Greeted by a bold chorus of children’s voices, the Dwell short term missionary team shed tears and beamed smiles as we arrived at ELI’s Children’s Home early this month. Kaitlin Murphy, Natalie Rodriguez, Olivia Chin and Stephanie Andrews made up this team from a San Diego, CA based church called Dwell. Since blessing and sending our dear friend Colleen Costigan to serve a yearlong internship with ELI last September, the Dwell team had been eagerly planning and anticipating the chance to join Colleen in Kenya. Although our stay was only one week, we were able to experience firsthand the great Kingdom work that God is doing through Colleen, to meet many of the friends and ministry partners that God has graciously provided for her, and to highlight our own gifts by facilitating a three day program to support the Children’s Home youth transitioning from primary to secondary school– a time of significant change for most Kenyan students. (more…)
Graduation ceremonies are always lovely events – a time to celebrate hard work and accomplishment. One recent Sunday afternoon, a graduation ceremony was held for Paul Rono. Paul isn’t your typical fresh faced graduate. In fact, Paul isn’t graduating from school – he is graduating from something much more important. He has spent the last three months learning about himself, his personal issues and the causes of his addictions. You see, Paul is an alcoholic and he graduated from ELI’s Anti-Alcohol program on Sunday.
During the time Paul spent at the Rehabilitation House, he learned to truthfully admit how he handled life’s challenges in the past. He spent hours in reflection, meditating upon the scriptures and praying. He faced the negative choices he’d made and the impact of those choices on himself, his family, friends and co-workers. He came to know God as his Savior, Redeemer and Friend – the One who is capable of carrying the burdens that Paul tried to cover with alcohol in the past.
Dust hangs in the air as hoes churn the red earth. A group of about 30 women, working side by side, till the dirt in the late afternoon heat. One woman bends over to collect what’s been uncovered: potatoes, small and golden. She deftly tosses them into an open sack, which soon fills up. Another takes a moment to rest while walking through the rugged field, a load of over 100 pounds of potatoes on her back. After catching her breath, she continues on. Eventually, dozens of sacks are filled, and the entire harvest is purchased – the result of countless hours of labor and a reward that was almost unthinkable just months ago.
How do you summarize four months? So much happened! How do you capture lessons learned, growth, transformation, hardships, and experiences with people I love? Well, I’m going to try.
I was an intern for the Training Center at Empowering Lives International in Ilula, Kenya.
The task assigned to me was the Bee Hive Project. But besides building hives, I was building relationships. The only way I can describe this internship was a packaged gift from God–all of my interests, passions, dreams, and schooling in one.
Before beginning this adventure, a friend of mine suggested that I write a letter to God. In reflecting on these prayers, during and afterward, I have seen God faithfully fulfilling these requests. In the Biggest and smallest ways, He showed up. How hard it is to truly “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:18-19a). There were three areas that I wanted to see God working in me: to Listen, to Learn, and to Serve. (more…)
How do you explain something that you haven’t quite comprehended yet? How do you put into words something you can’t describe? How do you reflect on a place you’ve been to that is difficult to think about because you miss it?
A year in Kenya sounded like a long time before I left, but now that I’m back, it sure didn’t feel very long. How often do you say to yourself, “Wow, where did the year go?” when New Year’s comes around? How often are you scrambling at the close of a year to think of some key moments that define the last 12 months that just flew by? Tell me, how easy is it for you? Well, that’s how I feel, and that’s the truth. (more…)
“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
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.
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,
My internship with Empowering Lives International impacted me in more ways than I ever thought imaginable. One thing that God really showed me was the magnitude of His perfect love. Before I left for Kenya I thought that I had been through enough trials to last me a lifetime. Time and time again God never left my side through it all. But when I arrived in Kenya, I was so incredibly shy, nervous, and way out of my comfort zone. As I sat with my Mama and Gogo, cutting vegetables on my first day in the village, I was pondering what had influenced me to jump on a plane by myself and spend three months in a foreign country where I knew not a single soul? Little did I know, God had so much to teach me in those two months. (more…)
Rain, Seeds, and Obedience – Elizabeth Robison Reflections on Six Months as a Professional Volunteer in Kipkaren, Kenya
On April 6, 2013 I rode for the first time down muddy red dirt roads surrounded by freshly tilled soil, and was warmly welcomed into the Kipkaren Community. I had been looking forward to this day for so long… I had raised support, shared the vision, and opened up my heart. I was incredibly blessed to be sent out by family, friends, and church body, and launched into the mission field in Kenya. I came with my heart open and my hands ready to work. I was ready to get my hands dirty… I was ready to SERVE.
I am a nurse practitioner. I love this role because it allows me to enter into another person’s story, and walk with them through periods of difficulty. It allows me to use my hands to help. It gives opportunity for me to open my heart and care. When God opened the door for me to go to Kenya with ELI following my nurse practitioner training, I was ecstatic. It was easy to anticipate how all of my skills and training in the medical field would be useful in a place where access to healthcare was limited. I would be going where I was wanted and welcomed, but more importantly I would be going where I was needed. (more…)
Tori Greaves served as a a children’s home intern in Ilula for two months in 2013
When I first came to Africa five months ago with a study abroad program in Tanzania, I had my life all planned out. Well, not entirely, but I knew exactly what the next two years would hold. I would come back to America, find a paid internship for the summer, and jump back into school with new ideas and experiences that would help me then to figure out the rest of my future. But before I knew it, Africa began to surround me and to seep inside of me. Living in a place where people can hardly plan for tomorrow, let alone the next month or year, is a reminder that it is God who really does, or should control your life and future. It is then that I began to pray some dangerous prayers.
“God, I want you to lead me. Teach me to follow, to surrender.” I still remember sitting out by the river near our campus offering up that prayer. I also remember the curious, but tentative email I sent out to Amy Rogers just to see if maybe, possibly (but probably not) God wanted me to stick around in Africa. Two weeks before I was supposed to board my plane flight to America, His answer was a clear and terrifying, “Yes!” (more…)
Connecting the Dots – by Cathy Lessig
For a few years Empowering Lives International has considered the village of Turbo an ‘outreach village’. This means the ministry has been taking slow but deliberate steps to reach out in hopes of bringing the light of Christ to those experiencing spiritual, physical or economic oppression. As our ministry team has spent more time in Turbo we’ve learned more and more about the power of networking. Standing alongside people living in poverty raises multiple, complex issues and it has become clear that one person, or one group can’t begin to minister to all of them.
Health care concerns, high rates of alcohol brewing, addiction and drunkenness, children out of school, lack of employment….hopelessness. (more…)
Melissa Uplinger served as an intern for 2 months in Kipkaren, Kenya, participating in medical missions.
I arrived in Kenya after spending a month in Tanzania and I was homesick, lonely and looking for someone to pity me. I was asking God what he was thinking when he told me I was supposed to quit my well-paying job, leave my friends and family, and go to Africa for 3 months. Then I smartened up and opened my Bible. What I found was Philippians 4:4-7. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV) (more…)
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!
Our first group of Form 1 (9th grade) girls have officially left for school. By, “left for school”, I mean, packed their suitcases, a new mattress and all their necessities to head off to boarding school. They will return back home during their school holiday breaks in April, August and December. This is customary in Kenya where children entering into high school attend boarding school. Please keep these precious girls in your prayers as they study, grow, develop and shine the light of Jesus.
By Colleen Costigan, Professional Volunteer, Kipkaren, Kenya
I know Christmas was three weeks ago, but take a moment to think about what it looked like for you. Did you have a Christmas tree? A house full of decorations? Presents galore? Maybe even some snow?
Can you envision what Christmas is like in Kenya? I couldn’t. Until this year when I was fortunate enough be a part of the Empowering Lives’ celebration in Kipkaren, Kenya. There was no tree. Few decorations. Zero presents. And it was hotter than ever. But it was a day rich with culture, fellowship, and fun.
The day started at 3 a.m. with the mamas and girls from the Kipkaren Children’s Home cooking chapatti (an authentic African favorite similar to a tortilla). When you are cooking for four hundred plus people an early start is a must!
Who were the four hundred plus people? (more…)
Gladys life will never be the same. Because of the training she received at the ELI center in Kenya she found a new life in Christ and skills that will help her for the rest of her life! She is now attending church and sharing her new skills with her children and neighbors. As she said to us recently “I do not want to be blessed alone. I have knowledge now that I want to pass on so that others can also receive this hope and change.”
As we come to the close of this year there are many lives hanging in the balance between despair and hope. Your year end gift today will help make all the difference for a person like Gladys – in fact – we have over 400 people who have seen the impact of our training and are hoping for a chance to come. Your gift today will help change the course of their future. It is a privilege to know that together we are…
Founder / Director
PS: Every gift today is so important and will be matched by another generous donor! Help us reach our goal of $20,000.
By DiAnne Drachand (ELI Ambassador)
In our busy holiday activities, I thought you might just want to take a moment to look closely into the lives of some women I met in Kenya. Empowering Lives International is doing an amazing job of transforming lives. Here is a peek into a world we can only imagine. Join me while I give thanks for those who are doing the work on the front lines.
Upon our arrival in Ilula, Kenya we were greeted by the sight of about 90 women – some young with babies on their backs, some old with wrinkled faces, many with colorful bandannas on their heads. They filed into the training room amid the sound of scraping plastic chairs over the mud-spotted floors due to days of rain. I slipped into the back of the room as their attention was drawn back to the animated teacher of the day. I did not understand the language, but I could tell these women (and three men) were giving him rapt attention. Their futures depended on what was to happen over the next few days. (more…)
By, Amy Rogers
Empowering Lives International we have had the blessing and privilege of serving with Michelle Kiprop for the last eight years in ministry. We are grateful for the many ways that God has used Michelle to bring hope and healing to so many in Kenya. In October, Michelle, along with her husband William and son Ryan launched a new ministry called Hope Matters. Michelle will continue to fulfill her calling and passion to bring comprehensive healthcare to needy communities throughout Kenya. We are grateful to the Kiprop family and all that they have contributed to the ministry of Empowering Lives over the last eight years. We pray God’s abundant blessing on their family and new ministry. We look forward to all that God will do through the work and ministry of Hope Matters in the years to come.
Meet Debbi Hawney. Debbi is an ELI alumna, having traveled to Kenya in both 2010 and 2012 as well as a great champion of the ministry. Debbi’s love for God and her desire to see people worldwide come to know Him and be empowered is inspiring. As she has faithfully followed God, through both the good times and the difficult, He has used her to impact many lives for His kingdom. (more…)
She answered our questions with no hint of emotion. It was almost as if she was numb to the pain and poverty that is the reality of her life, so, I was surprised when her answers were filled with hope.
“Do you sometimes feel God’s Love?”
“How do you feel God’s love?”
“He takes care of me and rescues me from my problems.”
Chantal has hope even though her circumstances speak otherwise.
She rents a six foot by six foot wooden shack in the middle of a slum in Bukavu, D.R. Congo. (more…)
On Sunday, November 17, North Hills Community Church is hosting a blood drive through Blood for Missions. This blood drive will benefit ELI’s ministries because for every pint donated, $20 will be given to sponsor a child for 2 months in ELI’s South Sudan School! For more details, visit northhills.us or call 909-945-5440.
Date: Sunday, November 17
Time: show up anytime between 10 am – 2 pm
Place: 10601 Church St., Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
*To donate, you must be 17 years old (16 if a parent is present), healthy, have no tattoos in the past year or have traveled to any malaria-risk areas in the past year.