Spirit in Action is International

Spirit in Action is International

Our work is in the world. Our mission is to be a “worldwide network” and sometimes, holed-up in my Spirit in Action home office in Minnesota, I forget the truly global nature of SIA.

I choose to see the the wide national and international reach of SIA as a positive characteristic of our organization. We bring people together from across the United States, North America, and the world – each sharing their perspective, traditions, and experiences with our strong network.

**To really understand our reach, scroll to the end of the post for a map showing the location of each individual connected with SIA around the world.**

Spirit in Action is right where you are

I wrote about the rootedness of our community partners in Africa. They benefit from living and working with their neighbors. Does of our lack of a street-front office show a lack of rootedness? No! Having a “worldwide office” means that for each member of our organization Spirit in Action is right where you are!

Rooted in the whole world

This summer I saw that SIA is deeply rooted in each community where we support projects. With me in Minnesota, SIA is rooted in the non-profit community here. Many SIA Board members live in California, giving us strong roots there. Each root of our large tree network brings local flair, regional understanding, and commands a respect for differences. 

God calling us

“A dream has no dimension, no boundaries, no limitations,” wrote Del Anderson in his Spirit-led writing, God Calling…. He encourages us to dream large for a SIA network that ignores geographic limitations. Although Del didn’t personally use a computer, he reveled in the miracle of the Internet, or “worldwide web,” to break down boundaries and connect us across the globe.

Del goes on to write, “In Me [God], you have the wisdom, love, and power to be My instrument in bringing My Kingdom into manifestation here and now.”

May we also embrace this call to bring SIA into our lives here (wherever that may be) and now (whenever we receive that special inspiration). In doing this, we fulfill our responsibility to put Spirit and love into action in our world. Let me know if you have ideas for rooting SIA in your community!

Spirit in Action is International! Map
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Dreaming Large for 2012!

A lioness looks to the mountain in Samburu National Park in Kenya

A lioness looks to the mountain in Samburu National Park in Kenya

Dream large, my soul, dream large
God thinks His thoughts through thee
If thou canst dream freedom for all
Mankind shall yet be free. 

Dream large, my soul, dream large
God wills for all His peace
If thou canst dream true brotherhood
Some day all war shall cease.
By Myrtle Williamson

I appreciate the beginning of the year because it seems to be a time when people are planning and dreaming. What will I do in the coming year? What are my goals? What will I do to push myself to be a better person? To me, January gives me permission to dream large for myself and for Spirit in Action.

Here are some of my dreams for 2012:

Get youth involved. Next month I’ll be creating a program about Spirit in Action for the junior high and high school groups at my church. I am excited about sharing information about other cultures and helping them create a global perspective. Of course, I also hope to inspire them to help others who are in need and further plant the seed of giving in their hearts.

Hear more stories. I still have so many interviews and photos of the people I met in Kenya and Malawi stored on my computer. It is my goal to transcribe these stories and get them out to you so that you can hear more about what SIA is doing through our wonderful partners and SBF Coordinators. Stay tuned!

Expand Small Business Fund. SIA is ready to begin developing relationships with new coordinators in new communities. I am excited to begin these conversations and to see how we might be able to help one more community create prosperity and joy through the Small Business Fund program. Please pray for this expansion!

Dream small. As in, small savings and loans groups. It was so exciting to see the success of the Manyamula Savings and Loans group in Malawi and SIA is motivated to try to share with program with other partners who are interested in providing low-interest loans in their community.

Celebrate. We are planning a special “Sweet 16” anniversary event for SIA in the California Bay Area on May 5th. We’ll also have a silent auction with some handmade items that I brought back from our partners in Africa, and several items from SIA donors in the USA. We’re still in the initial planning stages. Let me know if you have something you can donate to the auction.

For myself: Let peace begin with me. Be open to new ideas. Forgive others. Work at collaboration and compromise. Improve my communication skills.

Sounds like a great year! What are your dreams for Spirit in Action? Please share the dream in the comments section.

Local Action Shapes Lives in Ghana

Women with fuel-efficient stoves in Ghana.

Women with fuel-efficient stoves in Ghana.

“Even though you might not see face-to-face how lives are changing, I want to let you know that your support is transforming so many lives in our community,” began Alexander Kedje of Shape Lives Foundation, Ghana in a recent email to me.

When we think of charity in Africa, big name organizations are probably the first to come to mind. We hear about World Vision, UNICEF, and Heifer International but it’s the small, unknown, local organizations like Shape Lives Foundation that are perfectly situated to help people in their own communities.

These local organizations, as the blogger Jennifer Lentfer points out, are able to best understand the situation on the ground, and are already rooted and integrated into the community. Where the large international organizations have to work hard to meet people and promote projects, local leaders like Alexander are already known and respected by the people they serve.

I’ve been in contact with Alexander and Shape Lives Foundation for two years now and I am always so excited to see the progress they are making toward empowering the poor and raising the standard of living for the women in their area.

Part of Del Anderson’s mission for Spirit in Action was to encourage and promote local leaders and so, although we have not given a grant to Shape Lives Foundation, I share with you a few highlights from 2011 so that you too can appreciate their local work and service:

* Twenty-five women are now employed in their Moringa Processing Center, plucking the leaves and grinding them into a powder. This great video shows how they process the Moringa leaves into a highly nutritious dietary supplement.
* 1200 Moringa trees have been replanted to grow more leaves to process in 2012.
* Seven women received fuel-efficient stoves and training. Not only will the stoves produce less smoke, they also make it so the women do not have to gather or buy as much wood to cook meals.

Congratulations, Shape Lives Foundation! And we stand with you as your continue your important work in 2012.

Take action, for it is your duty, and we are with you; be strong, and do it. –Ezra 10:4

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New Businesses Come to Life in Uganda

The first week of December, Nalu Prossy, gathered together 18 people to prepare them to start and run their own businesses. Nalu, a Spirit in Action Small Business Fund local coordinator in eastern Uganda, is soft-spoken and hard-working, and when I met her this summer in Kenya, she told me that this work “is in my heart, I have that spirit of helping others.”

Nalu Prossy shows us some of the baskets made by SIA business owners in Uganda.

Nalu Prossy shows us some of the baskets made by SIA business owners in Uganda.

This new round of small business owners came from the rural villages of Isegero and Nakigalala, south of Kampala (see map below). The 18 people formed themselves into 5 groups, chose a leader for each group (4 of the leaders are women), and started to think through their business plan. Two of the groups are families and other groups are colleagues and friends that have decided to go into business together.

Please join me in welcoming these five new Spirit in Action-supported businesses in Uganda! We’ll follow their progress over the next year as they face challenges and become successful in their chosen enterprises.

* Brick Making and Pottery – “We will produce and sell our wares along the roadside.”

* Mat Making – People use mats for many things in Uganda, for sleeping, sitting on in the house, screens, and drying food in the sun.

* Chicken Rearing – This is a family business led by the mother, Betty Nabuso.

* Mat Making –  This group already has needles, thread and weaving skills that they will contribute to the business.

* Tailoring and Sewing – This family business will take advantage of the inexpensive cloth made in Uganda and will use the sewing machine that they already own.

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“Yes, Lord, Yes!”

As a new year begins, I take a moment to rededicate myself to serve God and the world by serving others. This week I repost a writing from Spirit in Action’s founder, Del Anderson.

How often we follow society instead of the call of the Divine, pleasing people, not God.

I believe every Trustee of Spirit in Action should be aware they are purposed to follow the Christ and to say often “Yes, Lord, yes!” Living in the world a person can live a noble life without risk, and that is okay for the world, but Jesus has overcome the world and He has challenged us to go and do likewise.

It is our privilege to go beyond pleasing people and being a “good” citizen, safe and secure. We have been brought into Spirit in Action by God to take the risk of being aware of God’s presence within us and allowing God to think, feel, act and respond all day through us as we say “Yes, Lord, yes!”

Then the Sacred One will use us as its representatives, expressions and manifesters and we will fulfill God’s intent and we will hear, “Well done, good and faithful friend. You are incarnating My Spirit and Truth. You are moving beyond the safe and secure life.” Knowing about Jesus is not enough. We need to abide in Him and experience Him.

I am learning, finally, that in this life each of us has a Divine Plan and a special, particular mission. Our challenge is to be aware of God’s Presence and constantly listening and responding all day with the words, “Yes, Lord, yes!” Thus, the higher purpose and meaning of life become a set goal before us. This life of adventure and risk leads us into a daily fellowship with Jesus, a journey of fulfilling our high destiny, and becoming our own true self. This is our call to wholeness.

The Christ is still speaking to us the words Jesus said, “I have called you friends because I have disclosed to you everything that I heard from my Father. You did not choose me. I chose you. I appoint you to go on and bear fruit, fruit that will last.” (John 15:15-16) God wants to know God’s Self in you and me.

We are answering the call to be whole, the call to be truly all we can be. Are we ready? We answer, “Yes, Lord, yes!”

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