October 29, 2016 by Diana Coombs
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
September 15, 2016 by Diana Coombs
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.
July 22, 2016 by Diana Coombs
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 Diana Coombs
“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.
October 5, 2015 by Diana Coombs
The following video was created by Azusa Pacific University student Rachel Mallasch (firstname.lastname@example.org). She, with two other APU students, came and served alongside Empowering Lives International in Ilula and Kipkaren, Kenya at the beginning of the summer.
September 2, 2015 by Diana Coombs
The days were dwindling. I couldn’t accept that in my heart, I couldn’t allow myself to even think about leaving this haven. I thought back to our very first day when all the faces were unfamiliar, but I remember the moment with clarity as we stood before an assembly of 70 kids and staff, when Laban said with confidence, “Welcome home.” And truly, that is what it has become.
Not a single day passed when I did not encounter a moment where I felt truly full. That is the only word I can use to describe the emotion that flooded my heart when I spent time with these kids. Full of joy, compassion, adoration, gratitude and love. These kids have invited me into their lives with a wholeheartedness that astounds me. I will always cherish the moments I spent in the late afternoons on a concrete step with a little exuberant boy occupying my lap, four sweet girls braiding my “exciting” blonde hair and seven other kids climbing in the tree high above me while joyfully calling out my name. Or the times that we spent each evening, prompted by the 6 p.m. bell, praising God and reciting His word together, our voices rising in unity to the one true King. Or walking the youth down the red dirt path to “preps” (their study time) at school each evening, joking and giggling together, arm in arm. These simple moments of daily life are forever impressed on my heart.
I’m so grateful for the lifelong relationships formed but also for the encouragement of witnessing the beauty of what the ministry of ELI does. I have seen the poverty of this nation. I have seen barefoot children with protruding bellies peer longingly through the chain link school yard fence. I have seen makeshift one-room mud huts. I have seen eight-year-olds driving the family’s herd of cows, not being able to attend school. I have heard the stories of those my age who have lost parents in tragic ways or who feel abandoned but yet shrug and say, “That’s just the way life is.”
It is undeniable that the kids served by Empowering Lives have seen tragedy. They have, and it breaks my heart. But I am overjoyed by the utter hope they have because of this ministry. Each of these kids now has stability in their lives like they never had before. They now not only get their earthly needs met such as three meals a day, clean water, shelter and an education, but their spiritual needs are also being met. They are growing up in a home under two loving house parents who are instilling in them the Word of God. There is nothing more beautiful than rejoicing joyfully in a room full of these kids, knowing that if they weren’t here at this very moment, they would likely be very far from God. But instead I look into the faces of the young leaders leading worship with confidence and care, and my heart rejoices as the youngest of them, the three- and four-year-olds, dance and clap energetically for the Lord.
This is what redemption looks like. This is what love is. There is not a single fraction of doubt in my mind that God is holding each of these kids in the palm of His hand. I know that He has great big plans for each of them, and I am so excited to see them grow into the sons and daughters of Christ that they are.
Shayla, who is 15, traveled to Kenya with her parents, Barry and Christy, and her 12-year-old brother, Trevor, earlier in 2015.
April 16, 2014 by Diana Coombs
Dwell Team with Form 1 girls
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…)
April 9, 2014 by Diana Coombs
Mitch with Baba Brian’s Family
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…)
March 31, 2014 by Diana Coombs
David with the SACDP students
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…)
March 28, 2014 by Angela Vincent
“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.
Don Rogers and Yakobo – 1993
What happened next changed the course of both of our lives. We worked together with our hands and hearts to make a product – a cement water storage jar – that he might be able to sell for income – but we failed dramatically at the task. That next week in a city far away I met a man during a “chance” encounter who just happened to be training people how to make the jars. Yakobo attended the training and the course of his life change as he began to provide for his families need with this new business income.
Today Yakobo is the director of Empowering Lives Tanzania and has dedicated his life for the glory of God and to actions that will bring others out of the chokehold of poverty and Spiritual darkness. He is one of over 150 national servants who now serve full time with ELI among four countries – doing things we cannot, but empowered by what we can do through our prayers and support. For these almost two decades this has been a team effort and today – as I reflect on the faithfulness of God and His people, I am deeply moved and thankful. The magnitude of what God has done is beyond what I could have ever imagined.
Thank you for your partnership and prayers. We see and feel a special momentum from God in our work at this time and I believe that this year, as we approach our 20 year ministry anniversary, will be one of our most productive years in terms of changed and empowered lives in our ministry history. We have done this together because of your partnership. More lives like Yakobo’s are about to change course and for the faithfulness of our loving God and for your support – we are truly and forever grateful.
Empowering lives together,
March 17, 2014 by Diana Coombs
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…)
March 5, 2014 by Diana Coombs
Elizabeth Robison’s Greeting in Kenya
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…)
February 24, 2014 by Diana Coombs
Tori and Beatrice
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…)
February 10, 2014 by Diana Coombs
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…)
October 10, 2013 by Diana Coombs
By, Colleen Costigan, Professional Volunteer
Meet Mercy Chelimo
I think God must have divinely inspired her mother and father when they selected a name for their daughter. I can’t think of a more fitting name. Mercy’s eyes exude just that, a spirit of mercy and compassion. And if you make eye contact with her or tell her a joke or do something to get her to smile, you will see her face light up the entire room. Chelimo is her Kalenjin tribal name which means “born when taking the cows from being fed”. (more…)
July 29, 2013 by Diana Coombs
Written by Sarah Ackerly
A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This, too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?
I count myself very fortunate to have experienced the truth of this verse during my time as volunteer with ELI. I was given the opportunity to use my artwork to create murals around the ELI campus in Ilula as well as in Kipkaren’s Brook of Faith Elementary School. Every day that I painted ended with a sense of real satisfaction, and I thanked God for bringing me to Kenya and allowing me to do work that makes my heart glad.
June 6, 2013 by admin
Check out ELI’s opportunities to serve like David, Andrew, Sarah, Ryan, Tori, Kimberly and Steve did! Visit the Go To Africa link on the ELI website to get more information. Will you be one who comes to empower and equip?
June 6, 2013 by admin
Every summer ELI hosts visitors from all over the USA at our various ministry sites. Currently Kipkaren is enjoying Cameron, Karyssa, David, Denise, Emili, and Kasey – students and staff from William Jessup University. Integrating their love for Jesus and soccer, this energetic team is ministering to the children and youth in western Kenya in a unique way…sports outreach ministry. This week they are making daily trips to ELI’s Brook of Faith Academy to share the love of Jesus with almost 300 kids through a VBS program. Next week they will visit six primary schools in our area to teach kids soccer skills, leadership, and how to be a great kid who loves the Lord.
March 12, 2013 by Diana Coombs
At the end of 2012 we said farewell to Katie Cook as she transitioned out of ELI to focus on community development in her neighborhood. We were very sad to see her go. She has been a huge part of ELI serving as the Short Term Team Ministry Coordinator and then the Community Engagement Coordinator. Katie was first introduced to ELI 4 years ago when she invited ELI to be a beneficiary of her non-profit business, Africa Hope, which sold t-shirts to benefit charities working in Africa. We were so drawn in by her compassionate heart, creativity and energy that we needed to have her as our new Short Term Team Ministry Coordinator. She did a great job preparing teams and interns serving in ELI, Kenya. Her care for people has been evident to so many as she spent her time to listen to people’s concerns, answer questions, train and pray for each person. There are many who can say she was more than a coordinator, but, she was a friend and mentor.
August 13, 2012 by Angela Vincent
For two summers, ELI was blessed to host team member Jeremy Van Liew in Kenya. Jeremy was from Nuevo California, and attended Nuevo Community Church. This past week we heard the news that Jeremy went to be with the Lord at age 27 as a result of a brain aneurysm. We were heartbroken to hear the devastating news of his passing, but thankful to know that he is resting with his Savior.
Jeremy came to Kipkaren in both 2006 and 2011 and served with a humble heart and gentle spirit. (more…)