayi the story of her conception, and explained to her why she was not considered a legitimate member of the family. Musayi wept at the news and returned home. A week later, the same neighbor brought Musayi to the ELI Christian Academy. The neighbor presented the girl’s case to the school, and a social worker was sent to her home to verify the situation.
Musayi was able to join the school and was finally treated as a person of worth and value by teachers, staff and students. It took her a long time to open up to the love and care she was not used to receiving. Musayi met other children with similar backgrounds to her own, and slowly she began to enjoy life at the school. She is now in her third year at the ELI Christian Academy, and the school has become like a second home to her. Musayi sings in the choir and is working hard at her studies.
Sadly, Musayi’s story is not an unusual one in the DRC. Our goal is to give each of the children at our school a safe haven to learn and grow, and to teach them about their intrinsic worth in the eyes of God. We believe that every child deserves a bright future. Thank you so much for your partnership in this important mission. We could not do it without you!
Learn more about how you can provide an education for children in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Empowering Lives International
February 9, 2017 by Sarah Ponce
Bringing clean water to Tanzania is transforming lives!
Where is Empowering Lives drilling wells, and why that area?
Empowering Lives has been drilling water wells in the dry, rural areas of the Mara region of Northern Tanzania for 3 years. Water is very difficult to access in this part of the country. The ground is too rocky and the water too deep for local hand dug wells or small machine drilling, so many existing shallow wells have gone dry in this year’s drought. Most communities rely on existing water sources that are far from their homes. These sources contain bacteria and are parasite-ridden. Households spend up to 25% of each day fetching water.
There are a lot of organizations drilling wells…What makes the ELI well drilling program different?
One of our core values is giving a hand-up, not a hand-out, and so we partner with communities to raise the $7,000 needed to drill a deep well. People in the community are mobilized to work together and unite to contribute towards the cost of the well. Some will sell a chicken, some a goat, and others contribute from the $1-$2 they make per day. In the end, the community will raise about $1,000, which will in part be used to purchase a heavy-duty hand pump for the well. This encourages the community to take ownership and pride in their new water source and is a big step towards future development. Empowering Lives provides for the drilling rig and the drilling team, and covers the remaining cost of the well. Water drilling has opened up doors for ELI to cultivate meaningful relationships with people and families who live in difficult, rural areas
How can I get involved in the fight against the water crisis in Tanzania?
We have a 2017 goal of drilling 20 wells in partnership with communities! Open up another door for the Gospel message by fully sponsoring a well for $6000, or by making a donation of any amount that will be pooled together with others towards a water well. Learn more about drilling wells in Tanzania.
Watch this brief video to see what collecting water is like without a well, and to see the well drilling process in action:
January 27, 2017 by Sarah Ponce
Meet the Women of Change.
Women of Change is network of women who are committed to supporting the movement of change happening among brewers in East Africa. Val Roark is the coordinator of Women of Change, and she shares with us today about the importance of community on both sides of the ocean.
How do you feel community is important to Women of Change?
Community is important because it gives us emotional support and accountability. If you want to really champion a cause and champion what God is doing in other places, having someone with you who is excited alongside you is so encouraging.
How do you feel community is important to the brewers?
The groups there meet sometimes weekly, sometimes once a month. They do merry-go-round or table banking together so they’re not only supporting each other socially, spiritually and emotionally, but also supporting each other financially to some degree. Because they come from a village together and are trained at ELI, they go back home with that support system. And that support is paramount to their success; I saw it for myself over and over again.
Do you feel the Women of Change community in the US is connected to the communities of former brewers in Kenya?
That is what I want to see happen. We can embrace the change they are making and recognize and look at ourselves and think how does that impact me personally. What does God want to change in my life?
Also they (the brewers) are realizing we are all in God’s world and His kingdom, and they have these friends who are sisters of change who are far away but care about them. For the women in Africa to feel this connection is huge. I saw on their faces what it meant to them, even just to think we are praying for them. And then for them to say we’ll pray for you…when I see the faith they have, I want people like that praying for me!
Interested in getting involved with Women of Change? Contact Val at email@example.com about joining a chapter or starting your own chapter in your area.
Interview with Val Roark by Sarah Ponce
Empowering Lives International
October 29, 2016 by LoriEaton
This summer, your support helped more than 100 women make commitments to Christ and to turn their lives away from illicit brewing!
Ephesians 4:28 (NIV)
“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.”
I sat quietly in the back as the County Police Commissioner addressed the 16 women graduating from ELI training, who had been illegally brewing chang’aa (translation: ‘kill me quick’). They were the first trainees from Baringo County, where the top three reported crimes are rape, defilement, and assault—all related to the brewing, selling, and drinking of homebrewed liquor. He appealed to the women to think of their mother’s love and to think of the future they are giving to their children. Paying school fees with money from selling liquor comes at too high a price if children sleep clothed and ready to run should the police come in the night.
Training after training, I saw women making commitments to stop brewing and to trust God as they endeavored to make an honest living. What courageous faith for those living on the margins! I also heard testimonies from women who graduated from training a few years before, and they shared of improved relationships with their families, of strengthened faith, of restored dignity… and of course, of their new successful economic ventures!
Poverty is not just economic, but a physical, emotional, social, and spiritual burden. The ELI trainings allow families to be increasingly economically sustainable through the skills learned. Unsaddling their families from liquor brings increased physical and emotional health, and former graduates tell us how children are now in school and family communication improves. Socially and spiritually, graduates find encouragement and accountability with each other. As their lives are transformed, so are their communities as neighbors are also inspired to turn towards Christ.
At the end of the summer, leaders from a dozen past graduating groups gathered to be re-equipped to bring tools back to their communities. Empowerment is the incredible process of enabling communities to thrive. Thank you for being a stakeholder in this process and thank you for your faithfulness in supporting these women in Kenya!
Noreen Lue– Intern, Ilula Training Center
October 15, 2016 by Angela Vincent
“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!
Treasurer, Board Member
Empowering Lives International
September 29, 2016 by Angela Vincent
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!
Director of International Implementation
Empowering Lives International
September 15, 2016 by LoriEaton
We have the privilege of partnering with many wonderful people and churches here in the US. Cornerstone Community Church has become part of our ELI community through their support and service. Read some of their story as you consider your own role within our community.
This past July, we sent a team of five to visit Empowering Lives International, our global partner in Kenya. We loved learning from, encouraging, and enjoying deep fellowship with the ELI community.
One of the days we traveled into the “high country” to join Dennis, the Ilula Training Center Manager, in a follow up meeting with seventeen ladies who had recently attended training in May. It was truly a highlight of the trip for us. The high country was as picturesque as the Alpine foothills. The rural remote villages were scattered with sheep and cattle grazing among the maize and tea crops. The village chief and some of his supporting staff welcomed us as we visited several homes of the former brewers. We were welcomed with glowing smiles and traditional chanting and dancing as we received warm but formal embraces. They were chanting “embrace and love.”
I was impressed at just how quickly many of these women have made positive changes in their lives, and how proud they were to share their stories. One woman explained, that prior to the training she was so focused on brewing that she didn’t bother to bathe her children. But now they are well cared for and her home has expanded with the profits earned from her chips and food catering business. Another woman was proud of the increase and diversification of her small crops. Another, her “kukus” (chickens). But the common theme among them all was a beaming smile and a proud look in their eyes that said, “I am somebody. I have dignity. I am special. Look what I am doing with what I have learned.”
Nowhere have I seen the love of Christian community or the warmth of hospitality better demonstrated than by Kenyan believers. They beam the love of Christ, and reflect that warmth and humility to those around them. ELI has been such a tremendous blessing to partner with, and we enjoy being a part of God’s Kingdom-building in ways that uphold the dignity of the poor while teaching the love of Christ.
What a blessing it is to be a part of this global community who are truly empowering lives!
Global Missions Leader, Cornerstone Community Church
Do you want to partner with ELI by going on a trip to Kenya and experiencing firsthand the amazing work that is being done? If so, click here for more information.
September 1, 2016 by Sarah O'Connor
As we wrap up the summer, I want to leave you with an awesome highlight. Children around the country were able to make an impact through our Change 4 Life project through their VBS programs. Through Change 4 Life, thousands of children around the U.S. honored God through their giving, by collecting change to help provide school supplies for our kids in the D.R. Congo. Churches collected anywhere between $200-$2000 dollars!
One Children’s Ministry Director shared, “Each night they were challenged to bring home a plastic container to fill with spare change. We showed the video about ‘Change 4 Life’ and it inspired the kids to help others needing an education and supplies.” The children really connected with the idea that their money was going to go across the world to help another child in need. By the end of the week, the children collectively brought in 333 pounds of spare change, more than $1500!
What a joy to see and hear about children who are positively impacting lives and honoring God, as well as the impact it made on their own lives. Together, these children became change agents from right here in the U.S.
We are so very grateful for all who participated in ELI’s Change 4 Life project!
If you are interested in partnering with ELI for your VBS program, please send us an email or call the office!
Development Coordinator Intern
Empowering Lives International
August 18, 2016 by Angela Vincent
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
Women of Change Coordinator
Empowering Lives International
August 4, 2016 by Angela Vincent
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!
Summer Intern, Ilula Children’s Home
Empowering Lives International
July 22, 2016 by LoriEaton
As you know, one thing we aim to do is equip the people of Kenya, young and old, with the knowledge and skills they need to change the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families. We see this happening daily in each of our programs through our Children’s Homes or our Training Centers. The change we see is what motivates us to keep moving forward each day.
But did you also know another huge motivation for us is when we see lives in the U.S. equipped and changed for God’s glory? We love to involve our families, friends, neighbors and churches to invest their gifts, talents and time in the work God is doing in Kenya. As soon as someone says, “Yes” to the call, we work to equip them with the knowledge they need in order to serve in Kenya through a variety of resources and training. In my role as Short-Term Ministry Coordinator, I have the privilege of seeing this happen on a regular basis and I never tire of seeing lives changed—here at home and in Kenya—through this process.
This year alone, we will have over 60 people go to Kenya and God is using them in a variety of ways: from running a youth camp, making home visits to former brewers and offering encouragement, taking photographs and capturing stories, putting decorative touches in our dormitory, and so much more. Each of these people have been called in a special way to serve God. When they willingly step out of their comfort zone to learn about what God is doing in the world, they come back with a new perspective on life and share this with those around them—a life equipped to make a difference.
Here is a glimpse at some of the lives that have been equipped and changed:
A team from Cornerstone Community Church in Wildomar meeting together and preparing for their trip to Kenya. They are in Kenya as this is being published!
Jayme is a student at APU who first went with a team in 2015. She spent this past year interning in our office in Upland and then went back to Kenya as an intern in May of 2016.
Even the lives of our families are changed! This is my dad Bill and my son Noah in Kenya last year.
Will you be one of these lives? How are you answering God’s call?
For more information about going to Kenya, you may visit our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Short-Term Ministry Coordinator
June 23, 2016 by Tori Greaves
“Welcome to the ELI Family!”
Maybe it was an email…
Maybe it was Don Rogers after he spoke at your church…
Maybe it was a long line of children singing at a Children’s Home in Kenya…
In some form or another, we all are welcomed into this community.
For me, the first time it happened was in Kenya. Intimidated and alone, I stepped off the plane in Eldoret, where I was promptly taken to the Ilula Children’s Home. But the songs, flowers, and hugs of the children quickly melted my fears. I spent two months that summer playing games, leading devotions, and learning from the unconditional welcome that this community had given me.
Then, last year, I had the privilege of receiving this welcome a second time. This time, it was in the U.S. when Don extended an invitation to come alongside and aid in efforts for development. Though I never ceased being a part of the community, what a joy it was to be welcomed again into the loving family of staff and partners here in the States!
This past year has been shaped by you. Getting to know you, share stories, and encourage one another in our love for ELI has been an incredible honor. You set an example of dedication, generosity, and faithfulness that encourages me to grow in the ways that I honor God through my life and ministry.
Now, I am stepping into a new chapter in my own journey. I will be leaving my formal position at ELI. However, it is clear to me that this is not a step outside of our community, but more deeply into it. I look forward to the ways in which I can continue to support, advocate, and pray for the Empowering Lives ministry alongside you!
We are the ELI Family, joined by faith, generosity, and prayer in every part of the world.
Thank you for joining this journey! We would love to hear more from you. How did you become a part of this community?
By Tori Greaves
Empowering Lives International
P.S. I also invite you to extend the same warm welcome to Elizabeth Serrano (email@example.com), Development Coordinator Intern, who has joined our team for the summer!
Wish to respond by giving? Click here.
June 9, 2016 by Sarah O'Connor
Honoring God through service
Empowering Lives International is powered by people like you, who give continually of their money, their prayers, and their time.
From East Africa to the U.S., we, the ELI community, all seek to honor God. Shayla is no exception. When she was just 15, she and her family traveled nearly 10,000 miles to our Children’s Home in Ilula, Kenya. She played with, served, and fell in love with the orphans that call Ilula home. Shayla befriended one little boy in particular, named Joseph. Shayla explains in her blog that she uses her babysitting money to help pay for Joseph’s basic needs and education; ensuring that the cycle of poverty stops with him… Honoring God through the most unlikely of friendships.
An excerpt from her blog “He’s Stolen My Heart”
Our departure crept in like thick, dark ink, tainting our final moments. Only hours before our family said our goodbyes, I sat in the cool dewy morning air holding a cup of hot chai tea, Joseph sitting beside me, his legs swinging absentmindedly. As I sat there, I basked in his sweet presence and gulped in the sight of his turned up nose, animated hands, and rambunctious spirit, not wanting our time to end. When the van pulled up–the moment I had long dreaded–Joseph and I walked out to meet it, holding hands for the last time. The kids whom I’d come to adore, engulfed me in a sorrowful embrace, lips trembling…
A month later, my mom and I sat at the kitchen table talking about our loved ones back in Kenya. “Shay, I’ve gotta tell you something I think you’re gonna be really excited about,” my mom said, biting her lip to hide a grin. She grabbed her laptop and slid into the chair next to me. On the screen was a photo of Joseph, with the words “needs sponsor”.
New hope lifted a burden I didn’t realize I was carrying…
Shayla and Joseph at Ilula Children’s Home – 2015
To read the rest of Shayla’s Story visit her blog at: http://shaylajoy.com/title/
We are so blessed by people like Shayla, and like you, who care deeply about the lives of children and families in East Africa. Thank you for joining with us as we seek to honor God.
Empowering lives together,
Empowering Lives International
Wish to respond by giving? Click here.
May 26, 2016 by Tori Greaves
The rain mixed with hail, which made the night miserable and cold. The old woman had little strength, yet she managed to push her bed across the room to where some of the thatched grass still remained above on her deteriorating mud hut.
I arrived to the old woman’s home late the next day and greeted her with a smile. Her cold reception surprised me. She was the grandmother of Margaret, one of the girls at the ELI Children’s Home. We had come to visit, share chai (Kenyan tea), and pray before we returned home.
One rickety chair stood inside the woman’s hut. The other ELI staff and I sat down on makeshift stools of firewood. There was no chai.
We talked for a few minutes and walked around. I saw the hole in her roof and the muddy floor where the rain had fallen throughout the night. We prayed together, and as we prepared to leave, our Children’s Home Director requested that we give an impromptu gift to help her. You see, while she was waiting for us all day, she did not leave the home as usual to find work for her day’s food.
For this old woman, life was barely livable. Frailty, lack of resources, and deteriorating conditions mired her in poverty.
But our staff soon returned. With just a few people, we repaired her roof, and we brought a dairy cow that could sustain her – made possible by the generosity of friends like you! She now has daily nutrition and income from the milk. These days, when Margaret comes to visit, her grandmother can receive her with joy and not as a burden.
ELI has the privilege of providing sustainability that extends from children like Margaret in our Children’s Homes out into the wider community. Because of you, Margaret’s grandmother now has a cow and restored dignity. Because of you, we can give Margaret a house that is safe, warm, and dry; a quality education; and a home filled with spiritual mentors and loving siblings and parents.
This is sustainability. A full life. A home.
By Don Rogers
Founder and International Director
Empowering Lives International
Wish to respond by giving? Click here.
May 12, 2016 by Diana Coombs
The fire raged, a huge orange flame lighting up the sky. By the time it was contained, it had consumed 40 homes. For a slum in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), it was a miracle there were no casualties.
The Keredi slum is located in a valley between two hillsides, and the poorest live at the bottom. All of our students at the ELI Christian Academy live here. Homes are packed tightly together, made mostly of wood, mud, and tin roofs. They are propped on stilts for when the rains flood the floor of the slum. When it is rainy season, the ground becomes a trap of sticky mud, very difficult to walk in, especially when all you own is a pair of flip flops or nothing at all. Sewage winds between the homes, and makeshift bridges made from planks of wood allow you to cross over. Trash litters the ground. Life is harsh and every morning means you survived one more day.
We received an email from our ELI DRC Director confirming news of the fire. Four of our students had lost their homes. The origin of the fire is still unknown and the government is doing nothing to investigate or assist the families affected. We thank God that no one was physically hurt and only material items were damaged. But for families who barely survive on $1 a day, this was devastating.
Understanding the great need, our staff in DRC, teachers, and students collected as much as they were able ($64) to purchase clothes, books, shoes, cups, plates, pots and pans to give to the four families in our school who lost their homes. Groups visited the families and prayed with them, offering comfort in the midst of great loss.
When tragedy hits the poor, the ramifications are severe. There are no insurance policies to fall back on. The dollar you earn a day cannot replace the home you built or repurchase clothes and supplies that burned. You rely on your community to help out.
And we are their community.
This is an opportunity for you, me and the ELI School to shine the light of Christ to the thousands in the Keredi slum. We are setting a goal to raise $20,000 by the end of May to help the families of our students who lost their homes and to provide for children coming to our school. The ELI school offers quality education and food for over 650 children in the Keredi slum – 650 children equipped to conquer the cycle of poverty and share the hope of Christ to their community.
Join us as together, as we are empowering lives!
Vulnerable Children Program Manager
Empowering Lives International
April 28, 2016 by Angela Vincent
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!
U.S. Operations Manager
Empowering Lives International