Cell Phones in 1955? How about cell phones of prayer?

These days, cell phones, texting, and Skype (online video calls) increasingly help build the global friendships that draw us all closer together. The following excerpt from Glenn Clark’s 1955 Fellowship Messanger article seems to predict the invention of Skype and cell phones, which allow us to connect with each other without effort. This concept soon leads us into a discussion of how to pray for “world friendship,” making it doubly relevant to Spirit in Action’s worldwide network of partners.


A Great Future Looms Ahead

Tereza with cell phone in Malawi

Tereza (Malawi) keeps her cell phone in a case around her neck as she runs her market shop.

At a meeting of Telephone and Telegraph executives recently it was secretly announced that within a few years every child at birth will be given a number and when he comes of age he will be given a “walkie-talkie” or a “trans-ceiver” in the form of a pocket instrument by which he can dial the number of anyone he wishes to communicate with and talk to him immediately. By looking into the instrument he can even see the one he is talking with, and can be shown whatever he is doing if the received wishes to show him.

At the Camps Farthest Out we have already been doing that in a spiritual way. The “trans-ceiver” we carry (not in our pockets, but in our hearts) is the Holy Comforter and is instantly available whenever we give obedience to the eleventh commandment: “This commandment I give unto you, that ye have love one for another.” Get on that wave length and we are in immediate communication with both God and anyone we love.

I propose that this year we all make use of this “trans-ceiver” that God has prepared for us; that we cease trying so hard to do things with our own wills, and let the will of God have full sway within us. When we receive a radio message from someone a thousand miles away it is through no power of our own. When this new invention is perfected we shall communicate with our friends who are far away through no virtue of our own. Paul besought us not to depend on ourselves in prayer, but to turn it over to this wonderful gift, the “Comforter,” bequeathed to us by Jesus in the form of the Holy Spirit.

McDonald Kajan (Malawi) holds up his veg and new cell phone

McDonald Kajan (Malawi) holds up kale for sale and shows me the new cell phone he bought with his farm profits.

Don’t for a moment think that [we] have learned all that there is to know about prayer. Every year, every month, every week, every day we learn more. Let us this year make special use of this way of praying, letting the Holy Ghost make the intercession through us. Because the need of the world is great, and because the right pathways to world friendship and to world peace are so difficult for most nations to follow, one hardly knows how to pray. Now is the time when we an with great confidence get still and let the Spirit itself make “intercession for us with the groanings that cannot be uttered.”

– From the Fellowship Messenger, Volume 17, February-March 1955; Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Camps Farthest Out

Top 7 Moments (& Photos) from CFOI Peru

Here are the top seven moments and photos from my recent trip to the Camps Farthest Out International (CFOI) Camp in Peru. For more about CFOI, please visit their website. Our founder, Del Anderson, was a past President of CFOI and many of our grantees have come through this connection.

Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony

1. Meeting of Cultures

This 5-day camp held in Lima, Peru was an international meeting of over 200 CFOI campers! There were representatives from 20 different countries! As someone who is very interested in culture, I loved meeting people from all over the world; people from places I had visited before (Kenya, Malawi, Australia) and people from places I hope to visit some time in the future (Fiji, Kashmir, Papua New Guinea). We all came with our cultural expectations and cultural norms and together we had to navigate and celebrate our differences (personal space issues, how coffee is prepared) and marvel in our similarities (love of music, shared faith).

Camper from rural Peru

Camper from rural Peru

2. Opening our Eyes

About 1/3 of the campers were from all parts of Peru – many of them from the rural farming communities in the highlands and jungle areas of Peru. Some of my most memorable exchanges were sharing with them about life in the United States and then hearing about their potato farms. (Did you know that Peru has thousands of varieties of potatoes?!?) As in Africa, the folks from rural Panao use cell phones as their primary means of communication! They don’t have email addresses or even mailing addresses because they are so far out, but they do have cell phones. What an amazing world!


Music from Peru

3. World Music

From the moment I signed up for the international camp I’d been looking forward to the music – and I was not disappointed! Pictured here is a woman from Peru who sang a beautiful ballad, accompanied by her accordion and the Afro-Peruvian drum.

We also sang meditative songs from Taize France, silly songs from the Philipines, loud Nigerian songs in their local language, praise songs in Spanish, and soaring hymns led by Nelly from Taiwan.


4. Praying Together

After we sang together we also prayed together. My prayer group was a wonderfully multilingual group! I felt blessed to be able to use my Spanish skills to interpret for the 4 Peruvians in the group; and I was so grateful for Christina from Germany who shared her German-English skills to interpret for the other German member.

We prayed in many different ways, each praying in our own language. And sometimes we just took time to talk and share with each other about where we came from and what brought us there.

Even members in Prayer Groups that did not have a Spanish-English interpreter, and who had to communicate with few words and many gestures, shared that with such a busy camp schedule this time in a small group was precious time for connecting on a deeper level.

Tanya and Adelina Meza (Peru)

Tanya and Adelina Meza (Peru)

5. Re-Connecting with Friends

This camp was full of friends – new and old! I met Grace Paljor from Kashmir for the first time. We’ve written emails and been Facebook friends for over a year and in Peru we got to greet each other with a hug. I also got to sing and share with our Small Business Fund Coordinator from Nigeria, Ofonime Nkoko. I met new friends from Australia and Peru who are also working on projects of community development.

And many times people I didn’t know came up to tell me how Del had influenced their lives and sent them letters and copies of Seed Thoughts. One of those people was Adelina Meza from Peru who met Del at the CFOI International camp in the 1990s and whose story I’ll write up and share soon.

Playing foosball in Peru!

Is foosball and Olympic sport yet?

6. Games & Laughter

One of the best way to connect with people is to play games, especially games that don’t require an interpreter! There was so much laughter as people from all over took one of the foosball handles and learned the game together. Even when people pushed the ball toward the wrong goal there was encouragement and friendly cheers. Plus, it was during the Olympic games and we had a good time all singing the Olympic theme song together.



Tile floor in the Lima Cathedral

“Peace” – Tile floor, Cathedral of Lima

7. Peace

“And I prophesy that not until Catholics, Christian Scientists, Methodists and Unitarians, Fundamentalists and Modernists, can forget the differences underlying the science of their creeds and unite in common cause of living their religion […] – may we hope to see the […] victory achieved that will bring peace on earth and good will to men.” — Glenn Clark, The Soul’s Sincere Desire, pg. 48

The experience of a CFOI camp is the practice of living our faith of serving others, forgiving others, and getting to know and love more of God’s creation. I pray that all us will return home acting like and believing that we are on our way to bringing peace on earth.

Time for International Camp!

By the time you read this I’ll already be on my way to Lima, Peru for the Camps Farthest Out International 10th International Camp! I’m looking forward to 10 days of fellowship with friends from around the world, praying for peace, and singing songs in many languages. This week I’m reposting a piece from July 5, 2011 about our SIA partners in India, some of whom I hope to see in Peru. (P.S. There won’t be a blog post next week since I’m not sure what my internet access will be like in Peru.)


The work of Spirit in Action, to serve God by serving others through economic empowerment projects, rests on the strong relationships we have with our many partners around the world. In our early years, we relied on the many connections that our founder, Del Anderson, had made through his international adventures earlier in his life and through his tenure as President of Camps Farthest Out (CFO) International, an organization that seeks to spread peace throughout the world through prayer.

Cecil Coipollai and his family in Chennai, India

Cecil Coipollai and his family in Chennai, India

One such connection was with Cecil Coipollai, a CFO leader in Chennai, India. Cecil and Del met at an international meeting in 1979 and began exchanging letters, filled with sincere sharing, encouragement, and inspirational literature.

Del felt that we must serve the WHOLE person: body, mind, and spirit. Serving the spirit without acknowledging the needs of the mind and body was incomplete to Del. This is why our work includes economic development projects, as well as information resources and correspondence.

Cecil and other CFOers in South Asia have received various kinds of support from Spirit in Action, including a small grant in 2005 to help with recovery efforts after the tsunami in Sri Lanka. Also, Del sent some literature with every letter to Cecil and the little book titled, Seed Thoughts for Daily Meditation was one of his favorites.

When Del died in fall 2008, Cecil wrote me about his desire to print the Seed Thoughts booklet in English and the local language of Tamil to distribute to CFOers in Sri Lanka and Chennai. He wanted to share this piece, which had inspired both Del and Cicil so much over the years.

This year (2011), that dream is becoming a reality and the booklet will be ready for distribution in Chennai this fall! I hope that many more people will find hope through this booklet which reminds us of God’s presence all around us each day of the week.

Here is a short excerpt from Seed Thoughts. If you would like a copy of the booklet, you can get a PDF version here or email me to have a hard copy mailed to you.

Tuesday: God is Power

When we draw on our own nerve energy and shut off God’s power then we quickly feel tired and exhausted. When we relax the feeling of strain and draw only on God’s power, quietly expecting God to work through us, then we feel no physical strain, but rather exhilaration and refreshment of spirit. “They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” – Isiah 40:31

The Valley – Where spirit is called into action

Last week I talked about the power of language – saying what you mean and meaning what you say – and this week’s post continues on that theme. We take our name SPIRT in ACTION very seriously and we see the work of our organization as a way engage our spirits in global, good works. This week, a long-time SIA partner from India, Chandra Ezekiel shares a story about the importance of this action for her.


From Serenity (March-April 2011), a newsletter from CFOI Chennai, India:

Glenn Clark’s most valuable writings are to be our guide in the life of Camps Farthest Out (CFO) campers.   On page 81 in [his book “Fishers of Men”] it is written as follows:

“I once heard, of a philosopher who was discoursing beautifully to some friends upon the joy of the meditative life and the bliss of Nirvana when he was interrupted by cries outside his window of a child who was dieing of cold and exposure.  The philosopher rose quickly, went to the window and shut out the sound.”

“Much as we all need to withdraw occasionally to the mountain top, still more do we need to go down to the valley and save men from suffering and sin.”

What does God expect of us, at the Valley?

In Matt Ch. 25, it is said, “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat. I was thirsty and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in – (v.35) – Naked and clothed me, I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came unto me.” (v.36), verily I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it into one of the least of these my brothers, ye have done it unto me.” (v.40)

While CFO camps take us up to “The Mountain Top” to enjoy the spiritual experience with our Lord, Spirit in Action takes us down to “The Valley” to help the helpless and the deserving.


Camily Wedende (Kenya) brings his passion for solar cookers to train women in refugee camps to build and use the cookers.

Camily Wedende (Kenya) brings his passion for solar cookers to his work. He train women in refugee camps to build and use the cookers.

They are the lonely, the depressed, the oppressed, the neglected, the sick, and the weak who need a little bit of our time to be spent with them in prayer and encouragement.  It may go a long way to make them realize that the love of God is there to save them from their situations.

[The spiritual experience] as well as the organization Spirit in Action together go hand in hand to enable the individual to become a complete personality, putting his/her soul, mind and body in balance.

Choosing Grant Recipients

A friend recently asked me about how Spirit in Action chooses our grant recipients. I first launched into an account about how we work with Small Business Fund Coordinators who help choose people in their community and how the Board votes on proposals we receive from partners and new contacts. After listening patiently to that explanation, my friend clarified that she was really wondering about the psychology of the grant-making progress.

How do we decide whom we support? This is quite a different question from how you choose proposals; it is a question about the core values of the organization. It was a thoughtful question, one that I am still thinking about weeks later. Of course, these are just my thoughts, and perhaps, other SIA Board members would have different ideas.

I think the simple part of the answer goes back to last week’s post. We support people we trust. And we actively work on building trust with people we may support. Del Anderson strongly believed in developing a working relationship with people before supporting them financially. This relationship is built through sending many letters (before email this could be a very slow process!), providing relevant self-help information, and sharing experiences, ideas, and prayers. Part of the process that I still employ faithfully is listening to the needs and ideas of the people who write me letters and responding with encouragement, information and ideas. *

We are upfront about wanting to develop relationships with people. I really like this letter that Marsha Johnson (the previous SIA Administrator) wrote to share about our philosophy with a new contact:

“We welcome new relationships like with you, and hope to get to know one another, pray together, and follow God’s guidance in how we can work together in service to those in need in your community and in our world. Our desire is to serve God and humankind, without encouraging dependency on us, but by working TOGETHER, developing ways that people can grow their own food, start small business when they have a saleable skill, and become increasingly self-sufficient and growing in their faith in God as well.”

We don’t just work in one area or one country, which means that we depend on recommendations from our international network when we are considering a proposal or building a new relationship. One of our strongest sets of connections is Camps Farthest Out International (CFOI), an organization that provides leadership training and organizes non-denominational Christian retreats promoting peace. Many of the people we engage with are also involved with CFOI and the camps create a built-in accountability system, especially since people traveling for CFOI are often able to meet other SIA partners and check in on their projects. Right now, most of SIA’s relationships are built on email and letter correspondence and recommendations from CFOI. I hope that someday soon I’ll be able to meet some of our international partners face-to-face and further deepen our connection!

Dennis Kiprop and Jacob Lipandasi

Dennis Kiprop (Kenya) and Jacob Lipandasi (DRC) meet to exchange ideas about improving their communities.

*This is perfectly parallel with the findings of the Listening Project, which found that international aid recipients want more long-term relationships with aid organizations and crave more “listening in open-ended” ways. Read the very interesting summary.

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