Category: Uncategorized

No more subsistence farming!

April 24, 2017 by Sarah Ponce

What happens when a farmer trains a farmer who trains a farmer who trains a farmer?

An entire community can change.

Most East Africans are dependent on agriculture. They produce enough to keep their families alive, but just barely. There is never quite enough to eat, and nothing left over to sell.

This is subsistence farming.

ELI Extension Training Coordinator Isaac Ruto conducts trainings that equip farmers over a period of two years to transform their farms into a business so that they are not only feeding their families, but they are also generating income. How does it work? Here are a few key ingredients to the program’s success.

Ingredient #1 What do you already have? Start there.

If you already grow vegetables on a small plot of land, start with vegetables and that small plot of land. Learn everything you can about the resources you already have. Many farmers want to head straight to big cash crops and large livestock. Isaac teaches them to start small, to start where they are, and to grow from there.

Ingredient #2 Build slowly over time.

Many subsistence farmers hope for a quick solution to their farming woes. But farming is complex, and most farmers are lacking knowledge more than resources. Over the course of the first year of training, the farmers learn which crops they are best suited to grow. They concentrate on that item until there is a surplus that can be invested in a new area, like chickens. From chickens, they can grow to sheep, and from sheep they can grow to fruit trees and cattle.

Timothy is a farmer who used the knowledge he gained from extension training to break free from subsistence farming and start operating a small business.

Ingredient #3 Train others as you are being trained.

Isaac trains and then oversees ELI coordinators who are assigned to a region. Each of these coordinators trains thirty farmers using short but powerfully practical lessons over a two-year period. After six months, these thirty farmers begin to train ten other farmers who in turn train another five farmers. After a few years of these exponential trainings, hundreds and eventually thousands of families are impacted!

This kind of practical agribusiness training is one of the key programs ELI has developed to fight the complexities of poverty in East Africa. Like Isaac Ruto, we are committed to helping people start where they are and grow over time. It is your prayers and generosity that are helping to bring an end to subsistence living for Timothy and many more families in need. Thank you for your partnership!

 

 

What does it mean to honor God with your life?

April 12, 2017 by Sarah Ponce

Meet Eliud, a quiet 19-year-old from our Ilula Children’s Home whose life honors God.

We want to share with you the story of Eliud, one of our graduates from the Ilula Children’s Home. Eilud was brought to the Home in 2004 following the death of his mother. When he arrived, he was 5 years old and very malnourished. He was so weak that his grandmother carried him tied to her back like an infant. Today, Eliud is in good health. He likes to run and help with the bread baking for the Home, and he has a constant smile on his face.

School is something that never came easy to Eliud, and over the years he struggled more and more to keep up with his classmates. His house parents, Priscah and David, became concerned that he would not be able to complete his education. Eliud was enrolled in a school for children with special needs, and he finished the 8th grade. In Kenya, it is vital that a student do well on the 8th grade final exams in order to be admitted into high school. Eliud was not able to perform well on these exams, prohibiting him from being placed in a high school.

One by one the other 8th graders at the Home received their acceptance letters from various high schools, but none came for Eliud. After months of searching and feeling like there may be no hope for further education for him, an answer came. Eliud was accepted as a student in the tailoring program at a vocational school near Ilula that has a good reputation. “His smile was so big!” said Eliud’s house mother, Priscah. “He said ‘Mom, I got a place!’ He is proud to be attending a good school.”

Children like Eliud can easily fall through the cracks in a country where there is a limited system set up for people with special needs. And they can also feel like there is no hope if they are unable to succeed in school. We are committed to giving each one of our kids a bright future. Whether they attend a top university or learn a trade, we walk with them every step of the way.

It is through the love and commitment of people like you that Eliud has been able to find a place to learn and thrive. Thank you for your dedication to these children that God has placed in our care. It is a joy to watch them grow up and to see the many ways that they are honoring God with their lives!

Meet 13-year-old Pius

March 16, 2017 by Sarah Ponce

Pius is one of eight children and his mother, Perris, is a woman who brewed illegal alcohol in her home for many years. Perris left brewing behind after attending an Empowering Lives training in 2013. In the past four years, 882 brewers like Perris have been trained in alternate occupations. The majority of these brewers have been women. As they return home to start their new lives, a ripple effect of positive change in their households begins.

Pius described the home he lived in before his mother attended the training as embarrassing. He would come home from school during lunch break and instead of finding food he would find a line of customers waiting for his mother’s home-brewed alcohol. One day at school Pius’ teacher pointed out that his uniform was becoming too tattered and she sent him home. When he asked his mother for a new shirt, she did not provide one for him. Perris was too busy with the demands of the alcoholics in her home to properly care for her children. Some days up to 100 customers would come through the door, and there was no time for anything but brewing.

After Perris attended the ELI training, Pius said, everything changed. Perris left brewing and began a small successful business raising chickens. She was able to spend more time talking with her children, encouraging them and giving them the attention they needed. She purchased a new uniform for Pius and began providing proper meals. She started talking about God. Perris encouraged the whole family to go to church, and they continue to attend church to this day. Perris became a beacon of light in her community, encouraging many others to leave brewing. Her influence has affected countless lives well beyond her own family and village.

This is a better life, Pius shared. There is hope for the future when once there was no hope. His performance at school has improved and he is able to attend secondary school, a privilege his older siblings did not have. Thank you, Pius said, and may God bless you!

We are committed to bringing positive change to all of our reformed brewers, and we are so encouraged when we hear stories like this. As we conduct follow-ups with brewers this year, we will also be providing events that foster healing for their children. If you would like to partner with us in the mission of giving brewers a new path to freedom through training, click here.

Thank you for being a part of the journey. Together we are empowering lives!

Equipping the Poor – An Interview with Colleen Costigan

February 28, 2017 by Sarah Ponce

You have joined us in the journey to equip the poor to live sustainable lives that honor God. Today, we want to unpack what working with the poor looks like in Kenya by talking with Colleen Costigan. Colleen has been with Empowering Lives for the past four years at the Kipkaren Children’s Home and she also works with people living in extreme poverty in a nearby slum community.

How would you define “the poor” in Kenya? Are “the poor” different in Kenya than in the US?
I think it’s important to differentiate between physical poverty and spiritual poverty. Physical poverty is when a person does not have enough resources to get basic needs met like food, shelter, clothing, and healthcare. Spiritual poverty looks more like hopelessness and despair and is often a lack of awareness of how much a person needs God. I’ve met many people in Kenya who at some point in their lives have had to rely on God for food, water or shelter or to provide for school fees or money for an overwhelming hospital bill. There is an element of faith and trust in God that is built into the culture in order to survive. And I think this helps cultivate a reliance on God.

How have you seen physical resources not being enough to lift a person out of poverty?
I have been involved in a situation where I’ve tried everything to offer a person a way out of poverty. I’ve tried empowerment through education, empowerment through a farm project, a Christian 12-step rehabilitation program, and continuously sharing the gospel message. That person (and family) remains chained to addiction and trapped in poverty. The only thing left to do is pray and wait and pray some more and wait some more and trust that God has a plan.

Is there a way to combat poverty that you have found to be most effective?
I don’t think there is an easy or “best” solution to combat poverty. I think you have to try different combinations of things and be willing to fail. It’s important to try to be open minded and flexible. I do think education is an incredibly powerful tool to break the cycle of poverty, and education needs to be coupled with the word of God and prayer. The hope through education is that people are empowered to know their worth, value, and purpose for being on earth.

What are your hopes for equipping the poor with ELI this year?
I am very passionate about the counseling program for the Children’s Homes. Over the last two years it has been a tool to educate and equip the caregivers at the Children’s Homes to learn about the most loving ways to care for the hearts of orphans and vulnerable children. The counseling program has also served as a tool to educate the children and staff on issues related to child safety and protection and minimize risk of any potential harm.

To learn more about the counseling program, click here!

We are so grateful to Colleen for sharing with us about the work God is doing through her and through ELI in East Africa right now.

Empowering lives together,
Sarah Ponce
Communications Manager
Empowering Lives International

A story of loss and redemption in the Democratic Republic of Congo

February 22, 2017 by Sarah Ponce

Each of our 600+ students at the ELI Christian Academy in the Democratic Republic of Congo has a story. Today, we want to share with you the story of 13-year-old Musayi Maombi.

Musayi is the youngest of four girls. The father of the three older girls disappeared during the war, and shortly thereafter Musayi’s mother was raped by soldiers and conceived Musayi. When Musayi was born, the family rejected her, only recognizing the three older daughters. Seeing this injustice, Musayi’s maternal grandmother took her into her home and did her best to care for her. When Musayi reached primary school, her grandmother died. Having no other option, Musayi went back to her mother’s home where she was abused by her family. Her three sisters attended school, but Musayi was denied an education.

Musayi was confused by the treatment she was experiencing. She asked her mother why no one cared about her, but she did not get a response. Finally, when she could not bear her situation any longer, Musayi confided in a neighbor. The neighbor shared with Musayi the story of her conception, and explained to her why she was not considered a legitimate member of the family. Musayi wept at the news and returned home. A week later, the same neighbor brought Musayi to the ELI Christian Academy. The neighbor presented the girl’s case to the school, and a social worker was sent to her home to verify the situation.

Musayi was able to join the school and was finally treated as a person of worth and value by teachers, staff and students. It took her a long time to open up to the love and care she was not used to receiving. Musayi met other children with similar backgrounds to her own, and slowly she began to enjoy life at the school. She is now in her third year at the ELI Christian Academy, and the school has become like a second home to her. Musayi sings in the choir and is working hard at her studies.

Sadly, Musayi’s story is not an unusual one in the DRC. Our goal is to give each of the children at our school a safe haven to learn and grow, and to teach them about their intrinsic worth in the eyes of God. We believe that every child deserves a bright future. Thank you so much for your partnership in this important mission. We could not do it without you!

Learn more about how you can provide an education for children in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Sarah Ponce
Communications 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!

Honoring God in Kapsoo

March 31, 2016 by LoriEaton

SOP Email Banner - Honor God

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

Hearts Filled with Thankfulness

October 29, 2015 by Tori Greaves

Text and photos by Val Roark

Val and her husband, Rick, spent part of their family vacation this summer visiting and thanking churches who partnered with Empowering Lives through their Vacation Bible School programs this year.

Have you ever experienced a moment when you remember there are others out there on your same team? A moment when you realize your team members may have different backgrounds, different languages and cultures, but foundationally you are the same, bound by the same belief, purpose and hope? My husband and I had the joy of experiencing some of these precious moments this summer. It all started with a list of churches that had requested mini-grain sacks from Empowering Lives International for their 2015 Vacation Bible School Mission Project. Our task was to contact the churches to share more information about ELI, take prayer requests and simply say, “Thank you!”

What a privilege to talk to so many inspiring people! One was the VBS director at a Vietnamese church in California. As I listened to her heart, I couldn’t help but picture precious Vietnamese children bringing coin donations to benefit African children. Imagining each church and its setting was exciting as I talked with people from all corners of our country and everywhere in between. I loved the variety of voices and accents as well as the similarities. Our teams have similar needs – for more workers and renewed energy, as well as a deep desire for children to come and find Jesus.

More moments came when my husband and I had the joy of making a cross-country trip this summer. During the course of our travels, we had the pleasure of stopping at a few of the churches on our list.

August 5: Illinois and Indiana

Geneseo, Illinois is a beautiful farm town surrounded by cornfields, not far from the Mississippi River/Quad-City area. We admired the quaint town as we made our way to the First United Methodist Church. Visiting with Jan, we learned that their VBS had been a great success, and the kids loved the mini-grain sacks!

Our next stop was at William Chapel Church of God in Christ in Gary, Indiana. Across the street from this little church stood the burnt-out shell of a house, marking the struggling state of the neighborhood. The church itself stood as a light amid the darkness of this depressed inner city. Although we were unable to meet with anyone, we were reminded of the real ministry battles many on our team face.

August 9: Ohio

Donna, VBS Director, Collins, OH (2)

Donna, Collins, OH

We had the privilege to stop at three churches in Ohio. We visited Collins United Methodist and talked to Donna, Chicky and Pastor Josh. Excited about our visit, they shared that Pastor Josh had only been at the church since July. He, like many on our team, finds himself amidst the challenges of transition. Our “thank you” came at a time when a thank you was refreshing to hear.

Shannon, Lakewood, OH

Shannon, Lakewood, OH

The next stop was at Lakewood United Methodist Church, which sits in a suburb of Cleveland. Shannon, the Children’s Director, was busily checking on Sunday school classrooms and helping in a class, like other dedicated children’s workers I know. My heart was struck by the need to lift up our team members around the world in prayer.

In Andover, we found the First Baptist Church of Dorset. A little white country church stood tall amid the fields of the small farming community, and I was reminded of another small church outside Ilula, Kenya that also stands alone in the countryside.

August 29: New York and Pennsylvania

Milton Cruz, Pastor of Taconic Christian Church (2)

Milton, Shrub Oak, NY

We met Pastor Milton Cruz at the Memorial Park in Shrub Oak, New York. His congregation at the Taconic Christian Church has a heart for missions and desire to give. Listening to Milton’s heart for his people and for teaching the truth of God’s Word was humbling. After sharing gifts and praying together, we realized that our visit to say thanks had stirred our own hearts.

Cathy's VBS poster (2)

Cathy’s VBS Display

 

 

We drove west across the Hudson River through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. We arrived in Ono where we met Mark, Cathy and their daughter, Abby, at the Ono United Methodist Church. Cathy is the Children’s Coordinator for the church. She showed us a VBS display board made for the church that highlighted children involved in various activities and highlighted the ELI 2015 VBS Mini-Grain Sack project. Her joy and enthusiasm were infectious, and when we saw her interact with some local children riding bikes in the parking lot, we knew the kids felt her love! We visited with her family and heard their prayer request for the church to carry on the work while their bi-vocational pastor was away ministering to military families. We drove away with thanksgiving in our hearts for fellow believers who work with faithfulness and passion, so grateful to know we have a Father who makes us all one.

There are so many more stories and bodies of believers to thank for the moments that have reminded us we are part of something big, and we are on the same team.



Your gifts strengthen children and families in East Africa, and your hearts of service impact every visitor who gets the chance to knock on your door. Keep a lookout for updates on our 2016 VBS missions program early in the New Year. If you are interested in receiving these updates or more information, please contact Tori Greaves at torigreaves@empoweringlives.org.

Video Recap: 2015 APU Team

October 5, 2015 by LoriEaton

The following video was created by Azusa Pacific University student Rachel Mallasch (rmallasch13@apu.edu). She, with two other APU students, came and served alongside Empowering Lives International in Ilula and Kipkaren, Kenya at the beginning of the summer.

 

 

 

Join Us: ELI Celebration Banquet

October 3, 2015 by Tori Greaves

Celebration Invitation e-invite

You can register online for the event here. We hope you join us for this special evening of giving thanks for all that God has done over the last 20 years through Empowering Lives International!

Visitor Reflections: Shayla Tonge

September 2, 2015 by LoriEaton

Tonge kids with youth-Blog size

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.

Tonge Family Bye Bye-Blog size

Shayla in school-blog size

Shayla, who is 15, traveled to Kenya with her parents, Barry and Christy, and her 12-year-old brother, Trevor, earlier in 2015.

Rogers Family Heading to Africa

June 14, 2015 by Don Rogers

Empowering Lives Founder and International Director Don Rogers and his family are heading to East Africa during June and July. Your prayers are appreciated as they travel around, visiting staff and ELI sites in Kenya and Tanzania.

You can follow along on their journey by visiting their personal family blog, Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Jacob Is Standing!

June 11, 2015 by Diana Coombs

Jacob standing

Praise report: The new bone marrow introduced into Jacob is working so far! Jacob is able to walk, eat, talk and even take a shower. Praise God that he is doing well. Please continue to pray for Jacob’s complete healing and against any infection as his immune system is still low. He will still need to stay in India for another two months as doctors track his progress.

We are so grateful for Peter, who has been making sure Jacob takes medicine as scheduled and eats at the appropriate times. He is doing a great job of caring for Jacob while he recovers. Please continue to pray for Peter and Jacob, as they are away from family. Pray also that Peter and Jacob will feel the presence of God wherever they are and to be lights for Jesus to those they encounter.

NEW! Video for Jacob

February 19, 2015 by Diana Coombs

 

Jacob Vimeo

Watch our video featuring Jacob and spread the love!

 

Support ELI through AmazonSmile

November 17, 2014 by Tori Greaves

Amazon-Smile-670x250

You can now support Empowering Lives International by shopping with AmazonSmile. The AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5 percent of the purchase price of eligible AmazonSmile items, and there’s no cap on how much they will donate. It’s a simple, convenient and comes at no extra cost to you.

With the holidays upon us, we’d like to encourage you to share this link with your friends and family so that they may be able to take care of their Christmas shopping while supporting ELI’s work in Africa!

Join us for the Orange County 5K!

October 24, 2014 by Angela Vincent

Join us on November 22nd for the Orange County 5k

Logo + picture

Join us on November 22nd, in a synchronized video-linked footrace between Orange County, CA, USA and Eldoret, Kenya. When you run or walk, you are helping to change the course of suffering lives! Your participation and support will bring life changing training and knowledge to lives in need of hand-up (and not a hand-out).

Visit our fundraising page to register, donate, and see our progress!

Intern Reflections: Janelle Norman, William Jessup University

August 29, 2014 by Tori Greaves

Janelle with kids from KK CH

Impractical thoughts ran through my mind as I began to prepare for this trip. Thoughts of how this trip was going to change my life and my worldview forever. I did not contemplate that there was going to be fear or the feeling of being useless. There was no expectation of learning how to listen to God’s voice and, in so doing, learning so much about myself. And there was not a single thought on the aspect of loving these children and how this love was going to change my life. No, there was only the excitement of going on my first missions experience. It was as if I was a new student going into preschool, unaware of the challenges or the joys of this experience. I was just excited about the experience itself. Fear, exploration and love have not only changed my life, but helped me better understand the love of Christ.

Fear: My first day of my internship started the day that my team left. I arrived in Kenya in late May with a team from William Jessup University. Over the course of two weeks, we walked through different communities that surround the ELI Kipkaren River Training Center with the goal of evangelizing. During this time, we grew close in our friendships. Because I associated everything wonderful about Kenya with my teammates, it was hard to not miss these friends with whom I had done so much ministry. It was a heart-wrenching experience to come back to my room without my friends. I felt completely alone. To make matters worse, I am an introvert and tend to get quiet in unknown places. As my first week started, I was not only struggling with my own quietness, but also with the language barrier that comes with only knowing how to speak English. Even though I pushed myself out of being an introvert, I still struggled, because there were only a handful of people that understood me. The language barrier crushed me into a state of feeling useless. (more…)

Mentoring in Mombasa – by Cathy & Mark Lessig

July 15, 2014 by Tori Greaves

Mombasa - Mark praying

For most Americans (who think of it), Mombasa brings to mind political strife, hotly contested debates between Muslims and Christians, riots by youths, bombings, and tribal clashes that often result in injury and death. Being in Mombasa during two major events – Ramadan (the Muslim holy month of fasting) and Saba Saba (a political action day with a vicious past in Kenya) – we felt we experienced a small amount of the tension that exists in this coastal city.

Ministering in the Frere Town neighborhood of Kenya’s second largest city, we saw poverty, alcoholism, drugs and low paying jobs impacting the students attending the Free Methodist Academy. Most of the 242 students come from single parent homes, with many only able attend the school because of a sponsorship program funded by the church. A subsidized breakfast and lunch program, costing families only 20 Kenyan shillings per child (about 25 cents), is struggle for many to pay.

Mombasa - FMA prayer

How can mentoring help in these situations? It is our belief that by touching the hearts and minds of children, change can take place in countries devastated by corruption, poverty, inequality and illness. Coming alongside teachers – those whom society has deemed as the carriers of societal values and knowledge – we challenge them to perform their job differently. Rather than viewing themselves as keepers of knowledge, we seek to turn their hearts and minds – and those of their students – to the ultimate place of wisdom, knowledge and character: Jesus! Using teacher training seminars and mentoring as our vehicle, we hope to touch lives in meaningful ways.

We’d like to say that this is easy, but that wouldn’t be the truth. It is hard to help people make mental shifts, to examine long-held cultural views and compare them to biblical truth. It is challenging to refocus a teacher’s efforts away from test scores to life beyond the test. Working with few resources, teachers struggle to apply innovative creative teaching when even having chalk and pencils in a challenge. Learning to welcome “errors,” “mistakes” and “wrong answers” as information to guide students to deeper thinking is a struggle for educators who are trained to believe that the world provides one right answer to everything.

Mentoring is a means to share, approximate and try new things. It opens the door to many heartbreaking discussions, but it also leads to many that are illuminating. When we are invited into schools, it is an opportunity to look at life in the classroom and seek a pathway that reveals the Creator. It is our goal to help every teacher know Christ and through that, help their students know Him too.

10,000 Steps… Honoring a Life While Changing Lives

November 27, 2013 by LoriEaton

Debbi 10,00 steps

 

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…)

Plant a tree – Empower the future

August 14, 2013 by admin

God has blessed us with a very important opportunity to change not only the environment in a community but to change the futures for needy and suffering lives here in East Africa. Your care and investment in this project will help in so many ways. The timing is crucial because right now is the rainy season and the absolute best window for us to move into action.