From Del’s Journal: "Our Goal: To Please God, Not Men"

A writing from Spirit in Action’s founder, Del Anderson. Written sometime before 2004.

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!”

Don’t know much about the DRC

What have you heard about the Democratic Republic of Congo? Maybe you know that it’s one of the places where the Spirit in Action Small Business Fund gives families the opportunity to expand their livelihood. Or maybe you’ve heard about the many women there who are raped in the ongoing conflict over minerals. Did you read that actor Ben Affleck is calling for a US envoy to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)? Perhaps you know the country as Zaire, as it was called 1971-1997.

Rather than falling into the trap of lumping all of “Africa” together in my mind or only relying on stories of violence and hopelessness in the news, this week I set out to find out more about DRC.

Searching Wikipedia and the CIA World Factbook, I found that DRC spans the equator in the heart of the sub-Sahara and is about 1/4th the size of the US. It’s the 12th largest country in the world by size and the fourth most populous country in Africa. French is the official language but there are 242 other languages that people speak in DRC, including Swahili. About 90% of the population is Christian.

Those are just some quick facts, what about stories of the people? “From Congo with Love” is a beautiful photo slideshow, put together by photographer Rankin and Oxfam, of ordinary people in DRC. (Click here to for 2-minute slideshow.)

In addition to taking his own photos, Rankin also gave out disposable cameras and taught them how to take photos. Through their photos of what they love  – families, people working, women walking – you can really see people from DRC through the eyes of their loved-ones.

The Spirit in Action partners that coordinate the SIA Small Business Fund (SBF) in DRC live in the eastern part of DRC, near the city of Bukavu and the border with Rwanda. Francois Hamuli, a SIA SBF Coordinator, lives on an island in Lake Kivu in the “Great Lakes” region. They have their mail sent to Rwanda because that is more reliable than the DRC international mail.

DRC veterans repair shoesAs “From Congo with Love” mentions, many people host non-family members in their homes and care for those who have been displaced because of the violence. Many returning refugees (like the men pictured to the left) seek SIA Small Business Fund grants eager to learn a new skill and find stability in their lives. They find hope through these new businesses.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look into the Democratic Republic of Congo. There is so much more to learn about DRC and the rest of the countries where SIA works!

Stay tuned, I’ll do another country profile soon!

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SIA SBF Coordinators in the DRC

Small Business Fund Coordinators in the DRC. L to R: Jacob Lipandasi, Benoit Malenge, Francois Hamuli

A Phone Call from Ghana

Ring, ring…. “Hello?”

“Hello, it’s Newton from Ghana! The world just got a lot smaller…”

So began my Skype conversation yesterday with Newton Amaglo, one of Spirit in Action’s partners in Kumasi, Ghana. Using Skype to “call” me for free online, Newton could see and hear me in real time! It was an exciting experience to hear his voice and catch a quick update on his work growing Moringa plants.

SIA Board member, John Bayer, recently returned from a trip to Senegal and has been enthusiastically networking to see how Moringa might be used in prisons there. John wrote in an email, “We visited the prison while we were there and were shocked at the really terrible conditions with the 700 inmates all living in very cramped facilities with only one meal a day unless they had families in the area to bring them food in the afternoons. Many were malnourished and some were suffering from skin disease/parasites from the very thin infested mattresses they slept on. Don’t need to go on for you to see the huge need here. All I can think of is Newton Amaglo and the Moringa leaf powder and the results he has had, especially with the prison inmates.

In July 2010, I wrote about how Newton and others on his research team used a SIA Community Grant to train prison employees to grow Moringa. This fast growing and important nutritional supplement can be added to the food of the inmates in the prison infirmaries to great benefit.

Yesterday, Newton told me that they recently trained two more prison employees to grow and process the Moringa. Together, they are building a drier to dry the Moringa leaves, and a mill to grind them into a fine powder to add to the inmates’ soup.

The most efficient way to grow Moringa is in a densely packed square-foot garden and in one season the plants can grow 7 meters (23 ft) over a number of harvests! Above is a picture of one of the researchers demonstrating how to cut the leaves and still keep the plant alive.

Newton said that the prisons all had garden plots that had fallen into disuse. With the gift of training and Moringa seedlings, Newton has since seen a revived interest in gardening at the prisons. He is hopeful that more people will discover the immense health benefits of Moringa and use it more often as a food supplement.

Spirit in Action’s mission is to create a “worldwide network” and this connection between Senegal and Ghana is just part of it – and the Skype call with Newton Amaglo helped that worldwide network feel a little bit more close-knit!

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Let's Take a Peek in the Poultry House

As spring begins to spring in [some parts of] the U.S., I share a fitting story of baby chicks and the hope they can bring to a community. This week I received a package of amazing photos from the Manyamula Savings and Loans Group (MAVISALO) in Malawi. As you may remember, MAVISALO received a small SIA Community Grant to raise chickens and then use the combined profits from selling eggs and meat to provide small loans to group members. They now have their own micro-loan association!

Since this community-based organization started in November 2010 with 350 chicks, they have built a sturdy shelter and worked together to care for the chickens. I was so moved when I saw the progress of their work and I want to take this space to let the pictures speak for themselves. This is Spirit in action!

(Click on the photos here and again on the next page for a larger version.)

Members work on building the new poultry house

Members work on building the new poultry house.

Half way done with construction!

Half way done with construction!

Day-old chicks in the poultry house

Day-old chicks in the poultry house.

Members of MAVISALO attending to their chicks

Members of MAVISALO attending to their chicks.

MAVISALO Chairperson Canaan Gondwe (center) with other members during construction.

MAVISALO Chairperson Canaan Gondwe (center) with other members during construction.

Member with 4 week old chickens

Secretary Matthews Mahowe is ready to fill troughs with water for 4-week old chickens.

Treasurer Silvester Mkhoma with bags of chicken feed

Treasurer Silvester Mkhoma counting the bags of chicken feed. Feed was one of the most expensive parts of their operation.

Isn’t it amazing to see what can happen when people work together for a common goal? Now the group has made enough profit to begin to give loans to group members.

I read a story this week about how climate change is affecting small farmers in India and I was appreciative of what MAVISALO can do for their community. When there is not enough rain or a small crop yield, MAVISALO helps people who need temporary capital for medical emergencies or food.

One group at a time, Spirit in Action is supporting organizations that empower their members and make their lives more steady.

Update: New Businesses in Kenya are Successful

“It is joyous to begin to count the huge impact to our community through SIA program. I enjoy training, sharing my experiences, visiting and praying with the groups.” So begins the latest letter from Dennis Kiprop about SIA Small Business Fund in Kenya. It is so exciting to receive letters like this with confirmation of SIA’s impact and encouraging reports from the newly established small businesses.

I’d like to share with you some of the highlights from the 3-Month Business Reports from these successful enterprises! Small businesses start with $100 grants from SIA and those that are continuing after 3 months in operation receive an additional $50 grant to expand.

  • All 5 business groups can now provide better food for their families!
  • Shalynn Milk Spot (dairy business) has earned over $300 in profit in 3 months! Leader Shadrack Kosge praises, “We have managed to meet our daily needs and sponsored one child to school!”
  • Rhoda’s Tailoring Business (pictured above) profits have doubled in the last month. She is now training Lynnett (sitting at the sewing machine) in tailoring skills to help with the increased demand.
  • Kapterik Youth Tree Nursery, which raises and sells tree seedlings reports increased demand for their seedlings and was able to reinvest by buying tubes, a hoe and watering can for a more efficient business.
Dennis Kiprop enjoys training the new business leaders.

Dennis Kiprop enjoys training the new business leaders

Five new businesses were started near Eldoret, Kenya since the beginning of the year! Each business is started by a team of three people. I invite you to keep these new business leaders in your prayers as they learn and grow into their new responsibilities and opportunities.

  • Mrs. Grace Chepchumba Keter’s Road Side Kiosk – Selling soda, cakes, and fruits
  • Beatrice Kiebet & group – Poultry raising
  • Wilson, Rose, & Naomi Maiyo – Farming tomatoes, peas, & potatoes
  • Loice Chumba & group – Farming various vegetables
  • Jane Korir Mary & group – Selling baked bread, doughnuts, tea, & porridge

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