Leading with Honesty and Integrity

One of the many highlights of my trip to Africa last summer was visiting Samuel Teimuge in Kenya. Samuel, who worked with Del even before Spirit in Action was founded in 1996, is local role model in Eldoret, Kenya. He and his family are integral to many development projects, including Empowering Lives International, Samro School, and the Ukweli Training Centre.

Last year, Samuel shared some words of wisdom with our SIA Small Business Fund Coordinators. Here are some of his insights on leadership, encouragement, and community development:

  • We have learned a lot especially from Del Anderson and the self-help group in CFOI and this really encouraged us to start small. We learned that when you do things with your eyes towards other people that is when you succeed.
  • Tanya and Rhoda

    Tanya and Rhoda Teimuge in front of her house. Rhoda was a small business trainer before she started Samro School.

    I want to use the scriptures Proverbs 14:23 since it is one that is really outstanding even as I teach people about development. “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” And that really is true for all of us. You know many times people talk, talk, talk, talk, but the Spirit in Action business plan starts from where you are, so instead of talking you do something that will really help, not only to your family, but also to others.

  • There is one scripture that has been leading us in our home. 2 Thessalonians 3:7-11 “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves as a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’

    Boyd and Samuel

    Samuel shows Boyd about their maize stalks grinder machine, which helps produce feed for their cow.

  • When our first-born finished high school, we employed him during the day we did not want him to be idle so we paid him 1,500KS (~$17) a month so he was in the dairy cleaning and feeding the cows. And do you know why we do this? So that they don’t get messed up; so that they don’t go to town to watch movies. That is what we have done here: our children are helping us, even as part of our ministry.
  • So, as a development person, you will face a lot of challenges. God gives to us, so that we may help other people. If God has given you a skill, then that is what you need to share. We need to be generous. We need to act truthfully and faithfully.
  • I was in America and our host was a good friend. I asked, ‘Do you know how to grow economically in Africa. Teach us, so that our economy in Africa can grow.’ He had only two words: “Be honest.” Honesty is the key. And be truthful. And that was the whole lesson.
  • So I want to give a challenge to you – that you become a role model, even as you are a coordinator. We have to know, as coordinators, how to motivate, how to encourage.
  • So friends, God has given us a ministry. A ministry that is so wonderful. And behind all these people [coordinators] there are so many people who have benefited from these programs, and they are saying ‘thank you Spirit in Action, for doing that.’ Yes, thank you, Del, who I believe one day we shall see again.

“Our family has really moved from minus to plus”

This is the story of Hastings Fuvu, his wife Ruth, and their three children, Miness (6th grade), Pokani (4th grade), and baby Happy. Below, our Small Business Fund (SBF) Coordinator in Malawi, Canaan Gondwe, has recorded the story of how this family has, in Ruth’s own words, “really moved from minus to plus” after receiving a Spirit in Action SBF grant last year.
Daughters in their new school uniforms

Daughters, Pokani and Miness.

The family lives in Mteyo Ngoma Village, in the Manyamula area of northern Malawi, and had been trading in little tomatoes and onions in a small basket. They could not get enough income to support the children in school or even to get enough food for the family.

One of the daughters, Miness, suffered from time to time from brain loss and seizures and the family was on the move to get medical attention for the girl. Often they could not get medical help because of lack of income. I, the Coordinator, have sometimes gone to the family to see the challenge for myself.

A Family with Needs and Opportunities

After using the Poverty Assessment Tool, this family was chosen for the Small Business Fund grant because of the insecurity in income and lack of family support. The family could not support Miness medically nor support the other children in school. The family could not be food-secure for the whole year and this led to malnutrition in the younger family members.

Hastings selling tomatoes in the Manyamula market place.

Hastings selling tomatoes in the Manyamula market place

Then conducting an Opportunity Assessment of the family, I discovered that both Hastings and Ruth have good marketing skills and are hard-working on their small-scale tomato sales. I saw some un-tapped potential, which, if supported, could help them towards a better life.

When the family group was chosen for the $150 grant and trained in business management, the funds went to expand their tomato and onion trading. Before, they could order only a small basket of tomatoes, but with the first grant bought 5 to 6 baskets of tomatoes!

Happy Faces and School Uniforms

The family has also bought a bicycle to support transportation of their trade.

The family has also bought a bicycle to support transportation of their trade.

The family, which used to suffer food insecurity and low income, is all smiles at the moment because of the great impact of the grant. The successful business helped them buy school uniforms so that Miness and Pokani can attend school. They are also now able to afford medication for Miness to control her health problems.

Whenever I go to visit the family to encourage and provide more technical support, I see happy faces and I see that their situation is completely changed. The children also sing with joy in their hearts as the parents have provided for their school uniforms. Hastings says very soon the family will own their own house, and be able to move out of the home of their relatives.

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

Exclusive Interview with a SIA Local Coordinator!

At the heart of Spirit in Action is a deep respect for people dedicated to changing their own communities. One of these people that puts truly puts God’s Spirit into action is Dennis Kiprop, a SIA Small Business Fund Coordinator in Eldoret, Kenya. I had the pleasure of meeting Dennis face-to-face during my trip to Kenya last summer and I snuck time into our very busy conference schedule to interview him about his work with SIA. Below is a transcript of our interview, edited for length.


Kiprop and Mary with Chipati

Coordinator Dennis Kiprop and Mary Koima at her bakery shop. We had chipati from her store one day for lunch.

Dennis Kiprop [DK]: First I want to say thank you. I’m so thankful to God for this opportunity to talk together, to share, and be praying. SIA shares a lot of love – God’s love – and through sharing love I just feel connected with what SIA does and so I really enjoy it.

Tanya Cothra [TC]: What do you like most about your work with SIA?

DK: I like being with people. I like that every time I write a report I take time saying to God, “thank you for this work; that you have trusted me with your work.” When I write I feel some joy coming out from the computer and it is very nice. I also have been trying new ways of reporting; like the way we can report to better capture the areas that we are impacting people not just outside but also inside. But the challenge is that I don’t have a camera.
[Tanya’s Note: Dennis didn’t know at the time of the interview that I had a digital camera to give him from a SIA donor! We’re received some wonderful photos from Dennis in the last year.]

TC: You’ve been a SIA local coordinator now for 3 years. What long-term benefits do you see in your community?

DK: First let me share the way I do the [SIA Small Business Fund] group training. They will come together as a group – as different people, different tribes. And when they go back to their communities they always share what they have gotten here.

I see lives not just changed but lives improved in terms of how [people] take care of their families. As it is captured in one of the questions in the [3-Month Report form], they feel better about the future and medical care and all that. I have also seen a long-term impact for people getting motivated and feeling better about themselves.

TC: How do you follow-up with the small business groups after the initial training?

DK: When I am following up sometimes [the distance] is far, so over the weekends I take a matatu [bus] to see various groups. I call them and some call me to come and check.
[Tanya’s Note: The next day of the conference we went as a group to visit some of the SIA small business in the area.]

TC: You said you would like to start a savings and loans group in your area. Do people use something like that now?

DK: They do – but mostly women. It is the practice of the women that they choose their own leaders and they make contributions every month, maybe to buy utensils for one person. The next month they do something else for a different person. I have seen that.

TC: Do people use micro-finance institutions?

DK: They do but the standards of lending are a bit high. You have to have cash flow and you must have an account with [the bank]. So I wish they would come together so that they could save in a cooperative – they would be able to lend money at a very affordable interest rate. So that has also been my dream for these groups to come together to share these resources to do something good that can benefit everyone.


Kiprop and Tanya in Kenya, August 2011

Dennis Kiprop encourages people to think positively and see the good in their lives. Pictured here with Tanya.

TC: Any last thoughts to share?

DK: We want to share the stories where we see empowerment [in our area]. We like to see people who are powerful and determined. I really like the message encouraging people to think positively in life whatever the problem you are going through – that God has a lesson for you, so try to understand what the lesson is for you. And through that positive thinking realize people get motivated and soon through time they become a success. In all matters in life, I like to think positively. I like encouraging myself and saying you can do it, you can do it.

**Feel free to share your words of encouragement with Dennis in the comments section below!**

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