Saturday, October 26, 2013

Notes on [Self] Discipline

"Discipline is a matter of the heart. When we say we’re making children into great-hearted men and women, part of what we mean is teaching them to be disciplined. To be disciplined in speech means that you say exactly what you mean to say, and that you have the judgment to know exactly what the moment calls for. To be disciplined in dress is to be in command of your appearance, and to know exactly what your dress is communicating to others. And so on. To be disciplined is to be successful at whatever you do, because you know the right thing to do and want to do it.

"As with acquiring any habit, learning to be disciplined can be frustrating and uncomfortable. I liken it to learning to be a runner or beginning a new workout regimen. No one enjoys his first mile. But as every runner knows, at some point the experience is thrilling. And discipline is thrilling. There is nothing like knowing exactly what the moment calls for and being willing and able to do it.

"To be disciplined is to have a joyful heart."

— Mr. Michael Austin


"Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15% leading your peers. If you don't understand that you work for your mislabeled 'subordinates,' then you know nothing of leadership. You know only tyranny."

— Dee Hock
Founder and CEO Emeritus
VISA International

Monday, July 29, 2013

FEEDING PROGRAM JOINS NEW LIFE WORKERS

The mission to feed hundreds of starving school children in the rural village areas east of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, continues.  Todd reports that he plans to return in September, and is beginning efforts to raise money to purchase grain enough to deliver directly to five or more schools. Now that the mission has two working vehicles, he should not be plagued, as he has in the past, with roadside breakdowns and wasted time in the shop.

This fall, as usual he will be joining Henry of New Life Ministries, who will be leading a team of young adults from his son's school interested in spreading the Gospel to the children of this region.  We are excited for what God will do as He reveals to these youth the blessings that come from hard work in service to the needs of the poor.

If you are interested in helping Todd to feed school children and mentor youth, please consider making a generous donation.  As our "Donate Now" button isn't working, please send to the address at the upper right of this page, and we will forward the funds to Todd and Henry.

"So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth."  ~Job 5:16.

Friday, May 3, 2013

THOUGHTS ON WHAT IT MEANS TO LEAD BY SERVING

While the phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, an essay that Greenleaf first published in 1970, and we mean to take nothing from him, we at SLI acknowledge that the concept of Servant Leadership was best exemplified 2000 years ago in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The things that make Servant Leadership “work,” the elements that drive its success in interpersonal relationships on a small scale and in large corporate settings, are the Truths that He professed about the Kingdom of God and God’s plan for His people.

These Truths remain true whether the relationships are among Christians or people of other faiths or no faith. As quoted on his site, Greenleaf said, in his book The Institution as Servant, “This is my thesis: caring for persons, the more able and the less able serving each other, is the rock upon which a good society is built.”

At the heart of it, Servant Leadership is relational, and the concept of putting the needs of others first is radical, even for Christians.
“Making disciples is not an easy process. It is trying. It is messy. It is slow, tedious,even painful at times. It is all these things because it is relational. Jesus has not given us an effortless step-by-step formula for impacting nations for his glory. He has given us people, and he has said, ‘Live for them. Love them, serve them, and lead them. Lead them to follow me, and lead them to lead others to follow me. In the process you will multiply the gospel to the ends of the earth.’”
David Platt, Radical (Multnomah Books, Colorado Springs, 2012), p. 93.

Other scholars and speakers have weighed in on the value of Servant Leadership in both personal and corporate contexts (the following may be found quoted at the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership Web site:
“The belief that called you to be a servant-leader, I believe, is the belief of who we are as a species. We have need for each other. We have a desire for each other, and, more and more, I believe that if the real work is to stay together, then we are not only the best resource to move into this future—we are the only resource….We need to learn how to be together: that is the essential work of the servant-leader.” ~ Margaret Wheatley
“The deepest part of human nature is that which urges people—each one of us—to rise above our present circumstances and to transcend our nature. If you can appeal to it, you tap into a whole new source of human motivation.”~Stephen Covey
As you reconnect with that deepest part of your nature that urges upon you relationship, fellowship, connection and interdependence, may you find that new motivation to serve others, transcend your circumstances, and thereby discover the meaning and power of true leadership.




Thursday, May 2, 2013

FIELD REPORT FROM ZIMBABWE FEBRUARY 2013

The following is Todd's field report for the ongoing humanitarian relief effort in the Gwayi River area of Zimbabwe (scroll down for pictures). Help us to continue these and other mission activities in this region by clicking our Donate Now button to the right, volunteering for a short-term missions trip, or spreading the word to your friends about the work we are doing to ensure the future of young people in this region. Together, we can make a difference!  

Zimbabwe Report – Winter 2013  

To my family, friends, and supporters. Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and the sacrifices many of you made to help with feeding the primary school children in the Gwayi area of Zimbabwe this past winter and to purchase the second of two vehicles needed to keep this ministry functioning efficiently. Our field team was relatively small, but having the flatbed truck purchased during the last time I was in Zimbabwe made maize distribution activities relatively quicker and easier. The field team this year included: Henry & Natalia, the local boys: Cornwell, Fred, Adam, Washington, etc., and myself. In spite of some challenges with the pickup truck (soon to be replaced!) we managed to meet our goals within the time allotted.

Our goals included the usual plans to feed as many primary-school children as our funds would allow, and to purchase a second vehicle for maize distribution activities. We were blessed with enough support to collect and distribute 11 tons of grain for 5 primary schools in the Gwayi region. Essentially, the quantity donated will feed approximately 450 students for 2-3 months. This will go a long way to keep the children healthy and strong to learn and motivated to make the often long trek to school each day. We had a ton of fun with the students and teachers who were ecstatic when they realized what the Lord had provided through your gifts and donations. After each donation of maize, we gathered the students and teachers to praise God for his faithfulness and learn a little more about his loving and graceful nature.

Our other main goal this time was to purchase a second truck to help with grain hauling operations. In the past we have been plagued with vehicular challenges, mainly because the vehicles we have been using are ancient and/or falling to pieces, literally! Last year we bought a flatbed truck rated to haul 2.5 tons. We had to jump through many hoops due to changes in Zimbabwean vehicle requirements to make our flatbed roadworthy, but all was completed and we were able to put it to good use this time. Our intention is to only use the flatbed on relatively good dirt & asphalt roads and to buy a good bush vehicle to retrieve grain from the rural farmers who are often located well off the beaten path in 4x4- only areas. The flatbed worked well and even managed to navigate some areas deep in the bush as we did not have a good truck for this yet.

However, thanx to God, we will not have to push the limits of the flatbed again. Through a series of God-led connections we found ourselves in the good hands of a man known locally as “Cruiser Man.” He is in the business of buying 10-15 year old Toyota Defenders (tough bush vehicles), completely stripping them down to the frame and rebuilding them from the ground up. His price was within our budget and even included a suspension enhancement which should help with the heavy loads this truck will encounter. Andre, “Cruiser Man,” was moved so much by what our ministry is doing that he is allowing us to store our two ministry vehicles in his warehouse when not in use. This is a bigger blessing than you would think. In Bulawayo, where we would be leaving our trucks, vehicles are broken into and stolen regularly, especially Toyota Defenders.

Thanks to all of you who sacrificed your treasures through donations and time through prayer. This is always a team effort stretching from our homes here in the U.S. all the way to the field team in Zimbabwe. May our Lord bless you richly! Below are a few pictures from this outreach, including some of the flatbed truck in action.


 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

R.I.P. TOYOTA LAND CRUISER

As you know from reading Todd's Zimbabwe update below, the Oldy-Moldy Toyota Land Cruiser bit the dust years after it should have bit the dust, and is now, finally, at rest.  Henry may find enough parts to resurrect it momentarily enough to interest a buyer in its parts, but its job of running grain from farmer to school is now over.  I'm sure Todd, in his heart of hearts, jumped for joy at its demise, even though he understood that we'd need another work horse.

So, it is time to purchase another vehicle.  Servant Leaders International is helping to raise money for this worthy cause, knowing that this is no regular car purchase -- the next truck we buy will, with God's help, be in trusted service for many years to come, hauling grain to support school children and villagers who are suffering from drought, famine, poverty and disease.

We need your help!!  We need to raise at least another $10,000, and anything raised above that will go directly to the feeding mission in July.  There are many ways you can help -- click on the iGive button, download it to your computer, then shop away and the sellers will donate a percentage to us.  Mail us a check or money order.  Or click on the Donate Now button at the top right of this blog and donate whatever you can.  You know, as always, that 100% of your donation goes to this mission.

Thank you for being a part of this mission!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New World or New World Order?

I find it interesting that some people think that the "Kony 2012" campaign is part of a thinly-disguised agenda to introduce a "New World Order" whereby, somehow, the powers-that-be will centralize their power and increase their wealth and influence by -- what? getting the United States to "invade" an African nation like Uganda and arrest a murderer and sexual predator as a sort of ploy to increase our world domination?  Okay, someone help me with this.  I've already lost the thread.

I can understand that certain folks would really not like to encourage our nation's leadership to do any more invading and installing of troops than necessary.  After all, our leaders have already said, both publicly and privately, that we only do that when our political or economic interests are involved.  And I can understand also that the idea of training someone else's troops with our military techno-savvy might make us a bit itchy -- maybe it would make Uganda a real threat on the world's political scene.  Really? -- But what really strikes me as odd is that these folks think this whole "raising awareness" of a war criminal thing is just a scam, and that what's really going on is that someone is trying to use illicit means to gain and maintain power.  Wait.... that IS what is really going on.

I think we can all agree that using illicit means to gain and maintain power is objectively wrong.

I think we can all also agree that kidnapping children, exploiting them, torturing and maiming them for personal aggrandizement is also not a good thing.

What we seem to differ on is the method for bringing about positive change.

What I don't understand is the argument that we should be afraid of what we don't understand, and therefore do ... nothing.

One thing the debate, if you can call it that, might bring forth is some dialogue about what kind of a world you want to live in, and what you are willing to do to get it.  Ask yourself, what if Kony's particular model of leadership and power were attempted in our country?  What would it take to stop him?  Military action?  Foreign advice, training or intervention?  Money?  Or the concerted effort of the people to bring him to justice?

Our government does not have to commit to "going" to central Africa to find Kony, or to commit troops to the area, or even to commit to advising and training the local military.  We do not need to apply sanctions.  We could, I suppose, make a public announcement that his behind belonged to us and that we would not stop until we found him, and then root him out of every hole or tree where he might be hiding (and then dump his body in the ocean.... wait, this is sounding familiar....) -- or, we could simply put a bounty on his head, and reward the person or group who arrested him and brought him, alive, to authorities willing to try him.

Of course, one of his kidnapped, terrorized, brutalized, mind-controlled child-recruited, now-almost-30-year-old soldiers might step up to take his place as soon as he was caught.  After all, these children are growing up in an atmosphere of violence, and power wrested by force.  It is the world they've come to know.

We have become cynical.  We are on the verge of being that pathetic combination of jaded, apathetic, judgmental, and selfish, to the point where we have become paralyzed.  We no longer act -- we just observe and condemn, and hold our things tighter to our chest.

Hold your children tighter, too. Hold them close, and thank God that in your country, perhaps, no one will reach out and grab them from their beds and force them to turn their guns on you.  It's a big world, and Kony is very far away.  And those 30,000 children don't matter, because they aren't OUR children.  And the fact that tens of thousands of children are growing up the way Kony wants them to in a central African country (or two, or more) should not trouble us as a matter of international instability and national security.

Or should it?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

BRING KONY TO JUSTICE IN 2012!

I can think of no better "mission" in life this year than to mobilize an army of youth to demand that our government keep up the pressure to bring Joseph Kony to justice.  In case you don't know who Kony is, watch this movie, then make him infamous and help to rescue tens of thousands of children.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

SHOP WITH iGIVE AND HELP SLI!

As an experiment, we posted on Facebook a link to iGive, asking friends to help SLI raise money, the easy way -- by shopping online through iGive.

Join and get the iGive Button and it will mean a $5 donation to SLI plus a $5 donation to any cause you choose to support. All you have to do is join iGive, install the iGive Button, and keep it installed for 90 days. If you happen to shop too, that will mean even more donations for your cause!

Also, shopping at more than 900 retailers online with iGive will help SLI because a portion of your sale get donated to our cause!  We can't think of a better way to make your shopping dollars count.

Here is the link:  http://www.iGive.com/Jl8BqW1

Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

TODD'S UPDATE FROM LAST FEEDING MISSION


Zimbabwe Report – Fall 2011

To my family, friends, and supporters. Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and the sacrifices many of you made to help with the food shortages in Zimbabwe. This past October/November I joined a team of four South Africans (Henry, Hazel, an acquaintance of Henry’s, and Ruth & Jack who are full-time missionaries in Gwayi now) and a number of Zimbabwean locals (Cornwell, Fred, Adam, Washington, etc.) with the goal of blessing the local primary schools with maize and continued improvements to the Gwayi Community Center where the local church meets. Long story short: All was accomplished, but not without many challenges.

Our goal was to distribute as much maize to the Gwayi area schools as our funds would allow. Fortunately the local farmers had just enough surplus to meet our needs. This was a true blessing as it allowed us to save significantly on transportation costs and helped boost the local economy a bit. All in all, we managed to distribute 13.5 tons of grain to five schools, and in spite of many vehicular problems, did so with less than a day to spare. You would not know how miraculous this was without some context, which I will now provide.

So, when working in a third-world nation on a very limited budget, where do costs usually get cut? Vehicles!  It’s difficult to justify spending $ on vehicles when God’s children are lacking food to the point of nonexistence. But, God was surely given a great platform to flex His sovereign muscle…and He did. In spite of multiple flat tires (6-10 I believe), a propeller shaft that fell out on the highway, a clutch that fried in an area where replacement parts are rare, etc, etc, the job was completed.  I can’t even begin to list all the issues we had to deal with, but there is one on which God’s finger prints were very obvious. In the beginning of our maize distribution efforts the clutch plate on our main vehicle disintegrated. This is the kind of part that can only be acquired at an auto shop and is usually not a stocked item. There are no auto supply stores anywhere near Gwayi River where this happened much less a qualified mechanic. However, Henry found a “bush mechanic” in Gwayi who just happened to have an old discarded clutch plate with enough material left on it to keep the pickup running for another week or so. Coincidence… I think not. By this time our other vehicle (40 year old Toyota Landcruiser which had reached its expiration date a decade ago) had kicked the bucket permanently. I say permanently because we have resurrected this vehicle several times in the past few years. Not this time. Thankfully this one gimpy pickup truck managed to finish the job and in the midst of extremely hot weather (110-115F during the day).

Interestingly, one day while I and a few others were delivering the final load of grain, Henry, who was in town wrapping up some other vehicular issues, ran into Lucy the head teacher at the school which I was in transit to. She explained to Henry that the school had been out of food for a while and that the teachers were praying for God to fill their store room once again. To say the least Lucy was stoked to find out that her prayers were being answered at that moment. Mabale Primary School, where Lucy works, received a little over 4 tons of maize. Coincidence… I think not.

As many of you may already know, one of the primary factors contributing to Zimbabwe’s economic demise comes out of the “Land Redistribution Act” which was a sugar-coated title applied to President Mugabe’s tyrannical policy to take land from white farmers and give it to Zimbabwean “war veterans”, or at least that’s how his administration spun it. According to critics, myself included, in actuality this was a desperate attempt by Mugabe to maintain power when economic reserves at his disposal were running dry. His thugs need incentive to maintain loyalty. The application of this policy resulted in many deadly battles as these “vets” took over most of the white-owned farms in the country. The fall-out of these take-overs was manifest in many highly productive and exporting farms being run into the ground which sent this primarily agrarian economy into a tail spin nearly ten years ago. Why the history lesson? Well, some of those “vets” are still on the loose and one in our area decided to show up three days after we arrived threatening to have us forcibly removed if we did not vacate the property by the following morning. You could feel the darkness as these two men marched into our lodge/camp. 

As my experience with God has been He turned this into something redeeming. Long story short, the local authorities sided with us allowing us to stay, which is a miracle as the corruption runs deep there. Later that week we had the opportunity to give this “vet’s” wife a ride to her home where we discovered that her husband had gone very ill, likely with Malaria based on the symptoms. Coincidence … I think not. Karma aside, our team prayer warrior, Ruth, jumped into action and gave him a thorough dowsing of the Holy Spirit. He was very thankful for her prayers. I don’t know how the “vet’s” illness played out after that, but it was wonderful to see the loving and merciful side of God’s character revealed in these circumstances. If I were a gambling man, I would bet on this “vet’s” understanding of God being seriously challenged by the love he received from those he was persecuting.

Finally, the beauty of it all comes together. Why does God lead His children into the many various opportunities of service? Love. And, the apex of this love, I believe, is realized when His lost children accept the gift of eternal life through His son. The highlight for many if not all on our team was serving and leading a group from the local church in baptism. This was a great time of celebration as one young man and 16 women professed their faith in Jesus.

So, there we have it, God’s servants being obedient to His call to serve with love in a remote area of Africa and His children there running into His eternal arms. Coincidence … 

Todd Martin, Director, SLI and Last Chance for Africa

Friday, December 9, 2011

SERVANTHOOD IN DISCIPLESHIP

The following is an excerpt from a sermon by Daniel Dennison.  You can find the entire sermon here.  Read what it means to have a servant's heart, and how service leads to greatness in God's sight.

Servanthood in Discipleship
By Daniel Dennison

Scripture: Matthew 25:31-25:46

. . . Try to imagine Jesus actually talking to you and telling you “I was hungry and you didn’t feed me.” “I was thirsty, but you didn’t give me a drink.” “I was lonely and you didn’t welcome me.” “I needed clothing and you declined to clothe me.” “I was sick and you didn’t comfort me.” . . .

Repeatedly, when Jesus was asked what pleased God or how to please God, His reply was the same:

If you want to be great in the kingdom, you must become the servant of all.

So what does it mean to be a servant?  Servanthood in its simplest form deals with people. At the heart of it is our willingness to go out of our way to meet a need in someone’s life and to accomplish something that needs to be done.

True servanthood, as is depicted in the Bible is more then just a desire to do what is right. It is dying to one’s own desires and attending to the needs of our God and others.

The best way to summarize a servant is as a person who doesn’t exercise his own will but rather submits it in order to please his master. For us, our master is Christ. So as disciples, we don’t exercise our own will but instead we give it over not only to God, but to others, so that we can please Christ. “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.”

It is very easy for us as to fall into the trap of calling our good works servanthood, which often times are simply done to make our selves feel better. If we are to be true servants of Christ and not of our selves, there are several biblical qualities of a servant that we should possess.

In all things, a servant is humble. Being humble in servanthood means not worrying about who gets the credit for something. Being a humble servant means doing something and not expecting anything in return. If you are serving to get praise or to get a reward, you aren’t practicing biblical servanthood. . . .

In all things, a servant is patient. This is a necessary virtue not only in our role as servants but in our role as disciples. The opposite of patience is being resentful with the circumstances that keep us from doing what we think ought to be done. One of the results of impatience is discouragement. As servants we must be patient when things don’t go our way so that we don’t become discouraged. . . .

In all things, a servant is gentle. 2nd Timothy 2:25 says “Those who oppose him he must gently instruct.” Paul gave instructions to Timothy to be gentle with those of the opposition whom he would be instructing in the things of God. Being rough, demanding, or confrontational does not serve others, it only serves to build a wall between you and those that you are serving. . . . God doesn’t call us to be doormats to be walked all over, but he does desire a gentle spirit from us in our service. If someone takes your coat are you going to fight him to get it back or are you going to give him your cloak as well? And if someone strikes you on the cheek are you going to strike him back or are you going to do as Jesus instructed and turn to him the other cheek also?

In all things, a servant is watchful. We must be alert to the needs of others and alert to the direction God is calling us. If we are not looking for opportunities to minister to others and to serve them, we will most likely not be in service to others. Jesus often spoke about watchfulness, one example comes in Luke 12:35-37, “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.” Are you being watchful and observant to the needs of those around you?

And the last quality of a servant is obedience and submission. I think this trait really defines what a servant is more than any of the others. We talked several weeks ago about the importance of submission to God, but in service we have to not only submit to God, but also submit to others. Now that is usually a big no no in our society. We are much more comfortable with words like “self-fulfillment” and “self-actualization” than we are with the thought of self-denial. Self-denial is a way of coming to understand that we don’t have to always have our own way and that our happiness is not dependant upon getting what we want. In reality, it is through self-denial that we will receive self-fulfillment.

One myth about self-denial is that we lose our identity. We know this isn’t true through many biblical examples. Jesus didn’t lose his identity when he chose to constantly submit to his father’s direction. Peter didn’t lose his identity when he submitted to Jesus’ cross-bearing command “follow me.” And Paul didn’t lose his identity in his conversion when he committed himself to God who said “I will show you how much you must suffer for my name!” We know the opposite is true, they actually found their identity in their act of self-denial. 

Another myth is that self-denial is the same as self-contempt. Self-contempt claims that we have no worth, and even if we do have worth, we should reject it. Self-denial declares that we are of infinite worth and it shows us how to realize it.

I want to reiterate that self-denial and submission does not mean to give way to others and become a doormat, it means to hold others’ interests above our own interests. And that is the key to servanthood, putting the wants and needs of others ahead of ourselves. . . .

Service is not just a list of things that we do. It’s also not just going on mission projects. Service isn’t limited to helping your elderly neighbor or doing a service project once a month. Being involved in mission trips, doing random acts of kindness for those in need and doing monthly service projects are all great ways to be in service, but to practice the characteristic of servanthood we must make it a lifestyle. Richard Foster outlines several ways in which we can make service our lifestyle and not just a random act now and then. We must learn to put all of these into practice in order to make servanthood a lifestyle.

First, there is the act of hidden service. This means doing small acts of service behind the scenes without ever making your presence known. This could be as simple as leaving an anonymous encouraging note for someone, leaving an anonymous donation for someone in need, or mowing someone’s lawn without them ever knowing. Hidden, anonymous service can have a ripple effect on many people. It can send ripples of joy and celebration through an entire community of people.

There is the service of helpfulness. This means simple assistance in small matters that may sometimes seem meaningless. This is practical service, something that may not take a lot of time and may not seem like a big deal, but it requires taking the initiative to do something that needs to be done.

There is the service of common courtesy. Instead of the meaningless greeting of “how are you?” take a few moments to show genuine concern and interest in how a person is really doing. Take the time to get to know people better and to know what their needs are. Acknowledge others and take the time to affirm their worth.

There is the service of hospitality. Peter urges us to do so in 1st Peter 4:9 when he says, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” Invite people into your homes to serve them and to get to know them better. Take the time to be hospitable to new people when they come to church. Take the time to be hospitable to strangers wherever you are.

There is also the service of listening. This is an easy service if we simply take the time to do so. You don’t have to have the correct answers to listen well, you simply have to have a compassionate heart and a listening ear.

There is the service of bearing the burdens of each other. There is the call in Galatians 6:2 to “Bear one another’s burdens and in doing so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Love is most perfectly fulfilled when we bear the hurts and sufferings of each other and offer a shoulder or a hug to those who need it. 
 The final act of service that Richard Foster talks about in his book on spiritual disciplines is the act of sharing Christ with others. This is the greatest service we can offer to any human being. The act of bringing someone into a relationship with Christ and giving them the gift of eternal life is the greatest act of service we can perform and it is the greatest challenge we have been given as disciples of Christ. This act of service is also deeply woven in all of the other acts of service.

If you strive to make your life an act of service, then God will open doors for you like you have never experienced. God will give you numerous witnessing opportunities for non-believers and ministry opportunities for believers and non-believers alike. As you prepare to commit yourself to a life of service to others, and God, be prepared for an endless amount of ministry opportunities. As we continue in worship tonight offer this prayer up to God: “Lord Jesus, as it would please you bring me someone today whom I can serve.” Strive to start every day in this way, “Lord Jesus, as it would please you bring me someone today whom I can serve.”

Friday, October 14, 2011

SLI BACK TO AFRICA -- AND TRANSLATION PROJECT IN FORMATION

Our plans to translate the S.A.L.T. discipleship program are progressing, and SLI plans as part of this effort to sponsor a translator to come to America for intensive translation work and possible participation in S.A.L.T. training.  We will keep you posted on these plans as they develop.

Meanwhile, our partner, Todd Martin, will be returning to Zimbabwe next week to participate in the feeding program in the Gwayi River area, where many are currently suffering from hunger and deprivation.  October is typically the hottest month of the year in this region, and stores of grain and seed are low.  As children usually only get one meal a day, and that one from school, our efforts to supply the village schools with grain directly helps support their education.  Our partner from South Africa, Henry Nel, has been most faithful in helping to provide for the people of this region, and we are proud to be serving alongside him.

If you want to help support Todd's efforts to provide a market for the local farmers and supply the village schools, please click on Donate Now in the upper right of the screen, or send a check to SLI with "October mission" in the memo line.  One hundred percent of your donation will be used to purchase grain, seed and fuel for the personal delivery of food to starving children.

Monday, July 11, 2011

PLANS FOR RETURN TO AFRICA

We are excited to be working together with Victorious Christian Living, International to potentially bring their unique and exciting "S.A.L.T." training program to Zimbabwe and Zambia.  S.A.L.T. stands for Seven Areas of Life Training.  It is our hope to work with local young adults to translate this course into Zulu, Sindebele, Shona, Bemba, and other local languages of Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa, and later to possibly translate it into Swahili for use in Kenya.

This is a thought-provoking and challenging course that is brilliant in its simplicity yet profound in its transformational message.  We hope to be able to encourage local church and youth organizations to use it in small group settings and to engage each other in discipleship, mentorship and personal growth.

We are entering into a Letter of Understanding with VCLi and are in the process of identifying Zimbabwean, Zambian and Kenyan young adults we can employ to do the translating.  Our hope and prayer is to be able to return by September to Victoria Falls and surrounding villages to continue our feeding program, to introduce the idea of S.A.L.T. to our contacts, and to engage local translators.

If you want to assist us in this work, please click on "Donate Now" and make a contribution!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Pledge to Rescue Our Youth by Maya Angelou


A Pledge to Rescue Our Youth
by
Maya Angelou
© 2006

Young women, young men of color, we add our voices to the voices of your ancestors who speak to you over ancient seas and across impossible mountain tops.

Come up from the gloom of national neglect, you have already been paid for.

Come out of the shadow of irrational prejudice, you owe
no racial debt to history.

The blood of our bodies and the prayers of our souls have bought you a future
free from shame and bright beyond the telling of it.

We pledge ourselves and our resources to seek for you clean and well-furnished schools, safe and non-threatening streets, employment which makes use of your talents, but does not degrade your dignity.

You are the best we have.

You are all we have.

You are what we have become.

We pledge you our whole hearts from this day forward.

A Poem About the Brightness of Youth

Prairie Spring
FROM O PIONEERS
By Willa Cather

Evening and the flat land,
Rich and sombre and always silent;
The miles of fresh-plowed soil,
Heavy and black, full of strength and harshness;
The growing wheat, the growing weeds,
The toiling horses, the tired men;
The long empty roads,
Sullen fires of sunset, fading,
The eternal, unresponsive sky.
Against all this, Youth,
Flaming like the wild roses,
Singing like the larks over the plowed fields,
Flashing like a star out of the twilight;
Youth with its insupportable sweetness,
Its fierce necessity,
Its sharp desire,
Singing and singing,
Out of the lips of silence,
Out of the earthy dusk.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

WHEN HOPE IS LOST

My daughter came home tonight grieving and bewildered at the news that an acquaintance of hers, a friend of her girlfriend's, had committed suicide.  The boy was 15 years old.  I had no words of comfort for my girl, who had no frame of reference with which she could make sense of this.  She didn't know the boy well, but that didn't seem to matter -- the obvious tragedy of it, coupled with the almost unbearable "wrongness" of it, depressed her and made her feel limp and tired.  Tucking her into bed, I felt unprepared, and had no words except those of Jesus, that those who mourn will be comforted.

What is it, in a child of 15, that makes him lose hope to the point of choosing violence to himself?  Was he one of those unfortunate children who are medicated for depression or ADHD with drugs that are known to increase suicidal thoughts in teens?  Was he abused?  What can make a child feel that hopeless?  The only thing we heard about the circumstances of his death were that he killed himself and the family had no idea why.

Our hearts are breaking for the family of the boy.  We don't know them.  We can only imagine, and come up emotionally empty, because it is unimaginable.

It is a frightening fact in this country that suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens.  Young people are our treasure and our future -- when they lose hope in themselves, our future looks bleak indeed. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

THE POWER OF MANY

This is an example of what happens when like minds work together.  Be blessed this Christmas season!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Taps Rocks

Our buddy Tapiwa ("Taps") Mugadza is another young man to watch -- he has a great career in front of him. 

Peace is the Goal -- and Mitch is The Man

I got a call the other day from a nice man who wanted to drop off a donation to our office.  I suggested he mail it -- but he insisted on dropping it off and asked if I could meet him.  He said he had a bag of soccer balls to give us.  I met him and gratefully accepted a LARGE net bag full of deflated soccer balls from a kind man who proudly explained they were from his son, Mitch, who started his own organization to donate soccer equipment to needy children and who had somehow identified Servant Leaders for a donation.  His Dad was in town, looked us up and made the delivery.  Turns out, Mitch is 18 years old and lives in Wisconsin.  He gets the money for the soccer equipment by refereeing soccer games, doing landscaping and babysitting.

We are SO proud of this young man.  He is the epitome of a Servant Leader -- he is young, but doesn't let that stop him from acting on a good idea.  His simple mission is bringing joy, fitness, education and fellowship to children in 40 countries around the world, and soon, Zimbabwe too.
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. ~1 Timothy 4:12

Mitch Arnold, 18, Founder, Peace is the Goal
www.dosomething.org/project/peace-is-the-goal

Friday, October 15, 2010

FEEDING PROGRAM IN ZIMBABWE A SUCCESS!

After a series of mishaps, missed flights, re-routing through Paris, rude flight attendants, missing luggage and stolen items from our bags (ahhhh, travel in 2010), Todd Martin and I met up with Henry Nel and team for another feeding program in Gwayi River.  This time, Henry brokered a deal with the Mazwa farmers to buy maize directly from them.  He provided them with 50 kilo bags, they filled them and sewed them shut, then we drove by to pick them up, load our trucks and deliver them to the village schools.  Thus, we supported local growers, reduced our transport costs, and provided maize to the schools for them to mill themselves that would feed the children for 2-3 months.  Doing it this way, we were able to stretch our funds and serve hundreds of children in five schools.

A huge thank you to all of you who contributed funds, clothing and in-kind donations to this effort!  Our plan is to return for the Rotary project hopefully in the spring, and possibly return in July for an extended trip to set up a computer training program at Gwayi Primary School.  Enjoy the pictures!







 

Monday, September 20, 2010

WHY WE GO

Africa, your sufferings have been a theme that has engaged and arrested my heart.  Your sufferings no tongue can express, no language impart.
 These words by Sir William Wilberforce (1759-1833) were about his desire for the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of English society.  They are still relevant today, as much of the African continent struggles with drought and the ravages of poverty, social injustice and disease.  Though there are many nations in Africa where opportunity abounds, Southern Africa in particular is still a hotbed of famine and AIDS.  Though we at SLI agree with Ms. Dambisa Moyo that government-to-government aid is not a workable solution, this is not to say that humanitarian relief efforts by individuals and small dedicated groups do not have value -- much suffering can be relieved as we build relationships, as we give of ourselves, as we do what each of us is capable of doing.  As Mother Teresa said, "if you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."  And as William Wilberforce reminds us:
Having heard all of this, you may choose to look the other way . . . but you can never say again that you did not know.