From Del's Journal: Peacemakers

From this day in Del’s Journal – September 28, 2002

“God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think.”  (Ephesians 3:20)  “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons and daughters of God.” (Mathew 5:9)

Being and expressing this peace and participating with God in bringing peace here on earth as it is in heaven (in the invisible) is an activity of being a co-creator with God. Bringing peace on earth is being in God’s grace activity and also brings forth a flow of health to mind and body.  This is a process and a practice that maintains and sustains a wholeness activity of mind and body.  This is an exercise of being aware of and practicing the presence of God in feeling, thought, experience, attitude, desire, will, actions and reactions, moment by moment. This is rejoicing in the Lord and receiving and participating in God’s peace, love and steadfastness.  This is letting go and allowing God to be God in me, through me and as me.

“Thou wilt keep them in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, for they trusteth in Thee.”  (Isaiah 26:3)

Peace and anxiety cannot exist together. This is a division of thought and trust and we are told, “Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”  (Isaiah 26:5).  This is a heart silence, a deep peace within, despite outer negative conditions.  Receiving God’s peace is our true heritage.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  (John 14:27).

God’s purposes cannot be fulfilled without our cooperation, yours and mine. Most of life is a letting, and we learn as we trust God.   We also have the sacred privilege of being a co-creator in and with God. I am a branch of the tree of God’s life.  What kind of fruit am I producing?

Pastor Oliver and his wife show off their passion fruit farm.

Pastor Oliver and his wife grow passion fruit Kenya.

Prayer:  Infinite Bounty of your grace within me, Thou art my inspiration and my guide.  Increase my desire and will that I may focus ~ looking, loving, longing to be more like Jesus, who said, “The works I do, you can do, and greater works can you do.”

Success after one year in business!

What can a group of 3-5 people accomplish in one year? Well, if they are members of a Spirit in Action Small Business Fund group, the answer is “An amazing amount!” After one full year in business the Small Business Fund Coordinators, who all work as volunteers, help the groups complete One-Year Reports to send to the SIA office. These reports give the groups a chance to show off what they have been able to accomplish after just one year of hard work.

This week I received some amazing success stories from Coordinator Canaan Gondwe in Malawi! Let me share them with you too so that together we can celebrate these wonderful, encouraging victories:

1.Eliza Ziba (above) has been able to renovate her family’s home since starting Eliza’s Grocery Shop. The group has also reinvested $230 to expand their shop.

2.The Allan Bicycle Repair Shop (right) operated by Allan Mwale and his family has experienced high demand for their bicycle and motorcycle services. With such success they have been able to pay school fees for one of their daughters in secondary school!

3. The family business Chiuta Ngwalusungu Barber Shop (below left), led by Zondia Hunga, has recently bought a motorcycle to help their business expand. Now, they can use the motorcycle to quickly and easily transport the batteries to be recharged. After one year they have $346 in savings!

4. With the $275 in savings from the Yashama Grocery Shop (below right), Jane Mtonga has helped her husband venture into a new carpentry business. His high quality furniture is popular in the community and he is able to earn a good income.

Isn’t it amazing what just $150 with some training, encouragement and support can do for a family? When we help people help themselves they are able to accomplish great things, reinvesting in their businesses and communities and improving their lives!

The Power of Music

My new house is right across the Yale Divinity School and today I joined the community for their daily worship service. The moment the music started I began to get teary-eyed and I remained that way for the whole 30-minute prayer and praise service. I felt so surrounded by power and goodness and I realized how often those feelings come along with music for me.

Mark Miller and the Marquand Gospel Choir sang an amazing service filled with joy, gratitude, relinquishment, and even laughter! The reading for the day, the “parable of the prodigal” (Luke 15:11-24), was adapted to be a sort of musical with pop songs. What joy and merriment this brought into the chapel. And yet, there were also moments of pure heaven as the voices sang, “Justice! Kindness! Walk humbly with you God!”

Glenn Clark recognized the potential for song to being harmony and unity to a group and music is now an integral part of CFOI camps. Marsha Johnson recently recalled to me being at the CFO International camp in Nairobi, Kenya listening to the amazing music from people of the African CFO camps. She described being surrounded by the beautiful sound and I could hear that the power of that music was still a tangible experience for her, even five years later. Also, many of our Spirit in Action coordinators use song as a way to bring people together at the beginning of SIA Small Business Training workshops.

Pygmy (indigenous) man in the Buziralo Jungle of DR Congo plays the drum as a call to worship.

Pygmy (indigenous) man in the Buziralo Jungle of DR Congo plays the drum as a call to worship. Photo by Jacob Lipandasi

Indeed this harmony in music, uniting people of many cultures, is one of the central principles of Taizé, an international, ecumenical community in France. I visited with my family in the summer of 2006, along with 4,500 youth and 500 adults from all over the world. Three times each day, the whole group came together for services, which included simple chant-like songs and periods of silence for individual meditation, reflection and communion with God. The peace created by 5,000 people from countless different backgrounds singing and praying in many languages was so real for me. The amazing energy from such a group makes peace of earth feel within reach. That possibility for goodness was the same feeling I felt this morning and which stays with me now.

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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