Friday, November 27, 2009

From the Mouths of Babes Thou Hast Ordained Praise

Sarah with Ebenezer, Adam's new baby

A girl named "Anxious"

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Our trip to Zimbabwe was marked at every turn by the grace and provision of God. Henry worked to develop fruitful relationships, most notably with the manager of a food supplier who not only sold us the grain but provided the transport, by truck, into Gwai River, making the use of the unreliable rail system unnecessary. This proved to be a huge advantage, and relieved us of much stress. The grain was delivered by flatbed truck directly to the Gwai River Primary School where it was offloaded into a storage room.

This central location made it possible for us to load our Land Rover, van and trailer with grain for each day's delivery to the outlying schools.  We became very efficient at grain delivery.

In the end, we were able to provide grain to seven village schools, supplying basic nutritional support for hundreds of children and the school teachers and staff. One headmaster spoke the obvious -- that this provision meant not only the saving of lives, but the advancement of the education of these young minds. Children who have food in their bellies are able to study and concentrate, and are motivated to get to school.  Further, our commitment to provide for the children of this region means the preservation of a generation that would otherwise be at great risk.

This work was a collaboration of several organizations, made up of passionate individuals: Steve and I represented SLI; Todd Martin, a director of SLI, is also on the board of LCFA (an organization I helped create two years ago); Henry Nel of Rock of Africa/South Africa has a regular ministry to the Gwai River region and is beloved there.  Our team was rounded by Paul Ness of Cape Town who added as much humor and faith as he did muscle and hard work.

Not only did your gifts, donations and pledges contribute to the direct distribution of grain to children in some of the poorest regions of Zimbabwe, but they also provided much-needed seed in time for the planting season.

Henry announced that I would be meeting with the women of the village and conducting a "women's conference" while he met with the farmers. Pastor Victor of Gwai River told Henry that I would have to address the women after Henry talked with the farmers. "Oh, no," said Henry, "she will talk to the women while I talk to the farmers...." Pastor Victor patiently explained: "Henry," he said, "the women ARE the farmers." In Zimbabwe, the women make up the work force, most of which is agricultural. We all had a good laugh as we remembered what we'd studied about this region, but realized that our own cultural biases sneak in anyway when we least expect it.

This time, instead of just donating seed, Henry proposed that the farmers sign a letter of commitment agreeing to donate back a portion of their crop to the school. Since it is their children attending the school, they should have no problem with this. The farmers seemed agreeable but a bit unsure, one woman in particular worried that she might not be able to meet her commitment if she should experience a poor crop, but we persisted, knowing that all the seed is donated, and that if they planted in faith, there would be enough. I think the fruit of all this will be a community invested in itself, committed to self-sufficiency (as opposed to charity).  We are very excited to see, this Spring, what feedback the farmers give us about this experiment.

On the whole, our trip was blessed in every way. This time, there were no fuel issues, no flat tires, no border hassles (well, not many anyway), and though we had rain, none of it hurt the grain!

Our last dinner in Gwai was just bug-infested hilarity -- all of us laughing as Steve patiently picked the praying mantis off his spaghetti and I flicked the flying termites out of the butter -- finally removing the candles from our table and eating in the dark to down our deliciousness in peace. The food was amazingly good. The trip back to Johannesburg was also easy, and delightful in another way, as our conversations deepened our friendships. After a night in Johannesburg, our flights home were also uneventful, full of good food (believe it or not) and good movies. And a few tears for missing all that we left behind.

We challenge you to consider joining us as we plan our return in May.

Friday, November 13, 2009


After a relatively easy flight, we arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa, met briefly with our dear friend Bruce, then drove to a lodge close to the border with our friends Todd and Henry and Henry's friends Paul and Victor. The next morning we crossed the border without any delays or incident, and drove to Bulawayo. Yesterday we purchased 16 tons of grain (mealie meal) and today we are negotiating the purchase of about a ton of seed. We've arranged for the grain and seed to be transported by truck to Gawai River, where we will be personally delivering it to schools throughout this next week.

We leave for Gawai in the morning. Today we are running around making sure the land rover has operating brakes, the proper tires, enough diesel fuel and working lights (apparently it wasn't quite so well outfitted last June.... but that's another story). We will be in an area that has no electricity except what we can produce with a generator, and no cell phone or Internet access, so our next update will likely be next Friday from Bulawayo again. We will post pictures when we can.

In the meantime, we notice there are bids on the Store -- please be patient with us; it will take some time for us to be able to post all the new bids, but know that we are monitoring them and will reopen the Store when we get back.

Thanks to all our donors and supporters.  Talk to you all soon!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Check out the SERVANT LEADERS STORE! On November 10, the Silent Auction will be postponed as our team heads to Africa. If we have not experienced enough bidding, we will resume the auction or place the items for sale on the Store after November 23rd, so you will have another chance to bid on or purchase the items you want!

Just click on the Globe and Shop for the Cause!  Tell your friends!

Monday, November 2, 2009

SLI SILENT AUCTION - Shop and Save (Lives!)

We have opened the bidding for our Silent Auction! Go to:

We have lots of items for sale, and more are being added daily. Click on "comments" below each item to post your bid. This is a Silent Auction, so comments/bids will not be published, but we will update each item with the current top bid until the Auction closes on Nov. 10, 2009. All proceeds will be used to fund the Zimbabwe Relief Project 2009 and other SLI youth programs.

Tell your friends! Go on-line and shop for the cause!