This Thanksgiving Say a Prayer for the World

Thanksgiving is a time to stop and reflect with gratitude all the goodness we have in our lives. This, year, I hope it will also be a time to recommit ourselves to empowering others, living compassionately, and putting God’s Spirit into action through serving and praying for the world.

Here are five table graces to incorporate prayers of service and justice into our prayers of thanks. Happy Thanksgiving!

1. Loving God,
we thank You for food and remember the hungry;
we thank You for health and remember the sick;
we thank You for friends and remember the lonely;
we thank You for freedom and remember the enslaved.
May our gratitude stir us to service,
that Your gifts to us may be used for others. Amen.

2. To those who hunger,
Give bread;
To those who have bread,
Give the hunger for justice. Amen.
(Latin America Prayer)

The MAVISALO Maize Mill cooperative helps bring food security and prosperity to rural Malawi.

The MAVISALO Maize Mill cooperative helps bring food security and prosperity to rural Malawi.

3. In a world where so many are hungry,
may we eat this food with humble hearts.
In a world where so many are lonely,
may we share this friendship with joyful hearts.  Amen.
(From Canadian Foodgrains Bank)

4. For food in a world where many walk in hunger
For faith in a world where many walk in fear
For friends in a world where many walk alone
We give you humble thanks, oh Lord.
(World Hunger Grace)

5. Give us grateful hearts, O Lord, for all thy mercies,
and make us mindful of the needs of others;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(1928 Book of Common Prayer)

Wow! This report from Malawi made my day!

Women of MAVISALO working together at the group's Maize Mill. Cooperation and community are strengths of MAVISALO.

Women of MAVISALO working together at the group’s Maize Mill. Cooperation and community are strengths of MAVISALO.

In 2009 SIA gave Manyamula Village Savings and Loans (MAVISALO) Cooperative a grant to start their village loan fund. It started small and yet each year we get more exciting news about how the group continues to expand, reduce poverty, and serve as a model to other community groups.

My heart filled with joy when I read this report from Canaan Gondwe, MAVISALO leader:

“MAVISALO has began showing impacts that are recognized at National level. Visitors are now and again at our door steps and they always leave our project impressed because of what they see and hear. We are informed that we will be hosting World Bank Team next month. They are coming to appreciate Village banking systems from us.”

Can you believe it? How exciting!  

Canaan continues humbly: “We have attributed this success firstly to the grace that God has given us; secondly to SIA for the moral, technical and financial support rendered. This partnership is so strong and we feel confident that our future is bright socially, economically and spiritually. Our coming together as MAVISALO is strengthened now and again because of the support we receive internally and externally. THANK YOU SIA.”

I’m so impressed with the strides this group makes year after year. And I’m proud of the role that SIA continues to play in supporting local leadership.

Jerrisa with her son Mphatso in front of their new house. The small business also helped Mphatso travel to South Africa for work.

Jerrisa with her son Mphatso in front of their new house. The small business also helped Mphatso travel to South Africa for work.

Two years ago: A business. Now: A home

Back in January of 2012, when Jerrisa Mumba filled out a SIA Small Business Plan for her family’s vegetable shop, she wrote that their dream was to renovate their house with profits from the business.

Two years later, after training sessions, mentoring, reinvestment, and many sales of tomatoes and “Irish” (russet) potatoes they happily shared this month that they have been able to reach their goal! Not only do they report that they are better clothed and eat better food, they also have built the walls to what will be their new home! And the business is still thriving, so much more good is still to come for Jerrisa and her family!

A book, a poem, and more about why I like grants

A book, a poem, and more about why I like grants

The grant reports from the latest cohort of SIA Community Grants and Small Business Fund groups are set to come in later this week! Until I have those stories (of a women’s loan group in Ghana, a technical school in Kenya, and a motorcycle in Malawi) to share with you, I hope you’ll enjoy these SIA-related tidbits to brighten your week:

More about grants vs loans 

Following up on my presentation about grants vs loans last week and a conversation I had with some friends earlier this fall, I wrote down five points to consider when thinking about micro-grants and micro-loans.

Those five points are featured today in a guest blog post “Combating Poverty with Micro-Financing: Small Business Loans vs. Grants” on the Spoonfuls of Spice blog. Spoonfuls of Spice is an online spice store, which donates 5% of its profits to support programs that empower women world-wide.

Children’s Stories of Africa

Bright, colorful photos. Heartwarming lessons. Stories about Africa. Yes! I think I know what my nieces are getting for Christmas…

Last week The New York Times chose some of their favorite children’s books about Africa:

Speaking of gifts…did you see the new SIA gift cards? Now when you donate to SIA in honor of a friend or family member you can print out a card to let them know of the gift and to share a taste of SIA with them. (For more details, click here.)

Stressed? Just read this poem.

In the midst of the whirling day,
In the hectic rush to be doing,
In the frantic pace of life,
Pause here for a moment.

Catch your breath;
Relax your body;
Loosen your grip on life.

Consider that our lives are always unfinished business;
Imagine that the picture of our being is never complete;
Allow your life to be a work in progress.

By Richard S. Gilbert, Life Is Always Unfinished Business

Dancing to music from Senegal

All the songs on the the “The African Music Playlist” from Firelight Foundation’s blog were making me happy today! Listen, watch, and dance along to this one that I particularly liked:

Bottom Line: Generosity and Micro-Grants Reduce Poverty

Winkly with pigs

Winkly and Jane with their pigs in Malawi.

By the time I launched into my opening story about Winkly and Jane in Malawi the classroom at Illinois College was pretty full. About 60 students and faculty were there for my discussion of micro-finance and my passionate defense of micro-grants as the best pathway out of poverty.

In the three minutes before I remembered to press record on my iphone, I started with some thank yous to Joe Genetin-Pilawa (who invited me) and IC’s Leadership Program (for sponsoring the evening).

Then I launched into the story of Jane and Winkly, who live in Manyamula village in Malawi. They are a hard-working family but they lacked access to credit. I flipped to the powerpoint slide of their old house (with mud bricks and a thatched roof) and talked about some of the problems with a thatched roof, which has to be replaced every season…

Over the next 45 minutes I talk about micro-loans, crowd-funding, indebtedness, sharing the gift, and generosity. Feel free to listen and/or look through the slides!


IC Microfinance Slides


IC Talk Audio

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