Blog

The ELI Family

June 23, 2016 by Tori Greaves

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“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.P1050005

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
Development Manager
Empowering Lives International

P.S. I also invite you to extend the same warm welcome to Elizabeth Serrano (elizabethserrano@empoweringlives.org), Development Coordinator Intern, who has joined our team for the summer!

Wish to respond by giving? Click here.

Honoring God through service

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…
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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,

Sarah O’Connor
Child Sponsorship
Empowering Lives International

Wish to respond by giving? Click here.

Building Houses and Homes

May 26, 2016 by Tori Greaves

IL 62The 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.
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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

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Wish to respond by giving? Click here.

Fire in DR Congo

May 12, 2016 by Diana Coombs

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SOP Poor Flames 5-9-2016

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.

SOP Poor Burnt Homes 5-9-2016

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!

donate today button

 

 

Diana Coombs

Vulnerable Children Program Manager

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

Journey of a Congolese Child: A University Experience

April 20, 2016 by Tori Greaves

Brought to you by dedicated students and leaders at East Stroudsburg University, PA.

 

IMG_0465A child in the D.R. Congo…

Born into a land of great natural beauty, a farm, a home.

Yet the child’s path winds quickly through dangerous and unexpected turns.

Through war and the death of a father,

Sickness and the death of a mother,

Poverty and the loss of her home.

She makes her way to an urban slum.

 

Her path continues downward.

Her siblings split up among relatives,

IMG_1027Her uncle and caretaker is the most abusive.

Perhaps it is better to live on the streets?

 

It is a scary, uncertain, and treacherous path,

Yet it is all too common in the D.R. Congo.

Can these children find hope again?

 

We believe that they can! This is the work of the ELI school in the slum of Bukavu, D.R. Congo – to provide hope, food, health, and opportunities to those who thought they had lost it all.

 

Thanks to wonderful partners in the United States, the reality of life in the D.R. Congo is being shared. The photos you see here were created for a demonstration at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. Students in the art class of Dr. Darlene Farris-Labarr and in the Social work with Communities and Organizations class of Dr. Laurene Clossey worked together to help spread awareness on their campus. Together, these students decided to take a stand for justice and for hope in the D.R. Congo by supporting Empowering Lives and sharing with their community. Thank you, ESU!

 

Share the stories, support leaders who are making a difference in communities on the ground, learn more, and stand up for justice and hope in our world. These are ways you can be a part of the ELI Community today!

 

Also, check out our Kids’ Program for 2016, where kids here can help send kids in the D.R. Congo to school!

Out of Ashes

April 14, 2016 by Tori Greaves

Mary Metkei BrewerThank you for spreading the hope of God’s community! You are building community, both locally and globally.

Mary grew up in a family of brewers. Everyone she knew brewed alcohol illegally. She married an alcoholic who came from a chaotic family. It was not long until he abandoned Mary and the children.

Without any other example to follow, Mary began brewing and drinking alcohol. Soon, she was drowning in the dangers, violence, and poverty of her career. She felt rejected and alone.

When Mary came to the ELI Ukweli Training Center in 2013, her life changed. She described feeling so much peace as she entered the grounds and began to learn to cook, farm, and start a business. With the knowledge and skills she learned, Mary farmed and saved up to buy a house – the first home for her family.

But when Mary’s husband returned, he hated all that she had built. He burned the house down.

This time, Mary was not alone. The friends she had formed in her community and through the brewers’ training at ELI rallied together to help rebuild her home.

Life is still not easy for Mary, but she can feed her kids well and send them to school. Most importantly, she belongs to a loving, God-seeking community, which supports her and reminds her that she is never alone.

Metkei Community Singing
This beautiful outpouring of community occurs as God moves through and empowers people. We see the same dedication and love now pouring out by groups of women in the USA. Many have volunteered to join together to become 100 Women of Change. As they meet, they support one another and give to impact communities of brewers in East Africa. Their stories and Mary’s remind us that as one community, we join together to make a great impact on this world. To God be the glory!

By Tori Greaves
Development Manager
Empowering Lives International

Wish to respond by giving? Click here.

Miracles in Kenya

April 6, 2016 by Diana Coombs

Jacob 9-22-2015 (web)

It was around this time last year that we sent Jacob, Calvince and Peter to India for a bone marrow transplant. It is with such joyful hearts that we can report to you that Jacob is back in school and doing well! He has regained strength and his smile is as radiant as ever!

Though a man of few words, his smile and strength expresses his gratefulness for the ways he saw you come together to see his healing.

Jacob is not the only child in our Children’s Homes who has received medical attention with the help of donations from friends like you. Recently, Kevin, one of the boys who was welcomed into the Kipkaren Children’s Home in 2014, received surgery to correct his left leg and foot. His left leg was bowed and his foot turned upwards, making it difficult to walk. This February 2016, donations allowed him to receive surgery. He is currently healing and can’t wait to run and play soccer with his friends.

KK-107 Kevin Collage 1 (600px)

Special gifts have made it possible for us to address the extra medical needs of our orphaned children. And we are seeing God heal them!

We still have other children in need of special medical attention and ongoing medical needs. For example:

David, 10 years old, needs surgery to correct his knees as they face inwards, making it difficult to walk.

Enock, 10 years old, has one leg that protrudes outwards, making one leg shorter than the other and very difficult to walk.

If you would like to donate a one-time or monthly gift towards special medical needs of our kids:

  • CLICK HERE to be directed to our online giving page
  • Under “Gift Information” choose “Orphans and Vulnerable Children”
  • From the drop down, select “Help vulnerable children”
  • In the “Comments” section, type in “Child Healthcare”

Thank you!

Honoring God in Kapsoo

March 31, 2016 by LoriEaton

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Because of your prayers and support, we at Empowering Lives witness communities as they experience complete transformation and learn to seek and honor God.

In January, 2015,  I sat with Pastor Boaz from the community of Kapsoo as he shared his struggles with me.  His church only had 17 regular attendees. His community had an 85% alcoholism rate, and the people were entrenched in tribal sacrifices and other harmful ways. Poverty was rampant, and there was little joy. However, Pastor Boaz had hope because knew that God was faithful. He was very thankful for the partnership with ELI which shares his passion for community development that honors God.

Over the course of a year, alongside Pastor Boaz, ELI staff attended community meetings and visited people in their homes. They developed a demonstration farm, and teams from the US encouraged and preached the gospel to both children and adults. Women alcohol brewers attended a week-long training to gain alternative ideas for business. Gradually, people began to see a way out of their poverty and hopelessness.

Then, just last week, I had the privilege of sitting with Pastor Boaz again. He shared his testimony of the past year.  He now has over 100 people attending church on a regular basis.  The number of women brewing alcohol has decreased.  Men are beginning to spend more time farming their land and earning money for their families instead of spending the day drinking alcohol.  The tribal sacrifices have ceased and have been replaced with prayers to God.

Pastor Boaz said, “The people in this community were once harsh towards God and towards me.  But thanks to the support of ELI and the prayers of many, the people are no longer harsh and lives are being changed.”Pastor Boaz with church member

Thank you for being an important part of our ministry as we equip people to live lives that honor God.  Your support and prayers are what make it possible for communities like Kapsoo to have hope and experience God’s life-changing power.

By Lori Eaton

Leah’s New Life

March 17, 2016 by Tori Greaves

SOP Bread PhotoGod uses you to bring people dignity! Through your prayers and support, you empower sustainable lives. But what does this look like?

As I walked by Leah, I reached into my pocket to hand her a dollar for a loaf of bread. This was the fourth day in a row.

Battered and abandoned by an abusive husband, Leah had taken refuge in our church. Though her wounds healed and we could offer her a small hut for shelter, she still had to beg in order to eat.

It hit me that in my attempt to solve her problem I was actually creating one.

By handing her a daily dollar I was:
Creating and encouraging her dependency.
Robbing her of the joy of developing her own skills.
Removing her responsibility to solve her problems.
And supporting an unsustainable solution.

I’ve learned from experience and from God’s Word that God is more interested in building our lives than simply solving our problems. Jesus tells his disciples “Go and bear fruit – fruit that will last” (John 15:16).

The solutions to poverty are certainly not simple. However, by guiding people to attain skills and find sustainable solutions, we equip them to build their lives and achieve God’s purposes for them. Then they, too, become teachers and role models of the holistic life to which God calls us all.

Two months later, Leah was selling bread. A Tanzanian comrade and I built a steel drum oven to give to her. I’ll never forget the day that she walked forward during a church service with coins in her hands for an offering. Her face filled with a smile. The fruits of her own labor she was now able to give to God!

by Don Rogers

Wish to respond by giving? Click here.

Photo Essay: Apollo’s First Day

March 4, 2016 by Tori Greaves

Photos by Sarah Ponce

The first day of school can be full of uncertainty, excitement and anticipation. Apollo, from the Ilula Children’s Home, wears all of these emotions on his face as he stands in the parking lot of his new high school. His belongings sit on the ground around his feet: two thick blankets in plastic grocery bags, a green trunk, a bright pink lidded bin, a foam mattress.

Arms tightly crossed across his chest, he laughs self-consciously when asked to pose for a photo. He casts a quick glance over toward the classrooms—presumably to see if anyone is watching—and obliges.

Nickson, an Ilula Children’s Home parent, emerges from the front office. It’s time to get registered as a Form 1 (high school freshman). The two pick up Apollo’s things and head over to an empty classroom to get underway.

Apollo 01 - Registration
Apollo (far left) is accompanied by Nickson (middle), who helps him go through the Form 1 registration and check-in process. This includes paying fees, obtaining a student number, making sure all supplies are in order and reviewing and signing forms.

Apollo 02 - Chalkboard
A large message is left on the chalkboard in the registration room. Tumewaongoja sana roughly translates to “We have very much waited for you.”

Apollo 03 - Books
New students need to come prepared with all of the required school supplies, such as reams of paper, notebooks, a calculator, pens and textbooks.

Apollo 04 - BelongingsStudents must also come with their own personal supplies: a mattress, a trunk with locks, blankets, shower slippers, a bowl, a spoon, a mug, a flashlight, shoe polish with brush, laundry detergent and a number of toiletries (shown below).

Apollo 05 - Lay Flat

Apollo 06 - Intake Room
Nickson and Apollo review a document of the school’s rules and policies as a school employee screen prints Apollo’s student number onto his uniform.

Apollo 07 - Uniform
Every article of clothing—shirts, tie, socks, blazer, trousers, pajamas, gym shorts and even underwear—as well as bed sheets and towels must be printed with one’s student number.

Apollo 08 - Signing Form
After a careful reading, Nickson and Apollo sign the document on the school’s rules and policies, acknowledging their understanding of the contents.

A faculty member arrives with more papers. It’s an intake survey. She and Apollo work through the questions one by one: what he wants to be when he grows up (a banker), what church he’d like to attend, what clubs he’d like to participate in and so on.

Apollo 09 - With Brian
Brian, a Form 2 (high school sophomore) from the Ilula Children’s Home, stops by the registration room to greet Apollo. The two boys chat and share some laughs as Apollo puts on his dress shirt, which now bears his student number in bright yellow paint. Nickson sees that he is fumbling with his tie and walks over to assist.

The man screen printing numbers onto Apollo’s clothes and linens asks for his shoes and dress socks for labeling. Nickson grabs Apollo’s shower slippers for him to wear and notices that the boy’s trousers are a bit too large. Apollo has not packed a belt. Without hesitation, Nickson removes his own belt and gives it to him.

Apollo 10 - School
Outside of the registration room, older students chat and get some fresh air in between classes.

Apollo 11 - Form Ones
A fresh batch of Form 1 boys await their instructor.

Apollo 12 - With Nixon
With registration completed and the comfort of knowing Brian is around, Apollo relaxes. “Brian is here. He can take care of him,” Nickson says. He play boxes with the two boys, landing soft punches on their arms. He gives them hugs and firm handshakes as they exchange byes. Brian returns to class, and Apollo goes to join his own class as an official Form 1.

A Light to the Poor

March 3, 2016 by Sarah O'Connor

Do you know that you bring light into the darkest places?

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been called a place of great darkness. Poverty is rampant, and recent wars ravaged its people, body and spirit.

Mugisho Basomire and his family lost their father in 1996 when war broke out. Shortly after his father’s passing, his mother became blind due to advanced cataracts. Mugisho’s four younger siblings looked to him to provide food and basic needs. The pastors in the local area saw that this family desperately needed help, but they did not know what to do. The pastors then reached out to Empowering Lives International, and God intervened.

Mugisho 1
Mugisho in his ELI Academy uniform, 2010

ELI assisted Mugisho’s family by providing education and food every day for three of the fove children through the ELI Academy in the Keredi slum of Bukavu, DR Congo.

Since then, Mugisho has graduated from high school and now works for a security agency to help provide for his family. Because of you, the Basomire family has been transformed.

Mugisho 2

Mugisho can now provide tuition fees for his younger siblings. He was able to move his family into a better home, for which he pays rent every month. He even paid for corrective eye surgery for his mother, and she regained her vision!

We witness stories like Mugisho’s daily. Because you invest in the ministry of ELI, you provide care and education for children who would otherwise have none. Education means hope and self-sustainability for the poor.

The locals of the Keredi slum named the ELI Academy “the jewel that has dropped from heaven” because of the hope it provides for the people who call the slum their home. It brings sight to the blind and light to the darkest places.

 

With joy,

Sarah O’Connor
Child Sponsorships/Office Assistant
Empowering Lives International

Equipping our Children

February 18, 2016 by Diana Coombs

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“Train. Launch. Mentor. Grow.” We want this for our kids! Thanks to you, this is the kind of opportunity Empowering Lives International is able to offer the orphans in our Children’s Homes.

Graduated boys

Just last week, a third group of our kids graduated from a Business for Life course. Business for Life is a month-long business course started by ELI missionary and BFL Project Director Wendy Twycross with the motto: “Train. Launch. Mentor. Grow.” She and her team are passionate about empowering people with tools to become self-sustainable. In doing so, they restore dignity and help break the cycle of poverty.

We are so proud of our kids’ hard work this past month!

When each student arrived, they began with 500 Kenyan shillings (about $5) to start their businesses. They researched the needs around them and analyzed how they could meet those needs with the resources available to them.

Some children made food such as samosas (fried pastry with a savory filling) and sold it in the community. They could earn up to 1,500 shillings by the end of the coursea 200 percent profit! They were shocked at how they turned something little into something much bigger.

Making Samosas

Students making samosas.

These are our children, and we want to see them flourish.

What is unique about ELI’s Children’s Homes is that we adopt orphans into families. Just like any good parent, we want each of our children to thrive and succeed into adulthood.

As our first group of children graduated from high school in 2013, we prepared for their next steps outside of the Children’s Home. We always ask the question, “How can we best equip our children?”

Now, all of our high school graduates are sponsored to attend Business for Life. They learn business principles in light of the Kingdom of God and then put the theories into practice. Each student comes up with and implements a business venture for their community.

With the proper tools, motivation and hard work, we see how equipping our children with business skills helps them now and into their futures. They not only learn how to start a business, but they also learn how to manage money and develop healthy relationships with others.

Through your donations, you make this possible. You equip our children with skills that will help them become more responsible, creative and self-sustainable. Thank you!
Empowering Lives Together,

Diana Coombs
Vulnerable Children Program Manager
Empowering Lives International

CommUNITY

February 4, 2016 by Tori Greaves

SOP Email Banner - Community“She is a lioness!” Grace’s neighbors all shared.

aside 1Because Grace was always angry and she brewed and sold alcohol illegally, her neighbors would avoid her as much as possible. No one dared cross her path except her children, who also became more and more distant.

But when she came for a week to the Ukweli Training and Development Center in Ilula, Kenya, Grace found more than ideas for an alternative businessshe found Christ as her Savior. She built relationships with other former alcohol brewers who have now become like family. Grace’s feelings of isolation are gone. She knows that she belongs to God and to a community of supportive friends in Kenya and the USA who helped make her training possible.

As we empower lives, new circles of community are born. New relationships, growing churches and expanding connections bring people together from around the world. It is the kind of community that creates multinational families for orphans and connects women like Grace to networks of prayer and support.

When you give and pray, you become part of a worldwide community of connected people who care. You change the world for people without hope.

I see this community vividly from where I stand right now in Kenya.
Devotions (2)

Today, Matt and Porter from central California build relationships with Children’s Home graduates as they mentor them on topics such as character and esteem building. Sarah from Texas spent the day playing with and capturing photos of children at the home so that sponsors can celebrate what God is doing in the kids’ lives. Ken is here from Sacramento, California, helping strengthen the overall organization as he guides the Kenya board and other ELI leaders through strategic questions, discussions and decisions. Pastor Chris and the four men who traveled with him from Cedar Springs Church in Washington are using their gifts to serve in Kipkaren, making cabinets in the woodshop. They also reach out to the community to share the hope of Christ with alcoholics and invite them to join the ELI rehab program.

Together we work, worship, serve and pray side by side with our community here in Kenya.

Your care provides a way out of poverty and into this global, empowered community. Together we are a community that equips the poor to live sustainable lives that honor God. Together we are empowering lives.

– Don Rogers
Founder and International Director
Empowering Lives International

“Peace in my Mind and in my Heart”

January 14, 2016 by Tori Greaves

Text and photos by Wilson Chumo, ELI Kenya staff

This is the story of Elkanah, a recovering alcoholic who lives in Kimogoch village. He came to our facility in Kipkaren, Kenya for rehabilitation in the year 2013. He started drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes when he was still in primary school. This is because drinking was so common, and everyone could drink or smoke in that area.

Elkanah is the last-born brother of Ruth, the successful recovering alcoholic among others. When Ruth recovered, Elkanah saw how his sister’s life was changed, and he decided to stop drinking alcohol and said, “I must also go for rehabilitation.”

After the death of his parents, and because he was already an addict, he started selling his piece of land little by little only for drinking. Elkanah got married, and he kept on drinking. His wife passed through many challenges, and she would go back to her parents because life was becoming so hard.

After rehabilitation, Elkanah’s life changed. He stopped selling his land and began working hard to earn a living. He is not doing any business, but he is only going to labor. Because he is now sober, he managed to save the little amount that he was getting, which he used to plant his maize instead of buying alcohol.

DSC00886ELKANAH SMILING BESIDE HIS LAND OF MAIZE

This is Elkanah standing in his maize farm. He looks healthy and clean: “This is because there is enough food for the family.”

DSC00888ELKANAH AND HIS WIFE

Alongside standing before their house are Elkanah and his wife. She said, “I am now having peace in my mind and in my heart. I nowadays sleep like a small baby, unlike the other days that my husband was beating me and chasing me outside during the night, and I could stay in the cold overnight. I praise God for the transformation he has done in the life of my husband and that now I and my husband, together with our children are staying in peace.”

DSC00889ELKANAHS' CHILDREN

These are Elkanah’s three children: two girls and one boy. The children are looking very happy, healthy and clean. This also shows that there is peace in the family and the father is now responsible and caring.

Elkanah has finished baptism class, and he is now waiting for the second group to finish so that they will be baptized together as a group.

The community is very happy for the transformation of Elkanah’s life, and they said they still need more alcoholics to be reached because a lot of alcohol is still being brewed in the area, and young men and women are alcoholics.

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Above is Elkanah’s cow. He said he bought the cow immediately when he arrived from rehab. “I did not know that one day I will own a cow,” he said. His wife also said, “We nowadays have milk in our home that we can sell in the morning and our children can drink in the evening.” They thank God for the great things He has done for us within this short period.

Finding Life

January 6, 2016 by Tori Greaves

Text and photos by Samuel Teimuge, ELI Kenya Director

The homecoming of reformed brewers to their home in Kaptarakwa, Kenya was fantastic. We did not expect to meet such a large crowd. The reformed brewers have already formed three groups of 15 each. The umbrella name is Kaptarakwa About Turn Group, with a woman named Jane as their leader. They have three leaders: Everlyn, Lucy and Christina. The three leaders spoke powerfully and with full confidence of who they are after training.

Everlyn

Everlyn said, “We found life.” She quoted Amy Rogers who told them, “Let your minds rest.” This was quoted by all of the leaders, and they said that they truly rested.

Everlyn left brewing completely and confessed that she has killed many through her illicit brews. She said the group took an oath to never brew again and that they are now Christians. They have crossed to Canaan. She said that they are being threatened and told to brew; yet they will never go back. Her group plans to pursue agroforestry, dairy farming and horticulture.

Lucy

Lucy said, “When we started our journey to Ilula, we were told that we had been arrested. But Jesus arrested us in Ilula.” She said that Jesus is her personal savior and that light and darkness don’t meet. Her former fellow brewers no longer greet her, but her graduating class greets her with joy. Her group wants to pursue tree tomatoes, kitchen gardening, tea seedlings and greenhouses for horticulture.

Christina

Christina said she has started raising chickens. Her group planned to raise sheep, make bread and manage poultry.

The brewing pots are all gone. The leaders also said that they are now the local chief’s “soldiers”. One of the former brewers encouraged the group to always run to Jesus because He is not poor.

The group said that they are now preaching the word of God, and they don’t want to keep quiet lest they will be condemned. They also vowed before the Deputy Governor of Elgeyo-Marakwet County that they would never return to brewing again.

In closing prayer, one of the reformed brewers named Jennifer prayed, “Let this change remain until the coming of Jesus Christ.”

Merry Christmas from Empowering Lives!

December 24, 2015 by Tori Greaves

Reaching Farmers in Rwanda

December 21, 2015 by Tori Greaves

Text and photos by Isaac Ruto, ELI Kenya staff

01 - Enock during visit with dairy goat farmer who went from 1 to 3 goats in a year

Enock Bizimana and Joan Louise are Extension Training coordinators in Rwanda. They completed their training on sustainable agriculture and community development In Kenya under Empowering Lives’ International Extension Training program in July of this year.

01 - Training farmers in Rwanda

The two coordinators have been training local farmers in Rwanda on sustainable agriculture, local chickens, dairy goats, dairy cows, kitchen gardens, ELITE grain storage bags (a chemical-free way of storing and protecting grains from pests), pig keeping, coffee farming and climbing beans. They have trained 37 pastors and 27 government officers for three months on sustainable agriculture.

Through ELI’s Extension Training program, we have been able train over 300 farmers to date in Rwanda. A one-year training program on sustainable agriculture is already underway there and will go through July 2016.

Manual Borehole Drilling

December 8, 2015 by Tori Greaves

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Text, photo and video by ELI Staff Andrew Belko

Early November, three of us from the ELI Tanzania team traveled to Salima, Malawi to attend a two-week training facilitated by the organization Water4 for professionalizing manual borehole drilling in Africa and building capacity for small drilling enterprises throughout the continent. However, it ended up being three weeks, since it took three days by bus to get there and three days to return. But it was definitely worth it. We were accompanied by drilling enterprises from Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi and a trainer from the USA. It was a wonderful experience with wonderful people.

I tried to capture what we learned in this video so we don’t forget it. Hopefully, you’ll learn something as well. During the training we drilled two boreholes. The borehole in this video was located just in front of a local Baptist church, and the other was in a nearby village. We are very excited to begin implementing what we learned. We are fabricating some tools that should help us dig deeper on our test hole we are digging at our home in Karemela, Tanzania. I have high hopes for this technology because I see that it can reach and spread to places machine drilling rigs would never reach. Also, it is much cheaper than machine drilling, which is obviously quite helpful when working in poor areas.

The music from the video is from our praise and worship after the hard work days. It is in the Malawian language called Chichewa. So while you may not understand the words, don’t worry, God understands all languages.

Meet Pauline

November 30, 2015 by Tori Greaves

Pauline
Text and photo by Samuel Teimuge, ELI Kenya Director

I met Pauline on the street in Iten, Kenya, and she greeted me with a smile. I asked her who she was, and she said,” I am a reformed brewer from Iten.”

Then I asked, “What happened?” Then she told me of how she got delivered and now she is living a wonderful life.

Pauline used to brew 60 liters (almost 16 gallons) of changaa (locally brewed alcohol) per week. She has seven children, and she is a widow.

Her children were very happy to see her totally reformed.

The following year, since she had reconciled with her children, they talked and the children teamed up with her to rent land to farm wheat and maize. She had planted finger millet, and so she sold and used the money to plant maize and wheat. They have now done this three times.

The children organized a thanksgiving service for Pauline because she has reformed. They bought her house items and a pick-up vehicle so that she can do her maize business of buying and taking to sell in Eldoret, Kenya.

Pauline goes to a church in Iten. She is the chairperson of a group of other reformed brewers called Chebaibai (which means “smiling” or “always happy” in the language of the local tribe, Kalenjin). She planted 300 passion fruit seedlings, and she now sells 20 kilograms (about 44 pounds) per week.

She cannot hide her joy and she is so thankful for what ELI has done for her.