Category: Statement of Purpose

Drilling wells in Tanzania

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:

 

A Community that Spans an Ocean

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 womenofchange@empoweringlives.org about joining a chapter or starting your own chapter in your area.

 

Interview with Val Roark by Sarah Ponce
Communications Manager
Empowering Lives International

Witnessing Empowerment in Action

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.

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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

 

 

 

Emulating God’s Love

October 15, 2016 by Angela Vincent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joe Stevick
Treasurer, Board Member
Empowering Lives International

 

 

 

A Man and His Fish

September 29, 2016 by Angela Vincent

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jim Caya
Director of International Implementation 
Empowering Lives International

Experiencing Community

September 15, 2016 by LoriEaton

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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!

Andy Weigel
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.

Honoring God through Change 4 Life

September 1, 2016 by Sarah O'Connor

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VBS Change 4 Life

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!

Elizabeth Serrano 
Development Coordinator Intern
Empowering Lives International
909.931.1311

Abundance and Joy

August 18, 2016 by Angela Vincent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Humble Beginnings and an Everlasting Hope

August 4, 2016 by Angela Vincent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Equipping Lives in Kenya AND in the U.S.

July 22, 2016 by LoriEaton

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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!

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.

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.

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 lorieaton@empoweringlives.org.
Lori Eaton
Short-Term Ministry Coordinator

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.

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!

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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

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.

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

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

SOP Email Banner - Equip

“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